Sunday, 27 March 2016

64 Litre "Hidden Paths" Tank - Week 60 Update

Its been almost a year since the last update of my 64 Litre "Hidden Paths" Tank, here is what it looks like now...



The overall layout is still more or less the same. As time went by, i gradually separated and transferred out the various Bucephalandra sp. plants to another tank. In their place, i added in more Anubias sp. "Petite" to fill in the foreground areas, along with other variants like Anubias sp. Coffeefolia as mid-ground cover. Most of the grey volcanic rocks were also removed because the plants ended up covering them anyways.

Paracheirodon axelrodi (aka Cardinal tetras) were swapped in a while back to add some dashes of red and blue colors to the tank.

A closer look.



View from the substrate level.



So far this tank has stayed relatively low maintenance. The usual routine involves just feeding the fishes every 2-3 days, weekly 20% water changes (sometimes bi-weekly if i'm busy) and some occasional pruning of old leaves every month or so.

Algae is kept under control by the resident population of cherry shrimps and horned nerite snails. The snails really make a big difference by constantly eating algae on the tank glass and plant leaves, this ensures that everything is kept sparkling clean. I keep around 12+ horned nerite snails in this tank and haven't needed to use an algae scraper for more than a year.

One thing to note is that while anubias are naturally slow growing and thus assumed to be low demand in terms of nutrient requirement... its usually when the tank has only a few of them. In a tank with higher density of anubias, especially the larger leaved variants, their combined nutrient uptake can actually be surprisingly high.

In the case of my setup, i found that i had to start dosing additional fertilizers once the plants density started to fill up more than 70% of my tank's base area. Just simply feeding the livestock was no longer sufficient. Without additional fertilizer supplements, the anubias leaves tend to progressively turn yellowish and develop holes. Once that happens, it means their nutrient reserves have run out, hence the need to dose both macro and micro fertilizers to support further growth.

Overall, this concept of a low maintenance modular planted tank went according to plan and worked quite well over a long term period. My next project will probably involve setting up a much larger tank layout. Most likely it will incorporate the ideas and plants from this tank too.

23 comments:

  1. Hi, may I know what fertilizer do you use?

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    1. I currently alternate between Tropica Specialized and Tropica Premium fertilizers (depending on the plant condition and nutrient requirements).

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  2. How do you keep your Anubias Nana Petite from getting GSA on them? They look amazing under direct light. I dose a fair amount of kh2po4 in my tank but since lighting is strong, they get GSA pretty easily.

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    1. Well, other than dosing fertilizers, one of the main reasons my anubias leaves are free of GSA is because i keep around 12+ x Clithon corona (aka horned nerite snails) in the tank, as mentioned in my update. Those snails constantly work at eating the GSA and cleaning the anubias leaves 24/7.

      I have actually tried removing the snails and within a week GSA start to appear on the anubias leaves again... so i conclude that keeping those snails in the tank are one of the main solutions to maintaining GSA-free plant leaves. :)

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  3. this tank is beautiful! one question I did have is how do you keep your sand clean? I'm thinking of using whiter colored sand, although the fish waste would likely dirty the substrate in no time. My guess is that siphoning would inadvertently suck up the sand too?

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    1. Thanks!

      For most of my tanks, i usually keep a relatively large population of shrimps as "maintenance crew" (ie. around 60-70 cherry shrimps per 2ft tank), so they constantly pick and turn over the sand granules 24/7 and help breakdown waste into smaller particles, which are then drawn in by the filter. Good filter flow and circulation helps alot too.

      I can see the difference in how clean the sand substrates are in tanks with lots of shrimps, versus tanks with less or no shrimps.

      That being said, some of the heavier waste and debris particles do still tend to accumulate in certain areas of the tank, usually in places with higher plant density. For those residual debris, i simply utilize a rigid air tubing and hose to siphon them out by hovering and stirring just above the targeted clumps of debris. That will ensure the debris gets siphoned out while still leaving most of the sand in the tank.

      Do note that if you use lighter colored sand, the sand will inevitably become darker over a period of time due to staining by algae and waste, so after some time you may want to siphon up the old sand and replace with new sand.

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  4. Hi this is a fantastic tank. may I know where you get your coffeefolia and your nerite snails?

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    1. Thanks!

      I get my anubias coffeefolia and horned nerite snails from various popular LFS like Clementi Florist & Aquarium (aka C328) and Seaview.

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  5. Can I ask what your fertilizing regime is like?

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    1. At the point of posting, i was regularly dosing up to 3x the recommended weekly dosage of Tropica Specialized fertilizer.

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  6. Hi, I have an Aquasky 601 by Ada in my aquarium. There is too light for a layout like yours?
    Thank you

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    1. The ADA Aquasky 601 generates more than twice the wattage and light intensity compared to the Up Aqua LED lights i use... so it should be more than enough light for a similar tank setup.

      If you find that your lights are too much for the plants (ie. algae is growing too fast).. you could try shortening the photo-period time or maybe mount the lights on a hanging light stand and position it higher over the tank to reduce the overall intensity.

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  7. Hi, I make a new layout like yours during the next days. Can you suggest anything to help me? I bought the same your lamp, the Eheim Ecco Pro 200, Seachem Matrix, Seachem Excel and Tropica Plant Growth Premium and Specialised. Thanks

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    1. Sounds like a good start... just have get quality plants and remember to treat/quarantine them before introduction into your tank. :)

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  8. Hi, would like to know which brand of sand you use? Would like to create a similar setup.
    Also do you use co2 since it seems to be a Low tech tank.

    Thank you.

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    1. For this tank setup i am using Sudo Reef Sand... its relatively inert, very fine grain and has a nice natural light beige color. :)

      There is Co2 injection in this setup too, it is diffused via an inline reactor system which is hidden inside the cabinet below, hence there is no extra equipment visible in the tank itself.

      You can check out the tank setup specifications in this post:

      http://www.urbanaquaria.com/2015/01/64-litre-hidden-paths-tank.html

      And a quick look at the equipment layout inside the cabinet:

      http://www.urbanaquaria.com/2014/09/64-litre-forest-edge-tank-look-inside.html

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    2. Hi UA, do you think it is possible for such setup without co2?

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    3. Yes, its definitely possible to run the same setup without Co2 injection. Hardy low-demand plants like anubias can still grow in low-tech tank environments, just that their growth speed will naturally be much slower.

      Just need more patience to wait for them to grow out over a longer period of time. :)

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    4. Hi UA do you clean your sand so far when you do water change? You use gravel washer? Thanks for the advise.

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    5. Yes i do clean the sand by vacuuming it regularly during weekly water changes... but due to the high density of plants in the tank, i don't use a conventional large gravel vacuum.

      Instead i simply attach a long narrow plastic tube (the 4mm diameter types, similar to those commonly used as balloon sticks) to a length of silicone air line tubing, then i start a siphon into a bucket and slowly vacuum out any waste or debris that have settled on top of the sand. I just hover and gently wave the tube 1-2cm above the sand to lift and siphon up the debris. The narrow tube allows me to access and precisely target specific areas in between the plants where most of the debris get trapped and accumulate in piles.

      With this method, i'm able to remove alot of excess waste material during each cleaning session without too much disturbance to the scape.

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  9. hey UA,

    can i ask about your fert and excel regime?
    i use the new gen UP lights, but my plants keep displaying nutrient deficiency signs. it's downright frustrating.
    i dose plenty of ferts weekly, change water once every three weeks or so, and excel once every 2-3 days. need advice. thanks!

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    1. For this tank at its peak plant density (like shown in the photos), i was dosing around 7ml of Seachem Flourish Comprehensive (all-in-one ferts) a week. This is 6-7x higher dosage than whats recommended on the bottle, due to the increased nutrient uptake of the high plant density, even though those plants are considered slow growing types.

      Different tank setups and plants have different requirements. If your plants are still showing nutrient deficiency, just progressively increase the fert dosages until the new leaf growth don't display anymore deficiencies (it can be a surprisingly high amount of ferts required). Note that plants need time to respond to the increased nutrients, so you'll have to wait a while to observe the results.

      Higher fert dosing and more frequent water changes (once or twice a week) can help to supply ample nutrient levels to the plants and also maintain balanced water conditions with less fluctuations (excess nutrients don't accumulate too much over time).

      As for excel, i just dose 2ml a day (slightly higher than bottle recommended daily dosage). Its mainly to support further plant growth as the tank already has Co2 injection (which itself already makes a huge difference in plant growth). For best results, excel should be dosed daily, as it gets used up quickly by the plants and degrades after 24 hours if unused.

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