Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tank Diary: Week 8

Week 8 is my first week of major changes to the tank to address a few issues. Those being nutrient deficiencies and dirty water.

Unfortunately at the start of week 8, I've had two fish deaths. A male gourami that's looked crook for a while, and my smallest oto which developed fungus growing out of a wound on his head. Checked water params and these are all fine.

DIY root tabs

Here are a few pics of my DIY osmocote root tabs which in conjunction with water changes, I hope to use to address nutrient deficiencies in my swords. I went with the native osmocote plus with trace elements. The native blend is for phosphate sensitive plants, which I read somewhere will minimise the chances of an algal outbreak. Gel caps were used in preference to ice blocks (so I can store them easily). Managed to find the gel caps at chemist warehouse. Very expensive compared to online but I was in a rush to get them in! Set me back $14 for 100 caps, the osmocote was about $8.

On day 50, I've inserted 6 of these root tabs at the base of my chain swords (x3) and amazon swords (x3) as these are showing the most signs of nutrient deficiency. I inserted the caps through the sand capping and into the soil substrate. I have read that too much osmocote may turn the substrate toxic, so I went easy first time round. Apparently these should provide nutrients for 4-6 months.

I'll post a few pics of progress.


Size 00 gel caps, approx 0.9 grams
21/4 - Oh no.... I've just realised that the osmocote I've used in my root tabs contain a wetting agent! These are the little blue balls you can see in the above pic. They are suffactants which are essentially what's used in dishwashing liquid... not something I wanted in my tank given they are toxic to fish in small quantities. I'm hoping that given I've only put 6 of these gelcaps in the substrate that there aren't too many blue balls mixed in with the good ferts. They're also buried in the substrate and it's a 90 gallon, so any quantity that's released into the water column should be miniscule. Unfortunately here in Australia all the varieties of osmocote look to contain wetting agents. Next time I'll be sure to remove any blue balls from the gel caps.

My DIY osmocote plus root tabs

My new inhabitants


My new corys and platies enjoying an algae wafer

Upgraded filtration

After much debate, I've decided to add another eheim 2215 for filtration. I've had an old internal filter/powerhead in the tank since day 13 for additional flow. With the recent addition of the peppered corys the single eheim just couldn't keep up and I was noticing particles in the water (presumably stirred up by the corys). A few of the guys on plantedtank run dual 2217's in their 90 gallons so I'm confident this won't be too much.


I haven't had any problems with water params, so it's more for additional flow, mechanical filtration and a backup in the case of emergencies. I doubt that too much filtration could ever be a bad thing.

I'm a little unsure about the best flow, but am limited by the design of the eheim spraybar attachment and my hood which prevents me from positioning the spraybars on the back wall. I've currently got them setup at either end of the aquarium, 1 rippling the surface and the other directed down at 45 degrees.

 This is how I would have preferred to set them up for the best flow.

First major prune

The hygrophila and water sprite have both now reached the surface and are showing great growth. With the additional flow from the eheim I didn't like the look of this getting blown across the tank so I've cut back the stems. With the val and bacopa still not growing, I've added water sprite to fill in the left hand side. I'm still keen to try some regular val to see if it grows. It could be my imagination but I think the swords are looking a little bit better, presumably from holding off on water changes which have increased nitrate levels to 10 ppm.


Day 55
7.4 (pH), 0 (NH3/NH4), 0 ppm (NO2), 10 ppm (NO3), 4 (KH), 4 (GH) 




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