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Re-entering the hobby

This is a discussion on Re-entering the hobby within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> So I've got some plants and got impatient with the HUGE bogwood and just put it in: It's hard to tell in the photo, ...

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Re-entering the hobby
Old 05-24-2012, 02:30 AM   #11
eug
 
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So I've got some plants and got impatient with the HUGE bogwood and just put it in:



It's hard to tell in the photo, but there's a polypropylene freezer bag full of aquarium sand sitting on top of the wood to hold it down. I do hope it gets waterlogged enough to stay down at some point, but if not I'll have to find a similar-weight rock to use instead of the sandbag. Ugly rubber bands to fasten java ferns... Hopefully they dont' take too long to attach themselves to my HUGE piece of wood.

In the back there is H. polysperma, middle-ish there is Braziliain pennywort and in front are pygmy chain swords.

I really was surprised to realize what a huge piece of wood it really is, and at first I felt some buyer's remorse - but I think it makes a bold statement. The only "problem" is this corner:



First of all that side of the wood is well, sawed-off and ugly and second, because the wood is so tall on that side this front right corner gets very little light. An idea we've had is to put a tallish rock directly beside it, and have some java moss or something grow onto both the rock and the bogwood blurring the lines.

Also, do you think water flow will be sufficient in this corner? As you can see the bogwood obstructs a significant portion of the tank here.

Last edited by eug; 05-24-2012 at 02:41 AM.. Reason: took a (slightly) better photo
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Old 05-24-2012, 10:05 AM   #12
 
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I see two options for the wood--and I do like that chunk. My first would be placing it standing on the cut end if it will fit. Trying to figure the length it may not, but it is worth a try because I think if it could stand just off-centre it would be very dramatic and take up a bit less horizontal space but add vertical depth to the tank by extending full height. Tip the wood up onto the cut end and then turn it almost 180 degrees so the long branch piece is jutting out toward the front centre. You can play with this and post the photos if you like. If the cut end is flat on the aquarium bottom glass (push the sand out) will it still allow the tank cover? If not, I've an idea to solve this, but first my alternate (but less favoured) option.

Turn it a bit counter-clockwise (looking down from above) so the cut end is aimed more toward the right rear corner. It will then appear to be jutting out from somewhere in the distance, and I have had good effect with this sort of placement in some of my tanks. The wood abruptly ending where it does (the cut end) is what is causing the visual problem and shrinking the perception of space.

But if the wood does look good standing, but is just a tad too tall for the cover, I would take it out and saw off 1-2 inches across the cut end. Nothing will be lost. Just enough so it fits with the cover on and the cut end on the bottom glass. If you can set it this way without the cover, and sit back and view it, i think you will see what i am visualizing. A thick stump rising into the water would be a very natural scene.

Byron.

Last edited by Byron; 05-24-2012 at 10:07 AM..
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Old 05-25-2012, 02:14 AM   #13
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Unfortunately the wood would would end up being much more than a couple inches too tall if I placed it vertically, and I'd have to saw off so much that I decided to work with the horiziontal arrangement.

In order to turn the wood counter-clockwise I had to trim off some of the branches on the front, as well as a bit from the back.

Before:


After:


The wood is more tilted against the back glass, creating somewhat of an impression of a hill or a mountain sloping towards the back right corner - this has definitely helped create more depth and I think it feels more spacioius. The entire log is also nearly up against the right glass now though - there's about 1-1.5 inches of space. I figure since the filter intake is in that back right corner, water would naturally be sucked through that "valley" anyway so it wouldn't be too much of a flow problem, but I'd be curious to know what you think.
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Old 05-25-2012, 10:21 AM   #14
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I decided if after soaking the wood in the bathtub for 2 weeks, it still needs ~3KG of sand placed on top of it to get it to sink, it might take a looooong time (or never) for it to sink on its own.

Soooo away I went on a creative DIY mission - Clearly the approach of screwing something to the bottom of the wood to weigh it down seemed the easiest approach. I didn't want to however run around town looking for the perfectly sized piece of rock, which would probably be severely overpriced anyway when I find it. That also rules out inert metals like stainless steel - 3KG of that would really cost a pretty penny.

So what if I could use the sand that's already there to my advantage?

My new idea was, I'd screw some sort of stiff board to the wood but with 2-3 cm spacers, enough to leave a gap to stuff in enough sand between the board and the wood to provide enough weight to hold the wood in place. I found a cheap cutting board and some polypropylene plumbing to act as spacers. Drilled holes into the cutting board and put screwed the board to the wood with spacers sandwiched in between. Stainless steel screws of course. I would have taken the time to take a photo of this, but I was in a hurry because I had taken out 75% of the water and stopped the filter temporarily so I could re-scape more easily. I needed to do a big PWC anyway since nitrates are going way up now in my fishless cycle, as well as nitrites still being off the charts. So yes, I was in a hurry to get the filter back running again so no time for photos. :P

But the end result:


I think the basis for the scape is done! I'll just wait for the plants to grow in - pygmy sword already sending out runners with baby plants all over the place! - and take it from there.
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Old 05-25-2012, 10:59 AM   #15
 
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That is better, it doesn't appear as a chunk now but more natural and spacious. And the flow is fine, I do much the same.
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Old 05-25-2012, 11:52 AM   #16
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Thanks for the input!

As for adding fish - because we're going away for 3.5 weeks in July I want to keep the stocking very low. I know it seems horrible to buy fish and only a month or so later leave them - I can either buy an automatic feeder or ask a neighbour to help out. It would almost certainly mean going almost a month without a water change, though.

Any thoughts? Stocking ideas so far have been Corys as mentioned earlier in the thread, and something along the lines of Black Phantom Tetras - i.e. a hardy species that produces relatively little waste. Is it even sane to think of adding fish before leaving for holidays? It would mean my fishless cycle would be wasted, but if you guys feel it's really risky to leave a tank unattended after only ~1 month establishment time, I would certainly reconsider.

edit: ~ 1 month establishment time excluding the couple weeks of fishless cycling I've already done.
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Old 05-25-2012, 12:11 PM   #17
 
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Thanks for the input!

As for adding fish - because we're going away for 3.5 weeks in July I want to keep the stocking very low. I know it seems horrible to buy fish and only a month or so later leave them - I can either buy an automatic feeder or ask a neighbour to help out. It would almost certainly mean going almost a month without a water change, though.

Any thoughts? Stocking ideas so far have been Corys as mentioned earlier in the thread, and something along the lines of Black Phantom Tetras - i.e. a hardy species that produces relatively little waste. Is it even sane to think of adding fish before leaving for holidays? It would mean my fishless cycle would be wasted, but if you guys feel it's really risky to leave a tank unattended after only ~1 month establishment time, I would certainly reconsider.

edit: ~ 1 month establishment time excluding the couple weeks of fishless cycling I've already done.
This is a situation i would not create for myself, setting up a new tank with fish and then leaving it to its own devices for a whole month so soon. The "cycling" is the least of the issues, as you have plants.

Food could be handled by a neighbour, if that person knows something about aquarium fish, or if you leave out pre-measured food with clear instructions. Feeding every 2nd or 3rd day would be fine, with a pre-measured amount. Forget the vacation feeders whether contraptions (that frequently fail and pollute the tank, killing fish and plants) or feeding blocks that can do similar.

The more significant issue is water changes. These are mandatory in new tanks (all tanks for that matter) because during the first 2-3 months the tank is establishing, and sudden fluctuations in pH, nitrates, etc can be catastrophic. While the plants--and you have enough of them generally--can be relied upon to handle most of this, there is still a risk. Plus the heater or filter if new should be monitored more. Again, an experienced hobbyist brought in periodically could deal with this. But I would not risk it.

As for the fish, Hyphessobrycon megalopterus is a sensitive species. This fish should be added to an established tank. Also, the initial first weeks could be risky for pathogens, protozoans and parasites that may not show up for 3-4 weeks, and if this occurred just before you left, it would certainly be disastrous. I just went through a bout of some protozoan that has decimated one of my large tanks, brought in with new fish, and after 4 weeks I now have it under control.

My advice would be to hold off on any fish until you are present to properly provide for them.

Byron.
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Old 05-25-2012, 12:44 PM   #18
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Yeah, I hear what you're saying. I also can imagine it would kind of spoil my holidays since I'll be constantly afraid that a disaster might have occurred, and imagine the panic that would set in if my neighbour calls to say "I think something's wrong..."

I think you're right (and my fiancee agrees with you) that I should be patient. I've noted in past discussions that you mentioned that cycling the tank doesn't really apply for planted tanks, which was news to me. So, would you say that I won't have to repeat this procedure again, with the very intensive adding of pure ammonia to build up the bio filter before adding fish?

I guess the advantage is that I can continue to work peacefully at my new aquatic garden and when it comes time to add fish it should be a really great environment for them to live in.
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Old 05-25-2012, 02:14 PM   #19
 
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Originally Posted by eug View Post
Yeah, I hear what you're saying. I also can imagine it would kind of spoil my holidays since I'll be constantly afraid that a disaster might have occurred, and imagine the panic that would set in if my neighbour calls to say "I think something's wrong..."

I think you're right (and my fiancee agrees with you) that I should be patient. I've noted in past discussions that you mentioned that cycling the tank doesn't really apply for planted tanks, which was news to me. So, would you say that I won't have to repeat this procedure again, with the very intensive adding of pure ammonia to build up the bio filter before adding fish?

I guess the advantage is that I can continue to work peacefully at my new aquatic garden and when it comes time to add fish it should be a really great environment for them to live in.
You will have no observable cycle with the plants. And I would never add ammonia to a tank with plants after they are in it.

Make sure the lights are on timers, excess light for that period would decimate them. And I would reduce the photo-period to 5 or 6 hours a day, no more; make sure the windows are well covered to prevent bright sunlight or daylight, this adds algae too. There will be no source of nutrients beyond the limited organics in the tank (some snails would help here, the Malaysian Livebearing especially) and excess light will cause algae to proliferate.

Byron.
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Old 05-25-2012, 02:36 PM   #20
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Neat, it's like I'm learning a whole new philosophy to running an aquarium... Sorry for flooding you with so many questions!

I do have the lights on a timer, from 9 AM to 6 PM so a 9-hour period - when I go away, and there is no source of fresh nutrients and trace elements replenished regularly by water changes and regular fertilisation, I should reduce the light period to compensate for this lack of nutrition. Have I understood everything so far?

By the way, does that light schedule sound reasonable for normal operation when I'm there to take care of the tank? Our apartment gets quite light during the day, so there's daylight from outside from 7 am till 8 pm during the summer, which means there's about 2 hours before and after the artificial lighting period where the tank will get ambient lighting from outside. The window is north-facing so we don't really get much direct sun, but it still is very light.

I coudn't find the fertilizers you mentioned locally so I bought a bottle of Dennerle V30 Complete. One notable feature is that it lacks nitrogen and phosphorus altogether - I assume because they assume plenty of N and P supplied by fish/food/etc. Do I need to supplement these if I am going to run this aquarium fauna-free for the time being?

Snails, hadn't thought of those - I have no idea about caring for those, can I just throw them into the tank and not worry about them even if I go on holiday?
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