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I think it would be valuable for newbies to learn from the mistakes of more experienced aquatic gardeners. Lets learn from our mistakes.

If you could do it over again, what would you do differently?

I'll start it out...

I would plant more densely from the very beginning and do water changes more often.
 

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I think I'd start out with sterilized plants and sterilized everything, i.e. bleach treat the works. In fact, I'm doing this massive program now, three to five years into some tanks. Somewhere along the line I introduced a particularly nasty from of red algae, which I believe is a form of staghorn and also a very thick, green, choking type of hair algae which I think is claph. or oodeo-whatever.

Now, I am not talking here about the soft, brown and green snot algae which comes along with almost every body of water one initiates as an aquatic zone. Those minor annoyances come floating in on airborn spores and then go away with proper nutrient management and the standard plant tank protocols. No, I'm talking about some real serious pests here which I've probably imported from all over the wide, wide world with my many aquatic plant trades. These red algae do not float through the air and are passed on only through direct water to water contact. The only treatment for any type of these Red, pest algae one has as far as I'm concerned is to bleach absolutly everything and quarentine anything, and I mean anything new from then on -- plant, fish, even rocks and wood.

I personally intend to do as Paul Kromholz suggests and closely examine each new plant in a white dishpan under good lighting with a big magnifying glass. Depending on what I discover, the plant may get just a mild, 2 minute safety treatment in a 19 to 1 mix of 5% bleach and water, or as much as five to seven minutes for some anubias and narrow leaf Java fern I know that look as if they might be related to ZZ Top.

Some find this sort of philosophy a bit extreme, but I'll bet in reality they just haven't run into one of these monsters (yet). I've heard some people claim that these algaes evolved in the Asian plant nurseries to take advantage of the exact same conditions many of us like to provide our plants with - high light, high nutrient levels and CO2. If you really have one of these beasts you can try to nutrient manage the situation all you want. I have and it aint happening.

As a matter of fact, I've personally gotten to the point with my aquatic chemistry skills where I can dial in whatever proportion of nutrients (or lack of nuttrients) anyone would care to suggest as a management strategy, and have in fact done so in many extended instances to no avail. Hey, once you have the proper (good) test kits and have determined the nutrient consumption rates on each of your tanks through their use in conjunction with the nutrient calculator -- it's just not that mysterious or hard to do. Algae's still there anyway.

I don't want it managed into the background -- I want it gone forever

bobo
 

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Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that red algae is an aerobic algae, meaning that it does just the opposite of normal plants in respect to respiration. I do know that it seems to go away if you maintain co2 levels at around 30ppm. I believe that at this level plants will start to really outcompete it for nutrients. It also might "suffocate" it. Higher than 30 ppm though and your fish will start to have problems. And be sure to keep an eye on your pH.
For me, what I would do differently is to get a bigger aquarium. But then I would just want the next size up. Maybe I should have been born with gills! :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Oh, I thought of another one.

Introduce an algae clean up crew early on. Plenty of SAEs, ottos and shrimp.
 

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If we could start over

Pan. As I understand it, Red algaes are mostly marine, having evolved in that environment. There are fresh water types too though, like staghorn, bba, brush algae, too if I'm not mistaken. They only show red with alcohol prep.

Excuse the use of common names, which we usually have a fit over when refering to (higher) plants, but the Latin for these algae is seldom seen for some reason. Perhaps this is because no one is really sure of applying the correct taxonomy in the appropriate places. I'm certainly not.

This point about the CO2 may be the key because, now that I think of it, the staghorn's re-appearance after a long nap was concurrent with my running out of CO2 and not replacing the tank for about a month. As I recall, I was busy and also curious to see the effects without it. Guess I have my curiousity satisfied now!

Bob Olesen
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
THought of another one...I wouldn't buy anything until I've researched them on a forum like APC. :D
 

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starting over

After numerous "kills" by trial and error, I agree that research of the desired plants is at the top. Three things I now look for are what kind of water (soft-acid or tolerates harder), how much light and nutrient demands.

By the way friends; what is a Walstead style tank? :oops:

Shannon
 

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"Walstad" style is based on Diana Walstads style of keeping planted aquariums. You need to get her book "Ecology of the Planted Aquarium." I am reading it right now and it was recommended to me by another plant enthusiast. It is a really good and informative book with lots and lots of details :)
 

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Rex Grigg said:
If I could do it over again I would go with African Cichlid tanks. :D I have never kept them till I got my shell dweller tank and they are truly a ton of fun.
Rex,

African cichlids are very addictive. Why ?. Because they are "extremely" easy to keep and breed. The same goes for the actual setup. Few rocks, sand and some Anubias sp. w/ Valliseneria and your tank will look very "natural".

I went the other way. Plants ---> african cichlids. I can't live without either now. :idea:
 

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Quarantine all new fish and plants. Or at a bare minimum I would "dip" them to reduce parasites, snails, etc.
 

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I would spend the money on pressurized co2 right away and not buy so many lights.
 

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If I could do it over again I would redo my plumbing so the output from the reactor went directly to the tank, as opposed to dumping back into the sump.

Everything else I do differently now from what I did in the beginning is so far detached it's two totally different worlds, from Walstad style tanks 10 years ago till my newest super high tech tank, I couldn't have gotten this far without starting the way I did.
 

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If *I* could do it all over again:

I wouldn't waste my time with yeast CO2 and drop the bucks on a regulator/needle valve and 10# tank right after bought the aquarium. It's more important than fancy filters, lights, and substrates. Pressurised CO2 and a powerhead are all that's necessary.

30" tanks are a PITA to light properly. I would not have bought the 3 that I did :roll:

Common practice is to feed our plants way too much and I subscribed to that for a long time. You'd be surprised how healthy the plant growth is with just a fraction of the recommended amounts and algae becomes *much* less of an issue. Of course, the specifics depend on your substrate and tap water... Light makes less of a difference than most people say.

I stopped spending tons of money and time on algae eaters such as shrimp, ottos, SAE a while ago-- they are over rated, IMHO. Snails (Physa sp., or ramshorns) are the best, hands down and they're free. I don't have algae anymore (see last point). The snails keep things ****-and-span.

Constant tinkering is the worst thing possible for a plant tank. Choose a way and go with it. When you see a problem or aren't satisfied with something, change ONE THING AT A TIME. Hehe-- that way you know what the solution was. My hard head found itself bleaching/scrubbing out algae infested tanks for years before I figured that out :x

Anyway, YMMV...
 

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I started out fifty years ago with some guppies and some plants. The guppies did fine, but the plants all died, and so I started focusing on the plants. Now, I know that the problem was very hard water and no iron, because I was planting in washed gravel. Thats what the book said to do! Slowly, over the years, I made discoveries about benefits of soil, lower light levels (that works better when nutrients are limiting), nutrients, use of rain water, etc. I did it all by trial and error, and the greatest pleasures came from the experimenting, especially when the experiments worked!

If I had to do it all over again, I would do it the same way. If there had been a book that told me how to do everything, I probably would have lost interest in the hobby. I like the experimenting. Every tank of mine is an experiment of some kind or other.
 

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If I had it to do over...

I would spend more time in front of my tanks enjoying them instead of working on them all the time.

I would spend my time caring for and observing the plants rather than trying to starve and kill algae.

I would not spend good money on plants at the LFS when those same plants grow natively in the lakes etc. near my house. :roll: The same goes for driftwood and rocks.

I would go with compressed CO2 right away rather than change umpteen million bottles of yeast brew.

I would not waste so much money on halfass test kits and buy good ones right off the bat.

I'd rob a bank to feed my addiction. :lol:
 
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