British Columbia Aquarium Forums banner

1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been waiting patiently for my topsoil to be done mineralizing...and finally I figured it wouldn't do any more good to do another wet/dry cycle. After screening it several times in the past two weeks it had been reduced to a nice fine powder...it was time to go!

Here is the very first week when the topsoil looked like mud:



While waiting for topsoil to be finished I acquired a used 48" 2*54w Hagen Glo fixture (and lights!!) along with a RENA XP3 filter. I've been really happy with the 24" 54w Glo on my 25g so I know that it will be plenty of light for my plants. I also picked up 10 bunches of inexpensive stems from King Ed's and through them in the tank a week ago in preparation for the big day.

I started off yesterday morning by testing out the water quality...all good...so pumped out 20g of water to a large rubbermaid container and started netting all the residents and moving them over. Actually my 14 year old was doing the netting while I was mixing up a batch of mineralized mud for the tank bottom. My 12 year old was busy rinsing out 100 pounds of nice tan filter sand that we just picked up from the local pool supply outfit.

It took a long time for all three of us to be done our respective jobs, I think I had the most fun mixing up the mud, I was elbow deep in a bucket of mud having a blast. When my older son was done netting out the fish we did a quick drain out and wipedown of the tank to remove any algae on the glass and scooped out the old gravel. By this time the filter sand was well rinsed and ready to go...

We built up a 1" berm of packed sand around the front and sides of the tank then gently scooped in the mud up to that 1" mark. With a cake batter consistency we used about 4 gallons of mud on a 12"*48" tank footprint. Once the mud was in we gently started scooping in the sand to cap the mud. The front of the tank is about 2" deep (1" mud with 1" sand cap) with a gentle slope up to the bank where it gets almost 2" of sand on top of the 1" of mud. We placed in the hardscape of rocks and driftwood, planted about 20 small portions of dwarf hairgrass that I took out of my 25g, then started refilling the tank with water very carefully to avoid exposing the mud under the sand cap. With the tank 3/4 filled it was time to get the filter turned back on, at this point the water was only slightly cloudy from some dust still in the sand. We were very careful to equalized the temps in the tank and the holding bucket so we started netting the fish and putting them back in the tank. Once they were all back in we poured the water from their temporary home back into the tank and I started re-planting all the stems and some assorted other stuff from our other tank.

Here is how it looks today, 24 hours later. I tested the water and the good news is Ammonia reading 0, ph is 7.0, Nitrites are 0, and Nitrates are 0. I'll be watching for a spike but I don't expect any problems.

The cat is Karl, he likes to watch the fish swim back and forth. He used to paw at the tank but he finally learned that he can't get at them.









I could use a hand with an ID on these two stem plants:





And a couple of shots of some of the residents:





Now that the hard work is done we'll let the tank settle in for a few weeks, I'm using DIY CO2 but may upgrade to a pressurized system soon. I am going to be dosing with Seachem Iron, Potassium, Nitrogen, Flourish, as well as a small dosing of Metricide. I have an order in for dry ferts from Aquaflora and I'll go with a modified EI regimen. I'm hoping that as the plants start to root and take advantage of the mineralized topsoil that I'll see really strong plant growth with a lighter fert regimen and more stable water parameters.

I'm also planning to add some new fish...thinking maybe some SA or CA plant safe smaller cichlids, or angels. My wife and I agree that some species with some character.

Ryan in Richmond
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
One month(ish) update on my mineralized topsoil tank!

So its been just a little over a month since this tank was set up...its been a lot of fun (not) trying to dial in some of the ferts and the CO2 to combat some algae growth. I'm slowly winning the war by trimming back affected leaves, and have added two DIY CO2 bottles where I alternate the change on them so the CO2 levels are more consistent. I'm running a ganged line from the bottles in to a powerhead and I'm getting a constant stream of finely chopped up bubbles 24 hours a day and haven't gassed my fish yet. In the early evenings my tank looks like its filled with champagne with the oxygen streaming off the plants and the CO2 bubbles circulating around. My next purchase will be a pressurized CO2 system and drop checker so I can dial things in even better.

So far my PH has been around 6.5-7.0 it swings from morning to evening but within what I would all normal parameters. I never experienced an ammonia spike, nitrites have been unmeasurable and nitrates have been barely measurable. I started dosing Seachem Nitrogen at slightly higher than the recommended dose and I do get readings on my test kit, but clearly the plants are taking up almost everything I give them. I've also been using Seachem Potassium and Iron along with Flourish. Metricide gets dosed at about 10 ml every second day. Light cycle is currently sitting at two 5 hour sessions with a 2 hour siesta. I've been doing about a 40% water change every Sunday using the IPU water conditioner on every change.

A month in and I have a jungle on my hands. The fast growing stems are all taking over the tank and I'll be trimming them back shortly. The Cabomba has put on approximately 14" of growth and I'm seeing new stems emerging from the sand already so the root systems have developed well. I tugged on a couple of the bunches and they weren't coming up without a fight so I'll be cutting down at the base where needed so I don't upset the topsoil substrate. The bacopa have breached the surface and are sending up new shoots from the substrate and are turning a lovely shade of pink, purple, and red. The wisteria on the right side of the tank is a monster, I've had to trim it back several times. The crypts that I bought are sending out new growth and I can see the root systems at the front of the tank already growing down to the bottom of the substrate. None of the expected "crypt melt" at all. I can't get good pictures of them but the Vallisneria mini twisters, I planted 8 bunches in an area and now I have a mat of them that are so dense I can't tell how many runners have been sent out. Every plant is thriving and growing better than I expected and better than they had previously in my 25g tank with Florabase as a substrate. I don't know that the mineralized topsoil is solely the reason for that but it is the most signifcant difference between the two tanks.

I've just inherited several neglected swords from a friend, what I believe to be Ozelot and Rigidflorus and they are both doing well and starting to put on some growth, I can't wait to see them fill out!

Current residents:
6 young angels, 4 juvenile blue rams (thanks IPU they are awesome!), 5 Harlequin Raspboras, 7 cories, 3 oto's, 2 rainbows, 5 danios, 3 cherry barbs, 2 serpae tetras, and a recently inherited 5 platies (three of which are ready to release some fry)

Full tank shots (sorry for the quality)





Here are some of the right side of the tank and the monster wisteria:





Some of the middle section:









And the left side, including the flower rising out of the tank from the Cabomba:







Cheers!
Ryan in Richmond
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,717 Posts
You might want to consider bulk dry ferts. That liquid Nitrogen is going to cost a lot of money after a while, especially since you seem to be bottoming out. I see some BGA on the leaves of some of the plants I think (blue green cyanobacteria, slimy feel and smells really bad). That's an indication of insufficient nitrates. It can get out of hand quick, so if I were you, I would get some KNO3 in bulk from my a hydroponics store.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
You're right on the BGA, I have been knocking that back but I'm still wrestling with it and trying to get to the balance point on my dosing levels without going too far. I ordered some bulk dry ferts from Aquaflora last week, just waiting for them to arrive. It became apparent very quickly that I was going to be dosing a lot more than with my older set up. I also adjusted my spray bar to get a bit more surface roll going, I read somewhere that it also helps with oxygenation and will help combat BGA growth. I have an outlet tube on powerhead directing the CO2 mist just below the rolling action off the surface and it pulls the CO2 bubbles down to the bottom and fans out across the sand, it was totally accidental the way it worked out but the CO2 dispersion is fantastic.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,717 Posts
Ok, good. I just didnt' want you to go through the BGA hell I went through when I was doing DIY CO2. One thing you might consider while you're waiting for the ferts is to cut the photoperiod back. BGA loves light (hence the reason why a blackout works for a big infestation). Also, reducing light would decrease uptake a bit.
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top