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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello everyone, thanks for checking out this thread. Please enjoy your stay, ask any questions you want, and feel free to chatter away. As long as it pertains to keeping aquatic plants no topic is "off topic". We're all here to learn from each other and enjoy getting our geek on with our favorite subject. :)

This journal is a special one for me as it documents the first non-experimental fully flooded aquarium I've kept since 2009. In 2010 and 2011 all the tanks I kept were used to see how application of my research worked in an aquarium rather than massive outdoor growing ponds. From 2012 until now I've only kept wabi kusa on my porch or tried out emergent growth as seen in the 300 gallon journal I've been keeping.

For those of you who've followed my journals either here or in TAG, you may have noticed I've been focusing on Dutch style aquascaping. As Nature Aquarium style design has come to worldwide prominence I've seen fewer and fewer people attempting serious Dutch tanks as they're kept in Europe. I've been saddened to see this beautiful, elegant, and deceptively "unsophisticated" style falling to the wayside. Just as the title of this aquascape says; it takes a minute to learn, but a lifetime to master. This current tank is, for me, another step along the lifetime journey of learning the details of Dutch aquascaping.

The 2009 aquascape (75 gallon) that started it all-


2011 experiment tank (225 gallon)-


About this current tank. It started out life as a reef in the making then one day I got a call from my boss saying he needed the skimmer I was going to use and that ended that. Here's a photo of what it looked like on the day of that fateful phone call.



Specs-
48x24x12 60 gallon; currently about 40 gallons open volume
Aquatic Life 6x 54 watt T5HO; currently running 2x 10,000K bulbs 10 hrs/day.
Florin Volcanit Rio Cafe substrate; 75/25% M(5mm)/F(3mm)
CO2 regulator is from Aquatic Life. It's great looking and is super easy to use. It comes pre-set so I didn't have to worry about adjusting the pressure and the needle valve is super sensitive, making small adjustments a snap.
Eheim Pro II 2028 full of Xport-BIO media
Cal Aqua Labs inline CO2 diffuser 11 hrs/day; on 1 hour before the lights
Ferts are Brightwell Aquatics' Florin line; N=15ppm, P=1ppm, Ca/K=20ppm, Mg=5ppm, Fe and Traces as needed

Animals: 30 Norman's Lampeyes, 18 Rummy Nose Tetras, 30 Amano Shrimp, and 10 Ottocinclus; all from Rachel O'Leary. I had the pleasure of visiting her place and would highly recommend her to anyone. Every tank was clean and her animals were all active, well colored, and often breeding if the animals were mature enough.

The tank's actually been set up for a month now as I grew out some species given to me by friends so the filter's well cycled. Unfortunately the USPS were goobers and the packages got delayed which resulted in some heavy cold damage. After salvaging what I could, trimming off the healthy portions, and cleaning away the algae it was time to place an order with my supplier and get it packed with plants.

The long term plan with this guy is to do a full on setup with planted walls and everything. I still need to make the walls and pull out the standpipe so for now the tank's in grow-out mode until I've got everything ready to do a tear-down and replant/aquascape. The tank's not really well aquascaped and I've broken a number of rules just so I could as much plant mass in there as possible. Even so, I still want it to be somewhat nice to look at so things are placed in solid groups and a crude Dutch-esque way. There are too many red species, plants with similar textures/colors are placed next to each other, and most of the plants are in square/rectangular groups that create straight lines rather than the more pleasing rounded or triangular groups, sinuous lines, and pathways leading the eye back into the depths of the tank. All that will come eventually.

NOW, THE PICS! Planted 1.30.14





















Thanks for watching!
 

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Cool, I will be following this!

A few questions about lighting. You are using only 2 10,000K tubes; any particular reason for that selection? How far is the fixture from the substrate, and do you know PAR at the substrate?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Michael,

I'd originally thought the fixture ran a 3/3 configuration so I alternated 6500K and 10000K with the intention of hitting different spectral peaks. It was only after a couple weeks that I realized it runs a 4/2 configuration. Those two just happened to be 10000K bulbs. I was having major balance (algae) issues at first. I cut the light down to just those two bulbs and raised the fixture from 8" to 12" from the top of the glass, maybe 21 inches from the substrate surface. Now that the tank's full of plants I'll start adding short bursts of the other four bulbs until I reach a stable 3-5 hour mid-day burst. Duration depends on how the plants respond.

I've got no idea what PAR is. In fact, you just reminded me that I have a PAR meter. LOL
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
2.10.14 Update- Trim and re-arrangement

9 days after the initial planting it was time to do a major re-arrangement of some species. The Shinnersia rivularis and Gymnocoronis spilanthoides in front, Ludwigia sp. 'Red' (what's the ACTUAL species on this one?) in the middle, and Hygrophila sp. Somethingorother in the back were all growing too quickly for their positions (had to trim them every 4 days or so). The two big leaved guys in front were inhibiting circulation and the Hygrophila just needed to be hacked back hard.

Thanks to the Great White Standpipe From Hell interfering with flow along the back I decided to put a koralia in the left rear corner in hopes of helping plants in the rear do better. Because the Hygrophila is fairly thin-stemmed and gets blow sideways easily I decided to put the more robust Shinnersia back there next to the current maker.

After seeing how most of the plants have responded I figured I may as well do a big cleaning and re-arrangement to improve flow and looks.

2.8.14 prior to trimming and rescaping







2.9.14 after the water cleared. It looks pretty messy in the photos, but a lot has been changed in ways that I hope will allow maximum circulation and growth as well as improve the overall design flow.



 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Captain's Log 2.22.14- This is going to be a big photo update as I've made some big changes and am tracking progress of some sort of alga on the substrate. It's dark brown and is making a thin cover over most exposed substrate and some of R. nanjenshan. Due to previous issues with the filter not really picking up much, deposition of organic matter, and latent organic matter being in the substrate granules themselves I've been leaning toward it being some sort of cyanobacteria. However, it's not making the thick mats I've seen from cyano before and haven't seen a cyano this color. That's got me wondering if it's diatoms too since there's also silica in any soil, clay, or ash based substrate.

I'm not looking for advice on how to get rid of it; that's already in the works. I would like thoughts on what type of alga is potentially could be, and why you think so.

On to the pics!

2.18.14-

Switched the in-line diffuser out for an in-tank one, took the Koralia out from the back and put an MP40 in the front in hopes of improving circulation and distribution of CO2. The in-line was getting really dirty and was putting out larger bubbles rather than a fine mist. Unfortunately, because it's so cold in the room the tubing was too tight around the glass and I couldn't remove the diffuser to clean so it got plugged. Now I can take the diffuser out and clean it as needed, which makes me happy.











2.20.14-















Injecting FlorinBacter-


Thanks for watching.
 

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Agree with diatom. Up CO2 will make it go way faster, I think. Plants are filling in nicely already.

What is the white pipe at the center of the tank? At only 12" tall, you are limited somewhat with Dutch style, aren't you?
Thanh
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Bruce,

Yeah, we had a long discussion of that in my algae course back in the day. It comes down to how one wants to define an alga. Is a single-celled autotrophic protist an alga or something else? The case can be made for both diatoms and cyano. In the end I'll leave the details to the taxonomists and call them both algae because it's easier to type than unicellular autotrophic protist. ;)

Thanh,

Yeah, effective CO2 dissolution and distribution's been a problem in this tank from the beginning. If I had a shorter diffuser it may be different, but the 6" one's all I've got to go in the tank. Since I put it back in right under the MP40 distribution is a lot better.

The standpipe is a remnant leftover from when this was going to be a reef tank. Once it warms up (I'm in North Central PA and my basement isn't particularly well insulated) I'm going to take everything out, remove the standpipe, and put foam walls up for plants. By the way, this is the tank your petite nana are going in when the time comes. :)

As for limitations, yes and no. The decent area allows for many different options as far as size goes, but the height does post a bit of a problem when it comes to trimming. Some of the Ludwigia, Hygrophila, and the Gymnocoronis grow pretty quickly and need trimming every 5 days to a week. (I'm only running 2x 54 watt bulbs to keep growth rates slowish) Because the tank's shallow it's easy to reach in and selectively yank out a group here and there as needed. When it comes time to get in competition prep mode I think I'll be doing grooming/pruning every other day. Thankfully that's something I really enjoy doing so it's no sweat.

The 300's going to be a whole different matter entirely....LOL
 

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The 2009 (75G) and the 2011 (225G) tanks are both very beautiful. What happened to them? Can you show us more pictures of the tanks, at close-up and at other angles?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
MB2,

Thank you. Unfortunately I didn't have a camera in 2011 and don't very many pics of it. I'll check my old computer and see if there's anything there to share. I had to sell all of my aquarium stuff back in 2011 to facilitate a move. The only things I kept were a T5 fixture and VorTech MP10 originally slated for a nano reef. They're sitting in my brother's storage right now. Everything you see here was either in my work's storage building or has been purchased for the tank.

Good news! It seems the consensus is diatoms, which is actually quite a relief as they concern me much less than cyano does. Now it's just a waiting game.

I'm not normally downstairs watching the tank at the end of the photoperiod so I missed something important. Last night I was though and noticed most of the plants going into rest mode a good half hour to 45 min before lights out. So I did what any good plant keeper does and increased the number of bulbs on and upped the photoperiod by another hour to squeeze every last bit of photosynthesis from the plants. :confused: Actually, I reduced the photoperiod by an hour so the lights are only on for 9 hours/day. Hopefully that'll help reduce the diatom explosion. I hope it'll help encourage some of the plants to grow upright too as I can't raise the lights any higher than they are now.
 

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Semantics aside that's definitely what's commonly known as diatom algae in the hobby. Ottos will eat it up. It typically only shows up in new tanks or tanks where the biofilter is disturbed a lot.

Ludwigia sp. 'Red' is most certainly a variety of Ludwigia palustris.
 

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That is good news. Diatoms will go away eventually. My tank has BBA, I think, here and there on the DW and spray bar. Thankfully, they are limited to only those two places so they don't bother me at all.

Phil, I hope you now have newer computer and camera to capture and share with us the many pics to come from your Dutch tanks.

Let me know when you are ready to re-scape your shallow 60G.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Aaron,

Yeah, the ottos have been keeping the glass and most larger leaves clean. It's just the substrate and fine leaved species that are getting hit hard. Interesting to know about disturbing the filter. I've definitely been disturbing the whole tank quite a bit lately. Time to let everything sit for a few weeks and keep up with the bacteria supplementation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
MB2,

I've got a new comp, camera, and smartphone so picture documentation shouldn't be an issue any longer. :) I'll keep up with regular photo updates.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Captain's Log- 3.4.14

I think maybe, just maybe, I've crested the hill in the battle with diatoms. *cross your fingers*

As soon as it was decided the brown beast wasn't a cyano I stopped injecting the substrate in favor of adding the same amount of bacterial suspension directly to the water column. I thought I started to see reduced coverage in the exposed substrate in the foreground but didn't continue the injections long enough to make a definitive statement. On top of that I just couldn't keep myself from sucking out the detritus that accumulated there. Proper husbandry is more important than satisfying my curiousity.

I gave the substrate a good siphon on Saturday and didn't see significant regrowth on the scale that had been happening previously. In addition, the left side of the tank was getting so thickly overgrown with stems that flow and CO2 distribution were getting significantly hampered. Many of the leaves were getting a fairly thick coat of diatoms and starting to grow a little bit of thread algae. With those things in mind I decided to do a massive hack and cut most of the bunches down to about 4 or 5 inches from the substrate (about 50% of the biomass). Circulation has significantly improved and plants on the right side are now growing and pearling better than before (flow circulates from the right front around to the right rear).

The next step in the overall plan is to get an overflow box, get the sump running, and make the walls. The tentative outlet plan is to make a spraybar to go along the back an inch or so above the substrate and have a gated 90* elbow pushing water along the front pane. The overall goal is for the spraybar to push water and detritus toward the front of the tank and the lengthwise current from the 90* to move it all to the overflow. The gate's on the 90* to allow me to increase or decrease flow from the spray bar as needed. All of the plumbing is going to be zip-tied to the eggcrate and incorporated into the sprayfoam to both hide it and keep it in place.

Pics will come soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
TAB,

The tank's already drilled in three places, but they're all along the central axis of the tank. Thanks for the life reef recommendation but I think I'm going to go with a CPR as the in-tank portion is fairly small and I like the aqua lifter self priming mechanism.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
HAHAHA. I went away for a conference and came back to a tank chock full of plants covered in stag horn and BBA. It got a huge hack and is finally starting to regrow, but there's still more algae in there than I'd like. I'll post pics when I remember.

On the upside, I got some L. cardinals, P. helferi, and C. helferi; three species I've wanted for this, while I was away. Added some C. undulata too. We'll see how that does. There's NO WAY this tank's going to be ready for competition in the AGA this year, but you may see it in there anyways just for participation's sake.
 
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