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Old 06/14/2018, 08:06 AM   #26
taricha
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Good to see the new thread continue the path of interesting stuff.
I wonder how the mud differs chemically from the typical reef sand. One thing that comes to mind, is that some formulations of phytoplankton growth media use "soil extract" in order to provide the trace elements - I assume simulating runoff from land. I wonder if the mud acts as a reservoir for Trace elements for the plants.
The other idea that comes to mind is that I would assume the mud has more Organics that gradually break down over time in order to feed the base of the plants.

Where are you getting mud from?


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Old 06/14/2018, 09:22 AM   #27
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Thanks taricha. Yes, I would expect the mud to have abundant organic material, as well as all kinds of fauna, adding biodiversity. I have read that seagrass likes soft, muddy sand to root in. In the previous setup, I added some of this mud, then covered it with sand, so it's not exposed to light or the bulk water. The grasses responded well.

I got it from Florida Pets. It is actual, black, stinky mud. So you don't need a lot.

Rather than planting in clean sand, I want to give the grasses a fertile home right from the start, rather than waiting for nutrients to build up. And since they are true, rooted plants, they take up a lot of nutrients from the soil.

So hopefully, my dirty sand bed will provide a good home to both the grasses and micro fauna, adding nutrients and diversity to the foundation of the ecosystem.

While we're on the subject, I wanted to elaborate on the reasoning for using multiple sand grain sizes. Layers of different grain sizes are conducive to different pore water oxygen levels and thus different kinds of bacteria. By layering with coarse at the top, medium in the middle and fine on the bottom, I should get a gradient from aerobic to anaerobic to anoxic conditions. This should foster diversity in bacteria, which is a good thing. Also, the coarse top layer provides habitat (and refuge) for pods and other tiny creatures to feed on accumulating detritus.


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Old 06/14/2018, 02:29 PM   #28
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I need to bookmark this post so when I redo my tank I can reference it.


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Old 06/14/2018, 11:07 PM   #29
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I'll take that as a lovely compliment! Thanks Dawn. I look forward to a fun journey!


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Old 06/15/2018, 12:12 AM   #30
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Let's talk a little about the plants.

If things go well, 2/3 of the substrate will be covered in Manatee and Shoal Grass. These are both narrow bladed seagrasses that I like a lot. They are slow to establish, but worth the effort.

I will also attempt to keep several macro algae. Having grown many over the last four years, I have a pretty good idea what I want, and just as importantly, what I don't. Several of the macros I acquired became pests later, popping up all over. I'm going to be pickier this time around. My vision is to have a lot of greens and a splash of reds.

So, besides ecosystem building, I'm also gardening. I want my ecosystem to be pretty. I want an aquarium writhing with plants!

Next let's talk about dosing.


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Old 06/15/2018, 05:22 AM   #31
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Back in the dirt…

Starting up my new ecosystem requires a foundation for life. A suitable substrate for the sand bed creatures and the seagrasses is required. To support biodiversity, I will provide a variety of sand grain sizes, dirt, mud, shells and rubble - just as I've seen in Nature. It will not be a sterile, dead sand bed. It will be messy and wriggling with life.

How will this new substrate differ from the previous one? It will have more dirt and mud in it. In my experience, the grasses and the creatures enjoy it.

I managed to save a number of spaghetti worms from the old setup. I'll be adding live sand and live rock. I'm really hoping to get the bottom of the food chain established early. I believe this will help with stability, in an unstable phase of the tank's life.

Other members of the crew include two species of reproducing snails (Cerith & Mini Strombus), a fighting conch and a sea cucumber. Right now they're in my holding tank. I'll add some serpent stars and pods as well.

This an important step. Laying the foundation for life. Yay!
Yes to starting at the bottom of the food chain. The first time I got the mix and match diversity from IPSF, I went into a dark closet with differrent colored backgroundsas and shined flashlight thru bags to see squiggly things.


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Old 06/15/2018, 10:36 AM   #32
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I am learning so many new things from this, especially about the substrate. Can't wait to see how your marine garden turns out.


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Old 06/18/2018, 02:28 PM   #33
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Thanks WYA123! Lots of ways to do substrates. Obviously, the dirt components are unnecessary if not growing seagrasses. Macros get all their nutrients from the water.


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Old 06/18/2018, 05:36 PM   #34
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Let's talk a little about the plants.
I will also attempt to keep several macro algae. Having grown many over the last four years, I have a pretty good idea what I want, and just as importantly, what I don't. Several of the macros I acquired became pests later, popping up all over. I'm going to be pickier this time around. My vision is to have a lot of greens and a splash of reds.
If you are going to do green macro what green will you do and why?

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Yes to starting at the bottom of the food chain. The first time I got the mix and match diversity from IPSF, I went into a dark closet with different colored backgrounds and shined flashlight thru bags to see squiggly things.
Recall what mix and match you did?


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Old 06/18/2018, 06:00 PM   #35
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I have done IPSF numerous times. I coupled diversity with micro fauna & fana with Tang Heaven Red by the pound.

http://www.ipsf.com/livesand.html
While you would not need nitrification bacteria, everything else in that kit will work to the benefit of your sandbed.


Since then, I achieve this biodiversity when introducing diver collected live rock. From my perspective, I want to maximize the complete benefit of biological filtration by using this sustainable source of live rock. In the early 1990, a handful of visionaries purchased long term lease rights west of Tampa in 30’ of water and placed 20 million tons of limestone from rock quarries inland.

I also suggest getting live sand from live_plants which is GCE, GulfCoast EcoSystem.


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Old 06/18/2018, 09:00 PM   #36
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Great question, lapin. What greens and why.

The greens I am interested in are Maiden's Hair, Ulva, Tufted Joint algae, and Pine Cone algae. I think the maiden's hair will work well on the fake wall, as a nutrient uptake turf, that should move well in the current. Ulva is a nutrient sponge that should help compete with micro algae, as well as provide food for numerous herbivores. The tufted joint and pine cone algae both naturally occur in seagrass beds, so they will add diversity there. Because they both need calcium, they will be good indicators of calcium levels.

I probably won't do any caulerpas, but I can't promise. They generally grow too fast, and require too much pruning.


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Old 06/19/2018, 09:15 AM   #37
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Your plan sounds terrific! This will be a fun thread to watch (again)


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Old 06/19/2018, 05:48 PM   #38
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Thanks Kevin! Hopefully, it will be fun. It's interesting to me to see what I'm doing differently this time around - not much. So, either I made some good choices before, or I didn't learn anything making bad ones!

This is really just a refinement of the previous iteration. Some might ask why bother? My answer is that I learned so much the first time, doing it over gives me the chance apply what I learned, as well as fix a few things that needed correcting.


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Old 06/19/2018, 06:22 PM   #39
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Great question, lapin. What greens and why.
The greens I am interested in are Maiden's Hair.
That stuff looks very cool.
Dont they call that turtle grass? Have you grown it before? Do you now if it grows out of control or is it well behaved?


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Old 06/19/2018, 07:16 PM   #40
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Yes, I think turtle weed is another name for it. I have not tried it before. GCE's plant guide says it grows moderately, requires high light and current, and they classify it as advanced. So it sounds like a difficult to keep plant, that's probably not invasive. I may not have success with it. But, as you said, it looks cool, so I'm going to try it. I suspect that if I am able to keep it alive, it may well be invasive. It sounds like it is unpalatable to herbivores too, so it's a risk.

I'm hoping to grow it on the fake back wall, and maybe the fake root too. I think it would look really cool, moving in the current.


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Old 06/20/2018, 10:57 AM   #41
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Let's discuss dosing-for planted tanks. It's really just a fancy word for feeding. Like reef tanks, planted tanks require food. Plants consume a number of nutrients, and will strip them from a closed system in short order. Unlike reef tanks, where aquarists struggle to keep nutrients low, planted tanks require their keepers to maintain higher nutrients. It's rather a huge difference and calls for a huge change of mindset. We don't want to starve our systems, we want to fatten them up!

Plants can get all the nutrients they need from fish food alone. The only problem is the ratio of nutrients from fish food is not ideal for plants (or closed systems). Dosing addresses this problem.

So what do we dose? Mostly, it's the macro nutrients-the ones plants use a lot of. These are Carbon, Nitrogen and Phosphorus. The ratio of these is important. The average C-N-P ratio for seagrasses and macro algae is about 550-30-1.

With phosphorus being 1, we don't need to dose it. We get more than enough, just by feeding the fish. The exception would be a tank with no fish to feed. Then you would need to dose it.

Nitrogen is 30. That's thirty times MORE than Phosphorus. Big dif! New tanks naturally generate a lot of nitrogen during the Nitrogen Cycle. As the biological filter matures, bacteria consumes nitrogen, in the form of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. So, biological (bacterial) filtration competes with plants for nitrogen. Nothing we can do about that, except we can deemphasize it by not adding anything specifically to 'help' it. So bio balls or other biological media are not needed. Nitrogen, in some form, will need to be dosed. One of the safest forms for aquariums (closed systems) is Potassium Nitrate, sold as stump remover at hardware stores. One of the riskiest forms is Ammonia. Why would anyone willingly dose Ammonia? Because it is plants' preferred form of Nitrogen. Plants have to work harder to use Nitrate. The danger is that Ammonia is also micro algae's favorite form of Nitrogen, so you run the risk of algae blooms, especially in smaller tanks or tanks with fewer plants. So stump remover is recommended, and ammonia is use at your own risk, and best left to larger, more heavily planted tanks.

At 550, Carbon is the big one. Plants need it more than ANY other nutrient. In nature and in aquariums, it is most often the limiting nutrient for plants. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is plants' preferred form of Carbon. Many fresh water planted tank keepers dose CO2, to get luxurious plant growth. It is just as helpful for marine plant keepers. A simple way to dose CO2, is to rent a 5 lb CO2 tank, top it with a regulator, and run airline tubing to the intake of a pump or a canister filter or reactor. If you already have a calcium reactor setup, you're good to go. For some reason, people seem to shy away from CO2. I don't know if it's the perceived complexity or the fear of exploding CO2 tanks. So the number one most important plant nutrient is often ignored! If I was told I could only dose one thing, it would be CO2.

The micro nutrients are ones that plants need in much smaller quantities. But, in our closed systems they get depleted too. Water changes alone can replace them, but the beauty of planted tanks is that they don't need frequent water changes, and dosing is easier. The one that gets used up the fastest is Iron. I use an iron supplement made for fresh water planted tanks. Calcium is also needed by plants. I add calcium media to my (CO2 injected) canister filter, to get a quasi-calcium reactor. For everything else, I use a trace element supplement, fish food and occasional water changes.

That's pretty much it, for the plants. I dose a few other things for other organisms. We'll discuss that next.


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Old 06/20/2018, 04:29 PM   #42
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Great post! I bookmarked it for future reference. As far as refining your tank, I'd imagine it is fun for you, but more than that, you have a vision of your tank that you are aiming for, and doing this gets you there faster than had you kept your older version going.


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Old 06/20/2018, 06:29 PM   #43
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Thanks Kevin! You're right. I'm still chasing that vision. I learned a lot from the previous system. I hope to apply it and improve on the original. Getting there a little faster would be good too.


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Old 06/21/2018, 01:31 AM   #44
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Thanks taricha. Yes, I would expect the mud to have abundant organic material, as well as all kinds of fauna, adding biodiversity. I have read that seagrass likes soft, muddy sand to root in. In the previous setup, I added some of this mud, then covered it with sand, so it's not exposed to light or the bulk water. The grasses responded well.

I got it from Florida Pets. It is actual, black, stinky mud. So you don't need a lot.

Rather than planting in clean sand, I want to give the grasses a fertile home right from the start, rather than waiting for nutrients to build up. And since they are true, rooted plants, they take up a lot of nutrients from the soil.

So hopefully, my dirty sand bed will provide a good home to both the grasses and micro fauna, adding nutrients and diversity to the foundation of the ecosystem.

While we're on the subject, I wanted to elaborate on the reasoning for using multiple sand grain sizes. Layers of different grain sizes are conducive to different pore water oxygen levels and thus different kinds of bacteria. By layering with coarse at the top, medium in the middle and fine on the bottom, I should get a gradient from aerobic to anaerobic to anoxic conditions. This should foster diversity in bacteria, which is a good thing. Also, the coarse top layer provides habitat (and refuge) for pods and other tiny creatures to feed on accumulating detritus.

I have some of the florida pets mud in a little HOB fuge on my 24G aquapod reef tank. It really is black stinky mud haha. My reef tank seems to love it, but since adding it I can't seem to keep macro alive anymore. I get layers of bacteria growth on the top layer of the mud then as it puts off gas it literally raises the entire mat to the top of the water which then floats out into my sponge. The process repeats every day. It seems like the bacteria are actually outcompeting my ulva for nutrients.

My coral however, has never looked better and I get no cyano or anything in my main tank. I do however need to seed it with more micro life. Pods don't seem to care for it as much and while I do have some burrowing brittle stars (also from florida pets) they don't seem to eat or affect it much.

I really would like to find more things to properly seed it with, but living in AZ gives me limited choices and places like ISPF are just way to damn expensive.


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Old 06/21/2018, 10:18 AM   #45
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Welcome mndfreeze!

In my experience, ulva seems to need to be driven hard, with high light and high nutrients. Your reef tank may be too clean to support good growth. Great to hear your corals are happy! For reef tanks, choosing a macro that can grow in lower nutrients is a challenge. You may want to try a slower growing red macro.

I don't think the mud alone is a great home for a lot of life. It is likely mostly anoxic (no oxygen). I haven't really experimented with it much. In my limited experience, it seems to be best as a small component of a deep sand bed.

For seeding your mud, consider GCE's live sand. It's the best, most alive I've found, and pretty reasonable. Also, adding a bag of pods could help.

Good luck!


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Old 06/22/2018, 02:15 AM   #46
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Sorry wasn't meaning to thread jack there, I mostly just wanted to comment on the florida pets mud. I buy bags of pods from them too. Helped to keep a stubborn possum wrasse alive until I got it to finally start eating dried food.

I've added pods back there. It's just a little finnex breeder box with a divider. One side is the mud, with some burrowing brittle stars in it, other side of just ulva. Light goes across both sides. I had zero problems with macros until the mud came into the picture. Just thought it was strange. I'm torn on removing the mud because it's definitely not a DSB setup or anything, maybe 2 inches deep. Bacteria seems to love it though and keeps it out of my display. What company is GCE? Does their live sand have actual organisms beyond just bacteria? That's really what I want. Worms n bugs n stuff.

Great build btw, I've been tagging along for a while. Can't wait to see more!


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Old 06/22/2018, 07:53 AM   #47
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I don't consider it a hijack at all. I love discussing this stuff! You're the only other person I know who's used that mud, so it's good to compare notes. As you said, maybe the bacteria associated with the mud is outcompeting your macros. Or it could have just coincided with your tank maturing, and system nutrient levels dropped below what the macros need.

GCE is Gulf Coast Ecosystems, live-plantsdotcom. Their live sand is the real deal, with actual worms 'n stuff.

Thanks for tagging along, mndfreeze!


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Old 06/22/2018, 08:54 AM   #48
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Let's discuss dosing-for planted tanks. It's really just a fancy word for feeding. Like reef tanks, planted tanks require food. Plants consume a number of nutrients, and will strip them from a closed system in short order. Unlike reef tanks, where aquarists struggle to keep nutrients low, planted tanks require their keepers to maintain higher nutrients. It's rather a huge difference and calls for a huge change of mindset. We don't want to starve our systems, we want to fatten them up!

Plants can get all the nutrients they need from fish food alone. The only problem is the ratio of nutrients from fish food is not ideal for plants (or closed systems). Dosing addresses this problem.

So what do we dose? Mostly, it's the macro nutrients-the ones plants use a lot of. These are Carbon, Nitrogen and Phosphorus. The ratio of these is important. The average C-N-P ratio for seagrasses and macro algae is about 550-30-1.

With phosphorus being 1, we don't need to dose it. We get more than enough, just by feeding the fish. The exception would be a tank with no fish to feed. Then you would need to dose it.

Nitrogen is 30. That's thirty times MORE than Phosphorus. Big dif! New tanks naturally generate a lot of nitrogen during the Nitrogen Cycle. As the biological filter matures, bacteria consumes nitrogen, in the form of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. So, biological (bacterial) filtration competes with plants for nitrogen. Nothing we can do about that, except we can deemphasize it by not adding anything specifically to 'help' it. So bio balls or other biological media are not needed. Nitrogen, in some form, will need to be dosed. One of the safest forms for aquariums (closed systems) is Potassium Nitrate, sold as stump remover at hardware stores. One of the riskiest forms is Ammonia. Why would anyone willingly dose Ammonia? Because it is plants' preferred form of Nitrogen. Plants have to work harder to use Nitrate. The danger is that Ammonia is also micro algae's favorite form of Nitrogen, so you run the risk of algae blooms, especially in smaller tanks or tanks with fewer plants. So stump remover is recommended, and ammonia is use at your own risk, and best left to larger, more heavily planted tanks.

At 550, Carbon is the big one. Plants need it more than ANY other nutrient. In nature and in aquariums, it is most often the limiting nutrient for plants. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is plants' preferred form of Carbon. Many fresh water planted tank keepers dose CO2, to get luxurious plant growth. It is just as helpful for marine plant keepers. A simple way to dose CO2, is to rent a 5 lb CO2 tank, top it with a regulator, and run airline tubing to the intake of a pump or a canister filter or reactor. If you already have a calcium reactor setup, you're good to go. For some reason, people seem to shy away from CO2. I don't know if it's the perceived complexity or the fear of exploding CO2 tanks. So the number one most important plant nutrient is often ignored! If I was told I could only dose one thing, it would be CO2.

The micro nutrients are ones that plants need in much smaller quantities. But, in our closed systems they get depleted too. Water changes alone can replace them, but the beauty of planted tanks is that they don't need frequent water changes, and dosing is easier. The one that gets used up the fastest is Iron. I use an iron supplement made for fresh water planted tanks. Calcium is also needed by plants. I add calcium media to my (CO2 injected) canister filter, to get a quasi-calcium reactor. For everything else, I use a trace element supplement, fish food and occasional water changes.

That's pretty much it, for the plants. I dose a few other things for other organisms. We'll discuss that next.
Is it ok to use freshwater planted tank additives for marine planted tanks, such as Seachem Flourish line, as long as it does not contain copper? If it contains very small amounts of copper, is it still ok? And since seagrass are heavy root feeders, how about root tabs? Regarding dosing CO2, I think people shy away from it because they are afraid that the CO2 will greatly lower their pH if too much is added. How does one find out the amount of CO2 needed for the marine planted tank, say how many bubbles per minute? Is it by trial and error? Also, is Seachem Flourish Excel, which is a form of liquid carbon, ok for marine planted tanks? Sorry for the large number of questions, especially if they have already been answered.


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Old 06/22/2018, 10:50 AM   #49
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Yes, I think it is OK to use freshwater stuff. I've noticed some companies have started marketing their plant additives for marine applications too lately. I have used some, but generally, I prefer to use additives that are just one thing, rather than a combination of multiple things. That way you have more control over individual additions. I would think an additive with very small amounts of copper is OK. It's probably added to combat algae. Sensitive invertebrates may have a problem though.

I have tried several different root tabs. Honestly, I don't know if they helped or not. It's especially hard to know because seagrasses grow slowly, so when you add something, it takes around two weeks to see results. By then, you might think that something else has affected them. I will continue experimenting with them and report my results. I read that seagrasses prefer to get phosphorus through their roots, so the last tab I tried had a lot of phosphate. However, since fish food and fish poo already contain a lot of phosphate, and they settle on the bottom, it's probably not necessary. My strategy for this tank is to load the sand bed up with dirt and mud, so it is fertile from the start.

pH swings can be problematic so you need to be careful, but it's not rocket science. Bubble rates will vary for different tanks. It's been trial and error for me, but I bet there are some good online articles on ideal CO2 levels for fresh water planted tanks. So, you could probably find the ideal numbers to hit, and go from there.

I know some others have used Excel. I would guess it has bicarbonates, which are plants second favorite form of carbon.

Great questions, WYA123. Keep 'em coming!


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Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Lagoon in the works
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Old 06/22/2018, 09:52 PM   #50
mndfreeze
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster View Post
I don't consider it a hijack at all. I love discussing this stuff! You're the only other person I know who's used that mud, so it's good to compare notes. As you said, maybe the bacteria associated with the mud is outcompeting your macros. Or it could have just coincided with your tank maturing, and system nutrient levels dropped below what the macros need.

GCE is Gulf Coast Ecosystems, live-plantsdotcom. Their live sand is the real deal, with actual worms 'n stuff.

Thanks for tagging along, mndfreeze!
Ok awesome, I'm familiar with live-plants but didn't make the connection. I was originally going to order a different macro through them when I noticed florida pets had the ulva as I was placing a pod order. I'm definitely considering removing the mud for that sand then as I don't think that little breeder turned fuge is quite right for it. My other line of thinking was to find a small bright light I could aim at JUST the side with the ulva, as it seems the bacteria doesn't really bubble and film up badly when the lights are off. The grow light it came with is a little LED bar that is designed to light the entire thing. I'd need a small directional LED bulb. I hate being so limited in space and choice with a 24G AIO tank, especially a super super old one (aquapod). I can't wait until I can start building a proper full system with a real fuge. The fuge is more fun and neat than the tank most of the time haha. More weird stuff there.


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