Radon Turned Me Back To Planted Tanks

So I’m consciously redirecting my current obsession from discus to planted tanks. A planted tank is a aquarium set up with all live plants and live fish. They’re amazing. Beautiful, peaceful, entertaining, and relaxing. And while I’d like to say I’m going back to planted tanks simply because my wife thinks they’re so pretty, the truth is, I found the prospect of not inhaling radioactive gas quite appealing.

Before I bought more discus, I agreed to test the basement for radon, since it’s known to be high in this part of the country and I’d be spending a considerable amount of time in the basement with my future discus fish. [My discus tank is in the basement because they need frequent water changes. For now, that can only happen there next to a drain and the stored clean water from the R.O. filter.] The results came back indicating we have we have 7.7 pCi/L in the basement, a level well above the recommended max. of 4 pCi/L. So, before more discus, I need to install a radon mitigation system.

Radon was the kicker. Discus are out and planted tanks are in. I drove out to Chicago a couple weekends back to look at some discus someone had for sale and also checked out a craigslist ad for a slightly used 14 gallon biocube. I bought the aquarium at a great price, brought it back, and cleaned it out.

The tank being in great shape, I started looking for plants. I had a hard time finding some nice plants, but between the Quad Cities and Madison, I found a few to get me started. I already had a glass CO2 diffuser to add carbon dioxide to the water to help the plants grow. I special ordered a dozen deep red Florida-raised cardinal tetras but only one survived. I was left to cobble together a small group of eight cardinals from local fish stores. Unfortunately, they are the more pale tank-raised cardinals. The good news is they made it a healthy ten days in quarantine. I don’t know whether they’ll get the deep red color this fish is known for. I imagine they will, but we shall see.

So we have a start. Eight cardinal tetras, four rummy nose tetras, two siamese algae eaters, and one otocinclus catfish. Plants include narrow leaf and lace java fern, corkscrew jungle vallisneria, green cryptocoryne wendtii, cryptocoryne balansae, and two somewhat unknown swords. The maroon one might be a rubin sword and the smaller one might be a rosette sword. We’re enjoying the tank. I can’t wait to see how my planted aquarium tinkering evolves.

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7 thoughts on “Radon Turned Me Back To Planted Tanks

  1. I didn’t quite get the connection between the planted tank and the radon level. Do the plants absorb it? Is it then in your fish tank? Anyway I have plants in my tanks, in the basement, and if it helps reduce radon that would interesting.

  2. It just occurred to me that the explanation I am asking about is in the video at the top of your post. I can’t view it on my phone so I apologize if my previous comment seems dense!

    • No, not at all. I don’t think the radon would affect the fish too much, but I hope not to inhale quantities of it during the hours I spend doing water changes and staring mesmorized at the fish:)

  3. The video of your planted tank is beautiful. And I understand clearly now, sorry for being so slow before. That’s what I get for trying to read your post at work on a tiny I-phone.

    • That’s funny. I’m glad to have you sneaking it in at work! I have a quick question you might know the answer to: I don’t know if my compact fluorescents aren’t strong enough or what, but the new rubin sword leaves seem to be coming in lighter than the dark maroon they were at the store. Any ideas?

      • In a new set-up there may not be a lot of nutrients in the gravel yet. Maybe you buy some fertilizer tablets and put one directly underneath the Swordplants.

  4. Thanks so much for the suggestion! I had one fertilizer tab under the sword’s roots but took your advice and added two more in different areas of the root system spread and so far the next two leaves that have come up have been much darker purple! I’m one happy man!

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