Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Buffalo, NY, USA
Uncycled Newbie with Fry - Eeeek!
Hi everyone, this is a really kind community and I have learned a lot lurking here. I thought I should introduce myself, and also seek some help!
My name is Mike, I live in Buffalo, New York, USA - a couple hundred yards from where Lake Erie turns into the Niagara River. I discovered planted tanks recently, and despite never having done aquariums before I thought I'd give it a try. Having read about the Walstad method and it's variants I decided to go with soil and low light/tech. Filterless in fact.
I picked up a 5 gal. tank, some Miracle Grow Organic Choice Potting Mix, and a bunch of plants, with the idea of throwing a bunch of stuff at it and seeing what stuck - I got some swords, some hornwort (which I foolishly attempted to root!), a Java fern, some vals, some crypts, creeping jenny, etc.. And of course inadvertent snails. I was actually excited to see the snails, and I still like them!
The tank became dark with tannins, which did not bother me. I thought it looked quite natural. I planned to wait until my API freshwater test kit indicated a cycle, and I figured that 5 gal. would be too small for anything but shrimps.
Then my mistakes began to become apparent: I had not in any way compacted the soil initially, and the substrate was soupy. My (black lfs gravel) cap was too shallow. At least one plant purchased was likely not a submerged plant. Rooting hornwort does not happen. Etc.
Still, I thought to persist, and went to obtain some duckweed. The guy at the shop gave me a bag for free (I didn't notice the evil twinkle in his eye at the time!), which I took home and put about a fifth of into the tank. As I sat at my desk looking at the remaining plant matter muck I suddenly realized that there was a fish in the goo! Yikes! Quickly into the tank it went, and looking more closely I saw another, so I dumped waaay too much duckweed in - all of it. So suddenly on week 2 I had a female Endler and a juvenille who I thought to be female also. These poor creatures had endured about 2.5 hours in a blob of green muck without water and survived!
So knowing that the tank was toxic I undertook to do 1 or 2 water changes per day to assist their comfort. The water cleared up nicely, and Little Martha and Zhenya seemed content. About then I had several realizations - Zhenya was actually Zoltan, Little Martha was pregnant, and the bubble eruptions that were so frequent were stinky and toxic.
I decided to rescape, and was going to try to recycle the at least partially cycled bacteria laden tank materials, but when pulling plants and fish out it was clear that what I had was a septic tank of sulfurous dreck. And then I broke the tank! Off to the store, picked up a 15 gal. and some more plants and set it up, with no choice but to place the fishies within. The fry appeared on day one! So darned cute, like little grains of rice with eyes . . .
I corrected a few of the previous mistakes hopefully, discovered Seachem Prime (which seems like clean air in a bottle for fish), tamped down the moistened substrate to 1.5 inches and capped about 3/4 - 1 inch with lfs gravel, and bought more stems and rooted plants. But now these poor fishies are in a newly setup tank, and I can only hope that my ineptitude does not kill them or cause them to suffer. I stopped eating animals many years ago from a desire not to harm creatures, and I originally was going to have a plants only setup, as I struggle with the morality of imprisioning critters (yeah I know - damn hippy!), and here I am - Mike the fish torturer.
I know that Little Martha and Zoltan are 200 feet tall and indestructible after all they've endured, but do the fry stand a chance?
Nice to meet you all, sorry about the long post!