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Build Thread sudiorca's non-CO2 supplemented softwater tanks

sudiorca

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Thank you @GreggZ for the invite. ๐Ÿ™‚
I have been maintaining several non-CO2 supplemented softwater tanks for some time and one of them was setup little over 3.5 years ago. Although I do have a pressurized CO2 injected high-tech tank, I love growing several problematic stem palnts including many members of Lythraceae family in my non-CO2 supplemented tanks.
Below are some old pictures of my tanks along with some closeup shots of some of my favorite plants.
My tanks are currently recovering from sevearl weeks of negligence due to my absence and I will post more pictures as they recover.
I will provide more details about my setups some time in the near future.
Thanks,

20 gal high
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4 gal nano (UNS 5N)
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5 gal shallow (UNS 45s)
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Rotala tulunadensis
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Cuphea utriculosa
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Rotala wallichii
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Ammania pedicillata 'golden'
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Thank you @GreggZ for the invite. ๐Ÿ™‚
I have been maintaining several non-CO2 supplemented softwater tanks for some time and one of them was setup little over 3.5 years ago. Although I do have a pressurized CO2 injected high-tech tank, I love growing several problematic stem palnts including many members of Lythraceae family in my non-CO2 supplemented tanks.
Below are some old pictures of my tanks along with some closeup shots of some of my favorite plants.
My tanks are currently recovering from sevearl weeks of negligence due to my absence and I will post more pictures as they recover.
I will provide more details about my setups some time in the near future.
Thanks,

20 gal high
View attachment 952

View attachment 954

4 gal nano (UNS 5N)
View attachment 955

5 gal shallow (UNS 45s)
View attachment 956

Rotala tulunadensis
View attachment 957

Cuphea utriculosa
View attachment 958

Rotala wallichii
View attachment 959

Ammania pedicillata 'golden'
View attachment 960

Wow! Beautiful pictures of some very healthy plants. Definitely a credit to you!

Well done.
 
@sudiorca the tanks look very beautiful :) please share some more details regarding the setup you are using
Thank you for your appreciation. :)

Here are the details of my tanks along with some important factors that play crucial roles imo to keep a planted tank healthy for long time without pressurized CO2 injection.

I use remineralized ro-di water to about 6 dGH and almost 0 dKH. pH - between 5-6 in all of my tanks. Most plants actually prefer lower KH (low pH) because lower KH means most of the available CO2 in the water will be present in the form of dissolved CO2 gas rather than bicarbonates in planted tanks based on the pH range. Although there are many plants which can use bicarbonates as source of carbon but it is energetically more costly for them to use it compared to dissolved CO2 gas. This is the reason why almost every single aquatic plant will first use dissolved CO2 if it is present in the water rather than bicarbonates (even if it is present in significant amount). Another issue with bicarbonates is that at higher concentration it does affect uptake of other nutrients by plants (I have read some scientific papers on some non-aquatic plants that higher bicarbonates have negative impact on iron uptake mechanism).

I use commercial aquasoil as substrate (approximately 2-3 inches deep). I have used several brands such as ADA Amazonia regular and light versions, SL aqua and Landen and I have got good results with all of them. I do supplement the root zone with ammonia containing root tabs every 1-2 months. I have tried osmocote and ADA bottom plus in the past and they both work. I have started to make my own root tabs now and the plants are still growing fine.

I also use a commercial all in one liquid fertilizer (Nilocg ThriveS) which contains very small amounts of N and P but has a decent concentration of K, Fe and other micro elements except copper (this product is actually developed for shrimps, although tiny amounts of copper won't harm them). I only dose it once or twice a week (1 mL for 5 gal tank), I used to dose it on a regular basis but lately I am relying more on root tabs than liquid fertilizer and I am yet to see any growth issues. Any available brand of all in one liquid fertilizer will work or people can make their own versions using dry salts or just dry dosing as long as they don't overdose.

I also have light with decent PAR value. Most people tend to have very low lights in non-CO2 supplemented tanks. However it is quite beneficial to have medium even slightly high light if the tank conditions allow. Good amount of light means one less thing to worry about for the plants growing in sub-optimal conditions with low CO2. This allows the plants to focus more on putting their resources on CO2 uptake rather than spending some of that energy on light harvesting system.
There is also growing scientific evidence of photo-oxidation (sunlight - primarily UV but visible light also contributes) being one of the major causes of breakdown of dissolved organics in freshwater into simpler molecules (thus helping bacteria to decompose further to CO2) along with complete breakdown to CO2. Is this relevant to my tanks? maybe... I don't have any scientific evidence but I am pushing more than 150 PAR at the substrate level (I did use a PAR meter and I will share the images sometime in the future) in majority of my tanks with minimal algae for most of the year unless there is major lapse in maintenance for several weeks or some kind of imbalance in the tank) and I am not injecting pressurized CO2.

I do weekly 40% (approx) water change along with gently cleaning the substrate using turkey baster and hose.

I use hob filters in majority of my tanks, mainly for good water circulation, decent gas exchange and for harboring many species of beneficial aerobic bacteria.

I don't uproot the plants frequently in my non-CO2 tanks, I believe good root systems are very critical in non-CO2 tanks because some plants can absorb CO2 from the sediment CO2 (produced by decomposition of organic matter by soil microorganisms, root respiration etc.) and roots also keep the substrate oxygen rich when actively performing photosynthesis which helps those microorganisms in return.

I have also noticed that most plants in my non-CO2 supplemented tanks perform better in winter when the water temperature stays around low 70F. I have seen many plants struggle during summer when water temperature increases close to 80F. This I believe is due to lower solubility of gases such as O2 and CO2 in high temperatures along with higher metabolism rate of plants and microorganisms in summer.

I will keep sharing more images of my tanks with further details in the future. I have made thousands of images of my tanks in the last few years and I am absolutely confident about my methods and its replicability by other hobbyists if executed properly. I can grow majority of the plants that I have tried and are available in the hobby with decent health, form and color in my non-CO2 supplemented softwater tanks with some exceptions such as many of the Eriocaulon sp. (I haven't tried all varieties but I have tried and failed to grow quinquangulare, sulawesi and cuspidatum without CO2 injection so far), many of the mutated plants such Hygrophila sp. Chai, Ludwigia sp. white, Cryptocoryne flamingo or pink panther etc;, some of the members of Lythraceae family such as any of the Rotala ramosior varieties, Florida and Sunset and several other plants available in the hobby which I can't grow in these setups and there are many that I haven't tried yet.
Please feel free to ask more questions.
Thanks,
 
Thank you for your appreciation.

I use remineralized ro-di water to about 6 dGH and almost 0 dKH. pH - between 5-6 in all of my tanks.

Please feel free to ask more questions.
Thanks,

Hi, thank you for providing great information on your methods with these tanks.

I'm still learning, and just curious about what you add, and the amounts to reach 6 dGH?

Do you use Ca and Mg, or a GH Booster?

Regards,
 
wow... that's awesome. Let me know if you need any stems for that. You should probably share pictures of your previous non-CO2 tank here which was quite impressive imo. ๐Ÿ™‚
This was one of the last shots of the scape before I tore it down when life went crazy. I believe it was about 5-6 months old here? You and I traded lots of notes about these scapes over the past year or so, and I'm excited to do it again now that life has settled down and the kids want to help!
--Steve

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Hi, thank you for providing great information on your methods with these tanks.

I'm still learning, and just curious about what you add, and the amounts to reach 6 dGH?

Do you use Ca and Mg, or a GH Booster?

Regards,
Thanks again for your appreciation. I used Salty Shrimp GH+ in the past but I have switched to Epsom (MgSO4.7H2O) and gypsum (CaSO4.2H2O) salts for about a year now and I don't see any difference in plant growth. I prepare a 1:1 mix of these salts (I crush the Epsom in grinder to make powder, gypsum comes as powder) and add that mix to achieve approximately 6dGH. I still use Salty Shrimp GH+ for my caridina shrimp tanks.
I hope this answers your question.
 
This was one of the last shots of the scape before I tore it down when life went crazy. I believe it was about 5-6 months old here? You and I traded lots of notes about these scapes over the past year or so, and I'm excited to do it again now that life has settled down and the kids want to help!
--Steve

View attachment 1017
I loved your previous setup. It is going to be great. I am so excited to see your new setup. ๐Ÿ˜
 
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Thanks again for your appreciation. I used Salty Shrimp GH+ in the past but I have switched to Epsom (MgSO4.7H2O) and gypsum (CaSO4.2H2O) salts for about a year now and I don't see any difference in plant growth. I prepare a 1:1 mix of these salts (I crush the Epsom in grinder to make powder, gypsum comes as powder) and add that mix to achieve approximately 6dGH. I still use Salty Shrimp GH+ for my caridina shrimp tanks.
I hope this answers your question.

Appreciated, thank you
 
Do you think this style of no-co2 work in a scape filtered by air driven sponges? I'm setting up several caridinia shrimp tanks in the new year that will be filtered by corner style Matten Filters. I'm considering doing a thick layer of substrate and trying to plant. They will be lit by Beamswork FSPEC lights. I've done similar setups before (pic below), but they used aquaclear filters... much less surface agitation/aeration.

Thoughts?

IMG_20210119_063143_152.jpg
 
Do you think this style of no-co2 work in a scape filtered by air driven sponges? I'm setting up several caridinia shrimp tanks in the new year that will be filtered by corner style Matten Filters. I'm considering doing a thick layer of substrate and trying to plant. They will be lit by Beamswork FSPEC lights. I've done similar setups before (pic below), but they used aquaclear filters... much less surface agitation/aeration.

Thoughts?

View attachment 1049
I completely forgot about this tank of yours. It was really beautiful. ๐Ÿ˜
Sponge filters will work just fine in these type of setups. The key factor is gentle flow, it doesn't have to be high. I have been experimenting myself with an air pump driven undergravel filter in a 3 gal tank with caridina shrimps for almost 8 months now. I have not added any fertilizers yet (liquid or root tabs) and the plants are still growing fine even with quite a bit of spirogyra. It was triggered during my long absence. I don't want to add any chemicals because of the shrimps. I have recently trimmed the plants and will share some images once they get bigger. I made this image before my India trip.

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Do you think this style of no-co2 work in a scape filtered by air driven sponges? I'm setting up several caridinia shrimp tanks in the new year that will be filtered by corner style Matten Filters. I'm considering doing a thick layer of substrate and trying to plant. They will be lit by Beamswork FSPEC lights. I've done similar setups before (pic below), but they used aquaclear filters... much less surface agitation/aeration.

Thoughts?

View attachment 1049
I think the old-style sponge filters will create a bio filter like any other. My only complaint with them is that, frankly, they are pretty ugly and disrupt the beauty of the aquascape if they are in the tank.

I also think given your skill to properly choose substrate, plants and lighting, there is no question you will be able to run it and be successful.
 
Merry Christmas everyone ๐ŸŽ„ ๐ŸŽ…

This is an update of my 20 gal non-CO2 supplemented softwater tank which has been running for more than 3.5 years at this point (setup on June 16, 2019).

I did share this on FB and on my other journal earlier. I am just copying the entire text from there and sharing the latest photo with all of you.

"I was gone for almost 6 weeks and I asked my friend to top off the tanks with ro-di water (not remineralized) along with feeding the livestock twice a week. He did a pretty good job and I am really thankful to him. However, some of my tanks didn't appreciate no maintenance with high light (100+ PAR at substrate) for such a long duration. The situation became even worse for this particular tank as there are decent number of fishes and my friend was little generous with feeding ๐Ÿ˜Š. 3.5 years old substrate (ADA Amazonia light) has degraded significantly which also contributed to suboptimal plant growth along with massive algae outbreak.
I made the first photo right after I came back (yes it looked pretty bad).

Nov 4, 2022
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I was quite disappointed to see the tank in this condition but I didn't panic. I knew what caused this issue and had a decent idea how to rectity it.

These are the steps I took:
1. Uprooted most of the plants and manually removed as much algae as possible. I also removed a lot of moss covered with algae as well.
2. Tossed the healthy tops to my shrimp tank and left them for couple of days. They did a pretty good job cleaning most of the algae (green fuzzy type).
3. Spot treated bba on the driftwood with freshly prepared 1:1 mix of 3% H2O2 and flourish excel.
4. Cleaned the substrate with a gravel vac.
5. Performed 80% water change after gravel vac.
6. Inserted ammonia containing root tabs deep under the substrate throughout the tank.
7. Throughly cleaned the filter including the impeller.
8. Replanted the stem tops after two days (I let the shrimps do their job for couple of days before planting the tops).
9. I performed weekly water changes for the next 5 weeks (except the first week when I did twice). I only performed the bba spot treatment for the first 3 weeks (once every week before the water change).

This is how the tank was looking after 6 weeks since I came back."

Dec 16, 2022.
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I noticed some Spirogyra threads in this tank recently which definitely came from my 3 gal nano shrimp tank. This is one of the most difficult algae that I have dealt with. I never had any success with H2O2 and excel treatment on this algae previously. So, I decided to use API algaefix which works extremely well for any hair algae including Spirogyra. I don't have any shrimps in this tank and it seems to be safe for fishes and most plants. I used the recommended dose and then repeated the same dose after 3 days followed by a large water change 3 days after the last dose. I only use this as my last resort especially for Spirogyra. It would be great if any of you know and willint to share a better eradication method for this nasty algae.

This is how it looks under the microscope (I will take some better images later and share with all of you).
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Dec 24, 2022.
This is how the tank is looking right now. There is still some bba left but it is under control now.
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I love it! This is a great example of how knowing what to do can turn around a tank within a reasonably short amount of time. Tank looks beautiful!

The only treatment that I know works for spirogyra is Algaefix. My treatment is usually a 3 day blackout, followed by toothbrush removal and then Algaefix. The blackout is used to knock back the algae, mechanical removal to get a lot out of the aquarium completely and the Algaefix takes care of eradicating the weakened portions that are left.
 
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