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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; --> Neat, it's like I'm learning a whole new philosophy to running an aquarium... Sorry for flooding you with so many questions! Questions are never ...

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Re-entering the hobby
Old 05-25-2012, 07:49 PM   #21
 
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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!
Questions are never a problem. I know i speak for the other members too when I say that we are more than willing to help where we can.

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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?
That's correct. Plants can manage fine with 5-6 hours of light daily, so even if nutrients were present, this is going to do no harm. But algae will be largely thwarted.

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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.
The light duration can vary, but should be fairly consistent day to day. Six hours normally is the minimum, but it can be as long as 15--provided all the nutrients are available for the period, plants will photosynthesize. Algae is the issue. If algae begins to increase, that means light is greater than what the plants can utilize in balance with nutrients. Most people will probably start out somewhere between 8 and 12 hours daily, and monitor algae; if it starts increasing beyond what should be normally present, cut back the light by an hour or so and monitor another couple weeks, etc. I run my tanks at 8-9 hours; anything beyond this and brush algae increases noticeably.

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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?
I don't know the product, but Dennerle is a respected name in the industry in Europe, so it should be fine. And true, nitrogen and phosphorus normally need never be added to a natural system as nitrogen (ammonia/ammonium) will be plentiful and phosphorus occurs in fish foods at levels sufficient for plants.

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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?
Talking the small common snails, like pond snails or (especially) Malaysian Livebearing Snails, yes, toss in a couple. They sometimes arrive with plants. The MLS may have to be purchased. But they will quickly multiply according to the food source. Snails eat all organic matter, meaning fish waste, decaying plant matter, uneaten fish food, microscopic plankton, algae. They speed up the natural breakdown of organics by bacteria. They will exist at a level sustained by their food.
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Old 06-08-2012, 07:46 AM   #22
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Just thought I'd post some progress. First pic shows the latest additions, the rock in the middle left and the Java moss on the drifwood and rock. The photo doesn't do justice to what a beautiful, graceful effect the moss has. Also note how well the Pygmy Chain Sword is spreading - runners are going everywhere, spreading until the hit obstacles (like the tank glass) at which point I've at times re-routed the runners back to where I want them growing. Diatoms (brown flecks, as well as brown fluffy cobweb-like stuff which I also think might be a form of diatoms) are starting to grow more rapidly. Also, I'm not decided yet on what to do with the back left corner. Candidates would be some medium-sized rockwork that kind of slants towards the center (I'm trying to build that off-center spot where the rock currently as the focal point), or a medium-sized sword or other plant.

Second pic shows the newest inhabitants (well, one of them). There should be 10 of these snails (which I believe are the Malaysian livebearing type) altogether. The LFS told me they order them as feeder snails and just gave them to me for free.
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Last edited by eug; 06-08-2012 at 07:55 AM..
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Old 06-08-2012, 12:39 PM   #23
 
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Yep, those are MTS. Soon you will have hundreds =)

But don't worry, they stay under the sand during the day for the most part so you won't see them all. They keep the sand nicely aerated, and break down debris quickly for plant food.
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Old 06-08-2012, 04:54 PM   #24
 
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For the left rear, I would suggest another chunk of wood though smaller this time. A vertical piece that could resemble a tree trunk perhaps, something like the piece on the right in the 29g pictured below. Staying with the same "hardscape" material creates a more natural aquascape and tends to enlarge the space visually. The more different materials you have, the more they draw attention to themselves and the space. And the wood on the right will seem smaller with a chunk in the left corner.

You are lucky on the Malaysian snails, they are often expensive. I could you find them in one of many stores a few years ago, and paid $5 for 2 of them. I now have hundreds. Very helpful critters.

Byron.
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Old 06-09-2012, 01:22 AM   #25
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Hmm, I hadn't considered more wood, but what you say does make sense. It'd definitely be nice to give some balance to the left side somehow, and that's also interesting what you say about different materials causing the tank to feel smaller.
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Old 06-25-2012, 08:03 AM   #26
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I thought since its 1 month since planting the tank, I'd post a before and after.

Before:


After:


Notable changes are that there is another piece of bogwood in the back corner, which has a white gooey fungus growing on it which may cause me to chuck the whole piece and look for another. Since there are no fish, I've chosen to just observe the growth for the time being. Also the brazilian pennywort is now being grown as a floating plant rather than burying it into the substrate (and constantly dealing with it becoming uprooted, since it doesn't really root into the substrate). The Java Fern has been moved around since the first picture, and java moss was added to the bogwood also at some point couple weeks ago. The once bright off-white sand is quite brown-tinted now, presumably from just general waste, also produced by the snails, and also the tannin-stained water making the substrate look more yellow-brown.

Last edited by eug; 06-25-2012 at 08:07 AM..
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Old 06-25-2012, 10:39 AM   #27
 
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Have you noticed how that wood in the left rear corner has made the tank seem larger as i suggested?

That white fungus can be trouble.
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Old 06-25-2012, 02:58 PM   #28
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Yes indeed, thanks for the tip! The tank has an added sense of depth now. It's a shame about the fungus, considering the pretty penny one pays for "aquarium safe" stuff from the store... I will ditch it if the fungus persists when I finally add some fish in August.
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