Replanting my planted tank

I did a lot of research yesterday, looking at getting new plants for my aquarium. I ripped most everything up after Thanksgiving. I gave the 2 best looking swords to a guy from work – one of which was the original stem I bought 3 years ago. I am back down to 3 of them. Anybody want a Amazon Sword plant or two? I just want one. I tossed 95% of the Pennywort. Well, actually I pulled it ALL out, and left whatever little pieces where still in the tank. Well, some of those are now over a foot long again. I am kinda leery about leaving this in the tank as it grows so well. It is the bulk of what caused my tank to turn into a swamp (besides my neglect of course).

I am wanting to make my tank look “nice”, you know them pretty tanks, with all the fancy plants and what not. This tank has always been very green, what with 9 full Amazon Sword plants. I rather liked that look, but I am going to try something different. I am cordoning off the Amazons so they stay on their half of the tank. I am keeping the one for when I set my 110 gallon tank up again.

I am thinking, with me leaving on Thursday, I will have a few days to make sure the plants take, and then I will be hands off for 2 weeks, and see what they look like when I come back. I won’t micromanage them to death this way.

I went to Big Al’s today. I bought 3 types of plants for $12. I got 2 bunches of Glossostigma, 1 bunch of Microsword, and 1 bunch of Narrowleaf Ludwigia.

Glossostigma (Glossostigma elatinoides)– From what I have read, this plant likes a PH of mid to high 6, soft water, and LOTS of light. It appears to come from Australia. It appears to have hit the US markets in 1996 or 1997. It can grow into a tight turf, but seems to need some coaxing first. If it doesn’t “take”, it will die off from the bottom up, like the roots just rot away. It will also tend to grow straight up, however putting pebbles on it to try to get it to lay down will eventually get it to grow horizontally.

I had tried this plant before, maybe six months ago, but the bunch I had gotten the roots where already rotting away. It also didn’t get much light as the swords where shading it out.

Microsword (Lillaeopsis ???) – This plant seems to be one of a couple of species, but most likely from Brazil. This plant looks like it likes harder water then the Glossostigma does. The brighter the light, the shorter it grows it looks like.

This one is new to me. I picked it because it seems a lot of people have luck with either this or the Glosso. Between the two, I should get a good ground cover on my tank.

Narrowleaf Ludwigia (Ludwigia arcuata?) – Another bright light lover. This one will get taller, about 15 inches it looks like.

I picked this because I seemed to recall that it liked bright light. I also liked the red color, I think it will play well with the other plants. It is a stem plant, but the leaves are smaller and thinner, kinda reminiscent of the other plants in the tank.

I took some photos of me ripping the tank apart and replanting it.

Here is the tank before I started replanting it. notice where the 3 Amazon Swords are and the Pennywort starting to fill in again.

Look at how much muck I kicked up while moving 2 of the Amazon Swords closer to the left of the tank. You can tell this tank is 3 years old. I had done 50% water changes sucking up all the mulm with my Python siphon. I was trying to go in and get at it deep down. My rocks are over 4 inches deep. I was worried about the deep parts getting really bad and killing off the rest of the tank. The one amazon sword had enough root to completely fill a mason jar. That is a LOT of roots!

This is the clump of pennywort that I missed last week. I clumped it together and weighted it down with some lead plant weights. Lets see how long they stay put.

This is the Microsword clump I got. Nice, clean roots. You can see how tight they will grow in once they get going.

I worried the whole knotted mess apart into individual pieces. If you are patient, and work from the roots and not the plants, it’s pretty easy. You can pull the leaves down, through the roots easily, you can’t pull the roots up, through the other roots.

You can see I planted the Microsword in the back right third of the tank. I didn’t put it too close to the driftwood, as it starts to get shady there. I took each piece and whorled it together and planted it as a clump. They are spaced about as close together as I can get them without pushing the prior one out. I have a few stray pieces in the front left, just for fun. I half expect the Amazon Swords to shade them out before they get started.

This is one of the two Glossostigma clumps. The roots on this one are much more developed then with the other clump. I am thinking this one is starting to rot back. We shall see.

Here the other bunch of Glossostigma is broken apart. I planted each piece (or 2 smaller pieces) individually.

Here is the results of nearly 3 hours of planting and moving, and whatnot. The water is still a little hazy.

I am hoping that the Glosso and Microsword fill in nicely. I am going to move the driftwood somewhere else once I get rid of 2 of the Amazon sword plants. I have the Narrowleaf Ludwigia in the back right, about 1/3 of the way from the edge of the tank. I think it will fill in nicely and balance the heights of the tank out. The tank is a little lopsided looking right now with all that Amazon Sword on the one end.

Check back the first weekend of the new year and see how it looks.

CO2 Reactor Modifications

I did a little research last night on the internet about how other people where building their CO2 reactors. Nothing like researching after the fact, right? I was looking to see if anybody else was building their reactor the same way I was. I didn’t find reference to it, but, there are hundreds of DIY Reactors out there, so I not too worried about not finding one. I did stumble across a person who used an RC airplane part called a Bulkhead Fitting. This looked to be a much cleaner way of attaching the airline tubing to my reactor.

Big Al’s was having it’s 1 year anniversary this weekend, and the “plant guy” was giving a demonstration on how to build a proper planted tank. I figured I wouldn’t learn much, but it was something to do with my Saterday, so I went. I was right, his song and dance was for new peeps, and not experienced planted tank creators. More importantly, there is a hobby shop next to Big Al’s, so I could pick up this part.

At the hobby store, in the RC airplane section, I found my new fitting. It is a “Large Bulkhead Fitting, 1/8 inch I.D.” packaged by a company called “Fourmost Products”. It is designed to be used as a fuel line connector.

These modifications replace the previous steps I have posted to my blog.

CO2 Reactor airline fittingHere is my old (heh, 2 whole days!) airline connection using a airline tube elbow fitting. I had zip-tied it together. I had managed to make the whole reactor without any glue, and it didn’t leak (much)!

CO2 Reactor airline fittingHere is the top part of my new fitting. I think this looks much better then the old fitting did. I used the old part of the hose that had the old fitting cut into it to make a seal for my new fitting. I don’t have any small O-rings for this yet, so I had to improvise. Getting proper O-Rings is on my todo list.

CO2 Reactor airline fittingHere is the inside view of my new fitting. Don’t do what I did, and make the hole too close to the outside of the endcap so the nut won’t set square. I still put it together like this because I am way to impatient to go get some silicone, and seal the hole up, and drill a new one. My fitting does leak just a tiny little bit, but not enough to worry about it today.

CO2 Reactor airline fittingHere is the finished reactor modification. I really like that the blue fitting matches the blue bioballs. The fitting seems just the right size for my airline tubing.

I am going to use the other fitting that came in the two-pack and replace one of my CO2 bottles where the current glued together mess is coming apart. Posted by Picasa

Home Made CO2 Reactor

My friend Matt flew in yesterday from Arizona. We ended up going to Big Al’s pet store. We where looking at the planted tank accessories, and noticed that they want $130 for a CO2 Reactor. We put one together for under $40.

A CO2 Reactor is a device used with planted tanks that will help push Carbon Dioxide into the aquarium water. Plants LOVE carbon dioxide. It is a major fertilizer.

Here are the $40 worth of parts I needed to make my Homemade CO2 Reactor. These parts include a couple of Siphon aquarium Cleaners, some Bio-Balls, airline tubing and couplers, and an Eheim Filter part I used for a water line splice.

We disasembled one of the aquarium siphons and attached the hose to the other siphon. These are Python brand siphons, they are fitted by compression – no glue, so just pull hard, they will come apart. There are enough bio-balls inside to completely fill the tube.

Here Matt and I are leak-testing the Do It Yourself CO2 Reactor in my bathroom. We hooked it up to my Ehiem Canistor Filter, ran it into a bucket of water, and turned it on. Can you believe? It works! Only a minor leak too!

Here you can see the CO2 Reactor installed on my fish tank. I wanted it to be visable, so I mounted it right up front. I just think this gadget looks so darn cool!

More complete assembly details to be coming soon. Posted by Picasa

Hydor Bioflo Small Aerobic Filter

I recently purchased a Hydor Bioflo Small Aerobic Filter from Big Al’s. It looked like it could be a really good product. I have a problem with the top of my planted tank looking like like the water sitting in a dirty pot for 3 days… you know, that nasty looking scum on the top? Well, this product says that it “Eliminates white line effect and surface grease.” Sounds great, right? I am disapointed. While the “surface grease” has drecreased, it is still very much there. I gave it a chance. It came up lacking. Time to hack it to make it work better.

Hydor Bioflo Small Aerobic Filter sitting on the top of the water.

This is what the gizmo looks like in my tank. I think this is even what the water level should be from the photo on the box. Ok, maybe it is a little low. One of the problems with the filter I think, is that the water doesn’t actually flow through the sponge. It flows around it.

Hydor Bioflo Small Aerobic Filter peices and parts

Here are the major assemblies for the filter. The lower right piece is the outer housing which rotates around, spinning the filter that slips over it. The top center peice is the filter foam. The lower left assembly is the turbine and planetary gearing(that is the right name for this gear type, correct?).

Hydor Bioflo Small Aerobic Filter peices and parts

Here you can see that the housing has a very wide backplate. I think that the backplate is blocking much of the water flow through the sponge filter because it covers about half of the back surface area. The little round circles you can see in the reflection are molding lines.

Modified Hydor Bioflo Small Aerobic Filter to increase water flow

Here you can see the modifications I made to the backplane. I used the molding lines as a guide and drilled holes through the filter housing backplate. I am hoping that this will increase waterflow through the filter. I am going to give this modification about a week or two trial run and see if I can tell if it worked by examinging the filter foam.

Another modification that I thought of is modifying the shape of the teeth of the filter sponge. I think that makeing them cupped so that they actually cut into the water, encircling a small bit of the water surface before submersing will greatly increase the effectiveness of the “degreaseing” capabilities. Ths modification will also quickly submerge any floating food too – so it isn’t perfect (if it works as intended). I will wait and try this other modification after my 2 week trial on the existing modification. The larger version of the filter may be more effective as well.

 Posted by Picasa


Bucket of prunned leavesWell, tonight I had to do it. The tank was slowing growing shut. I had to prune back my plants. You can see the bucket of leaves that I culled of the plants. I went through and found all the yellowing, holey, broken, or otherwise disagreable leaves and mercilessly yanked them off the plants. I think I am tossing out more and better leaves then most pet stores have in their stores. I also added a few iron fertilizer tabs. Ed at Big Al’s recomended them this weekend. I also gave the tank a dose of liquid fertilizer. I think I will try fertilizing 2 times a week instead of just once a week when I top off the tank as I had in the past. The plants quit “boiling” O2, and I am kinda disapointed. I am hoping the fertilizer and the thinning will bring that kind of activity back.

The Angel Fish are at it again! They where in there cleaning up leaves as much as I was! They will clean on the leaves before they lay their eggs on them. I thinned out the largest of the Amazon Swords enough that the Angels are looking to lay eggs on the other side of the tank this time. If I can catch the eggs after they are fertilized, and before they are eaten, I may put them into a breeding net that hangs on the inside of the tank. I found out this weekend that I am going to need a license to sell the babys to the pet store. I am going to see how many babies I get before I think about spending the money for that. Posted by Picasa