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Discussion Starter #1
This will be a journal of my 75 gallon tank. I will attempt to take and upload photos over the course of the next year or so.
First some history: I've had this tank up and running since around December 2008. Over the years there have been several incarnations. The only common themes are;
- It has always been low maintenance.
- It has always contained cichlids.
- There have always been live plants; Java Fern, Valisnaria, Anubias, and various mosses.

Here is a picture of the previous incarnation:


For the 2015 edition I am introducing pressurized CO2. I still plan to keep low maintenance plants, but I do hope to introduce a couple of new species; crypts and chainswords or something like that.

Specifications:
- Marineland 75g (48" x 18" x 20" approximately).
- 2x Rena Filstar XP3 cannisters
- 300w Hydor inline heater
- 48" Beamsworks LED with moonlights
- @60lbs of granite
- Playsand & gravel substrate (terraced)
- I purchased a complete pressurized CO2 system from J&L aquatics on Boxing Day, but I don't have it set-up yet... Still waiting for them to get in some parts and build the order. I'm holding off on adding too many new plants until I have the CO2 up and running.

Here is what it looks like now after spending all day New Years Eve tearing it down and re-building it:

Full Tank


Left side


The middle


Right side


The current stock list is as follows;
Fish:
- 1 Chocolate Cichlid (3" TL)
- 1 Pearlscale Gourami
- 4x Electric Blue Ram
- 2x L144 Bushynose (Pair)
- 4x Black Neons
- 5x Sterbai Corydoras
- 3x Siamese Algae Eaters (I've had the big one since 2004)
- 12x Bleeding Heart Tetras
Plants:
- Java Fern on driftwood (I plan to remove Java Fern as other plants grow in)
- Mosses on driftwood (no idea what types)
- 3 types Anubias (mostly on rocks)

As I mentioned I intend to add more plant species. I also think I may be reducing the number of fish as the Chocolate Cichlid grows. They're supposed to be "gentle giants", but like most cichlids I would expect it will be opportunist and pick off whatever fish it can catch & fit in its mouth... I figure plant cover will help, but I would hate to see the Electric Blue Rams end up an expensive snack.

Thanks for looking!

Daryl

PS: not that it would make much difference, given my lack off photography skills, but all pictures are snapped using my Iphone 4s.
 

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Looks good! Great job with the hardscape. I really like the island of rocks on the left hand side.

Nice school of bleeding hearts, too. I love these guys.

How big is the chocolate cichlid likely to get?
 

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Nice layout! Your substrate looks good with the granite and the plants look healthy. Were they mostly grown with the Beamworks LED?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the comments everyone.

Chocolate cichlids apparently get to 6"-8" for females and 8"-10" for males. They grow slower than an Oscar would (reportedly) so I do have time to get a bigger tank. The Wife and I are hoping to move into a bigger place this year - and when we do a 6 foot tank (or larger) is in my plans.

I've had the beamswork light for more than a year. so some of the Java Fern and some mosses & anubias were growing off it for that long. I do have two 48" coralife lights in my crawlspace. I think they are dual T5's or something. If I find the plants are not doing well under the LEDs I may throw on one of those lights.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Okay, I picked up my CO2 system from J&L Aquatics. I promptly went to a fire supply company near my home and had the tank filled. So now I just need to find out how to set this up. I think I got all of the basic essentials - but I'm going to start a help thread in the Planted tank section seeking some advice on where to go from here.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I went to Acme Fire Supplies on Curragh Ave (just off Kingsway). There is also Burnaby Welding Supplies (on Imperial) which is also nearby.
I dropped off my tank at Acme, walked across the street to the Chevron to grab a coke, came back and my tank was ready to go. Maybe 10 minutes total.
I'll PM you some more details.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Quick update: still haven't set up the CO2. Hope to do that tomorrow. I want to add some more plants too.

I've also changed the stock a bit. I removed the 4 electric blue rams and added a pair of Convicts. They are gorgeous specimens. I'll have to keep an eye on them though as they have the size and potential to take over the tank.

Interestingly my Chocolate Cichlid has become much more interested in these fish and more interesting as a result. He hid in the back all the time and ignored everything. Since I've added the Cons the chocolate is very much engaged. Hope he/she knows when to get out the way.

I will be re homing the gourami and black neons.

Pics to follow this weekend.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
So yesterday didn't go as planned. I had a couple of hours free so I decided to dedicate it to the tank and get my CO2 up & running. I hooked the regulator up to the tank and tried to install the diffuser in my tank beneath my filter intake, but for some reason no CO2...

Tank pressure read good (tank is full). I turned the working pressure up to 30 psi - nothing.

I have about 6' of neoprene tubing, a water plant spring stop check valve, and a 3 in 1 water plant check valve, bubble counter diffuser.

Hooking the tubing to the regulator and the bubble counter/diffuser unit seems easy enough - you simply push it over the barbs. I figure I must have made a mistake with the additional check valve. Maybe I didn't get the tubing on right or maybe I put it in backwards? But for whatever reason no bubbles were coming out in the counter.

So then I thought - okay plug in the solenoid. The orange light came on, but still no CO2 bubbles.

By then I was running out of time... We had company coming over and my Wife was yelling at me to clean-up so she could vacuum, so I just finished my water change and took everything apart and put it away until the next time I find some time.

Any ideas on what I may have done wrong?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Okay, another update... Rather than fiddle around with the CO2 again, I just sat and watched my tank today and snapped a few photos with my phone.

Full tank:


The Convicts have spawned in the lower right front corner. I couldn't be more pleased with their choice... When I was placing the stones I used this stone in this spot to create this little cave. I had hoped that someone would use it as a cave. It's a great location for aggression management as well as it is located at the extreme right & front of the tank. They've basically claimed that 3rd of the tank at the moment. Which is okay.


The cave is bottom right of the above photo. Here are the eggs. I had to use the flash.

 

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Discussion Starter #14
Chocolate Cichlid:


Chase scene: So far the aggression from the Convicts is totally acceptable. Here's a shot of a quick chase. It's short, sweet, and then both parties resume just cruising around.


The Male Convict is the largest fish in the tank. But if you just measured length, I have an SAE that I have had since like 2004 that is longer.

The next few days will be crucial for determining if this mix can succeed in this tank. I expect the aggression of the Convicts to ramp up once their fry are free swimming. However, the levels of aggression I am seeing today are not bad at all. In fact, my cranky old SAE is probably more aggressive than the cons overall - he's always chasing fish for extended periods, round and around the tank, where as the cons use a 6 to 10 inch bluff charge to keep the tankmates at bay.

The Chocolate Cichlid is far more interesting with the Cons in the tank. Before he hid all the time or swam at a 45 degree upward angle in the back corners. Now, he is always trying to siddle up beside either one of the convicts to display. He also competes more for food. Which is strange. I was expecting him to hang back and wait for scraps, but that is not the case at all. He's right in there.
 

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As far as the co2 goes, here are my thoughts:
The check valve is easy to test, simply by blowing into it. You can only pass air one way, which is the way to plumb it for flow.
Does the solenoid click when plugged in? I've had solenoids take a couple power ups in a row to get going and free up.
How long did you leave the system setup once the solenoid was powered up? It may take some time for pressure to start passing through the diffuser.
Tank looks great.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I did hear a click with the solenoid.
I did not leave it to run very long - next time I try I will ensure the area is well ventilated and let it run for 5 minutes.
Good tip on the check valve - but I am also concerned about how to hook it up... It's similar to an inline Hydor heater in that there is a nut on either end that you cinch down over the tubing to ensure no leaks. But I think the installation instructions are the reverse of the hydor heater... I'm convinced it's a lost in translation thing but I wanted to try following the instructions to the letter... Next time, I will do what you say to check the direction of flow and then cinch the nuts how I think they should be done.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The convict fry are now in the wriggler stage at the bottom of the spawning cave. Aggression from the parents is still manageable, and to be honest, less than I anticipated. Here is a timeline;

Friday, January 23rd @ 10:00 PM: Convict pair introduced to tank.
Saturday, January 24th @ 11:00 PM: First notice that pair had spawned; laying down a modest size plaque of eggs.
Wednesday, January 28th @ 7:30 AM: First notice eggs have developed into wrigglers.

Between Saturday and Wednesday (today), I was beginning to think that the eggs were not fertile as it seemed to be taking forever for them to get to the wriggler stage. But I was confused by the fact that they had not fungused and started to turn white. Tuesday morning before work, and before the lights came on, I was in front of the tank with my flashlight and I could barely detect a small black spot in some of the eggs - confirmation that they were viable.

So in temperature of about 79F this convict brood has taken about 3.5 days or so to develop into wrigglers... Good to know as I fully expect they will continue to spawn regularly so long as I keep the water clean.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Alright, so it's one week since introducing the convicts. Their fry are now wriggling about and the parents have been moving them from the spawning cave to a shallow depression in the corner of the tank and back.

The odd fry kind of bounces and jumps out of the nest every now and again and the Mom is quick to pick them up and spit them out back where she wants them. I expect the fry to start swimming in the next day or so.

Aggression has not increased appreciably, but I did come home to find one of the Sterbais dead. Can't say for sure if the Cons are responsible, but if the fish was sick and slow there is no doubt they would have finished him off if he wandered into their territory (which is still only about 1/3rd of the tank or less). The thing is when ever I sit and watch the tank I always leave thinking the Convicts are not that bad. So who knows. I'm curious to see if it ramps up when the fry are swimming.

Hope to spend some time trying again with the CO2 tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Alright, I'm an idiot!

I tried setting up the CO2 again today... Double checked everything. It was all correct - the exact same as last time... Only problem - no CO2 coming out of the diffuser...

ARGH!!

So I pull the airline of the regulator and blow into it - sure enough... Bubbles coming through the bubble counter and out of the reactor... Then I go over the instructions again that came with the regulator. I realize that the picture in the instructions does not show a solenoid... I have a solenoid. At the bottom of the solenoid, just below the barb where the airline sticks on is a little black cap thingy... I give it a little twist to see if it turns - sure enough, I've got CO2 injecting into my tank quite rapidly...

So basically I had it right when I tried it before, but didn't open the valve.

D'oH!

So I played around and set the working pressure to 20 PSI and adjusted the flow valve until I got about 1 bubble per second. Or there abouts. I actually timed how long it took for 10 bubbles to go through the bubble counter and it was about 9.12 - 9.58 seconds (I timed it about 6 or 7 times over the course of 20 minutes).

So that's it. I'm injecting CO2! I don't have the solenoid hooked up to a timer (mainly because I am out of plug outlets). I'm going to leave it at 1 BPS as I intend to inject 24/7 for now.
 

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Discussion Starter #20


Full tank shot. I pulled out the big log today and sawed off a short branch that was sticking about 6" out the right side. This little branch was covered in a nice big java fern. Not wanting to throw away such a nice fern I instead dropped the short bit of branch over on the left side of the tank behind the chunk of granite. It's moveable so I'll play around with the location.

I also planted 2 Amazon Swords (back right, in front of filter intakes) and 4 Crypts (2 in front of the swords, 2 next to the re-purposed java fern branch).



There's the diffuser. I figured that if I put it below the intake all of the bubbles would get sucked into the filter, mixed really well, and then come through the outlet. Not the case. I'd wager less than 50% of the bubbles are going straight into the filter. The vast majority gets caught in a current and is whipped along the back of the tank before getting caught in the filter outlet and being shot back around... I don't know if this is good or bad. I guess it's indicative of good flow in my tank, which is nice, but I'm sure it's a waste of CO2.

Any suggestions?
 
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