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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I introduced myself elsewhere on the forum and started out with the idea of creating a Mbuna tank, all dark rocks and bright fish etc. Anyway, I can't help but want to do another planted tank, this time well thought out, structured, and maintained! My other tank has plants, and a good community of fish, but has kind of gone it's own way over the years and whilst everthing is healthy I want to aim for something more structured and specific this time.

So, I have aquired a 240 litre tank (Fluval Roma) in which I would like to create a South American, Amazonian biotope for Angel Fish and Discus.

I would like some advice regarding substrate for South American plants, and perhaps some that will help buffer the water to keep it close to the requirements for both the fish and the plants. Something readily available in the UK would be good.

I have read that peat is a good reducer of ph and hardness. Is anyone using this as part of their filter medium?

I've looked through many, many tanks, pictures and profiles but if anyone has done something similar and would like to share a link here I would appreciate that also :)

Also, regarding lighting, I fear that the two 40W tubes will not be enough but there is limited room under the hood for more lighting. I could perhaps remove the back cover and build a box to hold an additional light (another 40W tube?).

Thanks ina dvance, Martin
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Ok, done some more reading and think I'm going to go for a bit of a homemade mixture for the substrate:

Peat spread thinly at the bottom, andcovered by a 1/2" layer of vermiculite. Both available cheaply. Thinking is that the peat will quickly help with the water Ph and give the plants a kick start. All topped of with some pea gravel which again is the cheapest available. I am planting some plants which require iron for their red colour so might have to look for an iron rich substarte for this area of the tank.

Plant wise I'm trying to stay true to South America and have come up with a planting plan consisting of:

Amazon Sword (of course!)
Alternanthera Reineckll Lilacina
Alternanthera Reineckll Rosaefolia
Syngonanthus Belem
Hemianthus Callitrichoides
Aciotis



I'm considering carpeting the wood as I think this could look really good?



Also, I have a piece of root that I would like to use, but maybe not in this tank :-? I was thinking of covering it moss and having Xmas moss growing at the end of each root, giving a tree like appearance but as I say, it might be too much for this tank :?



I'm weeks away from anything right now, can't decide if to keep it minimal and planted, or go for it and have it heavily planted. Eitehr way it will need to look planned and cared for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I think the Discus and tetras will appreciate it also :fish:

Think I'll remove the root though, and stick with the one larger piece of wood :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Just come back from a substrate shopping trip and decided that Aquatic Compost, mixed with vermiculite and topped with pea gravel would be ideal for my aquarium (I have pea gravel in my other tank and am happy with it). Total cost for my 4ft tank...£20 :dancing:

The aquatic soil sounds ideal for my tank as it conatins 35% peat which saved me buying and mixing that, and a Ph of 6-6.5 which I'm aiming for with my tank so...fingers crossed :thumb:

From the blurb:

"Specially formulated for healthy, strong aquatic plants. It contains sterilised loam and grit to allow safe cultivation of submerged plants in ponds, rock pools and all garden situations. It contains a specially formulated slow release nutrient source that prevents excess plant food from leaching into water and encouraging algae to grow. This nutrient source encourages healthy plant growth without attracting unwanted Blanket Weed whilst at the same time, protecting the purity of the water"

It says it should last for 6 months so should give the plants a healthy start, by which time I'll start stocking with fish and hopefully the balanceof poop will be just right :fish:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well I think that 20 litres of Aquatic Compost mixed with 10 litres of soaked vermiculite looks perfect and so I added to the 4ft tank with a bit left over for my fruit trees :thumb:

Total cost = £20 :dancing:

I soaked the vermiculite in water then sieved it out and mixed it with the aquatic compost.



I left about half an inch of water in the bottom of the tank before adding the compost mix. My reasoning was that the compost and vermiculite would soak this up and become a bit heavier, which it has done just nicely. Hopefully it won't float so much when I come to add more water in a week or so...



Then I added a light covering of pea gravel to weigh everything down a bit and lock in that water. It will stay like this for a week or more now before I add the plants and wood and top up the gravel to between 2" and 3". I always think that adding gravel around the wood looks much better than just sitting the decoration on the gravel :)



 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Our LFS had some great examples of Hemianthus Callitrichoides Cuba today. I had read about planting them "dry" - just keeping the roots wet and the tank humid. From what I've read and seen, in about 3 to 4 weeks I should have a really nice carpet of HC Cuba :popcorn:

I bought four pots and divided them up, whichj is enough to carpet the front 1/4 of my tank with the plugs about 1" apart (or something like that :wink: ). Hopefully I'll get some good growth and I'll be able to take some cuttings for other areas of the tank, namely the giant piece of wood I want covering.

The water in the tank is just below the gravel and has been in there a few days, soaking the compost and such. This should have let any chlorine free, let it up to room temperature, and hopefully some of the nutrients in the compost/peat will have got into it ready for the roots to find :)

 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The HC Cuba was doing ok, in that it was staying healthy emmersed, but the room gets very cold at night and I think that they need a bit more heat. Also I aquired a couple of new plants today, a case of buy them when I see them/while they're good. So I added some water to the tank, about 4" above the substrate. An old mini internal filter is keeping the water moving whilst teh Eheim is cycling on my other tank.

The HC Cuba has loads of bubbles on the leaves already (after an hour or so) and the heater should now keep things at a steady 24 degrees celcius and if I see the plants on my list I know I can buy them and get them in :thumb:

One of the plants I bought today was Anubis Nana. Ok, so it's not South American but I bought one for my nano tank and thought I should get another for this tank. Attached to teh wood I'm sure you will see why I think an "exception" can be made, I love the dark green leaves :)



 

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Can't blame you for slipping the Anubis in, you are right, the dark green leaves always look amazing and there isn't another plant with such a deep color. Plus the leaf shape is nice as well. :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I've added some Anubis to my Nano tank and the Betta fish is loving using the leaves for shelter :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Struggling to find the plants on my list, especially Tonina Belem (Syngonanthus Belem) and Aciotis. I have, however, found a couple of alternatives, and added Echinodorus tenellus and Staurogyne Repens as "filler plants".

The water has a brown look to it from the tanins, maybe the wood and peat together. This has, however, redued the light so that the HC Cuba has stopped producing bubbles :( Also, because I am struggling to find the plants locally I have ordered some on the internet, but in teh meantime algae has hit. I've added some plants from my other tank as a temporary measure, to hopefully give the algae some competition!
 

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The tank is looking good so far :D I've been using aquatic compost covered with play pit sand in my tank for 5/6 years now & the plants have really liked it but think it now needs replacing as the swords aren't growing as fast as they once did. I'm also using 2x 40W light tubes but have found there isn't quiet enough light to grow red coloured plants that well.
M&S you don't happen to drive a Land Rover Discovery do you ? just I know someone with the same user name :roll: If you do then you'll know who I am by my user name :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
sweety said:
The tank is looking good so far :D I've been using aquatic compost covered with play pit sand in my tank for 5/6 years now & the plants have really liked it but think it now needs replacing as the swords aren't growing as fast as they once did. I'm also using 2x 40W light tubes but have found there isn't quiet enough light to grow red coloured plants that well.
M&S you don't happen to drive a Land Rover Discovery do you ? just I know someone with the same user name :roll: If you do then you'll know who I am by my user name :thumb:
Hi mate, small world :D The new tank is keeping me busy/off fixing the Land Rover :p

I'm going to add some more light to the tank, thinking of an Arcadia or Glo controller and an extra tube mounted to the back rim of the tank for now. That or I add another ballast to the hood, I think there's room :-?

I'll be adding fertiliser tablets to my substrate each year, to keep things happy, although with the gravel a lot of waste will get down to the roots.

Now I've decided to use this as an Angel tank I'm looking forward to letting my Plec and clown loaches enjoy a bit more growing room as well :fish:
 

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M&S said:
Hi mate, small world :D The new tank is keeping me busy/off fixing the Land Rover :p
Thought it was you :lol: I'll have a look about around me to see if anyone is stocking the plants your after & any thing else your after :thumb: Like I said i've ran my tank with aquatic compost for 5/6 years & hardly used any fertiliser in that time as the compost has provided all the plants what they needed.
I'll send you an Email Mate :thumb:
 

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nice setup so far. looks like that big log may need some work tho. i notice a little rot that while underwater can create large blooms of nitrates. may want to boil it and chissle some of the softer portions away. sucks when ur doing it (done it with all my logs) but log term its the way to go. rot has been very little thus far (1 year in so far) well gl to ya. just my two cents.
 
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