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110l planted tank - Journal

2865 Views 20 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  iq00
I started a 110l tank on the 30th of December 2021.
The tank is 70cm x 35cm x 50cm.
I had some leftover plant soil and some pond soil. First I put in the plant soil which was then covered with the pond soil. The soil was covered with fine granite gravel. The soil thickness is between 1cm at the front and 8cm at the back.

Plants were taken from my old 50l tank, Limnophila Sessiliflora, Cryptocoryne Wendtii, Vesicularia Montagnei Moss, Staurogyne repens, Echinodorus Grisebachii (?) Sword plant, Limnobium Laevigatum Frogbite, Lemna Minor Waterlentils.
I added some new Vallisneria natans and Micranthemum Tweediei "Monte Carlo".

A heater is present, a powerball with a simple sponge (to protect the Rasbora Brigittae and shrimp fry) on low power adds water circulation and some filtering. LED lamps for lighting. An auto feeder is also present.

I let the tank settle for two days while changing water twice, then I added the remaining fish from my old tank (I had absolutely no space for two tanks simultaneously so they lived in a bucket for that time), 6 Trigonostigma Hengeli, 6 Rasbora Brigittae, 4 Amano shrimps, a few Neocaridina Davidii, and three Nerite snails.
A week after starting this tank I got 20 Trigonostigma Hengeli (not true, it was 17 Hengeli and 3 freeloading Espei), 10 Rasbora Brigittae and another 5 Amano shrimp from a shop that was closing and selling off their inventory. Maybe a bit early, but all fish (except two very weak Mosquito Rasbora) did survive so far.

The initial setup on 1st of January 2022, still a bit foggy:
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9th of January 2022:
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16th of January:
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21st of January:
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Today, 30th of January 2022:
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The Limnophila Sessiliflora and the Sword plant sort of exploded, the Limnophila was cut down two times already. The Vallisneria is spreading and the Cryptocoryne is growing new leafs. The frogbite and water lentils also grow like mad and I have to remove some of them regularly, just as it should be.

Some algae is of course present. It strangely seems to grow exclusively where moss is present. It is not a problem yet, but I have to think about what I do about it if it grows excessively.

The only plant that is slightly suffering is the Monte Carlo Micranthemum, parts are regularly dug out by the snails and then float around. Therefore they struggle to spread, it simply may take some time.

Water has been changed twice in the first two days, then 30% in the first week and second week. Since then only a little bit was added to compensate for evaporation. There was never any NO2 or NO3 detectable with my test strips so far. PH is at around 7, alkalinity at around 10 to 15d and hardness at 14 GH is a bit high, but this is due to the extremely hard water in my area. And of course, these test strips are precision guesswork.

The fish and shrimp seem to do well, the Trigonostigma once in a while show a nice swarming behaviour and the Rasbora Brigittae explore every nook and cranny in this tank. I may add another few Rasbora Brigittae, they are so small that I do not expect them to be much of a bio load.

I am amazed how this tank developed within one month. I hope it gets as stable and low maintenance as my old tank.

This is my little garden to take care of for the future :)
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Lovely tank, with or without the Monte Carlo. And you have some of my favorite small fish.
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Beautiful tank! You obviously have experience plus a magic touch.
Folks, here's a tank with driftwood that doesn't have problems. With such explosive plant growth, even if the wood leaches nutrients, the plants can handle it.
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Thank you for your nice comments :)
I wouldn't call myself experienced, I started this hobby two years ago and this is my second tank that I set up so far. I may just be lucky ... .

The tank is now three months old and has progressed nicely. The algae that was present at the mossy areas is mostly gone now, the moss is getting the upper hand. Unfortunately some thread algae or filamentous algae has appeard. This is mostly growing on the sword plant leaves close to the water surface, but is also present on the Vallisneria leaves at the water surface and is mixing with the water lentils, forming some kind of blobs. But is is not a huge problem so far.

The plants still grow a lot, I cut back every weekend or every second week, sometimes quite hard. The Vallisneria is walking around the whole tank and placing childs everywhere, so I have to remove them once in a while.

As a measure against the thread algae I have reduced the lighting a little bit by shutting off half of the lamps between 12pm and 4pm.

I think my main problem is that I feed to much. I use an Eheim autofeeder and it is really difficult to get a properly small amount of food. The fish are small, therefore need small flakes and a relatively small amount of food. This autofeeder makes it really difficult. I tried to feed twice a day a small amount, but this was obviously to much. So I started to feed only once a day and manually feed a few artemia every once in a while, about 4 times a week.

The reduced lighting and reduced food input seems to slowly reduce the amount of thread algae.

All the fish seem to be fine so far.
I also added a pair of Honey Gourami two weeks ago. They are beautiful, some really interesting fish and they behave peacefully so far. The only downside is that the shrimps are a little bit in hiding mode now, even without being hunted by the Honey Gourami. But they explore constantly and nibble at the plants once in a while, so they are very often approaching the areas where the shrimps graze.

Some weeks I have no time at all to enjoy this tank, then there are days where I work at home, listening to some telecons for hours. I prefer to do this sitting on my sofa, directly next to the tank with my laptop. It is an unexpectedly calming and interesting thing to compensate for work numbness ... .

Have a nice day, Thomas.

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4th of February

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12th of February

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26th of March

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3rd of April.
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We started our tanks at about the same time, maybe a month apart. We are proof positive that you can "scale up" Walstad techniques and apply them to larger sized tanks. I was truly amazed by how quickly 2 kilograms of potting soil could "stabilize" under the proper conditions.

I have the Eheim automatic feeder too. And getting the aperture just right for tiny fish is its biggest difficulty (programming it is not that easy either - but, I'm an old guy.) It helps to have voracious eaters!
I have the Eheim feeder too and found that crushing the flakes before putting them in the feeder allows much more control over how much food gets delivered. 😊
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Wow, it's amazing to see how your tank has evolved so fast!
An update...

The tank has sort of settled and not much is happening.

I had some green thread algae that was growing fast, but has more or less vanished again. Also some green fuzz algae (Oedogonium???) started to grow mainly on the sword plant leaves. This has become less, but I think it damaged the plant. Some Cladophora (???) algea has taken over some moss areas and some of the wood.

The sword plant suffers a little bit, but the Vallisneria is still growing all over the tank. I think it is suppressing the sword plant. I have not decided yet to remove it in this area, I may do so. Or I may cut down the Vallisneria and the sword plant and see that the sword plant recovers.
No algae has been present on the Cryptocoryne Wendtii so far. This is the only plant that seems to be totally immune to algae!

The fish are doing fine so far, one Trigonostigma Hengeli died after two years, I already had it in my old tank. Also another one got injured as it jumped and hit the lid. Someone waved in front of the tank and scared them. The rasbora brigittae went into hiding mode as the honey gourami guy is currently in nest building mode and quite aggressive. Therefore I have no idea how many are still present. I see a few once in a while. The honey gourami pair was indifferent to all the other fish and the shrimps and didn't bother anyone until now. I was away for a week and the male got a testosterone problem since then, he is building nests constantly and is a bit crazy now. Let's see how this develops and if I have to do something about it.

Plants, except the sword plant, still grow a lot and I cut and remove a small bucket of plant material every other week.
Algae removal on the tank glass is only done on the front screen every four to six weeks. There is nearly no algae growing there and the little that appears is mostly taken care of by the snails.
Water is changed 20-30% every four to six weeks.

Apart of that the tank is low maintenance and I can leave it unattended for a week or two if necessary. Feeding is done by an auto feeder.

I enjoy this tank still a lot and I like to come home from work, sit on the couch next to it, listen to some music and just spend half an hour looking into it. And if there is time in between I will often just spend a few minutes looking if all is ok and everyone is still well.

Best regards,


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16th of May 2022

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14th of June 2022

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Today 27th of June 2022 before gardening and water change.

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27th of june 2022 after cutting and removing a small bucket of plants. And after changing 30l of water.
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Your tank looks great. My rasboras don't last longer than 2 years.
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You have an astonishing tank. It took off very quickly and hasn't looked back. I started getting hairy algae as I started relying on my automatic feeder for all meals, even when I was home. I'm beginning to wonder if there's a connection?
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An update...
The tank has sort of settled and not much is happening.
I enjoy this tank still a lot and I like to come home from work, sit on the couch next to it, listen to some music and just spend half an hour looking into it. And if there is time in between I will often just spend a few minutes looking if all is ok and everyone is still well.
Beautiful, peaceful tank! (It was calming for me to look at your pictures this morning.)

It reminds me to stop fussing over my guppy breeding tanks and take a minute or two to just enjoy them. :)
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And another update.

A few months ago I got a pair of Honey Gourami. They showed a lot of activity, the male was constantly building bubble nests and courting the female, and in general they were very interesting fish. And, very important, they completely ignored all the other fish, the Trigonostigma Hengeli and Boraras Brigittae, as well as the shrimps. It was a peaceful tank.

Well, until about three weeks ago.

Thats when the male suddenly started to chase everyone else in the aquarium without mercy. I lost 3 Trigonostigma and the Chilli Rasbora went into hiding mode, not to be seen again, except during feeding time.

The male Honey Gourami was nicknamed "Andy", by a friend. We have a colleague who is constantly aggressive and the name stuck.

I caught "Andy" and put him into a small 12 litre planted tank that I have for some shrimps. After two days he had cooled off and I put him back into the main tank. Where he behaved peaceful again for the next two weeks.

Until "Andy" again got aggro a week ago. I came home and except "Andy" no other fish was to be seen. Then I saw him violently chasing and hunting the other fish through the plants, fish getting stuck in some corners, not being able to flee and still being attacked by him until they went belly up. It took me quite some time to catch him and I isolated him again.

I found a few Trigonostigma fish corpse and removed them from the tank. Another few were already being eaten by the shrimps and snails. That is the advantage of having shrimps and snails, they keep the tank clean.

16 Trigonostigma reappeared during the last days, but another 5 fish were killed by "Andy" in one afternoon.

I asked at my fish shop if they would take the Honey Gourami couple back, which they did. "Andy" the killer and his girl are gone.

So, my tank is peaceful again. But all Trigonostigma have damaged fins and one still seems to be injured.
And the Chilli Rasbora are still in hiding mode, but they appear briefly during feeding time.

I lost 8 fish. Hmm, my fault. I shouldn't have bought the Honey Gouramis.

My research before said that Honey Gouramis are peaceful, male Honey Gouramis may defend their bubble nest for a day, but even then they do not harm other tank inhabitants.

My tank size of 110 liters was considered to be sufficient in all the articles that I read and during the discussions with the people in the fish shop.

It is not.

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Dead Trigonostigma after attack by the Honey Gourami.

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The offender in his single cell... .

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The tank a week ago, a day after I removed the male Honey Gourami, only 2 fish came out of hiding.

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The tank yesterday evening, 16th of July 2022, with half the lighting already at night mode. The remaining LED will dim during the next half hour. About 16 fish have reappeared during the last week. 8 were lost. And the Chilli Rasbora are still hiding.
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Wow! What a tale of woe! I checked my tropical fish textbook on Honey Gouramis. They are, indeed, listed as peaceful.
Fish behavior is not "cut and dried," especially when it involves reproduction.
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Speaking of Gouramis, you tale reminded me of mine, thought I'd share! I have an 100 liter tank that has 10 rummynose, 1 Blue gourami and USED to have 5 black tetras which have since been rehomed into my 120 liter tank because my gourami kept chasing the black neon tetras to no end, creating stress on everyone, including the rummynose who would be influenced by the tetras- they would constantly shoal and hide together. By removing the black tetras, the gourami and the rummynose have relaxed!!

So yeah, sometimes space isn't enough but in this case, I think the neon tetras were just too " eye catching" for the gourami, bringing out his territorial side?
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Who knows what is in the mind of a o_Ofish?
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April 2023, the tank is still alive... . But it had its problems.

End of August 2022 I went on a holiday and left the tank for two weeks. The aquarium stands 1m from a large window that faces south. Adjustable external venetian blinds are present, to allow daylight and a view, but to avoid direkt sunshine during midday. With a few windows locked in ventilation mode there is some airdraft and natural ventilation, temperatures in my apartment usually stay reasonable during hot summers. The tank has survived me being away for 2 weeks a few times.

During my vacation a thunderstorm with severe hail happened, which smashed a few windows at this house. I rent this apartment, and my old lady neighbour has a key, just in case something happens. She was so kind to go in with a repair guy who checked all the windows and the blinds, all was good and they left again.

But they raised the blinds and closed all windows. During this time it was unusually hot in this part of Germany and temperatures reached more than 35°C for a few days.

I came back to a blazing hot appartement and water temperatures of more than 30°C in my aquarium.

As a result an enormous amount of algae had grown. I tried to remove the algae as well as I could.
During the next two weeks the neocaridina davidi shrimps and some of the fish died.
A month later only a few fish and 3 amano shrimps were left.
Algae still grew a lot.

I restocked on some neocaridina and a few fish. A month later the shrimps were gone.
The fish did not seem to be well. A few of them developed some skin illness and died.
I still struggled with a lot of algae growth.
Another strange thing was that all the frogbite and the water lentils died.

I tried to control the food very well, checking that none was left uneaten.
I removed algae several times a week, I got more frogbite and water lentils and I changed water 30% once to twice a week.

Unfortunately without success, algae still grew.
I got some neocaridina again and they vanished without a trace. Also, the amano were dying.
A few more fish died.
The water lentils and the frogbite died.

Then I bought a fancy JBL "Aquatest Combiset" water testing kit. As far as I can tell all looked good, except the water being a bit hard.
ph 7.5
KH 11°dKH (german scale)
NH4 < 0,05mg/l
NO2 <0.01mg/l
NO3 <0,5mg/l
PO4 <0.02mg/l
GH 15°dGH (german scale)

After some time I realized that the water was always a bit foggy and getting slowly worse. It looked like some milky stuff, or very fine bubbles.

In February I bought the smallest "green killing machine", a small pump with attached UV lamp, completely immersible.

After two days the milky haze was gone.
The water was now clear again. I removed the "green killing machine" after 4 weeks of use.

I got 10 Amano shrimps and another two nerite snails (there are now 6 in this tank).
I also aggressively removed the algae where I could, I took out the wood pieces and cleaned them with a brush, I removed a lot of the gravel which had algae present and replaced it.

This seems to have been the solution. I think I had a bacteria problem and that was the whitish haze. And the bacteria killed the shrimps and stressed the fish. Without shrimps, algae could grow uncontrolled.
The water stays clear now and the amanos and the snails keep the algae in check again. And the algae may have caused other problems.
The fish seem to be healthy again and they stopped dying.
Two weeks ago I got some young neocaridina and they are still alive. Lets see if they start breeding again.

The water lentils still grow very slowly (but they do not die anymore) and new frogbite that I put into the tank still suffers. As well as the Echinodorus, which seems to struggle.
But this may be due to the quickly growing Vallisneria. There is some info floating around the intertubes that Vallisneria and Echinodorus do not get along well and Vallisneria prohibits growth of water lentils and Echinodorus.

I think the tank is healthy again.

Now I have to think about if I want to keep the Vallisneria.
The Vallisneria is a bit annoying as it spreads around the tank without any false shame and I remove new satellite plants every few days.
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The tank after my return form the vacation end of August 23. Full of Algae. A reflection of the (closed) venetian blind is visible in the glass.

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Begin of October 2022. Algae still grows, I struggle to contain it. The frogbite is dying, the water lentils are nearly all gone. The neocaridina have died.

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End of Novemer 2022. Algae is still growing, I have restocked on some fish. The frogbite is getting less and less, water lentils were added but still die. Neocaridina were added but most have died again.
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Begin of January 2023. Algae still grows a lot, I remove it regularly, but it returns within days. There is also increasingly some gas bubbles trapped in the algae. I don't know what it is.
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Mid February 2023. The water has an inreasingly milky appearance. I have added water lentils, they keep dying. Also, the neocaridina have mostly died again. Some fish are ill.
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End of March 2023. The UV lamp of the "green killing machine" has removed the whitish haze. The Algae was again removed aggressivles and new Amano shrimps keep algae growth now in check. Also, the water lentils now seem to survive.

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Today, 10th of April 2023. The aquarium seems to be healthy again. Algae did not reappear, the modest growth is kept in check by the Amano shrimp. The fish are healthy again. A group of young neocaridina seems to adjust without problems.

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14th of May 2023.

Another month has somehow happened and the tank still seems healthy again.

I realized that the GH hardness seems to have been way to high. When I started testing at the begin of February Iit was at GH15, which climbed to GH22 mid April. Tap water is sometimes ridiculously hard where I live but oscillates regularly up and down. Since then I tested more often and slowly started to add distilled water to get GH down. KH was always between 8 to 10 with Ph usually at around 7,5.

Plant growth has become better again since GH is down and the Mosquito Rasboras seem to be more healthy.

But there may be a problem with bacteria, I see a lot of tiny particles in the water and I have no clue what they are. I have access to many microscopes and even a scanning electron microscope at work. I will try to take a water sample and dry it. Then I will have a look. But, I work on semiconductors and I am not a biologist. If I see something, I will post some images. Maybe one of you has a clue. I was unable to take a macro photo of the particles ... .



This is the tank at the moment, 14th of May 2023.
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You and I share similar "problems" with having a tank surrounded by indirect sunlight. It's totally changed my attitude toward invertebrates. Every tank is different, of course. But my experience has also taught me that every tank is an organism all its own and that it doesn't take much for one to evolve into something very different from where it started.
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