The CassiDietsch Zoo Fish Page

20 Gallon experimental tank.

Full shot as of 7/98, initial planting.
This is a shot of the tank as of 7/20/98. It was setup a few weeks earlier, but most of the planting was done around the 20th.
The experiment is in substrate setups. This test will checkout backyard soil mixed with peat. This is a 3 layered approach. If you look real close you may be able to make them out in the picture. The middle layer is harder to see.
  1. Bottom - pure soil ¾ inch thick - that's it.
  2. Middle - soil peat moss mix. I mixed 3 parts soil 1 part peat by volume. Then that mix was mixed 50-50 by volume with gravel.
  3. Top - clean gravel.

The soil I used was from the woods in my back yard. It is sometimes referred to as subsoil. I went into the woods, picked out an area I though was clean and had been for years! That I felt was very important. Then I started digging, I went at least a foot and a half down before I started collecting soil. At that point I pulled out a 5 gal bucket of stuff that was mostly soil and stones and fine roots. I took this stuff and filtered it through a window screen. The majority of mine was large stuff, mostly stones but there was some organic matter that filtered out. I used the hose to wash the clay like soil off the gravel. That's it.

The gravel was normal aquarium gravel. 2-3mm grain size.

No CO2 yet anyway, I am undecided.

Right now (10/20/98) I feel there is no need for it.

PH = 7.8 4 watts** per gal full spectrum
KH = 4-5°Temp 80°F
GH = 12-15° 50% cal - 50% mag

**There are 4 Watts per gal, currently 2 GE daylight, a Chroma 50 and a PL/AQ. But these bulbs were all used on another tank for 6 months so their output is substantially reduced.

Fertilized with PMDD, ~1 teaspoon each water change.
Fish feed irregularly as most are algae eaters. Various processed foods every other day. Lost a couple of the Hillstream Loaches, so the feeding is increased to every other day.

Red Rams horn snails!
Malaysian Trumpet snails!! (Boy do they come out at night)
2 American Flag Fish (Jordanella floridea)
3 Hillstream Loaches (Pseudogastromyzon myersi)
2 Ottos (Otocinclus affinus)

6 small swords (Echinodorus belcheri)
4 vals (Vallisneria Spirials)
Bacopa caroliniana
3 Samolus parviflorus
crypts (red and green) (Cryptocoryne Wendtii)
marbled sword
penny wort (Hydrocotyle leucocephala)

7/8/98100% water change
7/17/98100% water change, NO added fertilization!
Planted - 6 small swords, 4 vals, Bacopa caroliniana, 3 Samolus parviflorus,
Added a few MTS and red rams horn snails.
7/18/98Added a few small crypts (red and green), a marbled sword, some Ludwig palustris and a sprig of penny wort.
Added ½ tsp K2SO4.
7/21/98There is noticeable growth in everything. Swords all sent up new leaves, crypts too, Bacopa has added a couple inches.
7/24/98There are traces of hair/filament algaes on the glass and plants so I added 2 American flag fish(3"), 6 Hill Stream loaches(1") (Pseudogastromyzon myersi) and 1 medium Farlowella(3"). The next day most visible signs of filament algae were gone. There is still some spot algae, so Ottos are next.
7/29/98Water change 20%
pH 7.6+
Temp 80° Ammo 0
NO3 0 PO4 0.25ppm
Added 1/8 tsp of K2SO4
Added some Hygro Poly Sunset and Bacopa
8/6/9820% change
Added 1 Farlowella and 4 ottos
I added 1/8 tsp K2SO4.
Added carbon

The tank is a little cloudy. There is a good amount of brown tannic tint due to the Driftwood(African something root).
Added the carbon to the filter to remove some of the tannins and did water change. I assume there is some "cycling" at play here but I do not have a nitrite test kit to see. Fish look OK. I have not really fed them as they are all algae eating fish.
The plants are growing very well the Swords have more then doubled in size. The crypts are looking well and have lost very few leaves due to any melt. The Vals have sent out 2-3 new babies on a couple runners. The stem plants are growing, but a little slower then I had anticipated. I guess outside of the PO4 the substrate may not be seeding the water column to bad.
So far the tank looks great, the algae is not to bad, but in case I added another small Farlowella and 4 ottos.

8/11/9820% water change
20 drops PMDD fertilizer
1/8 tsp K2SO4
Tank looks a lot clearer.
8/12/98Lost the young Farlowella and notice that the Ottos have Ick! I still think the nitrite is up due to the cloudiness. The swords have a few leaves that are thinning. I am not sure if this is due to a nutrient deficiency or they are the older leaves and maybe emersed grown. Either way I will trim these off soon, and I added 20 drops PMDD.
8/13/98Added 1/4 tsp KNO3 Removed carbon/spent

The other Farlowella is dead too, but the Ottos Ick looks better. Hillstream loaches look OK so far. Cloudiness is all but gone but there is no nitrate. I think the cloudiness was due to a nitrite spike and therefore there must have been some nitrogen in there. Although adding some KNO3 shouldn't hurt and may help prevent future holes in the older sword leaves.

8/22/98Did a 20% water change
Added 1/4 tsp K2SO4 1/4 tsp PMDD
The tank looks great. Plants are growing well, and the water is clear.
Total losses through the cycling are 2 farlowellas, 1 otto, 1 Hill stream loach.

The tank looks great! The Vals TOOK OFF!! There were 3 and now there are over a dozen, they are even flowering. The swords went through a huge growth spurt followed by the older level disintegrating, but soon looked better then ever. The crypts are doing good almost doubled in size. The rest of the plants also look great. No algae right now. I will wait another few weeks and see how things stabilize. I may need more fish for their fertilizing capacity.
The disintegrating prompted me to add some nitrate and PMDD trace elements. There was no nitrate in the setup and I thought that was a factor. The cloudiness went away and now things look great like the nitrite was stunting growth. I will again stop feeding and see how things do although I don't feel bad about adding potassium with the excepting that it is not easily accessible commercially.

8/30/98Did a 20% water change
Added 1/4 tsp K2SO4, 20 drops PMDD and 30 vits
9/13/98Did a 20% water change
Added 1/4 tsp K2SO4, 60 drops (1 tsp)PMDD and 60 vits
Tank looks great, the snails are doing a great job. There is a very large night life with the MTS!
The vals have stopped sending out new runners. Even the last few sent out have not grown. I wonder if they are choking themselves out.
I am going to start a regular feeding regiment. I will add 1 tsp PMDD during water changes every 10-14 days
9/29/98Did a 20% water change.
Added 1/4 tsp K2SO4, 60 drops (1 tsp)PMDD
Cleaned the filter elements and trimmed swords a little most of the origonal leaves are gone now. The crypts are larger and the vals went crazy again, they need trimming!

20 gal experiment as of Oct 98
10/6/98Did a 20% water change.
Added 1/8 tsp K2SO4 ½ tsp PMDD(w/KNO3)
Trimmed the vals real good but still left I so they shadow a fair amount. There is a slight trace of hair on some stuff if you look real close, but it is nothing to worry about yet.
10/16/98Did a 20% water change.
Added 1/8 tsp K2SO4 ½ tsp PMDD(w/KNO3)
10/21/98Lost 2 Hill Stream Loaches recently, I think it is due to a lack of food. I will increase their feeding I can always use more snail to feed to my many botias.
Now looking closely I noticed that the samolus has all but died out. I moved the one remaining cluster into better lighting Most of them were situated in an area where the Vals shaded them into nothing.
10/30/98Did a 20% Water change.
Added 1/4 tsp K2SO4 and 1/2 tsp PMDD w/KNO3
11/11/98Did a 20% Water change.
Added 1/2 tsp PMDD w/KNO3 1 tsp vits
11/30/98Did a 30% Water change.
Added 25drops PMDD w/KNO3
12/16/98Did a 30% Water change.
Added 25 drops(1/2 tsp) PMDD
12/30/98pH7.0Temp 78KH 20 (Tap KH 120!!!!)GH 120

The Crypts melted! Strange!

The only change was a trimming that added a little more light to the bottom of the tank, but not that much! Oh and a filter cleaning.
But even the crypts that are in the heavy shaded areas are still melting. The lighting in that area has changed, but not much.
I am at a loss, either light or temperature related or both maybe. But that is not really enough to melt Cypts.
Fish look fine Snails even look pretty good.
I'll bet the damn snails are eating to much calcium carbonate:) I need to add more crushed shells, what I added in the past looks gone.
After running the numbers you can see above, I know the snails are the culprit. I mean the plants eat some of the Calcium Carbonate, but the snails eat more. So knowing that I:
Added 1/8 tsp Baking soda, 1/8 tsp plaster of Paris, and 1/2tsp crushed shells.
This is due to the massive population of snails(trumpet & red ramshorn) not the substrate. I need to remember to keep crushed shells or crushed coral in the tank at all times considering the snails.

1/5/9920% Water change
Added ½ tsp of PMDD and 2 tsp vits.

I also noticed that the vals bloomed more then normal, and the pennywort took off!
The Bacopa looks better too.

The Crypts are sending out a few new leaves already.

The bulbs were replaced. Again the bulbs used are already 6 months old. Now there is 2 PL/AQ, 1 Triton, and 1 daylight.

1/16/99Trimmed the hell out of the tank. Since putting in the new bulbs the Pennywort and Bacopa took off. The pennywort crowded the entire surface and choked out everything. Traces of BG algae appeared due to the lack of circulation.
I added two small unknown loaches from another tank today.
1/17/99Did a 20% Water change
Added ½ tsp PMDD some vits, and 1/8 tsp K2SO4
1/31/9920% water change
Added ½ tsp PMDD, 1 tsp vits
2/14/9920% water change
Added ½ tsp PMDD, 1 tsp vits and ¼ tsp K2SO4
3/2/9920% water change
Added ½ tsp PMDD, 1 tsp vits and ¼ tsp K2SO4
3/7/9920% water change
Added ½ tsp PMDD, and ¼ tsp K2SO4
3/14/9920% water change
Added ½ tsp PMDD, and ¼ tsp K2SO4
3/27/99Did a 40% water change.
Added vits and 20 PMDD and 1/4 K2SO4
Added 4 Botia sidthimunki and 6 B. lochatata
I Trimmed heavily and added a tsp of crushed shells.

I also added a carbon bag since I have been neglecting this tank lately. The B. sidthimunki are $20 a pop and I don't want to loose them:)

4/11/99Did a 25% water change.
Added ½ tsp PMDD, 1 tsp vits, and ¼ tsp K2SO4
Removed the carbon
There are traces of a fuzzy hair algae (Not BBA) on the swords. I am sure this is due to my neglect of the tank. It was fine until I trimmed and exposed the lower levels to a ton of light it was not used to:) So now I'll let it stabilize a bit, and maybe take a few water measurements. The Other plants are doing to well. The pennyworts are weeds, and I have never seen so many Vallisneria flowers. The Bacopa is doing very well too. Now that the GH and KH levels are back in check the Crypts are returning.

To be honest now, the tank is a quarantine tank for the Botia sidthimunki and the plants are taking a back seat. I say that, but I think the plants will be just fine, and I think the fish will be too. Although I really want to get them into a bigger tank, but that will have to wait until we move.

Bottom line is the substrate is performing very well after 9 months. I have not added anything to it, and the rooted plants continue to do very well. It appears to resemble most of the other tanks I have setup using laterite although it seems to remain more fertile. I do notice though that algae does seem to take off a little quicker if the tank is neglected. On the other hand there are only 2 small Ottos in the tank as algae controls. I should add some more, and will toss in a couple SAE in the near future. Although I would love to grab a few more B. sidthimunki I think their price will hold me off for now. Also this performance was achieved without any additional CO2. The plant did better once the pH drooped a little and I assume that is due to improved nutrient uptake. If I had added CO2, I think the tank would have out performed anything else I have, and I still may try that in the future. I also have another tank setup with a similar mix in the substrate, and it too performs well. Bottom line I will recommend this approach, but I would qualify that with a recommendation to reduce the nutrient content.

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Jeff Dietsch