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I'm Kati Laine, 25, from Helsinki, Finland. This is my
attempt of getting out of the lurking mode :). When
I'm not making noseprints on my aquaria, I'm probably
poking at a computer either at work (I'm a software
engineer) or at home, or playing volleyball in a local
club. Somehow I manage to take care of my cats (3) as
I got my first aquarium about 3 years ago and I've
been lurking here for about a year and a half. I've
sure learned a lot, thanks to you!
I started with a 240-liter tank (60 g?). Now I have 5
"real" tanks + a few for quarantine, spawning,
grow-out etc. The "real" ones are all planted, I've
never even thought of having a non-planted tank.
We have wonderful tap water here. It's really soft and
has almost no nitrogen. I use it straight from the
tap. There's a table at
you can (besides grin at our funny looking written
language :) with a little effort see what it's like.
4th column from left describes what I get from the
tap. I do 30-50% water changes weekly to all tanks.
My biggest tank holds 630 liters (150 g?). This is of
course my number one plant tank. It's been up for
about 18 months now. It has an Eheim 2260 external
filter for biological and an Eheim 2010 for mechanical
It has 4 x 58W fluorescent lighting, which seems to be
enough even though the tubes are only 150cm long and
the tank is 200cm. It helps that the tank is only 45cm
high and I have really nice Arcadia reflectors on
every tube. I'm using Philips TLD 840 tubes (don't
know if you have the same kind in the US and
elsewhere). I'm quite happy with the lighting, I'm
growing plants like Rotala macrandra, Myriophyllum
tuberculatum and Eusteralis stellata and they all have
a really nice color.
I have fine (0,5-1,2 mm) sand as a substrate. My
cories and dwarf cichlids love it. I had gravel in my
first tank and I think this is much better. I don't
really have to clean it, since nothing gets inside the
sand and the filters remove the rest. I have some
snails too to dig around in the substrate. I think
they're what you call Malaysian trumpet snails but I'm
not sure. They are ice cream cone shaped, they don't
eat plants, they dig around in the sand, give birth
instead of spawn... they sound like MTS, right?
The fertilization... I have a nice fish load to
provide N and P. A growing number of Ancistrus catfish
(6 adults, dozens of young), 4 young keyhole cichlids,
3 spawning pairs of Laetacara dorsigera, a pair of
Bolivian rams, a trio of Apistogramma cacatuoides, 4
cories (paleatus and davidsandsi, I'm going to get
some more to make a nice bunch), 5 SAEs and a pair of
bettas. They all get along nicely with each other and
the plants. Only the big swords get sometimes munched
on a bit by the bristlenose community if I don't serve
enough zucchini and peas.
I add JBL's "7 balls" for the swords and crypts. They
seem to be clay balls with micros added. The label
mentions Fe, Mn, Cu, Mo, Co, Z and B. They get used
slowly, the balls can still be found in the substrate
after 6 months. I think they do a pretty good job.
I used Tropica Master Grow until a friend gave me a
batch of PMDD. I'm not quite sure which recipe it is,
but judging from the results it seems to be at least
as good as TMG.
CO2 comes from a DIY system. It goes straight into the
The results? I have a nice planted tank with almost no
algae. There's only some spot algae on the glass and
oldest leaves of the swords. I'm growing a bunch of
swords, a mother "ozelot" with babies, x barthii,
tenellus, "Xingu" and a really big one that I bought
as bleheri but it probably isn't. It's bigger and it's
leaves are lighter green and stiffer and the tip is
round. The x barthii already got so big that I almost
threw it away. Then I learned that cutting the rhizome
might help and tried that. It looks great again!
Most of the well-lit part of the tank is filled by
Rotala macrandra and R. rotundifolia, Ludwigia repens
and L. arcuata, Cardamine lyrata, Didiplis diandra,
Nymphaea lotus, Limnophila aquatica, Myriophyllum
tuberculatum, Hygrophila polysperma "rosanervig",
Lindernia rotundifolia, Bacopa caroliniana, Eusteralis
stellata, Hemianthus micranthemoides and of course
duckweed. Can't seem to get rid of it :/. I give it
away to a friend who has goldfish time to time so I
guess the nutrients they consume don't entirely go
down the drain :). These are all growing very well, I
have to prune them at least bi-weekly.
Along the sides where there's less light I have mostly
crypts. I have balansae, aponogetifolia, costata,
wendtii and parva. Or at least these are the names
they had on them when I got them. Can't really tell.
The costata is the only one not growing that well,
it's slowly growing new leaves but doesn't send
I think I have all the elements necessary for a nice
planted tank, but it sure needs some tuning to be
wonderful. I guess the next step would be to get a
"real" CO2 system so that I could track the levels
better. Oh and real pH meter... I only have color
The tank has a nitrate level of somewhere between
1-5ppm, so I guess that could be worked on a bit.
First I need a better test kit... The same goes for
the other nutrients as well, I guess I should test
more and perhaps play Kati the Chemist (hmm... where's
my lab coat :) some more to get it right instead of
I don't think I'm going upgrade the lighting anytime
soon. I'd love to have metal halides! If I had hanging
lights I could also remove the cover glass and let it
all grow out! At the moment the cover glass has to
stay because I think the lights aren't exactly
moisture proof. And the cats might want to sit on them
and do some fishing. And if the cats fall in they're
going to have a hard time getting out since the
fixture almost covers the top. And getting rid of the
cover glasses wouldn't even do much good either for
the same reason... Who cares if my swords grow out of
the tank and bloom if they get burned doing it :(.
I also have 2 low-tech 128-liter (30 g?) tanks, no
CO2, moderate light. One of them is mostly filled with
bogwood and Anubias barteri var. nana attached to it.
I'm really happy with this tank and so are the baby
bristlenoses, rams and Apistogramma borellii that live
in it. It has some brush algae on the bogwood, but the
plants still manage to outgrow it so that a bit of
pruning makes it beautiful again.
The other one is an experiment with lower water level
with Hygrophila polysperma, Java fern and Saururus
cernuus growing out of the water. It has a bit more
light than the other one. The plants in this tank grow
very nicely, but still there's a bit of a brush algae
problem. The other plants in the tank (some crypts and
Ludwigia repens) are in a constant battle with the
algae, and the piece of bogwood gets covered also
(which I wouldn't mind if the plants weren't getting
it also, it actually looks nice!). This tank has a
couple of last-of-school tetras from my first tank,
some baby bristlenoses and a pair of Apistogramma
viejita. I don't really know what to do with this
tank, maybe I should just clean the bogwood and try
some other submersed plants?
I'm very interested in aquascaping. I think the big
tank has too many reds, yellows and pinks and too many
plant species altogether to be at it's best, but it
seems that I'm unable to throw plants away :). The
smaller ones look a lot better in that sense. I'm
currently setting up a low-tech 160-liter (40 g?) tank
in the living room. Perhaps a nice piece of bogwood, a
lot of beautiful light green Heteranthera zosterifolia
and a couple of red lotuses to give it some color? It
seems I'm going Japanese - less is more! The tank is
already inhabited by a few baby bristlenoses and a
partially homegrown bunch of Corydoras sterbai. Maybe
my homegrown neon rainbows would give the tank the
final homegrown feel :) ?
So (if you managed to read through - I can't believe I
wrote this much!), this is where I'm now. I think I
would have never gotten this far without lurking here,
I'd love to know what you all think about my tanks!
And feel free to kick me into the right direction if
I've gotten something wrong along the way.
PS. I "have" a homepage, but I sort of deleted it with
an accidental "rm *" (oops! :) the other day so it's
down at the moment, I'm getting it back together from
old backups. I'll send a link when it's up again.
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