First planted tank: A story of dirt, chagrin, and humility - Page 2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #16 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-08-2013, 06:43 AM Thread Starter
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Late tonight...

MUCH happier with how things look, tonight:

For comparison, one of the shots I took immediately after filling the tank, and one I took tonight of the same end...




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Full tank shot, front:



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Closer up of the driftwood:



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Other end of the tank:



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Now time to consider plants...Hope to be able to buy some Thursday. My working list:

Java Moss
Java Fern
Anubias
Cryptocyrene usteriana
Amazon Sword
Nymphoides aquatica (banana plant)
Vallisnaria nana
Dwarf Bonsai
Brazilian pennywort

Fish list...This decision still a ways away:

Cory cats
Guppies
Congo Tetra
Thai micro crabs
Featherfin Rainbow
Freshwater puffer
(burrowing snails were suggested, upthread, for substrate health, since I put too much in)

These lists are nowhere NEAR finalized...Just things I like the look of, that seem to me low-med light plants, and easy to medium plants. On the fish, just things that SEEM fairly okay in a community tank...Still need a lot more input on my fauna choices.

Your ideas welcome...
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post #17 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-08-2013, 07:37 PM Thread Starter
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Smile Simple solutions, and a gift...

Couple of things:

1) From the DON'T OVERTHINK IT Department- I have those bulbs in a glass, and they have all sprouted. I want them in the tank water, but was worried about them moving around in the water flow...So I was trying to come up with a way to hang a basket on the edge, etc. It suddenly hit me, the simplest possible solution:



2) Had a private message from a TPT member about my plant list...He has very graciously offered a BUNCH of good plants, if I can be patient and wait a few weeks. I can, but am going to go ahead and get some java moss started, because I want to get it established on the driftwood as soon as possible.

So, thanks, dtejeda.arias...I anxiously await your RAOK!
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post #18 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-09-2013, 01:19 AM Thread Starter
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Just took my first set of water readings...YEESH!

API 5 in 1 kit showed:

General Hardness: 180
Carbonate Hardness: 120
PH: 9.0 (!)
NO2: .5
NO3: 0

I know those numbers are not good...Am going to ask some questions in the 'Tank Parameters' section. My first guess is the driftwood, which was originally in salt water, but has been 'leeching and bleaching' at a garden shop for four years.

When I filled it from our tap water, I DID use the API water conditioner when I filled the tank...Would that affect my readings?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our Motto: Making Mistakes, So You Don't Have To!

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Link to my first planted tank, 37 gallon tall, topsoil, sand, Eco Complete
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post #19 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-09-2013, 03:03 AM
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Your puffer will love the micro crabs, feather fins, and guppies. Might want to reconsider that sp. they are awesome in a sp. tank only

Patience once drove a man insane

Thanks for your time
Danny Tejeda
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post #20 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-09-2013, 03:16 AM
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whats the ph of your tap water?
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post #21 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-09-2013, 03:54 AM Thread Starter
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nate: Because I am SUCH a noob, I did not test it for a baseline comparison. Will try to get a sample tested at the LFS tomorrow...one of tap, one of tank, and see where we are more accurately.

Danny, thanks for the heads up...The puffer was kind of a long shot, anyway.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our Motto: Making Mistakes, So You Don't Have To!

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=348865

Link to my first planted tank, 37 gallon tall, topsoil, sand, Eco Complete
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post #22 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-09-2013, 08:19 PM Thread Starter
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Forgot to grab water samples when I left home, this morning. In the 'tank parameters' thread, someone suggested that the play sand may be the culprit, but that the spike may not last.

Feeling a LITTLE better today, thanks to some reading, and good advice from you folks.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our Motto: Making Mistakes, So You Don't Have To!

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=348865

Link to my first planted tank, 37 gallon tall, topsoil, sand, Eco Complete
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post #23 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-09-2013, 09:47 PM
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I would invest in a api master test kit(much cheaper than buying them separately). Will cost around 20$ on amazon(it was on sale a while ago). It will help a lot in the long run in diagnosing problems with your tank and assuring you that your nitrogen cycle has finished, and later in helping you by telling you your nitrate levels so you know when its time to do a water change.

Test strips are much less accurate than the liquid type kits(which at times can also be difficult to read or inaccurate but are generally better).

As for the depth of the soil and gas pockets.. you can lessen the effects of them by using a chopstick(or any other thin object) and poking around through the soil to release the gas pockets. Later mts(Malaysian trumpet snails) will help a lot in the aeration of your substrate although I am not sure how deep they will go.

In my 10g even with much less substrate I did get gas pockets accumulating in the beginning of the tanks lifespan.

Wood will rot being buried in the substrate after some time so id keep that in mind too.

An aquarium is basically an ecosystem built from the ground up, its not wise to rush things and it can come back to bite you later on. With that said there is not right or wrong ways, just easier or harder ways.

It seems that you've chosen a harder way but that doesn't mean it wont work. it will just take longer for the root systems of the plants to reach to your dirt which has the most nutrients.
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post #24 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-10-2013, 06:41 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input...My plan is to purchase the API Master Test Kit on Thursday (I get paid Wednesday evening), and sort out exactly where I am at, then.

I also have some long BBQ skewers ready for poking the substrate. How will I know if I DO have air pockets? Should I just go ahead and do some poking around, anyway?

My initial intent was to get some plants, Thursday, Java moss and the like...But that will just have to wait to the weekend.

Honestly, I have enjoyed just staring into the hardscape, watching the air bubbles get smaller as they flow through the tank. I DID go ahead and plant the Aponogetons sprouts, today. There are three, one much bigger than the other two. So, there is SOME plant life in there, already. We'll see how they look after a day in the current water.

I have a question: Since the Eco Complete comes wet, would changing the water be detrimental? I don't want to get rid of anything that is beneficial in there.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our Motto: Making Mistakes, So You Don't Have To!

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=348865

Link to my first planted tank, 37 gallon tall, topsoil, sand, Eco Complete
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post #25 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-10-2013, 07:02 AM
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I've never used eco complete but I know the bag says it contains live bacteria. Doing water changes will not remove enough bacteria to cause a problem in your tank. Water changes at a later point are essential to keeping a "balance" in the aquarium. The majority of the bacteria is attached to the substrate itself and any highly oxygenated areas in the tank.

Basically the majority of the bacteria will live in the filter and substrate/glass.

If you want to clear up the water a bit feel free to do water changes, it will also help remove excess nutrients in the water column. 2 or 3 50% water changes will most likely clear everything up(just be cautious to add the water slowly into the tank so you don't stir everything up again.. you can use a plate to pour the water on or a Tupperware or something). Make sure you are dechlorinating the water with dechlorinator(prime seems to be the dechlorinator of choice)

Once you have your water all cleared up you will need to let the tank cycle. There are many methods for cycling a tank but I think the fish less method is the most humane and will cycle the tank just as fast as using a fish without causing damage to the fishes gills or killing them.

You can read up on it here: http://www.tropical-fish-success.com...k-cycling.html

Basically you will need to add a source of ammonia, sometimes ammonia appears almost out of nowhere(you will probably get snails on your plants you buy and they will start breaking down plants which are decaying and producing waste..very small amounts of ammonia). Or you can use janitorial grade ammonia which is just water and ammonia, no additives. If you shake it and there are bubbles you cannot use it. You will need a test kit to figure out how much ammonia you are adding to the tank.

During the cycling process I tend to just do top offs(fill up the water that evaporates from the tank) but I do not do water changes because it can remove the ammonia/nitrite the bacteria are using to grow.

Once you have ammonia, then it will be broken down to nitrite, and after that to nitrate by different colonies of bacteria. The process takes around 16-30 days depending on how you are cycling the tank. It will be shorter if you add filter media from an established tank into your filter...etc(read the link :P)

Last edited by theericafish; 06-10-2013 at 07:05 AM. Reason: Forgot something. Oops.
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post #26 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-14-2013, 02:00 AM Thread Starter
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I have a thread open in the tank parameters, but thought I would cross post my first water tests:

Just got home from work, and a stop at the LFS. I got the API Master Test Kit (Freshwater).

Tap water test (I added the dechlorinator, so I am testing the tap water as it went into the tank):

pH 7.6+
High Range pH 8.2
Ammonia 2.0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0

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First test of tank water:

High Range pH 8.2
Ammonia 2.5
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0

I also received a RAOK plant package, (THANKS, cah925!) today.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our Motto: Making Mistakes, So You Don't Have To!

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=348865

Link to my first planted tank, 37 gallon tall, topsoil, sand, Eco Complete
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post #27 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-14-2013, 03:18 AM Thread Starter
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We have plants!

Okay...A bit more of a complete update. Won't repost the water parameters, they are in the post above this one.

I have got the gift plants in the tank, floating until I read a little more.

In addition to the wonderful stuff cah925 sent me, I had sword bulbs that I started. Put them in the substrate a few days ago:



The one nearest the filter intake is easily four inches high, and has three leaves.

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As excited as I am about the plants I RECEIVED, came home to find something pretty neat: A VOLUNTEER. Has to have been a seed in the topsoil, I can't imagine where else it came from. Very tiny, growing atop the driftwood mid-tank:



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Here are the plants that I received, bunched by species. Blyx japonica, Hygrophilia compakt, rotundiflora, rotala...aaaand I am STILL trying to figure them all out, lol. More pics once I have them in the substrate.




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our Motto: Making Mistakes, So You Don't Have To!

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=348865

Link to my first planted tank, 37 gallon tall, topsoil, sand, Eco Complete
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post #28 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-14-2013, 05:56 AM Thread Starter
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Started sticking them in!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our Motto: Making Mistakes, So You Don't Have To!

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=348865

Link to my first planted tank, 37 gallon tall, topsoil, sand, Eco Complete
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post #29 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-14-2013, 06:04 AM
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Nice plants
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post #30 of 54 (permalink) Old 06-14-2013, 07:11 AM Thread Starter
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our Motto: Making Mistakes, So You Don't Have To!

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=348865

Link to my first planted tank, 37 gallon tall, topsoil, sand, Eco Complete
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dirt cycle, eco complete, saltwater driftwood

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