Day 1 (yesterday)
Some background on the set up.
Originally, I planned to do some peaceful prairie sloping with curvy walking path with different substrate material and thickness/topography with 3 types of substrate and 5 type of plants. I was overly ambitious. It turned into mush after I turned the filter on. I tossed the whole thing save a few plants.
Second try, going minimalist. Only a manzanita branch, 5 yamaya stones and a lot of java moss wrapped around the manzanita. Clean and simple. I am much happier. I read shrimps don't like bare bottom. But, that's what I am going with. I am sick of dealing with substrate.
I got some terrarium globes in there fitted with some moss and stones. I thought the shrimps that want some cover might find it useful. Turns out, they don't like the globes. The few I saw went in either came straight out or struggled frantically to get out. So, I need to find some other method to provide cover.
The shrimps really avoid the yamaya stones for some reasons. Some taiwan moss is placed in between the branch and the stones. So, I thought the moss would entice the shrimps to use the stones as cover. But, they hardly go close to it.
Within 5 hrs of setting the aquarium up, 3 of 5 snowballs went into molting. 2 molted very quickly. 1 seemed to struggle as a CRS kept bugging it. For some reasons, they all liked hanging out at the larger size rock just underneath the branch yesterday. Today, they are exploring. 1 snowball is still hiding underneath the big rock. I think it just finished molting.
Anyways, on to day 2:
This morning, first thing I noticed is the water is hazier than it was yesterday. I guess the tank is already cycling. Did a water test with tetra strips. Ammonia seems safe although a bit high, I think, for such a young tank. Nitrate is between 1.0 and 3.0. Hardness (gh) is 75 ppm. Chlorine is nil. Alkalinity (kh) is between 40 and 80. And, pH is somewhere between 7.8 and 8.4.
What sticks out to me is the high pH. So, I did a 15% water change with RO water. A few hours later, the pH tested between 7.2 and 7.8. I think I am good water parameter wise for today.
In a tupperware bowl, I have a glass tray filled with ADA Amazonia soil with E. Acicularis planted in it. I added a bottle of Tetra SafeStart to the bowl to grow a colony of beneficial bacteria who will feed off the ammonia provided by the ADA soil. The water in the bowl is testing very high on nitrates and moderate on the ammonia. After the nitrate and ammonia is down to nil, I will add the tray with the plants and some water into the aquarium.
The aquarium has already started cycling as mentioned above. I didn't think it would start so soon at least not before I add the water and plant from the tupperware. I hope my shrimps doesn't get damaged by the cycling. I guess I have to do daily 15% water changes to prevent ammonia and nitrate spikes.
1) 1 of 2 CRS is bigger than all the rest of the shrimps. I really dislike this shrimp. He keeps bugging others. He ate all the snowballs' molted skin. He's certainly developed a taste for it and tried to eat a snowball that was trying to molt. This shrimp is a feces machine too. During the first day, he hardly moves and just munches on exoskeleton and leave feces behind him. I am getting an Eheim vacuum just because of him. I think he's single handedly raising the ammonia level in the tank.
2) I wonder whether the yamaya stones is the cause for the high pH.
3) My cheapie 50mm 1.8 nikon lens does a rather good impression of a macro lens or at least it performs much better than the 17-55mm 2.8. I haven't touched the 50mm in years and was contemplating on selling it. I guess I will keep it for the shrimps.
4) The snowballs don't really like climbing on the branch though I tied up a bunch of moss to it. The CRS goes up there more often.