re: New planted tank...; Time to plant!

>  From: BreedOFish at aol_com
>       I recently tested my local water supply for nitrates (after having
>  nitrate problems) and found that it contained at least 10ppm nitrates.
>   Trying to lower nitrates below 10ppm is therefore illogical, right?  Having
>  just broken down my 55 gallon, to put in a substrate and plant more heavily,
>  I am wondering about having algae problems.  I have planted rather heavily 
>  (I
>  think so, always a personal thing) so that only about 25% of the tank 
>  doesn't
>   have something green within 1/2-inch of it (I assume this is heavy?)  Used
>  Green Hygro,  Anachris, Rotala, Anachris, Sag(?), Corkscrew Val, and a 
>  Amazon
>  Sword (in order of abundence).  I'm am using 3 Black Mollies for algae
>  control, but have access to Flying Fox barbs (sorry, no SAEs) if necessary.
>   Should I use a nitrate absorbing resin (Nitra-Zorb, which also absorbs
>  supposedly only toxic ammonia and not ammonium?) or assume that the plants
>  will use the nitrate as nutrients.  I am doing daily tests on Ammonia,
>  Nitrites, Nitrates, pH, KH and GH, to track results, but I was hoping some
>  one could help me out with a preview of what to expect.
>       - Keith
>  P.S.  100watts of FL, lighting about total of 40 gallons of water (figured 
>  it
>  out after subtraction for gravel and substrate) with yeast CO2 injections
>  (still working out formula to stablize pH at 6.8-7.0 with KH of 3.5)

In your situation I would probably try the following:  

1.  Try to reduce evaporation to minimal levels so you can build up
allelochemicals and not have to top off frequently with nitrate-ridden water.

2.  I'd bump my lighting up to 120 or 160 watts to help the plants out.

3.  I'd definitely stick with fish that can survive entirely on algae.  Platies
are good if your water is too soft for mollies.  Ottos are also good in this
case.  I think ramshorn and apple snails are a plus, and although I haven't
seen them locally, I understand that trumpet snails are a good thing too.

4.  Having made sure that #3 is in place, I'd let the tank feed the fish.

The end result of this setup is the need to occasionally scrape algae off of
the glass, at least at first.  Hopefully, the plants will outpace the algae, so
when the fish consume the algae and produce nutrients, the plant uptake will
compete favorably with the algae uptake.  This will be evidenced by reduced
algae levels in the tank.

When (if) the tank balances out and the fish start to get hungry, feed them
sparingly, since the nutrients in the food may be recycled several times in the
fish and algae before they get locked up by the plants.


Subject: Time to plant!

I finally have my 55g set up and running again(water and substrate only so
I had a problem with the two 10g tanks I planned to use for the settling tanks,
so I pulled them Saturday and dropped in my spare 29g (with a 5.5g tank for a
baffle) behind/below the 55 for a settling tank.  

My setup uses all of my designs, although I'm going to have to add one more
water pump to feed the substrate circulation system.  I couldn't just scavenge
a few drops per minute off of the tube from the pump because there wasn't
enough water pressure where I tapped the hole and I was drawing air.  I'll
probably use the tap for a CO2 injector.

The substrate is plumbed with:  

1. A swirl-flow system equipped with 5 heads to direct the current around the
tank in a counter-clockwise direction (my 20g has the current going clockwise).
I use an out-of-loop check valve for anti back-siphon in the event of pump
failure.  The check valve is on a tube that tees off from the line from the
pump (outside the tank).  The spring is drilled out of the valve and the valve
is installed upside-down.  When the pump is on, the resultant water pressure
closes the check valve, preventing water from escaping through a separate loop
(in this case, it prevents air from bleeding through the check valve into my
swirl manifold).  When the pump is off, the valve opens and dumps air into the
tubing that goes over the wall of the tank, preventing a siphon.  I have this
system on my 20g tank also and it is wonderful.
2. A surface skimmer loopback siphon that maintains the water level in the tank
at about 11" deep.

3. A substrate-level drain system with 4 drains having four 1/4" drain holes
drilled in each.  The drains feed into a loopback siphon over the wall of the
tank.  The Eheim pump raises the water level by about 7" between the lowest
possible drain level (when the tank/sump balances out at gravity equilibrium)
and the highest level (about 4" above the level of the surface skimmer in the
event that its siphon fails).  The substrate drains keep detrius accumulation
on my substrate to a minimum.  I will siphon the mulm from my settling tank
occasionally to remove it from the environment.

4. Gravity-fed substrate circulation plumbing for direct substrate
fertilization and anaerobicity reduction.

All of my tubing is 1/2" PVC.  If I want to switch to a higher water level, all
I have to do is add an extension to my surface skimmer and close a valve in my
substrate drain tubing outside the tank.

The substrate consists of 1" of vermiculite with 2" of TexBlast quartz blasting
sand (2mm) on top.

Lighting is 160w on top of 2 glass canopies to keep evaporation down.  I may
light the settling tank with up to 80w.

I'm still working on ideas for the layout, but the plants will initially

lillaeopsis sp.
val. spiralis
apon. crispus
a. nana
crypt. wendtii
mic. pteroptus
nymph. stellata
rot. indica
hyg. difformis
hyg. polysperma
eg. densa

I'm considering some hydrocotyle that I saw, in addition to maybe a sword or
two and some alternathera if I see something that I like.  The Java fern may
require adding a rock or two, but I'm going to try to get it to stick in the
substrate the way it has in my micro plant tank at work (12" long tendrils).

Animals to start out with will be:

ghost shrimp
apple snails
red ramshorn snails

I'm tossing around the idea of hanging some of my bog wood inside the tank and
growing orchids.  Not really sure about their light/humidity needs.  If I do
this, I'll need to work out a portion of the tank that can house low-light
plants underneath the bog wood (maybe more Java Fern).  Another possibility is
a wood stand towards one end of the tank with Java fern growing both emersed
and submersed on it (I wish I had more surface area).

I'll take pictures tonight and after it's planted.

David W. Webb in warm, humid (finally!) Dallas, TX.