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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently rejoined the aquatic plant hobby after a few years of relative remission.

I had previously had luck growing mostly cabomba in my 29 gallon showcasing Kribs while in college. After a few years and moves the only things living in the tank were the evil thug offspring of the original kribs. I couldn't add anything new without it getting murdered by the thugs in residence in short order.

In my last move, number 6 with the same inhabitants, I finally screwed up and all the fish died.

This past week I finally got around to cleaning and restarting the 29 gallon. I used the original Coarse sand substrate with another box of laterite mixed into the lower layers. I did a little more "aquascaping" with stones this time to build some character into the setup and used a few pieces of driftwood that I boiled to limit tea-tinted water.

The filtration and lighting are probably overkill with a penguin biowheel 330 and 160 watts of CF lighting, 1/2 10,000k 1/2 actinic because I didn't research the availability of different bulbs in the coralife fixture before ordering. This results in pretty high water movement as you can imaging, but the fish seem to enjoy it.

I planted with 10 stems of corkscrew val, 2 bunches of "green" crypt, 5 bunches of micro sword, 3 medium sized amazon swords, and a bonus 3 "plants" of amazon sword that were on a stem from one of the main plants.

I also stocked with 10 tetras whose name I can't remember, something 'ella. I know this stocking level might be a little high initially, and I feel bad, but there was a price break at 10 that made less cost just as much.

Anyway, that's my long first post, I've attached an image I took two days ago.

Jason
 

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Sauce,

The fish look like pristella.

The tank looks very clean - that is a good start :)

Now for the "negative" stuff:

You don't mention anything about adding CO2. With 160 watts over a 29 gal you have a lot of light that will cause plants and algae to grow very quickly. With no CO2 you are very much set up to grow algae.

May be you missed to mention the CO2, or may be you will add it soon. In either case - the huge biowheel will waste the CO2 that you are pumping in the tank.

If or when you add CO2 - you may want to check if these stones release Calcium. If they do the CO2 will disolve the stones and your water will end up with extremely high hardness.

The wood that you boiled may still release tanines for several weeks. If the coloration is not bad you can leave the wood in the tank. If it's bad just put the wood in the dishwasher and run a few cycles (with no soap of course, hehe).

Corkscrew vals and Amazon swords - beaware that the vals can grow up to 3-4 feet tall and that the swords will not stay "medium" if they like the conditions.

I personally would move the round rocks around so they don't look so uniform but this is just my opinion.

All of the above being said you may actually end up with no problems at all because some tanks are just 'weird' and develop against the logic and experience that we all have. :)

--Nikolay
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the input.

I do have yeast CO2 going. Also Flourish tabs in the main planted areas. I also dosed with 1/2 cap of Flourish 2 days after planting.

I realize the problem with the biowheel driving off C02 but want to give it a try as I really like the ease of maintenance of the filter and also the water movement. I would like to find a way to use this filter without activated carbon though. Could I just put some kind of filter floss in the filter and have that filter effectively?

Also, the airline to the left of the filter intake is my CO2 line. it bubbles from an airstine under the intake. It doesn't appear to be drawn into the intake but rather forms a bubble at the bottom of the intake that rises every 20 seconds or so.

I think I'm getting decent CO2 into the water because I had some noticable growth after just a few days that is continuing. (see attached pic of micro sword runner). Also, the swords are bubbling oxygen.

I've had good luck with yeast CO2 before and want to see if I can make it work again.

As for the calcium issue, I thought about hardness but the round stones appear to be sandstone and the rest appears to be shale type and two pieces of petrified wood. I'll have to keep an eye out for that.

There's no noticable tint to the water yet so I'm not concerned about the tannins at this point. I'd actually rather have a little tannins released to lower PH, I may filter through peat to do that though.

I'd be pleased if any of my plants get too big. Then I can have a feeling of accomplishment and try something else. :) I would welcome. I planned for the swords to get fairly large, it would really help my ego to have a "showcase" type plant or two.

I understand what you said about the round stones being too organized, but I wanted to try a terraced effect. Hopefully the microsword will grow in and cover them some. The stones on the left form a cave type spot that is open on both ends. I don't know if I really like it, but it adds something interesting for me to watch.

I am starting to have an algea issue with some puffy/hairy algea from the plants. It's growing up on the front glass where the filter outflow hits and exploding on some sword leaves and growing some on portions of the val. I have a number of hitchiker MLS/MTS but they're probably not up to the task yet. Tonight I will manually remove what I can and hopefully the snails will be able to keep it in control.

On the fish, that's a good eye :shock: I can barely see them in the pic and it's my tank. They are Pristella. I really like their look and they still school pretty well after a few days even though they're alone. I currently plan to add a school of 10-20 pygmy cory's in the future and then something to sort of "showcase" and keep the Pristellas schooling. I was thinking maybe apisto but am looking for other options.

Thanks for any and all input!

Jason
 

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Sauce,

Nice to see such clean gravel and runners too. The plants bubble - that is what we all want, don't we? :D

I was thinking... Why don't you remove the air stone and wedge the air tubing that supplies CO2 in the filter intake? The bubble will be broken by the impeller of the filter and you will probably get more solubilization then just bubbling the gas through an air stone.

Yes, you can replace the active carbon with whatever media you want. There is a single rule - make sure you stuff the filter with something that provides a lot of surface area. That is it. I have done it before - I filled the cartridge with some ceramic media.

--Nikolay
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I could do that but I think that the biowheel may cause increased loss of CO2 due to the designed exposure to air of the filter output. It ended up accidentally working like a simple reactor chamber since a large bubble sits on the underside of the intake screen all the time. Of course the water that passes over the bubble then gets drawn into the filter so I don't know if there's much difference either way. Also, the screen on the filter intake is very fine and I would have to cut a spot for the tubing to go, not a big deal but it makes me hesitate a little.

I was really excited when I saw the little runner. As of last night it had sprouted 2 more shoots off that runner. My algea problem is my real concern now. I'm just now heading out of work (8pm) so not too much time to work on it tonight.

My concern with the filter media was the cartridge format. I think I'll just strip the media off one of the plastic cartridge screens to form basically a media bucket out of the filter body.

Thanks again,

Jason
 

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Biowheel filter media

Sauce,

I love the biowheels for their reliability and low initial cost and have used them for years. When I got serious about planted tanks, the first thing I did was remove the wheel assembly. The media inserts can get expensive and I've read that the carbon can get old and cause problems, besides allegedly striping micros from the water. Here's what I did to retain mechanical filtration, save money and get rid of the carbon. Take a Dremel or something like it and cut out much of the intermediate webbing from the back of the cartridge. The carbon shakes out and the filter can be cleaned repeatedly under a good blast of water.

FWIW,
Zackie
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Re: Biowheel filter media

Zackie said:
Sauce,

I love the biowheels for their reliability and low initial cost and have used them for years. When I got serious about planted tanks, the first thing I did was remove the wheel assembly. The media inserts can get expensive and I've read that the carbon can get old and cause problems, besides allegedly striping micros from the water. Here's what I did to retain mechanical filtration, save money and get rid of the carbon. Take a Dremel or something like it and cut out much of the intermediate webbing from the back of the cartridge. The carbon shakes out and the filter can be cleaned repeatedly under a good blast of water.

FWIW,
Zackie
That sounds like a good idea, I'll probably try that and my idea. I happen to have a number of new and old cartridges to work with.

I really like the biowheel for biological filtration, and I'm not convinced that it causes any increased loss of CO2. It doesn't really expose the water to much more air, just the bacteria. Only a small amount of water rides around on the wheel, the rest proceeds under it just making contact with the bacteria culture material.

Also, My plants are doing well, so no real m,otivation to get crazy with changes. My algea problem is now in check and the workers appear to be winning back ground from the algea.

Jason
 
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