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Long term setups

Reference: Who has successful low water-change setups?
>Date: Mon, 17 Aug 1998 15:33:35 -0500
>From: Carlos Munoz <cmunoz at crystal_cirrus.com>

>I'd like to know a little bit about your setups, the plants that do best 
>in your setups, and compromises you had to make to make the tanks run 
>smoothly.  Was there a breaking point when you had to do a large water
>change?  What was the top-off or water change rate?  Any fertilizers?  
>What is your top-off water make-up? Any useful anecdotes?

I'm new to the list having just found some great information on
fertilizers and general plant growth. I've had fresh water tropical
tanks for a number of years but last year I completed a long time goal
of building one completely from scratch - cabinet, welded frame and
polished glass all myself. I had one criteria for my new tank all
natural and low maintinance. The all natural part was easy, local rocks
and gravel etc. Plants from the local stores only bring in a limited
variety and I've had limited success with mailorder given the shipping
times required. What all this boils down to is that, with the exception
of a few initial pH problem and some ongoing hardness issues, my tank
has been running for almost a year with no water changes. I add water
every two weeks or so straigth from the tap. (Our water is very good
however with only trace chlorine as they use ozonation to treat). I
still have most of the original fish I put in. Mostly tetras, Australian
Rainbow, and Chiness Algae eaters. I've just begun to do some
experimentation with fertilizers, which is what brings me to the list.

The pH is fairly stable at 6.7 but hardness ranges above 250ppm (because
I don't change the water)I think a sofening pillow will do the trick
however. If not, this may be the breaking point about which you have
spoken. As far as fertilizers go. None. Until recently. I've used Plant
Grow by FloraCare but am experimenting with PMDD now. I should have some
results in the next month or so.

Here's the set-up
Tank size 108 Imp. gal (491 L); measures 24" x 24" x 52"
Lighting: 2 - 40W full spectrum floresent tubes; 2 - 50W Halogen Spot
Filtration: Undergravel filter plates with course filter media and
carbon in sump; 2 airstones
Heating: 2 - 300W Thermal Submersible
Substrate: Natural rock in graded layers; filter plates / >3/4" / 3/4"
to 1/4" / <1/4"
                 (<1/4" rock is only in areas where plant have been
Orniments: Natural rocks; slate, granite, quartz and sandstone, Utah Ice
(for ph control)
Plants: Amazon Sword; Fern; Short Grass; Long 'Hair' Grass (I'm not a
botanist, though I am try to find the proper names for lots of these)

As far as useful anecdotes go, you might want to get a dog. Sometimes
they're less work.

Jason Daniels
St. John's, Newfoundland