Wednesday, September 9, 2009

This was day 78. Working on dosing with Pfertz, eying my dry ferts. Reading more: Thank you for contacting us! Judging by the picture you've included, your tank would definitely fall into the "heavily planted" criteria. Since you are experiencing signs of potassium deficiency, I would recommend that you increase your n, k, and m dosing to 3 pumps daily. I would leave your p dosing the same, since you have measured consistent residual levels with your current schedule. Also, I wouldn't recommend an increased water-change schedule, since you already have an intensive schedule. Regarding water changes, what is your post-change dosing regimen? Increasing this slightly may also help with your deficiency issues. Read more!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Planted Aquarium Podcast

Here's something new for you!
Introducing The Planted Aquarium Podcast
You can provide feedback via this thread or private message and also via
The web page and podcast are absolutely in their infancy. The first podcast is available at the web page listed above to stream or download. The podcast should also be available for subscription via iTunes in the next day or so.
Please understand our only motivation is to serve the broad planted aquaria hobby community. Orlando from Green Leaf Aquariums ( was kind enough to be our first guest and we are quite grateful. If you have suggestions or comments please let us know. You can suggest who we should interview next. Maybe we could interview you! It'd be great to have a wide range of folks on the show, from typical hobbyist to seasoned expert.
Cheers! David and Jennifer Reading More: 5 star reviews on iTunes will be noted by name on the pod cast. Read more!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Aquarium Blog: Day 59 Planted, Flow improvement!

I added a Hydor Koralia Nano 240 GPH 4.5 flow device today. I'm sure glad I did not get a larger version. Reading more: It's about the size of an egg. Read more!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Aquarium Blog: Day 54 Planted (Pfertz!)

I performed my first significant trim yesterday. I cut back the Rotala Indica in the front about halfway down. I also removed a couple of Wisteria stems. It's so tough to trim. Silly I know. I'll learn. I've been using Pfertz fertilizers lately. For now the convenience is just really hard to beat. I'm still running a UV sterilizer. You can see the cable on the front right. I removed the hang on tank micron tank for the pictures. Both are in response to a couple of Ich nodules I spotted. I added a Rotala wallichii yesterday. What else? Dealing with some unwanted snails. Spot treating algae with hydrogen peroxide. Add some more root tabs. Reading more: Both German Blue Rams died. One of unknown causes and the second after relocation. I believe both deaths were stress related. They fought constantly with each other and the two Electric Blue Rams. I would have thought a heavily planted 55 gallon tank would have been large enough for the four of them. Read more!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Day 46 Planted

Noticed two ich spots today after being clean for a bunch of days. Sorta stumped by that, but in any case that's why you see the micron filter hanging on the front and UV in tank on the right. Most of my plants are doing great. I'm spot treating some algae on my driftwood. The above pic is interesting to compare to day 2 planted at the top.

Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it. Read more!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Day 33 Planted!

I'm embarrassed to see it's day 33 since I planted this tank. I've been a bit demoraalized and haven't wanted to post! But, I think I've finally beaten back an infection of Ich and I'm finally feeling a bit better about the tank. I need to write a piece about defeating Ich, assuming all goes well in the next few days. Also, I'll report on the new Catalina Aquariums light fixture you see here. Also, Vic from came through with lots of dwarf hairgrass. Woo hoo!
Reading more: Give Catalina Aquariums a call before you order. I'll give a full review quite soon.
Read more!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Aquarium Blog: Green Leaf Aquariums Review

Green Leaf Aquariums Review
A+ to Green Leaf Aquariums!

Orlando from Green Leaf Aquariums just called. I must say I'm very impressed with the APC ( community and Green Leaf Aquariums ( Orlando communicated to me that they'd been moving from one facility to another and had been less responsive to emails than ideal in the last few days. He also said he work with me on a reduced shipping charge to compensate. I'd have no reservations about ordering from Green Leaf Aquariums in the future and found Orlando to be a great/friendly guy / businessman!

Prompt shipping. Great products. Helpful customer support.

Kudos to Green Leaf!

Here was my post to
Hi Folks,
I wonder if others have noticed that Green Leaf (Orlando) has not been responding to emails? I sent this a week ago and a followup with no response. Not a big deal. One of those instances where you realize you want to order one more thing. Called them first thing business hours twice (left message) and could not get anyone on the phone. They did ship the stuff I ordered in one box, but went ahead and charged me shipping for two orders. I'll still order from them and they ship promptly and I appreciate the product quality. Any thoughts? I will update here promptly if/when I hear from them.

"Hi Orlando,
I'm wondering if you'd be willing to grant me some shipping credit on my next order?
You were able to consolidate orders # and # and ship for $11.80 yet my total shipping charge was $23.80. The dry fertilizers look great. I've been very happy with Green Leaf Aquariums and look forward to my next order. Thanks for considering this!"
Reading more
: the logo is posted as an avatar on a local forum, so I don't think it can be considered copyrighted. I hope to hear from them soon and make this a very favorable post. Yup, I heard from them and am able to give Green Leaf a thumbs up. See the top of the post.
Read more!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Hydor CO2 Review

Part design and quality A+ (the parts seem to be made to exacting standards and made to last)
Customer support A+ (these folks were responsive and very helpful, I felt like I was working with an individual interested in helping me as an individual)

Update: my Hydor CO2 Green NRG Exclusive system continues to function well. The second canister installation was without incident. I am on day ten of bubbling at a rate of over 1 per second. I do hope to upgrade to a Hydor Advanced system with a larger tank soon!

If you are interested in my troubleshooting experiences see the links to the right.

My Hydor CO2 Green NRG Exclusive disposable canister depleted this morning after eight days. This system is for a nano to very small aquarium for sure. It could be that I lost some CO2 on setup, so I'll report how many days I get with each successive disposable canister. Oh, my bubble rate is about one per second for a 50 gallon tank. I suppose it's time to start looking for an upgrade. I'll be happy to transfer this system to a smaller tank however! In summary, Hydor customer support has been very responsive. They replaced my valve and two expended CO2 cartridges promptly.

With an update to the English translation of the instructions (see seventh Hydor troubleshooting blog entry), the Exclusive CO2 system is an elegant and user friendly solution to providing pressurized CO2 to the smaller/nano tank. I am considering the Advanced system for my upgrade. Reading more: The Hydor CO2 troubleshooting will continue as I'm not absolutely sure everything went well with this disposable cannister's installation. I did have some CO2 eject out the first safety hole before I could get the valve secured (twisted down sufficiently). I hope the silicone gasket did not tear! I'll keep you updated (all is well, see update above).
Read more!

Aquarium Blog: Day 15 planted- Cabomba!

Here's an interesting pic of the Cabomba (Cabomba caroliniana var. caroliniana,) I added five days ago. From what I read here: it must happen when the plant is tall/floating. Ah well, not the mystery I thought it was. Interesting pic nevertheless. I guess I could ask y'all this: If I buried this stem would I get a lot of vertical stems, or would the plant continue to grow one stem, or rot? Oh, the female rams (Freon and Krypton) seem devoid of eggs today. At least Krypton does. She had been looking bigger day after day and exhibiting some interest in creating a spawning spot. The males (Boron and Xenon) seem much more interested in tank hierarchy issues. Reading more: I may have to setup another tank if I ever want to spawn the Rams. There may be too many fish or it could just be water conditions. We'll see.
Read more!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Can't Touch This

Talked to the owner of a home built 52,000 gallon aquarium today in IRC. Check out his thread on building the tank and his video! Reading more: nice guy too!
Read more!

Aquarium Blog: Day 13 Planted- Ferts mixed!

Mixed up my first batch of liquid fertilizer from dry. Mixing is easy but deciding on amounts is kind of a bear. After adding iron early in the day I thought I could see my R. rotundifolia growing in real time! Reading more: I'd say the downloaded version of Chuck's Planted Aquarium Calculator and the Fertilator page were most helpful in making the final calculations. See the links to the right. Check the forums for help!
Read more!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Aquarium Blog: Day 12 Planted

Pic of tank Day12, dry ferts as arrived today, and bachelor lunch I ate while looking at my tank (wife at in-laws)! Reading more: The dry fertilizers are from Green Leaf Aquariums. I've been quite impressed with them so far. Now I need to select a method of dertermining how much to fertilize. There are a handful.
Read more!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Aquarium Blog: Drop checker arrived!

My CO2 drop checker from Green Leaf Aquariums looks great!
The CAL AQUA crop checkers they also sell look nice, but if you notice I think they have a plastic plug in them. The Green Leaf drop checker is all glass and looks very clean. It does take some patience to get the testing solution in there, but it's worth the clean look. I think they should use my pic (assuming their profit is greater for their own product)! Green Leaf Aquariums also ships a standardized 4dKH solution included!
Reading more: I will say it's tough to discriminate the color from a distance. The Red Sea drop checker is easier to read from a distance, but doesn't look nearly as nice! Also the Red Sea drop checker does NOT ship with a standardized solution for mixing. Read more!

Aquarium Blog: Day 11 Planted

You can click on the image for a better view. You can see floating up top the cabomba I brought in from my outdoor container pond. All the fish seem to be doing quite well. Yesterday I may have tweaked the CO2 at little high as all the rams seemed to be working for oxygen so I dialed that back for the day. I turned on the airstone when I noticed their stress so don't worry. Most of the plants seem to be doing well. I should be getting my new CO2 drop checker today. You can see my current one attached to the front glass upper right. It contains a solution that changes color depending on CO2 concentrations. The new one comes with a standardized solution that should provide improved validity. Dry fertilizer should arrive in the next day or so. Reading more: Any questions? Just ask! I'm not sure if lighting or nutrients are my limiting plant growth factor at the moment. I should be improving the nutrients when the dry fertilizers arrive. It'll likely be my birthday before I can justify a lighting fixure that will up my watts per gallon to the 3-4 range. Read more!

Aquarium Blog: Rotala macrandra

Here you can see the test bed area of my tank. It's up front where I can observe new plants closely. Yesterday I added what I believe is some Rotala macrandra. It's considered a difficult plant to grow and needs high light, so I'm not expecting too much. Reading more: From a entry below you'll find I also placed some in an outdoor container. Who knows? Maybe it will really take off outside! Read more!

Aquarium Blog: Scarlet Badis

These tiny fish are amazing. Their small size makes the aquarium seem just huge! They're also difficult to photograph, he, he. Unfortunately they seem to be finicky eaters. The first meal of the day is always some frozen daphnia and I'm pretty sure they're eating it. Reading more: I'll post a blog dedicated to feeding.
Read more!

Aquarium Blog: Atlanta rocks!

Seriously, what's going on in Atlanta?! Do you have some great pet stores there? Is there an Atlanta aquatic club? Could it be any hotter? Post a comment! Reading more: Every day I look at the traffic report for this website and Atlanta is almost always at the top of the list. I do have friends and faimly there, but I doubt they are visiting every day. What's up? I'm glad to have you visit! What would you like to see more of? What could I do for Atlanta?!
Read more!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Aquarium Blog: New light fixture on the way from Big Al's.

I just ordered Coralife F/W T-5 Aqualight Double Strip Light-36 from Big Al's. I've been pretty impressed with this dealer of aquarium supplies. They advertise a low price guarantee. I tried, but ran into the problem of ordering something the website listed as "in-stock" and getting an email that they were out of stock and the website never updated to "out of stock". Sometimes you get the feeling that "in-stock" is the default for a merchant regardless of stock status. That's a deal breaker for me. So far I've NOT had this problem with Big Al's and I've found their prices to be quite low. I will report on the new lighting fixture soon! Reading more: Let me know what your online dealer experiences have been. Read more!

Aquarium Blog: The power of the sun!

Getting in my car yesterday (after it was preheated by the Arkansas sun) I chuckled as I wondered how many watts the sun has and what a shame it cannot be harnessed as an aquarium light. Of course we know sunlight can benefit the indoor aquarium, but that's a different story. I then remembered I'd tossed some Hornwort, Cabomba, and Anacharis is my goldfish containers a while back. I checked them out and the Cabomba and Anacharis were growing like crazy. No real surprise, but at least I remember I have a free source of both now! Also it occurred to me I could create a test bed for my other aquatic plants and see if any enjoy growing outdoors! (Note these are isolated containers miles from natural bodies of water.) Oh, a goldfish in one of the containers seemed to say "please, if you're not going to feed us, bugger off". Reading more: I'll take and post some pics of the Cabomba and Anacharis in my tank later today! Read more!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Aquarium Blog: Day 9 Planted

Wow, I'm really getting into this hobby. The fish are doing great, but I'm continuing to experience some plant die back. I have the Hydor Exclusive CO2 system up and running at about 40 bubbles per min. I'm dosing Seachem fertilizers and have dry fertilizers on the way. Ammonia and Nitrites are at near zero ppm. Nitrates are around 20 ppm (low?). So, I think I'm doing everything right. I just gotta be patient. Reading more: I'm considering getting a T5 36 double strip tomorrow. Shhh, don't tell my wife!
Read more!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Aquarium Blog: Day 8 Planted

Current fauna include (with names, if named):
2 Male Electric Blue Ram (Boron and Xenon)
2 Female German Blue Ram (Freon and Krypton/Helion)
2 Rummy Nose Tetras
2 Emerald Green Cory
5 Scarlet Badis
9 Cherry Shrimp (fish food?)
1 Mystery Snail

Reading more: my wife hates the name Freon.
Read more!

Aquarium Blog: Hydor CO2 green NRG Exclusive

I received my replacement Hydor "pressure reducer" and two disposable cartridges. I wore gloves screwing on the cartridge, he, he. First attempt the pin did not penetrate the disposable cartridge. The pressure reducer comes with two washers installed and I debated removing one, but instead just backed out and back in and succeeded. I hope the washer is intact. The pressure reducer leaked CO2 from a couple of places for about twenty seconds or so before it appeared to "settle". I thought that was pretty odd, but there are no leaks now and it's dispensing CO2 from zero to several bubbles a second as I adjust. I'm certain it's not a long term solution for a 50g tank as the disposable cartridges are not cost efficient for this size tank. I'm pretty happy to retire the DIY system after only one day. Reading more: I'm convinced I'm the only soul in the US using a Hydor pressure reducer. If you are make sure and let me know! Read more!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rotala this, Rotala that!

So I'm thinking my Rotala may be Rotundfolia rather than Indica. That's thanks to forum folks at Aquatic Plant Central (see link to right). I'll be adding this link to the right as well: Plant Finder. AReading more: The forums are invaluable. Check the links to the right. Thanks "ingg" and Cavan Allen at APC forum! Read more!

Aquarium Blog: Electric Blue Ram

My parameters:
50g tank (36x18x19)
~100 watts standard fluorescent various plant grow tubes
about 10hrs full 1hrs 50 watts (I have a glass canopy these lights sit on that has some incredibly stubborn hard water deposits, so I'm guessing I'm losing at least 25% wattage)
Eco-complete substrate
pH (power of hydrogen, fun mnemonic only) 7.2 without CO2 closer to 6.8 with CO2
GH (general hardness) 100 ppm
KH (carbonate hardness) 150
Dosing Seachem as per their Aquarium dosing chart
I plan to mix my own once this wetness behind my ears dries.
Flourish tabs spaced 4-6 inches
Water temp 81F
Ammonia ~0ppm, Nitrite ~ 0ppm, Nitrate ~30ppm
Fluval 305 sponges and bio media only
CO2 DIY with Hydor diffuser on 24/7
Air stone during lights off
Reading more: I'll be testing GH and KH more carefully this afternoon. Read more!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Aquarium Blog: Day 6 Planted

I'm fighting to keep my head above the information waterline!
This CO2 test kit, called a drop checker, comes with a standard solution for accuracy:
drop checker. I just ordered one. The Red Sea test kit just won't pass muster.
I'm using DIY CO2 at the moment so I need an accurate test kit as my injection is rough.
I'm using a dosing table for Seachem (mix my own later).
I've added an information source for planted tanks: The Barr Report.
I'm just waiting for trouble. Reading more: Added standard German Blue Rams, more soon. Read more!

Aquarium Blog: Electric Blue Ram

I decided to give a couple of Electric Blue Ram (EBR) a try. One of my LFS folks thought they were being sold as a sexed pair, but I'm pretty sure these are two males. I very much like the Microgeophagus ramirezi as a species, but I'm not so impressed with this coloration. Could be my lighting or their age. I'm going to provide two typical GBR females (I doubt EBR females are easily found) and see how things go. Reading more: Currently the 50g tank houses the two rams, two emeral green "cory", two rummy nose tetras (more soon), five scarlet badis, and a few scrimp.
Read more!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 3: Five Scarlet Badis and Five Cherry Shrimp added!

I was able to add five Scarlet Badis and five Cherry Shrimp Today. Oh, and one mystery snail. I'm working to improve my aquarium photos. I gotta figure out how to do a manual focus! Reading more: I hope to add Rams on Friday. Read more!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day 3: I mistake Jave Fern Reproduction for Parasite/Disease

I read that Java Fern can develop spores on the underside of leaves which develop into plantlets.
Wow! That's interesting. Reading more: First place I read this was here Fish and shrimp in a few hours, I hope. Read more!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More Day 2

Only plant "pearling" today was Vallisneria.
One plant actually seems like it has grown overnight if that's even possible: Rotala Indica.
I have what my wife calls a "control panel" look going on the left side that I will hide or remove soon. Reading more: Adding some fish/shrimp tomorrow I hope.
Read more!

Day 2

I Placed my Anubias Nana on the driftwood this morning. They look great. I also repositioned my other Anubias and Java Fern such that thier rhizomes were not buried in the substrate (thanks forum dwellers joy13 and FishEggs!) . LFS pro noted they had ammonia problems with an Eco complete install in the past. So, I bought a test kit and am happy to report ~0ppm. I've read bad batches of eco complete were shipped a couple of years back and that Caribsea responded well to the problem. In any case, I'm loving mine so far. I'm just learning to take pictures of the aquarium. LFS pro also thought my day 1 pic looked like "new tank syndrome", but it's my photography. In "real life" the water does not look hazy. Ah, with a little saturation tweak the tank looks more like real life. I'll take another bigger pic tonight. Reading more: I'm learning. The forums are great (try I'm pretty sure the LFS pro would have given me the same advice the next day, but the immediate feedback of a forum can be really helpful.
Read more!

Hydor CO2 instructions in English wrong! Fig 1 correct. Seeking confirmation!

Dear Mr Mastin,
we thank you for your contact.
Thanks to your inquiry, we have verified the instruction's texts and there is an error in the English translation.

The right text should be:
"Take the pressure reducer (N) and make sure
that the regulation knob is closed (turn anti-clockwise)
-Fig. 1-, then turn the pressure reducer
upside-down and make sure that the o-ring is in
the correct position and there are no particles or
dust inside the connection or on the top of the
cartridge. (M). Screw on the CO2 cartridge slowly..."

This is an error born during the english translation: in fact the translation in the other languages is right. We guarantee we are already correcting the text, and we apologize for this inconvenience.

In reference to the indications of turning the reducer upside-down, this is only for inspection that the o-ring is correctly positioned and there are no particles.We should have probably added a sentence indicating to turn back in an upright position the pressure reducer before screwing on the cartridge.

Thank you again for informing us, we will update the English translation as soon as possible.

May we suggest you contact HYDOR USA directly to get a replacement cartridge.

Best regards.

Paolo Mariotto


Reading more: How refreshing. The cynical side of me says the staff attorney must be on vacation.
Read more!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Day 1 Planted

I'm declaring "day 1" of the planted tank. Looking pretty good. I just learned that Anubias should have their rhizomes out of the substrate, so I corrected that and will provide an updated pic soon. See the posts below of a list of the plants. As a reminder, this is a 50 gallon tank with 100 watts of fluorescent lighting, eco-complete substrate, and no CO2 (yet). My water is warm, slightly acid, and moderately hard. Reading more: I may be able to add a emerald cory or two tomorrow. More fish in a week.
Read more!

Missing dwarf hairgrass and yellow hornwort. Follow-up (

My email to and the reply:

Hey Vic,
I received my order today (36 Discus Assortment order placed 6/11/09).
Lots of plants that traveled well.
-Lots of anacharis and yellow/brown hornwort.
-And no dwarf hairgrass as indicated on the web and especially disappointing as I specifically requested some ground cover.

I attached a picture of the anacharis and hornwort.
I don't really care about the yellow hornwort, but it would be nice to have some some ground cover.

Thanks! David

Dear David,

Thank you for your interest in our products and your order with us.

We are glad to hear that most plants arrived in good shape. We apologize for the yellow hornwort: unfortunately, such things happen sometimes with live item shipments especially during hot weather.

Unfortunately, we do not have hairgrass in stock at the moment - we may be able to get some this or next week, we'll make sure to send it to you if that happens. Also - would you please let me know what kind of ground cover you are looking for? We may be able to include it as well.

Once again, we apologize for the issues and thank you for your purchase. Please let us know if you have more questions, we'll be happy to help.

Sincerely Yours,

Nothing more to report.
Read more!

Impressed with Hydor Customer Service

Here is the email I received today from Hydor Customer Service!


Thank you for the photo. You can't just put those parts back in. I will have to send you a new regulator. I also send you a new CO2 canister. I need the following information.


The key to this system is to not over tighten the canister. Also make sure there are no sharp edges or debris in the regulator. Follow the picture instructions. You turn the rugulator top counter clockwise to close it.

Once I get your shipping info, I will send you the parts.



Hydor USA, Inc.
Customer Service
4740 Northgate Blvd #125
Sacramento, CA 95834
866-493-6787 Phone
866-629-4937 Fax Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it. Read more!

Plants have arrived! (from )

The pics are arranged 1-8 with 8 at the top and 1 at the bottom. The narrative is below. See post below for narrative. Read more!