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Old 01-24-2017, 12:23 AM   #1
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[Build Log] Bouncing back from a total tank loss - Planted High Tech Discus Tank

Since I had a blackout during an ice storm about 3 years ago, I've let my 75 gallon tank go pretty badly. The loss of my Discus was devastating both to spirit and wallet (I grew them to adults from juveniles and just got what looked like a mated pair that spawned twice)

I've been horrible to the tank since then. 1 rescued angel, 2 SAE's, 2 danios, and a metric ton of Mystery Snails and black bush algae.

12+ months between filter cleanings, a Dead fluval Filter barely trickling water, never scraping the glass or trimming plants, Overrun with Black bush algae and snails, no gravel vacuum in 3 years. The only reason it didn't collapse is because it was planted and had very few fish.

How about this for a new years resolution: Take something that I'm embarrassed to have in my house, and make it back to something I am proud of and can enjoy again.

I will have Discus by the end of the year.

Going to need some serious work to get my tank back into shape. I'm border line looking at a complete teardown, but I think over the course of a few months and very regular maintenance I can improve the tank in a stable manner while it remains occupied.

At one point the tank was beautiful (IMO) and was fairly high tech.
  • Red Sea Solenoid, Needle valve, Bubble Counter
  • Current DIY LED fixture is dying. Replacing with 2 of these: Amazon Link
  • Cermaic CO2 Diffuser underneath PowerHead
  • 300 watt Heater, Tank at 84*f for the past 3 years
  • Original 6 year old Eco Complete Substrate
  • Various plants I'm not happy with
  • Fluval 305 knockoff (SunSun?)

  • Here is my plan. Please suggest changes/help/advice if you see me doing something stupid.

    Tonight was major Tank Cleanup 1 of 4.
    • Scraped half the Calcium buildup off
    • gravel vac 50% of tank,
    • started plucking Black Bush Algae.
    • 50% water change tonight (and tomorrow, have to be careful about PH spike with all that mineral flakes I put in the water)
    • Scraped half of tank
    • Removed broken filter
    • Re-plumbed CO2. Verified Solenoid still works/holds pressure
    • Bleached bubble counter, rinsed and dried (nasty algae inside, sitting for 3 years with water)
    • Tested needle valve. Was great condition, no moisture inside
    • Installed check valves, new tubing - Promptly threw out. (need new ones)

    Tomorrow: New LED lights arrive. I Need to get a lighting controller (or make one) I'll be starting the CO2 all up again (tanks have been empty for 2 years) in hopes to combat my algae problem. The new lights have moon lights, but just simple switches. I will probably have to mod them to work nicely with a lighting controller. I need to have the CO2 shut off about 30 minutes before the lights to avoid CO2/PH issues.

    • 25% water change twice weekly
    • snail trap with lettuce with jar 2-3 times weekly
    • dose flourish excel 1 cap every other day
    • Pluck BBA, dose Flourish Excel directly onto stubborn spots

    1 week - Repeat my "major tank cleanup"

    2 weeks - Clean filter. (fluval clone)

    3 weeks - total gravel vac - 50% WC Pluck BBA Pull out Driftwood and brush/scrape clean of snail eggs

    4 weeks - Total gravel vac - 50% WC pluck BBA

    5 weeks - Start aquascape - strip out most plants

    6 weeks - Snail control, begin to purchase complimentary fish to Discus (cory, clown loach for snails, Cardinals)

    7-11 weeks - replant tank gradually, regular maintnance. I want this dead stable for at least 3 months before I get the discus.

    My biggest fear right now is shocking the current fish. They've been living in a ghetto for the last 3 years, and all these water changes might shock them.

    To explain how horrible I am: I never once did a water change in the past 3 years. I just topped up. Calcium buildup was horrible, but the plants managed the Nitrate. I'd just let the crypts go wild and then once a year I'd take at least half of them out.

    Its going to take a while. I think my schedule up top is very rough guideline. I won't bother planting the tank until I have the snail population under control. It'll probably be pretty barren for a while, which will make it easer to gravel vac and pluck BBA. I've got some new driftwood so I'll probably swap out the most gross pieces with them.

    Anyway, stay tuned. The lights are off for the night and I don't want to spook the angel, so I'll take photos later.

    Its good to be back!

    "In this hobby - Bad things happen over night... The good things take time."
    In Progress: Rebuilding 75 Gallon Planted Discus tank
    5 Gallon Guppy tank (Daughters tank)
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    Old 01-24-2017, 12:44 AM   #2
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    Old 01-24-2017, 01:22 AM   #3
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    This sounds like a great comeback. Definitely following along.
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    Old 01-24-2017, 04:23 AM   #4
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    Love the determination. Can't wait for finished product
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    Old 01-24-2017, 09:02 PM   #5
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    Day 2.

    New lights installed. 30% water change. Snail Trap set.

    It boggles my mind. I spent so much money on lighting (T5HO's, then DIY LED)

    These guys from Amazon were 40 bucks each (I bought two) and are subjectively TWICE as bright as my Cree XP-G's running at 1250mah. (They could go to 1350 but that little bit extra required me to have fans running on my poor mans heatsync)

    Its been years since I've taken off my cabinet/DIY LED. It was a death trap. 6 year ago me was an IDIOT. No heat shrink, butt joints not wrapped, all exposed to moisture. Just horrible. No wonder it was flakey. I'll probably sell the LED's on the heat sync, but I'm not selling the whole setup - Too much of a liability, and the dimmer is toast from moisture/corrosion. I'm not sure as to the status of the driver (Meanwell 48v Dimmable)

    Anyway, Super happy with these lights so far. Run cool too.

    The Adapters are 20VDC @ 1AMP (20 watts), I'll have to review them properly and connect my Kill-a-watt to see how much power they actually draw.

    Anyway, I'll shut up. Pictures, now that its looking SLIGHTLY better.

    (oh god look at all that BBA... and this isn't even half as bad as it was. I couldn't see the substrate before yesterday due to BBA and snails.)

    Also, can someone confirm/deny that these are SAE's, the destroyer of BBA? Because they do a piss poor job. lol.

    He's hansome. I had a female (pair of fish I rescued from a guy who thought they'd go well with "other cichlids" They ended up laying eggs pretty much every other week but he loved her to death. Only reason I can think of for her death. They were both so healthy but she kept getting bite damage, wounds, gradually lost weight and one day she was belly up. He's hansome... but an idiot.


    Are these SAE's? (ironically shot is loaded with BBA...)
    "In this hobby - Bad things happen over night... The good things take time."
    In Progress: Rebuilding 75 Gallon Planted Discus tank
    5 Gallon Guppy tank (Daughters tank)
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    Old 01-25-2017, 10:24 PM   #6
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    Day 3

    Just a minor update today:

    I Skimmed the surface and drained about 1cm of the water - There was a bit of crud floating from the cleanups earlier this week.

    I managed to clear off some swabs of driftwood of BBA. And now the Snails have completely covered the bare wood with eggs. So Annoying and ugly. I think the Zebra snails will be removed once I stabilize the algae issue.

    I also got the CO2 up and running. Really low rate right now as I don't have a dedicated timer and I don't want to suffocate my fish when the lights turn off.

    I also lowered the temp. It was sitting at 87*f (for the last 3 years) Its down to 83. This should help plant growth and any new additions to the tank.

    Also, the lettuce floated in my snail trap. Its not working well. Any suggestions?

    Also trying to confirm if these are indeed SAE's or not. I'm 95% sure they are... but just want to be 100% sure.

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    Old 01-25-2017, 10:29 PM   #7
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    Nice comeback. Hit all that bba, snail eggs even, with hydrogen peroxide, squirting it 3 days in a row will kill it dead.

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    Old 01-25-2017, 10:46 PM   #8
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    Iceberg lettuce isn't great. Try some blanched spinach tied to a rock or weight. Irresistible.
    Old lady with tanks...
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    Old 01-27-2017, 07:30 PM   #9
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    Those look like Malaysian trumpet snails, so once you clean up the tank the population should die off or at least back on its own.

    I want to personally thabk you for such an open post, I think a lot of people have had tanks like this at some point or another while in the hobby and it's refreshing to have someone not only admit it but show the work and will to get it back in shape again

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    Old 01-28-2017, 01:49 PM   #10
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    Well update: I had minor surgery on my finger and they removed the stitches and taped it. told me not to get it too wet. So, cleanup in on pause for a bit.

    HOWEVER, I have the CO2 Running at about 2 bubbles per second - I had it on the light timer and Long story short... I came in to gasping fish. Two Platy's didn't make it. The rest are fine. One of the platy's was less than healthy from my LFS, but the other one was a shocker. My angel is rather picky towards slow/weak fish, So I'm guessing thats what happened over night as he was nearly half eaten by morning.

    Anyway, I'm heading to Home Depot to get a new power bar, and have Digital timers on order from amazon (half price compared to hardware store!)

    I'll stagger the CO2/Light timings. I think its also because I keep a warm tank. Low Oxygen + too much Co2.... Floating fish. I feel terrible. I knocked the CO2 down to 1bps.

    Also, the new drop checker is completely worthless. My PH naturally sits at 8.2, so to get it down to neutral for the drop checker to show green would require a TON of Co2. (unless i'm misunderstanding this?) I just realized that the Drop checker was simply PH fluid when looking at the warning label and chemical composition of the fluid itself. Overrated piece of aquarium hardware IMO.

    Once the tank is fully clean and running stable I'll start actively monitoring PH, but right now with old driftwood (new incoming) and just the sheer amount of biomatter in the substrate, I imagine its going to change to reflect my tap water.

    Note to self - Test Tap water.

    Anyway, cGoing to re-wire tonight, "dry" work. When the light timers come in on tuesday I'll take another picture of my handy work. I'll be mounting the powerbar on the inside, Side of my stand, so I'll for once in my life have proper drip loops.

    Also thinking of mounting CO2 solenoid nicely for once as well.

    Oh, I had bought 3 checkvalves from Amazon. AVOID THESE

    The molding lines cause the tubing to leak, and it required over 30PSI to overcome the valve - Going the RIGHT way! one worked ok. 2 were defect.

    Ended up getting 3 from Petsmart. They're not CO2 rated so I'll have to replace them annually to be safe. (CO2 makes rubber/silicone go hard)

    Anyway, pictures to night if I'm feeling handy.

    Edit: I really want a reefkeeper lite. Would be so awesome.

    Edit Edit: I debated making my own timer with an arduino. I am making a spot welder and already have used relays, But it was just so much work, would take more space, and arguably more money.

    "In this hobby - Bad things happen over night... The good things take time."
    In Progress: Rebuilding 75 Gallon Planted Discus tank
    5 Gallon Guppy tank (Daughters tank)
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    build, discus, high tech, log, loss, plant, planted, tan, tank

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