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Waterbox 3620 first planted attempt

Paul Kettless

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17 Aug 2015
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Hi,

I thought that I would start a Journal, Im hoping that it will be of interest to some, especially to the newbies on this site as it may help learn from the inevitable mistakes I will make. If not, then at the very least allow me to have documented progress of the tank. I have kept various aquariums over the past couple of decades, the biggest and most challenging was a 300 gallon reef tank. I have never even attempted to keep plants, so this is an absolute first, and a learning curve of the highest order. I understand the basic concept of what plants need, but will be the first to admit that I don't have any experience in putting this into practice. I have never used co2, dosed fertilisers and I cant even pretend that I have green fingers, so propagating, planting, flow is going to be a steep learning curve.

I have a reverse osmosis unit which I will start to use once I have been able to get through the first few weeks constant water changes, and get my head around how to plumb it in/use it.

Tank, equipment and hardscape

Tank: Waterbox 3620 90x50x45 approx180 litres after displacement
Filtration: Aquael Ultramax 1500
Media: Purigen 200g, Seachem Matrix 4L
Light: ONF Flat One 90cm 90watts RGB
Backlight: 39cm RGB led Ebay cheapy
Heater: Szelam 300w
Stainless Steel lily pipes: Lyxmy 16/22mm
Dosing Unit: Jebao DP-2
Circulation: AI Nero 3
Chihiros Doctor 3rd Gen
Co2 art pro regulator
Co2 art inline diffuser

Hardscape

Frodo rock 22kg
Spiderwood 7 pieces
1 x 9l bag JBL Volcano
1 1/2 x 9l tropica soil
ADA La Plata sand
Dooa river sand
ADA colorada sand

Plants

Background


Hygrophila Siamensis 53b
Ludwigia Super Red
Rotala Orange Juice
Pogostemon Erectus

Midground

Alternanthara Reineckii
Cryptocoryne Wendtii brown
Cryptocoryne Pinkii
Staurogyne Repens

Foreground

Marsilea Hursuta
Acicularis mini

Anubias nana coin
anubias nana
Taiwan Moss
Buce Sp Red
Buce Apple Leaf
Hygrophila Pinnatifida
Microsorum Windelov
Microsorum Trident
 
Last edited:

Paul Kettless

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First pictures of the scaping and planting
 

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Paul Kettless

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Day 3, nothing to report other than a 50% water change.

Day 4 (today) 50% water change and couple of shots. I'm not quite sure on the lights settings so I'm guessing at the moment, they are running for 6 hours a day at 60% power and 75% white, 25% blue.

The co2 is puzzling me, I am running it 24hrs a day right now as advised but no matter what I do I cannot get it to turn yellow 🤔

I would appreciate any advice that can be offered if you can see obvious errors or guidance on how to keep things moving forward. Should I be adding ferts at this time? I have TNC complete and thought it wouldn't hurt while plants are trying to establish and have been putting 5ml per day at this time.
 

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Ian61

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26 Mar 2021
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Keswick
Hi Paul. Will follow this with interest as I’ll be in a similar situation shortly when ordered tank arrives. What is your current water supply chemistry and how much co2 are you adding?
 

John q

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Lancashire
And not before time... I bet it seemed like you've waited a lifetime for this project to finally take flight.
Scape looks good Paul and suspect if you can get your head around a reef tank you should get to grips with a planted tank.
 

Ian61

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Question : Do you have to add more co2 to hard water to raise the co2 concentration in the tank (and therefore change the pH as read by the indicator solution in the drop checker)? I realise that the tank water pH may be resistant to change as buffered by the water hardness.
 

Paul Kettless

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Hi Paul. Will follow this with interest as I’ll be in a similar situation shortly when ordered tank arrives. What is your current water supply chemistry and how much co2 are you adding?
I have attached a copy of my Essex and Suffolk water report. On the advice of many, at the moment I am not testing the water at all for parameters other than I had a play with my PH pen and TDS meter. The TDS is sitting around 380ppm and the PH swings between 6.0 - 6.8
And not before time... I bet it seemed like you've waited a lifetime for this project to finally take flight.
Scape looks good Paul and suspect if you can get your head around a reef tank you should get to grips with a planted tank.
Thanks John, yes its been long coming, thinking about it now I wouldn't have waited so long for Evolution Aqua to be resolved. The good news is that the waterbox aquarium is first class. The reef tank was to be honest fully automated, I had a company come in and set it up for me, all I did was top up the chemical chambers for dosing and did water changes. If Im honest, I never fully understood the science behind it fully.
Good start, I have never used C02 24-7 seems like a waste to me especially as you will be using a fair bit on 180l tank.
How are you distributing the gas?
Not so sure on the cost, surely its negligible as a refill of a 2kg fe is less than 6 pounds. I going by the advice of @Siege who suggested the 24/7 method on start up to give the plants the best possible opportunity of taking. I have no intentions of adding any inhabitants to the tank just yet so I can't see that it will do any harm. The c02 is being injected via a c02 arts inline diffuser.
Question : Do you have to add more co2 to hard water to raise the co2 concentration in the tank (and therefore change the pH as read by the indicator solution in the drop checker)? I realise that the tank water pH may be resistant to change as buffered by the water hardness.
Honestly, I have no idea, I'm sure that some of the more experienced members of this forum will be able to answer your question.
 

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foxfish

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Not so sure on the cost, surely its negligible as a refill of a 2kg fe is less than 6 pounds. I going by the advice of @Siege who suggested the 24/7 method on start up to give the plants the best possible opportunity of taking. I have no intentions of adding any inhabitants to the tank just yet so I can't see that it will do any harm. The c02 is being injected via a c02 arts inline diffuser.
Ok Paul that is cool, I would guess that 2kg should last you about two weeks at 24-7 and around six weeks with normal timing.
What I would suggest is that while you don’t have any fish, although you can use high levels of C02, you should still use your ‘fish free tank opportunity’ to get the C02 levels right for when you do stock fish as you don’t really want to be experimenting with the fish in place.
 

Paul Kettless

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Ok Paul that is cool, I would guess that 2kg should last you about two weeks at 24-7 and around six weeks with normal timing.
What I would suggest is that while you don’t have any fish, although you can use high levels of C02, you should still use your ‘fish free tank opportunity’ to get the C02 levels right for when you do stock fish as you don’t really want to be experimenting with the fish in place.
Very valid point, and makes sense. I think that I will let in run for while doing the daily water changes, and try and dial it in next week when they start getting less frequent👍
 

Wookii

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Question : Do you have to add more co2 to hard water to raise the co2 concentration in the tank (and therefore change the pH as read by the indicator solution in the drop checker)? I realise that the tank water pH may be resistant to change as buffered by the water hardness.

No, the reason CO2 drop checkers use 4dKH water in the solution is to ensure a consistent reading irrespective of the tank water parameters.

@Paul Kettless if you want a lighter/yellower colouration in your drop checker solution, you just need to increase the injection rate. If you have a decent amount of surface movement, the duration of injection won’t continue to increase the CO2 concentration beyond its equilibrium point (the equilibrium point being the net of injection, plant uptake and off gassing).

I know you’ve been advised to run the CO2 24/7, but personally I wouldn’t bother. I agree with @foxfish - you need to use the livestock free period to figure out your proper CO2 control including on/off times to ensure a proper drop checker colour for the entire photo period, and the best overall injection rate to maintain your target drop checker colour.

Tank is looking great by the way!
 

Paul Kettless

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Day 8, and a few things to report.

The daily water changes of 50/60% have been done without fail and will now be transitioning to every other day for the next week. I’m still using just tap water for now, and I will try and get my head around setting up the RO unit to cut my tap water once the water changes get more manageable.

After @Wookii and @foxfish recommendations, I have dialled in the co2, its now coming on 2 hours before lights on, and off 1 hour before lights out. Drop checker is a deep green for the light period so I am guessing that’s a good thing for now. Plants seemed to be doing ok in general, although I started to notice black patches on the leaves of the ferns and stems so I have pulled the lights back a bit. I have left the photoperiod to 6 hours, but have dropped the intensity from 60 to 50%. The ONF unit is way more powerful than anything I have every used previously, and I would rather go too little rather than too much at this early stage.

As I was expecting with my aquarium cycling, some casualties. The AR mini 1-2 grow pots quite literally melted within 5 days ,However, I had a plant of the same species and appears to be doing ok. My understanding was that culture pots were more hardy than a plant, but I guessing that’s not always the case. Nicole @Horizon Aquatics tells me this can be a delicate plant in new set ups and maybe best to leave until the tank has matured and try again.

Siamensis 53b is showing signs of new growth, and also the Ludwigia Red. The Rotala orange juice seems to be adapting slightly slower and Pogostemon erectus being 1-2 grow is just starting to show signs of life and new shoots but has kept its vivid green colour so I’m forever hopeful. Huge thanks go out to @Raws69 for the large portion of good quality red root floaters, a nice addition to the tank and I’m hoping that they will help with the cycling process and help reduce the excess nutrients.

In the foreground the S Repens, EA Mini are doing well, only the Marsilea Hirsuta is showling slight signs of some brown leaves.

The AI Nero 3 is a brilliant bit if kit, and I can highly recommend it to anyone that wants to increase the flow in there tank. I have it running at 50% power on a constant speed and its turning over 3875 litres per hour. The pump is near silent, you almost have to put your ear to the glass to make sure that its on. I give it a blast for 30 minutes at 75% just before I do the water change just to churn things up a bit. From the first image I posted, I have transferred it to the right hand side in front of the filter outlet as it seems to be battling the circular direction on the left. It’s def working much better after the move, seems like its going to be trail and error over the up and coming months to see were it is best positioned.

I’m still not sure if I should be dosing ferts at the moment, I could see no harm while I was doing the daily water changes, but now that they are getting less frequent I don’t want to overload the system. It seems like I am getting to the stage that many argue over wether I should be doing water tests or not. I dont own any test kits at this time, although I have a TDS and PH pen. I know we have very hard water in the east, and it also seems that we can at timeS have quite high nitrates in the supply. The feats that I have are TNC complete, but I guess that I had to start somewhere. I have Jeboa dosing machine that I will use at some point, It wont let me dose alternate days to EI dosing doesn’t seem like it will be an option going forward.

First thoughts on the Aquel Ultramax 1500 are good, and lets hope that I am not tempting fate by saying this... The filter runs super quiet. genuinely way better than the JBL ones I have had in the past. Only time will tell I guess.
 

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Wookii

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The feats that I have are TNC complete, but I guess that I had to start somewhere. I have Jeboa dosing machine that I will use at some point, It wont let me dose alternate days to EI dosing doesn’t seem like it will be an option going forward.

Nothing wrong with TNC Complete, it’s very well regarded as an all in one, but you should definitely be giving it a full dose from day 1. I believe 3x the standard TNC dose is recommended as a starting point for high tech.

The only reasons people switch to dry salts, are cost and flexibility, but some people prefer to pay for premade ferts for simplicity.

As for the Jebao dosing unit, if you can’t get the alternate day dosing working, just dose micros and macros every day. Dose the micros just after your gas comes on (or when you know the pH has dropped below 7), and then the macros 15-30 minutes before lights on.

So on your tank, instead of 36ml of micro/macro (assuming the APFUK kit) on alternate days, and a rest day, you just do 36 x 3/7 = 16ml a day of each. Job done 👍🏻
 

Paul Kettless

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Hi all,

Are the new leaves really pale green, or is that just an artifact of the light in the photo?

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cheers Darrel
Hi Darrel,

That’s actual quite an accurate picture, the new growth is indeed pale green. Is that A good or bad thing....
 

Paul Kettless

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Nothing wrong with TNC Complete, it’s very well regarded as an all in one, but you should definitely be giving it a full dose from day 1. I believe 3x the standard TNC dose is recommended as a starting point for high tech.

The only reasons people switch to dry salts, are cost and flexibility, but some people prefer to pay for premade ferts for simplicity.

As for the Jebao dosing unit, if you can’t get the alternate day dosing working, just dose micros and macros every day. Dose the micros just after your gas comes on (or when you know the pH has dropped below 7), and then the macros 15-30 minutes before lights on.

So on your tank, instead of 36ml of micro/macro (assuming the APFUK kit) on alternate days, and a rest day, you just do 36 x 3/7 = 16ml a day of each. Job done 👍🏻
Makes sense on the doser, I’m going to stick with the premade for simplicity at this time, and will look into dry salts in the future. Will do as advised and make sure dosing every day from now on. On the label TNC complete states to dose only once a week I’m assuming that I take the weekly dose x3 and then divide by 7. With the water changes it seems more logical to dose daily than in 1 hit.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
That’s actual quite an accurate picture Is that A good or bad thing....
Very pale growth is never a good thing, because it means that that growth <"is deficient in chlorophyll">, dark green = more chlorophyll.

Because it is the new growth that is chlorotic it strongly suggests that you have issue with iron (Fe) availability.

It is generally really difficult to diagnose nutrient deficiencies, but iron is an easier one than most because of the <"issues with iron solubility"> and the <"non-mobile nature of iron within the plant">, basically the plant <"can't move it to new leaves">.

Have a look at @Zeus. 's <"pink tint posts"> and @jameson_uk 's <"Frogbit thread"> (where the, very informative, photo below came from).

dad12186cb152cccee11028dc11c34f4-jpg.jpg


cheers Darrel
 

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