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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
JDM what you say agrees with my research. I wish I had more info about how my light selection will actually work for plants but I just don't have that experience yet. Hopefully over the next few months I can document my experience and get some really good info for freshwater planted. I'll do my best to give regular updates! Yes the whites in my setup are 6500k and the red/blue is not necessary. Once the intensity gets under control I think they will provide a better overall light than white alone could, but we will see. And as I said before, it's partially just because I like the color. I do know that typical white leds contain almost no red light, I don't know if my plants will actually care. Perhaps further down the road I can selectively turn off my extra colors and see how it affects growth, could be a fun experiment. My intensity is definitely very very high. I've had trouble with under-lit tanks before but I totally underestimated just how bright these 1W leds are.

Tank update: I was having some cloudy water problems. The water had sort of a whitish milky tint to it. I think this was just a bacteria bloom from it being a new tank. It seems to be clearing now. My ghost shrimp are growing like crazy. I didn't know animals could grow so fast! When I got them, most were around 1/2". Now about half are 1" and one is at least 1.25"! I didn't get a chance to work on the tank last night, but today I should be able to do my pruning and hopefully get my light raised up a little. Anyone have suggestions for where to read up on how to prune plants? I don't want to damage mine...
 

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Stems are a matter of cutting and sticking into the substrate. I was thinking that there might be some interesting tricks but there really aren't... there is almost no way to get it wrong or to do it better. The nodes are where the leaves sprout from and, as you have probably already seen, roots as well. If there are roots at a node you can cut a bit below that point and plant it, the already established roots will help to hold it in place. Removing the leaves from this node seems to make little difference but leaving them on if there are no roots yet helps to hold it in the substrate, but otherwise it makes little difference if there are no existing roots as they develop pretty quickly anyway. I'm letting my bacopa grow so I have not directly pruned and planted these yet but I have tons of other plants so I don't need the fast propagation.

One thing that I did play with was cutting above and below a node. That node then produces both leaves and roots simultaneously. You could cut the stems into many nodes, leave them floating and just plant them as they develop new stem pieces... this would really kickstart the proliferation of plants in a tank but I don't know how successful that might be for all stems, Dwarf Hygrophila and red ludwigia definitely work. Other varieties might do better with a few more nodes left on the stem.

Sidenote, the roots don't do much more than hold the plant in place. Leaving most stems floating works as they take almost all of their nutrients from the water... which is why they are such a great addition to any tank.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Hood is almost complete. The splash guard isn't cemented in place yet, I need to see how the plants react to the changes in lighting first. Then I can finalize my diode selection and finish up the hood!
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Did a heavy trimming last night. Removed all dead or damaged leaves and cut most stalks in half for replanting. I combed out the hair grass a bit, and tugged out new runners for replanting. Also vacuumed out all the plant matter I stirred up.

The anubias seems pretty happy, but the leaves collect fine debris really well. I'm a little worried about the debris collection, but am counting on the otos to take care of this. The shrimp don't keep the leaves as clean as I had hoped. The bacopa is growing extremely fast and has fresh leaves sprouting for almost ever node. The rotala looks like shit but is slowly getting color back and is making a few new shoots. From looking at the rotala last night it seems to be growing its roots much more slowly than the other plants, I expect this is why it is taking longer to perk up. It also gets a fair bit of water flow across it, does this matter? It's not getting blasted but it's definitely in one of the more turbulent parts of the tank. The hair grass is doing very well. All tufts are showing thick green growth and spreading fast.

Intensity aside, I'm really happy with my lighting. The color is beautiful. The surface has a light purple shimmer and the tank just glows. Now that the silt has settled, the substrate is developing a deep black color. Some of the glossier pieces reflect the colors of the leds in bright red, blue, and purple flashes.

I tested my water today, ammonia .25ppm, nitrite 0 - .25ppm (maybe like .1ppm), still no nitrate. I've done a lot of water changes the last week, I'm planning to reduce the amount considerably from now on while things settle out and mature. Still no signs of algae.

I wanted to talk about stock a bit. I'm still feeling pretty good about the choice of scarlet badis. I think they are a perfect size and temperament for this tank. I'm a little concerned about the otos though. I absolutely love them in planted tanks, such a useful fish, but I'm worried that I won't be able to keep them in a big enough group. Is there a particularly small type of oto that I could maybe fit four or five of? I'll be feeding them in addition to using them for algae control, so I'm mostly worried about overstocking. I think between the plants and the filter this tank has a better ability to process fish waste than most 5 gallon tanks, but I'm still concerned. Let me know what you guys think.

Pictures are post pruning. The last picture shows a snail riding another snail, yee haw!
 

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Otos are very hard for us to keep, but it improves when then learn to eat zucchini.

Did you find any female scarlet badis?
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
I have always had great luck with otos, such a sweet fish. I haven't found any females, I haven't really looked. I know they can be hard to find. I'm not really looking for fish yet though, I don't think the tank is ready yet. When I do I'll probably look online. I'm not too impressed with my local store.
 

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Looking good.

If you put a group of the Badis in and try to squeeze the oto's, even though they are small, you might be pushing it. Probably put one species in, let the tank settle for a few weeks before considering the second... more plants would be beneficial first. Perhaps once your stems have been split again, which might not take long.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Oh don't worry! I'll definitely put them in one species at a time. Which comes first probably depends on how much algae I'm seeing once I feel then tank is ready for fish. Yeah the stalks are already splitting, they should have grown into healthy new shoots within a few days.
 

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Oh don't worry! I'll definitely put them in one species at a time. Which comes first probably depends on how much algae I'm seeing once I feel then tank is ready for fish. Yeah the stalks are already splitting, they should have grown into healthy new shoots within a few days.
Do yourself a favour, if you start seeing algae, either reduce your light period or reduce the number of white LEDs firing. It would suck if your dedicated algae eaters didn't like your variety of algae and it got out of hand.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Yeah this is something I'll be sure to keep a close eye on. Lack of diverse algae eaters is one of my biggest concerns for this tank. In the past I've always used a combination of shrimp, otos, siamese algae eaters (real ones), and plecostomus for algae control and that worked real well. Speaking of lighting I need to remember to get a timer for my light...
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Good news and bad news.

I came home from class yesterday to only 4 shrimp left in the tank. Found them dead in the filter. I had noticed a couple days before that the biggest shrimp had gone missing. Water test showed about .5ppm nitrite and 5ppm nitrate. I think the big one died (somewhere), and started to foul the water. the other shrimp probably got sicka nd started to float, and then got skimmed of the top and died. So I fished out the casualties and did a pac. Remaining shrimps perked up immediately and are still looking decent today.

On the bright side, I read somewhere online that the brown tinge on my bacopa leaves could be nitrogen deficiency. Immediately following the shrimp loss the bacopa perked up, turned a darker green, and began to grow even faster. It's growing about .25" to .5" per day, and the new growth is very dense. Each node has fresh leaves sprouting at all times and many nodes are dropping roots (picture attached). I'm going to snip and replant all the rooting nodes to continue increasing my density. The dead hair grass is finally thinning out, which helps the look of the tank a lot. The anubias is growing slowly, just chillin looking great with its big healthy leaves. I'm still not happy with how the leaves catch debris though, need to get some otos in here! The rotala is not improving. The tops do have fresh new growth, which is a beautiful bright pink color, but most of the stems are very ratty. I think they are getting too much flow and they delicate leaves are just getting damaged. I'm going to try moving it and adding something like spiral val in it's place. If anyone has a plant they think I'd like I'd love to hear it!

I'm going out of town for 5 days at the end of next week. I would like to have a new set of shrimp in the tank and feeling well established by the time I leave so that everything can stay healthy while I'm gone. I think I'd like to try ordering online this time. Does anyone have any online shops they really like? I was looking at: Bob's Tropical Plants - Home and Invertebrates by Msjinkzd | Specializing in invertebrates and micro fish from around the world.
 

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I ordered plants from Bob's. No issues at all.


The Wet Spot always has a ton of fish in stock. They currently have these shrimp in stock:
Amano Shrimp
Blueberry Shrimp
Cherry Red Shrimp
Golden Sunset Shrimp
Giant Blue Wood Shrimp
Marble Wood Shrimp
Singapore Shrimp

Almost at the very bottom of the list: Click
 

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BTW I've never ordered from them. I've read a lot of good things about them and from browsing their website they seem to be pretty good at what they do. They stock mostly wild caught fish.

Once I figure out a direction with my current tank I'll be ordering from them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Update

Hi guys, figured it was time for another update!

Tank is still coming down from it's nitrite spike. Remaining ghost shrimp are doing ok, no more losses and water parameters are improving. I've blocked some of the light as raising the fixture didn't seem to do enough. The new light levels seem much better and put me at about 2.3W/G. I think I'll probably rewire it with a few less diodes soon. I've continued to lightly dose seachem flourish every few days (3-4).

I moved the rotala out of the flow of the filter outlet, so we will see how it looks in a little while. I think if it doesn't improve I'm going to take it out and try something else. Possibly cabomba, as I like the finer leaf structure. The bacopa is still giving me a hard time. The tops grow extremely fast, older growth wilts and eventually develops holes/tears. Generally after the new leaves are a couple days old and have a few newer leaves growing above them they start to wilt, no idea why. The anubias nana is alright, I think it's generally pretty healthy as it's growing a bit and the leaves look ok. Some of the leaves have little brown spots on them, but I think this is just diatoms. There is one leaf on the left that has developed a white tip, I'm not sure what this is or if I need to do anything. You can see both the supposed diatoms and the white tip in the picture. The hair grass is still growing like mad and just looks better and better. Each time I do a water change I tease out the new growth and replant it, so you can see it all over the front of the tank now. The old dead blades continue to thin out.

I noticed that my PH is drifting between about 6.9 and 7.2, is this ok? Part of it is probably just me slightly misreading the colors each time, but it does seem to vary a bit.

Thanks for showing me the wet spot strand, their selection is impressive!
 

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