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Semi-intro and rambling ;-)

<long message alert...>

> Maybe I'm off base here, but should not someone's first planted tank be
> under 2W/gallon, non-injected, rich substrate, no fertilizer except
> potassium and maybe trace?  And then when you understand this ecosystem
> and simple chemistry well enough then go out and buy one of those
> "high-octane" setups?  

That's the sort of set-up I've got going, more by accident than by
design. :-) I'm in California, so I didn't want to go overboard on
lighting, and I built the rest of the setup around that.

I've been fiddling with the set-up and lurking here a while... I think
the tank has been running for almost two years. It's a 40-gallon "long"
with 60w of fluorescent bulbs (1.5 w/gal) that never get changed. ;-) 

I am thrilled with the set-up! When I first set it up I had persistent
hair algae, but I finally cleared it out with twenty ghost shrimp and a
three-day blackout. It started to come back after my most recent
*disaster* (I have *disasters* on a regular basis <g>), when I had to
catch a fish and wound up moving 90% of the plants to catch him. (I
cursed myself when I remembered the old 2-liter soda bottle fish trap
AFTER I had halfway disassembled the tank!!!) After the plants had all
been moved and the laterite thoroughly stirred up, the hair algae started
to come back--but then it spontaneously disappeared! Maybe I've finally
hit that mythical balance of light and nutrients where the plants
out-compete the algae! Yeeeeeeha!

For those who want details... 40-gallon tank with 60w light (as I said
before). CO2 is a 2-liter soda bottle of yeast going into an Aquaclear
HOT power filter. Fertilization is down to the laterite in the gravel and
a capful of Kent Freshwater iron stuff once a week (if I remember). Water
changes once a week (if I remember). 

Plants: Java fern on a log (putting out plantlets left and right!), 2
Amazon swords (slightly stunted-looking), Sagitteria galore (runners
everywhere!), some dying twisted Vallisneria (probably because of the
sag), Rotala rotundifolia galore, some Bolbitis on another log (which
pearls like crazy!), some Mayaca fluviatilis (growing like crazy!), a
dying banana plant, some pennywort (growing like crazy!), some parrot's
feather (got it recently in emersed form; it's still adapting to life
underwater), some Bacopa caroliniana (?) and the crown jewel--a big,
healthy Cryptocoryne balansae which just put out a runner! Yesssssssss!
(I was thrilled I could just keep the thing alive!)

Critters... 1 Farlowella (does a fantastic job with the spot algae!), 5
Amano (yamato numa-ebi) shrimp (I think they're all still in there...)
and ~20 ghost shrimp which seem to have been breeding in there. (There
were 20, then at least two died, then I started seeing babies, now I have
no clue how many are in there.)

I've got photos of the set-up at http://equarium.tripod.com/photos ,
although I've re-arranged some stuff and added the bolbitis, parrot's
feather, and Mayaca since then. You can critique the layout if you like,
but I'm not in the mood to move a whole lot of plants now and mess things
up again. I originally went for the "Amano look", but the tank has taken
on a mind of it's own. ;-)

I used to hesitate to post here because I was afraid people would find a
problem that would be expensive to fix... OK, I'll fess up: I'm 15 and
trying to maintain this tank on my allowance. (No job yet.) But, I think
that, all things considered, I'm doing a fairly good job so far... ;-)

There are three plants that I've always wanted to play with, but never
seemed to have enough light to keep happy: any dwarf lily, water sprite
(I like the thin-leaved variety), and Glossostigma. 

I know people grow glosso in low-light tanks like mine, but at the bottom
of my tank there's so little light I have trouble keeping even chain
swords alive. (I've got just one barely hanging in there!) 

Also, the water sprite surprised and stumped me... The first time I tried
it I wasn't dosing anything in the water yet, and it slowly turned white
and died. The second time it got really hot on the car trip home from the
LFS, and when I got back the plant was all shriveled and brown. I put it
in the tank and got a little growth out of it, which I plucked off and
planted in the bottom of the tank, and threw the brown away. Those little
bits didn't grow well, apparently not enough light at the bottom of my
tank, but one sprig that escaped and floated on the surface is doing OK.
The catch is, it keeps getting sucked into the outflow of the Aquaclear
and disappearing under some driftwood, and I have to keep rescuing it.

Also, I have a bad habit of being to quick to answer fish questions... I
will be the first to admit when I don't know an answer, but I often think
I know the answer when I don't... If I show up and answer a question
here, and someone else gives a different answer, follow the advice of the
other person!!! ;-)

I guess that's a long enough intro... ;-)

I LOVE this hobby!!!!!!!!!!!!


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