Am ready to begin planting my 160-gallon tank designed to be a true community. I was away from the hobby for decades due mainly to burnout but couldn't pass up two complete tank setups of this size at a "surplus" auction from a government facility for next to nothing. The aquarium has external tank-type filtration, one power circulator, an "air wall" across the entire length of the back and closely fitted covers.
Water is fully cycled for months and the fish (currently 5 adult blood red parrots, 1 adult firemouth, 1 rather overgrown pleco, 30-40 fancy guppies and 2 cory cats) are thriving. A school or 60-80 neons, more corys, a few snails and perhaps a very few (and friendly) specimen fish are planned. Am still toying with the idea of a semi-terrestrial habitat installed into and over 1/3 of the tank but such is months away as I want to get the planting happy before even considering.
Plants on order: micro sword, anubis nana, water spring, red pearl, amazon sword, wisteria, 4-leaf clover and oriental sword. All chosen for compatibility with local water and easy of care and light needs. 1/3 of the tank devoted to high lighting the rest moderate.
I've decided to put all of the plants (by species) into 2" plastic trays of various sizes. I've drilled numerous small holes in the bottom of the trays. Substrate in the trays will be layered and varied using small round gravel, coarse round sand and Aquascape "pond plant potting media".
The partially filled trays with a layer of the pond potting media on top (of most) have been soaking in an 80-gallon tank filled with cycled water from the big tank removed during water changes. They've been there more than a week and to my surprise there was nearly extremely little water clouding that disappeared within minutes and only a small amount of organic matter caught in the over-the-rim filter intake.
Will plant in the containers adding the final layer(s) of substrate and keep in the second tank for some period of time. How long do you suggest before introducing to the main tank?
Have made a batch of PMDD using HCL as called for in the original recipe. Also intend to add a tiny bit of the chelated iron/micronutrient mix to the containers.
I'm thinking that no other fertilization should be necessary but a might set up a simple CO2
enrichment system to help them get well-established.
The aquarium plant fertilizer tablets I've found seem ridiculously expensive (for a large tank) and too high in nitrogen for a tank with a significant animal load. What, if any, additional fertilization would you suggest. I'm in the bar business so have access to commercial sized CO2
that would seemingly make a very simple enrichment system economical and easy.
Any comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated. I've successfully had planted tanks in the past but nothing approaching the size of this one.
One worry I have is that the pleco (about 12") will very rapidly uproot everything. Is that valid? Frankly I don't want the thing but my partner who somehow raised it and the cichlids without a water change and with severe overfeeding seems sentimentally attached to the monster. Oh, the main substrate is small, round, natural gravel and I've never observed the parrot fish rooting around in it except under the big "hollow tree" centerpiece that they adore.