Super duper CO2 atomiser – seeing is believing…

This is a really neat and compact atomiser which has it all. Easy Aqua produce some nice gear and this one is no exception. Below are a few details and why it’s different from a traditional diffuser. Atomisers sure are the way forward.

The Easy Aqua 4 in 1 Super Atomiser has an extremely compact CO2 plate which means that when CO2 is forced through it, the bubbles are really tiny. As a result they ‘hang’ in the water, floating around doing their business. The longer the CO2 stays in contact with the water, the more it’s absorbed. This means you need less CO2 and makes having a decent ceramic plate all the more important. Traditional (cheaper) diffusers have basic ceramic plates. CO2 can be pushed though them very easily but the bubbles are larger and shoot to the surface. This means they aren’t absorbed and you need much more gas. As the bubbles pass through a glass diffuser plate, they can make a high pitch, irritating noise. Because atomisers have a much tighter plate, you don’t get this noise.

The bubble counter is visible on this atomiser so you don’t have to worry about a separate one elsewhere in your tank. Whilst a bubble counter is important, don’t base everything on it – your drop checker is the key to your CO2 levels and if you need to increase the dosage or not. However, it’s a good indication and you know what 2 bubbles a second looks like for example.

The check valve has double safety mechanism so there really is no chance of it not working. CO2 tubing has to be connected to the atomiser by a locking mechanism in order for it to keep it in place.

All in all a great CO2 diffuser and to top it off, if you drop it, it probably won’t break. Result πŸ™‚

super diffuser

Planted tank inspiration

Our good friend Mark Evans has created yet another inspiring aquascape and a beautifully presented video as well. I love watching clips like this, especially first thing in the morning as it sets the tone of the day immediately.

Mark is a hard worker. He tries a lot, experiments and this is proof of the hard work that he has put in and his dedication to the hobby. He’s doing wonders for the UK market and I hope it inspires you. If it does, tell me what you think!

HUGE Planted Aquarium, ADA style…

Once in a while I stumble across amazing videos on YouTube and today I have a real corker for you. Even though I’ve been dealing with planted tanks for 15 years, I’m staggered at what I have seen below in terms of scale. Takashi Amano, aka ADA really pulls this one out of the bag. I only wish there were subtitles.

I would really love to know what you thought about this clip – does it inspire you? How big an aquarium would you go? Have you ever seen rocks or wood so big that are suitable for an aquarium? I sure as hell haven’t πŸ™‚

 

Struggling with foreground plants?

You won’t be the first and certainly not the last. Foreground plants are the trickiest – not because they are harder than other plants, but just that they need a little more attention than others. The main factor to consider is their location – right at the bottom of the tank where there is the least amount of light, water movement and CO2.

If your foreground plants are struggling, think about their location and then ask yourself this question:

are you giving them what they want?

 

They want decent light, good fertilisers and CO2. If you don’t give them this, growth will be slow and odds are the plants will die off and algae grows. Point your circulation pump at them – they need to sway in the current and make sure CO2 is physically being pushed over them and getting trapped in the leaves.

Make sure you’re providing good ferts like Neutro+ because when the CO2 is being pushed over them, the ferts will be too (double whammy :))

Are you struggling with foreground plants? Let me know and reply to this post and I can help

What’s your favourite one – mine if HC πŸ™‚

Lighting on for 12 hours?

Definitely not – unless you want some trouble in the form of algae. Once in a while I hear of hobbyists who leave their lighting on for this long and it always surprises me. I hasten to add, they’re normally the one’s with problems in their tank too.

Lighting duration should be approximately 8 hours per day with no siesta (these don’t work). So lets say 1pm to 9pm is a popular time to have the lights on for. If you are suffering from algae problems my first suggestion is to drop the lighting down to 6 hours per day. Similarly for start up tanks, keep your lighting limited to 6 hours as the plants are yet to root and therefore not much growing is happening.

12 hours of light is just excessive. Not only will it cost you more but your lights will need replacing more often and your electricity costs will be higher. Not only that but you will need to clean your tank more often, particularly the glass.

How long do you leave your lighting on for?

Can’t be bothered to do water changes?

Some of you are like this, and some are not but the bottom line is that you need to perform water changes when you keep a planted aquarium. Sounds simple right? Well I know a lot of folk who don’t perform many water changes, because…

I did a 20% water change the other week – that’s enough right?…

 

That’s not enough I’m afraid. If I’ve kept you attention, read on.

Water changes are needed to remove pollutants that plants produce – you can’t see them, but they sure are there. When plants grow, they like everything else that grows they produce waste. These waste products (organics) need to be removed, otherwise they build up, become more concentrated and then cause you problems and normally show up in algae form. In many CO2 infused aquariums, your turbo charged tank is really motoring and plants are growing like weeds, so it’s important to stress that the quicker your plants grow, the more waste they produce and this is why it is essential to:

perform 40-50% water changes every week.

It’s a bit like flushing the toilet if you catch my drift. Imagine not flushing the toilet…YUK!!

How often do you perform water changes?

When should my CO2 come on?

It’s a good idea to start your CO2 roughly an hour or so before your lights come on. The reason for this is simple.

When your lights come on, you want your plants to hit for floor running. What I mean by that is you want your plants to begin growing instantly. As the CO2 build up over the 60 minutes before the lights are on your levels begin to rise (remembering the carbon dioxide has been off for maybe 16 hours) and your plants take complete advantage of this. Good levels of CO2 and lighting (don’t forget your fertilisers) = happy planted aquarium.

By contrast, having your CO2 come on when your lights start up, you delay the growing process as it takes roughly 1 hour for CO2 levels to hit that perfect 30ppm level.

In addition, turn your CO2 off 1 hour before your lights go off. There will be sufficient CO2 in your tank for that time for your plants to continue growing.

When do you turn your CO2 on and off?

Why doesn’t my Easy Aqua Super Mist Atomiser work?

One word…

pressure

You need 2 bar pressure in your regulator for this to work as it should. Otherwise, there’s simply not enough pressure to push the CO2 out of the tightly compacted atomiser plate. Check out the YouTube clip on our website – that’s at least 2 bar pressure being run and look how fine the CO2 mist is.

Few other points to consider:

  • Some regs won’t allow you 2 bar pressure, so another thing to bare in mind (most do though).
  • You need to ensure decent connections on your CO2 tubing because the 2 bar pressure can pop off (try the Easy Aqua Double Check Valve as this has screw fittings).
  • Sometimes it takes a few minutes for the CO2 to pass from the regulator to the atomiser – don’t expect immediate results (like from glass diffusers). This is because pressure needs to build up along the CO2 tubing and then pass into the atomiser.

Lastly, use proper CO2 tubing! Air line tubing is not suitable and will definitely pop off.

Are you using the atomiser? If so tell me what you think. Maybe you haven’t decided which diffuser to choose yet so any questions, please ask πŸ™‚

Damn plants won’t grow

I hear this all the time and I know it’s a big issue for you guys. The good thing is you don’t need to sweat about it as it’s easily solved. Here are my top tips:

  1. Make sure you are using a decent fertiliser which provides what your plants need. If you have demanding plants that means they need CO2 and lots of ferts (both trace and macros). Dose the ferts on a daily basis (not weekly) as you’ll get better results this way.
  2. Algae is caused due to fluctuating levels in your aquarium so keep things stable – add ferts every day, perform large water changes every week (yes every week) and keep on top of maintenance. When you slack off, algae rears it’s ugly head.
  3. Limit your lighting. The longer your lighting is on for, the more problems you may have. I suggest no more than 8 hours a day and if you’re having problems with algae, drop it down to 6 hours until it levels off.
  4. Use a liquid carbon which helps to get rid of algae. Super popular (for that reason) and if you dose according to the bottle instructions you’ll be pleased with the results.
  5. Ensure you have enough plants in your tank. Having a tank 30% planted is just not enough and creates instability (then algae…). Look to have a tank about 80% full of plants and you’ll find everything a lot easier.

What problems do you have with your planted aquarium?

Don’t give up…

It’s sometimes tough with a planted aquarium and if you let it, demoralising. Your desired planted tank just doesn’t seem to get to where you want it to and you don’t know why. You try this, you follow that, you participate on forums and still you can’t get it right. Algae grows on your plants and to top it all off, you’ve spent a fortune!! So you feel like throwing the towel in but

DON’T, you’re nearly there…

I deal with a lot of customers who feel just like this and I know how hard it can be. I was there once too and only through perseverance did I make it. Don’t get me wrong, I felt like I wanted to chuck it all in and this was before the days of the internet too. Can you imagine trying to learn about planted aquariums before there were any books that were specialising on the subject? Believe me it was tough and the advice was very old fashioned, suggesting very lean dosing (no macros) lighting needed a siesta (what a load of rubbish!) and that if you didn’t have an under gravel heater your plants would fail. To top it all off, filters apparently needed a very slow turnover of water (hmmmmm). Fortunately things have changed. The internet was created and now in some ways hobbyists have information overload. But I digress a little as the subject of this post is Don’t give up… and there’s a simple reason for this. When you’re up against it and everything is going wrong, this is the time when you are learning the most. You probably don’t realise it but your mind is taking in so much information. Sadly, because it’s a very frustrating time (and hard on the brain), combined with the fact that you have spent a lot on the hobby, and you may be moaning to your other half about all the problems, it would be easier just to pack it all in wouldn’t it? But when is easier best?

Just around the corner is the answer, the trigger that will make the difference. You may only need to alter one aspect of your tank set up and the tide will turn. Plants will flourish and grow in front of your very eyes and you’ll look back at the time you had when your tank would never go right and then all of a sudden, BINGO. This invaluable knowledge is what you can then pass onto other hobbysist, because it feels good to share and help those in need.

It’s all about the experience, all about how you deal with the ‘problems’ that are confronting you. And don’t forget I can always help too, just drop me a line, call me or email me and we can sort your planted aquarium problem out together πŸ™‚

Hydor Koralia Pumps

Now I’ve written about this before but it’s a subject that I think hobbyists need reminding of as it’s easy to forget. When diffusing your planted aquarium with CO2, don’t make things hard work for yourself – well at least not unnecessarily hard work. This starts by getting the right advice and using the right products, or as my builder would say:

It’s a case of having the right tools for the job

So what are the right tools then? Hydor Koralia’s are the best to perform this job. Not only are they powerful but they allow you to push all important CO2 in the right location. Failure to do this means your plants do not receive the CO2 they need, but also if CO2 isn’t getting to the right location then you can bet fertilisers aren’t either. This can only mean

algae…

So for all of you wondering why you have got algae in your tank, ask yourself this question. Do you have sufficient fertilisers and water distribution in your aquarium and is CO2 being pushed around the entire tank…? Are your foreground plants struggling? If they are, I suspect it’s because CO2 and fertilisers are not being directed onto them – point your Koralia at them so that the plants sway, then watch them grow πŸ™‚

Check out our range of Hydor Pumps here.

TMC LED lighting test on our hydroponic plants

We’ve been running a trial for about 6 weeks now on the TMC LED lighting as we believe this is the way forward for our hydroponics lighting – TMC do but were kind enough to let us test their products. Our aquatic plants are really loving the lights and we’re even running them 24/7 because they are so economical. We’re using the MiniLED 400 and the Grobeam tile and they are elevated about 15″ above the plants.

We initially were growing rotala rotundifolia and they did very well in a short period of time. In fact they threw out loads of runners over the space of about 3-4 weeks and became very bushy. So they enjoyed the light (a lot!). We have just tried 3 new plants to see how they fair up:

It’s only been a few days so far, but remember the lighting is on 24/7. The red variety has responded very quickly –Β  these are new shoots and the reds are already showing good signs. The green variety is grown a little but they are under the MiniLED 400 tile so I guess the growth rate shouldn’t be as fast due to the lesser power.

TheΒ Bacopa monnieri hasn’t done anything yet so nothing to report there.

I’ll be updating this post every week to tell you about progress.

If you have any questions about this experiment – let me know!!

16/3/12

OK so I’ve taken a few snaps for you just to see what they are like at the moment.

bacopa monneiri

Baby rotala rotundifolia

One thing I will mention is the Ludwigia palustris red was planted a week before the others so it’s growth is expected to be bigger, but I wasn’t expecting it to have grown quite that much – impressive heh πŸ™‚ I wonder what it will be like in another weeks time?

UPDATE 20th March

Only 4 days later, attached are some new pictures of the plants.

Bacopa monnieriΒ has grown 1cm in 4 days

Ludwigia palustris greenΒ has grown at least 2 cm in 4 days and looks excellent with great colours.

Ludwigia palustris red is turning into a bit of a beast and is growing rapidly! Difficult to measure now as it doesn’t stand upright very easily. Not sure if this is going to be a problem as it gets bigger but health wise it’s A1.

Rotala rotundifoliaΒ has grown 1 cm in 4 days and looks rather nice as I am sure you will agree. Very perky and healthy – notice a couple of shoots appear much larger than the others. It will be interesting to see if the others catch up or if that size becomes more apparent.

I also had a question from Andre on Twitter (follow me @AquaEssentials) asking me for some more details about the growing conditions. I have tried to replicate what the growers do but tweaking a few things just to see what happens:

Lighting: 24 hours per day

Ferts: AE Nourish and Nourish+

Air Temp: this swings from 14C-20C

Air movement: Controlled by computer

Humidity: Also controlled by computer but sits at 90% humidity

Plants sit in their pots about 3/4 deep of nutrient rich flowing water.

Any questions, please ask πŸ™‚

UPDATE 12th April

It’s been a long time since our last update. We’ve moved premises so updating this has gone on the back burner. However, we’re back up to speed now and I have some new photos to share with you. The plants did stay in boxes for 3 days whilst we moved. I don’t think the young plants particularly enjoyed that but it’s just a gut feeling.

I welcome any comments/thoughts you have on this experiment so far.

Bacopa monnieri is nearly at 9cm now. Seems an easy plant to grow at the moment.

Ludwigia palustris green is still doing well. Health is excellent but the stems are floppy (not sure why…) and ideas anyone?

Ludwigia palustris red. Well what can I say about this one as it’s grown a lot but again cannot support itself. It really is very very big …

Rotala rotundifolia. This is my favourite of all the plants as it grows well and supports itself pretty much. It’s attractive and nearly 9cm in height. Colours still look good.

Would love some comments on this to hear what you think.

Our guarantee with aquarium plants

This has been a long standing guarantee but I thought it would be a good idea to remind our customers of the guarantee that we offer when purchasing aquatic plants from us.

We guarantee that the plants will arrive with you in perfect condition and are in 100% health. If for any reason you are not happy or the condition is not 100%, then send them back for a complete refund, no questions asked.

We’re super confident in our plants – we’ve been selling them for about 7 years now and we keep them in the same type of conditions that the growers do – we’re passionate about quality and we know you are too. By keeping the plants hydroponically, the plants transport better, and there are no snails or algae as all the leaves are above the water.Β  This means when we bag the plants up for you, there’s no reason why they should arrive with you in anything less than 100% – that’s right, they should be perfect!

If for any reason you are unhappy with the plants, then all you need to do is return them to us, and we will give you a complete refund for the price of the plants, no questions asked. We want you to be happy so this is our guarantee to you πŸ™‚

Aquarium plants

Here’s a thought on electricity consumption

It got me thinking just the other day about electricity consumption with a planted aquarium. Now we use a lot of lights with our plants as you might expect. We also use LED lights because of their lower electric consumption but have some T5s which use a fair bit more as you might guess. Quite how much I don’t know but it got me thinking about consumption and when hobbyists have their lights on and for how long.

Our electric meter has day and night time setting and night time is almost half the price of the day time. I then quite literally had a light bulb moment…

wouldn’t it be better to use electricity at night when the price is cheaper than during the day?

Although not always practical, we have started running some of our lights at night (between 11pm – 7am), thereby cutting our costs.

Do you think this is a good idea for you at home and your planted tank?

Lets say you arrive home at 6pm, so you could have lights come on then, and go off at 2am in the morning, this way you too could be using cheaper electric (assuming you have the same set up as us), and run your lighting for the normal 8 hours a day.

What do you think? I would live to hear your thoughts.

p.s. if you want to check out our excellent LED lighting click here.

LED lighting for planted aquariums

Mixed Boxes Of Aquarium Plants

I’ve written a post about our rather excellent mixed boxes of plants, so I won’t repeat myself. What I will do is remind you of the benefits of them and how the more you buy, the cheaper the plants are.

The benefits of mixed boxes are that we decide for you which plants are a best. Typically a mixed box of plants is suitable for hobbyists who are either new to the hobby, or they just can’t decide! We put in pots that are considered relatively easy to grow, so we won’t put in plants that would only survive with CO2. Not only that but don’t forget all our plants come with a full root structure which means not only do they plant easily and anchor down, but they also begin growing immediately in your tank.

When you invest in a mixed box of potted plants, not only do we select a superb range of foreground, midground and background plants but we also give you free fertilisers. That’s right, totally free. And, if you go for one of the mixed boxes of 40 or 50, the price of the potted plants drops down to Β£2.75. This becomes incredible value for such high quality potted plants when you consider a typical potted plant costs Β£3.99.

You can find our mixed boxes by clicking here and if you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you.

Potted Aquarium Plants

A Comprehensive Guide To Planted Aquariums Ebook

I wrote this Ebook a while back and offer it to hobbyists free of charge. It answer the main questions I am asked regarding planted aquariums contains ten pages of information from substrates, lighting, fertilisers, water changes, lighting, plants etc

Free to download below and something you can read whilst having a cup of tea πŸ™‚

A Comprehensive Guide To Planted Aquariums Ebook.

When medicating – don’t forget to use Express Delivery!

Medication in planted aquariums is a 2 step process. The first one is the hardest, correct diagnosis. Before you diagnose, make sure you do your research and be sure that the medication you are investing in is the right one for your fish. No point in finding out later on that the treatment doesn’t seem to be working for you – that’s because you have mis-diagnosed.

The second part is to ensure you medicate as quickly as possible. Don’t skimp and choose economy post. You need Express Delivery so that you can begin treatment as soon as possible.

This option is available at the check out and all of our fish medication can be found here.

Aquafleur Plants – and a video!!

We’ve been a big fan of Aquafleur plants for a long time now. Not only are they great value for money, but they’re darn good growers of plants too. I knew they were a pretty extensive organisation and they’ve recently produced a video that is well worth a watch. Now I know you’re busy, but it’s only 4 minutes long and is a super watch detailing their premises and the plants they grow along with how they grow them.

It’s fascinating to see how some plants are sprayed really intensively (you wouldn’t want to be stood under it when it happens) and others are sprayed for less than 1 second. I wonder how they know this and what the time is from spray to spray. Do you know – if so let me know!?

Anyway, you can see their video by clicking here and then clicking their video on the top right of the screen.

I would love to hear your thoughts on it and don’t forget our range of Aquafleur plants can be found by Potted Plants.

Anubias nana – don’t plant it, tie it!

We love this plant here at Aqua Essentials and belive you will too if you haven’t already tried it. It’s been around for as long as I can remember and it’s here to stay. So what’s so special about it?

Anubias nana has dark green leaves which are slightly oval in shape. A slow growing plant that is suitable for a wide range of conditions means that it can flourish very easily. When it’s really happy white flowers grow (very nice!!) and new leaves take 1-2 weeks to show. However, it’s really important that you know where to place Anubias nana because unlike most, do not plant in the substrate. Anubias nana has a rhizome which means that if planted in the substrate it will rot. So the secret to longevity is tying it to wood or rocks. The easiest way is to use Aqua Fine Line which is super thin and means that when you tie it, you will barely be able to to see it giving the illusion that the plant has already grown onto the wood. Over time (several months) the roots will grow and wrap themselves around and the Aqua Fine Line will no longer be needed and can be cut off if required.

Overall, this delightful plant is a pleasure in the planted aquarium and if you’re thinking about it, give it a whirl. We’re offering them at only Β£4.99 each and you can find the plant by clicking here.

Last postage day before Xmas

We’re nearly at the end of the year so wanted to make a quick post to let everyone know that our last postage day before the big day is the 22nd December. We’ll still be sending plants out before this time as they will be fine in transit due to our refined packing. However it is recommended that you opt for Express Delivery when checking out.

We would like to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and thank you for your support this year and we look forward to helping you with your planted aquarium in 2012!

Fertilisers in your tank

Yes I’ve been at it again so have posted my 3rd YouTube clip!! This new format takes a lot more time, but I feel it’s worth putting in the leg work. My editing is not the best but bare with me as I improve with experience. For those of you interested I’m using iMovie for editing but would like to invest in decent lighting, a background, HD camera and decent mic to avoid the sound delay.

I’m discussing fertilisers in the planted aquarium and which type you need for low tech and high tech tanks. I hope you enjoy the short clip and would appreciate any feedback.

Aquatic Plants on sale

It’s that time of year again so this is a fantastic opportunity to get hold of some quality potted plants at a discounted rate. Of course, these prices won’t last long but if you were thinking about getting your tank looking in tip top condition so all your relatives and friends could see, maybe now is a good opportunity.

Large selection at super prices.

Check these deals out by clicking Aquatic Plants On Sale.

delivering knowledge, sharing ideas