planted tank

DFW TX
Timeline

Introduction

I have been keeping aquariums for over 20 years and have always enjoyed live plants in my tanks, but they have never been the focus and have never truly thrived. This is my first high-tech planted tank, and I have enjoyed it every bit as much or more than the many fish centric aquariums I have kept.

Background

this tank was always intended to be heavily planted, however it is drilled and fitted with a trickle filter and sump to enable flexibility as to fish type without much remodeling later.

a large variety of plants was added back in august to see "what took", however i am finding many of these plants to be a bit finicky. very small changes in PH, temperature, water hardness, or nutrient levels seem to favor some while being detrimental to others. so as the tank has matured some plants that were growing like weeds early have died out, while others that never grew well have started taking over. the variance required to cause this change in dynamic is much smaller than i would have anticipated based on the research i had done on the species beforehand.

Photos

Lighting

using a custom built LED fixture. i have it tuned with 8 red and 6 blue of the correct spectrum, with 6 white for viewing. the red white and blue mix gives a nice stage light like effect which was not anticipated. it is not high PAR (measures at about 80-50 par) but high PUR (almost all the PAR is PUR). based on plant growth and color i would say it is just a bit higher than "medium" light.

also running a 2x38w 48" NO T8 fluorescent fixture with daylight bulbs at the back of the tank to add a bit more light for the tall plants and give some more depth.

Measurements

111
TDS
Phosphate
2.4
Nitrate
6.8
pH
3.2
Alkalinity
Temperature

Inhabitants

43 Fish

11 Black Neon Tetra Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi
10 Cardinal Tetra Paracheirodon axelrodi
3 Cherry Barb Puntius titteya
2 Emerald Green Cory Cat Brochis splendens
12 Neon Tetra Jumbo Paracheirodon innesi
5 Serpae Tetra Hyphessobrycon Serpae

80 Invertebrate

30 Apple Snail Ampullaria cuprina
50 Red Cherry Shrimp Neocaridina denticulata sinensis

106 Plants

6 Anacharis Elodea
Crinum Calmistratum Crinum calamistratum
15 Giant Red Bacopa Bacopa caroliniana
2 Java Fern Microsorum pteropus
4 Java Moss Vesicularia dubyana
35 Pygmy Chain Sword Echinodorus tenellus
30 Red Watermilfoil Myriophyllum tuberculatum
6 Scarlet Temple Alternanthera reineckii roseafolia
3 Water Wisteria Hygrophila difformis
2 marble queen echinodorus cordifolius
2 tall anubus ANUBIAS FRAZERI

Equipment

Aeration
CO2 System
Lighting
DIY LED
Top Fin 48" Hood
Pump
Other
clay and soil substrate

Feeding See more

live daphnia · microworms · mysis · brine shrimp · rehydrated split pea · nori

Maintenance

The tank is very low maintenance.
I Feed the fish and shrimp daily - i feed heavy several times a day, my fish are fat, and the "processed" food keeps the plants growing.
Every few days I Top off the tank with RO and wash out the filter sponge.
Once a week i check the main tank parameters, and I dose nitrate and minerals if it shows depleted.
I do a ~%30 water change every two weeks, and dose trace minerals and excell after the change.
The 20# CO2 cylinder has been bubbling constantly for over 6 months, and the gauge has barely moved; in a year or two i may have to take it down the street and have it refilled.

the main maintenance is trimming the plants. i now have an underwater lawn that i mow every two weeks with a small pair of scissors. its absolutely ridiculous, but fun.

On average you perform a 18.2% water change every 59 days.

0% total water change in November.

0 activities in the last year

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Disasters & Regrets

PH and hardness can make a huge difference for some plants. My local tap water is very hard an mineral rich. i originally set up the tank with a 50/50 mix of tap and RO as i have read that was advised to maintain mineral content, however my tap water is far too alkaline. this left my tank with a carbonate hardness of about 11dKh, and a PH of 7.9 with CO2 injection. many of the first plants did not grow well, but a few did.
A few moths later I happened upon a few discus that needed a new home. I knew my tank was too hard and alkaline for them so i did a large water change with RO and added acid buffer to bring the PH down to 6.8. this was too much of a change too fast. the tank suffered a massive die-off. most of the species that were doing well in the harder alkaline water melted within the week.
Fortunately, over the next few months those species that did survive pepped up and are now thriving. the lesson is one that i already knew - nothing good in this hobby happens fast. but it is a lesson that tends to constantly find new ways of making itself known.