Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lush Green Lawn - Another 2 months Away - Part 2.

Aquarium Progression for Last 1.5 months.
Aquarium Setup Initial Setup (1.5 Months Ago).

Aquarium Setup (1 Month Later After Initial Setup ).

Aquarium Setup Current(1.5 Month After Initial Setup).
1.5 Months has passed, waiting for some Lush green grass. I will be covering the Lawn status in a short while. Before that lets go through some highlights:

1. If you are wondering how come there is lush green growth in last 2 weeks on the left hand side of the aquarium. Well the credit goes to Baking Soda (Sodium bi-carbonate). 1-small spoon of baking soda was added for last two week(every Friday) to provide bi-carbonates to the plants and that seems to be working great. 

Good growth was seen across all aquatic plants when Baking soda was added each week. This is significantly seen on on the Left Hand side of the tank.

2. For inital 1 month weekly water changes of 15% was being carried. But still diatoms started showing up. If you are wondering how did I remove the brown algae (diatoms) in last 2-weeks. Then answer is "sucker fish". I bought a sucker fish and its does a great job of cleaning my fish tank. Just see the difference in the leaves in last 2 weeks.   

3. Three new aquatic plants species have been added

a. Ambolia: This is certainly the best looking plant in my aquarium. All credit goes to a office colleague Sohan for sharing a few stems of Ambolia Plant.


b. Parrot feather & Water Lettuce:

The two stems, almost touching the water are Parrot Feather Plant. These have been trimmed by my Rosy Barbs but still the plant is sturdy and is doing great. 

The root like structure floating on the left top corner are the roots of water Lettuce. These are floating plants and have a aerial advantage and are doing okay. The roots are being trimmed by Rosy Barbs when they are hungry and don't have any food around.

Parrot Feather and Water Lettuce.

Lush Green Lawn

1.5 Month has passed by and even though all the other aquatic plants are doing good, Grass doesn't seems to be showing similar growth trajectory.

Cobra grass is almost dead. Micro swords are growing new leaves but no new offshoots like it did the last time. I have added some chemical Fertilizer(after 1.5 month of Walstad Setup) and have also trimmed the grass. Trimming encourages growth (spawning runners) according to most forums.

Hair grass are new additions (2-weeks back) but they also are not doing great. Lets wait and watch, I expect some new runners in micro swords in next two weeks.

Aquatic Lawn 2-Weeks Back. (1-Month After Initial Setup).

Aquatic Lawn Current (1.5 Month After Initial Setup).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mysterious Deaths in my Aquarium.

In my Walstad setup, whenever there is a large 50% water change, my snails use to die in next 24-48 hrs. These death use to be mystery for me, but finally I found the problem. It’s the ‘Old Tank Syndrome’.

Old Tank  Syndrome is a series of events. First, the nitrate cycle converts ammonia into nitrate. This is good, but in doing that it releases acid. This 
consumes carbonate buffer, just like mixing vinegar and baking soda. Slowly, but surely, this leaves your tank ever more acid in pH.

At some point, the water becomes acid enough to start shutting down the bacteria. This starts at around pH 6.5 and "all" conversion stops below pH 6. Ammonia starts to form, but it's "ok" because acid water converts the deadly Ammonia form to the far less deadly Ammonium form.

This state of Lower Ph (acidic water) and high Ammonium is called the ‘Old Tank Syndrome’. Most of the fishes by now have got adjusted to this acidic environment.

All seems fine, until you change the water in a tank with Old Tank Syndrome (OTS). Adding new fresh water cause the pH to bumps up. This instantly 
converts all of the Ammonium back to Ammonia, and your fish suffocate and die due to ammonia burst.

Plants consume ammonia directly, But if your pH is 6, or below, you must be careful – no matter how old your tank is. Plants, continue to work as long 
as they are in their pH ranges.

Warning signs for OTS: Persistent pH 6, or below is a classic sign of OTS. 

-        Gradually Raise the Water Ph by increasing the Buffering (KH).
-        Make smaller 10-15% water change every 3 days instead of large 50% water change.

To take care of this acidic water, one can add some carbonate or bi-carbonates into the aquarium.
Eg:  Sodium bi-corbonate (Baking soda) for instant relief.
Crushed coral, sea shells in all its forms, is Calcium Carbonate. It dissolves slowly, and is a fine source of both KH and GH.

By slowly  adding bicarbonates, the acid will be neutralized and the ph will be raised gradually. Any more acid created by the bacteria will be absorbed (neutralized) by dissolved bicarbonates in water.

Also remember if you have snails, then these folks are also gradually depleting the water of carbonates/bicarbonates to make their shell.

Buffering helps you to maintain your PH levels. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Build your own Aquarium.

5-Feet Aquarium.

So finally I am done building my own 5-feet aquarium.

Here are a few links that will help you out building your own.
Link 1:

Link 2: Glass Thickness Calculator.

See to it that you are well through with the whole process. Here are a tips that may be helpful for you.
11. I preferred the method 2 presented in Link1. The only difference was the side glasses are placed on the bottom glass instead of side glass sticking to the edge of the bottom glass. See figure below.

22. You can use a the normal general purpose silicon sealant instead of getting some costly aquarium sealant. I have good experience with china made brand “GP” and “Resibond”. The sealant glue costs you around Rs 125 and the silicon gun cost you around Rs 80.

33. My bottom glass had cracked when I had placed the aquarium for drying in hot sun. Note Acetic glue cures via air moisture not via heat. I had to replace the bottom glass. To remove the glass you need to use a Topaz Razor blade and a pen knife.  The razor blade is used to cut open the sealant and the pen knife is used to widen the insertion created by the blade. Once the blade and pen knife is in, just drag the blade to cut open the selant and then drag the pen knife to widen the cut. See pics below.

44. See to it that you are present at the glass vendor while cutting the glass. The vendor may dupe you by providing a normal glass instead of a 'float glass'. A normal glass has lot more irregularities due to which it may break easily in pressure. 

Fresh Water Aquascaping.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Relationship between Light and CO2 levels for Aquatic Plant Growth.

Aquatic Plants use a process known as photosynthesis to produce the carbohydrates they need for life. Photosynthesis requires light for energy and CO2 to drive the chemical reactions. 

The process of photosynthesis requires a specific light energy threshold. In other words, there is a point where light has reached a specific intensity to start photosynthesis in Aquatic Plants. If the light is not bright enough, photosynthesis will not occur. Beyond that threshold and up to some high light level, photosynthesis will run faster and faster. 

According to known practice, when light levels exceed two watts per gallon, supplementary CO2 is required for most aquariums.

The relationship between light and CO2 levels is important. The diagram (Fig1) below explains it conceptually. 

Fig1: Relationship between Light and CO2 levels for Aquatic Plant Growth.

Aquatic Plants have a limited amount of stored energy at their disposal for 
1. CO2 Assimilation.
2. Light Utilization.

At low light and low CO2 there is not much energy to play around with for up or down-regulation of the pools of Chlorophyll or enzymes contained in the plant. 

If we then add a little more CO2 to the system the plant can afford to invest less energy and resources in CO2 uptake and that leaves more energy for optimizing the light utilization - Chlorophyll can be produced without fatal consequences for the energy. Hence, although we have not raised the
light, the plant can now utilize the available light more efficiently. 

Exactly the same explanation can be used to explain why increased light can stimulate growth even at very low CO2 concentrations. With more light available, less investment in the light utilization system is necessary and the free energy can be invested into a more efficient CO2 uptake system so that the CO2, which is present in the water, can be more efficiently extracted.

Courtesy: John LeVasseur