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Thread: Planted Tropheus Tank - Doomed from the start?

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    San Diego, California
    Posts
    135

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Troheus are a very curious fish. They always seem interested in what's going on outside their tank. And since I have always used an auto feeder, it can't be that they just want another handout. Or maybe they know that I am the ultimate source of their food. More like puppies than fish.

    The plant order wasn't shipped yesterday so I'll have to wait until next weekend to do my gardening:

    • Anubias barteri var. 'nana' (12) (frozen, DOA)
    • Anubias kwango minima (1) (frozen, DOA)
    • Bolbitis heudelotii (9) (not shipped)
    • Microsorium pteropus (12) - Java fern Each was one leaf with 1/4" of rhyzome)
    • Fontinalis antipyretica (willow moss) (was alive, but not permited to grow much beyond net)
    • Taxiphyllum alterans (Taiwan moss) (frozen, DOA)
    • Taxiphyllum incendia stipes (flame moss) (frozen, DOA)
    • Sagittaria subulata (dwarf) (frozen, DOA)
    • Ceratopteris pteroides (temporary floating nutrient sponge) - water sprite (vendor shipped the regular water sprite)
    • Hydrocotyle verticillata (TFNS & likely tropheus' 1st choice for the salad entree) - pennywort (frozen, DOA)
    • Ceratophyllum demersum (TFNS) - hornwort Along with the willow moss, the only plant to arrive intact)


    The moss will be attached to three different rock walls. I don't know which of these will survive, if any, so I'm hedging my bets. None survived the grazing tropheus.)

    The sagittaria will be planted where the current isn't too strong and will be allowed to spread at will across the substrate. It is supposed to be tropheus resistant. (Dead is dead.)

    The three last floating plants are just to add biomass until the epiphytes are established.
    Last edited by Cyclesafe; 04-01-2011 at 03:17 PM. Reason: Update
    125G Planted Tropheus / Epiphyte: 9hr 96W CF; KH12; CO2 inj; UGJ's supplied by an Eheim 1262; Eheim 2128 filter; automated WC system; Aquacontroller Jr..

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Burlington, NC
    Posts
    2,510
    I know that it is too late now, but Tom suggested using dolomite as the substrate for a Lake T tank that I was planning. It contains Ca and Mg, but it doesn't raise the GH and KH as quickly as a substrate like aragonite does. He also told me that you can use CO2 with it because it doesn't dissolve as quickly as aragonite and other cichlid substrates do.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    San Diego, California
    Posts
    135
    1.2 bps of CO2 9 hours a day for a week have not yet increased KH. In fact, daily KH readings have been trending slightly downwards.

    This may be explained by a marked decrease in diatoms. I can now see colors on rocks that had been obscured for three years. Their decay would have consumed some bicarbonate. Or maybe something else died in the tank: I haven't seen a 4" vampire shrimp in more than a year. (It made an appearance in mid March; huge!

    But I am concerned about the aragonite. It will be important to continue to keep an eye on the KH as I crank up the CO2 to more serious levels.
    Last edited by Cyclesafe; 04-01-2011 at 03:18 PM.
    125G Planted Tropheus / Epiphyte: 9hr 96W CF; KH12; CO2 inj; UGJ's supplied by an Eheim 1262; Eheim 2128 filter; automated WC system; Aquacontroller Jr..

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    San Diego, California
    Posts
    135

    Buffers

    I have had a setback with my plant order, so instead of planting I am spending the week titrating my buffer additions at low and stable 1.2 bps CO2. At KH 12 my pH at "lights & CO2 on" has stabilized at 8.15. During this daytime cycle, pH drops to 8.08, whereas without CO2 at KH 12, pH otherwise rises by 0.20 units. Baby steps for sure, but I'm not going to up CO2 until I install my spanking new state-of-the-art regulator.

    Ah buffers....

    My tropheus seem to show their colors better at higher GH / KH. For what it's worth, Lake Tanganyika's GH ranges from 11 to 17 and KH ranges from 16 to 19, so although these levels are not at all necessary for tank-raised tropheus health, at least the harder water won't hurt them. Higher KH does affect iron chelation however, and even with DTPA, I'll still have to watch plants for iron deficiency. But wait, I don't have plants yet....

    My filtered tap ranges from GH 13 to 18 and KH 6 to 7. GH is OK, but KH could be higher. I want to keep pH up to reduce carbonation of my aragonite and I have arbitrarily chosen to target KH 12 to balance the "needs" of fish and plants.

    With chemicals, its easy to target KH: 44g of NaHCO3 raises 100 gallons 4 KH. It does. I verified it (outside the tank). Curiously, Seachem's Lake Tanganyika Buffer and Seachem Alkaline Buffer pretty much do also. They also test negative for potassium (LaMotte kit). Furthermore, Lake Tanganyika Buffer is "designed" for pH 9.0-9.4 and a solution of 7.3:1 NaHCO3 to Na2CO3 by weight * in distilled water has a pH of 9.2. Hummmm........

    Since non-alkali metal carbonate and bicarbonates have vanishingly small solubilities, the conclusion seems obvious....

    My tap already has 86-98 ppm of Na, slightly more than the 57-64 ppm in the lake. And the potassium in my tap at 4-5 ppm is lower than the lake's 18-36 ppm. So minimizing additional Na and upping K would be a win-win for both fish and plants. I can obviously do this by using KHCO3 as my buffer. And I'll save some unneeded SO3 too by witholding K2SO3.

    NaHCO3 is 71% CO3 and KHCO3 is 60% CO3, therefore 71/60x44 (or 52) g of KHCO3 will raise the KH of 100 gallons of water by 4 KH.

    KHCO3 can be bought cheaply at Nuts On Line. Of course, not as cheap as baking soda.

    * bottom of page. I converted from moles per liter to grams per liter.

    All of this was rendered moot when I installed my daily batch water change / top off / autodosing / cooling system. I now have a steady state of GH 18 to 20 and KH of 12 to 13 with no need to add additional buffer.
    Last edited by Cyclesafe; 04-01-2011 at 03:26 PM. Reason: Update
    125G Planted Tropheus / Epiphyte: 9hr 96W CF; KH12; CO2 inj; UGJ's supplied by an Eheim 1262; Eheim 2128 filter; automated WC system; Aquacontroller Jr..

  5. #25
    nkambae Guest

    plant suggestion...

    I had South American rainbow cichlids (Herotilapia multispinosa) in a planted tank and about the only plant they would not eat was a Crinum calamistratum. I found it to be a spectacular, tough plant that did very well when potted in a 72 gallon with 108 watts of T5 HO fluorescent, EI light, and no CO2. Here is a pic I took when I last transplanted it.



    Another pic of the C. calamistratum inflorescence when I had it in a high light CO2 tank:



    I hope your planted Tropheus tank goes well. Illangis are one of my favorite trophs. Good luck.

    sttu

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    San Diego, California
    Posts
    135

    Planting & Start Up

    Nkambae, I wasn't aware that C. calamistratum was fish proof. It's a beautiful plant that would be the centerpiece of a very large planted tank. However, I think you'll agree that the 'scape needs to be planned to use this plant right from the get-go. Too late for me....

    -------------

    Super Glue just didn't work. It could have been that the anubias I glued were already dead from freezing during shipping. Dunno. Anyway, since I didn't want to take a chance everything got tied down.

    Giant java fern ('Tropica'?), anubias minima, and bolbitis in the background; regular java fern, java fern 'narrow', and java fern 'Windelov' in the midground, and anubias 'nana' in the foreground. Two rock walls have Christmas moss and two flat stones in the foreground have flame moss. The moss was sandwiched between fruit netting, sewed up, and tied in place.

    From a plateau of pH 8.04 (KH 10), I've set the controller to turn off CO2 at pH 7.3. So far the water has remained clear in the mornings after most of the CO2 has been driven off. This makes me think that the higher daytime CO2 concentration has not yet been enough to appreciably dissolve the Aragonite. Nor have KH or GH increased. But I have a feeling that dissolution happens quite suddenly and dramatically at some lower pH and I am keeping a sharp lookout.

    As with the heuristic that a 1.0 pH unit decrease due to CO2 injection yields a CO2 concentration of 30 ppm, a 1.0 pH unit decrease also increases the solubility of CaCO3 100X. The first derivative of the pH / KH / [CO2] relationship and the latter's solubility equilibrium equation, yield these constants. Here.

    Watching my fish, as well as my KH and GH, I'm slowly increasing CO2. But until I reach nonlimiting CO2 levels, I will also use Excel as a carbon source. I am seeing some pearling and the anubias roots have turned from white to green. I'm also seeing some adventious root growth. This is only after two days.
    Last edited by Cyclesafe; 05-19-2011 at 02:07 PM.
    125G Planted Tropheus / Epiphyte: 9hr 96W CF; KH12; CO2 inj; UGJ's supplied by an Eheim 1262; Eheim 2128 filter; automated WC system; Aquacontroller Jr..

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    San Diego, California
    Posts
    135

    Update

    Buffers Redux - CO2 and Aragonite Substrate

    For each of three weeks, with CO2 injection limited at pH 7.2, KH increased from 11 to 15. The initial daily pH at "CO2 on", after 14 hours of vigorous internal circulation and filtering with an unsealed wet/dry canister, starts at 8.04 and ends the week at 8.15. This would be consistent with a natural equilibrium CO2 concentration of about 3ppm.

    Since my KH builds between water changes, there is no need to add buffer. If I want more consistent CO2, I'll have to increase the frequency of water changes.

    Fertilization

    Testing NO3 and PO4 with LaMotte kits after water change has shown adequate excess amounts of both without adds. I increased feedings anyway, from 2 to 3X per day, primarily to try to reduce the tendency of the fish to bother the plants. Continuing to add 1/3 EI of K2SO4 and CSM+B and a normal Excel dose.

    Plants

    Getting lots of growth and little attention from Tropheus with java fern, bolbitis, and Anubias 'minima', but the Anubias 'nana' are not faring well. I think the males like to clear away their spawning zone as these have become bare and there are many 'nana' leaves floating around the tank - uneaten. Growth of Christmas and flame mosses depend on tank placement, with areas of less light yielding more growth. But there could be a territory issue here too.
    Last edited by Cyclesafe; 03-13-2011 at 10:51 PM. Reason: Volume of WC not relevant to consistent CO2
    125G Planted Tropheus / Epiphyte: 9hr 96W CF; KH12; CO2 inj; UGJ's supplied by an Eheim 1262; Eheim 2128 filter; automated WC system; Aquacontroller Jr..

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    San Diego, California
    Posts
    135

    Automatic Water Change / Top Off / Autodosing / Cooling System Installed!

    Reconciliating a desire for a two month vacation this summer with the continual needs of the tank, I automated. This was made easy by my previous investment in a Neptune Systems AquaController Junior.

    A 300 gph Eheim Compact pump, controlled by a reverse wired SpectraPure Power Liquid Level Controller, drains 2.5- 3.0 gallons from my overflow box. An Eheim 1250, controlled by a normally-wired PLLC, refills the box from a similarly sized reservoir filled with micron and activated carbon filtered water, controlled by a SpectraPure Liquid Level Controller. All of these pumps/controllers are further managed with separate timers afforded by the capabilities of the AquaController Junior. This cycle repeats three times a day, reducing the temperature of my tank a total of about 1 degree F. Excel/traces and K2SO4 are dosed by an AquaMedic ReefDoser in the first cycle.

    My system has received a "Wife-Will-Eviscerate-Husband-If-He-Floods-The-House" provisional seal of approval. However, if I do manage to flood the house, this will be my last post.

    Feeding will continue with an Eheim AutoFeeder. New Life Spectrum 1mm pellets work very well in these.
    125G Planted Tropheus / Epiphyte: 9hr 96W CF; KH12; CO2 inj; UGJ's supplied by an Eheim 1262; Eheim 2128 filter; automated WC system; Aquacontroller Jr..

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    San Diego, California
    Posts
    135

    Finished????

    Got rid of the moss, and planted generous quantities of what worked: bolbitis, Java fern, and anubias. I decided that I first had such trouble with the anubias because I used too strong a solution of potassium permanganate to disinfect them.

    http://www.barrreport.com/album.php?...achmentid=2304
    Last edited by Cyclesafe; 05-19-2011 at 02:09 PM.
    125G Planted Tropheus / Epiphyte: 9hr 96W CF; KH12; CO2 inj; UGJ's supplied by an Eheim 1262; Eheim 2128 filter; automated WC system; Aquacontroller Jr..

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    San Diego, California
    Posts
    135

    I'm back!

    Well, this setup continued to do quite well. With the automation, maintenance was limited to 5 minutes twice a week and I was able to leave the tank to take care of itself for six weeks during the summer of 2012. It has been completly automated for two plus years with nary a hiccup, but I have spent a fair amount of time tweeking parameters with the controller.

    Anyway, the Ilangi colony has been reduced to 12 from 23 over the past two years, The plants have grown in so thick that their bodies have been absorbed by the tank, unobserved by me. There have been at least 4 fry that made it to adulthood, though, one a runt that my wife refused to let me cull. I have had two massive plant sales. I have been surprised by the local demand for java fern and bolbitis.

    So, last week I had some time on my hands, so I decided to tear the tank down and start over. Gone is the aragonite substrate and the massive rock work; in fact, these took up a full 20 gallons of my tank and almost broke the garbage truck lift when they were hauled away. Instead, I have weaved some bamboo poles into a lattice and have tied anubias, java fern, and bolbitis to them for a foreground, mid ground, and background, respectively. I have a new configuration with the undergravel (no gravel anymore, so I haven't figure out what to call them) jets such that they sweep the tank under the suspended plants and then push detritus back over the plants to the intake of the 1262 powerhead. This provides excellent circulation without rippling the surface. CO2 levels (as approximated by changes in pH) are barely different with the 1262 on or off. I'd post pictures, but my anubias melted in the sunshine where I was unwittingly storing them during the rennovation, so I'll need to wait a while before they fill in with new growth. Then, I promise pics.

    I doubled down with tropheus by bringing in another 12 Ilangi fry from Bluegrass Aquatics, an excellent internet supplier. I also bought some syn petricolas for a little variety. Everybody is getting along great. The mature tropheus are more than 4" long and the fry swim among them like they've belonged in the tank all along. The catfish make themselves scarce such that I rarely see them when the lights are on. Kinda a waste.

    More in a month or two...
    125G Planted Tropheus / Epiphyte: 9hr 96W CF; KH12; CO2 inj; UGJ's supplied by an Eheim 1262; Eheim 2128 filter; automated WC system; Aquacontroller Jr..

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