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post #16 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 06:03 PM Thread Starter
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Question Water Testing, Cycling, and Petco Discrepancies

Okay, so I have been using two pieces of raw shrimp to cycle this tank for about a month now.

About two weeks before planting, I used my API Liquid Master Test Kit to check the water parameters. The results came back confirming that there was a healthy amount of Ammonia, still no NitrItes or NitrAtes.

The day before planting, I checked the water again using my API Liquid Master Test Kit, and the results came back with no Ammonia, plenty of NitrItes, and still no NitrAtes.

Then, I did a complete water change while planting. I knew this would set back the cycle a bit, but I wanted to get rid of the tannins in the water, etc. The decaying shrimp has remained in the tank the whole time.

Yesterday (4 days after planting), I checked the water parameters again. I figured that since the tank was now heavily stocked with plants, they might be absorbing/using all of the excess NitrItes and NitrAtes. Once again, the results came back showing no Ammonia, some NitrItes, and no NitrAtes.

I was a little disappointed with the results, but not totally surprised. However, my API Liquid Master Test Kit is around 3 years old, give or take. I have heard that they become less reliable, and expire after about 3 or 4 years. So, I decided to take a sample of my water to Petco to have them test it.

Much to my disappointment, they used the API Test Strips to test the water. I know that if the strips are exposed to any moisture at all, the results that they give are pretty much totally bogus. Either way, I was curious, and the test strips came back reading nothing across the board.

So, should I trust the crappy test strips, or my old liquid test kit? I'm not used to cycling with plants, so I'm not sure how to proceed. I would like to start adding some fauna, but want to make sure everything is safe and not have to change the water a million times until the tank is fully cycled.

(I know the short answer is to buy another Master Test Kit, but I'm looking to see if you have any insights on cycling with plants and where you think my tank might be in its cycle, given the information above.)
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post #17 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 06:15 PM
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Subscribed. As a newbie, I found your step by step pictures helpful. Beautiful layout. Cant wait to see how the plants grow in.
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post #18 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 06:24 PM Thread Starter
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Wow, a subscriber! The blind leading the blind, I guess! Thanks for following along.

Thanks for your comments on the layout, as well.

I will be trying my best to stay vigilant about posting pics of the tank's progress, even when it looks less than presentable. I have a feeling that the first month may look a little melty/brown, but once things get more established, it will take off.
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post #19 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 06:46 PM
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This looks like a great start!
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post #20 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 08:49 PM
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I love the wood. It looks really nice. I would agree that this looks like a good start. I only hope that I can do as well when I set mine up.
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post #21 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-04-2013, 09:40 PM
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I think you did a great job, but then I have always been a sucker for the val wall look. Consider clustering the java fern at the base of the wood as if the wood were growing out of it; might look good.

Stay patient with your cycling efforts.

RAOK Club #76

220g altum, 75g high tech, 6g shrimp: one office, three tanks http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=183658
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post #22 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-05-2013, 12:30 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hydrophyte View Post
This looks like a great start!
Thank you! It's a big compliment coming from you. I love looking at all of your ripariums. Your photography is top notch, too.
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post #23 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-05-2013, 12:34 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grimnokk View Post
I love the wood. It looks really nice. I would agree that this looks like a good start. I only hope that I can do as well when I set mine up.
Thanks! Yeah, I ordered the main piece of wood in the foreground from eBay. When it arrived it was a lot smaller than I was expecting, but now that everything is in place, I wouldn't want it any bigger. It really worked out.

The wood in the back is actually three different pieces ziptied together at the base. I am really happy with the way that, from the front, they combine with the piece in the front to look like one big piece with lots of branches. Can't wait to see tons of red cherry shrimp chilling on it all day .
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post #24 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-05-2013, 12:39 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomfromstlouis View Post
I think you did a great job, but then I have always been a sucker for the val wall look. Consider clustering the java fern at the base of the wood as if the wood were growing out of it; might look good.

Stay patient with your cycling efforts.
I too am a sucker for the Val wall look. The Vals really make the look of the tank, so I am most worried about their success. I know it won't look as good if I have to rip it all out. Not to mention it will have been 30 bucks down the drain . Time will tell.

I guess that goes for the cycle of the tank, as well. Patience is a virtue, especially in the aquarium hobby. I'm just starting to get tired of the thick film of protein that builds up on the surface of the sump from the decaying shrimp. I know that any fish I add at this point would be fine, especially if I stocked lightly at first, but I hate to think I'm stressing them unnecessarily. I've told myself to wait until Friday to measure the parameters again. Then, take it from there.

Last edited by raulfd4; 02-05-2013 at 02:01 AM. Reason: Text
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post #25 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-06-2013, 11:05 PM Thread Starter
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So, it's been one week since I planted. Been running it with a 9 hour photo period. No CO2, no ferts.

The Diandra and Wisteria are both showing growth.

The Anubias, Java Fern, and Java Moss are looking essentially the same as when I first planted.

The Crypts had about one leaf/branch melt per plant, but the other remaining leaves are looking good! Is it possible that they are past the point of melting away completely???

The Vals are doing okay. I did a heavy trimming last night to get rid of all the brown/melty strands. What remains looks good, and a bunch of them have shot up some new little flowers .

Anacharis also shows a little growth, and looks healthy and happy down in the sump.

Tested the water paramaters tonight, and it looks like the tank has finally cycled! Adding the plants has removed everything - zeroes across the board. pH is at 7.4.

I will be adding some fish this Saturday. I am thinking I will keep the decaying shrimp in the tank until Friday. I will do a 50% water change Thursday night, and then another one on Friday night. Then I'll take the shrimp out and rinse out the sponges in my sump.

Thinking I will probably get a Betta and a school of Tetras - maybe Neons? What do you all think?

I am going to wait to get the Otos, shrimp, and cories until the plants are more established.



(Pardon the ugly tank shot, just took it quickly with all the lights on in the apartment so that you all could see how it's looking at the moment.)

Last edited by raulfd4; 02-06-2013 at 11:47 PM. Reason: Text
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post #26 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-09-2013, 01:04 PM
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lovely tank and look forward to seeing how the "wall of vals" comes along.

"Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
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post #27 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-09-2013, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
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One Week Plant Update

Wanted to start by showing how my lights are currently set up. I had to do a DIY to make the lights for the sump. I took two Aqueon hood lighting fixtures and connected them using leftover strips of acrylic from the sump build. I used super glue for the adhesive.



I used those 3M adhesive hooks on the top.



Connected the bottom in the same way.





Inside the bottom of the stand, I screwed in an old scrap piece of particle board and then screwed in two hooks to that. Then I suspended the lights from the hooks using chain.







For the lights on the display tank, I put a sheet of window screen mesh behind the splash guard. A few of the forum members here suggested I do that so that the light wasn't too strong.



Here's a nice shot of the tank in the context of the whole living room.



Awesome new growth on all of the crypts!











The swordplant is going nuts! All of the leaves growing on the main stalk about 3/4 of the way up this shot are new.






The Vals are flowering!





Diandra and Wisteria showing steady growth.



Anubias not looking so hot.



But, some new growth!



Java Fern doing well. I guess it's not too much light for them after all... for now.





Here are the Anacharis down in the sump. Slow, but steady growth down there as well.




Last edited by raulfd4; 02-10-2013 at 12:11 AM. Reason: Text
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post #28 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-09-2013, 11:01 PM
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Great looking tank.

by the way, this doesn't look like java moss to me.

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post #29 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-09-2013, 11:02 PM Thread Starter
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Smile Fish!

So, water change on Thursday. Water change on Friday. Removed the decaying shrimp and tested the water. Zeroes across the board... it's fauna time.



So, it may seem lame, but I am really happy with what I got.

My wife helped me pick out a beautiful Crowntail Betta at Petco. I've always had this dream of releasing a Betta from those crappy little cups they live in and letting them into a big, lush, planted tank. Life doesn't have to be miserable for the poor Bettas!





This is my favorite picture of him.



Then I got a bunch (or what I thought was a bunch!) of Neon Tetras. I was really tempted to get some nice Rainbows, but they were a little too pricey for me.

Brought them home and started acclimating them.







Did a DIY drip acclimation.



Airline valves?!?!





Here are the Neons.



And then the Betta.





The Betta looks AMAZING!





The Neons look great, as well. But the school of 11 looked so small....





Soooooo, I went back to the LFS and got 18 more!

Threw in 4 Otos for good measure. I will probably add 2 or 3 more when the store gets more in this week.







And here it is... My cat Lulu loves the tank. It makes me so happy, too. She is home alone while my wife and I are at work, so I wanted to give her something to watch.







Sorry for the crummy pictures. I'll upload some better ones once it gets dark and I can kill all the lights.

Really REALLY happy with the way things have come together.

On the horizon for delivery this week - 15 RCS and 5 MTS. Oh, and a bunch of Frogbit!

Thanks for checking it out! Please, let me know what you think.
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post #30 of 60 (permalink) Old 02-09-2013, 11:02 PM
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Sweeet tank. That's what I wanted to do with my 75G, but I was too impatient.

temporary tanks for the time being...
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