I’ve come to that point in the night where instead of sleeping I start to read up on my hobbies. Last night, I was reading on how to record things using my Line 6 setup. Tonight, it is on aquatic plants.

Choosing plants is one of the more difficult aspects of an aquarium to me. I can raise fish perfectly fine, but my plants tend to burn rapidly. I have had luck with some Hornwort and Anachris, but those are essentially filler plants, used to get the tank going until everything starts to grow in. However, I am not going to be using hornwort anymore. When a plant begins to die, the leaves, which are very much like needles of a pine tree, fall and decompose rapidly. This can lead to ammonia spikes, and all sorts of nasties that can lead to a chain reaction of frustration.

There are several main types of plants you want to choose. To begin with, you have to choose a ground cover, like grass for your aquarium. Then you have your background plants; the plants that will be in the back of the tank. Foreground plants: plants that are in the front of the tank, typically shorter than the background plants. And then you have your mosses, which can be used on driftwood and rocks, or set up in vines or walls.

I’m going to keep my tank relatively simple. For my own records, and to let you all kinda see where I am going with my tank, I’ll break it down here.

Ground cover
Ground cover is one of the things I suck at the most (not to say I have any expertise in any type of plant). I just simply cannot get the dang plants to shoot off runners (the roots that spread horizontally to lead to more plants, resulting in a carpet of grass/plants). I was close with my native dwarf hairgrass last time I had it in there, but there were problems with the entire tank that ultimately led to the death of all living things in it (read: Walmart goldfish of death).

There are some really cool plants that can be used for ground cover. Glossostigma elatinoides is one. It isn’t too terribly hard to maintain, and can have a neat, almost clover field style look to it. However, easy to maintain does not mean easy to grow. There’s also hemianthus micranthemoides, or HM. I might go with HM. It isn’t that appealing to me though, which is a bit of a setback. I would much prefer its cousin, hemianthus callitrichoides. HC, unlike HM, is a pain to grow, and even more of a pain to plant.

Which leaves me with a plant that I have already hit on: Eleocharis acicularis or dwarf hairgrass. It doesn’t require a lot of CO2, but the light requirements are a bit above what I have. I do plan on getting up to about 4 watts per gallon, and this should definitely make these suckers thrive in my tank. I am worried a bit about algae in the grass, as it did tend to pop up in it last time I had the plant. The hairgrass can grow to be a bit taller than most cover plants, but trimming should keep it reasonable, and keep it spreading horizontally.

Background plants

I really like rotala. I don’t know why, I just do. So, rotala will be along the sides of the tank. Cabomba should hide the heater nicely. A couple of cryptocorynes to fill out the middle should pretty much finish that off.

Foreground plants
I’ll be going with some smaller crypts and and swords for these plants. I will also have some anachris as a fast growing nutrient sponge. I love that stuff!

Mosses
I eventually want to have some mosses but that’s gonna wait until I can get the rest of the tank growing.

There were going to be more specifics for the plants, but I got tired after ground cover, and wussed out. I know what I want, just didn’t want to find links to them.

Biggest barrier to my plan: actually finding the plants. I’ll be scouring the Midland fish shops for these, and buying any I can find the day before I head up to Houghton (probably leaving Midland the Saturday before class starts).

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Going in to a quick “week ahead” mode for a second.

  • Thursday-Saturday: Hang out with family. Saturday I will pack for Kiln, MS mission trip
  • Sunday: Driving to Toomsuba, MS to visit grandparents night before mission starts
  • Next Monday-Saturday: Work with Samaritan’s Purse to rebuild houses, or whatever they assign us
  • Saturday or Sunday: Drive back to Liberty
  • Following Wednesday: Drive to Midland
  • Thursday-Friday: Hang out with Jill
  • Saturday: Drive to Houghton
  • Sunday: Relax. Stay far away from cars for a while. Get to bed early so I can get to class at 8am the next morning.

Last point is important. It is 4:30am EST, which is about the time I have been going to bed lately. Going to force myself in to getting up earlier, and getting to bed around 1am EST for the rest of the week. Working with Samaritan’s Purse ensures that I will be waking at 6:30am EST or earlier each day. Obviously, something needs to change šŸ™‚

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I’m thinking a lot about my aquarium lately. I wonder if I will have any fish left in the end? When I return the tank will have gone almost a full month without any care at all. The reason I am not fully worried is that there are 30+ fish in there, many of them still fry. They should act as food (harsh as that sounds) in dire situations. Not only that, but there is also algae and a few remaining plants (maybe about 3 inches total worth of them).

My goal this semester is to build that tank up from a standard rockscape in to a fullfledged planted tank. I’ve tried this before, but I failed in some regards; most notably the fact that all my plants died.

Reasons for this happening? Well, CO2 plays a factor. I also didn’t have sufficient nutrients in the substrate (sand, for all intents and purposes). And my tank wasn’t fully cycled. Today, the water quality is amazing. I don’t have numbers for you, but I can plop in fish and take out fish and there seem to be no problems. They thrive in there for no good reason. It’s a guppy factory I tell you!

That’s all I have been raising lately. Guppies. I could go out and catch a bluegill, true, but guppies reproduce so fast that it’s easy to start breeding very amazing fish. They are also quite hardy: I’ve swung the temperature on them from low 70s to upper 80s and now I am sitting at about 74 degrees.

My goals for the tank are pretty simple: spend little money, use lots of DIY, and get an underwater jungle growing!

I’ll be getting my plants in Midland most likely. They actually have a number of fish stores (at least two) and said stores sell plants. The store in Painesdale, while amazing, doesn’t sell that many plants that I trust. They are typically covered in thread algae or sickly looking, not to mention the fact that they are ridiculously expensive.

What I really need is a bag of Soil Master Select. I can’t find any around Houghton, so I’ll have to check out stores around here. This stuff will be my substrate. I might find some peat to put under it for nutrients, as I have heard that works well.

Looking to spend no more (originally) than 50 bucks to get things started. Also, if anyone has a free tank they want to get off their hands…I’m always up for adding to my collection (of one)

On my list of upgrades:

  • Substrate. From crappy no-nutrient sand to Soil Master Select
  • Plants. Get some. Still figuring out what I can do
  • CO2 setup. Gonna be a DIY setup (2L bottles with sugar-water-yeast mixture) but I want to have it be changeableĀ  and I want to be able to adjust CO2 output at will. There’s gonna be some plumbing for this one.
  • Lighting. Currently have a single fluorescent bulb hood that gives off 15 watts. The rule is you need 2-3 watts per gallon for good growth. 15/10=1.5. Close but I want more. Might use an old hood if we have them here still with some CF grow bulbs.
  • Filter. It’s fine how it is, but I think I can tweak the impeller a little to make it get more flow. It should be getting more than it is right now, but for some reason it doesn’t.
  • Natural cleaning. Read: corydora/pleco/SAE (Siamese algae eater). Fish that will clean up the bottom of the tank, and sometimes even the sides.
  • CO2 diffuser. Not gonna be just an airstone this time. An actuall diffusion setup.
  • Out with the rocks, in with the driftwood.

And maybe some more. Who knows?