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Build Thread Dutchy Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Got a PM asking how I used HCL to drop the KH, figured Id post here so anyone else curious can see it

I just use whatever HCL lowes has in stock, it varies a little bit but its all pretty much the same

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Generally speaking, for a 75 gallon tank 15 ML will drop the KH by 1

Obviously this is acid we're talking about so be very careful about skin or eye contact

The next main concern is not burning up the plants

I used to dilute the acid in about a pint of water and then slowly add it to the tank by pouring it directly into the filter current. The problem with this method is you better not miss or pour too fast. HCL is heavier than water and if it doesnt catch the current it just settles to the bottom and burns up anything in the general vicinity

I learned this the hard way about two weeks before the deadline making my 2019 AGA Dutch entry

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The focal plant you see is about 6 baby Crypt spiralis red all stuck in the same hole or two. Up until 2 weeks before the deadline, thats right, 2 weeks before! I had a beautiful full Blyxa novo about twice that size right there. But I missed the current with HCL and it settled on top of the Novo and completely burned it up, along with half the 53B and Lobelia. So with no Novo I had to plug something else in for the focal spot, and it had to be a red rosette of some kind. And well...all I had was a few baby spiralis

These days I use a piece of curved plastic I cut out from a soup container. I put this under the filter outflow that way it catches all the acid to be blown with the current

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What I do is add the acid to about half a pint of water and pour that into the current just before the edge of the plastic piece. This way there's no worries about any missing the current and falling below. As long as it catches some current it will quickly and harmlessly blend in

*Note: never add water to acid! Always add acid to water

So thats just what I do. If you have a reservoir or something for water change water you can just add it to that beforehand and not worry about the plants

As for the notion that 0 KH is a bad thing, I drop the KH to 0-1 in 6 out of my 10 tanks. Ive never seen anything go sideways with a 0 KH, like the proverbial PH crash. What does that even mean anyway? Although I do believe that having a 0 KH can possibly affect the accuracy of a PH reading, Ive never seen a negative response from plants. So tifwiw :)

Another concern is the by product of HCL reacting with carbonate hardness is a ton of chloride gets released. I forgot the math but once figured it to be in the 50-75 ppm range. Ive never seen that be a problem either, but if your tap comes with abnormally high levels of chloride it might be a concern. Mine comes with less than 10
 
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My wite caved in, I’ll have a new tank and this old big one just for my plant storage 😆
Thats awesome! Its going to completely change your <plant> life. Not only will you be able to grow a lot more species, its also a great control for when problems arise. Say plant x is doing bad in one tank but its doing well in another one, then you know its not the ferts. Or maybe it is ferts if its sucking in both tanks

Plus you can keep a few plan B species to plug in if a plan A doesnt work out. Like roraima in case you need a strong color at the last minute because the 45 pantanal you been nursing for months decided to pout because you looked at it wrong...speaking from exp lol

Whether a person is scaping or just learning to grow or both, it all becomes just so much easier with an extra tank or two
 
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And as you know some plants respond differently to trimming, so I hope you continue with posts like this, and I should do the same.
Yes please! A lot of this is live and learn and I think a major fear for some people is when a plant is growing well and looking good, the last thing they wana do is chop it down. I respect anyone who is stem heavy in their scape, especially all of you with big tanks. I can spend hours on my tank, I can’t imagine anything bigger.
 
First big trim. Got a bacterial bloom that's cloudied the water. Pretty crazy it how happened. Few days ago I uprooted three big Penthorum stems out of the street. Just three. They had a big root structure but nothing you'd expect to need a water change after. Plus this area of the sub gets overturned regularly

The cloudiness started a few hours later and proceeded to get worse as you'd expect. I left it alone until the trim+water change yesterday. Had to drop a UV in there, the bulb on the SunSun built in UV (which is great for times like this) is burned out. It'll be gone in 2-3 days

Here's the before pic

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Acmella is no longer much of a street, had to rob a few stems from it and the colorata beside it, so those groups are pretty choppy atm. Didnt touch the back stem groups, will do them next time

Swapped out the Penthorum street for Lobelia. Hyptis laciniata (front left) was going crazy so I gave it a restart. And lowered the Mayaca curtain front left

After

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Rotala Sunset in bad need of thinning out. The leaves are starting to helicopter a little bit. Think Im gonna use something different in that spot, maybe even a green. The bold color is too dramatic for right there, it out competes the focal spot which is supposed to be the Physostegia purpureae

Ludwigia white (front right) is doing pretty good. First time trying it in sand. I dont like that it and the Lud cuba right behind it has basicsally the same leaf, might have to address that later

Left side pic

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Here's the Lobelia I started with. Split up 3-4 big fat ones. A fat Lobelia is just tons of small ones. Whats left of the originals is on top, used them in the back

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Check out this monster snail lol. Idk whats up w him he just got real big. Personally I like snails, they do a good job eating bad leaves that would otherwise feed algae


20240403_164228.jpg

That's the Tulu that was trimmed in the other post. Coming out fat and happy. Notice the left edge is kinda kinda puny where its being shaded by the brevipes. It doesnt like being shaded, those will stunt if I dont fix it
 
First big trim. Got a bacterial bloom that's cloudied the water. Pretty crazy it how happened. Few days ago I uprooted three big Penthorum stems out of the street. Just three. They had a big root structure but nothing you'd expect to need a water change after. Plus this area of the sub gets overturned regularly

The cloudiness started a few hours later and proceeded to get worse as you'd expect. I left it alone until the trim+water change yesterday. Had to drop a UV in there, the bulb on the SunSun built in UV (which is great for times like this) is burned out. It'll be gone in 2-3 days

Here's the before pic

View attachment 4724

Acmella is no longer much of a street, had to rob a few stems from it and the colorata beside it, so those groups are pretty choppy atm. Didnt touch the back stem groups, will do them next time

Swapped out the Penthorum street for Lobelia. Hyptis laciniata (front left) was going crazy so I gave it a restart. And lowered the Mayaca curtain front left

After

View attachment 4725

Rotala Sunset in bad need of thinning out. The leaves are starting to helicopter a little bit. Think Im gonna use something different in that spot, maybe even a green. The bold color is too dramatic for right there, it out competes the focal spot which is supposed to be the Physostegia purpureae

Ludwigia white (front right) is doing pretty good. First time trying it in sand. I dont like that it and the Lud cuba right behind it has basicsally the same leaf, might have to address that later

Left side pic

View attachment 4726

Here's the Lobelia I started with. Split up 3-4 big fat ones. A fat Lobelia is just tons of small ones. Whats left of the originals is on top, used them in the back

View attachment 4727

Check out this monster snail lol. Idk whats up w him he just got real big. Personally I like snails, they do a good job eating bad leaves that would otherwise feed algae


View attachment 4728

That's the Tulu that was trimmed in the other post. Coming out fat and happy. Notice the left edge is kinda kinda puny where its being shaded by the brevipes. It doesnt like being shaded, those will stunt if I dont fix it
Thank you for this post @Burr740 , especially all the detail that you give. It's good to see a beautiful tank, it's even better to understand the thought process and best practices how you get there. Please keep these detailed posts coming, I love them.

Interesting also to see the bad stuff, and frankly I am intrigued how a minor uprooting could cause an algae bloom in this tank. OK, you didn't do a water change, but the tank looks mature, low stocking and low waste organics. Wouldn't we expect it to correct itself without a bloom and need for intervention with a steriliser? Any idea what are we missing here?
 
What is your favorite snail species?
Well I only know of two, big ones and little ones. I like the little ones lol. Nah I just think they're cool in general. Ramshorn are my fav "pest" snails. Id probably have a bunch of nerites if they didnt lay all those eggs

Interesting also to see the bad stuff, and frankly I am intrigued how a minor uprooting could cause an algae bloom in this tank. OK, you didn't do a water change, but the tank looks mature, low stocking and low waste organics. Wouldn't we expect it to correct itself without a bloom and need for intervention with a steriliser? Any idea what are we missing here?

Yeah no idea, never seen it happen like that, and I yank plants all the time selling. The whole substrate gets turned over pretty regular from all the uprooting and moving. Its a mystery...
 
Water change day and time to trim a few things. Here it stands currently. Water is clear again thanks to the little UV

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The Red Blyxa is in a pot. Im trying to see a way to use it so I just stuck it right here to look at for a few days. Obviously it cant go dead center, in case youre wondering wth...

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Acmella is due for some love. Its starting to hit the surface and the group is pretty butchered from selling a few, so Im just gonna yank it all up and go back with the tops

20240410_124023.jpg

With a bunch of stems that have a big difference in height what I like to do is cut a stem in the shortest length needed for the front and one at the tallest lengthfor the back (top and bottom of the pile above) then cut the rest in groups from one length to the other

*Adding: The tape measure is just there for you guys to see how long they were. Im not actually measuring the stems to cut, including the first two reference stems. Those I just marked with my fingers underwater where they go, then used those two as a reference for cutting the rest

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Go back one at a time using tweezers to plant (obviously lol). I like to start a few in front and a few in back then fill in towards each other

20240410_132702.jpg
 
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Done

20240410_133619.jpg

Next up the Bacopa colorata beside it. All I wanna do here is lower the whole thing a few inches. Dont have to be precise about anything. So I just grab the entire group from the bottom and pull it up

20240410_133741.jpg

Still in the same hand whack the bottoms off all at once, then stick em back in the ground. All without ever putting the plants down

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Ony thing I did was pinch off a lot of mid level side branches that werent needed (still holding the group in my hand) These will grow out in another tank

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Done. And think I found a place for the Blyxa. Will need some fine tuning

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Far right side Ludwigia Cuba is at the surface going insane, has tons of smaller stems all through the group. Which is great for making a big fat group that I need right here

20240408_123635.jpg

Instead of fooling with a bunch of tops, what I did is cut all the tops off and just left stumps to regrow. It'll come right back out and the new stems will all head in the right direction


20240410_222531.jpg

Did the same thing with Ludwigia White. It was doing pretty good but a few had started to branch close to the top and one or two was looking a little stunty

With sensitive plants that are having a little issue, new growth from bottoms almost always look better. A lot of times this will fix an issue entirely. They dont show up very well in the pic but there's about 10 stumps right there. The tops you see are little side branches that were already sprouted

Trimming done, time to drain and fill. I use this cheapo pump for draining, dont remember the gph but it'll drain half the tank in about 7 minutes

20240410_141352.jpg

And done

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Didnt touch the Hygro 53B or Super red in the middle. Will get those next time. Im still figuring out which one needs to be tall than the other

Still not sure about the Sunsets, thinking its a too dramatic color for right there. Gonna wait for the Physostegia to get bigger and see how it looks, maybe reduce the Sunset a little

Hygro araguaia in front of the Physo will soon be gone. Im trying to stick to the txtbook species count in this one...something I never quite manage to do, lol
 
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One thing I have learned about a stem plant tank. Is that the plants put out so much bio film you need a UV filter to keep the water from turning green. An then causing algae issues.
 
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