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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello folks! It feels like it's been forever since I talked about my own tanks here. So much can happen in the span of three years...

I apologize now for the text-rich first post. Pictures will soon be forthcoming, I promise.

I'd like to give a big "HELLO!" to all the forumeisters who were kind enough to shoot the roots with me before my life turned upside down. I'd also like to give a greetings and salutations to anyone visiting my new threads who I have yet to be introduced to. I'm looking forward to getting to know all of you and to enjoying many hours talking about our mutual hobby.

For the past few years I've been cut down to one or two planted tanks that I tried halfheartedly to maintain properly. In the end the only one to have any sort of long term success and stability was a 75g lit by 4x65w PC, with CO2 injection, and a very rich Flourite substrate. The poor thing only got fertilization every once in a blue moon and water changes once every four to six months. The Anubias spp. and Nymphaea zhenkeri did really well and eventually dominated the tank. That was pretty much it for two and a half years.

For the past half-year I haven't had any tanks up and have been jonesing pretty bad.

After having been out of the high tech end of the hobby for so long I had to think long and hard about how I wanted to restart it now that I've got a good job and a fiancee who's been on my case to get the tanks up and going. With all the new advances, new species, and improved availability of aquascaping products I thought it would be best if I went back to basics and re-tread the path I'd been walking when I needed to step back. This all leads me to the present day and the topic of this thread, my Rainforest tank #1 (and #2 in a different thread).

After thinking about the materials I had at hand, where the tanks were going to be, and what the decoration of my apartment was going to be like I decided to focus on the basics of Nature Aquarium. I grew up in Western Washington state and have always found myself at the same end point when I think about what sort of Nature Aquarium I would want to do when I did one. Invariably my mind conjures memories of the lush rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula, especially the Hoh National Rainforest. That became the central theme from which I would draw my aquascapes.

This tank, #1, is my "low light" tank that is going to be dominated by green stems, mosses, ferns, and creeping ground cover like Ranunculus spp. and Hydrocotyle spp. Pogostemon helferi is going to be an anchor species meant to imitate the many ferns that dominate the forest floor. This particular tank is going to be a major challenge for me. In real life nearly every surface of the ground and trees is covered with moss if there's not already something else growing there. I've never been able to successfully grow aquatic mosses for any length of time. Hopefully I'll be able to break that streak with this setup.

Ok, enough talk, here are the stats. The first pics will be up tomorrow (Thursday), I promise. My plants are coming in on Friday so the really good stuff will be online Friday night and Saturday.

<edit>This is my first time ever using ADA substrates. It's going to be an interesting journey. Any experienced input is welcome and appreciated. </edit>
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Tank: AGA 75g with black painted egg-crate and spray foam background. The backing will be used to attach epiphytes and mosses to in the future, as needed to fill in gaps.

Lighting: 6x 55w PC retrofits from AH Supply. (That's why low light was in quotes earlier).

CO2: 5lb with Rhinox diffusor.

Filtration: Eheim Pro II

Substrate: ADA Power Sand Special "M" and Amazonia.

Hardscape: Lots of manzanita wood from Jake, aka "Fishandturtlejunkie". He sent me two VERY nice and quite generous assortments of wood. No rocks unless they've got something attached to them. EVERYTHING is going to be covered in moss or epiphytes of some sort.

Fertilization: Dry chemical supplimentation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The obligatory ADA product show-off shot. That's four bags of Amazonia and one bag of Power Sand Special.


Power Sand in:


Aaaaand all the substrate:


The filter intake is behind the baffle on the right side, hence the slight slope. I'm glad it's going to be obscured by the plants, my OCD is getting to me knowing that I'm starting the tank with an uneven substrate. Silly, I know but neurotic perfectionism is what it is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I had a wonderful surprise waiting for me when I got home on Thursday. My plant shipment had come in a day early! There was much scrambling around Thursday night getting the filters, CO2, and hardscape installed so I could concentrate on prepping and planting on Friday.

As soon as I got home from work on Friday I set to getting the rest of the plants put in the tank. All in all I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I'll have the plant list and livestock list after the photos. We all know it's all about the pics!

You'll have to pardon the crappy photo quality. I had to use one of the field cameras from work and it's been beat up pretty badly.

The hardscape pallete:


The stems:


Full Tank Shot, 10.18.08 12:30am


Left Side 10.18.08


Right Side 10.18.08


Oblique Shot 10.18.08
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Plant List:


Anubias barteri v. nana

Anubias barteri v. nana "petite"

Bolbitis heudelotii

Microsorium pteropus

Vesicularia dubyana

Cryptocoryne wendtii "Green"

Cryptocoryne wendtii "Red"

Blyxa japonica

Limnophila aromatica

Hygrophila balsamica

Hygrophila corymbosa "angustifolia"

Hygrophila difformis

Ludwigia arcuata

Rotala sp. "nanjenshan"

Potamogeton gayii

Pogostemon helferi "Downoi"

Valisneria nana

Heternathera zosterofilia

Didiplis diandre

Hemianthus callitrichoides



Planned fish list:

Cardinal Tetra or Green Neon Paracheirodon simulans

Emperor Tetra (The things men do for their women! )

Pygmy Cory

Ottocinclus

Blue Ram

Amano Shrimp

Wood Shrimp
 

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Great start, Phil! I look forward to updates as this progresses. Tieing all that moss to the wood must have been a labor of love. Out of curiosity, when it comes to trim time for the moss, will you be just giving it haircuts in the tank, or will you be removing the wood so scraps of moss don't go everywhere inside?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Re: A Study of the Hoh Rainforest 1 (Update- 11.10.08)

Here's the tank three weeks after planting on 11.10.08



Since this photo was taken I've filled in the right side with a couple different Hygrophila species and am working on getting them to bunch up. The hole in the left middle is finally filling in with Limnophila aromatica and is looking really good.

I'm considering removing the Hygrophila corymbosa v. Angustifolia and replacing it with Hygrophila polysperma on the left side to fill in the shadowed area there. I'm also thinking of putting the Hygrophila 'Ceylon' in the back right corner, moving the Hygrophila balsamica foward and filling in the right middle/front with Didplis diandre to pull the fine texture of the Rotala nanjenshan across to right side of the tank. With the way things have been growing all the fine leaved species are on the left and the larger leaved species are on the right. I need to pull a fine leaved species or two to the right and bring a larger leaved species left to avoid splitting the tank in half.

That's it so far. Updates will come at some point in the nearish future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Great start, Phil! I look forward to updates as this progresses. Tieing all that moss to the wood must have been a labor of love. Out of curiosity, when it comes to trim time for the moss, will you be just giving it haircuts in the tank, or will you be removing the wood so scraps of moss don't go everywhere inside?
Burt,

Thank you! I do the moss a couple different ways. Sometimes I pull out clumps by hand, sometimes I grab a bunch in my fingers and cut, and other times I just trim it with the siphon nearby to pull the pieces out. Little bits have been distributed throughout the tank and I'm ok with that. The real life place this was modeled after is 90% covered with moss. I'd rather have to pull some out than not have enough.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Awesome, I really like that background. so simple yet the mosses will love it. Was it hard to make or just time consuming
Thank you Craig. The background was fairly easy to make, it just took a while. The hardest part was dealing with the expanding foam. There are two layers of eggcrate there and I had to be sure it was all filled in and securely attached before cutting away the excess and smoothing it out. As you can see it wasn't entirely successful as there's still a lot of texture but it looks good for the most part. I'm not sure there's ever going to be a lot of moss on it; the stems have quickly asserted their territorial rights and have it mostly covered up. At least its there if/when I ever decide to do away with the stems and cover the back with moss and epiphytes. There are a few small bits of HC that have found purchase up near the top and are starting to grow. We'll have to see how things pan out with that over the long term.

Regards,
Phil
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Very nice, Phil!

Is this the tank you had set up just before AGA?

Karen
Thanks Karen. Yes, this was set up just before the convention this year. All three tanks were set up at the same time, just barely a month before the convention.

The last photo 11.10.08 was taken right after I'd added the surface skimmer to the system and moved the CO2 diffuser out into the main part of the tank rather than by the filter intake where it had been previously. It was also the last photo taken before algae took over and ran rampant for the better part of a month. Things were growing very well and all the plants were clean until the change in CO2 distribution.

The loss of CO2, fertilizer supplimentation, and release of substances from the substrate all contributed to a hefty bloom of what I believe is Spirulina. I've since moved the diffuser back to its old place near the filter intake, reduced the lighting to 220 watts rather than 330 watts for a couple weeks, and did a lot of manual removal. After a conversation with Amano about nutrient supplimentation I stopped adding N and P for a month. I'd continued K, Ca, Mg, Fe, and trace supplimentation throughout this period.

In that time I noticed the plants starting to get pale, not grow as well, and saw a visible reduction in pearling. I tend to equate pearling with overall plant health by way of photosynthetic activity. Numerous other algae started growing in there; staghorn, bba, and green spot to name the worst offenders. This past week, one month since I stopped adding N and P, I began supplimenting it at half the level (1/2tsp KNO3 and 1/8tsp KH2PO4) I originally had and have noticed a quick and dramatic comeback in the plants. They're coloring back up, are growing faster, and are pearling like crazy.

I need to note that during the algae outbreak there were very few fish; only a couple Ottocinclus and 6 Blue Ram fry in the tank. I wasn't feeding the fish but once a week or so, and then, only very little. My personal experiences with this tank lead me to believe that in Amano's higher light systems bioload plays an important part in N and P supplimentation. He told me flat out that I didn't need to suppliment anything in the water column except perhaps some potassium (Brighty K, anyone?). I'm interested to see how this setup fares once we've added all the fish.
 

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I have some questions about the black painted egg-crate and spray foam background.

Is it heavy? What brand of foam is it and where did you buy it?

I need to make a small wall, which will hang on 1 side of the tank to hide my filter.

About this statement: He told me flat out that I didn't need to suppliment anything in the water column except perhaps some potassium.

Considering the variables in a planted tank, I don't see how anybody can be obsoletely certain you don't need to add ferts.

With the problems I have been having with my tank, I have come to the conclusion that weather you need ferts depend on the quality of the water and how you want your plants to grow. Of, course the light is the engine in the works.

My water is probably like yours, lousy. The ph is high and is very soft. It has obviously been treated with phosphates. Thus the minerals in the water are minute.

To avoid adding ferts on a regiment I had added ferts, potassium sulfate, baking soda, and calcium sulfate, into the substrate. The idea is similar to mineralized but I didn't have the room to lay it out.
[URL="mineralized-soil-substrate-aaron-talbot.html[/URL] When I noticed hair algae starting up I added potassium nitrate and it went away. I wonder if plants need for potassium nitrate is balanced by the amount of phosphates in the water.

Naja002 answered my questions on algae at
http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/showthread.php?p=435558#post435558
 

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How about an update!!

How did you attach the plants to the wall?
 
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