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It's good that you added plants to this tank. I like the plant you've strung across the surface. Nice touch!

That said, I'm not seeing the amount of plant growth that I would expect after a few months in a tank with soil layer. Of course, I don't know when you added the new light and the new plants. But let's just take the Val that you have growing in the back left corner as an example. It should have spread 2-3 fold by now. Even though it has leaves at surface getting enough light from the small light source, I don't see that the plant has spread much. That makes me think that something is holding all plant growth back.

What is the GH (water hardness) and KH (carbonate hardness)? Have you had any trouble with plants not rooting or floating to the surface? What did you use for the soil layer?

The tank is nice, but I think there's room for improvement.
 

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Whew! You've gone through quite a bit with this tank. I would increase the GH by adding a source of calcium and magnesium. That could easily be part of the problem and explains why your Val are not doing that well. If you can easily get Wonder Shells, I would use them. They work quickly and do the job at 1/3 recommended dose. Poke the soil a little. Can't hurt.

Tank just needs a little tweaking and time. That said, the fact that your Elodea, Sagittaria and Swordplant are doing so splendidly makes me think tank may not need ANY changes. You could just sit back and enjoy the lovely scene you have created..
 

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Reptocal is not the same as Wonder Shells. I would not put it in my tank. You might as well use seashells or oyster grit. See my book (p. 87) for details on what to use to increase water hardness (i.e., calcium, potassium, magnesium).

In the meantime, a possible helper. I would add some baking soda to this tank. Start with 1/2 tsp (~3 grams) per 10 gal (38 liters). That might help as Val can use bicarbonates as a carbon source. Maybe, the low GH is not the problem.

I would try not running that spillway filter for a few days or at least just run it at night. Those spillway filters can remove all CO2, and plants need CO2 badly. Watch fish for oxygen deficiency.

No, you don't have to keep poking substrate. The bubbling by itself does same thing, introduces oxygen.

The plant looks like an Alternanthera species.
 

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That's good that you are getting some plant growth. The sodium bicarbonate probably helped. Barring major water changes, I would not add anymore.

I've found that messing with pH is a waste of time. Your fish can probably handle it fine.

Now, you need to look for a source of calcium. If you can't find the Wonder Shells, then I would at least put a calcium carbonate source into your filter. This could be oyster grit or crushed coral. Remember that the finer the shell particles, the faster they will dissolve and release calcium into the water.

I would consider turning the filter off during the day. I suspect you would get better plant growth, as that filter is probably removing CO2 during the day when plants need it most. Mechanical timers are $7 at various hardware stores.

In my article 'Potted Plants for Fish Breeding Tanks' I've dispensed with filters altogether. Article can be downloaded from my website.
 

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Today I found a KH test at the fishstore, yay! Where I also bought crushed coral (with aragonite, I hope this isn't an issue? From when I read online briefly, it's not?).

Definitely low on CO2!

5 KH, with 8 pH = 1.47 ppm CO2.

I left the filter off today (but left a tiny pump on inside to create water flow), tonight I'll turn it on and I already placed a little bag of the crushed coral in the filter and tomorrow I'll do a complete water reading to see what`s changed!

Thanks for all the advice! I'm re-reading the chapter on carbon and the different ways plants absorb it, it`s fascinating but I admit being new to this I can get a bit confused!
Good you are measuring CO2. Remember that it will change drastically during the day, so take note of what time of day you measure it. Highest reading will be early in morning before lights go and photosynthesis starts (see Graph XI-2 in my book, p. 179).

Aragonite and crushed coral are both mainly calcium carbonate, so what you got is fine. Your pH is already high and I don't think that it can go much higher despite the added carbonate. It will just take longer to dissolve.

KH is fine.

I think leaving the filter off as much as possible will definitely help increase CO2 levels.
 

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From what I understand, once there's more CO2 available, the pH will go down a little?
That's true if it were distilled water. But with plants in the tank, they will remove the CO2 and drive the pH back up. My tanks all have an alkaline pH. Most fish can handle it.

By removing the filter and preventing degassing CO2, your plants will get the CO2 instead of the air. That's the benefit.

Since you are monitoring things so closely, I think your fish will be able to come through a temporary adjustment.

Have you been able to add a calcium source to this tank?
 

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Very nice! I see healthy fish, no algae, decent plant growth. I would not add any more bicarbonates. Your KH is fine and you don't want to fill tank with sodium. The coral will probably not dissolve much at that high pH, but I just don't see any major reason to mess with this tank.

As to GH, it could be higher. Don't be tempted to add commercial products, because most of them contain high levels of sulfates, and that will cause real problems for this tank. Since Wonder Shells are not available in your country, if you can get your hands on pure calcium chloride (CaCl2), that would be the next thing you might consider. CaCl2 is a common lab chemical that dissolves immediately and that won't change pH. I have a bottle of it that I'm still using after 30 years. See photo.

Your fish are beautiful!
 

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No idea if this is the right thing, powder form- (I failed chemistry class and went to art school - just being up front about this right now!)
View attachment 73937
That is what you want! CaCl2 is hydroscopic, so it comes with attached water molecules or eventually accumulates them and turns to a liquid. That's fine. See picture of my jar. The calcium is still there!

The cheese calcium also would probably work. Take your pick and experiment.
 

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Edit- I forgot to mention, I left the filter off last night, ammonia/nitrite readings stayed zero! I'm wondering if I shouldn't just leave it off from now on, make it an officially filter-free Certified Organic Aquarium?! 😁

15 teaspoons later (next time I'm buying the concentrates powder! On the otherhand, this allowed for a much more controlled rise) I managed to get the gH up to roughly around 8-9, so I stopped there.

I think I read somewhere that this will last quite a few months, if I'm not mistaken? Either way, I'll keep tabs on it for a while and see how fast the plants are going to be absorb it considering they are probably missing it right now.

So I've been thinking about the possibility of adding spring/mineral water, as it usually has a lot calcium, magnesium, etc. Although what concerns me is the levels of other stuff like nitrates, sodium, etc. I looked up a few brands and seems like nothing is really 100%. (For example, Nestlé Pure Life). Here in Brazil we have a lot of options for natural spring/mineral waters, so I'm wondering if it's worth the trouble looking into this option.

Decided to place this question out here because my boyfriend is keen on the idea (me, not so much because I haven't really read anything about it.)
If the calcium does benefit, getting the GH up to 8-9 should do the trick. I suspect the calcium levels will stay up there. It's not like CO2 that degasses within a day. Plants won't take up that much calcium. Aquatic botanists think that water calcium protects against metal toxicity, so it's not really a nutrient uptake issue.

Spring water cannot hurt, but the salts are probably so dilute that it would be a rather expensive solution. You could always do a GH test on the spring water.

I would wait a month to see what the calcium results are. Should be interesting!
 

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Nice tank results!

Allelopathy is very species specific and undependable for managing aquariums. I regret having duckweed in my tanks. Water Lettuce, Salvinia, Frogbit are so much bigger and easier to remove. Duckweed will block light to other plants, but being so small doesn't do nearly as much for water purification as a big strapping Water Lettuce.

Interesting that your fish nibble on plant roots. That's a new one for me!
 

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Thanks for your reply and sharing your progress with us. I think you have acquired a very good understanding of aquarium ecology.

A little filtration and water circulation is fine. In some cases, it can be beneficial.

Very pretty tank!
 

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I would remove some of those rocks on left side of tank. They are taking up "floor space" that would be better devoted to plant growth. And be careful not to trim plants too much; that can result in algae. Based on your recent photo, your tank is a long way from being over-crowded with plants. Still, I'm glad you can see your Corys!
I would try to accommodate floating plants. You could make a circle with air-line tubing to float on surface, so plants don't get trapped under the filter. Or tie larger floating plants (Water Lettuce or Frogbit) to the driftwood. Remember that floating plants are much, much better than submerged plants in removing nitrite and ammonia from the water.
 

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My bad. It took me a while to figure out that the tank from ten days ago was the so-called, "4th tank" that you and your boyfriend have set up. It might be useful in the future to start a separate journal for different tanks. I'm getting old and it's not easy to remember which photos are from what tank a month later. :LOL:
I agree totally. I'm probably older than johnwesley and my patience has not increased with age.

Also, 2 pictures (side and front) is enough. Scrolling through a bunch of similar pictures is irritating. Pick out and post the best two pictures that depict the problem, or hopefully, the solution.

My advice: To get the best answers, take your time when posting.
 

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Gluconate is a type of sugar and could stimulate rampant bacterial growth. Sticking candy into the substrate? Unless you know someone who has experience with K gluconate, I would stick with KCl added to the water.

Iodine at the amount used for human consumption should be fine. (I don't know where people got the idea Iodine was a problem when added in small amounts.)
 

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I wish I could help you. Perhaps the fish generates a slime coat in response to irritation by the parasites?
My fish disease textbook (Fish Diseases by Edward Noga) recommends organophosphates (OPs) such as dichlorvos or trichlorfon for treating fish with ectoparasites. For anchor worms, treatment is "prolonged immersion" in an OP bath every 7 days for 28 days.
I have no experience with these worms, and it looks like no one else here on APC does either.
Good luck. Fish diseases are no fun....
 
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