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My 75 Gallon Community Journal - Mitch


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Thank you to everyone for the kind words. I’ve had a lot of tanks that I haven’t been happy with, and many set backs. It can be frustrating some times when your favorite fish dies or algae begins to take over your oldest Anubias. But that’s part of the hobby. 
 

My wife asked me if I would ever get the tank to the point that I wouldn’t be tinkering to get rid of a problem... I said if I did it would probably become boring and I would need a new tank. Haha. 
 

There are things I am ready to change with this setup, but not until I defeat the BBA and GSA. 

THANK YOU ALL for your encouragement and help. I love this forum and the community surrounding Aquarium Co-op. D5566199-8A9E-4BFC-9F20-6DE996DA34B4.jpeg.c71ce828ccb0b9aec0200f67fd5e13ab.jpeg

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  • 1 month later...

Lots of changes this weekend. 
 

last week I adjusted my light schedule. I have starved off the Green Spot Algae, but I still see some black beard algae. All of my stem plants fell apart. I’ve been picking out leaves for weeks and the stems started to melt. It might be my mix of plants. I have some lowlight plants and these stems obviously need more light. I’ve given up on trying to balance between them. So all of the stems were removed. 
 

To replace them I moved a small Amazon Sword that hasn’t done great to the back on this side, and I moved a bunch of crypt offshoots. These are Wendtii Green and Bronze. They look great in the middle of my tank and I can’t wait for them to spread across the whole center. 
 

My Java Fern is still struggling. I’m sure the lack of fertilizer isn’t helping. I’m only dosing half the recommended Easy Green while I have been starving the algae. I’ve never seen Java Fern take off like most people say, and it’s always kind of browned on me. Maybe I will give up on it too. I had hoped these plants would grow thick and tall to cover my sponge filter. 
 

I also added some substrate to the front. I had originally sloped it, but I realized it was too thin. The majority of the black beard has been here, and I’m wondering if thickening the  substrate will help the plants along. 
 

I added one Crupt Parva. I know it would take forever to grow in, but I wanted to see how the plant would do with my setup before I buy a bunch of pots. It’s so tiny! I would like to step up from Parva to Dwarf Chain Swords (which are doing great!), and then the crypts and swords. 
 

Lastly, I added four Gold Dust Mollies that have been in QT for weeks. They appeared to have some parasite after a couple of days watching them in my QT. So they are going through a couple of rounds of Paracleanse. I lost one during the process, but I felt comfortable moving the remaining four into the 75 gallon yesterday. 
 

I know it’s been a while since I did an update, but not much other than chasing balance was happening. 
 

Oh! I am considering removing the Pogostemon Stellatus Octopus. I’m not really in love with it in the middle of the tank. I’ve moved some cuttings to the left to see what I think... but I’m not sure it works in the all crypt and sword tank.... with Anubias on the side. Haha.

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I think it's a very nice looking tank. Your crypts and swords are excellent. Are you adding any CO2? If not then that might be one limiting factor because you are doing everything else from maintenance, to ferts. I think the Pogostemon stellatus could work as grouping off to a side in front of either a reddish type sword plant, or stem plant with a different texture like either a Ludwigia, or a Bacopa caroliniana red. I added some Pogostemon erectus in my tank to give it a bit of different texture and create interest as it seems was your intent as well.

 

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The stem plants I just pulled out were a red Ludwigia. I hated pulling it out, but there wasn’t much left. Maybe once I’ve defeated the Black Beard I can try some stems again. I’ll see if I can find a picture before the imbalance. 
 

I am not dosing CO2. I prefer to stay low tech and try to find balance instead of adding CO2. I do run a couple of sponge filters to help with Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide. 
 

I do like the idea of a red sword.... I might just include a Melon on my next Co-Op order. I really enjoy trying things and seeing what works. The “island” look right now is bothering me because at one point it was really thick on the left side of. Here is a pic from a couple of months ago. Before the Green Spot /Black Beard became an issue. 

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My 75 gallon will be a year old next month. This anniversary reminded me that I haven’t added a temperature troller to my setup to ensure my heaters have a longer lifespan and possible prevent cooking or freezing the tanks inhabitants. 
 

The Ink Bird temperature controller went on yesterday, and I am really impressed with the settings. I have it set to 1 degree variance with a temperature of 76 degrees during the day and 74 at night. I believe this will keep the heater within range of my inhabitants preferences (72 - 77 degrees), it may keep my heaters from kicking on and off so much during the day/night, and it may provide a more nature warming and cooling environment doe the inhabitants. 
 

Glad that I made the purchase, and hopefully it works to improve my glass box’s environment. 

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I took this earlier today for the one minute post, but I guess I might as well share in this thread as well. 
 

this video is after a water change and I added Vitachem. So it is a little cloudy. You can see that I have removed all of the stem plants. I moved a small Amazon sword and a few crypts into the area. I’m looking forward to it filling in like the middle of the tank. 
 

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

The Ink Bird temperature controller may be one of my favorite gadgets on my tank. I like that I was able to set up a day and night profile so that the tank is a little warmer during the day (75 degrees with a 1 degree variance) and cooler at night (74 at night with a 1 degree variance). 

I have had to move several mollies from the main tank to QT recently for swim bladder issues. I have treated aquarium salt (1 tbs per 2 gallons) and Maracyn. The Maracyn treatment ended a day ago. I did the water change on Tuesday. I will be watching them to see if they overcome the issue, but I've never experienced a fish come back from swim bladder issues. I am running my UV sterilizer in my main tank every couple of days right now to try to keep the water clean of bacteria. I will probably do larger water changes this week as well. The 32 gallon trash can on wheels and water pump have made water changes a breeze. Now if I could just find the right adapter to get water from my tap... I'm also thinking the Python hook or a pvc project might make life easier.

I saw four of my otocinclus in the front of the tank today. The cryptocoryne and swords have gotten so thick that I have wondered if all eight are still in the tank. It has been a very long time since I saw all of them at one time. 

The Mollies are out of control. I have fry everywhere. 

I will be adding a new cup of cryptocoryne parva this week. It arrived in my ACCO delivery today, but I haven't planted it yet. I think I am going to plant it as a big group this time and see how it does. It definitely  looks better that way.

I did cut back the lighting period this week. I had to cut off several leaves from my amazon swords this week due to black beard algae on the edges of the leaves. I am no longer seeing green spot algae or any hair algae. I wish I could get rid of they black beard. I just lowered the time one hour, but I didn't look to see how long the light period is now. I'm guessing 8 hours total with only four or five hours of "full light" (35%). There is a ramp up and ramp down that lasts a couple of hours. 

Anyway, there is an update. Haha. That's where my tank is.

 

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I recently noticed a white patch on the back of my Sterbai Corydora. She has been in my tank... She may be the second oldest inhabitant in my tank. Anyway, I reached out on this forum and the response was that it is most likely bacterial (

Otherwise, the tank is doing well. I added some more rocks that I discovered in my Aquarium tote, and some more gravel. The Crypt Parva that I purchased from the Coop is doing really well. And by really well I mean it didn't melt. It hasn't grown or anything, but my understanding is that I will have a large Parva carpet in 25 years. I really like the plant, and now that I know it will live in my tank I'll continue to buy some when I can.

The left side is a little bare still. I have an Amazon Sword in the back, but I am thinking about buying a Melon Sword or a Red Flame Sword. Any recommendations?

That's the journal update for now, but check out this five minute video I did feeding half a Sera O-Nip tab. 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another Update:

I have continued to lose Mollies recently. For a very long time I had one Molly begin to rest on the bottom and stay there. He would swim up to eat, but most of the time I would find him on the substrate. This was normal for several weeks, then there were two, and then five. I pulled all five out and put them in QT with salt (1 tbs per 2 gallons). I then decided to treat with Maracyn because some said it may be bacterial. 
 

 

When that didn’t work I started to consider Paracleanse. Not too long ago I bought some Gold Dust Mollies that brought in some parasite. I lost one of those to Livebearers Disease. After treating those with Paracleanse they started to bulk up. I ran a second dose and a week later added them to my large tank. I can’t remember if the little Molly was already on the substrate or not at this point. But the other fish started showing signs after I added the new fish that had come out of QT. Lesson learned, be patient. 
 

I lost two of those Mollies, and they both appeared to waste away. Their bodies were sunken in. Before adding the Paracleanse I came across two Mollies in my main tank who were thinning rapidly. I moved them to the QT and started researching what was going on. 
 

I had a recommendation on this forum to treat with Levamisole. I had heard of Greg Sage’s Levamisole and I ordered it immediately. On his sight the description for Livebearers disease appears to match what I have been experiencing. I heavily salted the QT (1 tbs per 1 gallon) and hoped they made it until the meds arrived. I lost one of the late additions to the QT), but everyone else went back in the main tank and I treated with Levamisole. 
 

 

Last night was the water change and second dose. I’ll leave the fish and the meds in the tank until next weekend when I will do a small water change to begin removing the meds. 
 

Yesterday I also noticed something wild going on in the tank. 

I have never seen or heard of this. I looked for the Cory last night and this morning and I haven’t spotted any cars with bubbles. I have at least three that look like this one Corydora. It’s hard to tell them apart. I’m hoping the bubbles have gone away on their own, but I’ll keep an eye on them. 
 

I have more to update on finding algae/plant balance in the tank, but it will have to wait. This post has become too long. 

Edited by Mitch Norton
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I forgot to include a recent pic!

The left side is beginning to fill in... but... I am thinking I may move the sponge filter to the right some and that will mean moving some plants including some of my Val. Sigh... it melts back every time I move it, but it will look so much better with the sponge filter away from the edge. 

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Today is two days after dosing Levamisole and it looks like my cycle is struggling in the community tank. 

I’ve been testing the new Aquarium Co-Op test strips, and my nitrates have been dropping this week. Today they looked like they were under 10 ppm so I grabbed my ammonia test strips and sure enough I had .5 ppm ammonia in the tank. 
 

This may be the first time I’ve found ammonia since I set the tank up almost a year ago. I checked ammonia and nitrates using my Master Test Kit. Ammonia was clearly .5 ppm and Nitrates looked like 10 ppm. 
 

I dosed Prime to detoxify the ammonia and I’m hoping my beneficial bacteria bounce back. I may have to water change before Saturday... and change more than the 25% I had planned to change as part of the treatment if not. 
 

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Thank @Fishdude!

You are right, and ultimately that is why I decided to get rid of the stems. Their high light requirements do not work for me with the low light plants. I’m either producing algae in my low lights or starving the high light plants. It’s hard to find balance there. 
 

Maybe one day I figure that out, but for now I’m sticking with my Crypts and anubias. The Amazon Swords... I’m still working out. Haha. Mine are eating a ton of root tabs, and I’m still getting some algae on them. I’m not sure if it’s due to an abundance of light at the surface or if it’s because they aren’t getting enough light. 

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Quick Update

I spoke with Greg Sage (Select Aquatics) by email and he said it would be fine to do a water change. The meds have already done what they are going to do. 
 

I checked and I’m still reading .5 ppm on the ammonia and 10 on the nitrates. This evening I will probably go ahead and do a 50% water change to cut the ammonia, and dose Prime for 100% of the tank. I have until late this evening due the Prime that ai added last night to protect my tank’s inhabitants. 
 

I’m not sure if this breaks any rules, but so highly recommend Select Aquatics if you are going to dose Levamisole. I was a little worried reading up in it, but Greg’s kit is amazing and made dosing the med so much easier. 

Edited by Mitch Norton
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Ok, I am changing my approach to the algae issues in my 75 gallon. The past few streams Cory has indicated that he approaches algae very differently than how I have learned online. I would love to see an in-depth video on balancing a tank, but in the past couple of streams he has opened my eyes up to some of the problems I am experiencing. So I’m changing it up!

This week I have reset my lights to 10 hours. I have 30 minutes ramp up and ramp down leaving 9 hours of “full” light. Full light will continue to be set at 35% intensity until I see a need in the tank to increase it. 
 

I also started dosing 4 pumps of Easy Green each day trying to raise my nitrates back to 20 ppm. I’ve been around 10 ppm for a while, and although the green spot algae disappeared the black beard has kind of hung on. 
 

Once I get my 75 gallon used to the light period and the fertilizer schedule I note what algae’s I see and devise a plan of attack from there. It’s really just a reset, but I am more knowledgeable than I was the first time I started this tank. 
 

 

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Edited by Mitch Norton
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Update!

Its been a few days (almost a week) since I “reset” my tank lighting and fertilizer. I dosed Easy Green every day until Nitrates were around 20 ppm. I’ve tested my water every day since (Friday) and nitrates steadily climbed. Yesterday and this morning they are reading above 25ppm. 
 

During the extended fasting my Pogostemon Stellatus Octopus became very gnarly. The leaves began to fall off, the plant began to twist, and I started seeing black beard algae. That was the first sign that it was time to stop fasting. Three days with nitrates above 20ppm and I am getting large regular growth again. 
 

Since the nitrates are staying elevated and the plants are bouncing back, I decided to increase my light intensity by 5 degrees to 40%. I am hoping the increased intensity will aid in the Pogostemon bouncing back. I will also watch my slow growing plants to make sure they are not beginning to grow black beard algae. 
 

No water change this weekend. That puts me over ten days without a water change, but if the nitrates remain elevated I’ll probably do one sometime this week. I am hoping the plants consume enough nitrates that I don’t have to. I will probably feed a little less, but I am afraid to do so because I have a ton of Molly fry right now. I am considering buying some more plants, but I’m not sure which column feeders to get right now. 
 

I’m thinking the bba could be because of the frequent water changes, and letting the water sit for a while may help that battle. 
 

 

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Been having some issues with the 75 gallon again. 
 

I did not change water past week hoping the aged water would help with BBA. Previously I had been dosing fertilizer trying to get the tank back around 20 ppm nitrates. I reached that earlier this week, and then close to 50 ppm, then back down, and yesterday it was high again. This week I also noticed that one of my older fish has been missing. I’ve been looking for the “Old Man” but I haven’t found him. I am assuming he is dead. This morning when I tested with the Aquarium Co-Op test strips I had a nitrite reading! A nitrite reading!? I haven’t seen nitrite in my tank since I started it. The reading was 1 ppm, so I was late to work because I was changing water. I did a 50% water change to cut the nitrite. I still haven’t found the dead fish, but I haven’t missed having to do these last minutes emergency water changes. Haha. 

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I tested my water again just now. 
 

Nitrates still appear to be above 25 ppm. It may be 50 ppm... but I think it’s just a little lower. I’m still seeing nitrite, but definitely less than 1 ppm. For some reason the KH reading isn’t that clear. It’s normally a solid 120 on that pad. This was my retest because the first reading was more half yellow half green than this one. 
 

I’ll test again this evening and see if I need another water change for nitrites. I’ve gone through my plants, but I can’t find the old man. 

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I don't know how helpful this will be but I have been working my way through Ecology of the Planted Aquarium (Diana Walstadt) and was reading the section on the nitrification process last night and sometimes, nitrates can be converted back to nitrites.  So it's not necessarily that your cycle crashed but could be park of the process or a little imbalance between the bacteria that convert nitrites to nitrates and the other processes that are always going on in our little contained ecosystems.  I can revisit the book a little later and edit this post b/c I don't remember how off the top of my head (explains why I barely passed organic chemistry many years ago in college lol). 

Prime Time Aquatics also did a comprehensive video on the nitrogen cycle that explains this I think.  

You could try adding more nitrifying bacteria (either bottled or from another established tank) to help consume the nitrite.  If you have any floating plants you can borrow from another tank as well, they are particularly good at taking up nitrite.

Also, I'm not sure how "in depth" of a video you were looking for on balancing a tank, but Irene/Girl Talks Fish did a video on that which was pretty helpful.  Though I think she ran through all the stuff you are already doing.   

This is a wonderful and very informative journal!  Thank you for sharing!  I hope Old Man is okay, or if not, that he transitioned well. ❤️    

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Thanks @SWilson I do believe there are a few factors that are impacting my cycled. I don’t think it has crashed so much as it has stalled a little. 
 

A few weeks ago I had to dose Levamisole due to a few sick fish (the “Old Man” being one of them). After doing that I experienced Ammonia for the first time in about a year or longer. This tank was set up last May. 1/3 of the substrate and plants came from a 25 gallon that I had for a few years. I don’t remember an ammonia spike when I set up the 75, but it might have happened. 
 

Anyway, on top of that I had recently been trying to starve off Green Spot Algae (successfully) and Black Beard Algae. Unfortunately cutting back my light intensity and fertilizers killed most of my stem plants and had my Pogostemon Stellatus Octopus twisted up. I started fertilizing last week and once I hit 20 ppm I stopped, but even though I tried to do it slowly it might have been too quick. 
 

Add to that what I presume is a dead Molly in the tank that I can’t find and I think my cycle and plants are having issues catching up. 
 

I hadn’t heard that nitrates could be converted back to nitrite. Hopefully leaving a little nitrite in the tank will help fuel that part of the cycle. Thanks again!

Edited by Mitch Norton
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After work I tested again. The nitrites looked like they were nearing 1 ppm again. So O decided to verify before I changed any more water today. I grabbed my liquid kit and it reads 0 nitrites.

I’ll have more time tonight to test and see what is going on. I was relieved to see 0 on the API liquid test. I’ll be sure to update this weekend with any updates. 

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