Aquascaping Tips And Tricks

Silister Trench

Member
I wanted to start a thread sharing some tips for beginning Aquascapers. Please feel free to add any tips you've learned a long the way to help each other out. I know there's a ton of good info, and as far as I know there isn't a thread dedicated to it.

- Sil

Fish keeping is a rewarding hobby by itself, and while plants are a beneficial, cosmetic addition they [plants] are most often the least understood in terms of the home aquarium. Aquascaping is a hobby almost separate of fish keeping, and while the two cross over into each other it's often difficult to determine the differences between keeping fish as pets and creating an Aquascape with fish in it. While I don't want to bore any of you with the "what" and "how" as to why these are so vastly different I feel it necessary, and I'd like to offer some tips for those of us just starting their first Aquascape, and maybe you'll pick up some tricks. Maybe even those more experienced can learn a thing or two or add an experience/tip of their own.


Aquascaping and Fish-Keeping Aren't the Same?

Nope - No way, no how! When you keep fish as a hobby and one day decide to add plants make your pets habitat a little cozier, maybe with pieces of rich Malaysian Driftwood, and in a tank that's usually already established to make them feel more secure or happier it is in a loose way not Aquascaping. When you first learn to Aquascape there's a reason you see professionals in instructional videos pour sand, lay hardscape, pour more sand, adjust, fill with water, plant, then grow, and then somewhere very far down the line add fish. It's because the plants, the hardscape, and layout as a whole is supposed to be the primary focus - what the creator wants to show you and not to a lesser extent some fish. For example, while you may have made a shale rock den for your betta to nap in and it looks great the primary focus remains on the betta fish in your tank, while in an Aquascape you design the tank as art and then add fish that would best compliment this art. Think of the tank as a painting and the stocking is what frames it and brings life into what would otherwise be a still-frame. The difference is that in keeping fish we are providing the best environment for that fish, while in aquascaping we are designing a tank and stocking it with fish that enhance the tank, usually with very small fish to create an illusion of greater aquascape size. Now this is very different than a typical planted tank where the owner adds moss, amazon sword, crypt, java whatever just randomly! An Aquascape is almost always a planted tank, but not all planted tanks are Aquascapes.

Neither are all substrates equal...

Diamond blasting sand is just as good if used with root tabs as ADA amazonia, EcoComplete, or Flourite and 1/10 the cost! How many times have we heard this one? Only any time anyone asks what kind of substrate they should be using when they start a planted tank. While it's definitely cheaper it is also definitely not as good, nor is it in any way the same. If you are growing a carpet plant I can promise you that using a substrate like Flourite is more beneficial than dumping some diamond blasting sand with root tabs. The nutrients that these special planted tank substrates contain is a small part of the equation in why these are better, Maybe more importantly it is size, shape and high cation exchange of these substrates that allows them to absorb nutrients and disperse them back to the roots of your plants that will in turn give the plants a longer life without deficiency or issues of compacted roots, algae, or tearing up your lawn to shove root tabs down under it. For some reason the majority of us take one of the most important parts of an aquascape (a quality substrate) and cheapen it to a nutrientless, non-beneficial layer of blasting sand. A quality substrate provides you with the best start to growing quality plants.

Finding a Fast-growing, low-light carpet plant is a lot like trying to catch a Unicorn.

Try as you might its doubtful you'll ever find such a thing as a Unicorn or a fast-growing low-light carpet plant because both are more or less a myth. Carpet plants aren't fast to fill out even in a High-Tech tank, and most of the plants we see and the carpets we'd like to replicate are only fast growing under high light, stable Co2 levels, nutrients, and a balance between all three. Carpeting plants spread because of more intense lighting, but increasing lighting without increasing Co2 and nutrient levels is like trying to ride a bike without pedals - you won't go anywhere fast except maybe downhill. Okay, so bubble popped on that fantasy. Hate to break it to you, but it needs to be done. Let's talk plants that can under good conditions form a kind of carpet under lower light, no Co2 injection: Pygmy Chain Swords, Dwarf Hair Grass, Staurogyne Repens, Marsilea. One thing all plants have in common is they need Co2, and while you can get away growing a kind of carpet with these under low light (25-30 PAR) it becomes almost necessity then to have a quality substrate and keep other faster growing plants from competing for Co2 with these, meaning leave them out of the tank or dose Excel. If you have good perimeters then you may have some luck, however, I often find the best carpet for a low light tank is using mesh and attaching moss to many, many rocks and letting the moss grow. While this isn't a traditional carpet it's still very beautiful. So why can you potentially grow these plants as a carpet and not something like Dwarf Baby Tears? To simply put it, it's because of how incredibly slow it carpets under low light vs high light, thus the demand for Co2 is low.

Co2 for Noobs!

This is what makes most Aquascapes even possible, or the bread-and-butter of those epic tanks, A lot of us can't afford a system, which seems to be the largest problem. Out of luck? No way! I've made a handful of lush Aqauscapes without Co2 under low light conditions and even without dosing Excel. The only thing I add is nutrients once in a while. How can that be? Remember when you first looked into planted tanks? You probably saw a "Beginner Plant List" of low light, low-maintenance plants somewhere along the way. Well, there you go!! "Beginner Plants" share one thing in common and that they don't require much light and additional Co2 is not necessary because of their slow growth habbits. Plants like Java Fern, Anubias Barteri, and Moss can be combined to make awesome Nature Aquascapes.

Lights are the most important - NOT!

I can't remember where I ever read that lights are the most important and Co2 is second, but it's always clung somewhere in the back of my mind as sound, honest truth. Well, this is a total load for the most part. Both are equally important. While light is the engine of a car, Co2 is the transmission that allows you to shift gears and nutrients are the fuel. You can grow anything you want with low light and Co2, but you can't grow anything you want without Co2. There's a hundred different lights and 1/10 of those found on eBay are good and 1/2 of that 1/10 are great for Aquascapes. I won't spread around my idea of what I think you should get, but I will say that LED's are cheap and efficient and come in every color. For the best look for your tank 6,500 -8,000 is what spectrum you're after, and one of the "great" lights I mentioned will have a dimmer function so you can control intensity. Stay away from 10,000k and up, and away from the bottom-line cheapest, and ask if you don't know.

Iwagumi!?

An odd number of stones, a golden rule of thirds, good substrate and a carpet plant - easy! We all think the same thing, but why? Some IwagumI layouts are breathtaking! They're simple in appearance and marvelous, yet I've helped people tweak and angle and spent more time getting 3 / 5 / 7 (etc...) stones just right than any other tank, even those with 2x-3x the hardscape. Some people get it right almost immediately - don't get me wrong - but IwagumI isn't as simple as we think. It can also be one of the most expensive set ups in terms of Hardscape, lighting, Co2. They aren't for sure the most expensive, at least not always - I know, but a word to the wise is try doing an IwagumI in a small tank first which will be easier and cheaper to hardscape, then work your way up to a 20 gallon +.

A Sturdy Foundation

All your Hardscape (Rocks, driftwood) needs a sturdy foundation, or else... Imagine coming home one day to find your 5G a mess of broken glass and Little Jimmy, the Siamese Fighter you invested the last 2 months to now dead and gone, half-dried up in a pool of soggy carpet. The culprit? Not balancing hardscape. We do this by pouring a layer of substrate on the glass bottom of the tank, or using egg crate supports, foam, other rocks, then by setting the stone or wood and moving more substrate around it. %90 of the time I think most people are going to run in to a common problem when it comes to aquascaping and it's usually do to an ever shifting hardscape because we didn't secure a strong foundation to begin with and now we constantly have to fix it, messing up what could have taken us hours or days. Make sure your hardscape isn't going to move on you by doing whatever needs to be done to keep it there for the next 6 months. You'll thank yourself later.

And a spectacular design has to be friendly to you too!

It's not all about the aquascape and it's not all about the fish. We can design living art with living creatures to swim in it, but if we can't maintain it easily it won't last long. I use an algae scraper with a razor blade and I know I need at least 1" between the glass and any hardscape to clean it. Some people like magnetic algae scrapers, in which case you'd need more room. You have to design every aquascape to look beautiful and stunning but to keep them intelligently designs because we need to be able to clean the glass, to be able to scrub a rock without it toppling over and to trI'm plants. We just need to, or else it doesn't look as good as it could. Position every piece of hardscape away from the glass. Make sure hardscape is sturdy. And plant plants in such a way you don't have to knock over your driftwood to replant them if they're floating the next day, or to trim.
 

Tanks and Plants

Member
Awesome Thread!
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
Plant a Tank Like You Would Stock a Tank!

You've done it, I've done - we've all done it at one point another. We brought home a fish that wasn't exactly compatible with our tank, and do you know what? There's always someone right there to give a lengthy wall of words about how they need this many gallons, and how this fish isn't compatible with that, or most importantly how a fish will very soon outgrow your current tank. Too many people look to see if they can grow a plant with their systems and not if they should. You can fit Ludwigia Repens in a 20G Long, but should you? Not at all! As important as lighting, Co2, nutrients (blah..blah...) it's nearly as important that we look at what size the plant will be just as we look at the max size of a fish. There's countless small plants the same as small fish for little tanks, so trying to fit a lily or a common java fern in a 5G is like trying to stick a pleco in one. Sure, it's cute now but most people will figure out a grave error was made in short order.

E.I. (Estimative Index) Dosing Nutrients in an Aquascape -

Anyone ever dose too little? The plants usually tell you what they're lacking, especially in fast-growing stem plants, and if they don't some times the algae does. Nothing can wreck 6 hours fiddling with sticks and stones quite like an overwhelming amount of algae. E.I. Nutrient Dosing is providing nutrients in abundance for plants, so there's no way they are lacking Macro/Micro nutrients. It's the easiest form of dosing nutrients because algae isn't supposed to grow even if your nutrients are high because the plants are outcompeting the algae. Well, what if I told you the better method is usually to "Wait and See" on fast growing plants what they're telling you they need by appearance and signs of deficiency and on slow growing plants keep a very minimal amount of nutrients for these. Now, this normally only comes into play on high-tech tanks and E.I. dosing Macros, but on any new set up with a quality substrate when new people dose Macro nutrients (Nitrate, Phosphate, Potash) they have no idea that the substrates with NPK or a "complete substrate" is giving their plants plenty of nutrients for the first few weeks. That they're overloading their water column with Phosphate and Nitrates and the abundance of light and Co2 is breeding grounds for algae. Taking dosing slowly is far better than overdosing to an extreme, and it's better to see deficiencies and up your dosing then it is trying to battle algae in any form.

To Carbon or not Carbon?

In new set ups I use active carbon. Always. The plants are acclimating, excess nutrients in the water, and cloudy water from filling or replanting after plants unroot the next day. I've always taken one of the ADA approaches in my canister filters. Kind of. I have a course filter, a medium filter and a polishing pad which is usually polyester pillow batting, then biological filtration, then active carbon to keep the tank looking clean and nice while it adjusts. The active carbon is going to need replacing, but I just leave it in there and it acts as a biological filter after that. You aren't using chemicals in the beginning, so there's nothing that the Carbon can leach back into the water column that isn't already there. Excess nutrients, some say? Clean your filter pads = no more ever-climbing-nitrates. It removes some of the nutrients that your dosing other's say? Maybe, I guess? If you replace it after the start-up, but then it isn't really needed in a balanced and mature aquascape except to add a sparkle to your water if you want to snap a photo. This carbon I leave in the filter and I eventually remove and use it to seed another filter. Let's just note that it's not needed in the slightest. This is just a preference of mine. It's especially important around picture time to give it a pristine look.

Aquascaping Tools Are Necessity.

Don't ever let anyone talk you out of Aquascaping tools. Please! You don't need an expensive set, and you can really buy the two most essential tools for less than $4.00! The tools you need are an aquarium scissors with a curved blade, a straight-end tweezer with a very fine point. This is really for any planted tank and not just aquascaping. If you have those two tools once you get the hang of those 11.5 inch beasts you'll never want to go back to chopsticks and steal your kid's plastic scissors, ever. A few tools that are also very helpful is an algae scraper that holds a razor blade to clean the glass and a tooth brush for cleaning the silicone corners in your tank and scrubbing hardscape. You can use an old toothbrush as long as it's washed out well enough, and a stainless steel algae scraper is usually $12.00 on eBay, where the tweezer and scissors can be found - ordering from China. A surface skimmer is always a good idea too.

There are a few other tools you might see, like a gravel shovel, a straight-scissors, a tweezers that's bent at the tip, and a very curved scissors. The gravel shovel has it's uses and the very curved scissor (the tip and handle are curved) is meant to trI'm carpeting plants, which it's awesome for, expensive, and you can do the same for the $1.66 curved tip scissors.

Filtering 411

You can get away with a Hang on Back Filter for any low-tech aquascape with low-light plants. If you're trying to inject Co2 via a system or a DiY system any filter that I've tried gases off the Co2 just as fast as you can add it, so a canister filter is really the only way to go. You'll benefit greatly from setting up your filter properly. Where the water enters it should be Course Media, Semi-Course Media, Fine Media, Polishing Pad, Biological Media, Chemical. This way your filter runs longer without getting clogged because the different sized media allows particles to get trapped at various stages instead of blocking your polishing pad all at once. Good flow means better nutrient/Co2 circulation, which means your plants are healthier.

Tanks and Plants said:
Awesome Thread!
Thanks! I plan on adding to it as I can. Decided to do something like this because of all the new aquascapers out there. Lots of talent, but I tend to notice the same mistakes, which I know I've done in the past too many times.

Hope it helps some folks!
 

Tanks and Plants

Member
I wanted to add if you don't mind.......

when it comes to filtration and carbon some aquascapers use carbon and some don't. BUT there is a BRAND NEW product that just came out for planted tanks.
It's made by Boyd Enterprises and it's called Chemi-Pure Green.
I am posting a link to show how it looks and in no way am I endorsing this website.
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
Tanks and Plants said:
I wanted to add if you don't mind.......

when it comes to filtration and carbon some aquascapers use carbon and some don't. BUT there is a BRAND NEW product that just came out for planted tanks.
It's made by Boyd Enterprises and it's called Chemi-Pure Green.
I am posting a link to show how it looks and in no way am I endorsing this website.
Thanks for adding that, and by all means anyone should add anything they deem helpful!

That's something I'd try out just to see. At first look it doesn't seem much different than active carbon pellets, but at the same time it's not much more expensive than walking into the LFS and buying Active Carbon. I think that's $16-$19 22oz LFS Active Carbon and this is $16 for 11 oz so double price, but it's not an every month item for me. I'd try it out just to see if there was difference in nutrient levels, and I have the perfect tank for it. Maybe I can find some testimony from other people, too.
 

Tanks and Plants

Member
I tried once to make my own Chemi-pure elite and the one thing I cannot figure out is the ion exchange resin. Most of the ion exchange resins I have used seem to have lowered the pH in my water. I saw a video on youtube of this guy making his own chemi-pure and I think a couple months later he had a video that all his fish had died. I am pretty sure this is what happened. The amount of ion exchange resin he used was way too much and it probably lowered his pH too low for his africans to survive in. I tried researching all different kinds of ion exchange resins and ones that doesn't lower the pH in your water. This is the part that Boyd has a tight lip on, because the rest of the stuff in Chemi-pure is things we can get with ease, Carbon and GFO.
I have used my homemade Chemi-pure in a tank that doesn't have or needs a high pH and from what I saw it looked good. I am wondering what they are using in Chemi-pure green and like you would like to see some reviews on how it is working.

Tanks!

Brandon
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
Tanks and Plants said:
I tried once to make my own Chemi-pure elite and the one thing I cannot figure out is the ion exchange resin. Most of the ion exchange resins I have used seem to have lowered the pH in my water. I saw a video on youtube of this guy making his own chemi-pure and I think a couple months later he had a video that all his fish had died. I am pretty sure this is what happened. The amount of ion exchange resin he used was way too much and it probably lowered his pH too low for his africans to survive in. I tried researching all different kinds of ion exchange resins and ones that doesn't lower the pH in your water. This is the part that Boyd has a tight lip on, because the rest of the stuff in Chemi-pure is things we can get with ease, Carbon and GFO.
I have used my homemade Chemi-pure in a tank that doesn't have or needs a high pH and from what I saw it looked good. I am wondering what they are using in Chemi-pure green and like you would like to see some reviews on how it is working.

Tanks!

Brandon
Not going to lie, I had to dive deep to understand first "ion exchange resin" and then piece together how I think it all works. When I finally got a grasp of ion exchange and the process that guy on YouTube was crazy for testing it out on a tank with living creatures in it.

I'm thinking there's some sort of pH buffer in it to counteract the pH drop. I only base this on the description of the product as it was written on Amazon, stating it "helps maintain a stable pH."

That shady wording right there tells me it alters pH, but they have a buffer so it doesn't drop it far enough to cause problems.

Can't find a single review, but I could definitely see display tanks, like the ones in businesses near me, using this to keep their tanks looking crystal clear without having to worry about testing levels.
 

Brian Rodgers

Member
awesome awesome awesome and thank you Silister for starting this much needed discussion.
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
Brian Rodgers said:
awesome awesome awesome and thank you Silister for starting this much needed discussion.
No problem. I'll keep adding stuff as I can, and hopefully some others will chime in with their two cents as well as their own advice.
 

xaipe

Member
This may be the single most informative and interesting thing I've read here so far. Thank you!
 

Tanks and Plants

Member
Silister Trench said:
Not going to lie, I had to dive deep to understand first "ion exchange resin" and then piece together how I think it all works. When I finally got a grasp of ion exchange and the process that guy on YouTube was crazy for testing it out on a tank with living creatures in it.

I'm thinking there's some sort of pH buffer in it to counteract the pH drop. I only base this on the description of the product as it was written on Amazon, stating it "helps maintain a stable pH."

That shady wording right there tells me it alters pH, but they have a buffer so it doesn't drop it far enough to cause problems.

Can't find a single review, but I could definitely see display tanks, like the ones in businesses near me, using this to keep their tanks looking crystal clear without having to worry about testing levels.
I agree with that "helps maintain a stable pH" shady area. I cannot find a ion exchange resin that doesn't drop the pH. They basically soften the water for let's say window washer so that there are no water spots.
I wonder what they are using to counter act the pH drop. When looking in the actual bag of Chemical-pure I can only see the carbon, GFO, and ion exchange resins. I also wonder what kind of carbon they are using that will last a couple of months. The best carbon I know of is ROX 0.8 and all the ones I have seen are like very tiny little logs almost like those candy sprinkles. The carbon in the chemical-pure bag is more chunky looking.

Sorry to Have hijacked your thread!

I have always wondered about chemi-pure and have used the Blue and elite before and all I can say is that I save a ton of money by using what I use for my tanks and they are always clean and the water parameters are almost always near what I want and what most expect.

Great Thread!

Thanks!
Brandon
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
Tanks and Plants said:
Sorry to Have hijacked your thread!

I have always wondered about chemi-pure and have used the Blue and elite before and all I can say is that I save a ton of money by using what I use for my tanks and they are always clean and the water parameters are almost always near what I want and what most expect.

Great Thread!

Thanks!
Brandon
Nah! No apology needed. In my opinion active carbon is necessity when starting an Aquascape if you want it looking great from the get-go, and if there's a better product out there, which this is beginning to sound like it just may be, then I think this is the perfect spot to talk about a product that is specifically designed for planted tanks and Aquascapes.

I'm glad you mentioned it so I can try it out!

xaipe said:
This may be the single most informative and interesting thing I've read here so far. Thank you!
No problem! I hope it helps a few people out and saves someone from a headache later on. Nothing worse than having a tank close to fully grown out and fighting design errors and poor judgment every step of the way.

Buying Driftwood and Stones Online

If you're geographically located in similarly bland parts of the U.S.A. as I am then you have probably come to terms that most of the stones we can go out and scavenge aren't great for hardscaping because they lack the intricate weathered surfaces of Seiryu, or the color and pattern of Ohko Stones. Heck, even to find one of the staple driftwoods most often seen in aquariums such as Malaysian Driftwood I have to order it from California if that makes any sense? There are two problems with buying hardscape online and having it shipped to you. While the first issue is how expensive this is to do, the second problem I think we've all ran into is that you can know your tank's exact measurement by heart and read the measurement of a piece of driftwood a dozen times but I can guarantee that once you get that piece in your hands it's going to be different than how you imagined it. This makes buying online a practice I've shied away from for a long time. I'm a perfectionist, so when I plan for something and it goes South, it wrecks my day.

I've recently taken up drawing out a plan for the hardscape I do so in an attempt to visualize a way I use the hardscape on paper before I ever consider hitting the confirm and pay button. I draw a tank, my substrate, then copy/draw the hardscape as it should fit according to the measurements. If I can't draw out a design based on the pictures a seller provided I feel like I'll be equally as stuck when it comes to implementing these pieces if I order them, although, having the hardscape in your hand (or mine at least) is much easier for me to get a feel for how best to use rocks or driftwood than it is to doodle. It would be a bummer to spend $70.00 and waste that time in anticipation for a 13lbs box of Seriyu Stone only to rip the box open and find they were much smaller than you thought, or looked different than how you imagined a week ago, then forgot about, then reimagined over several days before they arrived. I never used to draw any designs out, but when it comes to online purchases I think this is a safe move. You don't have to be the best artist, you just have to scale measurements to an approximate size to your tank and remember that any hardscape is better off being too big versus too small. You can take a hack saw to your new piece of driftwood and manipulate it to fit exactly how you originally drew your design. You can even take a hammer to stones that are too large and chip away until they fit (using a hammer on Seiryu or Ohko will destroy the weathered face and wreck the stone so be careful!) but ordering hardscape - especially your focal point - and having it arrive and actually be much smaller than you first guessed will throw off your design.

There's trickery in online purchases!

This trickery is more often used when it comes to aquarium stones than driftwood. Go to eBay, type in Seiryu Stones and then look through a set of stones already in a formation that you can buy together. There's probably 3-5 pictures of these stones and most often they're taken from the same angle. Well... that's because stones often have a "Show Side" and 1 or more sides where they were fractured from larger stones which left them with "Less Attractive Sides". One of the first times I bought stone I had grand plans on how I would lay them out, but as soon as I unboxed the stone I quickly realized that the picture showing off the set as a whole was positioned that way because 2-3 of the other sides lacked any resemblance to how a Seiryu Stone should look. That's because the stones were already positioned by the seller to show off the visually appealing faces they wanted you to see, while hiding the less attractive sides. I'm not trying to say it's wrong to buy stones online, and most often it's the only way we can get them, but just assume the formation these sets are positioned in are the only usable faces on each stone until you have it in your hand. These "Less Attractive Sides" can be seen on virtually any stone submerged in an aquarium or sitting out in nature. The sides most natural and appealing to aquascaping are the sides that have been weathered over hundreds of years of seasonal climate change, rain, rockslides, and if you break a Seiryu or Ohko you fracture it in almost straight lines that gives you an unnatural look to that part of the stone now.

I guess I can tell you now that it's not trickery. In fact, searching for that "Show Side" on a stone is exactly what every good aquascaper does with every stone they place. You hold it in your hand, turn it end-over-end as you look for the side that has the most character. This is exactly what some of these sellers have done when they lay out sets of rock.

The Rule of One-Thirds is a Golden Rule for Aquascaping.

The answer to that statement is true. However, the conclusion of the previous sentence is false, as is this one. Which answer is truthful? Did that sound to you like a question straight out of a prep test for college? If yes, then good! It should be confusing because of how easy the Rule of One-Thirds is. Let's break it down to the basic level. Find the length of your tank and cut it in half, then from there you're going to cut the area between the left side and the very middle of your tank in half again, then do the same for the right side which splits the length in 1/3 sections. Do the same for the height of your tank so you're imagining a grid that splits the front of your tank into 9 equal squares. Pat yourself on the back because you now have the starting point in understanding the Rule of One-Thirds and have solved half of the mystery of why Leonardo DaVinci's Mona Lisa has such a mysterious smile. Here's a drawing I did some time ago for my Nature Aquarium. I also implemented the habit of drawing the hardscape you plan on buying online before purchasing.


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You see how I put the big jumble of what turned out to be spider wood on the right side with the lines intersecting above and below that particular piece? That's my focal point. That's what I have invented for you to look at first every time someone sees this picture for the first time. Let's say I moved it smack in the middle. Then it would look as if I did it on purpose because I positioned it to where your eyes want to go initially. See, you're trained to look at the center of objects because almost every object mankind designs would feel off if we didn't have that center to focus on. Nature's different. It doesn't care about even lines, or centering a tree in the middle of nowhere, and in fact Nature doesn't like doing that because it doesn't like linear lines and flat surfaces. We do, and that's the reason we don't want to follow our first instinct and to drop the focal point in the center of the tank. We want to give you the illusion that even though I placed every piece of wood, every stone in this tank that it could be Natural if it weren't in a glass box.


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Now, I didn't follow the rule exactly and no one ever has to. According to our rule the center of the spider wood should be 1/3 the length of the tank from the right while also being 1/3 the height either from the bottom horizontal line or the top one. That would be perfect cohesion to our rule, and that's exactly why I didn't because do you think if Nature had done this she would have followed perfect unity to the rule of 1/3? Nope! I also did this because that whole side will be something to focus on in time and it will balance itself. Now this works in my tank, but may not in yours. Maybe you want to go traditional Iwagumi, so now there are even more rules than just 1/3's. You now have to place the father stone's peak 2/3's the height of the tank either in the middle facing the 1/3 split (H+L) or position it's base on the length line and point it away from intersecting focal point lines to the focal point on the opposite side. You then have to place the second largest stone in a position where it challenges the Father Stone while directing attention to the focal point the Father Stone is facing towards in scenario 1, or with its back to in scenario 2. Finally the smallest stone should be positioned near the father stone, lending it visual support while for the most part going unnoticed.

See how IwagumI gets confusing in a hurry, and how the Golden Rule get's skewed faster then it's created? The best advice is to never hardscape a tank thinking only of the Golden Rule. Let your creativity be the driving force while only simply keeping any of the rules in the back of your head. And now that you understand our rule split this design I drew and find the focal point.


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Answer: If you said the Focal Point is slightly above the the middle of the biggest piece of wood you'd technically be right, but also wrong. While the strongest point is the one our eyes all traveled to on the upper left if you take another look and section off the grids you'll notice every focal point is used in my design. The upper-left is the strongest, the bottom-left is second in strength but if I fooled your eyes you didn't look to the second point immediately because your eyes went diagonal towards the bottom-right side, then left again and all the time you saw the weakest point in the upper-right part of our imagined grid and didn't realize the largest stick is pointing you right to it. I'd bet more than half of you let your eyes travel that way without even knowing you did just that because I wanted you to.

If you can keep our rule in the back of your mind and master getting a viewers eyes to travel the way you want them to you stop being a average aquascaper, you even stop being a great aquascaper, maybe an aquascaper and a hobbyist altogether and instead you start to walk TakashI Amano's path and become an artist who uses fish tanks as a tapestry for nature works. This isn't a toot on my own horn by any means, just my own vivid perception of what it means to be average, good, great, spectacular.
 

Brian Rodgers

Member
I'm trying to get my head around ion exchange. This isn't even the first time. Fellow biodiesel makers use ion exchange to remove unwanted chemicals from raw processed biodiesel. Let's see if it sinks in a little deeper with each think on it?

Ion-Exchanges-sm.jpg


"I've recently taken up drawing out a plan for the hardscape I do so in an attempt to visualize a way I use the hardscape on paper before I ever consider hitting the confirm and pay button. I draw a tank, my substrate, then copy/draw the hardscape as it should fit according to the measurements. If I can't draw out a design based on the pictures a seller provided I feel like I'll be equally as stuck when it comes to implementing these pieces if I order them, although, having the hardscape in your hand (or mine at least) is much easier for me to get a feel for how best to use rocks or driftwood than it is to doodle. It would be a bummer to spend $70.00 and waste that time in anticipation for a 13lbs box of Seriyu Stone only to rip the box open and find they were much smaller than you thought, or looked different than how you imagined a week ago, then forgot about, then reimagined over several days before they arrived. I never used to draw any designs out, but when it comes to online purchases I think this is a safe move. You don't have to be the best artist, you just have to scale measurements to an approximate size to your tank and remember that any hardscape is better off being too big versus too small. You can take a hack saw to your new piece of driftwood and manipulate it to fit exactly how you originally drew your design. You can even take a hammer to stones that are too large and chip away until they fit (using a hammer on Seiryu or Ohko will destroy the weathered face and wreck the stone so be careful!) but ordering hardscape - especially your focal point - and having it arrive and actually be much smaller than you first guessed will throw off your design."
You are a most entertaining writer on top of knowledgeable and experienced. I marking this discussion as one of my favorites! Thank you for taking the time to put this together.
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
Brian Rodgers said:
I'm trying to get my head around ion exchange. This isn't even the first time. Fellow biodiesel makers use ion exchange to remove unwanted chemicals from raw processed biodiesel. Let's see if it sinks in a little deeper with each think on it?

Ion-Exchanges-sm.jpg
! Don't worry, you're not the only one and it's because there's never a short answer to how the process works. I'm not gonna to claI'm to understand it to the fullest, but I think the simplest breakdown I could understand was: Ion exchange is a selective purification process where electrically charged atoms or molecules of a soluble organic or inorganic substance are removed using resin made up of plastic beads, or a hydrated polymeric skeleton. Water is electrically neutral, which ions form a loose bond to. Ions in the resins have Fixed Ions that cannot be displaced and are neutralized by a Centurion, which is mobile and can leave. The process of removing electrically charged soluble substances happens when another ion entering this polymer structure through it's hydrated skeleton causes one of the the mobile centurion out to keep the water and structure electrically neutral.

Or at least that's what I gathered from reading this lengthy article twice last night. I could be off in my understanding, but that's the way my brain understood it.



At the bottom it shows the breakdown of what chemical structure removes what.I kept hoping to find the shortest answer while looking into it last night, and that just didn't happen... I feel like my 8th grade science teacher would either be horrifically impressed by how well I understood this, or shake his head as he walked away knowing he never was able to teach me anything. Haha! Wait... what am I saying? He'd still hate me for dating his daughter.

Brian Rodgers said:
You are a most entertaining writer on top of knowledgeable and experienced. I marking this discussion as one of my favorites! Thank you for taking the time to put this together.
Thanks. I'm glad you find it entertaining! It always sounds like the voice in my head is preachier than it should be when writing, but I try to add some dry humor here and there. haha!
 

Brian Rodgers

Member
I get your humor
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
Not All Hardscape is a Good Match for your tank immediately.

After my first few attempts with Aquascaping I realized something very simple, something so basic that I've never seen any professional aquascaper mention it because they must all think "Why would anyone not do this?"

Hardscape is rarely ever a perfect fit. It might work in the spot you placed it, but maybe it would be ideal if you could just move that big stone closer to the front, except then it's too big! Well, smash that thing unless it's the previously mentioned weathered stones such as Seiryu and Ohko. You can use a small hammer to take chips out of it, even a chisel to try and get it to fracture where you want. The art of hardscaping is positioning the hardscape exactly where it needs to be, and if it isn't perfect it's easy to manipulate rocks, substrate, especially driftwood with a simple saw! Make it fit perfect the first time, then you don't have to go back and fix it later.

Pre-soak your Driftwood.

I am pathetically horrible when it comes to this advice. Haha! I notoriously toss in a bunch of wood and use rocks to keep it from floating up, which works... but if you've ever had a piece of driftwood one day explode with white fungal growth and clog your filter and coat your biological filter in snot-textured slime, then you'll know better next time. Soaking it in a a bucket or tub not only will cause this fungal effect to happen where it will be easier to clean, this growth being caused by wood that's dried out becoming fully submerged, it will also release some of the tannins. You don't need to get all of the tannins out. Tannins are just fine, and if you don't like the browning of your water then stick in some carbon. You're no doubt wondering as to how long you should soak a piece of wood, and the answer is more an approximation because of the variety of different woods. Plan ahead and soak it a few weeks if you're starting a new tank. If it develops a moldy looking growth scrub it clean, replace the water and set it back in until the growth doesn't return. You should be replacing the water every few days.

Get off the Computer and go find your own hardscape...

Finding stones and driftwood in nature is a great way to save money. You'll see almost all professional tanks using staple aquarium driftwood and stone: Malaysian wood, Spider wood, MopanI Wood (etc...) Seiryu Stone, Rhyoh Stone, Slate Stone, Lava Rock (etc...) but you can take a walk out in the forest and find equally as good hardscape as long as you follow a few rules. This is usually where the best aquascapers find hardscape for their tanks.

Just avoid any rock that is soft like shales, avoid anything with metal or pyrite (fools gold) in it. Any rocks you do gather should be acid tested by using white vinegar or muriatic acid which you'll find in most hardware stores for cheap, and it's a far more active bubbling reaction when muriatic acid is applied to a stone that's soft, which is the tell-tale sign that a stone will dissolve in your water column, polluting it and altering levels fish my perish from. Before adding the stones to your tank use a bleach and water solution of about 50/50 to disinfect the stone and then rinse very thoroughly to remove all the bleach. I use to boil them without issue, but there are some horror stories of exploding rocks when the air inside a stone gets superheated during the boil and causes the rock to burst.

Wood is a little trickier. Driftwood doesn't have to be found on the shores of beaches or rivers. In fact, almost all of the driftwood I gather comes from a thicket of trees near me that floods in the spring. When I'm out scavenging I usually grab every piece I can find that is virtually without bark, dead, and not rotten. I then take everything I find and boil it anywhere between 15-30 minutes or whenever I remember to take it off. I put the stopper in the sink and dump the water and wood in there and let it sit until it cools before using a stiff-bristled brush to clean any dirt or remaining bark until it looks like driftwood. While I scrub each piece I'm examining it for signs of rotting, or testing how hard it is by attempting to bend or even break it. You're after hardwoods, which all aquarium driftwood sold in pet stores should be, because the moment you stick a dead piece of wood in the water it begins to decay. Hardwoods can have an enormous life-expectancy in the tank and I've even heard the life of some can be decades, while soft and spongey pieces are going to quickly decompose and start breaking down. It's annoying to have this happen when you've attached moss or ferns to the piece, only to be forced to remove the plant and throw the piece out later. After scrubbing, the clean pieces get another rinse before I toss them in a bucket to soak for a few days. How can you tell other than feeling the wood for signs of decay or spongey areas? Unless your good with identifying trees it's likely you can't and 6 months down the road you'll discover if the wood was a poor choice when it starts flaking off pieces of wood. I can identify some of the wood in my area, but only because I've used it. The easiest way to tell if the wood is hard or soft is to grab a hand-saw and start sawing. If it takes a half hour to get through 2 inches then you can safely say it's a hardwood, but if you carve right through it like butter you are dealing with a soft variety. Aside from avoiding Pine Trees (sap in the water is bad) I have yet to find a piece of wood that effects my water perimeter in any way aside from a tannin-induced drop in pH for a few weeks. If you have questions feel free to start a thread.

Attaching plants to hardscape?

People love telling you to use cotton threading and superglue, and they're both good ways to approach attaching plants, but don'tt let yourself be fooled when they also tell you cotton threading disintegrates in time because I recently pulled out a piece of wood from a tank that had been submerged for over a year and that cotton threading was still there. It's likely it will eventually disintegrate but this won't happen over night.

My preferred methods are to use clear fishing line, superglue, and wire meshing as well. Most of the time I use a combination of all three ways to attach plants in a tank. Fishing line is great for moss and rhizome plants because its not ever going to disintegrate. I'll first tie the line onto the hardscape - a piece of driftwood we'll say - and wrap the line around about 3 times before placing moss, then I wrap the ever living heck out of it by wrapping it's firmly, yet not too tight down the length of the moss or driftwood, tie another not, then wind the line back up again before tying the third not. To secure this thread in place I grab superglue and glue my knots together and the spiraling fishing lines every few lines to the wood, keeping the line from moving - and it will.

I use stainless steel wire mesh on pieces I can't easily tie to a plant to or if I'm not certain I want moss attached. I basically put a piece of mesh 2x the length of what I need and place moss or rhizome plants between the meshing on one side before folding the other side over it and bending the wire so it shuts, pressing the two sides together and securing the plant in place. This is how I use moss and sometime's use on to attach moss to rocks. If you're securing the plant to the hardscape and using mesh simply put the plant on your hardscape and bend the mesh around it until it's secure.

Cotton threading does work out well. These are only my preference, but I fee I should that superglue turns white in the water and looks gross, so don't go overboard. One member on Fishlore - Dave I think - mentioned using zip-which is another option, but more visible.

Backgrounds are more important than we think!

Look at some of your favorite aquascapes. I'm not talking that your friend did, or your neighbor's either. I'm talking about the sweaty-nerd hobbyist's tank in his basement that he's been spending countless days on for an Aquascaping Contest. The first thing you'll notice is how pristine the plants are, how perfect, which is credited to better lighting and better trimming techniques. Next you may notice that there's no algae and their fish are schooling perfectly, but just as we create an illusion of depth in are tanks we are also creating a portrait of perfect tranquility and it probably took a lot of baiting with foods to get them to school and hitting a good balance of the essential 3 (Co2, Light, Nutrients) from the first day. If you're like me, the last you'll notice is they rarely use any of the common varieties of plants we are used to seeing. What you never notice is the background, and that's exactly what makes everything really meld and makes you question if what you're looking at is really a fish tank. I learned this lesson many difficult ways and that is: Before you ever put a gram of substrate in a new tank, take some time to apply a background. We're used to seeing no backgrounds, dangling wires, $12 portrait backgrounds at stores, black backgrounds, blue, white, but what we aren't used to seeing is when a background is there but your eyes don't pay special attention to it. The best ways to achieve this is using frosted window film, window tinting, or a high-reflective grey paint on a surface behind the tank. Frosted window film is my personal favorite because it's still translucent enough that anything behind the tank is visible while being distorted by the frosting and can be applied to back glass easily. You can also use window film in a spray-paint can to apply it which can easily be removed later with a razor blade. The next step is to stop running your electrical wiring or hose for a canister filter behind the tank. Instead run them from the side so they don't shadow the view. A white wall is best directly behind the frosted glass to illuminate it, or a piece of tag-board 3-5 inches behind it works too. But then... how do you see some of the sweaty-nerds tank's almost appear as if there is a setting or rising son behind their focal point? You backlight the white wall or tag-board behind the tank with LED's. Even a cheap submersible aquarium LED works great when ran at the top and bottom with the light not directed at the tank but the lighter colored wall behind it. It then just becomes a matter of finding the right colors.

Now that's sweaty-nerd hobbyist 101.

Part 2: Backgrounds are more important than we think!

Examples are from a nano tank background that frosted window film was applied to, and easily manipulated and diversity it brings. Since this tank previously had been frosted with the spray-paint canned frost I used a razed to scrape it, cleaned the surface thoroughly and applied the film. It took about 15 minutes.

Fig. 1

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Fig. 2


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I didn't have time to play with it much, so hopefully I did a decent job to make your eyes see there is a sort of background but not focus much on it The lighter white portion of either picture is simply the corner of a wall behind it, and it looks the way it does when positioning my clip on Finnex Stringray in different ways. Fig 1 is how it would normally look day-to-day while Fig 2 is what you might do for a picture

View of Fig. 1


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View of Fig. 2


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Because the tank sits in front of an inside corner it was bending the light, giving it a of neat effect I thought looked kind of like a ray of sunlight filtering through a canopy of trees.


Window film isn't horribly expensive but applying it correctly goes a long way aesthetically in order to avoid bubbles become trapped beneath the surface, which looks terrible. It's really only a matter of cleaning the surface thoroughly, spray it down with soapy water and then applying by putting it in place and finally using a kind of squegee to smooth it down. You'll definitely benefit by watching a How To video on YouTube if you have never tried.

After the film is applied it's just a matter of finding what you consider suits your tank well. Getting a nicer look than what I've shown usually means getting under cabinet lights or using LED strips of bars outside of the tank.
 

Brian Rodgers

Member
I'm struggling to find long tools. Is it important to have scissors that reach plants without getting my fingers in the water? Or is this an issue at all? My tank is a 50 gallon which is 18" tall all of the tools seem to top out at 10.5 inches. I don't mind getting me hands wet, but it seems to disturb the tank more than necessary. My pebble and sand substrate is a bit fragile and after working in the tank plants become dislodged.
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
The longest I remember seeing are 12".



The tweezers in this set aren't skinny enough, but just as an example. All of my tools are 10.5"-11.5" and I use them on a 18" tank. Their length isn't meant to keep you out of the water all of the way, but to allow you to reach places you wouldn't be able to with submerging your whole arm. I think it's more important you have the correct tools than trying to find an 18" scissors which might be extremely unwieldy.
 

Brian Rodgers

Member
Okay great and thank you for the quick response. As you recommended earlier, I'm looking at scissors and tweezers to begin with. Curved blade scissors, correct? Any specific style as they seem to have a lot of variety. Long here doesn't matter, I do not mind getting my hands in there. I have a razor scraper with 18" handle which should solve the issue of disturbing plants. Thanks Silister
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
Brian Rodgers said:
Okay great and thank you for the quick response. As you recommended earlier, I'm looking at scissors and tweezers to begin with. Curved blade scissors, correct? Any specific style as they seem to have a lot of variety. Long here doesn't matter, I do not mind getting my hands in there. I have a razor scraper with 18" handle which should solve the issue of disturbing plants. Thanks Silister
I will post what I use for you and give a brief description of why when I get a chance in a few hours.
 

Brian Rodgers

Member
That would be great and thank you.
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
This was my first tool set.

Gravel Rake: For moving substrate, and really this is only used prior to planted.

Straight Scissors: this is mostly a useless scissor in my opinion. It's okay for pruning, or more precise cuts.

(Recommended) Curved scissors: unlike the straight scissors, the curved blade feature allows you to make horizontal cuts such as training stem plant or carpets without having to hold the scissors itself horizontally. You can do virtually all your trimming with this alone.

(Recommended) Straight Tweezers: good for initial carpet planting, or replanting stem plants. The tweezers in this set has about a 3/16" tip which is too wide. I you have access to a file or grinder you should narrow the point, which will allow for fine planting into substrate without uprooting the plant when you open the tweezer ends.

Curved tweezers: great for moving small objects such as stones or picking at parts of your tank.




This is a foreground scissors. It's weird design allows for very precise horizontal foreground plant trimming. This scissor is extremely sharp in order to cut large clumps of plants. It costs half as much as the above set... But once I used this I was surprised at how great it works for hacking down dwarf baby tears carpet.

Some of the original set I bought I no longer have. You can Purchase any of these separately by describing " 12 inch aquarium _" and then whatever.

Note that this isn't a spectacular set. Those you'll see are slightly different in design and usually cost between $30 - $60. The price of those will be worth it because the cheaper sets bend, break... Both my tweezers came apart at the weld 1 year after purchase but I'm also very hard on them, picking up large stones. Just note that more expensive sets are a harder steel.
 

Brian Rodgers

Member
Thanks I did done it on the wavy scissors you linked.
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
Brian Rodgers said:
Thanks I did done it on the wavy scissors you linked.
The Foreground Scissors? They're really great, very solidly crafted. I use them in my forest aquascape "Where We Last Saw Riding Hood" to keep the moss trimmed tight against the hardscape and spreading. I never thought this design would really be an improvement over the simple curved blade of the other scissors, but it really is. I find they're great for moss and carpet trimming, even stem plants delicate like Alternanthera ReinekI Mini. I tried to use them on large bushes of background stem plants and they definitely work but at a much slower pace than the curved blade. For pruning plants like Java Fern? I still only use a straight scissor because I end up cutting leafs I can't see with a curved blade.

I keep trying to find a Complete Set if what I use exactly but no one sells it. This is the closest I can find, but the scissors are cheap, and the tweezers are junk for planting. I had to piece together the tools I knew were what I needed from prior experience but this does show all the tools I have, just not the styles I use.



Edit: These are the styles I use. The scissors are of better quality, and the tweezers are finer and stronger built.



Foreground Scissors -



And the best tool a planted tank can use -



There are cheaper versions of the metal Algae scraper, but because of the different sized tanks I have this is handy. When the blades dull and you use all 10 I bought some cheap blades at the hardware store and just stuck them in.
 

Brian Rodgers

Member
I had looked at those all I think. Mainly what I was after this time is the 18" long handle razor scrapper. Unfortunately I see diatoms in my tanks future. I've read it just needs to run its course. Scrapping is where I was disturbing my plants the most. I'm only a month into the latest planting in a Low Tech. I think it'll still be a while before I need to trI'm plants. I like the idea of getting and trying a pair of scissors before moving on to the next tool.
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
Brian Rodgers said:
I had looked at those all I think. Mainly what I was after this time is the 18" long handle razor scrapper. Unfortunately I see diatoms in my tanks future. I've read it just needs to run its course. Scrapping is where I was disturbing my plants the most. I'm only a month into the latest planting in a Low Tech. I think it'll still be a while before I need to trI'm plants. I like the idea of getting and trying a pair of scissors before moving on to the next tool.
Man! That razor scraper is really the best investment someone can make when it comes to diatoms and algae on the glass. Water out of my tap is incredibly good at creating diatoms in new tanks or low light tanks, as in they never truly go away 100% unless I run High Tech (which is why I have so many...) and magnetic algae scrapers are bulky, unwieldy and you can never clean to the substrate level and any plastic algae remover device I've tried or owned ended up in the garbage.

The Foreground Scissors will be a good choice in the beginning. I was wondering to myself why you went with that particular one, but in low-light you won't be hacking as much and instead be light-trimming in a few months which it'll be good for. A cheap version of any of the other two can be bought for under $2 from China if desired, which are more Hack and Slash. That Foreground Scissors is the easiest one to use in the low-light planted tank I took the background pictures in one of my previous posts. I do everything from Java Leaf pruning, to hacking the Rotala, to trimming the moss.

And yeah, that also explains why you're having an issue keeping plants to stay put. I find it takes 1 months or so for plants to grab hold of the substrate tight enough you don't uproot easily and 2 months until they're dug deep enough you can give them a tug without uprooting.

Co2 & Surface Agitation High-Tech vs Low-Tech

I feel like I've hollered this one from mountain tops at times - no one hears. It also feels a lot like discussing planted tank substrates vs non-planted w/ root tabs - both are proven to work in many, many, many cases so it seems to some that it doesn't matter. There is is an obvious better choice in either, yet often it's the more wrong of the two we end up choosing. Let's start off with something we can all agree on: surface agitation is a good thing for any living aquatic pet that forces oxygenated water through a small organ and uses it for energy, which in the process expels carbon dioxide during a trade-off where deoxygenated blood is replenished with oxygen. Plants need Co2 in a similar way all breathing creatures need oxygen: energy. That's easy enough to understand, but the problem and confusion of what method usually comes about in terms of low-tech tanks, meaning tanks not injected with Co2, and I literally cannot think of anyone better to blame for surface agitation (or in this case, the minimization of) than Diana Walstad. Ha! Yes, you Ms. Walstad are the Informer and the Herald Queen of Algae in many planted tanks/low-tech aquascapes and I finally called you out for your neglectful teachings in "Ecologyt of the Planted Tank" and constant mention of your Walstad Method! You are both the reason people succeed and fail, and why many beginners find themselves with shriveled and dead plants or up to their elbows in algae. <Inhales a breath>

Okay... Let me just just climb down from this high horse I saddled up right there and finish by saying that even if you have no idea who Diana Walstad is that some of her methods and teachings have no doubt been offered to you if you have ever had an algae outbreak or dying plants in a low-tech tank, or if ever you read about (or did one yourself) a planted tank using potting soil, top soil, Miracle Gro potting soil or other, then capping it and having yourself a natural means of reconstituting fish waste to consumable food for plants. I just want to note there were two practices to her approach that were wrong, and that's "minimizing surface agitation so Co2 the fish expel is not gassed off and the plants are allowed to consume, while implementing a siesta period" and "Fast-growing stem plants are okay - no, wait!! that they're desirable - in tanks not consistent with a means of other Co2. These were two principle designs to the architecture of Diana Walstad's "Method", yet both are wrong when we consider that fast-growing stem plants need more energy, more Co2, then slow-growing plants and the reasons is the first words we use when referring to them which is fast-growing. The second reason is more dumbfounding when you consider the amount of Co2 it would take to sustain this demand for energy over a 8-12hr low-light period when the plants are bushing and fully grown would deprive the stagnant water of oxygen so much so that your fish might actually succumb to oxygen deprivation leaving them gasping at the surface if it were possible they could even breathe so heavily as to meet the Co2 demand for a heavily planted low-light tank with fast-growing plants in a 12hr dark period. Diana... you may have fooled many of us, but no longer! I can't sit by and let it continue. You may have helped thousands into the planted tank hobby, and I thank you kindly for it, but you showed them how to start a planted tank and not how to create a sustainable planted tank.

This brings my rant in full circle and now we're back to the original idea and the question of surface agitation. If you're attempting to aquascape you've no doubt read over a forum concerning Co2 injection and a dozen responses detailing how they've minimized the disruption of the surface water to prevent Co2 from gassing off in High-Tech/Injected tanks and not a single one of them was wrong. It's not this practice that we deny ourselves a better understanding of.

High-Tech: Minimizing the disruption of surface agitation during the photoperiod helps reduce the amount of gassed off Co2, reducing the amount of Co2 needed and the overall cost of running the tank. So long as Co2 isn't being injected into the system at too high a level the plants will be able to consume and then convert to oxygen fast enough that gas exchange needed to introduce oxygen into the water doesn't become necessary, although reducing agitation also allows a cloudy protein film to quickly cover the surface if there are no means to get rid of it which makes tanks look dirty even though they aren't. Of course you can always raise the spray bar before lights out to break up this film, but this becomes a hassle, and I say spray bar because it becomes a necessity to run canister filters. There are two means to get rid of the film without raising the spray bar daily and that is either to add a surface skimmer as a separate unit or buy an attachment for the intake of your filter (some SunSun models come with this) that adds a surface skimming function to your intake. Both tips gas off Co2 through agitation but at a lower amount than if the outflow were breaking the surface water. This also introduces more oxygen keeping fish and bacteria healthier and makes an aquascape always look clean and polished. Trust me, the overall look of crystal clear water outways the low cost of running a skimmer.

Low-Tech: This is where the exact opposite is often a better route. Forget natural means of Co2 because the "Siesta Period" recommended for some tanks is a good reason not to. It's a break in lighting where Co2 is allowed to replenish naturally through respiration or other natural means, meaning if you became suddenly overwhelmed by algae your natural means ran out. It just couldn't sustain itself. To overcome this we first want to make sure we have selected plants correctly, slow-growing plants that don't need much or "Beginner Plants" and leave out the plants we want, while replacing them with the plants we should keep. This starting point solves a majority of problems and then gas exchange fills in the rest. Using surface agitation becomes an easy excel-less, Co2-less, is under these correct conditions when lights are properly PAR rated and plants are chosen and their needs are understood. During gas exchange Co2 is gassed off into the atmosphere because the level of Co2 in the atmosphere is less than the parts per million in the water, and in order to reach a state of equilibrium the higher level needs to drop, as is happening with oxygen through gas exchange. But there is already a very small amount of Co2 in the atmosphere, so what happens if the ppm of Co2 in the atmosphere is more than what's in the water during lights on? Again, the two gasses have to exchange in order to equalize and atmospheric Co2 then diffuses into the water and becomes a viable source for the plants, which if slow-growing don't require much. This is why a low-tech tank will rarely ever be sustainable long-term with many fast-growing stem plants. They require a higher level of Co2 as they fill out and spread than the atmosphere can provide through the exchange all at once - thus algae and a state of imbalance of our essential three.

Sure we can DiY Co2 system, dose excel, but so long as plant selection is correct and we understand that there is usable source of Co2 we don't need it and in turn we can create an aquascape that lasts as long as maintenance is performed. You can even use the method of gas exchange with fast-growing plants as long as the process is able to keep up with the demand.
 

-Mak-

Member
Brilliant thread Silister! I've been wanting to get some aquascaping tools to help with my first tank (especially for that pesky monte carlo) but I haven't really had much incentive to fork over the money yet, since the tank is already done with planting. Haven't had to trI'm anything much yet, but when the time comes the bulkiness of my kitchen scissors might be enough to convince me LOL


pmsmlVcsj.jpg


Speaking of pesky monty carlo, it seems the internet is in agreement that it's the closest thing to a unicorn we're going to get. Since my tank was planted on the 26th of Jan I've had moderate success with it. It came in a pot from buceplant.com. After some initial melt I can see a lot of new growth, which I'm very pleased about.


Monte1.jpg

Monte2.jpg


Now it seems most of the plants are growing vertically some, then starting to grow horizontally, and new growth comes off along the stem almost like a rhizome plant (pic 1). Should I push the stems into the substrate? Do they function somewhat like a runner?
Also, some of the stems have almost completely melted so that new growth is being held in place literally by a thread (pic 2) Should I also push the dead stems into the substrate so the new growth can possibly take root?
I used my fingers and a chopstick to plant these, so the planting isn't so great haha.
They are under a 13 watt compact fluorescent, at 6400 K in a 3 gallon
Dosing excel and flourish micros
 

Tanks and Plants

Member
I want to add if you don't mind this........

You get what you pay for.........
Don't get me wrong we all want to save money and try to get a great product at the same time. I am guilty of doing this countless times. But last week I found out that sometimes paying the extra money is money well spent.
Here is why........

So recently I put together a 33 Long planted Tank. I have had planted tanks before but nothing like this size of tank. I have been successful in my planted tanks. I use pressurized CO2 and for my smaller tank I used a Ista Mix Max CO2 Reactor which fit in my EheI'm 2213. It worked very good.

But since I got a bigger tank I had to get different filters. I am a firm and true believer of over filtration. For this tank I have a Fluval FX 4 and tidal 55 filters.

The problem I am having is I cannot use my Ista reactor because the hose on the fx4 is way too big. So I got stuck with using those inside of the tank diffusers from eBay(the cheapy ones) They produce ok size small CO2 bubbles but it wasn't working for my tank.

I really like the Reactors because they break up the CO2 bubbles and then it's gets pushed down the reactor into your water, with no visible CO2 bubbles. This means less CO2 used and the CO2 is mixed into the water better so that your plants can use up the c02 for photosynthesis.

So I was looking at GLA(Green Leaf Aquarium) website and purchased the Atomic CO2 Diffuser 70mm for 35.00 without shipping. From the time I set it up and started to use it, you can see a BIG difference in the bubble size, the bubbles are very fine and I actually am using less CO2 because the bubbles are a lot finer and it spreads out, through out the tank
 

Jocelyn Adelman

Member
@tanksandplants how do you like the tidal?
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
-Mak- said:
Brilliant thread Silister! I've been wanting to get some aquascaping tools to help with my first tank (especially for that pesky monte carlo) but I haven't really had much incentive to fork over the money yet, since the tank is already done with planting. Haven't had to trI'm anything much yet, but when the time comes the bulkiness of my kitchen scissors might be enough to convince me LOL


pmsmlVcsj.jpg


Speaking of pesky monty carlo, it seems the internet is in agreement that it's the closest thing to a unicorn we're going to get. Since my tank was planted on the 26th of Jan I've had moderate success with it. It came in a pot from buceplant.com. After some initial melt I can see a lot of new growth, which I'm very pleased about.


Monte1.jpg

Monte2.jpg


Now it seems most of the plants are growing vertically some, then starting to grow horizontally, and new growth comes off along the stem almost like a rhizome plant (pic 1). Should I push the stems into the substrate? Do they function somewhat like a runner?
Also, some of the stems have almost completely melted so that new growth is being held in place literally by a thread (pic 2) Should I also push the dead stems into the substrate so the new growth can possibly take root?
I used my fingers and a chopstick to plant these, so the planting isn't so great haha.
They are under a 13 watt compact fluorescent, at 6400 K in a 3 gallon
Dosing excel and flourish micros

Your best bet is to not play around with the new growth. Let it do what it wants until you notice it isn't doing that anymore. Monte Carlo is one of those plants close to that Unicorn analogy I made because of it's lower light tendencies, while still growing like Dwarf Baby Tears and much like DBT it often melts almost completely under new conditions. Whether I've grown DBT under 120 PAR or 30 PAR it always grows vertically first, very slowly bushing out horizontally. Unless you are using a very fine substrate and have planted it perfectly, it tends to send runners across the surface primarily. Give it a month and if it's grown very bushy and continues pushing vertically so new growth has more light then trI'm it very gently and no more than a little bit, leaving the plant 1/2" at the very least without trimming the horizontal runners. This provides light to the lower growth, indicating to the plant to that there's still plenty of light to propagate outwards. Just like with DBT replant any cuttings you can as a portion of them will usually take root and start growing - same as with any stem plant.

Your growth is very similar to how a mid-level PAR light has grown DBT and Monte Carlo for me in the past.

Tanks and Plants said:
I want to add if you don't mind this........

You get what you pay for.........
Don't get me wrong we all want to save money and try to get a great product at the same time. I am guilty of doing this countless times. But last week I found out that sometimes paying the extra money is money well spent.
Here is why........

So recently I put together a 33 Long planted Tank. I have had planted tanks before but nothing like this size of tank. I have been successful in my planted tanks. I use pressurized CO2 and for my smaller tank I used a Ista Mix Max CO2 Reactor which fit in my EheI'm 2213. It worked very good.

But since I got a bigger tank I had to get different filters. I am a firm and true believer of over filtration. For this tank I have a Fluval FX 4 and tidal 55 filters.
The problem I am having is I cannot use my Ista reactor because the hose on the fx4 is way too big. So I got stuck with using those inside of the tank diffusers. They produce ok size small CO2 bubbles but it wasn't working for my tank.
So I was looking at GLA(Green Leaf Aquarium) website and purchased the Atomic CO2 Diffuser 70mm for 35.00 without shipping. From the time I set it up and started to use it, you can see a BIG difference in the bubble size, the bubbles are very fine and I actually am using less CO2 because the bubbles are a lot finer and it spreads out, through out the dany

That's a great addition. I was just thinking of something else to add and thought of my filtration and Co2, and you primarily covered it right there. Co2 diffusers are... pretty crappy? Some are okay, some that are exactly the same are junk, and all of them need to be cleaned weekly. They look cool when they're clean, but inline reactors or atomizers do a better job! I think the Atomic Co2 Diffuser is actually what they call an Atomizer, if I remember right.

And I completely agree with over-filtrations. Under normal circumstances people can get away with 5-8x filtrations, but on any heavily planted aquascapes or tank that's pretty pathetic in all honesty. I have a SunSun that runs 575 GPH on a 20G tank. When it's clogged with plants and filth it runs just about right. Most canisters have valves to control the flow, so I always way overshoot any filter and tune it down. That way if I add a bigger tank I have enough filtration with my current filters, as well as huge overkill if I need it.
 

-Mak-

Member
Silister Trench said:
Your best bet is to not play around with the new growth. Let it do what it wants until you notice it isn't doing that anymore. Monte Carlo is one of those plants close to that Unicorn analogy I made because of it's lower light tendencies, while still growing like Dwarf Baby Tears and much like DBT it often melts almost completely under new conditions. Whether I've grown DBT under 120 PAR or 30 PAR it always grows vertically first, very slowly bushing out horizontally. Unless you are using a very fine substrate and have planted it perfectly, it tends to send runners across the surface primarily. Give it a month and if it's grown very bushy and continues pushing vertically so new growth has more light then trI'm it very gently and no more than a little bit, leaving the plant 1/2" at the very least without trimming the horizontal runners. This provides light to the lower growth, indicating to the plant to that there's still plenty of light to propagate outwards. Just like with DBT replant any cuttings you can as a portion of them will usually take root and start growing - same as with any stem plant.

Your growth is very similar to how a mid-level PAR light has grown DBT and Monte Carlo for me in the past.
Thanks for the tips! I'll do just that.
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
-Mak- said:
Thanks for the tips! I'll do just that.
No problem!

Just remember that the hardest part in carpeting a plant is knowing when to walk away and quit studying it. It either will or it won't, and whatever it decides it does so because of your lighting. It then determines if it's able to based on Co2/Nutrients. The more you try to help it with a hands-on approach the longer it seems to take. I've never once solved an issue in a tank with my clumsy hand in it, only by fixing what goes into it, be it light intensity, Co2, nutrients or water.

Glass Inflow/Outflow

I think ADA are very picky, very hardcore when it comes to tanks and hardware. While I also think they're extremely overpriced The brilliance and inivative designg that they bring to the hobby has always been clear. Literally. When I think of ADA products I think of unseen, or not easily noticed, designs that do a better job of hiding themselves or standing out beautifully without ever overpowering the design. I think the most recognizable pieces to their works or Glass Lily Pipes, then Glass Co2 Diffusers, then stainless steel products. Most of my eBay shopping experiences start with trying to find a quality knock-off of some ADA product, and I've never found a worse topic that glass pipes. There's so much that can go wrong with glass, purchasing the wrong designed lily pipe is like buying to left shoes. Although they may still work as shoes it's always going to be an uncomfortable experience, so I think an explanation of all 4 styles is a good starting point.

Lily Pipes: 9/10 times this is the glass pipe you've seen on an aquascape. It's a cylindrical shaped half tear drop that makes a good deal of surface agitation because of it's design. Its swirls in the end in a vertical whirl pool and directs the water horizontally across the tank, usually disturbing the buildup of protein. While this may be the most recognizable, it's honestly one of the worse designed pipes for high-tech tanks because of how much surface agitation it cause. While good at gassing off Co2, these are even better for low-light aquascapes that aren't injecting Co2.

Violet Pipes: This is the pipe I think should be most seen if we're being practical. It has a cone-shaped end that is angled downward, causes minimal surface agitation and is great for high-tech tanks. While maybe not as stylish or pretty as a lily pipe it's definitely designed much better.

Straight pipes: While this is obviously the ugliest It's always great for long tanks because of how well it forced water through the narrow opening and creates a strong current without disturbing the aquascape. Its very practical.

Spiral Pipes: like the lily pipe design it's used to create a swirl of water, but the strange design is meant to reduce the flow which is really ideal for betta fish tanks or tanks that don't require much in terms of circulation. While very neat looking, the lack of strong flow makes it gimmicky to say the least.

Removing the Rim?

I reached a point sometime last year where I was utterly disappointed with every tank I had. Mind you, it wasn't what I could do inside of a tank but the tank itself. Now I made every mistake you could make from day 1 when I started out. I started a fish-in cycle, I overstocked like crazy and suffered the consequences, I bought fish I never researched, added them without ever quarantining, lost my first 5 neon tetras in a state of depraved knowledge and a hunger to push myself too far, started a high-tech tank without ever once growing an aquarium plant. Yet, through ll those mistakes I moved on only keeping three things I've had since beginning the hobby less-then two years ago. The first is my Black Skirt Tetras, the second is 6 sad pieces of dwarf hair grass that never carpeted (nor will they), and my tanks. Little did I know then that my very first purchase of an Aqueon 20G kit was my first mistake.

For most people these affordable tanks are great, but as you dive further into aquascaping you begin to notice very keen differences between a professional setup and yours. Most costly is either the light, co2, or in this case the tank itself. They have rimless tanks, and they really look spectacular... They're expensive, and I wasn't sure I really cared enough about fish to toss a few hundred around when next month I could be just as interested in learning to play the bag-pipes and annoy everyone around me, so I began to look into alternatives in getting that rimless look on a $20 tank. That's when I read about removing the rI'm on your tanks.

Stop! Put the butter knife down and quit trying to pry the rI'm off, 'cause it ain't gonna work like that. This is also probably the best spot to toss in a disclaimer that you can just as easily break your tank when doing this if your not careful and the maximum sized tank I've ever tried or seen anyone recommend is a 20G due to the pressure water creates against the glass panels and silicone, prying them apart over time. It's kind of D.I.Y. at your own risk.

Why would anyone do this if it could end bad for your tank? Well, because you have an unhealthy perfectionism nagging in the back of your brain and every time you close your eyes. It's how I turned a $20 piece of garbage -

- into a slightly more impressive $20 piece of garbage that looks expensive -

- see the Black Skirts I've had since the beginning?

Okay, so technique, photography, editing, maintenance, trimming, style, art, design all played a much more impressive role in that transformation BUT the still-ongoing transformation would never have satisfied me with that rim. I learned how to take the top rI'm (which is the only one recommended be removed due to the pressure of the water) apart from the master of... erm... I mean King of DiY...


1. Only the top rI'm can be removed on tanks less than 20G and not irregular, meaning square or rectangular only
2. You can break the tank
3. You can...
4. It takes a box cutter, time, effort, sweat
5. Never on a tank that's full
6. Never on a tank that's old, only newer models built within the last 5 years due to difference in design and material before 2010
7. After the rI'm is removed you have exposed sharp edges, so using fine-grit sand paper is needed to smooth the edges


Same concept, different tank -

Finding Balance with Lights, Co2, Fertilizer...

Every planted tank requires a combination of these Essential 3 components to remain healthy and avoid outbreaks of algae, but why is it that every single time a new person asks about how they might reach this state of equilibrium in a tank they received a paradoxical-styled response: "All planted tanks are different, all Aquascapes are different, so what works for one tank won't necessarily work for another even under similar conditions."

Well, I use to find solace in this response because I could never tell someone exactly what the requirements were to reach a good balance of these components in the specific tank they had, but the longer and harder I thought on this response the more I realized that I could. More importantly, I have... not just me, but many other people have on this forum even while telling you that they couldn't and I realized why that response (which really isn't a response) never sat well with me. In fact, I could tell you the very reason your tank is unbalanced right now and I can just as easily teach you how to balance any tank you ever touch, and give you the exact reason your plants either die within a few weeks or your the #1 Algae Farmer in a 500 mile square radius. Lights...

Lights: Low-Tech or High-Tech how you light an Aquascape is the critical engine that drives every aspect of plant life both in the aquarium and out. Without that one spark that initiated development and growth in basic life nothing around us is real or even fathomable, so is it strange that how you light a tank determines it's success rate in a small, enclosed world you create? Lighting is also the simplest way I can teach someone - anyone - how incredibly easy it is to reach balance in aquascaping. The first trick is never buy a cheap light, and also never buy the most expensive lighting. One's garbage and the other can surprise you with disappointment. What most new players in the art need is a good light, and to never listen to someone trying to push a light on you because that's what they use and it grows blah-da-blaaah... a good light (and I'm strictly talking LED's at the moment) is a light that dims and not one with a 24/7 function, moonlights, green lights, blue, black, pink, smiley face stickers. All it has to do is provide an intense enough PAR rating for both High-Light and Low-Light, regardless of which you want, and dim. The functionality of a light that can dI'm is incredible. Dimming is the most important tool for a beginner. This is the throttle of the engine that is lighting and makes finding a balance easier than adjusting Co2 or Fertilizer. It's the best starting point any of us could have. If you develop algae all over the place you can tune the light down week-by-week until the algae disappears, or if you're aquascape and plants aren't doing well you can adjust weed-by-week a higher intensity until you develop algae and then backtrack to your safe-zone slightly below that. Everything else is easy if you control the throttle of an engine and it's never stuck in 1st or 6th gear only. A long time ago I wrote some reviews on lights that may interest you located here:

Lighting Reviews/Top picks

For any aqauscape you want to show off avoid any lights above 8,000K in their color spectrum. 8,000K is a great spectrum for green plants, but above that is cold and unhealthy looking. Even if you already have a light that doesn't dI'm raising or lowering it will increase or reduce intensity in the same way.

Co2: So if light is our engine, the ability to dI'm that light our throttle, then Co2 is a can of NOS strapped in our back seat, but it's more than that! It's also our algae-cide, our life-support, and the only hope some aquaecapes have to survive, which is by injecting Co2. What throws me off so completely is people with mass amounts of algae in a High-Tech Co2 injected tank. How? I know how, actually... You're lighting is too intense and you're blasting Co2 into the tank without ever understanding there is an incredibly cheap and effective tool for measuring Co2 - a drop checker. In a new tank you should always start your lighting off with a short photoperiod, increasing it gradually and while increasing light the remaining essential 2 parts need to also be upped, and a drop checker (although not the perfect tool) is a great alignment to make sure your lights and Co2 are equal. It's not good enough to buy a drop checker and turn it green. No! Take a look at it before the lights come on and try to get it slightly yellow and then come back and look every 2-3 hours making sure it's still slightly yellow throughout the entire photoperiod, then after the lights shut off come back and look again to see if it's slightly yellow 2-3 hours later after Co2 and everything is off to make sure it's only now starting to turn green. You wait so long because of how slow the drop checker reacts to the change, but always insuring you are more yellow than green means you always have a full can of NOS when nearing the finish line.

Obviously this doesn't work in low-tech tanks, where research and understanding the signs of Co2 deficiencies and the causes of algae will be a far greater tool when it comes to understanding your levels, but always the most important tool was prevention by plant selection and using low-light plants in low-light tanks.

Ferts: Lights are the engine, dimmers the throttle, co2 our Nos, drop checker a life support monitor, so that means Fertilization is our fuel. Quit adding fuel to a tank that's already full! that's rule #1. Most of the time a beginner is going to overdose typically everything even when very precisely following the dosing regiment exactly, and this I can often see in new tanks. Plants that are adapting don't need the fuel you're trying to dump in the water, and it's flooding the engine and now we're stalled. Algae outbreak. New tanks are especially prone to overdosing all three components but one we often never even think of is how little new tanks (especially those with a quality planted tank substrate) need during the acclimation period almost any plant you can buy goes through for the next month. Providing a healthy abundance of nutrients is a great Estimative Index dosing method, but that's for heavily planted tanks already established. In new tanks half what you want to add. Smaller amounts every day works much better than a large amount daily or weekly. Give the tank just enough gas to cross the finish line, so you have to fill it up again to move it tomorrow. Look for nutrient deficiencies by under dosing vs algae outbreaks by overdosing.

The 4th Essential?

Don't dwell in one spot too long if it's not working, and don't fix what isn't broken.

If your aquascape is not growing well after a few weeks don't be afraid to increase lighting with our dimming function, or by adjusting the distance of light to the substrate, but every increase should be met with an increase of Co2 and then a slighter increase of fertilization and the opposite is also true; if you have algae don't be afraid to reduce the lighting, Co2, Ferts until you reach a more stable point. Finding the balance and working off that balance is the key to success and our light dimmer and Co2 Drop Checker are vital tools for beginners not born with the lucrative 'green thumb'. If you're seeing good growth, minimal algae aside from diatoms don't push the limits of the tank too far too fast either. Taking it slow allows for you to see exactly when and where that mess of hair algae took off and then allows you to walk the ladder back down and try again. Never having algae is far easier than growing it and trying to rid your tank of it, and it is possible - to never have much algae or diatoms from start to finish by using the balancing act.

Beginner Fertilizers!

I have no affiliation with this product or distributors -Sil.

About half of people dose fertilizers wrong, another percentage doses but at an incredible cost, a smaller percentage doses but inconsistently, and then there's those of us that don't dose a bit. All plants benefit from nutrients, and in fact, it's vital to their well-being. Now there are definitely some tanks that don't need any fertilization, but all long-term Aquascapes will most definitely require additional nutrients at one point or another. The easiest method for non-specialist or non-sensitive Aquascapes is definitely the estimative index dosing method popularized by Tom Barr. Now, I can't tell you what exact levels of nutrients you need for your tank specifically (there are much better websites than any informations I can provide) but what everyone dosing should stay away from is liquid dosing, or using fertilizers already pre-diluted with non-mineralized water. It's expensive in terms of how many bottles you need and at what level you need dose. Dry fertilizers are the only way to go cost-effectively, and this is a great beginner dosing set with online instructions, providing everything you need for about $15 without shipping.



It allows for precise macro nutrient dosing (high nitrates is a likely result in macro nutrients that have NPK premixed) and an all comprehensive micro-nutrient regiment.

It'll also most likely last anywhere from 6 months for large tanks to years for tanks 20-40 gallons. This was the Very first dry ferts I started with, a great way to save money, and easy to moderate.
 

Jocelyn Adelman

Member
Question regarding the ferts. All my ferts are seachem liquids. I don't dose N,P... high levels in tap, if needed I have on hand, but does well without. I do dose K twice a week, flourish twice a week, trace twice a week, advance twice a week, and iron and excel daily. Oh, and I have root tabs in substrate.
I do this on three tanks of six planted tanks, two others I do less often (less light, different plants, etc).
What dry ferts can I get to cover these? Or are these better doing liquid?
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
In the link I posted You can find CSM+B. This has every trace element you need for dosing in it already. You could stop using everything save for Excel and your macro dose of potash.

Jocelyn Adelman said:
Question regarding the ferts. All my ferts are seachem liquids. I don't dose N,P... high levels in tap, if needed I have on hand, but does well without. I do dose K twice a week, flourish twice a week, trace twice a week, advance twice a week, and iron and excel daily. Oh, and I have root tabs in substrate.
I do this on three tanks of six planted tanks, two others I do less often (less light, different plants, etc).
What dry ferts can I get to cover these? Or are these better doing liquid?

Flourish: Potassium Chloride, Calcium Chloride, Copper Sulfate, Magnesium Chloride, Ferrous Gluconate, Cobalt Sulfate, Magnesium Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Boric Acid, Sodium Molybdate, Zinc Sulfate, Protein Hydrolysates.

Flourish Trace: copper sulfate, cobalt sulfate, manganese sulfate, boric acid, sodium molybdate, zinc sulfate, rubidium chloride, nickel chloride, vanadium sulfate

Flourish Advance: I honestly can't find an ingredient mix for this, but it seems a weak algaecide. This is pointless in a balance tank.

Flourish Iron: Ferrous Iron


Okay, sorry, but I didn't have enough time to list out everything. Above you can see overlapping ingredients in your flourish dosing. This is because you're meant to buy ALL the flourish products and dose as directed in order to get a complete dosing regiment. Some of the ingredients are preservatives. You're essentially paying for incomplete RO nutrient water that's been marked up to an extreme when it comes to price.

They do this because people don't know any better. If you buy a dry fert dosing set like I linked all these overlapping (yet incomplete) ingredients come in the CSM+B micro nutrient container. Nitrates, phosphate, potassium all come in separate containers so you can dose those accordingly.

When purchased you can make a weak solution mixed with distilled water that will be more comprehensive as all the flourish products. I tend to do this biweekly and fill soap dispenser bottles to dose. You, however can't and shouldn't mix potassium and iron in the same container (and should not be dosed same day but alternate days) because Iron in the chelated trace and the phosphate in potassium phosphate can react with each other. This changes the two, rendering them unusable to plants - combing to form iron phosphate.

I mix a solution of the CSM+B (Micro Nutrient) by itself. I then mix potassium, phosphate, nitrate in three separate containers.

The only liquid fert I keep on hand is Iron for tanks that have deep red plants or deep green plants such as Java Fern. And note how Seachem leaves out Iron in all their products forcing you to buy yet another $10 bottle to finally get a somewhat complete micro nutrient diet for your plants?

Hope that helps.
 

Jocelyn Adelman

Member
Flourish Advance is an all-natural, biologic growth enhancer for aquatic plants. Its advanced formula contains phytohormones, minerals, and nutrients that dramatically stimulate the growth of both roots and shoots in aquatic plants. Phytohormones are a group of naturally occurring compounds that play crucial roles in regulating plant growth in a wide range of developmental processes, including cell division, formation and activity of shoot meristems, induction of photosynthesis gene expression, leaf senescence, nutrient mobilization, seed germination, root growth and stress response. Used regularly, it also enhances mineral absorption and improves disease resistance. It is non-toxic and completely safe for all plant varieties as well as for fish and aquatic organisms.

During the first ten to fourteen days after application, Flourish Advance works to stimulate root growth beneath the surface. After this initial induction period, significantly enhanced growth in the leaves and stems of the plants will occur.

Directions

Shake well before use. Use 1 capful (5 mL) for every 80 L (20 US gallons). Dose daily or as required to maintain plant growth.

Guaranteed Analysis

Available Phosphate (P2O5) 0.04%
Soluble Potash (K2O) 0.45%
Calcium (Ca) 0.04%
Magnesium (Mg) 0.04% ALSO CONTAINS NON-PLANT FOOD INGREDIENT(S):
Alanine 0.06%
γ-Amino Butyric Acid 0.15%
Glutamic Acid 0.04%
Mannitol 0.14%
Ascorbic Acid 0.14%
Phytohormones
for use as horticultural enhancement 0.0003%


Derived from: Potassium Chloride, Potassium Phosphate, Sodium Phosphate, Calcium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride, Amino acids, Ascorbic Acid, Sugar Alcohols, Phytohormone salts
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
Jocelyn Adelman said:
Flourish Advance
emoji769.png
is an all-natural, biologic growth enhancer for aquatic plants. Its advanced formula contains phytohormones, minerals, and nutrients that dramatically stimulate the growth of both roots and shoots in aquatic plants. Phytohormones are a group of naturally occurring compounds that play crucial roles in regulating plant growth in a wide range of developmental processes, including cell division, formation and activity of shoot meristems, induction of photosynthesis gene expression, leaf senescence, nutrient mobilization, seed germination, root growth and stress response. Used regularly, it also enhances mineral absorption and improves disease resistance. It is non-toxic and completely safe for all plant varieties as well as for fish and aquatic organisms.

During the first ten to fourteen days after application, Flourish Advance
emoji769.png
works to stimulate root growth beneath the surface. After this initial induction period, significantly enhanced growth in the leaves and stems of the plants will occur.

Directions

Shake well before use. Use 1 capful (5 mL) for every 80 L (20 US gallons). Dose daily or as required to maintain plant growth.

Guaranteed Analysis

Available Phosphate (P2O5) 0.04%
Soluble Potash (K2O) 0.45%
Calcium (Ca) 0.04%
Magnesium (Mg) 0.04% ALSO CONTAINS NON-PLANT FOOD INGREDIENT(S):
Alanine 0.06%
γ-Amino Butyric Acid 0.15%
Glutamic Acid 0.04%
Mannitol 0.14%
Ascorbic Acid 0.14%
Phytohormones
for use as horticultural enhancement 0.0003%


Derived from: Potassium Chloride, Potassium Phosphate, Sodium Phosphate, Calcium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride, Amino acids, Ascorbic Acid, Sugar Alcohols, Phytohormone salts
Ahhh! Thanks. I knew the others were incomplete micro nutrients but was just looking on Amazon for an ingredient list and they didn't have one for it. Basically that one is just giving you more of the same micro nutrients as the others with the addition of 2 of 3 macro nutrients: phosphate and a different form of potassium. I couldn't begin to tell you how exactly some of the other ingredients work, but Amino Acids (trying to remember biology class in high school...) help with protein synthesis, Ascorbic Acid is supposed to aid in photosynthesis... sugar alcohols? no idea... phyohormones had to be Googled and it's said to elevate salt stress.

While some of these may "help" I've never used anything that contained any of these that I know of, and I can grow some nice plants. Aside from the addition of Phosphate (however low) i'd at first look without additional research say it's a bottle of snake oil. While I'm sure all aid in some way if it were as important to additionally add as the description makes it sound the rest of us not using it would poor results in tanks.

This is the first time I've looked hard into flourish products and it's too complicated. I'd use a E.I. calculator for dosing dry ferns and cut the amount by 3/4's for a low light planted tank so it's 1/4 as recommended and dose from there if I were beginning, using Phosphate and Potassium one day, micro the next. Even easier would be make 1/2 strength cocktails and dose Phosphate and Potassium after a water change only, then 1/2 strength micro partway through the week.

Dry fertilizers are much higher concentrations than any liquid fertilizer, and the E.I. method of dosing is directed more towards high-tech Co2 injected tanks, but I use the same E.I. fertilizer solution on both tanks, but by using reduced amounts in my low-light tanks. Works just fine and I've had success with some of the more sensitive invert species.
 

Tanks and Plants

Member
What is your take on using carbon in a planted tank? Do you think that the carbon takes out the nutrients faster than the plants can utilize them or the plants use them faster than the carbon can take them out.
I am asking this because of Boyd's new Chemi-pure green it states that it doesn't strip and macro or micro nutrients from the water column.
Unless they have some kind of special carbon that they use then I am all for it, but carbon is not picky about what it aDsorbs.
I personally like to use carbon in all my tanks but I always wonder if I am wasting money when dosing my ferts.

Tanks!

Brandon
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
Tanks and Plants said:
What is your take on using carbon in a planted tank? Do you think that the carbon takes out the nutrients faster than the plants can utilize them or the plants use them faster than the carbon can take them out.
I am asking this because of Boyd's new Chemi-pure green it states that it doesn't strip and macro or micro nutrients from the water column.
Unless they have some kind of special carbon that they use then I am all for it, but carbon is not picky about what it aDsorbs.
I personally like to use carbon in all my tanks but I always wonder if I am wasting money when dosing my ferts.

Tanks!

Brandon
I use your run of the mill carbon during initial start ups almost always to reduce water cloudiness and to keep the water looking healthier. I then leave it in there as a biological media to seed other tanks. I only add new carbon to clarify the water if I'm having guests or a photo, but...

This has been a topic long debated on, and I can honestly say I don't know. It all depends on how you are dosing. If you're using the seachem line or a precise dosing method where you are trying to achieve a certain nutrient threshold then you probably don't want to add carbon because it definitely will draw some of the nutrients out of the water. Faster than plants can use them? I doubt it. If this is how you are dosing then, yeah, you are wasting some amount of money.

E.I. Dosing is providing an abundance of nutrients - not designating a certain Ppm. I cannot possibly imagine carbon being able to draw out enough nutrients to affect plants in any way. Absolutely not in this method, or fast enough if you daily dose nutrients in any method.

I have no evidence, but visually if I want water to be sparkling precise and perfect I have to drop carbon in the night before, and it takes that long to show a visual difference. On a level of nutrients the difference wouldn't be visual, so it would happen sooner, but on a typical photo period of 8 hours while dosing daily there's no way...

I think running carbon in a healthy, established planted tank is a waste in itself. It's not needed since a healthy planted tank will have water as clear as a tank running carbon. There is no benefit.

Chemi-pure? From what I gathered looking into this product all I know is that it is using ion exchange which is definitely a way to selectively remove substances from water. I'm sure it does work and in the way it's intended. It may still remove nutrients but as you said activated carbon isn't selective in what it removes, but the process of ion exchange can be to an extent.

Just like carbon, however, it's pointless in a healthy planted tank.
 

Tanks and Plants

Member
Silister Trench said:
I use your run of the mill carbon during initial start ups almost always to reduce water cloudiness and to keep the water looking healthier. I then leave it in there as a biological media to seed other tanks. I only add new carbon to clarify the water if I'm having guests or a photo, but...

This has been a topic long debated on, and I can honestly say I don't know. It all depends on how you are dosing. If you're using the seachem line or a precise dosing method where you are trying to achieve a certain nutrient threshold then you probably don't want to add carbon because it definitely will draw some of the nutrients out of the water. Faster than plants can use them? I doubt it. If this is how you are dosing then, yeah, you are wasting some amount of money.

E.I. Dosing is providing an abundance of nutrients - not designating a certain Ppm. I cannot possibly imagine carbon being able to draw out enough nutrients to affect plants in any way. Absolutely not in this method, or fast enough if you daily dose nutrients in any method.

I have no evidence, but visually if I want water to be sparkling precise and perfect I have to drop carbon in the night before, and it takes that long to show a visual difference. On a level of nutrients the difference wouldn't be visual, so it would happen sooner, but on a typical photo period of 8 hours while dosing daily there's no way...

I think running carbon in a healthy, established planted tank is a waste in itself. It's not needed since a healthy planted tank will have water as clear as a tank running carbon. There is no benefit.

Chemi-pure? From what I gathered looking into this product all I know is that it is using ion exchange which is definitely a way to selectively remove substances from water. I'm sure it does work and in the way it's intended. It may still remove nutrients but as you said activated carbon isn't selective in what it removes, but the process of ion exchange can be to an extent.

Just like carbon, however, it's pointless in a healthy planted tank.
I am no sure if you knew that there was a brand new chemI pure that just came out. ChemI pure green. If you didn't read about it try and check this out......




And thanks foe your input! I never thought about the E.I. method as hmmmm how do I put it..... having more than enough nutrients in the water that the carbon cannot take out. Basically what you just said about the EI method.

Tanks!

Brandon
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
I did, actually. I wouldn't mind using it to see how it works compared to activated carbon, but that price is just extreme. I looked in-depth on ion exchange resins and water treatment, and while the idea is a good one (using ion-exchange resin beads to remove unwanted solubles from the water, as well as polishing it with activated carbon while not targeting plant nutrients in large amounts) is a good concept I began to see cracks when I really began to think of the product in terms of reuse, initial cost, maintenance cost and what the product is advertised to do vs what it probably.

1. While reading into the process of water treatment using ion exchange it is a plausible concept to remove impurities while not specifically targeting nutrients there is still an amount of activated carbon in this product, so it still needs the very product it is attempting to replace to most likely perform one of it's prime uses which is making water look cleaner by removing organic materials (as well as nutrients in the process - claims this product). It's very reason for use is contradicted by one of it's ingredients being activated carbon!

2. Ion exchange is used to purify many different products from gasoline to drinking water. There is no doubt it can remove harmful substances, but as to "what" no one will ever know... I never spotted anywhere where it said as to what, or why I should care.

3. Water purified by ion exchange is very similiar to water that has been treated with reverse osmosis, but is more target-specific chemically. The reason we don't typically use ion exchange to treat water is its expense to reuse. It's more expensive to use these resins to do a task that can be done cheaper, so just buying a RO unit and remineralizing/buffering it is more effective at removing impurities and outperforms when compared for the sake of fish tanks. If you have RO water there are virtually no impurities for This product to remove, making it a pointless expense and just overpriced carbon.

4. If the reason there is still carbon in this product is to remove organics, but carbon can remove plant nutrients, then... wouldn't using a much smaller amount of activated carbon at a time fundamentally do the same job as this product without removing too much of the nutrients? Sure, you wouldn't have the impurities removed from your water, too... oh wait... yeah you would... but it would remove too much nutrient? Nope! It would remove an amount equal to it's surface area and bed time with the water until it was no longer active. A smaller amount would mean less nutrient loss all at once, but shorter life. Not to mention, but if the impurities the resins remove were harmful goodbye fishes.



Yeah, the more I really thought on this product the less it seemed marketed towards professionals looking to polish up there Aquascapes for photo shoots and more as a fanciful expense for people with money to spare.

Tanks and Plants

I honestly wouldn't be worried about it. If you run carbon and dose to a level you are happy with and experience no deficiency in plant health and only carbon-polished water then I see no reason why you should consider a more expensive product.

One of my fundamental rules for Aquascapes is don't attempt to fix what isn't broken, and this is exactly the impression I got after thinking about it. This product is creating a scenario of poor plant health that hasn't happened yet, by marketing a more expensive form of the product with none of the theoretical problems. Most planted tank owners don't run carbon and because they don't I'm doubting many would consider this a necessity.
 

Tanks and Plants

Member
Thanks for that in depth post!

I have read and tried to understand what ion exchange resins do and one of the things I always see it do is drop the pH in the water. I always wonder how CP(chemi-pure) states that it can stabilize pH when ion exchange resins drop your pH. The only way I can see them claiming to stabilize pH is that the amount of ion resins they put inside of the bag will drop the pH and hold it there no matter what your pH is in your tank. So for example your pH is at 8.0 and you put CP in your filter the set amount of ion resins will no matter what drop your pH let's say .2. So now your pH will be set at 7.8 because the set amount of ion resins they put in the bag is supposed to drop the pH .2 degree no matter the pH in the tank.
There was 1 instance on YouTube where a pretty popular youtuber made his own chemi-pure elite and he put in something like 1:1 ratio of carbon, GFO, and ion exchange resins. Shortly after if I remember correctly he made a video that his all his fish had died. He raised Cichlids I think Haps, or Mbunas. I can't remember exactly, but what I think happened is that the amount of ion resins he used crashed his pH so fast that all his fish died. I never did see him make another video about his homemade chemi-pure elite after that.

I also agree with you 100% if it ain't broke don't fix it. But I am they type of person who likes to always try the newest things out there and see how they work. Also if you look at the ion resins used in CP elite and CP blue they are different color. If I am correct the CP blue has a Purigen looking bead in it and the company Brightwell aquatics has a "resin" that also looks like Purigen and says it doesn't take out minor, trace, and major elements in your aquarium. I have used this and it looks exactly like Purigen but it has a softer feel to it and you use table salt to regenerate it. I never understood the table salt method of regenerating your resin.

I think the only way to see if something like CP-green does what it says is to use a TDS meter and take a reading of your water before adding in CPG with your Ferts already in the water and take that reading and then put the CPG in the water and check the levels everyday. The only draw back is that if the levels dro you don't know what exactly is dropping, it could be anything.

For now all I can say is that I really enjoyed this "conversation" as it stimulated my thinking and I haven't had a "conversation" like this for a long time. It's good to have someone who likes to think and break down things. As a student I LOVED science and especially marine biology and these things were never used or thought of in the 90's when I was in HS(it shows you how OLD I am).

I really hope that one day someone can/will figure out what exactly does CP contain and how it works. I guess for now we can only guess at what it does, and as new products come out maybe one day someone can put 2 and 2 together and wah'lah -CP.

Thanks for this invigorating conversation! And Thanks for this awesome Thread!

Brandon
 

slybry

Member
Hi. Love this post! Thanks for taking the time . I do have a couple questions for someone interested in getting into aquascaping. I've been working on planning out a 75 gallon for some time now. Slowly collecting my rocks and driftwood. I joined this forum really to gain more knowledge about every aspect. I began with a 20 gallon just to see if I can actually grow plants underwater, mostly if I can get a carpeting plant to carpet. Two questions have come from my experience that I've had trouble finding an answer to.

  • How do you keep a carpeting plant from growing into your midground and background plants? Will having something like a dwarf hairgrass surround a Myrio kill the Myrio?
  • My 20 g has a LED light setup that sits over the length of the tank a 1/2 inch from the lid. I have a glass top that folds in the middle. The light sits on the back half and I'm finding my carpet is growing faster there. Moving the light creates a bad lighting experience for the viewer and the background plants to not get a good amount of light. What do you recommend? Raising the light? Adding another light in front? Other?

Thanks so much!
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
slybry said:
Hi. Love this post! Thanks for taking the time .

  • How do you keep a carpeting plant from growing into your midground and background plants? Will having something like a dwarf hairgrass surround a Myrio kill the Myrio?
  • My 20 g has a LED light setup that sits over the length of the tank a 1/2 inch from the lid. I have a glass top that folds in the middle. The light sits on the back half and I'm finding my carpet is growing faster there. Moving the light creates a bad lighting experience for the viewer and the background plants to not get a good amount of light. What do you recommend? Raising the light? Adding another light in front? Other?

Thanks so much!

Thanks I've been trying to add to this thread whenever I think of something clever.

  • That's fantastic you imagined this problem beforehand! You can go about plant separation two ways.
  1. Design hardscape with natural barricades that separate foreground plants, mid ground plants, and backgrounds. Now, it's likely going to look weird if you try to do this all the time. Understanding what plants you wish to go into the tank before attempting to aquascape makes all the difference. By visualizing where you'd like every plant to go and how it looks 6 months from now and then hardscaping these areas to help separate different plants goes a long way. Plants growing into each other isn't just a carpeting plant issue - it's an all plants issue all the time. You'll probably find carpeting plants like DHG the least of your worries. While it will spread under correct conditions, it spreads slowly in areas that are shaded by other plants giving you plenty of time to -
  2. Trimming, or correct trimming to separate plants is your next approach. Placement of a plant and separation with hardscape (example: laying rocks and building the substrate to a higher level behind it) is #1 for a reason, but plants will always spread in a way you can't predict. You can trI'm plants with such as DHG to stop 1/2" from the plants and pull any runners that cross that line. While this won't look as visually overgrown from any angle except the front by keeping plants where you want them by trimming the strays that cross imaginary boundaries is key as well. Will plants choke each other out if conditions are good light and Co2? They can, but generally they'll grow in different ways to seek out the light and better flow.
  • This is a question that I asked myself why a long time ago, and it was a result from my constant browsing of professional aquascapes in all their glory that caused it. Very few aquascapes look as good in a photo in terms of light all of the time. Lights are added for pictures, whereas the day-to-day visual may be different and much less impactful. I'd move your light back to the middle so all the plants grow well at the same time and forget about what looks better as it grows. Raising the light sometimes helps visually, but the only solution to bad visual light is as you figured out adding more light. A single LED has a poor spread, which leads to poor visuals. I have a few tanks I run two lights just because if I used only one I'd have that non-flattering look about it. Most aquascapes are using a much more intense and brighter light, raised higher to give a better spread and view. If you're going to add more light remember that you're adding much stronger lighting and have to compensate Co2 and Nutrient levels as well.
 

Tanks and Plants

Member
What I also learned in my aquascaping, is that if you can start with a big tank it is easier to do, especially for a beginner. The reason behind that is with smal tanks everything has to be a bit more precise, things here and there have to almost perfect if you want to get that aquascape you are looking for.
With a bigger tank maybe a 30 breeder for example you have more room to spare. If you watch videos of professional aquascapers they are using small tanks. And it's the small tanks that showcase the look they are going for. It is not to say that you cannot do that with a big tank, but for more intricate detailing it is going to take a lot more work and a LOT more time.
That's just my opinion and In whatever tank you decide to use Good Luck!
 

Jeff75

Member
Is dwarf sag an easy beginnger plant for a carpet? A few places I've read said it was and should be fine with just flourish comprehensive and root tabs(no CO2 injection)
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
Jeff75 said:
Is dwarf sag an easy beginnger plant for a carpet? A few places I've read said it was and should be fine with just flourish comprehensive and root tabs(no CO2 injection)
It can be, but substrate and light are key factors. Either one is going to determine if it can carpet in low light, and when I say carpet you can't expect it to be a lush green carpet like you may have seen elsewhere. Expect it to be darker and not filled dense unless you plant heavily and have optimal conditions to begin with.

I wouldn't use plain sand and root tabs in low light. For the best chance you might want to consider spending the money to get flourite, or other options.

Don't expect it to do much but survive under very low light, either. Depending on tank size your best bet is to find a good light with a dimming function.
 

slybry

Member
Silister Trench said:
Thanks I've been trying to add to this thread whenever I think of something clever.

  • That's fantastic you imagined this problem beforehand! You can go about plant separation two ways.
  1. Design hardscape with natural barricades that separate foreground plants, mid ground plants, and backgrounds. Now, it's likely going to look weird if you try to do this all the time. Understanding what plants you wish to go into the tank before attempting to aquascape makes all the difference. By visualizing where you'd like every plant to go and how it looks 6 months from now and then hardscaping these areas to help separate different plants goes a long way. Plants growing into each other isn't just a carpeting plant issue - it's an all plants issue all the time. You'll probably find carpeting plants like DHG the least of your worries. While it will spread under correct conditions, it spreads slowly in areas that are shaded by other plants giving you plenty of time to -
  2. Trimming, or correct trimming to separate plants is your next approach. Placement of a plant and separation with hardscape (example: laying rocks and building the substrate to a higher level behind it) is #1 for a reason, but plants will always spread in a way you can't predict. You can trI'm plants with such as DHG to stop 1/2" from the plants and pull any runners that cross that line. While this won't look as visually overgrown from any angle except the front by keeping plants where you want them by trimming the strays that cross imaginary boundaries is key as well. Will plants choke each other out if conditions are good light and Co2? They can, but generally they'll grow in different ways to seek out the light and better flow.
  • This is a question that I asked myself why a long time ago, and it was a result from my constant browsing of professional aquascapes in all their glory that caused it. Very few aquascapes look as good in a photo in terms of light all of the time. Lights are added for pictures, whereas the day-to-day visual may be different and much less impactful. I'd move your light back to the middle so all the plants grow well at the same time and forget about what looks better as it grows. Raising the light sometimes helps visually, but the only solution to bad visual light is as you figured out adding more light. A single LED has a poor spread, which leads to poor visuals. I have a few tanks I run two lights just because if I used only one I'd have that non-flattering look about it. Most aquascapes are using a much more intense and brighter light, raised higher to give a better spread and view. If you're going to add more light remember that you're adding much stronger lighting and have to compensate Co2 and Nutrient levels as well.
Thanks again! Couple follow up questions if you'd allow me to!

  • Ever used strips of plastic just under the surface of the substrate as a barrier to isolate plants? Was going to give it a shot.
  • In regards to increasing C02 and nutrients when increasing light, how do you calculate? How do you recommend best how to keep the PH constant while changing C02 levels? Especially if there is some trial and error involved?
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
slybry said:
Thanks again! Couple follow up questions if you'd allow me to!

  • Ever used strips of plastic just under the surface of the substrate as a barrier to isolate plants? Was going to give it a shot.
  • In regards to increasing C02 and nutrients when increasing light, how do you calculate? How do you recommend best how to keep the PH constant while changing C02 levels? Especially if there is some trial and error involved?
  • It's good in theory, but most often what you are referring to is a sort of retaining wall to keep the substrate from shifting downhill over time, but you'll find aquatic plants care little about barricades such as this and will run right over the top or around without care. Careful plant selection and planning will be a more useful tool.
  • Check page #3 post #45 in this thread. While it won't be the exact answer, the thing is... I can't tell you the exact answer. What I can say is when using a typical glass Co2 diffuser in a heavily planted 20G tank with approximately 60 micromuls of PAR @ substrate level I typically run Co2 at a rate of 3 Bubbles Per Second [BPS], dosing Macro and Micro nutrients 1/2 the recommended E.I. dose daily, excluding nitrates - But I'll never be able to tell you exactly what you should do to maintain healthy growth and a mostly algae-free tank. Your tank will be completely different than mine. These levels will also greatly depend on your lighting, Co2 system as well as what nutrients you are dosing. As far as shifting pH goes, if you are injecting Co2 and use a Solenoid that turns on 1-2 hrs before the lights turn on and shuts off 1 hr or so before lights turn off you will hardly notice a pH difference. If you are not using a Solenoid on a Co2 injection or DiY system and run Co2 24/7 don't worry about pH swings unless you naturally have a pH that's acidic. Fish can adapt to these fluctuations without harm as long as they aren't very rapid.
 

slybry

Member
Silister Trench said:
  • It's good in theory, but most often what you are referring to is a sort of retaining wall to keep the substrate from shifting downhill over time, but you'll find aquatic plants care little about barricades such as this and will run right over the top or around without care. Careful plant selection and planning will be a more useful tool.
  • Check page #3 post #45 in this thread. While it won't be the exact answer, the thing is... I can't tell you the exact answer. What I can say is when using a typical glass Co2 diffuser in a heavily planted 20G tank with approximately 60 micromuls of PAR @ substrate level I typically run Co2 at a rate of 3 Bubbles Per Second [BPS], dosing Macro and Micro nutrients 1/2 the recommended E.I. dose daily, excluding nitrates - But I'll never be able to tell you exactly what you should do to maintain healthy growth and a mostly algae-free tank. Your tank will be completely different than mine. These levels will also greatly depend on your lighting, Co2 system as well as what nutrients you are dosing. As far as shifting pH goes, if you are injecting Co2 and use a Solenoid that turns on 1-2 hrs before the lights turn on and shuts off 1 hr or so before lights turn off you will hardly notice a pH difference. If you are not using a Solenoid on a Co2 injection or DiY system and run Co2 24/7 don't worry about pH swings unless you naturally have a pH that's acidic. Fish can adapt to these fluctuations without harm as long as they aren't very rapid.
I think I asked that last question poorly. I know you can calculate the range of CO2 a tank should have by looking at the PH and KH. I'm not sure the impact of adding more light. How does this change CO2 levels (essentially why the need to increase when adding light)? If adding light lowers CO2 then I assume a PH change would happen in tandem. Does that make sense or have I mis-understood the relationship?
 
  • Thread Starter

Silister Trench

Member
slybry said:
I think I asked that last question poorly. I know you can calculate the range of CO2 a tank should have by looking at the PH and KH. I'm not sure the impact of adding more light. How does this change CO2 levels (essentially why the need to increase when adding light)? If adding light lowers CO2 then I assume a PH change would happen in tandem. Does that make sense or have I mis-understood the relationship?
Co2 does have an impact on pH, as it introduces carbonic acid to the water causing an increase in hydrogen ion presence and a decrease in pH. You can introduce Co2 to a cup of water by blowing air through a straw. The Co2 we respirate is easily detectable in this experiment. What effects these have depends on our tank.

Low-Tech:

As an example if we have a tank with 30 PAR [low lighting] and the pH is 7.8 steadily, then whether the light is on or off the pH will be very close to 7.8. This low light tank is drawing from 2 or more sources of Co2. One form is atmospheric, which is diffusion of Co2 from the air around us into the tank water - very low levels. The other form is Co2 respiration from stocking - another low level of Co2. For the most part these two forms of Co2 (how plants naturally obtain Co2) will not cause much difference in pH whether the lights are running, nor is the light strong enough for the slower photosynthesis process it creates to demand more Co2.


High-Tech:

I assume you're referring to Co2 injection with a pressurized/high light, or a high tech set up. In this set up we have very high light 70 PAR which ramps up the photosynthesis process - the difference between lightly pressing the gas peddle in a car or putting it to the floor, the latter being high light. This increase in lighting and photosynthesis has much higher demands than low light, which is like fuel consumption in our car - driving 70mph on a runway consumes more fuel than driving 30mph. This increased fuel consumption in terms of our planted tank is an increased demand for Co2 and nutrients, and since both atmospheric Co2 and that created through respiration give very low levels the higher lighting and photosynthesis will quickly consume what little Co2 is available. No Co2 and plants can't photosynthesize, algae and deficiency is promoted. At higher production rates injecting additional Co2 is necessary so plants don't bottom out and photosynthesis can continue throughout the lighting period. So if we increase lighting, putting the peddle to the floor, and we don't increase our fuel to match we run out of gas and if plants aren't photosynthesizing than algae is.

This second scenario is where Co2 and pH fluctuations can occur. Under normal circumstance in the first scenario the level of Co2 won't cause much difference throughout the day, but when we start adding additional Co2 into the tank we change the natural balance and cause pH to lower due to the water turning more acidic. In most cases this increase in Co2 is met by an increase in lighting and nutrients and all are increased in balance, so the tank may be having additional Co2 added but if using a pressurized system this increase is balanced and stable so Co2 levels don't cause pH to drop much more than a low light tank because the higher lighting levels is causing the plants to consume it at a balanced rate - ideally - and preventing such a drop.

You are essentially balancing Co2 and light in a way that works similar to a low light tank, except at a much faster rate of growth.

Edit: I think you may be trying to ask two different questions and possibly due to your inexperience I'm not interpreting it right.

1.) the relationship between Co2 and pH

A. Carbonic acid is relatively strong acid that dissociates causing an increase in hydrogen ions, lowering the pH value of water

2.) Co2 and Nutrient demands in high lighting

A. Increased lighting increases photosynthesis production, which in turn creates a higher demand for carbon - namely, Co2 - and Macro + Micro nutrients in order to keep up with the production.


Let me know if I missed something
 

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