I'm new to posting in the forums, but I've been stalking you all for the last few months gathering information and have been very happy with all the discussions I've found.
I've finally put together my first planted tank and was hoping you all could give me some input on the setup - to make sure I'm on the right path and all. The following is my set up from filtration to fish. This tank has been running for Three Weeks. Tank:
Standard 20 gallon (24" wide) Filter:
Fluval 205 (40 gallon rating, 185gph) - no activated carbon, just using the white bio tubes for cultures. Substrate:
API Root Tabs, 2.5" Eco-Complete, 1" Caribsea Floramax top Flora: E. Parvulus
"Dwarf Hairgrass" (forground - going for a carpet), Cryptocoryne wendtii
"green" (midground) alternanthera reineckii
some kind of Val (background)
Anacharis (background - planted mainly for the purpose of ammonia/nitrite absorbtion
at start, considering pulling them) Lighting:
2x24w T5 HO 5000k, resting ~4 inches above tank. Photoperiod of 8 hours (light and CO2 synced with timer) CO2:
Pressurized w/ regulator and diffused via airstone inside the hagan mini-elite mod method. Now, one of the main points for me is the rate of CO2. My bubble counter is going pretty strong (Hard to count, but I'd say about 4 or 5 bps. According to the CO2/Ph/Kh table I'm at somewhere around 55ppm of CO2, but fish are looking healthy and happy, so I feel comfortable. Even when I've added new fish, they've gone straight to their school and have no problems.) Water Quality:
Bad stuff: 0 and 0 ppm. Nitrates: 10 or 20ppm (I cannot differentiate between
the two colors on the chart at all.
Ph: 6.8-7.0 with CO2 (again, hard to tell the difference between color chart)
Kh: 11 degrees - yes, 11 degrees
Temp: 78-79F Ferts:
Seachem dosing - including Flourish, Trace, Excel, Iron and Potassium. I have ordered nitrogen and phosphorus. I dose for a 18 gallons due to substrate and rocks displacing the total volume of tank.
I just started dosing last week (at week 2.) Fauna:
Red Cherry Shrimp x4
Oto Cats x4
Neon Tetras x10 Hardscape:
Iowa Bluff Sandstone Water Change:
1 50% change per week
How's it all looking? I have very small amounts of algae on the rocks, but the cleanup crew keeps it in check.
The plants seem to be doing well. I've trimmed the Crypts and alternanthera once and replanted the tops of the alternan., leaving the mother plant to bush out.
The replanted tops have grown an insane amount of aerial roots (aquatic roots?) from their nodes and are growing well. The underside of the leaves are a nice deep pink/red. The topside are a rust color (the combination of green and red).
The Vals are the only plant that visibly pearls throughout the day.
The Dwarf Hairgrass is discouraging. I'm getting a couple of runners growing in the back of the tank, where the substrate is higher (closer to the light). In the front there is a little new growth, but the new growth isn't growing beneath the substrate, but on top of it. I've started an experiment - I've placed several single-triple stems of DHG in an area where I've placed ~.5 inches of fine substrate sand. I'm hoping the compact nature of the sand will discourage new growth from wandering above the surface. How long until I begin to notice significant coverage with DHG?
The photo below was taken 30 minutes after setup. There are no fish and I'm missing a couple of plants listed above. This is also before I started my small-bunch DHG in sand experiment. I'll post a follow-on later today when I get the opportunity. Please let me know your thoughts on the set up, especially regarding CO2, Lighting, and Dwarf Hairgrass Carpeting.
Also, with the green crypts, what's the best way to prune to promote thickness - cut the big guys off close to the root or just hack it all down very short? Thanks in advance for all your help!