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 51st day

Today I added aquarium peat to the filter. The pH is around 7.8 so I am hoping to get it down a bit. There are already two big pieces of bog-wood inside so with the peat help it should go down to pH7.6 which would be very good for the fish I am keeping. All inhabitants are swimming/eating/shoaling readily and they don't show any signs of weakness. Plants are growing fine and fast. There are a few things to mention though.
I noticed Cardinal Tetras nipping Angels fins! Not often, only when very hungry I guess (the time before feeding). I can't see any fin damage. The Angels and Cardinals are trying to nip the Amano shrimps, but nothing serious happens (again before feeding time). The bigger SAE bullys the smaller one, but again, no one gets hurt at the end. Otos are very active in search for algae, they clean all the leaves and bog-wood. I can't see any snails, but do see gravel moving, which is a good indicator of healthy snail population. I found only one snail so far inside the filter box.
I am adding Tropica Master Grow next week because the Cardemine lyrata is showing yellow leaves.
Photo by Dusko Bojic


The 36th day

Its been 5 days since some of my "removed" fish showed signs of sickness. There are no signs that the rest of the inhabitants are affected. They are all eating readily & shoaling together. Plants are thriving and they are showing no signs of , nutrient or trace elements, deficiency.
I will start adding liquid fertiliser at the end of March. It is probably gonna be the Tropica Master Grow that has no phosphates. In a next few days I will add some aquarium peat to the filter. It is a good addition to a planted tank that has Tetras, Angels, Otos, SAE & Amano shrimps. So far so good.

Photo by Dusko Bojic


The 33rd day

I fed the algae eaters with blanched zucchini. The bigger Oto was eating it for a while but the SAE seem to be more interested in it later on. I am not sure for how long you should boil the zucchini. I did it for a minute or so. I will leave it in till tomorrow morning. Let the snails have a bit.
I read a lot of aquarium catastrophe stories and I was preparing my self for this 180 liter tank to be the opposite... the perfect habitat for my plants and fish. One of my Otos was euthanized cause it was getting some strange white patches on its body. This morning I discovered one of my Cardinals having golden patches, over the blue line only! Now, that is strange! My pet shop said that that kind of Velvet disease you can find only in brackish waters and that the freshwater velvet is white. It is true that one of my Angels and my SAEs are scratching against plants and driftwood which is a syndrome for this disease. The good thing is that the parasite dies in 24 hours if not inside the fish and that it needs lights to make chlorophyll. None of my other fish is having any dusty patches on their bodies. I euthanized the affected Cardinal. I don't have money nor space to have a quarantine tank. Sad but true. I removed the light reflectors to reduce the light and will have lights for only 10 hours. The temperature is 27-28'C which helps. The water is OK. The diet is fine. With all this the fish might resist the parasite, with a strong immune system. I can't use medication because I don't have extra place to move out the SAE, Otos and Amano shrimps. They can't survive the medication. I am sure that I introduced the Velvet with the fish. Any way, hope that this will pass away without any major casualties. Will know in a few days.
I don't want my story to be the catastrophe one.

Photo by Dusko Bojic


The 31st day

At feeding time the aquarium gets pretty busy. The Angels and the Cardinals are the aggressive eaters. The SAE, Otos & Amano shrips are scavenging at the bottom. The food they are eating at this photo is a spirulina tablet. I do have one problem, or better again, a have doubts about how to feed the Angelfish. Whatever I put in the aquarium they will eat no matter is it flake, live or tablet food. I don't feed much. Even though they seem to get the most of it, and as you can see on the photo they do develop after the feeding big, round stomach. I am not sure what should I do. The only way is to feed a very little amount few times a day so they have time to digest it. They do eat the Cardemine lyrata, Bacopa australis & Egeria densa which is very good for their healthy diet. Bellies usually go away after half an hour or so.

One of my Otos were removed today from the tank and euthanized. Since the day I added it to the aquarium it was showing weak behaviour; not eating, swimming slowly, wobbly and at 45 degrees and developing white spots like the one shown on the photo. This morning I noticed two more spots on its face. Its stomach was completely fallen in showing that its not eating at all. The other two Otos are very active, especially when feeding time. One of my Angels and one of my SAE were scratching them selves against the plants and gravel. I am hoping that the temperature ( 28'C ), good diet and good water quality will stop this possible ICH break-out. I am not happy about the idea to treat my tank with medication. It was a mistake keeping the weak Oto for so long at the first place.
Photos by Dusko Bojic


The 30th day

I placed the second bog-wood today. It is a bit too dark but the Otos seem to like it. I am planning to break down the big contrast between the bog-wood and the white gravel by adding some carpet plants and by attaching some plants to the wood. I already attached some Java moss ( Vesicularia dubyana ) on to it. The ammonia and nitrite are zero. There are no signs of algae existing which makes me a little worried. I want to have some algae in the tank as a food supplement for the Otos. They are the only fish that does not eat the food I give them. I feed the spirulina after the light but the Angels find it first and of course eliminate it :) . Otos still look healthy except the smaller one that was skinny when I bought it. All in all the aquarium looks healthy.