Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Water Chemistry

I did all the tests I have, which now include Nitrate and Phosphate, and it almost makes sense:

58G 7.6 6.16 7.28 5.5 10 0.25
20G 7.6 5.60 6.16 4.5 5 0.25
Tap 7.6 3.92 5.04 3.8 2 0.25

Tests were done at around 6pm, 1 hour after CO2 was turned off in 58gal and 1-2 days after 50% water change. Looks like the water pH is too high for my pH Low Range (6.0-7.6) test. I need to get a high range test, better yet figure out how to lower the pH. It seems like topping off the tanks with distilled water might be a good idea. For now I decided to bubble CO2 into 58gal 24 hours/day instead of during the "lights on" hours only....

Friday, October 17, 2008

58 Gal: Rummy-Nose Tetras

This tight school of 20 Rummy-Nose Tetras (Hemigrammus rhodostomus) was delivered today with no loses at all! (Update: looks like one of them will be lost in the next day or two) They are constantly darting in the bottom half of the tank.
I also got myself some topsoil for El Natural experiments. I happened to pick the same EarthGro from Home Depot as the topsoil used in this howto.
Here is a progress update. This picture was taken right after trimming on 10/12/2008. Note a "vacuum cleaner" (pump with a pre-filter sponge) I used to remove the debris. I am not convinced it worked well enough so I doubt I will be using it in the future.
This picture was taken a week later. I am really pleased with the way the swords are developing - this must be substrate tablet ferts. Too bad hair algae developed even better - notice the hairgrass got almost fully covered. I read that in an aquarium with algae new algae grows slower. Based on this piece of wisdom I decided to take it easy and to leave algae alone, at least for now...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Water Chemistry

Today I finally used the test kits - all I had - low range pH and KH/GH. The results are really confusing:

pH dGH dKH CO2
58G 7.0 15.68 10.08 47
20G 7.6 8.96 5.60 6.8
Tap 7.6 10.08 7.28 7.5

There is no surprise that 58Gal has lower pH - CO2 injection shows. 58Gal does have a terribly high GH - I tested it twice only to get the same result - I guess water change is overdue. But 47ppm for CO2? My fish is doing just fine and has no desire to die as it should do at 47ppm concentration of CO2. And my tap water has higher GH than 20Gal? This I certainly do not understand. My guess is that the GH/KH test kit needs calibration. I also ordered phosphate and nitrate test kits.

Friday, October 10, 2008

58 Gal: Time off and Growth

I had 3 days of vacation and read Ecology of the Planted Aquarium and Nature Aquarium World I. I got back inspired and worried about the break in the fertilization routine - I want to work on el Natural/NPT/non-CO2 tank and automated dosing.

Here is an indication of the growth rate in this tank. The first picture was taken on 10/5 after I just planted new arrivals.

The second shot was taken just 5 days later on 10/10! Majority of the growth comes from the usual suspects - R.rotundifolia and H.difformis. But look closer at the Echinodorus amazonicus on the right and in the background. Look at where R.macrandra and R.wallichi is.

There are also bad news though. Dwarf hairgrass despite its rapid growth is already covered with algae. Does this ever happen to Amano? I bet he would recommend Caridina japonica. My angels would be sure happy and have it for lunch. Alternatively a fertile substrate might help. Or maybe smaller diameter gravel. Anyway. I am ready to call it quits and look for new (robust, moderately/fast growing) alternatives, e.g. Lilaeopsis brasiliensis (Micro Sword), Hemianthus micranthemoides (Baby tears or Pearlgrass), E. tenellus (Narrow Leaf Chain Sword), Lobelia cardinalis dwarf, Marsilea quadrifolia (fourleaf clover), Glossostigma elatinoides (or just glosso).

Sunday, October 5, 2008

58 Gal: Messy Moss, More Plants and Fish

Courtesy of Jeff B. I now have more plants. Rotala macrandra (Giant Red Rotala) is absolutely gorgeous - it has extremely fine delicate leaves and is doing almost OK in my tank. R.macrandra v. narrow leaf (Rotala Magenta) looks more like R.rotundufolia than R.macranda.

Rotala wallichi (Whorly Rotala) seem to be slowly melting. Hope it will turn around. I also got a stem of Schefflera aromatica(?). This plant seem to be doing OK.

I also received Anubias barteri 'eyes', Anubias lanceolata, Microsorum pteropus (Java fern) and more moss (Vesicularia montagnei or Christmas moss this time) from aquaticmagic. I attached ferns, which are probably M pteropus v narrow, to bogwood and am now pleased with the way they look and are doing. The moss is a different matter though. For the moss to recover from shipment I dumped it into the tank. In a few days, I noticed new growth while older parts became brown. The worst thing is - a thick (half an inch) layer of solid algae covered hairgrass lawn. Yesterday I removed algae with about half a pound of substrate and all hairgrass. I then recovered and replanted hairgrass. To salvage the substrate I sunk it in Hydrogen peroxide overnight. Peroxide killed algae and made it possible to separate it from flourite. Now the moss sits in a pan with water and waits for me to transfer it to a plastic mesh. I am concerned though that adding it to the tank will again result in an algae outbreak.

Finally, thanks to Romeo O. I now have some (Silver?) Angels (Pterophyllum scalare)! They hang together and are doing great - their appearance improved since they moved into this tank. According to Romeo, these Angels are about 3 months old now. Their gills are somewhat exposed - is it because of transparent gill covers? - I hope this will change with age.