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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-04-2016, 02:41 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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Hi all!

Hi all, I'm a retired reefer who's come to the pond in hopes that I can spend a little more enjoying my tanks and a little less time working while keeping my money in my pocket and out of the swear jar. So I've converted my 90 gallon into a freshwater tank that I am just about finished setting up. I have two double t5ho 48" lights that I need to get new fw and plant bulbs for, 4 bulbs total, but I may only use two as it will be a rbp tank. So far I have one eheim cannister 2217 with the second to start up tomorrow. I have a nice deep bed of seachem flourite with 2 bags of eco complete substrate mixed in. I will be cycling the tank empty for the next number of weeks while a 20 gallon quarantine tank cycles with fish (three very small guys who were on sale).
My plan is to add some plants after cycling to avoid confusion on my behalf, then start the quarantine process for the rbp. Currently I'm not running carbon in my filter by I am debating putting it in my other one tomorrow, maybe that's just a saltwater habit? I also have some bags of leftover chemi-pure elite that I'm not sure what to do with, use or sell. Any advice would be great. Currently I'm using eheim mechanical filter medium, the little noodles, eheim biological balls substrate pro and filter media. Thanks all, I appreciate the help!
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-04-2016, 08:04 AM
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There is no need to run activated charcoal on a regular basis, though it is good to have it on hand to remove medications and such.


A Primer to Pressurized CO2 and A Primer to Planted Tanks
Eheim Pimp #362 - Eheim 2213 x2, Eheim 2028, Eheim 2217, Eheim surface skimmer and Eheim autofeeder.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-04-2016, 08:11 AM Thread Starter
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Hm, so I guess this is one of the differences between sw and fw, in sw we never medicate the main tank, is this acceptable in planted aquariums? Are medications such as copper or ich x or paraguard and such plant safe?

By never medicate the main tank I mean remove all fish and place in a quarantine tank for saltwater and then add medication.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 03-05-2016 at 07:47 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-04-2016, 08:39 AM
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While I have heard nearly all SW keepers have a quarantine that they treat fish in before adding to the main tank, I still have heard plenty of cases where the main tank still ended up with an outbreak and many have still treated the main tank. Some meds would cause issues, some would not.

rbp, Red Belly Piranha? or Pacus? Pacus are plant eaters if you didn't know.

I'm not all too familiar with saltwater chemistry, but in freshwater tanks, we typically only use activated carbon/charcoal to remove medications from the water after treating. No really necessity to use it for any other use (though it can).

Chemi Pure Elite and Purigen people use as water polishers for the most part. They can have desirable effects, but aren't necessary.

The media in your canisters right now is adequate. Just get the tanks cycled. Just so you know, there are bottled nitrifying bacteria products that can speed up cycling time. If you are interested, I recommend Tetra SafeStart or Dr. Tim's One and Only as they are known to have the correct nitrifying bacteria for Freshwater aquariums. Microbe-lift Nite-Out II also seems to have the correct bacteria, but I'd still prefer the other two just to be sure (haven't heard as many reviews on Nite-Out). Remember you still need ammonia to keep the bacteria fed and growing. Would recommend using one of these bottled nitrifying bacteria products just for the sake of the 3 little fish (you want to start off on a good foot into freshwater, don't want your first experience to go bad so soon).

In Freshwater planted tanks, some meds are safe and some are not. Some kill inverts, some do not. Some harm plants, some do not. Some can be more harsh on certain species of fish. It all depends on the particular med. When you have a particular med in mind, feel free to ask which is safe and/or the best option at the time. Way too much to list right now.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-05-2016, 02:43 AM Thread Starter
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ThAnka for all the pointers waterlife. Yes I am referring to red belly piranhas, but in fact didn't realize the pacus eat plants, but in my 90 gallon I'd doubt even one adult pacu would feel at home.
And yes it's true, I have two quarantine tanks that I ran for sw that are now my fw qt tanks. And on your advice I did pick up some nitrifying bacteria, I hadn't even noticed it exists tbh, however as with most forums I find there's a difference in products I hear about and what's available being up here in Canada eh haha. So I picked up a bottle of colony freshwater by a company called "acrylic tank manufacturing" weird name, but seems like decent stuff. So I dosed sone pure ammonia and brought the levels up to around 3-4 ppm and about an hour later gave a healthy dose of the nitrifying bateria in my main fishless tank, and will give a small shot into the qt tank tomorrow, not the ammonia though oc course.
I've noticed a spot of ich on one of the fish already in qt tank so I'm going to have at it with some freshwater "Ich X" but I'm not sure how that will react with the nitrifying cycle?
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-05-2016, 03:41 AM
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I've looked into ATM Colony for freshwater before. It contains Nitrosomonas, which is the correct ammonia-oxidizer. But it has Nitrobacter, which they use primarily as the nitrite-oxidizer.

It was previously believed that Nitrobacter was the predominant nitrite-oxidizer in freshwater, but some more recent studies were conducted by Dr. Timothy A. Hovanec (he created the formula for BioSpira, SafeStart and now made his own Dr. Tim's One and Only) and his studies showed that Nitrospira were the dominant nitrite-oxidizers in freshwater.

I believe in some tests where Nitrobacter was used, the bacteria did survive in freshwater and did oxidize nitrites, but were much less efficient at nitrifying and reproducing in freshwater in comparison to Nitrospira. In the studies, Nitrospira colonized a lot more area than Nitrobacter species.

Here are some of the scientific studies
Nitrospira-Like Bacteria Associated with Nitrite Oxidation in Freshwater Aquaria
Nitrobacter and Nitrospira genera as representatives of nitrite-oxidizing bacteria: detection, quantification and growth along the lower Seine Rive... - PubMed - NCBI

Some info on Dr. Tim if you want to know his background
About | DrTim's Aquatics

Here is a page on ATM Colony
The Shocking Truth: Nitrifying Bacteria Products
If you scroll down to a comment made on July 31st 2014 on that page, ATM briefly touches on them using Nitrobacter and not Nitrospira.

I am not a scientist, so I do not have the means of verifying how 'true'/unmanipulative any of the studies were conducted, so all I present is some info I have found researching the matter.

For what it's worth, I believe Fritz Zyme 7, another nitrifying bacteria product, also has a few independent studies (bottom of page) done on their product that claims it works, and they too use Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter. Just as pointed out by ATM, scientific reports from any study can still be tricky to believe were done "truthfully"/unmanipulative. I would have liked ATM have presented a scientific study on how superior Nitrobacter is over Nitrospira as they mention.
Fritz Zyme :: Fritz Industries, Inc.

A lot of other companies have used soil/land-based nitrifying bacteria that just plainly aren't well suited to live in aquatic environments. Some use bacteria that are better off used in saltwater, not freshwater. Some even contain heterotrophic bacteria (non-nitrifiers).

I have not come across as many Colony reviews/reports of success, but if it works, it works. Nitrobacter were shown to convert some nitrites, so that pretty much explains how it can "work", but in the reports I've seen, they are not nearly as efficient as Nitrospira in freshwater.

I have no ties with any company. Just simply another hobbyist that likes to research around. I am a fan of ATM as well, I've watched nearly every episode of "Tanked". Funny show if you haven't seen it or heard of ATM. You can see them on Youtube if you don't get their show in Canada.

Anyways, I'm done haha

If Colony works or not, please let it be known!

__________________________________________________ ____________

ADD: forgot to answer so of your questions

I've heard any medicine ingredient ending in "in", such as the Formalin in Hikari Ich-X, will harm nitrifying bacteria. So it wouldn't be wise to use that. Especially when the tank is new with no biofilm protecting/coating the nitrifying bacteria.

For treating Ich, I highly recommend Kordon Ich Attack (or Kordon Rid Fungus which has the same herbal ingredients, not Kordon Rid Ich). It is works, is very gentle on fish, and is safe for plants and inverts.

Others like to use high heat only (86*F+), salt only, or heat and salt combination to treat ich. Those are options, but I personally haven't had really satisfactory results with those methods.

Seachem Paraguard is a safer alternative to Formalin and Malachite green meds such as Ich-X, QuICK Cure and Rid Ich.

Kordon Ich Attack is my top choice hands down.

Regarding using bottled bacteria, you want to be easy on the amount of ammonia you use. High ammonia levels can actually hurt nitrifying bacteria. And I'd imagine, when the tank is new and/or the bacteria are newly dosed and not yet protected by a biofilm coating, they are even more susceptible to harm from higher ammonia levels. 5ppm and higher ammonia levels negatively impact nitrifying bacteria, but that is when they are coated by biofilm. Without biofilm protection, I imagine 4ppm or even 3ppm may harm some of it.

My personal recommendation would be to dose the bacteria product at the site of the biomedia, and let the filter run for a bit for the bacteria to attach to the biomedia. Then (not before adding bacteria), add the ammonia, maybe only 1ppm or 2ppm for the first couple days or so (give biofilm at least a couple days to form a nice coat). It may be helpful to add some organic material (fish food would do) for heterotrophic bacteria and other microogranisms to form and feed, which would help develop some biofilm. After a couple days or so, then the nitrifying bacteria may be able to handle a higher ammonia concentration.

I personally would redose the bacteria just incase they died from the higher ammonia levels. Of course, first do water changes to reduce ammonia levels, then add the bacteria again. If you don't have enough bottled bacteria left, you can just leave it as it is and see if nitrogen levels indicate the bacteria has indeed survived and is nitrifying.

Just my personal recommendations with my understanding how everything works.
Do be sure to not use any ammonia remover, activated carbon/charcoal or UV's while the tank is cycling.

Last edited by WaterLife; 03-05-2016 at 04:02 AM. Reason: add
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-06-2016, 06:41 AM Thread Starter
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Wow thank you again Waterlife, very good read and lots of good points. I've read the articles you posted and found them very informative. I wish I had more access to some of the different bacteria you mention bt unfortunately I may have to turn to amazon and wait for them to ship. As far as letting the group know of the effectiveness of colony by atm that would be difficult for me as this is my first time cycling a freshwater tank. With my saltwater tanks I just left them fallow with live rock, live sand a few pieces of shrimp and filters and let nature run its curse, time consuming but it was predictable. This time I'd like to minimize the time frame, and having never known of nitrifying bacteria that's a great place to start. I do also have some frozen brine shrimp I threw in the tank to help the cycle along as well.

As far as removing ich goes I've been in some fairly interesting conversations about that, it's very difficult, it seems as though anything that actually works must be used in tanks seperated from any other life like plants and such. I've tried the paraguard, ich x, ttm, lowered salinity, etc etc. Pita for sure. (Saltwater btw) ttm was the only method I tried that was successful without casualties. Copper worked, but very hard on fsh, something I won't try again. I look forward to the new learning curve of this part of fish/plant keeping. Learning tones already.

And yes, I have my uv filter on standby for my quarantine tank for after it has cycled. Ammonia remover hadn't realized existed either tbh, but I'll be just doing a water change tomorrow before finishing off my bottle of colony. I prefer to use strictly cold water to avoid contaminants from the hot water heater so it takes a while to warm up the water with a heater. I'm not sure if this is as important with fw, but I'm sure it couldn't hurt.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 03-07-2016 at 01:41 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-06-2016, 07:30 AM
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For the nitrifying bacteria, just add the bacteria and test ammonia, nitrite, nitrate levels daily to see how effective the bacteria are at nitrifying/converting and reproducing. Keep ammonia levels topped up daily. If you keep a daily track record of the nitrogen levels, you can see just how efficient the bacteria are performing. (Hmm, someone should do a test, using ATM Colony and Tetra SafeStart and/or Dr. Tim's One and Only and see how they compare -separate tanks, but identically set up)

I have no experience with saltwater, but I've used copper (Copper Power Green) in the past in freshwater tanks for ich and bacterial infections, and the fish tolerated it perfectly fine. Though science does say it does internal damage, so it may have shortened their lifespans some, but no immediate effect I've seen. Even used it on "scaleless" loaches and corydoras.
But copper is said to be difficult to completely remove from the tank, so it can make that tank hazardous for inverts. Do not use copper meds with inverts. I recall the plants being unaffected by the copper.

But that's a old med, and there are better options. Side note, if you ever did want to use a copper med, I think Seachem Cupramine is the safest form of copper med available.

As for removing ich, it is actually one of the easier/easiest things to treat/cure, at least in Freshwater.
Again, Kordon Ich Attack/Rid Fungus is my go to med for treating ich and any moderate external bacterial infections. It's extremely gentle and safe. Pretty much every other med for ich, I do consider them being harsher treatments. I've tried many of the meds and witnessed how fish tolerate the meds. The others just stress the fish way too much (besides the initial stress, some of those meds do damage internal organs, which just isn't great for the fish's overall longevity. Even reproductive organs can get damaged from those. They do work, but at a cost. With Kordon Ich Attack being out there, it's the only one I highly recommend. But alas, I know some of these products aren't available everywhere, in that case if you had to go with a harsher med, I would recommend Seachem Paraguard as it uses safer alternative ingredients compared to most others.

Salt only (yeah in freshwater, you actually increase salinity, not lower it), heat only or salt+heat combo, while they aren't harsh chemicals, I have tried them and didn't have very satisfactory results. I wanted to like it since I do like "natural" treatments, but fish stressing and plants also not tolerating the treatments well, it just wasn't all that great of an experience. Combating the ich with those treatments were not as quick as I'd thought or hoped, and with the fish stressing more than I felt comfortable with (and more than they felt comfortable with), I just didn't want to continue those treatments. I have tried most of these methods and have hands down decided that Kordon Ich Attack is best. Clear visible signs speak for themselves. No stressing, actually seems the fish calmed down more so, extremely gentle on fish (especially important on heavily infested outbreaks), invert safe, plant safe, don't have to raise temps, and it works.

Just so you know though, some meds effectiveness or toxicity does depend on your water parameters. So if you want to double check if a particular med/ingredient is safe/effective in your water, let us know your water parameters (pH, KH, GH, Temperature). Some meds (Formalin - Formaldehyde, which is in Ich-X, QuICK Cure, Rid Ich Plus, and other similar med mock ups) should not be used on open wounds or they can kill fish (Paraguard is a similar med, but doesn't use Formalin/Formaldehyde).

Others have said freshwater and planted tanks are much easier than saltwater/reef tanks. Might just take a bit of reading to figure how the freshwater side of things work.
If you have any pics and/or stories of your saltwater keeping, you can post threads about them and I'm sure others would enjoy seeing those.
See you around.

EDIT: Just read your comment about you using cold water on water changes. Temperature does impact bacteria. The colder, the less efficient/slower the bacteria perform, or even not at all if too cold (they can die at freezing temps).

I haven't seen an scientific reports, but in some cases I've seen, a drastic temperature change (10*F+ colder) seemed to harm nitrifying bacteria. I think killing some off from pure shock of the drastic temperature change. A minicycle would soon follow (nitrogen levels detected, not just precipitate). Kind of hard to tell if some bacteria actually died, or the nitrogen levels just spiked due to the less efficient nitrifying activity at colder temps. But yes, colder temps would negatively impact the bacteria. They also reproduce/multiply slower or not at all at cold temps. To be on the safe side (incase drastic temp change does kill some -especially with no biofilm coating), I would recommend matching tap-tank water temps (finger thermometer is good enough). Don't worry about any contaminants from the water heater.
By they way, you definitely don't want to do drastically colder (or hotter) temp changes (don't go past a 6*F difference, closer the better) with livestock (fish/inverts/ even some sensitive plants) or they can definitely go into shock (possibly die).

Last edited by WaterLife; 03-06-2016 at 09:21 AM. Reason: add
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2016, 04:07 AM Thread Starter
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Hey, you're a tone of help waterlife, much appreciated. But what I meant was when I do water changes, my new water I take from a hose I have coming directly from cold water side that I put into a 15 gallon bin, and I then put in a heater and power head overnight then the next day I add my prime and then do the water change, the temperature is always the same when I do the changes, I can imagine definitely not much would enjoy that change in temp, water comes out at about 8-10 celsius being the winter. But I worry because It's an older house and hot water heater here that I don't trust, I've used cupramine in the past and still have a bottle, but when I used it in my saltwater qt tank it instantly reacted with the water I had taken out warm from my tub faucet and my fish went crazy even with a slow drip, and one died shortly after even with a full water change so I always just use cold water and heat it up, haven't had any issues since. Yes I imagine I will be posting some water parameters soon, the ich seems to detached from my quarantined fish, so I'm now wating to see if it respawns for its next bout.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2016, 04:40 AM
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After all visible signs of ich spots/cysts are off the fish, there will still be non-visible (to the naked human eye) ich in the tank, so it's advised to continue treatment at least 3-4 days (depends on temperature, as warmer temps hastens ich development, reaching it's vulnerable stage faster) after all ich spots are gone. Do make sure to treat any tanks the infected fish/water may have come in contact with.

For the water heater, perhaps you can flush out the water heater? Not sure what is recommended, but I think you can use white vinegar or some other stronger flush solvent.
It might have been a problem in saltwater, but may be a non-issue (besides water parameters, probably GH) in freshwater. Not sure what might be in there though. Just makes things less of a hassle if the water heater issues could get solved. Maybe if you posted about it, more knowledgeable people might know what could possibly be in the water heater and may be able to determine if the caution is warranted or not.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2016, 06:04 AM Thread Starter
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I have the 20 gallon with my fish in it at 81-82 to help speed up the cycling and hopefully the ich as well to maximize the amount if time it spends in it's vulnerable stage.
I'll have to research that, cleaning the hot water tank, it would certainly make things much easier for me to go from tap to tank.
My 90 gallon fallow tank I'm running at around 86 degrees f.
I have a bit of a newbie question though, I can't read this ammonia test from my 90 gallon, I've never had ammonia register in my old tank, since I dosed this one I can't read it, any any idea? Just did a 15 gallon change a few hours ago hoping that would help me to judge difference but I can't tell. I know it's hard with pictures though.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2016, 06:36 AM
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Increased temps will speed it's life stages up. So it will reach it's vulnerable stage earlier, but it will also end sooner (all stages are sped up). The purpose is to shorten treatment duration time by getting the ich to it's vulnerable stage to kill it off sooner.

Yeah these color charts aren't so easy to discern sometimes, and it's even harder in pics. Hold the test tube against a white background (the card is fine), but have light shine toward the tube and chart, so shading is skewing the color perception. But from the pic I'd say it's 3 ppm (anywhere between 2-4ppm really, but more so 3-4ppm).
Technically speaking, if you were to do a 50% water change (actual water volume, assuming new fresh water has 0ppm), 3ppm would then become 1.5ppm. Then so on, 50% water change would take 1.5ppm to 0.75ppm, etc. etc.

What's the reason for running the 90 gallon at 86*F?
Most fish and plants won't like that high temp.
What's your pH?

If it's for ich infestations, ich stops reproducing at 86*F (temperature has to be actual, not less, as heaters and thermometers aren't completely accurate. Ich is no longer able to live at 88*F+. Some ich strains are more heat tolerant so higher temps may be necessary. Some strains are also more salt tolerant.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2016, 10:02 AM Thread Starter
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The 90 gallon is empty, it's just flourite substrate, two cannister filters power heads and a heater, I'm running it hot (warmer than normal) to promote the cycling process, I'm fairly certain I read that somewhere, i think on this site, is that not recommended? I think it said 86 is the ideal temperature for the bacteria to grow to get the nitrite cycles going, I hope I'm not mistaken, but if so there's nothing in the tank to be harmed, if not what's the best temp to cycle a fishless tank? And my pH is smack dab in the middle of my tests of pH and high range pH at around 7.5 Both nitrite and nitrate are still at zero. I was thinking the same thing, ammonia looks around 3-4 I'll do another water change so the bacteria can survive long enough to attach and multiply. I don't understand if that's the case though, how does the daily dosing method work if you are constantly adding ammonia? How does bacteria survive if ammonia levels are constantly going up? Anyways sorry for all the questions, this is quite new, and I like to know as much as possible.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-07-2016, 12:03 PM
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Welcome to freshwater and plants. With your sw experience, this will probably end up being surprisingly easy for you. I cycled my main tank at 70F and that temperature didn't seem to slow down the process. My ammonia never went above 1-2ppm, even though I tried to get it up to 3-5ppm. I think the reason for that was a week of adding bacteria w/out ammonia (I was waiting for Dr. Tims from Amazon which took forever to deliver). Once the tank saw ammonia, the nitrites appeared in about three weeks, nitrates followed shortly after that. If your readings show 2+ ppm ammonia, you don't need to add more ammonia until you detect a drop. Let the bacteria consume it and just keep testing for changes in your levels. I agree that the API colors are hard to read, but if used as guidance, you'll get the information you need. In your case, you have enough ammonia in the tank to feed the bacteria. I didn't do any water changes until the end, in order to start adding plants and fish.
I cycled another tank with fish and plants (before I knew about fishless cycling). I just kept adding plants, and checking my levels, and never saw nitrites. It took 6 weeks before a slight hint of nitrates appeared, but they finally did. I would not recommend this process, but it just shows how plants can protect your fish.
Once you have a cycled tank, you'll never have to cycle one again. Just add an extra filter to an established tank for a couple weeks, and then move it over to your new tank. This prevents the need to keep qt tanks running unless you need them.
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-08-2016, 12:47 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks cheetah, its a great forum, i've learned tones just from this post and countless more things from searching around on here. Yes that's my hope that it will be somewhat "easy" but just not as hard would be good for me too. I wish I could find some of the better nitrifying agents local, but it's just not the case, I will do some ordering off Amazon or something probably tonight. If my theory is correct I'd assume you can't overdose nitrifying bacteria if there is already ammonia in the tank? I am worried though that having dosed ammonia at the same time as nitrifying bacteria that the ammonia killed it off before it could establish itself. Wondering if I've stalled the cycle. I think adding the bacteria like you did well before the ammonia would have been the way to go. But naturally it's still early.
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