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New tank
June 14, 2013
2:03 pm
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Rüdiger
Brunswick / Germany
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Good day to all.

 

The following might be of interest to some.

 

Recently, one of my 54 l tanks suffered a 'cyano explosion', which I had tried to combat with three different commercial remedies as well as about a hundred 'secret and guaranteed tricks”, given to me by fellow fish keepers. Alas, to no avail! In the end, the tank repeatedly virtually 'filled up' with carpets of cyano bacteria over night (after I had removed more than 90% of it mechanically during the day), covering the entire substrate, plants, glass and even the filter mat.

Hence, I had to set up a new tank, to give a new home to T. pumila, C. travancoricus, B. maculatus and B. doriae, as I wanted to thoroughly clean and disinfect the befallen tank before putting it to use again.

 

The 'scape' was intended to show some resemblance to a scene I'd seen a long time ago whilst swimming and diving in an old, abandoned quarry lake. As far as equipment is concerned, it was always going to be rather low tech. However, this is the first and only of my tanks sporting an external Filter (an old Eheim 2211 which I had lying around, collecting dust). The reason being: “I wanted to try zeolite as a filter medium as a last experimental approach to avoid cyano bacteria altogether.”

Further equipment: a 25 W heater and a 2 W!! LED bulb, 4000 K, 120° angle

 

So I got myself a standard 54 l tank (glass only), a couple of rocks, harvested some genuine river sand and a bit of dead corkscrew-willow and set to work.

I don't have any pictures of the process, since I always forget about the camera once I start 'playing' with rocks, sand and water. The basic shape in this case was done with 12 to 20 mm crushed granite, the rocks and timber were put in place, the tank half filled with water and finally everything was capped with 20 to 60 mm of sand. Due to the fact, that I used real 'fresh' river sediment, the tank looked like I had poured in liquid concrete. I filled up to the rim, installed and ran the filter (exclusively mechanical filter medium) for two days with the following result.

 

IMG_2345-1.jpgImage Enlarger

 

The marked branch was cut a bit later and the marked rock is a temporary solution to weigh down the willow. I must say that this particular piece of wood is the most stubborn I ever worked with as the mentioned rock still is and has to be in the tank. Even though I had started soaking the branches two weeks in advance of setting up the tank, they still show a slight buoyancy at the time of writing.

 

Now that the water was clear again, I got to work on the plants (Vallisneria nana (x12), Vallisneria americana var. mini twister (x18), Sagittaria subulata (x5) and Cardamine lyrata (x3)), which are all freshly bought in for the tank, except a few additional sprigs of Lilaeopsis brasiliensis.

 

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After that, I changed the filter medium to 2x 5 cm foam pads, which had been matured behind a large HMF for about 4 weeks, ~600 ml zeolite between those two pads and some filter wool as a cap. And I manufactured a cover from 2 mm perspex and a few hinges.

The heater was installed and after the water hit the relevant temperature (25° C at the time) the fishes were moved in. Within a few days, the temperature was brought down to 23° C and the heater switched off. Temps now fluctuate between 23 and 24° C and will go up to a max. of 26° C in the course of summer.

 

Et voila.

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Here you can see the nice play of light and shade the 2 watts LED creates

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The self-made tank cover

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It certainly is way too early to bring out the champagne but so far, after the tank is up and running for about 4 weeks now, there's not a trace of cyano. I sincerely do hope that it stays exactly that way!!

Regards

R.

 

 

 

If you must insist on living in a box ...... at least do your thinking outside.
June 15, 2013
11:07 am
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Matt
Málaga, Spain
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That's looking brilliant Rudi. Cool How much water movement is there?

Cake or death?
June 15, 2013
10:17 pm
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Jakub
Lutterworth, UK
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Looking good indeed. How is the community doing though? I once wanted to add C. travancoricus to a tank with T. pumila, but people in the shop advised against it. I have never kept puffers, so don't really have any first hand experience.

June 15, 2013
10:40 pm
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Rüdiger
Brunswick / Germany
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@Matt : as you can see in the 4th pic, I installed the heater horizontally and the filter outlet horizontally too, just beneat the heater. So the flow of water is sort of broken up by the body of the heater, giving me some surface agitation restricted to the back right corner of the tank. General flow is very mellow.

Edit: The filter is rated at 300 l/h by the manufacturer. I haven't measured it but I think that's a bit optimistic! I'd say it's about 220 to 250 l/h. I further reduced velocity by cutting slots into the outlet pipe with more than double the coss section of the pipe.

@jakub : C. travancoricus, T. pumila and B. maculatus have been living together for about 18 months already without any problem! All minding their own business. B. doriae are with them for about 5 months now and again, no problem.

Edit: C. travancoricus are the only puffer species I ever kept (but certainly not the last :-D ). I have read horror stories about them before I actually bought them. But they are actually very peaceful. Interspecific agression is as you would expect in any species claiming a territory. There are the odd "bite marks" but not even broken skin so far. And, as I said, even the smallest of B. maculatus is left alone. ;-)

If you must insist on living in a box ...... at least do your thinking outside.
June 16, 2013
3:47 pm
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Jakub
Lutterworth, UK
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(...)

Edit: C. travancoricus are the only puffer species I ever kept (but certainly not the last :-D ). I have read horror stories about them before I actually bought them. But they are actually very peaceful. Interspecific agression is as you would expect in any species claiming a territory. There are the odd "bite marks" but not even broken skin so far. And, as I said, even the smallest of B. maculatus is left alone. ;-)

That's good to hear, I have a tank of similar size to yours, which I will be restocking at some point. And I do recall my good lady expressing interest (rare!) in these little puffers when we were in our LFS. Do you find they tend to stay in amongst the plants or in the open?

June 16, 2013
9:36 pm
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oaken
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Very nice! It's nice to see some Vallisneria, it seems to be a somewhat rare occurrence in aquariums these days. The lighting is also interesting, I've been considering switching to using LED only. Do you feel that the light spreads evenly over the whole tank? How high above the tank is the light fixture?

June 16, 2013
11:33 pm
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Rüdiger
Brunswick / Germany
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@jakub: :-D That's funny, because my puffers were my "good lady's" special request! :-D They actually are everywhere in the tank with no apparent preference! There are days though when you don't see them at all but mostly they are not at all shy and seem to whatch and scrutinize everything going on in front of their tank. :-)

@oaken : I think Valls are great and from my experience very good low light plants too.  So far I'm very happy with the LEDs but you have to look at the "beam angle". I made a mistake recently and ordered bulbs with three 3W cree LEDs each (= 9W per bulb) but only a 20 degree beam angle! The percieved light I get out of the 2W bulb at 120 degrees is much brighter. The fitting sits about 10 cm above the cover as you can see quit nicely in the last pic, a run of the mill desk lamp! Now, I set up the light purposely to have the most light in the centre of the tank, right where the C. lyrata sits. But with a second 2W bulb I'd have an even spread throughout the entire tank.

If you must insist on living in a box ...... at least do your thinking outside.
June 17, 2013
11:38 pm
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Plaamoo
Bellingham, Washington U.S.A.
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Very nice Rudi! I frequently battle cyano, though it seems to be nearly gone at the moment. The two things that I've done that have affected it's existence are varying the lighting and the temp. I unplugged all of my heater about this time last year, and have again this year, and this seems to temporarily kill it off. Good luck with yours!

June 18, 2013
12:11 pm
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Rüdiger
Brunswick / Germany
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Thanx Jim,

I have tried all of that too. Complete black-out for days on end, temps down to 21 for weeks, black-out combined with low temps, additional oxigenation, more elaborate stuff with loads of plants and deposit fertilization......... you name it, I did it! ;-)

There were days, for instance when I read that cyano don't like water movement and saw them in my tank, living happily in the strongest current right at the filter outlet, building thick carpets on the java fern, that I was tempted to just sell off the whole lot and live without fishes in peace and quiet, happily ever after!! Of course only for a seccond or two!! :-D

But now I have stumbled across an interesting bit, which I should have noticed a lot earlier!

Before I had moved the fishes from one tank to the other, I had removed plants, heater and HMF from the befallen tank and scraped the glass down in order to be able to see the fishes at all. I did not find the time yet to empty the tank and clean it as I had intended and the cyano I scraped off was left in the tank too.

Today I found, to my utter amazement, that the cyano bacteria apparently die off!!! Temperature difference to before is only 1° C at the most, light is the same as before, water parameters, i.e. ammonia, nitrite and nitrate, are exactly the same. The only thing missing is the filter and accordingly, water movement! All of a sudden it dawned on me, that the only tanks I never had cyano problems with, were my entirely unfiltered tanks, which are a bit smaller though.

Obviously now, this tank will start a new life as an unfiltered tank very soon. We'll see if the whole thing is just a coincidence or if there's some easy remedy to the problem after all! ;-)

Regards

R.

If you must insist on living in a box ...... at least do your thinking outside.
June 18, 2013
1:45 pm
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Plaamoo
Bellingham, Washington U.S.A.
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Very interesting. I had the same experience. Everyone told me, "more water movement"! The tank was already a torrent with an aquaclear 802 powerhead in a 30 inch tank! The stuff does seem to defy logic. Please keep us posted on your findings.

June 19, 2013
8:16 am
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Matt
Málaga, Spain
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Anyone know if aquarium Cyanobacteria have been studied in depth? Perhaps they're not all the same species hence differing reports as to what works in terms of eradication.

Cake or death?
June 19, 2013
1:22 pm
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Rüdiger
Brunswick / Germany
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Hi Matt,

as you can imagine, I have searched quite franticly! ;-)

Results vary and are a bit confusing at best!

University of Berkeley. Quote: "The phylogeny of the cyanobacteria is poorly understood at present. Most classification schemes are organized by cell or colony shape, but recent efforts may soon provide a truly evolutionary scheme." End quote.

The University of Hamburg has quite a bit of info on Cyanobacteria link but of course no recipes how to get rid of them! :-/

But what I figure is: Yes there are plenty of species and those buggers can survive almost everything, low light - strong light, low oxygen - high oxygen, same for temps and about everything else!

If you must insist on living in a box ...... at least do your thinking outside.
June 19, 2013
6:46 pm
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oaken
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Unfortunately I don't think unfiltered tanks are a reliable fix for cyano problems. I say this because I have unfiltered tanks with cyano in them Laugh

 

But yeah, it's a pain to get rid of. The only thing I've heard people claim works is adding more nitrates to the tank to help the plants get the upper hand.

June 19, 2013
8:06 pm
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Jakub
Lutterworth, UK
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Forgot to mention that I am currently trying to fight a cyano boom that happened after I reduced the lighting in an attempt to tackle 'hair' algae boom, lol.

I have to admit I have had enough of manual removal, considering two options now:

- filter media change (if I can get media from an established filter)

- substrate change (for whatever reason after thorough cleaning, it always starts from the substrate, I can actually see it develop under the substrate level first, then emerging from the gravel all over the place, within 7-10 days it can cover most of the gravel)

 

 

June 19, 2013
9:12 pm
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Plaamoo
Bellingham, Washington U.S.A.
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oaken said
The only thing I've heard people claim works is adding more nitrates to the tank to help the plants get the upper hand.

 

I've heard this also, but I struggle to keep my nitrates down. Not the problem in my tanks. I've also heard mention of phosphates being a contributor, but nothing solid.

June 19, 2013
11:31 pm
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oaken
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plaamoo said

oaken said
The only thing I've heard people claim works is adding more nitrates to the tank to help the plants get the upper hand.

 

I've heard this also, but I struggle to keep my nitrates down. Not the problem in my tanks. I've also heard mention of phosphates being a contributor, but nothing solid.

I think the theory is that cyanobacteria can fix nitrogen from the air. And thus aquariums that lack nitrates and contain a lot of phosphates are good for cyanobacteria (and bad for plants)

June 22, 2013
9:06 pm
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shorty
Bergen, Norway
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Love the set up! Please can you show some pics of your fish too?

My only experience with Cyanobacteria is in marine tanks, and I have had these tanks sounding like yours, literally covering everything overnight. I used metronidazole to great effect. No returns of the stuff whatsoever. Just remember it will kill all your filter bacteria as well.........

June 22, 2013
10:39 pm
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Rüdiger
Brunswick / Germany
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Hi Pete,

thanx and good to hear from you again. ;-) The guys are still a bit shy in the new tank so it's going to be a while before I can take decent shots! But I'll post a few from the tank they used to be in. Just have to get back from the weekend! :-)

Btw, how's your small tank doing and have you decided on fishes yet?

Regards

R.

If you must insist on living in a box ...... at least do your thinking outside.
June 24, 2013
12:32 pm
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Rüdiger
Brunswick / Germany
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Hi all.

As requested by @shorty, a couple of pics:

 

First T. pumila as youngsters, still in a 27 l cube to do some growing up:

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All growed up in the 54 l tank:

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B. maculatus:

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B. doriae:

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And finally, C. travancoricus:

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If you must insist on living in a box ...... at least do your thinking outside.
June 25, 2013
8:08 am
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Matt
Málaga, Spain
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Lovely photos Rudi. Cool

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