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[APD] BGA and Planted African tank at work-Very long

The non planted, African BGA thread and Tom Barr's reply got me to finish this post I began writing in January right after setting up my bosses tank. I last posted about my setting up an aquarium in my bosses office over a full year ago! My how time flies.

For those that want to search the archives look for subject lines: 1/8/04 Rift Lake Algae Establishment, 1/9 Rift Lake Algae, 1/12 Rift Algae (potted plants), 1/13 Tank at Work, 1/31 The Stooges Work Tank Update, 1/31 Larry, Curly, and Moe.

I finally got the tank set up on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2005. I had a 29 and 20 gallon tank set up temporarily in my bosses office to keep him satisfied with fish and keep the girls in the office somewhat quiet. These tanks were set up for almost eleven months. I ended up going with mostly Malawi's with some Tanganyikans, probably 25 Cichlids in all, I have lost count. There are two Synodontis cats (S. angelicus and S. eupterus), three Ancistrus pleco's as well as three Clown Loaches in the main 75 gal tank. I have about three Otocinclus in the sump tank. I tried adding eight of them to the main tank but they were attacked and eaten almost immediately. Man did I regret that mistake.

The tank has a piece of 1/8 inch PVC lining the bottom to protect against cracking if rocks should fall. It uses a RFUG using standard Iron Pipe sized 1/2 inch PVC pipe instead of the 1/2 inch copper tube sized CPVC that Tom Barr recomended. (I wasn't able to buy the 1/2 inch CPVC at the Home Depot) I have since learned that McMaster-Carr sells it _ www.mcmaster.com _ I don't have any connection with them, just a happy customer. I glued gravel to the pipe to camaflage it against exposure by the digging of the cichlids. The gravel is a mixture of Seachem Onyx Sand, seived Carib Sea African Cichlid gravel (I kept whatever passed through a 1/4 inch square opening), and Profile/Schultz Aquatic Plant Soil. I used Lace rock to form a wall along the back about 8 inches tall rising to above the surface in front of the overflow on the back left side. I placed foundation pieces of flat rock directly on top of the PVC pipe prior to adding the gravel. The wall is built up from there. The fish can't undermine it at all. I have some pieces of Driftwood in the back right corner to cover the Titanium heater tube. The heater wouldn't fit in the sump.

There is an antisiphon hole drilled in the piping of the RFUG to prevent all of the tank from draining into the sump during a power failure. This has been checked prior to setting up the tank. The sump is a 20 gallon long and a plastic 12 gallon square tank connected with six siphon tubes. The return pump is in the 12 gallon. The 20 long has a home made two compartment PVC mechanical filter--two four inch by ten inch chambers with sponge blocks and filter pads on top of egg crate baffles connected in series. The round sponge block in the overflow sump in the 75 collects the bulk of the solids. Very little gets down to the main filter.

The two sump tanks use a mixture of Onyx sand and Flourite as the substrate growing H. polysperma "Rosanervig", Sagittaria subulata, Salvinia, Lemna major and L. minor, some Riccia, Ceratophyllum, Elodea, along with a few small Anubias tied onto Lace rock pieces. I am going to have to remove some of the Hygro and Elodea as it is growing out of control. I just got the floaters about a week ago and they still haven't taken off. I have a 24 inch 55 watt PC light suspended over the growing area in the sump. It is on a timer with a 12 hour cycle on in the day, off at night. QUESTION: Would the tank benefit if I reversed the cycle so that the sump is on at night?

I made two seperate containers for growing plants hydroponically using the tank water as the nutrient medium. They are both four feet long and sit on a modified 55 gallon tank stand that is extended to 18 inches wide. It matches the 75 gallon stand.

The front container I designed and had made by a local fabricator we use at our company. It is made of welded UHMW PE (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene)-material he has in stock most frequently. It is basically a box filled with a bed of small lava rock, SeaChem Onyx gravel, Profile, and Carib Sea African Cichlid gravel seived through a 1/4 inch mesh- the smaller fraction that passes through is used in the aquarium and the larger fraction that stays in the seive is used in the hydroponic filter. I have it distributed evenly across the front of the box by a 3/4 inch PVC pipe drilled with small holes along its length. Water enters at the front of the open top of the box via tubing and piping from the pump in the sump at about one gallon per minute. (I calibrated it with a bucket catching the overflow and a watch. Each part of the system has a 3/4 inch valve for flow control). The water passes through the bed of gravel, and exits out through slots in the bottom back side of the box, into a narrow slot and flows out at the top through two holes in the side of the box into tubing back to the mechanical filter in the sump. There is another slot with a drain at the bottom which is there as an overflow in case the primary exit clogs. It too is piped back to the sump. It is dry most of the time.

The back container is based on Tom Barr's ideas of using 4 inch plastic pipe to hold the gravel and grow the plants. I believe it is called a Hang on Back (HOB) plant filter. It holds seven of these pipes that are 12 inches tall. Water is pumped to each pipe, again at one gpm total flow to the seven pipes. The water exits the pipe at the bottom and drains back to the sump.

I am growing Spathiphyllum there now but I am thinking about how I can convert them into a Paludarium for growing hard water Crypts and Anubias emersed. I may end up scrapping them entirely and building a nice case with doors and suspended lighting. This part is all in the dream stages. I recently bought all of the printed back issues of Planted Aquaria magazine and The Aquatic Gardener from the Aquatic Gardeners Association and found a few articles there that are prompting me in this direction. These magazines are great reading. I bought the DVD too but I can't get my DVD drive working yet. The disk is fine. A friend checked it out and it worked for him.

The main tank has a four x 96 watt hood. Two 10,000 K and two Actinic lamps. I bought a new plastic top molding for the tank from AGA and had our fabricator make a UMHW 8 inch riser which fits into the existing top of the tank where the glass hood would normally go. The new top molding is Siliconed onto the top of the riser so that the glass hood fits there 9 inches above the water. This reduces the light somewhat but also gives room for emersed growth of Java Fern off of the Lace rock wall and the top of the driftwood. So far I haven't been successful in getting the Java Fern to grow up there. ANY SUGGESTIONS?

For plants in with the Cichlids I am mostly using Anubias, Java Fern, Java Moss on the rocks and driftwood, and Sagatteria in the gravel. I tried Crypt. spiralis, C. wendtii, C. blassii but the fish were too rough on them. They didn't survive. The top surface is covered with Salvinia and Water Sprite. I also have some Elodea and Ceratophyllum floating in the tank. The Salvinia has taken off this week. I am going to have to harvest it next week.

This week I have just begun adding 1/4 tsp KNO3/20 gal, 1/4 tsp K2SO4/20 gal, 1/8 tsp KH2PO4/20 gal, and 20 ml Flourish/80 gal all 4 times per week. I also add 20 ml Flourish Excel/80 gal daily. I added enough Ferrous Sulfate to give me 1 mg/l in the 80 gallons I estimate my entire system contains. This causes the entire tank to get cloudy with a milky haze. It is gone in a day. No disress to the fish. I have done this twice in 1 1/2 weeks. Previously I only used the Excel and Flourish. I bought the dry ferts from Greg Watson WWW.Gregwatson.com.

I see small patches of BGA in the tank. I am hoping the ferts will kill it. The increased growth of the Salvinia is timed perfectly with the addition of the extra nutrients. I haven't changed the water as often as I should. I sometimes go for two weeks between changes. The whole system evaportates around 1 1/2 gallons of water per day. Make up is with dechlorinated tap water.

This (EM) also works in a marine tank for red slime, Cyano.
KNO3 additions are not going to a help a AF rift tank.
Some mainteance will and a simple blackout will kill it.

Tom- Do you mean a non planted AF rift tank? What do you think about what I am doing so far?

Any non planted tank can kill any algae with a blackout.

Cost?= 0.00$$

Then do some water changes(I suggest large weekly change) and clean the filter and maintain reasonable fish loads for your maintenance routine.

Algae does not come back unless you don't maintain things.
I've never had a bloom in AF rift tank.
I've only seem it in a very negelected tank.

I guess this is my tank then. I bought a Python and it does help a lot.

Even a non planted tank can use a plant filter in the external portion.
There's no tank that cannot use and gain some benefit from plants.
You can place them in the filter and grow them emergent like a refugium etc for Saltwater.

You can add CaCl2, MgSO4, K2SO4, dolomite, CaCO3 to a AF rift fish tank, you'lll find these are quite high and they are plant nutrients...............mainly GH components. Plants like those as well as higher KH's generally.

I use commercial Rift Lake Salts when I do water changes. I have some posts from the Archives dealing with making your own Rift Salts. I haven't read them yet, I haven't had time. It is easier to buy when you are not paying. It is also more cost effective for the time being. I keep the Total Hardness at around 250-300 mg/l CaCO3, Alkalinity at around 120 mg/l CaCO3, pH 7.8-8.2. I just ordered some test kits from Hach today: P and MO Alkalinity, Total and Ca Hardness, NO3-/NO2-, Fe 0-5 mg/l in 0.1 increments, and NH3.

I see this is a very long post. I still need to write about the 37 gal and 10 gal I get to have in my own office besides the 75 gallon in my bosses office. This will have to wait. The 37 is really balanced well with 60 watts of Triton lamps and only 8 Lamprologus ocellatus and two Otocinclus mariae. Lots of plants, Onyx Sand and crushed coral. No algae problems at all. Plants are doing fine. Adding major ferts weekly now for two weeks, Excel and Flourish since starting. C. usteriana-one bloomed soon after planting in the tank. It must have set the bud before I got it. My LFS bought them from Aquarium Landscapes in MD. C. spiralis, C. ciliata, C. walkeri, C. wendtii, C. undulata, Anubias, Java Fern, Java Moss, Olive Nerite snails, Valisneria, H. polysperma "Rosanervig".

The 10 gal has C. affinis, C. x willisii, Valisneria, Java Fern, Anubias. Home made 4 x nine watt PC 5000K in a shortened shop light fixture with reflector. Very bright, much more so than the single 18" Triton previously. No fish, only Olive Nerites. I had a very bad BGA here before putting in the new light. I used EM to kill it. This was before I bought the ferts and downloaded the Sears-Conlin paper and replies. I have only skimmed it so far. The EM killed or inhibited my biological filter as Nitrites have now shown up. I did the same on my home 38 African Tank. It too is showing Nitrites. I broght some mulm home from my 37 at work and added it to the HOB filter on Friday night. I didn't check the Nitrites today. I am hoping it speedily grows in.

All tanks were started with plenty of mulm in the substrate as per Tom Barr. I let the filters clean it out of the water to charge them.

To be continued from time to time.

Jerry "The Stooge" Smith in Bloomingdale, NJ

With Leeks and Shallots from seed started in the greenhouse. Peppers next week. Heirloom Tomatoes and Eggplants start 3rd week March.

Tom Barr

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