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278 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello All,

I am new to APC (see my intro, if you have some time for lots of reading), and was told by some other members that I should start a journal for others to check out.

I am starting back up a 75 gallon tank that I had up-and-running from 1997-2000, but have had sitting in storage ever since. Until now. After going to the AGA convention, I have a renewed sense of excitement about planted aquariums. Years ago I became very discouraged, so I am hoping with your help I can be much more successful this time.

To begin with, the equipment:

75 gallon All-Glass aquarium
Custom-made oak stand and canopy
IceCap 660 ballast, two 48" VHO T12 URI Aquasun bulbs (I wrote down years ago that these are 5,200K, but I noticed that the ones for sale now are listed as 10,000K) Note: I used to use four(!!) of these, until Cavan, among others, told me to drop the lighting down
Digital Oceans IceCast VHO dimmer
Two Fluval 403 canister filters, rated for 317 gph each, with ceramic pre-filter media, easter basket grass, filter foams, and filter floss
One Eheim Surface Extractor
Rainbow Lifegard Quiet One water pump rated at 1140 gph used for circulation only, no filtration
Duplaflex 500 under-gravel heating cable (not actually using it yet, though...I have a DIY transformer and controller almost completed, still lacks the finishing touches)
VisiTherm 200 watt heater (mainly just for back-up)
20 lb. CO2 cylinder
Doctors Foster and Smith Deluxe Fully-Automatic CO2 System
About 108 lbs. Seachem Flourite Fracted Porous Clay Substrate
Piece of driftwood attached to slate base that came from guy that I bought the tank from
Piece of driftwood collected at Jekyll Island, Georgia, USA
6" diameter rock that also came from guy that I bought the tank from

Then the plants:

A whole lot of Anubias (not exactly sure which species) left over from when tank was set up over eight years ago that somehow managed to survive lots of neglect
A whole lot of Cryptocoryne Wentii that also is left over, same story
A lot of plants picked up at the AGA Convention auction:
four Cryptocoryne Balansae
two Cryptocoryne Pontederifolia
one Crinum Calimastratum
one Echinodorus Parviflorus
one Echinodorus Cordifolius "Tropica Marble Queen"
one Echinodorus Hormani
some Shinnersia Rivularis, Mexican Water Oak
some Heteranthera Zosterifolia, Stargrass
some Hygrophila Polysperma
some Hygrophila Augustifolia
some Hygro. that wasn't labeled, but I think it's Corymbosa
and some Marsilia Minuta

And then the inhabitants (so far):

five Bristle Nose Plecostomus, also picked up at the AGA Convention

The tank was set-up with all of this stuff on November 18th. Here are some pictures of how it looked on November 26th:

Plant Property Vertebrate Green Wood

Water Plant Pet supply Organism Terrestrial plant

Plant Vertebrate Nature Terrestrial plant Organism

Plant Water Pet supply Organism Terrestrial plant

Plant Plant community Vertebrate Terrestrial plant Organism

I know that I don't have the aquascaping talents of Amano, but I'm just trying to get plants to grow right now.

I'll continue to update so you can see how I'm doing.

Thanks for checking it out.


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278 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hello again,

I was going to post more pictures on the initial thread, but was limited to five.

Here is a picture of one of the Bristle Nose Plecos:

Plant Reptile Terrestrial plant Grass Terrestrial animal

I LOVE these little guys! Years ago I had a common Plecostomus, but it got too big, so I had to trade him (or her) back in. I got some Otocinclus instead, but I swear these Bristle Nose Plecos seem to be a lot harder workers than the Otos were, but it was a long time ago so I might just not be remembering correctly.

Also, as was already mentioned, I have an outbreak of cyanobacteria:

Plant Leaf Terrestrial plant Vegetation Natural landscape

I started treating with Maracyn (erythromycin, 800 mg per day) the night of the 26th, and it is already having tremendous results. Today will be the last treatment, and the majority has either already retreated completely and released its hold on whatever it was attached to, or appears to be ready to. I will then work on physically removing the remains. I have been adding KNO3 to try and keep the Nitrate level between 10 to 20 ppm as has been recommended. I sure hope that it doesn't come back.

One of the flower stalks on the Ech. Parviflorus has already broken the surface by about an inch.

I also am impressed by the red leaves on the Ech. Hormani. In just the time that I have had it, one new leaf is already about five inches long, with another coming right behind it, both brilliantly red. I have been dosing lots of Seachem Flourish Iron, trying as hard as I can to keep the .1 ppm recommended amount, but the plants must use it crazy fast!

The Crypt. Pontederifolia has been bubbling O2 like crazy:

Plant Green Leaf Natural environment Botany

By the end of the evening the bubbles come out as almost a steady stream.

I also now have a small colony of snails (which will probably become a LARGE colony). I had this same problem a long time ago after getting new plants, but was able to take care of it with four Clown Loaches. However, in my recent research I have determined that not very many people seem to think that Clowns are a good idea. I noticed that a lot of people have Yo Yo Loaches listed as inhabitants in their planted tanks, so I checked my Baensch Atlases, and they seem like they would be good. I really enjoyed my Clowns, but if another Loach would be better, I'm willing to give them a try. Any ideas?

I'm eager to start populating with fish, but am taking it slow right now. I so badly want a huge (30-40) school of Cardinal Tetras, but I was never able to get very many to survive in my tank. I was told by my new LFS that they are now being pond raised in Florida and are hardier than they used to be. We'll see. He said that he can get me some Corydoras Sterbai that have orange pectoral fins, which sound really cool (although they aren't pictured like that in the Baensch Atlases).

Thanks again for looking. I'll keep updating regularly.


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278 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hello again. Sorry for the delay, but here's an update on how my tank is going. I was going to update last weekend, but got sick and spent most of my time in bed.

First of all, here are some new photos taken yesterday:
Plant Terrestrial plant Vegetation Grass Adaptation

Plant Leaf Terrestrial plant Leaf vegetable Grass

Plant Leaf Terrestrial plant Grass Adaptation

Plant Leaf Terrestrial plant Grass Adaptation

Plant Leaf Grass Terrestrial plant Leaf vegetable

So far, I'm really pleased with how the tank is progressing. I'm still tinkering around with the equipment, but am being very patient with the plants so I can see how each one reacts to it's environment. Many of these plants are brand new to me and I'm not really sure what to expect. Even though I may have read about them or seen them in photos of other aquariums, I realize that the conditions that they are in now may cause them to behave differently than what I would have expected. I'll worry about rearranging the tank later once I have a better idea what they are going to do. As you can see, the Mexican Water Oak has been growing like a weed. I did a water change yesterday, trimmed it back, and replanted the trimmings next to the original plants. Otherwise, I didn't really have to do too much other maintenance.

Unfortunately, my Quiet One pump started making so much noise on 12-5-08 that I thought that it was going to explode and send it's impeller through the cabinet. I guess that sitting around for eight years wasn't too good for it, because it now is locking up. I took the pump portion of it apart, but I didn't see any reason for it to mess up. I believe it is locking up inside the electrical motor itself. Therefore, I researched for recommended pumps and decided that the Magdrive 12 would be a good one. I got it Friday, and worked really hard yesterday to remove the old one so I could install the new. However, apparently the plastic on the Magdrive pumps isn't as strong as on the Quiet One, because as I was tightening up the intake pipe (by hand, no tools), the pump cover cracked :mad:!!! Then, to make matters worse, I decided to take the cover off to see how badly damaged it was, and the ceramic shaft for the impeller snapped in two :(!!! My first impression of Magdrive pumps is that they are cheap crap, but maybe I just got a dud. I'll have to call the company tomorrow and see if they can help me out. Otherwise, I guess I'll be buying replacement parts for a pump that hasn't even seen water yet :confused:. My biggest concern is that my water circulation is dramatically lower than it had been, and I don't want to suffer any problems with my tank because of it. Even so, the tank still seems to be doing okay.

Next, I'll post some upclose pictures of a few points of interest.


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278 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
And now for the photos of the specific areas I was referring too.

I'm really pleased with the growth of the Ech. Hormani:

Plant Leaf Terrestrial plant Grass Leaf vegetable

It is sending out new red leaves very quickly. :D

Also, as you may remember, I had an outbreak of cyanobacteria. Thank goodness, the treatments of Maracyn cleared it up extremely well:

Plant Plant community Vertebrate Leaf Botany

I didn't even have to clean out the dead remains. It all just let go from what it was attached to and was sucked up by the filters. :eek:

In one of the earlier posts I mentioned that a flower stalk on the Ech. Parviflorus had broken the surface. Well, I was mistaken, the stalk only seems to have plantlets. I thought that it was going to do like the Ech. Major that I had years ago that would produce stalks that would break the surface and then have little white flowers with green centers. It now however has produced several more stalks. I'm going to have so many baby swords that I'm not going to know what to do with them! :lol:

Speaking of stalks, the Ech. Cordifolius now has sent up one. I'm not even going to speculate as to whether it is going to have flowers or plantlets; I'll just wait and see. Here's a picture from the end of the tank:
Plant Leaf Vegetation Terrestrial plant Leaf vegetable

And one from the front:
Plant Leaf Botany Terrestrial plant Vegetation

Also, I have been amazed at how much bigger the new leaves that it has been growing are compared to the ones that it had when I first got it. It is also interesting to me that when they are still brand new, they have a tinge of pink coloring, but once they mature they turn green. Very interesting plant. I just hope that it is supposed to be growing like this. ;)

When I was at the AGA convention, some guys gave me recommendations about plants to purchase at the auction. For a foreground plant, they suggested Marsila Minuta. Out of the what must have been hundreds of plants for sale, I only saw one bag with this plant, so I made sure that I won it. I am really pleased with how it is growing so far. The new leaves that it is sending up have much shorter stalks than what it had, which I really like:

Plant Terrestrial plant Aquatic plant Grass Groundcover

I hope that it keeps this up and covers up the whole bottom.

The only disappointing thing that I am having to deal with is that I am having to wait to get more fish. :( I asked my LFS to check with the wholesalers in Florida to see if they could get any of five different fish that I'm wanting to start out with: Cardinal Tetras, Rummynose Tetras, Corydoras Sterbais, Dwarf Loaches, or Zebra Loaches. Unfortunately, he said that they don't have any of these right now and won't until after the second week of January. So for now, I guess that I'll just have to be satisfied with my five Bristle Nose Plecos. Fortunately, knock on wood, the snail population has been very small and easily managed so far. I crush them as soon as I see them, but I am still seeing evidence that they are eating the plants, especially on the Hygro. Corymbosa. I guess a bright spot is that if I keep crushing snails, the biofilter is staying fed (in addition to Pleco poop).

I'll try and do a better job of keeping you up-to-date on the progress of my tank. Maybe I'll be able to post some post-trimming pictures soon.


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278 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well, so much for doing a better job at updating my journal. Man, the holidays were crazy busy for me. I guess late is better than never.

First of all, thank you Catherine for the kind words :)! I am so thrilled at how the aquarium is doing so far. I believe that it looks better now than it ever did when I had it set up before. I feel that this is mainly due to the fact that I have so much more information than I had then, and hopefully I can keep it up. As far as the two Echinodorus species that you mentioned, you should see them now! I am blown away at how fast they grow. New leaves gain about 3" per night in length. I thought only stem plants would grow that quickly.

Next, I need to update you on what has happened over the last month.

I mentioned that my brand new Magdrive 12 pump broke immediately. Well, the customer service at Danner Mfg. was excellent to work with, and they sent me a brand new impeller and pump cover for no charge. I installed the new parts without any issues and it has been circulating water now for about three weeks. My only issue now is that it is a bit noisy. It sounds like the impeller is stirring up air bubbles, but there aren't any coming out of the returns. Before I blame the pump, I need to check to make sure that it isn't something with my plumbing. However, I didn't have this problem with the Quiet One pump, and other than adding a couple of unions, the plumbing is the same.

Also, I have been experimenting with the plants to see what type of look that I would prefer. I allowed the Stargrass to grow all the way to the surface, and boy did it take off once it got there! In the matter of just a couple of weeks, it basically spread all the way from the far left side of the tank to the middle, from the back wall all the way to the front glass. It basically blocked out all of the light to the plants below and then essentially broke free from the gravel and became a floating mass. I had now idea that it would do this, but it was interesting to see. One thing that I really liked was that it started blooming :D. Every day I would come home to find at least two little purple and yellow flowers, and sometimes there would be more. I had a hard time taking a picture of them with the lights on without them being overexposed, but here is basically what they looked like:
Flower Plant Petal Terrestrial plant Grass

However, as much as I enjoyed the flowers, the Stargrass was basically making all of the plants below it think that it was night all day long, so I had to remove nearly all of it and replant. I ended up with a huge amount that I was able to take to my LFS, so hopefully he'll remember the favor and help me out later.

Speaking of my LFS, I am really disappointed that he hasn't been able to get me any fish yet. He said that he thought that the wholesaler in Florida would have some of the fish that I requested this week, but they still don't. They've only got what he refers to as the "bread and butter" fish, and apparently what I asked for aren't as common. Hopefully he'll get some soon, because as much as I love aquatic gardening, the whole reason I got a fish tank years ago was because I like keeping fish #-o (imagine that).

Since it was recommended by some of the people that I met at the AGA Convention, and also after I did a lot of reading about them here on APC, I decided to add a drop checker to the tank. I got one made by Up Aquarium Supply from a guy in Korea through eBay for just $6. I saw where several people spent a bunch of time and effort trying to make their own, but I really don't see the point. I really like the one that I got, and it was way too cheap for me to try to fabricate one myself, whether I have the materials laying around or not. It is working great, and I haven't seen any color other than light green so far, so I guess that my CO2 system is doing fine.

My wife just informed me that it is time for dinner, so later on I'll continue with the update, including adding some new pictures.


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278 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Okay, now to continue with my update.

I've also added a homemade cooler to help keep the water temp from going up too high. Years ago I acquired an automatic transmission cooler from a Ford van that is made out of aluminum (looks like a small radiator). I washed it out thoroughly and saved it thinking that I might could use it for this purpose, and I finally have added it to the aquarium. I plumbed it in series with the CO2 reactor so the water flow going through it wouldn't be too great as to not be effective, and I added four 80 mm computer style cooling fans for air flow. I am really pleased with the performance, especially since it is very simple and wasn't very expensive to get set up. The tank temperature is probably about three degrees cooler with the fans running than it was before.

I also came across the Crypt. Wendtii plantlets that were handed out Friday night at the AGA Convention that I honestly had forgotten about. It took awhile, but I finally got them out of their little glass bottles and added them to the tank. The original leaves melted away as Crypts often do, but they have begun to grow new leaves, so I'm interested to see what they look like once they mature into adult plants. I also found the Madagascar Lace plantlets, but I'm scared to add them for fear that I'll accidentally kill them. I need to research how to take care of them before too long though, since I'm not sure how long they will survive in those little plastic bags.

I also decided that even though I haven't made the control circuit for the heating cables, I really wanted to get them working. So, I simply plugged the transformer into a timer, and gradually added more on time while keeping tabs on the water temp. I've now got them on just about all day, with the only off time being a couple of hours in the afternoon. I'm curious to see if they will help any or not.

I've discovered that since I don't have any carnivorous fish yet, not only am I experiencing an uncontrolled snail population, but I also have some type of worms in the gravel. They vary in size from about an inch to two inches in length, and from about a sixteenth to an eighth of an inch across. They come to the surface at night and wave their bodies back and forth kind of like they are dancing. It's actually pretty interesting to watch. I've never seen anything like it before, and I have no idea where they came from. My guess is that once I get some Corys and Loaches in with them, that they will become free live food ;). I took some pictures and videos of them, but it's really hard to see the worms since the tank was dark. The videos are better, but the file sizes are huge.
Here's some of the larger ones:
Plant Terrestrial plant Twig Wood Grass

The detritus that you see is a result of not having the circulation pump running for almost three weeks. Now the majority of that has been stirred up into the filter intakes.

Here is one of the smaller worms between the gravel and the glass:
Plant Terrestrial plant Wood Flowering plant Deciduous

On another note, I had mentioned before that the Ech. Cordifolius had sent up a stalk, but that I wasn't sure what to expect. Well, to my delight, it does indeed have flowers :clap2:. In fact, I've been treated to quite a few white flowers with yellow centers. In addition to the flowers, it has been growing plantlets that seem to get bigger with the same tenacity that the rest of the plant does. When I took the Stargrass trimmings to my LFS, I also took two nicely sized plantlets from this first flower stalk, and I already have another one that is way more impressive. The second stalk has five groupings of buds/plantlets that stretches almost from one side of the tank to the other. Here is a picture of one of the flowers that I took this evening:
Flower Plant Petal Purple Botany

Speaking of taking plantlets to the LFS, I took probably 8-10 Ech. Parviflorus plantlets as well. I'm not sure what to think about this plant. It seems to be far more concerned about making babies instead of growing. I hope that everything is okay with it.

Next, I'll post some overall pictures of the tank.


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278 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Okay, time for the updated pictures:

Plant Plant community Terrestrial plant Grass Landscape

Plant Houseplant Terrestrial plant Grass Aquatic plant

Plant Leaf Botany Terrestrial plant Grass

Plant Terrestrial plant Rectangle Grass Aquatic plant

Plant Terrestrial plant Pet supply Rectangle Grass

As you can tell from the last few posts, I've been busy with the aquarium over the last month, and that's even with me being out of town for a week over Christmas.

I'm thrilled with how it is doing so far. I noticed for the first time a couple of days ago that one of the Crypt. Pontederifolias has started sending up baby plants from the gravel. They are all within a couple of inches of the base of the mother plant, and some of them are already a couple of inches tall. I'm hoping that a little grouping of these plants will look good.

And of course, as I've said before, I can't hardly wait until I can get some more fish. Hopefully I will have some soon and I can post an update then.

Thanks again for checking out my tank. I welcome all constructive criticism and comments.


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278 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hello again.

In my last post I mentioned that I can't hardly wait until I get some new fish. Well, I now have some, but they weren't expected at all. Tuesday night I was tending to the aquarium when to my surprise I saw a Bristlenose Plecostomus fry :whoo: !! I had read somewhere that these guys will sometimes spawn in the home aquarium, but I had no idea that they were already mature enough. I can't find any identification information for them. I've looked in all four of my Baensch atlases, and I don't think they're in there. Never-the-less, apparently they are of breeding age since I now have a bunch of babies!

Here are a few pictures of one of them:

Plant Terrestrial plant Grass Flowering plant Aquatic plant

Plant Terrestrial plant Grass Arecales Flowering plant

Plant Beak Botany Terrestrial plant Water

The most that I have counted at one time is ten, but I would imagine that in a 75 gallon tank with as many hiding places as there are, there are probably many more.

Years ago I had some Corys that would spawn often, but I was never able to raise any of the fry. However, I guess that since I haven't gotten any other fish yet, these little guys may actually have a chance to grow up.

Speaking of which, I contacted my LFS again on Wednesday, and he said that he still isn't having any luck with his wholesaler down in Florida. Supposedly it is the largest freshwater wholesale supplier in the country, but they haven't been responding to any of his emails or voicemail messages. He suggested that I try another store, but I would rather just wait and see, especially now that I have a bunch of babies that I don't want to become live food :Cry:!

On another note, the Ech. Cordifolius has sent up a third flower stalk, but it went straight up into the lights and has started drying up. The Ech. Hormani has sent up a stalk of its own, but I'm afraid that it is also going to end up in the lights.

I'm a little puzzled at the amount of fertilizers that I'm having to add in order to maintain the optimum amounts of nutrients (it's been taking more and more the longer the tank is going, and WAY more than what is suggested on the bottles). I think that I'm going to have to start reading up here on APC about the different ways to fertilize, because I am concerned about getting the tank out-of-whack.

I'll try and get some better photos of the fry later on.


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406 Posts
Very nice tank and congratulations on the Ansistrus spawn. The young should be worth a few dollars when they reach salable size.

The worms appear to be a Blackworm of some type that you were feeding. When comes time to add some fish a bunch of the same species of Cory (a few at a time) will be ecstatic with the space and the worms to hunt and root out of the substrate. Cories are very neat little predators and usually behave themselves on the bottom of a tank with occasional dashes to the surface for a gulp of air. If you do not enjoy Cories they are easily disposed of to almost anyone or there are a lot of alternatives but I just really enjoy Cories.

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks Cliff for the kind words.

I'm hoping that the fry survive so I can take them to my LFS for trade. I'm not sure, but I think that some of them may be albino. We'll see once they get bigger what they end up looking like. If so, I may have to keep them since they might look cool.

When you mentioned that the worms may have resulted from a feeding, it rang a bell in my head. I remember now that one time a sales associate at one of the LFS (one that has since closed; this was over ten years ago) suggested that I try these little plastic packets of live food for feeding my fish, so I got one. It had these little worms all tangled up in a ball with some liquid in the packet. I believe they were Blood worms, but I'm not sure. I remember now that when I put them into the tank, some of them made it all the way to the bottom without getting eaten, and to my horror, wiggled their way down into the gravel. Some time after that, I noticed some worms in the gravel through the glass. Every once in awhile, I would see one of my Corys grab one, pull it up out of the gravel, and eat it. I had forgotten about that until you mentioned it. However, I am shocked that they survived all of this time. I hope that it isn't a problem that they are in there, since I'm not about to break the tank back down just to clean them out. Hopefully my LFS will be able to get me some fish soon that will be happy that the worms are in there for a little treat occasionaly. I also really enjoy Corys, and as I mentioned before, have asked my LFS to see if he can get me some Corydoras Sterbais. Maybe this week they'll have better news.

Thanks again,


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406 Posts
Do not keep too many of the Ansistrus. They will compete and, as with most critters (shoaling fish being an exeption,) do not care for each others company unless it is the opposite sex and they are concered with reproduction. They also need lots of "hiding" places even in a decent sized tank that is not overcrowded.

Sterbaes are a good fish but let the LFS keep them for a couple of weeks after the fish comes in and add them to the tank a half dozen at a time.

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733 Posts
Very nice development, Andy. I love the progress. It looks like a jungle in good condition and growth.

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I would love to put together a 20,000 gallon planted tank, then simulate the catastrophic events of pollutants and monitor the changes that take place over a short period of time. for example, I would go to the store and buy $50,ooo in rare discus species, then see if they could deal with extreme temperature fluctuations. This would be accomplished by using a heater that could bring the water form 72 degrees F and the jack it up a good 60 degrees for a couple hours. Then use dry ice to drop it down to 32 degrees F. I would simulate high ammonia levels using a 55 gallon barrel of antifreez to the water column. Any fish left would be a keeper. lol...

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278 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I can't believe how fast time goes by!! I am not one that likes excuses, but unfortunately, I've been so busy over the last eight months that I haven't managed to find the time to update my journal. From being crazy busy at work, a week of SCUBA diving in Grand Cayman, upgrading my computers, two weeks in Hawaii, several work related conferences, a hernia operation, lots of aquarium maintenance and improvements, plus all of the normal things involved with the responsibilities of home ownership, I've gotten way behind. I'm going to try and summarize what has happened and then hopefully I can do better in the future at not getting behind. My wife has gone shopping and didn't leave me a Honey-do list, so let's see how much I can get done before she returns.

First of all, I need to update on some of the things that have already been mentioned.

I figured out that in order to stop the noise that was coming from the Magdrive 12 pump, I simply needed to throttle down the flow from the exhaust side where the water returns to the tank. I just closed the ball valve slightly and the noise went away. The pump hasn't given me any trouble since then, so I am happy with it and wouldn't hesitate to recommend one to someone else.

The Crypt. wendtii plantlets from the AGA conference never did grow much, and unless they happened to be the exact same variety of the Crypt. wendtiis that I already had (in which case they disappeared amongst the rest of them), they eventually died altogether.

Earlier I had mentioned that I had some snails, but that I was crushing them as fast as I could find them to keep the population from getting out of hand. Apparently that worked, because I haven't had any snails at all in a long time. I'm very surprised that I was able to get rid of them so easily, because years ago I had the tank get overtaken by snails, even though I worked as hard as I could to get rid of them.

Shortly after my last post (back in January), I noticed that BBA was starting to grow on the wood and some of the plants. It eventually got very out of control. I've been reading a lot here on APC on how to get rid of it, and the problem is starting to get better, but I'm still not happy with the situation yet. I'm not really sure why it took off to begin with, except that it started during a time where I was experimenting with the fertilizers in order to achieve the recommended amounts of the various nutrients in the water column based on water testing and also desirable plant growth. The CO2 had remained pretty much the same from the time that I set up the aquarium until now, so I don't think that had anything to do with it. I had been using Seachem Flourish, Flourish Trace, Flourish Excel, and Flourish Iron, as well as KNO3 and KH2PO4 added dry. I was testing the water and trying to keep NO3, PO4, and Fe at the generally accepted proper levels, but was having a hard time. Most of the plants were growing very well though - almost too well. In fact, the Ech. cordifolius started growing huge leaves (from memory, probably 7-8" long), and then they all started growing emersed. Every leaf that it would send up would go straight to the surface, almost like a water lily. Sometimes they would even go all the way up into the lights. However, the Stargrass and Mexican Water Oak were only content once they made it all the way to the surface, and then they would take off. After that, their stems would rot away and they would become just large floating plants that were shading everything below them. I eventually became so discouraged with both of these plants that I just took them out and threw them away. The Ech. parviflorus didn't seem to be too concerned about growing anything but more stalks with babies (but it's not even doing that now - it's just barely surviving). The Ech. hormani, like the cord., was putting up flower stalks continuously, and was growing just fine. In February I added one of the Madagascar Lace plants that I had received at the AGA convention, and later it started growing some new leaves. I added the other one in March, but it never grew at all. The first one is still in the tank, but is barely growing (it puts out a new 2-3" long leaf a week). I was beginning to get very tired of all of the water testing and fertilizer tweaking, so I researched here on APC fertilizer techniques. I decided that I liked the idea of PPS pro the best, so I bought the other ingredients and mixed up the two solutions. In March I began fertilizing with PPS pro and Excel. I quit worrying about testing the water since I was under the impression that I didn't have to. I noticed that the plants stopped growing so fast, especially the Ech. cordifolius. In fact, it now is only growing submersed leaves at a more manageable 4-5" long. However, the Hygros slowed down their growth to the point that eventually, they were barely growing at all. In fact, they were looking like they might die. I saw a thread started by Diana Walstad about nitrates inhibiting growth on some plants, so I checked the NO3 and found it to be off the chart on my Seachem kit (50+ ppm!). I am now in the process of trying to correct this problem, and have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all fertilizer for planted aquariums. You can read more about my PPS pro changes here:

On March 14th I added ten Rummynose Tetras (YEAH, finally some more fish :whoo::clap2::bounce:!!). By March 18th I couldn't find but eight of them :(. I then added eight Corydoras sterbai. On March 21st I found a dead Cory, and became really concerned as to what might be going on. I began researching here on APC, and decided that I didn't like what I was reading about the gluteraldehyde in Excel, so I stopped using it (and haven't used it since). It might not have had anything to do with my fish dying, but I still didn't like what I read, so decided not to use it. I might change my mind in the future, but for now it isn't going in my tank. By March 26th I could only find six of the Corys (and the eight Rummynose).

Also in March I decided to remove the timer from the transformer for the heating cables and plugged it straight in. It has been on 24/7 ever since (I have no idea if it helps or not). I also noticed that the temp of the tank was a little lower than I wanted it to be, so I turned off the fans for the cooler.

I noticed that something was floating in the PPS micro solution, so I checked into it here, and discovered that others had also had issues with fungus growing in theirs (sure wish that would have been addressed in the original information so I could have prevented it). Basically everyone just said that they added some anti-fungus medicine to the solution to kill and prevent it from forming. I happened to have some MarOxy on hand (from probably 9-10 years ago), and tried to find out if it would be okay to use. I couldn't find any info on whether it expires, so I guessed that it would be okay (the ingredients are listed as "stabilized chlorine oxides", but it doesn't say for how long they are stable). I added about .5 mL to my micro solution (had started with 1 L; not sure exactly how much was left), and it seemed to stop the fungus from growing.

At the end of April, I noticed that the temp of the tank was beginning to creep up a little higher than I wanted it to be, so I turned the fans for the cooler back on (and they've been on ever since).

On May 4th, I decided that I had ignored a Cory that appeared to be infected with what appeared to me to be a fungus for long enough, so I decided to try and treat it with some of the MarOxy that I already mentioned. I added 1/2 oz. MarOxy a day for five days (the recommended dosage and time according to the instructions). On May 10th, I found a dead baby Bristlenose pleco :( (the only one left from the spawn back in January; not positive as to what happened to the others, but now I think that they were being sucked up into the intakes for the filters and pump and subsequently killed). On May 11th I found another dead Bristlenose; this time one of the original ones from the convention :Cry:. On May 12th I found another dead Bristlenose (again one of the originals), and the Cory that I had been treating was dead, too :crybaby:. I immediately did an emergency water change to hopefully stop the deaths. The three remaining Bristlenose plecos didn't seem to be doing so great, but were still alive. However, on May 14th another one died :cry:. That left me with one male and one female. The male still seemed to be stressed (was just laying around and constantly moving his pectoral and pelvic fins as if he was trying to move water across his body). The female seemed to be okay. I tried to contact Mardel Laboratories to ask if the MarOxy should be blamed for my deaths, but after being transferred multiple times on the phone, I ended up having to leave a message for someone, but they never called me back, and I was so frustrated that I gave up.

On May 20th I added three more Rummynose Tetras and six Lemon Tetras. The next day I found one of the new Rummynose Tetras dead (I wondered if I should even buy it since it appeared weak at the store, but I bought it anyway since I was so desperate to get some more fish).

On May 31st I added a fan set-up to blow air across the light bulbs in the hood (the tank temp was getting a bit too high again). I did some research on the internet and found a design for a temperature controlled, adjustable device that only turns on the fans when the temperature gets high enough. I bought all of the components necessary and soldered it all together, and am extremely happy with how well it works. As the lights slowly come on in the morning, the fans also slowly come on. Once the lights are on fully, the fans are also. When the lights begin dimming in the evening, the fans start slowing down. Once the lights turn completely off, the fans also turn off. Pretty cool set-up and I'm very pleased with it.

By this time, the BBA was beginning to show signs of dying (turning gray to rusty red, and then letting go and eventually getting sucked up by the filters). The plants were also starting to grow better. I had been noticing "pearling" for the first time ever.

On June 1st, I noticed that one of the Lemon Tetras was beginning to swim around aimlessly, as if it had lost all swim control. By June 5th it was dead :sad:. Also, I couldn't find but nine of the Rummynose Tetras (should have been ten).

I went to Hawaii for two weeks at the end of June to the first of July, and when I returned, I found that the Bristlenose plecos had spawned :cheer2:! Found nine fry (they actually spawned again later, so I had two different groups of fry that were different ages/sizes). However, one of the Rummynose Tetras was missing, and two of the Corys appeared to have some white fuzz on them and their fins appeared to be eaten away :confused:. I had measured out the PPS doses and food to be fed for family members to take care of while I was gone, so I don't know why there would have been any problems. I decided to just let the Corys either get better on their own or die, since the last time I had tried to medicate had ended up in disaster.

In July, I started doing a lot of research into methods of automatically administering the PPS solutions. My thought was that the plants in nature would not be just getting their nutrients all at once in the morning before the sun comes up, but would actually have the nutrients available all day long. With the exceptions of rain storms, the water conditions are probably pretty constant. I finally decided to use an infusion pump to slowly add the solutions all throughout the day, every day. I posted information on how I did this here:
So far I am extremely pleased with how this system is working.

Speaking of PPS pro, I now mix the solutions at 1/2 strength (I use twice as much water, but then dose twice as much). I did this for two reasons: it allows me to fine-tune the dosing easier using the infusion pump, and it prevents the precipitate from forming in the macro solution. I also managed to find some methylene blue to add to the solutions to try and prevent fungus growth.

The Ech. hormani and cordifolius had been sending up one flower stalk after another and producing lots of plantlets. I had taken some of these, as well as other plant trimmings, to the LFS that I had been going to in my town. However, the owner there isn't too concerned about freshwater, and definitely doesn't care at all about plants, so he took the plants, but didn't give me any kind of credit for them. He told me later that he just gave them away to his other customers that asked about them. I finally got fed up with him and his lack of concern for getting me the fish that I wanted, so I decided to try another LFS about a thirty minute drive away. This store turned out to be awesome! They actually had almost as much space dedicated to freshwater as saltwater, and about a third of that space is for plants. They actually gave me store credit for my plants (about $68 so far), so I'm going to shop there now. I had read that Siamese Algae Eaters might eat the BBA that I'm still plagued with, so I used some of my store credit to get an approximately 4" long one that they had. I added him to the tank on July 31st, and even though he has been doing well and I like him overall, he definitely hasn't taken care of the BBA like I presumed that he would. He does like fish food though! I try to feed where the other fish get the food instead of him, but it's difficult. I also bought some Cabomba caroliniana to plant in place of where the Stargrass and Mexican Water Oak had been. I am very pleased with how it is doing so far. It grows very quickly and I think that is happy in my tank.

On August 14th, I removed the two Corys that were still sick and put them in a 20 gallon aquarium that had just been sitting around not being used for a long time (it's actually the first tank that I ever had). I wanted to try and medicate them again, but not while in with the other fish in the display tank. I then added ten Yasuhikotakia sidthimunki (Dwarf Chain Loaches) that I got from the Invertz Factory. I couldn't find these fish anywhere locally, so I got them from Niko and Milalic, and I highly recommend these guys. The fish arrived without any problems, and on top of that, they threw in eight Rasbora maculatas and eleven RCS that I hadn't even ordered! I added the Rasboras to the display tank, but put the RCS in the 20 gallon with the two sick Corys. I medicated the Corys with Maracyn, but they died anyway :(.

On August 17th, I planted some Elatine orientalis in the foreground in a section where I had removed some Crypt. wendtii and took to the LFS for trade in. Just about all of it has died since then, but I still have a little hope that it might survive because there is a tiny little patch left. I'm wondering if the reason that it didn't do well at first is because of the high NO3 that I mentioned earlier. My discovery of the high NO3 happened after adding this new plant, so I guess that it is possible that it didn't like the high NO3 just like I suspect the Hygros didn't.

On that same day, I happened to notice that one of my new Dwarf Chain Loaches had been sucked into the intake for my circulation pump and killed :(:sad::tear::cry::Cry::crybaby:!! I've never had such small fish before, so I wasn't aware that I needed to be worried about them getting sucked into the intakes. I was really busy with work at the time, so there wasn't too much that I could do about it, and hoped that maybe it was just a freak accident. I also noticed that I couldn't find but two of the Rasboras, but I thought that maybe they had just died and gotten eaten. On August 29th, I performed a major cleaning, during which I opened up one of the canister filters for service. To my surprise, inside I found one of the Rasboras and an albino Bristlenose baby, still alive! I suspect that many of the baby plecos and Rasboras had ended up getting sucked up without me knowing about it and died before I could save them :eek:. I caught the remaining baby plecos (three regular and one albino) and Rasboras (only two) and moved them to the 20 gallon with the RCS. They've been doing fine ever since.

Well, my wife is back from shopping now and is ready for dinner, so I'll have to finish this up later. I have a lot of pictures and a little more information that I'll post later.


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278 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Back in March I took some pictures with the intention of adding them to this journal, but was unhappy with how they turned out. I was planning on taking some more to see if I could do any better, but unfortunately, I never took any more. Even though these pictures are pretty lousy, I guess that they are the only historical evidence I have that shows what was going on back then, so I picked out some of them to add to the journal anyway.

Plant Vertebrate Leaf Terrestrial plant Organism

In this picture you can see one of the baby Bristlenose Plecos, as well as two of the adults (the adult on the right was my largest male, which I will have to tell you about what happened to him later). You can also see one of the Corydoras sterbai. Note that they are hanging out in the Marsilia minuta that I bought at the AGA convention, that initially started growing okay and spreading slightly, but has since completely disappeared from the tank.

Plant Terrestrial plant Organism Flowering plant Tree

I was trying my best to get a picture showing the schooling action of my new Rummynose Tetras, but was having a very difficult time since they swim quickly, and I also am not very good at taking pictures of my aquarium (I'm actually pretty good at taking pictures during my SCUBA dives, but I don't have a piece of glass between me and the fish when I'm doing that). In this picture you can see that the pieces of wood are still pretty clean, with just a few spots of BBA starting. That changed dramatically over the next few months, with both of them getting completely covered in this heinous stuff.

Plant Terrestrial plant Grass Aquatic plant Groundcover

This shot again was an attempt to catch the Rummys schooling. In it you can see the Echinodorus parviflorus. Note how it has a stalk with plantlets, but otherwise it doesn't look too good (it looks way worse now - no stalks, and barely any leaves; I have no idea why this Ech. won't do well when my other two varieties grow so well). In the background, you can somewhat see that the Hygrophila corymbosa was still growing very well. I had to trim it regularly to keep it from taking over that side of the tank. I now only have a couple of small pieces of it that are barely hanging on. I think that they are doing a little better now after getting the NO3 levels back under control, but I'm still not sure if it will fully recover.

Plant Terrestrial plant Grass Aquatic plant Groundcover

This was yet another attempt to catch the schooling action. However, you can see in the lower center that my rock is still pretty clean. Like the wood, it eventually became completely covered with BBA, and although it now seems to be dying, it's still on it today. Also note the Echninodorus cordifolius on the right. I was so frustrated by all of the emerged leaves, that I started just cutting all of them off. In this shot you can see it only has one leaf almost to the surface, one halfway up, and another brand new leaf. Fortunately, this growth pattern stopped once I started using PPS pro. Hopefully it will continue doing well now that I've modified the KNO3 amount.

Plant Terrestrial plant Grass Groundcover Forest

This picture is just a shot of the center section of the tank, but it shows the Madagascar Lace plant that I mentioned. It's not doing really any better or worse since this was taken.

Later I'll update with more of what has happened since August, as well as post some more photos.


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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
On September 8th, I found the male Bristlenose Pleco dead :Cry:. He had never totally recovered from the MarOxy incident, even though he fathered two more sets of babies afterwards. Every time I found a dead Pleco, I noticed that they always die with their gill spines extended. I thought this was interesting and took some pictures. Here's some of them:
Fish Marine biology Fin Electric blue Terrestrial animal

Fish Tail Terrestrial animal Art Marine biology

Fish Tail Ray-finned fish Marine biology Terrestrial animal

Now there is only the one female left from the original group purchased at the AGA convention. I still have the three regular and one albino offspring growing up in my 20 gallon, so I'm hoping that they will be okay and maybe I can put at least some of them back in this tank eventually.


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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
On September 9th, I took some more pictures of the tank overall.

Water Plant Wood Pet supply Grass

This is of course a view of the entire front of the aquarium. You can see how there is still some BBA throughout the tank, but it isn't anywhere near as bad now as it once was. On the right side, behind the large piece of wood, is where the Hygro. corymbosa once was taking over. Now there is just that little bit attached to the wood (it penetrated the wood with roots, and then when the rest died off, this was all that was left).

Plant Botany Leaf Wood Pet supply

Here's the right side. Again, note the void in the back. The Ech. cordifolius is now growing to a size that is more manageable. See the new flower stalk that it is sending up (that one is now halfway across the surface, and another one is almost to the surface).

Plant Botany Terrestrial plant Pet supply Grass

This is the left side. I am very pleased with how the Crypt. pontederifolia has spread. Also note that the Hygro. polysperma is nearly gone. What you see here is actually new growth, and it has probably doubled since then. I think that it might actually make a full recovery.

Flower Plant Leaf Organism Terrestrial plant

The left side again, but looking up at the surface. I thought that this photo was pretty cool with the reflection. I really like how the Crypt. balansae is doing on this side of the tank. I'm a little worried because it didn't start doing this well until the nitrates went off the chart. I hope that was coincidental, but I'll have to see how well it reacts once the NO3 stays at a more normal level for awhile. I'm also very happy with how the Cabomba carolininiana is doing (almost too well, I have to trim often).

Plant Light Leaf Aquatic plant Pet supply

Here is a close up of the center of the tank. I'm pleased that this Anubias has bloomed :supz:!! I used to get these plants to bloom all the time when I had the aquarium set up before, but this is the first bloom I've had since setting it back up in November. There is actually another one with a bud on it now. Again, I sure hope that the high NO3 isn't what triggered the buds. You can see to the right of the Anubias my SAE. I would really rather he be up front eating that BBA, but he spends all of his time just lying around (at least when I'm watching him, anyway). He seems to be healthy, and I like the fish, but truthfully, I bought him to eat BBA. I can't tell if he has been eating any of it or not. The guy at the LFS said that they put him in a tank that was full of BBA and that he had it cleared in no time. For all I know, he is eating it when I'm not watching and is laying around because he's full, but I doubt it (based on the fact that when I feed the other fish he's one of the more aggressive one's trying to get some). There in the front is the small amount of Elatine orientalis left over from the baseball sized portion that I bought from travis. It has actually probably doubled in size since then, but that isn't saying much, considering how little is there. Hopefully it will start doing better and carpet the front like I thought that it would.

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