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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All! It's been ages since I've logged on to APC, but looking through El Natural forum, it's nice to see so many new people. The forum has certainly come a long way since the Wet Thumb Forum!

Anyway, I've been keeping NPTs following Diana's method for about 7 years now, always with great success, of course! My current NPT is a 120 gal tank that I set up about two years ago. It has undergone many changes but has been in the current configuration for more or less a year now. I've battled several algae outbreaks requiring dosing with an algacide (something I'm against, being an NPT purist) and heavy use of a UV filter. The last algae outbreak was of a filamentous algae that was taken care of by some juvenile T. duboisi. Now the tank is finally very stable and have had no probs recently.

Here's a breakdown of the tank and the pics... hope you enjoy!

Flora:
E. amazonicus (I think)
E. tenellus
V. spiralis or americana
C. wendtii brown
C. wendtii green
C. balansae
Other unidentified crypt species
R. rotundifolia
C. thalictroides (I think)
Java fern and moss plus other moss species
A. nana
giant duckweed
E. parvula
3 different Nymphea sp.
Plus a several other species of unidentified plants that were given to me by my friend who has an aquarium maintenance business.

Flora:
50+ N. leleupi juveniles
6 T. duboisi
10 danios
6 red rainbow fish (F1s!) juveniles
3 long-finned albino bristlenose (2F/1M)
1 siamese algae eater
1 chinese algae eater

The Pics:

Front shots of tank:




Closeup of right side, middle and left side:







One of the Nymphea sp.



Crypt stand:





The bristlenose:







Other asst pics:







 

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That's a great looking LARGE NPT! I really like the stand of crypts you've got going. How long did it take before they really established into a lush grouping? The past 6 months I've not had the greatest success with crypts (they live just fine, but I would not say they are flourishing by any means).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks all for your kind comments! To answer your questions...

davemonkey: It took a good year for the crypts to settle down and start sending baby plants. They're spreading quite nicely! All I can say is that with time, they should start to fill in for you, it just takes a while.

Angie: I'm an NPT purist so I don't believe in adding ferts or any chemicals to the tank, except in the most extreme of circumstances. As for lighting the tank is lit by two AH Supply 96W compact flo. The tank sits next to a south facing window. The window is by the front porch so that keeps direct sun away and the tank is never hit with direct sun.

-Rick
 

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Yes, nice big tank.

Love your african cichlids! they don't dig or eat the plants???
I want to make an NPT with african cichlids, but I'm afraid they'll dig and make a soil mess.

I have the same 2 types of Nymphea in my tank... i think they are both N. Micrantha, but one has red leaves with darker red spots, the other green leaves with red spots. Could it be the same plant with different colors due to conditions/light?

BTW: its strange you have the red Nymphea all hidden in the back there...
 

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Yes, nice big tank.

Love your african cichlids! they don't dig or eat the plants???
I want to make an NPT with african cichlids, but I'm afraid they'll dig and make a soil mess.

I have the same 2 types of Nymphea in my tank... i think they are both N. Micrantha, but one has red leaves with darker red spots, the other green leaves with red spots. Could it be the same plant with different colors due to conditions/light?

BTW: its strange you have the red Nymphea all hidden in the back there...
i have a friend that has an NPT with some sort of africans. They dug through the sand, through the mud, all the way to the bottom glass. BIG MESS. all the plants have bite marks from them too.
 

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Hi flagg:

I am a new member as well as new to the Diana's NPT system. I came across your post dated Nov 2004. I have a question if you still check your old post and I appreciate your assistance.

I have a 120 gal tank with an 1 1/2" plenum (a Jaubert system) and about 4" of silica sand , drift woods (3) and lots of plants. They have been doing very well for over 2 years up till just recently when I got green algae and some black algae which I know is not a plant but really bacteria. I had treated it with erythromycin at 200 mg/10 gal for 7 days. I also did a partial water change and vacuumed the top 1/2" to 1" of the silica sand both before and after the erythromycin and manually cleaning and removing a much of the algae as possible. The algae is still there and I am thinking of an algaecide.

In your post you mentioned you had to use an algaecide and I assume you dosed this algaecide with plants and fish in your tank. May I ask what was the algaecide you used, what dosage and how did your plants and fish make out with it.

I am in the process of doing a 50 gal. with Diana's method and am hoping I can clear the algae in my 120 gal without tearing the whole tank up. The gravel (sand) is well aged and "nicely dirty" now and the plants are growing very well with CO2 injection. Please see picture. Any assistance or comment is greatly appreciated.
 

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I got green algae and some black algae which I know is not a plant but really bacteria. I had treated it with erythromycin at 200 mg/10 gal for 7 days. I also did a partial water change and vacuumed the top 1/2" to 1" of the silica sand both before and after the erythromycin and manually cleaning and removing a much of the algae as possible. The algae is still there and I am thinking of an algaecide.
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Just in case flagg doesn't see this right away, I recently had a problem with blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) and a bit of black-fuzz algae (black beard). The problem with antibiotics is that you can harm your beneficial bacteria as well. And algacides can harm you plants.

What I did to ovecome these was I first manually (actually I used a siphon hose) removed the cyanobacteria. I measured out 1.5 mL of Hydrogen peroxide into a bowl. Then, I used a syringe to squirt it directly onto the problem area. After lettign that bubble for a couple hours, I did a partial water change.

I waited a week and repeated the process. All the cyano and the black-beard is now gone.
If it's your entire thank that is infected (I had this happen once as well), I would do a major trim and then dose, directly into the tank, between 1.5 - 2 mL per gallon the hydrogen peroxide. That will kill the algae, but some of your plants may suffer as well (though they eventually will come back).

Because this is happening to a well-established tank, you might consider doing some water tests. Cyano can pop up when nitrates fall below (correction: I first had typed "over exceed" and that is incorrect) the balance of other nutrients.

-Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Wow, so many replies! Thank you all for your kind words... Sorry I haven't responded earlier, but life all too often gets in the way!

Anyway, let me try to respond to your questions comments...

f1ea: The Africans in the tank are T. duboisi juveniles. I don't know if the adults eat plants/dig substrate. So far, the juvies have not done either, but then again, they're young. They're also not staying in the tank... as soon as they loose their spots (the sign that they've matured) I'm bringing them back to the store and trade them in for 1" fry again. As for the Nymphea, it's not really hidden in the back, the tank has a 360 deg view (almost) with the "back" open to the foyer by the front door. So, it does get admired! As for the coloration of the plants, I don't know if it has to do with lights or diff. species as the plants were gifts and I don't know what species they are.

Bill: It took a good year and A LOT of work to get the tank to look this good. In the beginning, there were numerous algae outbreaks and some fish deaths (the long fin albino bristlenose HURT!). As I mentioned (and you probably remember) I'm an NPT purist so I believe in doing as little as possible to help the tank come along. Basically, there were A LOT of water changes, a UV sterilizer, frequent vacuuming of the gravel to remove mulm. The vals were out of control in the beginning too, probably because my water is like liquid rock (300+ ppm carbonate hardness, professionally tested so I know it's not a mistake!) Anyway, after many months the tank just settled down. I took out a bunch of the vals and replaced them with the java ferns, water sprite and nympheas. Anyway, nothing special done to tank, just a lot of hard work, now I just change the water every two weeks, vacuum a little mulm when I do and trim the plants. I think the tank is a testament to the success of the Walstad method.

Doug: thanks!

Londonloco: I think the reason for the algae outbreaks was the fact that there were a lot of plant and some fish deaths during the first 10 - 12 months. Plants were dying so fast they they were building up lots of mulm and of course, releasing tons of nutrients into the water as they died. I'm guessing the algae was due to all those excess nutrients in the water. Fixing it took many water changes and vacuuming, UV sterilizing and the Tropheus for the last bit of hair algae.

haulmark400: Thank YOU!

Dielectric: It really depends on the species of African cichlid. Those from Lake Malawi, in general, tend to be voracious plant eaters. However, you could easily keep N. brichardi in a planted tank w/ no damage done to the plants. In general though, it's a bad idea of house plants and most cichlids.

gotthinking: I don't remember the name of the algaecide I used, but I will find out and post it. I used it at full dose and then did a large water change and vacuumed all the dead algae. I had to run the treatment several times because algae kept coming back. I also ran a UV sterilizer. I'm generally against using algaecide but I had no choice. In the end, the plants and fish did fine. As for using erythromycin to take care of blue green algae, I'm strongly against doing because of the potential problem of creating antibiotic-resistant strains of TB. We have enough prob with fish TB in the industry. That being said, I have done it on two occasions, but only as a last resort and only half the dosage for half the time recommended in the dir for the meds. And, I will say, it works wonderfully! Now, if I do get another blue green algae outbreak I'll use the hydrogen peroxide treatment that's described in several posts in this forum.

Dave: Thanks for outlining the steps in treating algae with H2O2. I've never done it myself, but I think this is the way to go. As Diana describes in her book, TB is a huge problem in the fish industry and treating aquariums with antibiotics only serves to potentially make this problem worse. To me, the El Natural/NPT method is all about avoiding the use of chemicals and as such using h2o2 to deal with certain algae outbreaks seems the least harmful way to go.

Well, that was a lot, I hope I answered everyone's questions, and again, thanks for the kind words!

-rick
 

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I came back from my weekend and find not one but two responses to my request for assistance.

Before I go off for the weekend I had removed just about all my plants with the exception of my sword plant and a few stem plants (for the security of the fish in there). All the plants have nice long white roots which tells me that the substrate is doing fine. I had scraped the front glass of all the black algae and vacuumed the top 1/2 inch of the gravel sand, washed the canister filters. There are still some black algae stuck to the sand grains and long threaded black (bearded) algae at the edge of the leaves of the sword plant. The algae was infecting the whole tank. Apart from my two regular Eheim canister filters I have bought and am now using a 15w UV Filter.

Dave mentioned about a low nitrate being a possible cause and I read that in Diana's book as well. I know NH4, nitrite and nitrate are all very low in my tank, KH of 4 and a pH of 6.5. My old school used to tell us "the lower the better" and so I was happy. Now I know better. I have also just managed to get some Excel and would have that on hand. Here in Costa Rica we do not have access to a lot of the common things available in the U.S. or Canada but my daughter is visiting from Canada and brought my the Excel and the UV Filter.

I will go get the H2O2 tomorrow and I think I will first squirt some directly on the leave edge of the sword plant, wait and do a partial water change and then do dose the whole tank and stir the top 1/2 inch of the gravel sand to make sure contact with the H2O2, do partial water change and clean canister filters.

Question: should I remove the UV Filter during the H2O2 treatment?

I will also trim away as much leaves with algae from the plants that I took out from the tank and then add H2O2 to the water and then rinse them out after. It is worth a try to save all the plants. Plants are hard to come by here.

Question: Is the H2O2 in the water going to be ok with the roots or should I just dip the tops in?

Thanks Rick for the info. Being so worked up about my algae problem I forgot to mention how nice your planted tank is. It really look great.

Thanks everyone for your support and assistance. Very much appreciated.

Dennis (gotthinking)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Dennis: I think that running the UV sterilizer during the h2o2 treatment will be ok. If you have that threaded algae you could try some Tropheus juveniles (adults might cause too much havoc on plants). I see them occasionally pulling at a strand of java moss, but never enough to be a problem.

The most important thing I learned about keeping NPTs is PATIENCE. You need a lot of it sometimes!

rick
 

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f1ea: The Africans in the tank are T. duboisi juveniles. I don't know if the adults eat plants/dig substrate. So far, the juvies have not done either, but then again, they're young. They're also not staying in the tank... as soon as they loose their spots (the sign that they've matured) I'm bringing them back to the store and trade them in for 1" fry again. As for the Nymphea, it's not really hidden in the back, the tank has a 360 deg view (almost) with the "back" open to the foyer by the front door. So, it does get admired! As for the coloration of the plants, I don't know if it has to do with lights or diff. species as the plants were gifts and I don't know what species they are.
Thanks for taking your time to answer to everyone...

Well, most of the African cichlids will dig when they are in breeding behaviour. It may change how long it takes for them to mature and begin breeding behaviour... but since you are taking them back before that, then it seems it may work fine. Also, the Malawi cichlids (Mbuna) are more destructive than yours... I'm sure it will be difficult to catch them though :rolleyes:

Ah nice that the tank is 360 view! That plant is Nymphaea micrantha. There appears to be 2 different color varieties... but i'm thinking the colors can change due to the specific conditions. Not sure yet.

Regards
 

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I am keeping the UV on. My worry was whether the UV will shorten the effective period of the H2O2. I had applied some H2O2 with a syringe to the algae but did not see any reaction (as in bubbling). In any case, after I applied that I added enough to the whole aquarium to a total dose of 1.5 ml per gal. I will wait and see what happens. If needs be, given a couple of days lapse if I can see no result at all, I will do a partial water change and dose it at 2 ml per gal. Both plants and fish are doing fine, including the floating water sprite with its gangling roots.

It's hard to get the T. duboisi juveniles from here. At least I have not seen any here in Costa Rica. I will try for some other Tropheus since they are all herbivorous and taking them back when their work is done is a great idea. My 120 gal. tank is meant for discus and I plan to import them from Mac's Discus ( http://www.macsdiscus.com/ ) when the time comes.

Will keep you posted and thanks to you all.
 

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OK, it's been 3 days with H2O2 2% at 1.5 ml/gal. Perhaps if I had H2O2 3% I would have gotten bubbling when I applied it directly to the black algae. As it stands, the bearded form on the plants is about 1/3 to 1/4 its original length and the others that are on the tank wall is much better. I lost 2 cardinals that I had for over 2 years in the process. I will give it another day then do a 1/3 partial water change since it is obviously working. Then I will dose it again with H2O2.

In another blog page ( http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/algae/3806-flourish-excel-got-rid-all-my.html ) I read this from Simpte 27: "Well I finally found a local source of Flourish Excel. I was in the process of adding it into my tank when my little girl ran into me from behind. Needless to say I dumped quite a bit in. At least 5 times the recommended doseage. 2 days later my bba, spot, and green fuzz algae is gone. No sign of it anywhere. I think I like this stuff!" and from niko "I should say that I got a similar experience.
I have a non-CO2 tank that has been clean for ages but the last 2 months or so I started adding Excel in a dose about 5 times the recommended about every 3 days.
Things were great no algae with the exception of very few bba spots.
After stopping the Excel bba, bga, and hair algae appeared.
I started dosing again and all 3 algae disappeared, only the bba is still there but less than before.
--Nikolay"

I will stick with the H2O2 for now and see how that works, Lots of good information there.

Thanks again to all and I hope Simpte 27 and niko would forgive me for quoting them without prior permission.
 
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