50G with 30G sump - month 10 update - Page 6 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #76 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-18-2012, 11:43 AM Thread Starter
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I certainly hope so. The changing levels of ammonia/nitrites leads me to believe the tank might be ready by this weekend for fish. Pretty sure I stalled the cycle by adding too much ammonia due to bad test kits - it's now coming back online. If I am correct, ammonia will have decreased again tonight, and nitrite increased.

Pretty sure we'll be doing fish first, now. Big Al's tent sale has Jumbo Neon Tetras on sale 3 for $2 or something - can't pass that up, assuming the tank is cycled.
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post #77 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-18-2012, 05:07 PM
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Awesome set up.

Get shrimped out!
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post #78 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 09:04 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, eh. I'm thinking of calling it 'the Internet Special'.

Quick update from yesterday:
  • Water temp dropped down to 77.8 (right now) from 78.6 (last night) - I think we left a window open somewhere, and outside temp went down to 6C last night. Also, no heating on at the moment.
  • Ammonia is definitely around 4 now, no guessing - has gone down again
  • Nitrite has definitely increased, probably around 2.0-3.0 at this point

I also went to the first DRAS meeting of the year (local fish club), and it was a very interesting experience - the speaker was great! - although I did not get to stay for the whole thing.

Hm...is that kind of water temp drop something to be worried about? To the search engine!!
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post #79 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 09:10 AM Thread Starter
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Ok, good news! Nitrites and nitrates are off the scale, ammonia is down to 2.0!!! According to the fishless cycle guide, this means it's time for a 50% PWC. We brought in every bucket we have, filled with tap water to warm up for tonight.

I'm noting that the water is still crystal clear, but has a very slight green-yellow tint to it (such as looking through the tank at the wall behind). Guessing this is normal, to a point.

Plants are dying off ever so slightly, guessing this is due to very high nitrite/nitrate levels, and normal acclimation.

Also - the glass was cut for the tops...but it was cut incorrectly!! ...again... They cut four squares instead of four pieces that fit into two squares (obviously I gave them the exact piece measurements, not weird descriptions like that). Guess something was lost in translation. At any rate, two of the four squares they gave me fit the top openings perfectly, so I just need to drill/grommet for the overflow siphon tube and silicone on some handles. I noted that within seconds of placement the glass had misted over with condensation...so this should help. Also appears to be helping keep the temperature in...tank is back up to 78.7.

Tonight, water change (which will be a rather difficult exercise...), dose ammonia back up to 4, check pH, and continue the waiting game. In theory we are very close to the point where ammo/nitrite disappear overnight and the cycle is complete.
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post #80 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-23-2012, 01:33 PM Thread Starter
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Awright, quick update before church.

As Diana suggested, we did a 95% water change in an effort to reduce the nitrite in the system. I put 2.5 capfuls of Prime into the measuring cup to ensure good distribution of the dechlor throughout the water change refill process.

Water change overview:
  1. Turn off the UPSes powering pumps/heater.
  2. Use the hose+pump combo to drain the display.
  3. Drain the sump return area.
  4. Fiddle with/figure out how to siphon out of the sump biological filter area without removing everything.
  5. Clean out dead plant matter.
  6. Place Seachem Prime into measuring cup, settle into place on the bottom.
  7. Fill up slowly by screwing the hose onto the sink's faucet.
  8. Let overflow re-fill sump.
  9. Once water levels normal, turn it on, see how it goes.

Floaty Wisteria.

Micro-bubbles on the plants. Neat.

Coiled the hose to make for the best gravity path.

Used a pump w. duct tape to start/continue the siphon.

Cleaning dead junk out (not that much...but still, might as well).

Floppy plants.

Super floppy.

Low flow meant the input water just flowed smoothly over this measuring cup.

Wisteria issues...dead stem bottoms...

The Anubias Nana's diatom algae emitting a neat string of bubbles.

Water parameter update:
  • Pre-WC: Ammonia@0
  • Pre-WC: Nitrite@3.3+ (off the scale)
  • Post-WC: Ammonia@0
  • Post-WC: Nitrite@0.8
  • Post-WC+4cc ammon: Ammonia@~1.0
  • Post-WC+4cc ammon: Nitrite@~1.6
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post #81 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-26-2012, 11:58 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry, been busy, update time!

As of today:
  • Nitrites@0.3 or less (probably 0)
  • Nitrates@5
  • Only other item of note is the froth/foam in the sump return area (see pic below). This could be due to the filter socks needing a clean.
  • The Wisteria seem to be not-dying whilst floating, so will leave them to develop more roots.
  • I will be adding 12cc of ammonia and will check parameters tomorrow this time. If ammonia@0 and nitrite@0, and nitrates increased, then we're good.
  • I am also guessing nitrates are low due to the amount of plants. Have to look that up.
  • Tank temp has jumped back to 79...kinda weird.

Bottom line, if time allows - fish this weekend!


Wisteria rooting

Whatever these are, they are generally doing terribly
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post #82 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-27-2012, 12:44 AM
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Nice tank build!

Were those sponge type things presoaped? It sounds stupid, but sponges sometimes come with soap on them from the factory, weird, but something to take into account.

Looks like red tiger lotus.
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post #83 of 96 (permalink) Old 09-27-2012, 02:03 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, it's been a lot of fun. Good question - pretty sure no, as bacteria has grown just fine, but really have no clue.

Thanks for the tip on the plant...will look it up. The LFS guys (and my wife) were really enthused about it, but so far hasn't done well. Maybe it'll just take longer...
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post #84 of 96 (permalink) Old 10-01-2012, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, quick update on the cycle. I think we're closer. I will be adding a little less ammonia this time, see how it does.
  • Water@78.1, slightly green/yellow tint to it
  • Ammonia@0
  • Nitrites@0
  • Nitrates@10-20 (should be fine for fish)
  • Turned off one of the light sets (so only 2 bulbs instead of 4 T5HO) in an attempt to curb diatoms
  • The plants appear to be growing, so that's something

Nitrates have decreased, so it seems the plants are eating them up.

Added 7cc ammonia.
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post #85 of 96 (permalink) Old 10-02-2012, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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Well, the cycle is complete, good enough for me.

I did a 50-60% water change, double-checked parameters (nitrates ended up 5-10, zero for ammon/nitrite), and was off to Big Al's.

I'm still in a bit of sticker shock, but bit the bullet. Cardinals, 12 (6 for $18) of them.

I have discovered something: My fancy overflow and super-high turnover is NOT fish friendly. I think we kinda knew that going into this, but had no idea how crazy it would be.

One little guy...who I am pretty sure won't make it...got sucked into the filter sock almost immediately. I quickly turned off both pumps, got him out, but he's alternating between swimming upside down and bumping into things whilst swimming upside down.

The other 11 seem to have done better - I think it's because the aforementioned doomed fish took several minutes longer to net out of the bag, so the others had schooled, and he just got confused. They have found a 'quiet' spot in the tank, and I am running only the smaller of the two pumps at the moment. 9 of them consistently school in a back corner.

I put in some food, but no takers yet. Guessing it'll take them a day or so to get acclimated.

I moved the floating Water Wisteria to form a 'barrier' along the overflow edge - it seems to help, a little. If nothing else the Wisteria will enjoy the extra oxygen.

Unfortunately we have no camera at this time, so no pictures.

Jeepers. Feel bad for that little guy.
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post #86 of 96 (permalink) Old 10-08-2012, 04:21 PM Thread Starter
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Well, guess this will be the last update for a while (until I finish that sump lid, anyway).
  • Still have 11 Cardinals...never did find that guy who disappeared...very confusing. Guess they ate him? Maybe his body is buried in some ancient Tetra rite?
  • Plants are indeed growing...the vals took off, anubias have a few new shoots, even the red tiger lily has new leaves.
  • The swords are the only item that did not do well. One has all leaves gone (I plucked when they turned yellow), other only has a few left. I trimmed the old stems back today, maybe that will help.
  • Cleaned the mechanical filters for the first time today, nice collection of diatoms/old fish food.
  • I am still confused about how much/how/when to feed these guys. Been doing every other day, a good pinch, place near the bottom/back and let them go to town. They look really fat afterwards.

On the feeding front, I've had suggestions to pre-soak food like bloodworms, and for both types (flaks/worms) to put into a turkey baster to inject into the calmer areas of the tank.

Water parameters stabilized about a week before I placed the fish in. Waiting on some consensus as to what currents shrimp can withstand before I get a batch of RCS.
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post #87 of 96 (permalink) Old 10-13-2012, 11:47 PM Thread Starter
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Not the greatest video, but you get the idea.


As a side note - the ball check valve is rattling because of the high flow rate. If I crank the flow down using the ball valve, rattling goes away.
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post #88 of 96 (permalink) Old 11-15-2012, 12:00 AM Thread Starter
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Thought I would post an update.

Tank is doing really well, down to 9 Cardinals - no trace of the missing fish to this day. We added 30-40 shrimp on Saturday...I think there are 10 left. Cardinals are looking super fat, and several shrimp carcasses have turned up, besides all the shrimp gone missing.

Shrimp regularly get sucked down into the sump...seem okay with it, for the most part, but annoying to have to keep moving them back to the display area. They won't last long at this rate, anyway, kinda sad that the Cardinals are such angry fishies. Not like they don't get fed...they were growing very nicely with my feeding schedule.

The good news about the tank is that it has been a month since the introduction of fish, and I have yet to do a water change, or even consider one (just refilling the sump ~0.5G every other day or so. The ammonia levels are 0, nitrate levels are 0 (strange for a planted tank...they were ~5-10 when I introduced fish I think), and water is crystal clear. Will probably do one once all the shrimp get eaten. Maybe.

Bottom line we enjoy the tank, but very sad the shrimpies won't work out. They were a lot of fun to watch for the first day.
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post #89 of 96 (permalink) Old 05-31-2013, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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Wow, didn't realize how long it's been since I built this. Guess I'll submit an update.

Still have yet to change the water, aside from top-ups. Now that I have added a proper top to both the sump and tank, I'll have to do a monthly test, maybe. Fish are still super-healthy/happy.

We are now up to...30 fish? ~8 Cardinals, 1 Angel (other two got sucked into the sump), ~12 silver tetras, ~10 Sunburst Platies. All of the shrimp were eaten, unfortunately. I did a water test the other day just for kicks, levels are zero.

The water wisteria died off after I reduced the light window (to combat algae), but the rest of the plants are doing great. The red thing mysteriously came back to life, but still not doing that great.

Anyways...pretty happy with things, and no water changes is pretty awesome. Only maintenance I do is scrub the glass once a month, feed the fish every 2-3 days, and clean the sump mechanical filter maybe once a month. So... 1-2 hours maintenance per month, plus feeding.

Oh...after I added the sump/tank tops, refill period has shrunk dramatically...I'm guessing that will be down to 2 gallons a month, maybe less.
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post #90 of 96 (permalink) Old 06-07-2013, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
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Oh, I wanted to post a list of do's/don'ts:
  • Don't do an internal overflow - makes cleaning very difficult.
  • Don't do 'through-tank' returns, go overtop (have had the ball valves stick open once).
  • Don't do coast-to-coast style without some sort of screen/mesh - angelfish do not like the sump trip, and rescuing everything else is a pain.
  • Do have lids for the display tank and sump to prevent the majority of evaporation - saves a lot of refill maintenance.
  • Do stick with one breed of fish rather than a bunch of different ones, looks nicer IMO.
  • Do spend more time on the aquascape plan.
  • Don't forget that the gravel/mts takes up 1-2", so plan rock display accordingly.
  • Don't go small on the sump...30G I'm thinking is the smallest you'd want a sump from a purely practical point of view (maintenance, access, etc)
  • Do get a lot of plants to start, key for getting cycled and keeping the water levels in the green.
  • Do make your sump cover easy to remove.

If there's ever a catastrophe or we move or some such, I think we'll be moving to a 180G at minimum...most likely a plywood tank. 55G is so small!
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