callisto9's 20G high planted tank - low tech - Page 7 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #91 of 115 (permalink) Old 03-08-2013, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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I posted a thread specifically about this mulm (finally, the word I've been looking for!) here: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...=1#post2767186
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post #92 of 115 (permalink) Old 03-08-2013, 07:57 PM
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Do you think getting some cories would help? I'm open to trying them again (just not albinos).

I will get some airline tubing tonight.
I replied in the other thread too. I'd wait on the cories until after the ammonia spike is back down to zero again, and you have the tank conditions stabilized. If you're not moving plants and things around, or stirring up the substrate anymore, the mulm ... the mulm shouldn't be a problem anymore.

Check out pygmy cories (Corydoras pygmaeus) for an option down the road. I had those when I first began this tank and they are super fun. They tend to school and have great personalities. Not like a typical cory, imho.


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post #93 of 115 (permalink) Old 03-10-2013, 09:31 AM
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I replied in the other thread too. I'd wait on the cories until after the ammonia spike is back down to zero again, and you have the tank conditions stabilized. If you're not moving plants and things around, or stirring up the substrate anymore, the mulm ... the mulm shouldn't be a problem anymore.

Check out pygmy cories (Corydoras pygmaeus) for an option down the road. I had those when I first began this tank and they are super fun. They tend to school and have great personalities. Not like a typical cory, imho.
What she said, everywhere.

I've gone through this before. Plants dying, roots rotting, too much ammonia, fish dying, a horrible cycle. You seem to be close to figuring it out.

Corys are sensitive to ammonia, so if you are in a cycle definately wait until you get some. My original Peppered Corys died in my crash which broke my heart, but I had nowhere else to put them. I had gray crud everywhere in their absence. Once everything was stable I got three more, and it took them three days to banish all the crud to the filters.

I also added a cheap 10 gallon HOB filter to the other side of the tank from the other one. For only 15 bucks it adds an additional bacteria colony, and if you alternate changing the filter pads between the two HOB's, you always have a colony. My water is crystal clear now. You seem to have a pretty powerful one for a 20 gallon though, but I have no experience with the one you have.

I hope you have better luck finding Corys in your town than I. I have a choice of just a couple different types here. I know I should have more than three Peppered, but they are calm, and as they get pretty big for a 20g I didn't want to overstock. If they were freaking out I'd add another, but it isn't the case. They just poke around all the plants and Flourite looking for food, sometimes together, sometimes not.

I hope things turn around for you soon.

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post #94 of 115 (permalink) Old 03-10-2013, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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I'm about ready to throw in the towel. This is so frustrating.

I couldn't find airline tubing in the size I wanted at PetSmart, so I had to use my regular siphons today. One of them wouldn't work (the one that's smaller - the one I *wanted* to use).

Did a nine gallon water change today (about 50%) and there's still SO. MUCH. CRAP in the tank. I feel bad for my fish.

Found my last mystery snail dead today. *sigh*. That's three of them that have died since I started this hobby last fall. He was totally out of his shell and disintegrated. I have been dosing Excel Comprehensive (1ml) twice a week. Could that have killed him? I also know I have a tiny assassin snail (about the size of an eraserhead) roaming the tank somewhere. Could the assassin snail have killed him?

Many of my plants got uprooted today when I was vac'ing the substrate.

And there's still mulm EVERYWHERE.
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post #95 of 115 (permalink) Old 03-10-2013, 09:15 PM
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Sorry to hear, but a regular siphon just won't allow you to get rid of the mulm like the airline tubing. Also if you're dislodging plants, you are disturbing the substrate and causing even MORE mulm above.

It's an easy fix, but you have to follow to rules... get an airline tube and siphon the mulm up with it. It should only take once, maybe twice to get it all. Remember, you're trying to suck out the exposed mulm off the plants, rocks, top of the substrate at this point, so you shouldn't be going into the substrate yet.

If you keep doing the same thing, you won't get any different results.


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post #96 of 115 (permalink) Old 03-10-2013, 09:35 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry to hear, but a regular siphon just won't allow you to get rid of the mulm like the airline tubing. Also if you're dislodging plants, you are disturbing the substrate and causing even MORE mulm above.

It's an easy fix, but you have to follow to rules... get an airline tube and siphon the mulm up with it. It should only take once, maybe twice to get it all. Remember, you're trying to suck out the exposed mulm off the plants, rocks, top of the substrate at this point, so you shouldn't be going into the substrate yet.

If you keep doing the same thing, you won't get any different results.
I *am* going to get the airline tubing, when I can find it. I had to do a water change today and didn't have the tubing, so I made do with what I had.
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post #97 of 115 (permalink) Old 03-10-2013, 09:37 PM Thread Starter
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OK, I'm starting to wonder if airline tubing only comes in one size. Does it? I was looking for something with a larger opening, but I only see this narrow stuff.
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post #98 of 115 (permalink) Old 03-10-2013, 10:19 PM
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callisto9's 20G high planted tank - low tech

Yea it's only one size, straight tubing. Not normally used for siphoning but works great when u need to suck out debris or loose algae without removing a lot of water. When u use it, just hold the end of it just above the mulm and move it through the tank slowly. It will take longer but you'll be able to go over every leaf and rock before u have 6-9 gallons taken out. Do not go into the gravel with it. Just hover...


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post #99 of 115 (permalink) Old 03-11-2013, 02:41 AM Thread Starter
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Well that was fun... and frustrating! siphon siphon siphon.... rock.... siphon siphon.... rock (eco complete clogged the line... a lot!)... siphon... rock rock rock... siphon siphon siphon...

I had twist-tied the airline tubing to a long, narrow piece of bamboo to get better maneuvering, but each time I got a rock in the tube, I'd have to undo it. I need a little tiny open-weave mesh on the end of the airline tubing so I don't suck up the eco complete.

Well, I think I made some progress though. I think I have a lot more to suck out, but I feel better than I did a few hours ago.

I think I'm going to see about trading the narrow-leaf anacharis to the LFS for some cory cats... soon!

Again, thanks Sherry for your help. What would I do without you?
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post #100 of 115 (permalink) Old 03-11-2013, 03:29 AM
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Yay, it does look better! Hopefully there's a light at the end of the tunnel too.

I try to avoid the gravel as much as possible, but if I do suck a piece up, I can remove a clog by pinching it. Easy and you don't have to stop the siphon or remove the line to unclog.

At least it's only another one, maybe two, more times with the airline before you get all the mulm out? All the water changes that you've been doing should also help with the ammonia spike.

After the visible mulm is gone and you return to normal siphoning, I'd suggest you take it easy, no need to get too deep into the gravel, and definitely avoid uprooting any plants. The goal is not to get every last bit of gunk out of the gravel, but to get the surface accumulation, and just reduce it in general.

When you look for cories, check out the specific one Corydoras pygmaeus, the Pygmy Cory. They stay really small, school together and have the best little personalities. When I had a school of five in my nano, I was up really late one night and so they were up. One of them kept trying to sleep and the other pygmys would come over and nudge him or bounce on him a little as if to say, "come on! let's play!" Such cute little fish.

Now I want pygmy cories again!


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post #101 of 115 (permalink) Old 03-11-2013, 03:41 AM Thread Starter
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Well oddly enough, I have a high ammo reading - .50ppm
Nitrates are 5.0 ppm and nitrites are 0 ppm.

What should I do about the high ammo reading? I'm worried!!! I've never had it this high before. Odd considering how much water, poo and mulm I got out today!

I don't think my LFS has pygmy cories unfortunately. Those are the ones I want, too!

I'd say about 70% of the mulm is out.
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post #102 of 115 (permalink) Old 03-11-2013, 03:58 AM
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Well oddly enough, I have a high ammo reading - .50ppm
Nitrates are 5.0 ppm and nitrites are 0 ppm.

What should I do about the high ammo reading? I'm worried!!! I've never had it this high before. Odd considering how much water, poo and mulm I got out today!

I don't think my LFS has pygmy cories unfortunately. Those are the ones I want, too!

I'd say about 70% of the mulm is out.
It's most likely due to an ammonia spike when the plants were uprooted. That will happen every time. If you took out 20% of the water tonight, do another 20% water change (just water, no need to siphon gravel or mulm out more tonight) and do another 20% water change tomorrow. Retest the water. If it's still high, keep up with the small water changes every other day until it's down again.

Be careful when pouring the water back in to avoid disturbing the substrate.

Also, do you have carbon filtration in your filter? It could need to be changed, especially given how much debris has been kicked up lately.


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post #103 of 115 (permalink) Old 03-11-2013, 05:18 AM Thread Starter
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It's most likely due to an ammonia spike when the plants were uprooted. That will happen every time. If you took out 20% of the water tonight, do another 20% water change (just water, no need to siphon gravel or mulm out more tonight) and do another 20% water change tomorrow. Retest the water. If it's still high, keep up with the small water changes every other day until it's down again.

Be careful when pouring the water back in to avoid disturbing the substrate.

Also, do you have carbon filtration in your filter? It could need to be changed, especially given how much debris has been kicked up lately.
OK, done. I probably changed out about 80% of the water today between the original WC, the airline tubing clean and the 3 gallon WC I just did.

Hope all my fishies are ok.
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post #104 of 115 (permalink) Old 03-11-2013, 05:30 AM
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OK, done. I probably changed out about 80% of the water today between the original WC, the airline tubing clean and the 3 gallon WC I just did.

Hope all my fishies are ok.
I hope so too. It's good that you double checked your water parameters as that last water change was necessary.

Did you change the carbon in your filter? That I would definitely do as well.

Once the ammonia level is down... and it should drop with the small daily water changes until it's down again... then you'll be out of the woods. Please just avoid disturbing the substrate or plants at all during this time. You don't want to add any more.

The fish you have left must be very hardy little guys, so I'm cautiously optimistic that they'll survive this.


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post #105 of 115 (permalink) Old 03-11-2013, 05:38 AM
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ps- when you take water out in stages like you ended up doing today, I believe it's not as much of a shock to the fish as if you had done the large wc all at once.


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