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A step by step diary of a planted tank

by Christoforos Petrides

Preparing the plants

...But before actually do anything I had to do all the necessary actions. The filter had to keep running, so I just used a bucket with tank water and put the filter to work. All the fish were transferred in another large bucket that contained 50% tank water and 50% fresh water. The bucket was covered so the fish remain in darkness and would not be stressed.

Bleaching...

I took all the plants out and left them in a bucket with water. I prepared the well known solution consisting of 19 parts of water and 1 part of plain household bleach. "Part" means that if you use one plastic cup for the bleach, you will fill another nineteen (same) cups of water.

This is how the plants looked like before the treatment. These photos were taken before I treat the BGA. Of course the treatment with erythrocin does not touch the other types of algae (that's why you want to use bleach...).


BGA

Bacopa with BGA and
black algae

Altenathera with black algae

Limnophilla with BGA

I had also prepared another bucket full of fresh water. All stem plants were held from the roots and dipped in the bleach solution for two minutes. The anubias, bolbitis and java ferns were held a bit more, for three minutes. Again most of the roots were out of the solution. I say most of the roots, because I am a bit careless :) and also because the anubias roots in some cases were so close to the leaves, that you could not dip the leaf without dipping the root as well. It did not seem to matter (for the anubias), as I found out later but keep it as a rule to be followed.

When done, I just returned the treated plants to the bucket with the clean water, stirred the water a bit and left them there, until planting time. When treating with bleach, you will notice that some parts of the algae especially the green hair algae and the black turn white or light brown but remain on the leaves. It is a good idea to scrape it of if possible. I did in most of the plants, but I left some anubia leaves without scrubbing them, and although I did not expect it after a few days (after they were placed in the tank) it had gone all by itself. Now that I think of it it is logical since algae died off...

I also trimmed the plants that needed it, cause I wanted to keep the "good" (the pretty) part of the plant and it was also a nice opportunity to get rid of some badly infected leaves that even after the treatment would not survive.

This method is really effective, have a look at the picture below to see the same plants only hours after the treatment placed in the tank.


Click on the bright areas of the picture to have a closer look.

Since my plants were ready it was time to start the fun part.

Anubias on the rocks ..ehmmm.. on wood !

The small piece of mopani root had already some anubias tied on it at the edge. Those had a firm grasp on the wood and I was not going to move them. You can see on the picture (on the right) the other anubias I had just removed from a piece of rock.

I intended to cover as much as the surface of the wood possible with what I had. So I thought to split the ones that could be split. The one marked with the red arrow was a good candidate. It was quite long and I could easily split it in three parts, all of them containing roots as well as leaves. Doing this your anubia will keep on growing.

I also removed some old leaves, and used another trick to "force" the anubia to grow new ones. By using a sharp raizor, cut a small line no more than a few millimeters on the top part along the rhizome. Do not cut it all the way, just a bit. This part after some time will grow new leaves. In the picture below you can see the three "new" anubias after splitting the long one..all three of them have roots and leaves.

I then used really thin fishing line (almost invisible in the water and does not deteriorate) to tie the anubias on the wood. I fitted the roots as best as I could so to embrace the wood. I also scrapped the specific part of the wood with my little scissors edge just to make it rougher and give a best chance for the roots to hold on. The fishing line can be removed after two or three weeks (depends on the surface actually) and you can easily test when the plant has got a grasp. This is how the root looked like when this procedure was over. (photo below). Ready to be placed in the tank, but since I had also some other tying to do it was just left inside a bucket with water :)

What next ? Riccia and Java moss .... of course..

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