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Old 03-07-2007, 12:02 PM   #1
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'scaping advice please

I'm thinking of changing the substrate on my 55 to PFS in the future (once it's warm enough to rinse the sand outside). I am filled with trepidation at the work, but I think it would be worth it to have a nicer substrate for the bottom dwellers. So if I do it, I may as well redo the aquascape.

Here's the tank as of yesterday:


Here's a diagram to ID the plants:


Plants:
1. Hygrophila salicifolia (Willow leaf)
2. Microsorum pteropus (Java fern)
3. Sagittaria subulata (Dwarf sag)
4. Cryptocoryne wendtii (I think)
5. Cladophora (moss balls)
6. Anubias afzelli
7. Anubias coffeefolia
8. Anubias nana
9. Echinodorus x. 'Ozelot' (Ozelot sword -- just tossed it in, not planted yet).

I'd like this tank to get fairly heavily planted eventually.
The driftwood is definitely staying. My thoughts right now:

1. Move the larger driftwood left so its peak is more at a 1/3 point in the tank.
2. Move the filter so its intake is more successfully hiding behind the driftwood.
3. Maybe group all the Hygro as background on the left side -- this is my best growing plant, and it looks very nice growing in groups; the diagonal leaves give a cross-hatch effect.
4. Get some contrasting background plant for the other side (not sure what)
5. Have the sword on the right side, midground.

Not sure what else. I'd like a nice foreground plant, I was thinking maybe Echinodorus tenellus. The sag is not growing much and is getting some algae.

Here's what I'm running on the tank:
2x65W daylight cf bulbs
Dosing Flourish comprehensive 2x weekly
Dosing Flourish Excel daily
I probably should be dosing other stuff, but not sure what. I will check my Nitrates tonight and see where they're at.

I'm thinking of a plant shopping run to the Twin Cities next week, so if you can suggest more plants that will work well in here, please post suggestions! I should mention that I'm not too interested in very fine-leafed frilly plants, unless they hold onto their leaves tight. I had a bunch of wisteria in here which led to tossed salad floating around, so I got rid of it.

Also, any suggestions on arrangement and fertilizing (short of CO2, not in the budget for now), please post!
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Old 03-07-2007, 12:20 PM   #2
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first off with that much i would really suggest CO2 (look into DIY)

should probaly be dosing NO2, K and PO4

if you add CO2 then that light should be able to grow most common plants.

if you are coming down to the metro i suggest Wold of Fish and Forest Lake Pets for plants.
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Old 03-07-2007, 12:31 PM   #3
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Isn't DIY not too effective for a 55 gal? How many 2 liter bottles would you suggest running? Is the Excel giving me any decent substitute for CO2 as far as carbon is concerned? If I do CO2, do I have to switch to a canister filter to prevent outgassing?

Also, I guess you mean NO3, not NO2.
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Old 03-07-2007, 12:38 PM   #4
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With that much light your Dwarf Sag should be growing like mad. You're probably running one or more nutrient deficiencies, and need to be dosing more as you suspected. You're probably running short of Nitrate, Phosphate, and/or Potassium. Dry ferts would be an excellant idea with the size of your tank. While Seachem has excellant ferts, they are fairly dilute and get expensive fast when working with high light or large tanks.

If you're only dosing the manufacturers recommended amount of Flourish Comprehensive, it's probably not enough with the amount of light that you're dealing with.

Since you're on the CO2 borderline with that amount of light, you'll definately need to stick to the Flourish Excel dosing if you don't want to mess with CO2. CO2 would give you better results and would be less expensive over the long run.

As to the aquascaping, I would like to see more driftwood. You've got some excellant pieces already, but they are a bit lost with as large as the tanks is. Grouping more of the same plant together is a good idea, and will really help the overall look of the tank. I would look at doubling the amount of plants (overall number of plants but not types of plants) that you have in the tank currently. This will make it much easier to scape the tank as it still feels a bit empty at the moment.
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Old 03-07-2007, 12:47 PM   #5
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FWIW, I just changed out the substrate on my 75 gal and it was a ton of work (densely planted with a ton of livestock that had to be captured and transferred to a temporary tank).

I'm pretty satisfied with the results. I won't add to the suggestions already given regarding the dosing and ferts, just the 'scape. I would move the big piece of driftwood a bit to the left and at an angle toward the back. The other piece can be positioned in the opposite direction so when the eye moves from left to right, the wood gives an appearance of concave.
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Old 03-07-2007, 01:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by majolo
Isn't DIY not too effective for a 55 gal?
i run 6 bottels on my 75 gallon
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Old 03-08-2007, 11:04 AM   #7
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I agree you should probably look into dosing your macros. And DIY CO2 on a 55 is cutting it close, I ran 3 or 4 2-Liters on my 46 for a year and finally got sick of it, my regulator is on its way as we speak.

You could stay with the Excel dosing too, a 2L bottle should last you 9 months or so and only cost $25. Depends on if you really want to have to maintain the tank every single day.
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Old 03-08-2007, 11:17 AM   #8
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Well I did a couple of relevant tests,
Nitrate 10 ppm (API FW Master kit)
Phosphate ~1.0ppm (Seachem test)
What levels should I be targeting? I gather Greg Watson is the cheapest way to dose these things, so I take it I would order monopotassium phosphate and potassium nitrate, right?
From reading around a little, I think there may definitely be a potassium deficiency (old leaves yellowing, pinholes). Is potassium sulfate the thing if I need more potassium than the first two ferts provide? Is the sulfate ion basically neutral as far as the tank is concerned? So many questions

Anyway, thanks for the comments and advice -- keep 'em coming!

Edit: Don't know what's happened with the pics, something's up with photolocker.
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Old 03-08-2007, 11:42 AM   #9
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I'd recommend the following:
KNO3 - Potassium Nitrate (Nitrate and some Potassium)
K2SO4 - Potassium Sulfate (Potassium)
KH2PO4 - Mono Potassium Phosphate (Phosphate)
CSM+B (Traces)

Depending on what you're tap water is like, if your GH is rather low you may want some Magnesium and Calcium as well.

The amounts to target depend on the method of dosing that you choose to use. Sulfate is actually another nutrient that plants need, but like Potassium doesn't seem to cause problems if available in excessive amounts.
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Old 03-08-2007, 12:06 PM   #10
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My water has high GH, so no worries there. I have a bunch of Flourish comprehensive already at hand; is CSM+B significantly better for traces?

I'm not sure what you mean by method of dosing. Can you elaborate on that?
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Old 03-08-2007, 02:50 PM   #11
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Flourish Comprehensive, Tropica Plant Nutrition, and CSM+B are all excellant Trace Fertilizers. Most people prefer one more than the others, but they all will get the job done. The main reason that I recommend picking up some CSM+B is that it is less expensive and lasts longer than that other two. Since shipping is the bulk of the cost of ordering dry ferts, if you're going to buy the CSM+B it's best to do it at the same time as the other ferts.

There are all sorts of different methods for dosing. One of the most popular right now is EI (Estimative Index) which is based on the premise that excess nutrients don't cause algae, so it best to dose enough of all the ferts to ensure that there is never a shortage. PMDD (Poor Man's Dosing Drops) is another strategy that has fallen out of favor. Another method involves testing and dosing the nutrients to target levels. I'm sure there are more methods out there, but these are the ones that I've come accross.
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Old 03-09-2007, 01:22 AM   #12
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Okay, I've ordered the dry ferts from Greg Watson. As soon as they get here, I'll start in on the "EI Light" routine from one of the stickies (and I'll be sticking with the Excel for now). One question on EI light: Tom Barr gives both a dry volume and a liquid volume for the Trace Elements (e.g. .5 tsp or 30 ml of Traces 3x a week for a 100-125 gallon tank). Am I right in assuming that the dry measure is for CSM+B and the liquid measure would refer to Flourish Comprehensive? As I mentioned above, I have several bottles of the latter I may as well use up.
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Old 03-09-2007, 09:17 PM   #13
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The liquid measure may also be for Tropica Plant Nutrition, I'm not entirely sure which. If you calculate the amount of fe added with the dry measure, then you can translate it for any of the other Trace ferts.
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