So.. Much... Witchcraft - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-06-2013, 08:52 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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So.. Much... Witchcraft

I have posted in a few threads but by and large I am brand new to this forum and still fairly new to aquarium keeping in general and if its one thing I've noticed about this hobby is all of its bad science. I am no professor but I tend to only buy in to products and trains of thought when they conduct themselves in a pure (Repeatable to start.) form of science.

So I am looking for some advice from the gracious members of TPT, I don't intend to start any bashing but are there any particular brands or products that have proven not to be as... trustworthy to all of you? Also vice versa, what companies and brands would I do well to trust and where can I go (Other than this fine forum) to read about the chemistry of a Planted aquarium?

Also, are there certain claims (Miracle cures) that have been abused over the years that I should be keen to?

I know this is ridiculously general but I have no real starting point, anything helps.

Help guide me to the light, champions and scholars of TPT.

Do it for the children.

-Thanks so much for your time, Braxx

Last edited by Braxx; 07-06-2013 at 09:15 AM. Reason: Edit.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-06-2013, 10:12 AM
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Tom Barr report for the science.
Seachem products.
Nothing Tetra.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-06-2013, 10:16 AM
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Eheim is one of the best in my opinion

Patience once drove a man insane

Thanks for your time
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-06-2013, 11:45 AM
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API freshwater test kit
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-06-2013, 02:12 PM
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-06-2013, 02:17 PM
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test kits are truly only valid if u can calibrate them.. hoppy has a good writeup on this
seachem has good products, they are mostly water'd down, but they are honest and repeatable.

most products are actually good. its the customer service that seperates all of them. IMO
carbon doesn't fix anything. and is mostly useless. its good for removing medications

figthing alage doesn't work. there is no miracule cure. however focusing on growing healthy plants will cut out 90% of ur algae problems

invest in a good freshwater book especially involivng plants. it will fill in a lot of the gaps, but take it with a grain of salt. some things have to be learned through experience and the books dont have all the answers, there is more than one way to grow good healthy plants. its finding the righ way that fits ur lifestyle that becomes diffuclt
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-06-2013, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Braxx View Post
Do it for the children.
Won't SOMEBODY PLEASE think of the CHILDREN?!?

Sacrificing livestock and virgins does NOT help HC grow.

Haven't tried children yet...
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-06-2013, 02:37 PM
Obsessed? Maybe
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The best thing you can do as a new hobbyist is spend hours and hours reading here on the forum.

If something sounds too good to be true, it is. You'll always be able to figure out if a product is good by searching the forum. To reiterate - the search function is your best friend.

Don't go cheap in the beginning. If you want a reliable tank, CO2 system, filter, lighting system? Buy a reliable piece of equipment.

Order livestock from sources that are easy to verify - like Rachel/msjinkzd.

Plants? Get them in the For Sale section from other hobbyists. Don't get talked into dropping mega cash at some large web retailer that promises the world on the plant front.

As far as particular retailers go - since we don't allow vendor reviews - it's pretty easy to determine if a store or web outlet is reputable. See people talking about it on the forum? It's probably a decent place.

But really - if you have a question about a brand, search for it on the forum and you'll instantly know if it's worth your time. If there's something you can't easily find or if you have a more specific need, ask the forum. Even if it's trying to determine how much to pay for something - your fellow forum members will help you.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-06-2013, 02:50 PM
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Welcome to TPT! You're going to like it here, even if Nightspell is considering sacrificing children in the name of well-grown HC.

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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-06-2013, 02:54 PM
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I have learned about 70% of what I know about the plant side of this hobby right here on TPT the best way to check products is to search the forum.

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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-06-2013, 05:53 PM
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Don't change filter cartridges. If you're using a HOB (hang on back) filter put in floss and Bio media (or just floss) and rinse it occasionally in tank water when doing a water change.
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-06-2013, 06:14 PM
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You need to know the basic science behind each topic. Then, you should shop accordingly. For examples, if ALL plants to thrive would require both macro and micro nutrients, surely, you can't just dose Seachem Flourish Comprehensive. Many beginners do that and not realizing that the Flourish Comprehensive is all about micro nutrients.

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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-06-2013, 06:45 PM
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Don't use the site search feature. Its hard to get good results. Use google.

Use the following search string with or without quotes.

"search criteria"

You can use 2 letter words without them getting dropped by the search tool
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-06-2013, 06:57 PM
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There are pluses and minuses for every product. For instance, API Stress Zyme Plus has non-aquatic bacteria so it can't establish your tank in a cycle, but it can rescue a tank that crashes in a mini cycle (which I recently underwent) until the beneficial aquatic bacteria can catch up to your new bigger bioload. But yeah don't use it in a new tank or it will outcompete the small amount of aquatic bacteria that is in there, since you have very little bioload to start with.

Another is CO2 boosters like flourish excel and API CO2 booster. Basically it's not liquid CO2, it's just a source of carbon so think of it more like a fert for a low light tank- it can't replace the need for more CO2. Plus, too much doesn't mean more plant growth- since it also had algaecide in it, it can melt some plants like Val and hurt some fauna that don't react well to algaecide. Ah, but since it has algaecide it works great as a spot treatment for algae!

So there you go, just a few examples.

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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-06-2013, 07:06 PM
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Diana Wastad 'The Ecology of the Planted Aquarium'
Peer reviewed papers like this. Dr. Hovanec properly IDd the species of bacteria that are the actual species in the aquarium that perform the nitrogen cycle.

Most 'bacteria in a bottle' products have the wrong species (basically have the status of an old wive's tale). Look for Nitrospira on the label, do not waste your money on anything else.

The fishless cycle is the best way to grow the biggest population of nitrogen cycle bacteria the fastest. The method I post is based on 2 chemists who researched it, then I supplemented that info based on a lot of reading including papers by Dr Hovanec and others, and hobbyist info in forums like this. I have added it at the bottom of this post. Print it out and save it.

Read the label. Research the ingredients. Figure out what is the actual active ingredient and price that, not the 'hokum' in every bottle.
for example:
Price different dechlorinators.
The basic job is to split chlorine and ammonia (chloramine) then lock up chlorine and ammonia. First step is to eliminate products that do not do both of these things. There are dechlorinators that only split the chlorine and ammonia, just lock up the chlorine, leaving the ammonia free in the tank. (These are OK for chlorine treated water, but not for water with chloramine)
The second step is to eliminate all the products that 'increase the slime coat' (healthy fish produce enough slime coat. No need to irritate them into producing more).
The third step is to eliminate all the other things these products may claim. The only thing I would accept, then only if your tap water needs it, is chelators to lock up heavy metals.
Once you have figured all that out you will come down to this:
Prime andChloramine Buster by Clear Pond are the most cost effective products on the market. Their nearest competitors are 5-10 times the cost, and contain 'hokum'.
There are some dechlorinators that are 50 times the cost of Prime or Chloramine Buster.
Safe is the dry form of Prime and can also be quite cost effective, but watch the dosing rate.
Cycle: To grow the beneficial bacteria that remove ammonia and nitrite from the aquarium.

Fish-In Cycle: To expose fish to toxins while using them as the source of ammonia to grow nitrogen cycle bacteria. Exposure to ammonia burns the gills and other soft tissue, stresses the fish and lowers their immunity. Exposure to nitrite makes the blood unable to carry oxygen. Research methemglobinemia for details.

Fishless Cycle: The safe way to grow more bacteria, faster, in an aquarium, pond or riparium.

The method I give here was developed by 2 scientists who wanted to quickly grow enough bacteria to fully stock a tank all at one time, with no plants helping, and overstock it as is common with Rift Lake Cichlid tanks.

1a) Set up the tank and all the equipment. You can plant if you want. Include the proper dose of dechlorinator with the water.
Optimum water chemistry:
GH and KH above 3 German degrees of hardness. A lot harder is just fine.
pH above 7, and into the mid 8s is just fine.
Temperature in the upper 70s F (mid 20s C) is good. Higher is OK if the water is well aerated.
A trace of other minerals may help. Usually this comes in with the water, but if you have a pinch of KH2PO4, that may be helpful.
High oxygen level. Make sure the filter and power heads are running well. Plenty of water circulation.
No toxins in the tank. If you washed the tank, or any part of the system with any sort of cleanser, soap, detergent, bleach or anything else make sure it is well rinsed. Do not put your hands in the tank when you are wearing any sort of cosmetics, perfume or hand lotion. No fish medicines of any sort.
A trace of salt (sodium chloride) is OK, but not required.
This method of growing bacteria will work in a marine system, too. The species of bacteria are different.

1b) Optional: Add any source of the bacteria that you are growing to seed the tank. Cycled media from a healthy tank is good. Decor or some gravel from a cycled tank is OK. Live plants or plastic are OK. Bottled bacteria is great, but only if it contains Nitrospira species of bacteria. Read the label and do not waste your money on anything else.
At the time this was written the right species could be found in:
Dr. Tims One and Only
Tetra Safe Start
Microbe Lift Nite Out II
...and perhaps others.
You do not have to jump start the cycle. The right species of bacteria are all around, and will find the tank pretty fast.

2) Add ammonia until the test reads 5 ppm. This ammonia is the cheapest you can find. No surfactants, no perfumes. Read the fine print. This is often found at discount stores like Dollar Tree, or hardware stores like Ace. You could also use a dead shrimp form the grocery store, or fish food. Protein breaks down to become ammonia. You do not have good control over the ammonia level, though.
Some substrates release ammonia when they are submerged for the first time. Monitor the level and do enough water changes to keep the ammonia at the levels detailed below.

3) Test daily. For the first few days not much will happen, but the bacteria that remove ammonia are getting started. Finally the ammonia starts to drop. Add a little more, once a day, to test 5 ppm.

4) Test for nitrite. A day or so after the ammonia starts to drop the nitrite will show up. When it does allow the ammonia to drop to 3 ppm.

5) Test daily. Add ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. If the nitrite or ammonia go to 5 ppm do a water change to get these lower. The ammonia removing species and the nitrite removing species (Nitrospira) do not do well when the ammonia or nitrite are over 5 ppm.

6) When the ammonia and nitrite both hit zero 24 hours after you have added the ammonia the cycle is done. You can challenge the bacteria by adding a bit more than 3 ppm ammonia, and it should be able to handle that, too, within 24 hours.

7) Now test the nitrate. Probably sky high!
Do as big a water change as needed to lower the nitrate until it is safe for fish. Certainly well under 20, and a lot lower is better. This may call for more than one water change, and up to 100% water change is not a problem. Remember the dechlor!
If you will be stocking right away (within 24 hours) no need to add more ammonia. If stocking will be delayed keep feeding the bacteria by adding ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. You will need to do another water change right before adding the fish.

Helpful hints:

A) You can run a fishless cycle in a bucket to grow bacteria on almost any filter media like bio balls, sponges, ceramic bio noodles, lava rock or Matala mats. Simply set up any sort of water circulation such as a fountain pump or air bubbler and add the media to the bucket. Follow the directions for the fishless cycle. When the cycle is done add the media to the filter. I have run a canister filter in a bucket and done the fishless cycle.

B) The nitrogen cycle bacteria will live under a wide range of conditions and bounce back from minor set backs. By following the set up suggestions in part 1b) you are setting up optimum conditions for fastest reproduction and growth.
GH and KH can be as low as 1 degree, but watch it! These bacteria use the carbon in carbonates, and if it is all used up (KH = 0) the bacteria may die off.
pH as low as 6.5 is OK, but by 6.0 the bacteria are not going to be doing very well. They are still there, and will recover pretty well when conditions get better.
Temperature almost to freezing is OK, but they must not freeze, and they are not very active at all. They do survive in a pond, but they are slow to warm up and get going in the spring. This is where you might need to grow some in a bucket in a warm place and supplement the pond population. Too warm is not good, either. Tropical or room temperature tank temperatures are best. (68 to 85*F or 20 to 28*C)
Moderate oxygen can be tolerated for a while. However, to remove lots of ammonia and nitrite these bacteria must have oxygen. They turn one into the other by adding oxygen. If you must stop running the filter for an hour or so, no problem. If longer, remove the media and keep it where it will get more oxygen.
Once the bacteria are established they can tolerate some fish medicines. This is because they live in a complex film called Bio film on all the surfaces in the filter and the tank. Medicines do not enter the bio film well.
These bacteria do not need to live under water. They do just fine in a humid location. They live in healthy garden soil, as well as wet locations.

C) Planted tanks may not tolerate 3 ppm or 5 ppm ammonia. It is possible to cycle the tank at lower levels of ammonia so the plants do not get ammonia burn. Add ammonia to only 1 ppm, but test twice a day, and add ammonia as needed to keep it at 1 ppm. The plants are also part of the bio filter, and you may be able to add the fish sooner, if the plants are thriving.
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