Monday, January 14, 2008

Setting Up mralgaes Tank

Setting up of mralgae’s 240L planted tank: mralgae’s battle with algae.

This is a large posting so I will do in a couple of postings.

This article is written by MRALGAE and in no way does it disbar or disclaim any help or information I was given by any person during the period of trying to sort the problem out.

I would like to thank the following for all their help:

Zig, ChrisM, LeftC, JamesC, Richard(AE), bugs, Lotus, Jake, Curtis, fishy_girl, Cazygar, and any one else I left out.

Tank stats:

Rio 240L(63.4g) with internal filter removed and eheim 2236 external fitted and standard intake pipe with lily pipe return just below the water level to give a gentle ripple on the surface. Tropica substrate covered in black glass gravel. Pressurised c02 system using fire extinguisher running @ 1bps being diffused by a Spiro 9500 diffuser. Lighting = 2x40waquaglow & 2x40wdaylight. Total of 160w over 240L =2.5wpg

pH.6.6, ammonia.0, nitrite.0, nitrate.5, p04.0.

Removed internal filter.

Put tank in position and used cotton to lay out the golden ratio, which can be found here:

Put in tropica substrate

Added gravel around edge working inwards to get rough level of 2-3inch depth lower where I knew décor was to go.

Added some décor & poured water into bowl to stop mass movement of gravel and any dust

Water is crystal clear after filling.

Left hand side

Right hand side

Lighting is as above and the outside lights fitted with tube holders turned upside down so they don’t rest on the centre brace of the tank

The first mistake I made was not having enough plants. Which included the following Anubias nana and batari, HC.cuba, pogostemon helferi, Echinodorus ozolot, and bleheri to name some of the 41 plants.

About a week later I added some “Hygrophila corymbosa” from the smaller 60L tank that had been growing like a rocket. BUT………I ended up with this

and the water started to turn cloudy. This seemed to be the start of my problems.

As I did each WC the cloud went away for about a day only to return within 24hrs so I left the tank to settle in for 5/6 weeks checking stats all the time for it to cycle using cycle to help it along. The stats never moved and never did see any movement in the ammonia or nitrite. So I can only assume it went through a silent cycle. Time to add some fish so my lfs gave some zebra danios to see if that help the cycle, but it never did.

This was before adding the fish and after setting up the c02.

As you can see all seems to be going well.

So after checking the stats and lfs confirmed them I started to add the rest of the fish. Rainbows and neons from the other tank. I had been using some of the water from the 60 when I did WC in the 240 so perhaps this also helped the tank to cycle.

Set up of c02 system

This was a constant battle of wits between me and GW

I was at this stage constantly doing blackouts after nearly every WC. The best I would get is about a week of clear water then cloudy, then GW. I was wrecking every ones head with this and trying almost anything that was being suggested such as increase dosing, dose extra this that and what ever else I could dose. Every time I dosed anything within 24hrs I would have GW. I could not even use TMG as this also turned to GW within 24hrs. so I stopped dosing completely, nothing at all went into the tank, not even TMG. This did seem to have some effect as like I said I could get about a week before it started to turn cloudy, but a big WC seemed to help this but not all the time as I found out one day. I did a large WC and all seemed to be fine, went to work the following morning seeing the tank crystal clear only to return home that evening to a tank full of GW. I couldn’t believe what I seen. So into yet another 5 day BO. And so this went on for weeks.

At this stage I had a fair few fish in the tank Inc the rainbows, neon’s, angels, shrimp and ottos.

I then went on 2 weeks hols and had to use an auto feeder to feed the fish, so I set it up using the same amount I use each evening in each compartment, reduced the lighting to make room for the feeder and reduced the c02.

This is what I came home to…….

After 2 weeks of cleaning and trying to remove as much as possible plus the loss of 5 ottos and neon’s I was still left with this.

I still do not know what caused this but can only assume the auto feeder went on the blink to have so much uneaten food in the tank and that this caused an ammonia spike to have caused so much damage and the loss of fish.

So into another 5 day BO which seemed to start to put the tank back on course.

By mid June the tank was getting back to some what normal but I was still having GW problems.

I did try to start dosing again but back came the GW even faster. Still asking for help and advice it was all down to dosing so I was being told. At this stage I was seriously thinking of tearing the tank down and giving planted tanks a very wide berth but I hate giving up with out a fight and this was going to be a fight to the death. It or me, and it wasn’t going to be me. So thinking back to algae problems I had with the smaller tank and over come them I decided to go out with all guns blazing. I hadn’t been dosing for a while but still having problems although not as many, so I decided to throw a spanner in to the works, I did a 50% WC, and although on and off I had put carbon into the filter, I reloaded with carbon and also added a bag of phos-zorb. While doing the WC I was in the cupboard under the tank and as I turned around I couldn’t believe how blinded by the light coming in the window was. It wasn’t direct sunlight as I checked this before putting the tank in place. So when I had finished the WC I searched for a silk screen sheet I knew I had from work. And although this may well be a boring end to a major algae battle to this day I do not dose and I have the silk screen covering the front of the tank during the day when at work.

I still have carbon in the filter and have taken out the phos-zorb and run the tank with 0 p04. I don’t check the water any more as I let the tank tell me if something is wrong and using 4dkh solution in the drop checker it tells the c02 is correct. I do a 50% WC every week and that’s it. The only small problem I have at the moment is the “ozolot” tends to get holes in the older leaves and the “bacopa australis” has slightly curled leaves both of which is probably down to lack of potassium, this never has been associated with algae so I am thinking of starting to use the new PPS-PRO dosing over the next few weeks and see what happens. If all else fails I will be happy to go back to no dosing again.


5x angels, 3x boesemanni rainbows. 10x neon tetras. 10x ottos. 2x gold gouramies.

6x S.A.Es. 1x L14 pleco. 4x ammano shrimp. 4x zebra danios.

Plants at present:

Hygrophila polysperma, Vall:Americana, Pogostemon helferi, HC cuba,

bacopa australis, Echinodorus macrophyllus, Echinodorus bleheri,

Anubias batari:nana, bacopa caoliniana, Echinodorus ozolot, eleocharis acicularis, and I can’t think what else is in there.

Well I hope my battles with algae will give others hope and inspiration and that all is not lost when you see your first out break. IMO algae in any tank especially a “planted tank” is more natural if it is there rather than none at all so long as it doesn’t over run the tank

This is the tank pics taken about 2 weeks ago

I hope that what others see here with the problems I had with my tank will give hope and inspiration to those that think of giving up and not having a planted tank.