The 10 gallon that I'm upgrading actually began back in late November. My grandmother's fish had all died and her tank was sitting empty in her living room. She's impossible to shop for, so I thought I'd set her up a smaller aquarium. Most of the things I needed were sitting around my place already so I was going to be free to just spend the money of plants, fish, and substrate.
I ordered plants for her from two people. First shipment arrived and it was way
more than I ordered. I got hooked up with all kinds of freebies and extras. It was enough to plant her entire 20 gallon and I still had a whole second shipment coming. I didn't even know what was in it, but knew I was going to get a good deal. So I dug some more stuff out of the cellar (Ma got all the good stuff though) and bought some play sand. I threw it together with some driftwood and left it go for a few weeks while I tried to figure out some sort of concept. I swear that was what happened and that I wasn't just looking for an excuse to set up another tank. Anyway, here's what it looked like then.
So after a few weeks I had no growth. OK, that's probably not unusual, but I had back luck before with crypts. Having a high tech tank warps perception too lol. In that tank I can measure daily growth in inches! So anyway I decided to order myself some more plants and to give the crypts a boost.
I did lots of research and finally decided on the stuff Boredomb pictured. I did it slightly different than him though. I didn't bother to pull out any of the big chunks. It all went in after I ripped the tank apart. I did a two inch layer pressed down and then capped with an inch of play sand. Much swearing went into the tank until I learn how to fill it without blowing the sand around and making a mess with the Miracle Gro. More swearing went into the hardscape. I tried lots of variations, gave up tossed rocks in and random and jammed a piece of wood in there. lol Like most of my tanks that approach seems to be the one that worked.
Initially I had ammonia readings and the tank was actually cycling itself. I also had tannins, but they went away after the first water change. The ammonia took longer and was my first panicing. Everyone says soil substrate tanks should have fast growing plants and I didn't have any! I used seeded material from another filter and added floating plants and wa-la no ammonia issues since.
I thought I'd see lots of melt with the crypts when I changed over the substrate. I didn't see any. In fact they started growing well. A new leaf every six or seven days. About a week and a half after putting the Mi Oya in they were sending out daughter plants. The crypts loved the soil!
Compared to the plants in my grandmother's tank, mine grow much faster and larger. Her's have barely grown at all in Eco COmplete with added Osmocote+ root tabs. Her light is even a lot stronger than mine. That made an algae farm though. Floating plants got rid of all that. Which reminders me I need to get rid of some of those next time I am at her place since they cover the whole surface. My tank has yet to show any algae at all after about 3 months.
I haven't had problems with melt, aside from when I added the fish (two bronze crypts melted) and randomly one week that was accompanied by strange fish behavior. That was a very bad problem. For instance my remaining bronze crypt went from seven leaves down to two and still hasn't started regrowing. The other crypts have begun to regrow though. I had at first thought they were too shaded, but my grandmother's tank is even more shaded and it hasn't occurred. She doesn't have fish so I only do biweekly water changes and had skipped doing her tank that week.
Besides that the only plant problem was with the Java fern dying when I first got it. Once I started buffering my water though, the problem cleared up and now it's growing very well. I have tons of baby plants forming on all those bad leaves. The rest of the plants are growing well. The Amazon frogbit is growing very well, so much so that I have to remove some every week. Most times I forget to dose micros in this tank.
Oh there was one other time I freaked out. I had just ordered the fish and was waiting for them to come the next day when the soil started bubbling. Turns out that it was just built up CO2 from the organic breakdown in the substrate and nothing to worry about. It still does that. Doesn't even bother the fish. In fact when it happens they all make a beeline for the area just to check it out and see if there's anything for them to eat.
Just one random note to leave off this probably too long post. Two of my Boraras naevus came to me missing an eye. One is missing the left, and the other the right. They are the only two I can tell apart from the rest, but still don't have names.