180 L Planted Aquarium Journal

Through building and maintaining beautiful nature aquaria people re-learn the intricate connections between forms of life, plants, fish, microorganism and humans. Riches and beauty come from harmony, from balance. Aquaria are great teachers of this truth. Takashi Amano


The 25th day

The aquarium and its inhabitants are doing fine. The water chemistry is OK and the animal world is always in search for food. I am trying not to over-feed them; and to have all the food eaten in a few minutes I first soak it in a bit of aquarium water and then put it in so it sinks immediately. Otherwise the food would stay on the surface for too long and probably half of it would end up inside the filter.
I feed the fish twice a day, every day except Sundays when they fast. First meal is the flake/chips/tablets. The second I feed with freeze-dried Tubifex, Artemia & Bloodworm. Every Saturday I give them one Spirulina tablet after the lights are out. I break it in 4 pieces and stick it on the glass.
I reduced CO2 tablets to two per week. Monday & Friday.
One of my Amano shrimps shed its skin as you can see on this photo. They do that to make more space for their growing body.
Other than that everything seem to be fine, except one of my Cardinals is missing.

Photos by Dusko Bojic


The 22nd day

This is the day when 14 Cardinal Tetras joined my aquarium family. They are shoaling together. Their red bellies are a bit pale. Hoping that will improve with right diet and low pH. At the moment my pH is 7,8. It raised, last time it was showing pH 7,5. Can't wait for the second bog-wood to be ready for the aquarium to lower the pH. The bog-wood is still leaking tannins so I am keeping it in a water bucket for two weeks. It is hell, photographing Cardinals ! I made around 70 shots but I could only use a few.
Photos by Dusko Bojic


The 21st day

The tank is maturing very well. Algae eaters are keeping algae low. The plants are growing and some of them like the Rosanervig are doing better since the fish were introduced. Their waste is more than welcome. Ammonia and nitrite are zero and tomorrow I am adding the last group of fish. I decided to buy 15 Cardinal Tetras. Since all the fish I have at the moment are juvenile that will not be a problem. Once they reach the full size I will get a new tank. I took the Zosterifolia out of the tank since it is not improving. I got a very nice Bog-wood yesterday that is soaking in the water for a week or so. I will put it at the right side in front of the Thalictroides ( Water Sprite ).
In general, the fish is doing fine. The Angels are feeding readily on tablet food, young plant shots and believe it or not... the Hair Algae !!! As you can see on this photo they are most of the time picking on food that is trapped in the gravel which is a healthy behaviour.
Sometimes they are resting in the shadow between plants. They do feel much safer in a fully planted aquariums. They have several retreats.
The rest of the time they shoal together in the mid-water. They look very gracious when moving around the tank.

All photos made by Dusko Bojic


The 19th day

I added today two, 5 cm long, Golden Angelfish. They are absolutely adorable. I did not feed them today. They do eat the young shots of my Bacopa australis and old leaves of the Cardamine lyrata. I added also 5 Amano shrimps. They are feeding on algae all the time. Busy eaters and fast swimmers.

Photos by Dusko Bojic


The 16th day

Today I took cuttings from the H. polysperma and planted them beside Egeria densa. As well as that I pruned the Bacopa australis and cut of the old leaves covered in Brush algae. I had to take out of the tank the H. angustifolia since it was melting. I am not sure why this plant is melting on me. Angustifolia should be fast growing and easy to care for. Any way, no more angustifolia!
Beside Brush algae I have a few more to present :
The following photo shows Hair algae that grows around the plant base and slow-growing leaves. It forms matted clumps. Strands can reach around 6 cm in length. I removed it with my fingers and by twirling the toothbrush around it ( bought a new one just for this purpose ). This algae is a good food supplement for fish but can be a problem if left unchecked. I still don't see my 3-4 cm SAE eating it. : ) The Thread algae grows thin and long, up to 30 cm. You can clean it the same way as the Hair algae. SAE likes to eat this alage as well as the Brush algae. Thread algae indicates an excess of iron.My aquarium inhabitants look very happy so far. I have seen 7 Malaysian Trumpet Snails today, eating the debris of the gravel. Sometimes it is possible to see small Trumpets on the glass that are white colored. Snails stay on the lower tank level which indicates a good water quality. When water quality is bad its been known that they head towards the water surface in large groups. The two Siamese Algae Eaters are most of the time feeding on algae together but resting separately. This youngster chose the drift wood as it's resting place. This fish is a very active swimmer and is a joy to watch. Can't wait to see them a bit bigger cause their bodies then look much stronger and they get that nice torpedo shape.
My Otos are getting more and more comfortable with plants. In the first two days they would hang on the aquarium glass all the time. They look much better when eating or resting on plant leaves. They do clean the leaf very good. I give them 10 out of 10 !!!
In two days if the ammonia and nitrite stay zero, since my SAE are very small, I am adding 5 Amano shrimps. Different algae eaters have different eating patterns. The more algae eaters the less algae. Again, NO FEEDING !!! I let them feed on the minor algae that are aways present in healthy planted aquariums.

Photos made by Dusko Bojic


The 14th day

By adding this beautiful photo background the aquarium got its visual depth. It created an illusion of a blue-grey stone bank. The aquarium photos look now much better against this dark background. I am very happy with the created effect. The Siamese Algae Eaters are adapting well to this new environment and are shoaling together while grazing on algae. Two of the Oto's are shoaling together and eating algae of the glass. The third one is a loner preferring the algae of the plant leaves. I have some beard and brown algae appearing all over the lower leaves of Hygrophila spp., Bacopa australis & drift wood. I will try to brush them off tomorrow and take some of the old leaves off to promote the growth of young shots. Excess iron causes this problem. The water parameters are : pH 7,5 temperature 26-28'C KH 6 GH 8
No sign of ammonia or nitrite.


The 13th day

Since the plants are thriving, ammonia & nitrite are zero and there is some algae appearing I decided to add the first few algae eating fish. I added two 3cm long Siamese Algae Eaters & three OTO's.
I decided to plant a bit more. I added to the "plant family" a gorgeous looking Egeria densa ( dark tall plant on the left ). But the reason for choosing this plant was not of the decorative but more of the practical nature. As you might know that Egeria densa secretes antibiotic substances which can help prevent blue-green algae that are known as Cyanobacteria and can be very unpleasant for plants & fish.
Thanks to the DIY reflectors the plant growth is significant. H. Zosterifolia is the only plant that is holding back & today I took it from the left corner where I planted instead the Egeria & placed it in front of the Thalictroides. I cut of all the old leaves & left only the young shots with roots. Will give it one more week. Few hours before adding the fish I made a 25% water change & conditioned it with Aqua Safe from Tetra.


The 10th day

In just two days the Thalictroides ( Water Sprite ), on the right tank side, grew up so much you can tell by compering with the 8th day photo. It is an incredible plant !!! It is a perfect starter plant. My Polysperma is growing fast enough but not as fast as Thalictroides. Thanks to this plant I will be able to start adding algae eating fish next week. The plant is an excellent nutrition absorber, which means no ammonia.
I put the light reflectors so you can notice the difference in photos. With reflectors the lights perform 100%.

The 8th day

I resolved the cloudiness problem !!! One of my "angustifolia" plants was melting and polluting the water. As soon as I removed it together with some old "Siamensis 53B" leaves the water cleared up. I am cleaning the wool filter every day and there is always some dirt coming out of it proving that my filter is working fine.
Zosterifolia is the only plant that is holding back ( the left back corner of the tank ). Will give it another week to improve and if not...out of the aquarium ! Hope not, it is a beautiful plant though. The fastest growing plant is the Thalictroides on the right back corner of the tank, forming an attractive bush. My plan is to hide the filter box with this plant.
I also noticed a few Malaysian Trumpet Snails. I decided to keep them as they seem to be very helpful in planted tanks, aerating the substrate and eating algae and decaying plant material. I can see some beard algae on the Hygro and Bacopa leaves. Hope that this is not a problem. The ammonia and nitrite levels are zero. In 6 days time if the ammonia and nitrite stay zero and the plants are thriving I will add 1 Siamese Algae Eater and 3 Oto's to keep algae low.
In last week I did two times 20% water change and I use the CO2 Sera tablet every second day in the Sera diffuser. It is important to use it one hour after the light is on.


The 4th day

I decided to plant more. I bought 1 Hygrophila corymbosa " Siamensis 53B ", 1 Alternanthera reineckii " roseafolia " & 1 Cardamine lyrata. I inserted some more substrate iron fertilisers & one small peace of driftwood. With all those fast growing plants the algae have no chance to take over the tank. But the lights has to be strong and CO2 is a MUST !!! The light timer is set up for 12 hours a day. The water looks clearer but still a bit cloudy.

The 3rd day

The aquarium was running fine and the temperature was 27'C. The day for planting. I bought 2 Heteranthera zosterifolia, 2 Ceratopteris thalictroides, 1 Hygrophila polysperma " Rosanervig ", 1 Hygrophila corymbosa " angustifolia ", 1 Hygrophila polysperma & 1 Bacopa australis.I stuck into the gravel, beside each plant, iron rich substrate fertiliser. No water column fertiliser yet !!!
Once all was done I put the Sera CO2 diffuser in action by adding a CO2 tablet in it. It releases also some trace elements beneficial for good plant growth. The water was still cloudy, but the filter was cleaning well. Every day I rinse a lot of brown water out of it.

The 1st day

3rd of February. The day the aquarium was delivered to my door. Installation took around hour or so. Placed in position it was ready to be filled with the English, 2-5 mm, natural gravel. Gravel was rinsed well and placed in the tank. I put in around 40kg. The substrate depth in front is 5 cm & 12 cm in the back.
At the end I filled the tank with warm water ( 27'C ) put the water conditioner ( chloramine & heavy metals remover ) and let it run for two days. The water was very cloudy.