Hi all. I tried posting this on 5/24 but it was never approved, so I'm trying again now that more time has passed. Here is an introduction to my first tank.
• Tank: 9.6 gallon (Lifegard brand)
• Heater: 50W Eheim Jager heater, set to 72°F
• Lighting: 18-24" Hygger LED light, with a photoperiod of 5 hours on at 100%, 2 hours off, 6 hours on at 80%. Receives dappled natural sunlight during late morning.
• Substrate: 1" layer of Bonnie's Harvest Raised Bed soil (sifted) mixed with ~1/4 cup crushed oyster shell, capped with 1.5" layer of 2-4mm gravel
• Floaters: Dwarf water lettuce, Red root floaters, Amazon frogbit, Salvinia minima
• Stems (left to right): Ludwigia repens x arcuata (emersed), Rotala spp., Limnophila belem, Ludwigia brevipes, Bacopa caroliniana (variegated and normal), Pearl weed
• Other: Nymphoides hydrophylla (Taiwan lily), Eleocharis belem
Day 1 (5/21/22, morning after planting)
Day 9 (5/29/22)
I have been monitoring the water parameters and will include a chart for reference. There are no GH and KH values until 5/26 because I realized that I had been performing the test incorrectly (silly me, giving myself headaches for no reason).
The nitrogen cycle has been suspiciously smooth. The soil I chose had a low nitrogen content (0.12%), so maybe this has helped reduce fluctuation. Or maybe fluctuation is yet to come.
From my tap water's GH and KH values of 3, I was able to raise these to around 9 each through the use of Wonder shells, baking soda, and crushed oyster shell (though I feel that the oyster shell has probably contributed less than the others).
The plants appear to be thriving. The Limnophila is the most visually obvious success case; despite some leaf melt, it has grown several inches and is now about an inch shy of reaching the surface. The lily lost two leaves in the transition, but has already put out three more. The water lettuce roots are growing long, and the plants are putting out babies. The red root floaters are flowering beautifully (which I can't take full credit for, they looked lovely when I bought them). Much to my surprise and delight, the pearl weed and the E. belem have been pearling considerably throughout the photoperiod. This sight in particular made me incredibly happy...
E. belem root, 22 hours apart
The root went from just visible to touching the soil in less than a full day, growing about an inch in length.
As anticipated, not all of the plants are so successful. The Bacopa is suffering from significant leaf melt, but has healthy leaves and is growing more. I suspect it needs more time. The Amazon frogbit was very unhappy. Its roots regressed, and its leaves yellowed and developed brown and white spots. I have removed it after several days of decline and replaced it with more water lettuce. Perhaps it was diseased, or some complicated allelopathy has hindered it. I'm not distressed; the other floaters are thriving well enough.
There has been a potentially ugly recent development. I was worried that the hitchhiker snail did not have enough to eat because he became more mobile around the tank, so I sprinkled pieces of half an algae wafer around. I know that Diana recommends feeding the tank with fish food, but I may have added too much too soon. Just a day after doing that, I noticed small white worms on the tank glass, and their population has boomed since then. I have also noticed a web of filamentous white algae forming around the E. belem, which is the area of the tank that receives the most light. There are also hair-like organisms on the glass, and I'm not sure if they are hydra or more algae. They don't move much, so I think they're algae, but it's still concerning. I will include a few photos of these interlopers for identification.
First worm found (5/26/22)
Fuzzy glass (5/29/22)
Besides the addition of fish food, I'm not sure what other reasons could account for the explosion of these two populations. Insight into possible causes and management would be appreciated. The tank is new, so this could just be part of the settling in process, but I'd like to address any potentially catastrophic problems sooner rather than later.
To close off this long post (I never claimed to be brief), I am thoroughly enjoying watching this tank's progress. It has been going much better than expected. I attribute its current success to the wealth of information in Diana Walstad's book, and forcing myself to take a few weeks to plan despite my excitement to get started.
Thanks for reading. Here are some flowery red roots for your enjoyment.