New Tank Help
I Just joined the forum and I'm looking for solid advice to help me set up the planted tank of my dreams. I currently have a fish only 37 gallon eclipse tank. I have had saltwater in the past, but I'm looking to have a lush planted tank which I've always dreamed of.
:fish: I finally bit the bullet and bought a marine land 56 gallon column tank. I think that the depth and heigh this tank offers would be ideal for a planted tank. I envision staggering the aqua-scape to create interest at every height of the tank. I want it to be lush and full of life.
Here's where I need help. I will explore the forum tons (I've been stalking it without being a member for years).
What substrate do I use? Do I just add all the plants at once or should I do it slowly like you would add fish to build up the bioload?
Ideal filtration and devices for water circulation...
Current lighting I have is a 10k 65w daylight and 65w blue actinic is this enough?
Do I need a c02 tank or can I simply supplement with liquid c02 and all the commercial products they sell??
Thanks for your help and patience!
Marine land 56 gallon column tank. I think that the depth and height this tank offers would be ideal for a planted tank. I envision staggering the aqua-scape to create interest at every height of the tank. I want it to be lush and full of life.
30" W x 18" D x 24" H 30" wide is a little bit awkward for lighting, but something can be worked out. 18" deep is pretty good to make a nice 3-D effect. Good for aquascaping. 24" tall is good for the taller plants, and things like driftwood. A bit tall for rocks, though. They would have to be quite massive to work in that tank.
What substrate do I use? I like Safe-T-Sorb, but there are others. With the black stand and trim maybe you want Eco Complete or other black substrate?
Do I just add all the plants at once or should I do it slowly like you would add fish to build up the bioload? Read the fishless cycle. (Next post)
Ideal filtration and devices for water circulation... I would use a canister for this size tank, plus a power head. My personal choice would be a Rena XP3 and one of the larger Koralias. I use the older style #4 for tanks of about this size. Most of my tanks are 4' long, and vary from 12" to 18" in either height or depth. The one I have that is the closest to that is a 46 gallon bowfront. I use the XP3 and Koralia 4 on that, too.
Current lighting I have is a 10k 65w daylight and 65w blue actinic is this enough? I would not use those for plants. The K values are not really a reliable way to gauge if the lights offer the right spectrum for the plants, but more often than not those are the wrong ones. Especially the Actinic. That replicates the tropical sun in a coral reef. Fresh water plants come from more shaded locations, and use different wavelengths than the algae component of corals. I use a plant specific bulb, high in the wavelengths that plants use the most of, plus a 'daylight' bulb that gives the wavelengths that make things look right to my eyes. Read up about PAR. Get the absolutely best reflector you can with that tall a tank.
Do I need a c02 tank or can I simply supplement with liquid c02...? Some plants are just fine with glut (Liquid carbon), but for the best, go with pressurized. That size tank will go through a lot of glut ($)
Dry fertilizers will be the way to go, also. Never mind all the fancy bottles you see in the stores. They are just bottles of water with a pinch of fertilizer. Do not pay for water, just buy the ferts.
Here is the fishless cycle:
You too can boast that "No fish were harmed in the cycling of your new tank"
Cycling a tank means to grow the beneficial bacteria that will help to decompose the fish waste (especially ammonia). These bacteria need ammonia to grow. There are 3 sources of ammonia that work to do this. One is fish. Unfortunately, the process exposes the fish to ammonia, which burns their gills, and nitrite, which makes their blood unable to carry oxygen. This often kills the fish.
Another source is decomposing protein. You could cycle your tank by adding fish food or a dead fish or shellfish. You do not know how much beneficial bacteria you are growing, though.
The best source of ammonia is... Ammonia. In a bottle.
Using fish is a delicate balance of water changes to keep the toxins low (try not to hurt the fish) but keep feeding the bacteria. It can take 4 to 8 weeks to cycle a tank this way, and can cost the lives of several fish. When you are done you have grown a small bacteria population that still needs to be nurtured to increase its population. You cannot, at the end of a fish-in cycle, fully stock your tank.
The fishless/ammonia cycle takes as little as 3 weeks, and can be even faster, grows a BIG bacteria population, and does not harm fish in any way.
Both methods give you plenty of practice using your test kit.
How to cycle a tank the fishless way:
1) Make sure all equipment is working, fill with water that has all the stuff you will need for the fish you intend to keep. Dechlorinator, minerals for GH or KH adjustments, the proper salt mix, if you are creating a brackish or marine tank. These bacteria require a few minerals, so make sure the GH and KH is at least 3 German degrees of hardness. Aquarium plant fertilizer containing phosphate should be added if the water has no phosphate. They grow best when the pH is in the 7s. Good water movement, fairly warm (mid to upper 70sF), no antibiotics or other toxins.
2) (Optional)Add some source of the bacteria. Used filter media from a cycled tank is best, gravel or some decorations or a few plants... even some water, though this is the poorest source of the beneficial bacteria.
Bacteria in a bottle can be a source of these bacteria, but make sure you are getting Nitrospira spp of bacteria. All other ‘bacteria in a bottle’ products have the wrong bacteria. This step is optional. The proper bacteria will find the tank even if you make no effort to add them. Live plants may bring in these bacteria on their leaves and stems.
3) Add ammonia until the test reads 5 ppm. This is the non-sudsing, no surfactants, no-fragrance-added ammonia that is often found in a hardware store, discount stores, and sometimes in a grocery store. The concentration of ammonia may not be the same in all bottles. Try adding 5 drops per 10 gallons, then allowing the filter to circulate for about an hour, then test. If the reading isn't up to 5 ppm, add a few more drops and test again. (Example, if your test reads only 2 ppm, then add another 5 drops) Some ammonia is such a weak dilution you may need to add several ounces to get a reading.
4) Test for ammonia daily, and add enough to keep the reading at 5 ppm. You probably will not have to add much, if any, in the first few days, unless you added a good amount of bacteria to jump start the cycle.
5) Several days after you start, begin testing for nitrites. When the nitrites show up, reduce the amount of ammonia you add so the test shows 3ppm. (Add only half as much ammonia as you were adding in part 4) Add this reduced amount daily from now until the tank is cycled.
If the nitrites get too high (over 5 ppm), do a water change. The bacteria growth is slowed because of the high nitrites. Reducing the level of ammonia to 3 ppm should prevent the nitrite from getting over 5 ppm.
6) Continue testing, and adding ammonia daily. The nitrates will likely show up about 2 weeks after you started. Keep monitoring, and watch for 0 ppm ammonia, 0 ppm nitrite and rising nitrates.
7) Once the 0 ppm ammonia and nitrites shows up it may bounce around a little bit for a day or two. Be patient. Keep adding the ammonia; keep testing ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.
When it seems done you can challenge the system by adding more than a regular dose of ammonia, and the bacteria should be able to remove the ammonia and nitrite by the next day.
If you will not be adding fish right away continue to add the ammonia to keep the bacteria fed.
8) When you are ready to add the fish, do at least one water change, and it may take a couple of them, to reduce the nitrate to safe levels (as low as possible, certainly below 10 ppm) I have seen nitrate approaching 200 ppm by the end of this fishless cycle in a non-planted tank.
9) You can plant a tank that is being cycled this way at any point during the process. If you plant early, the plants will be well rooted, and better able to handle the disruption of the water change.
Yes, the plants will use some of the ammonia and the nitrates. They are part of the nitrogen handling system, part of the biofilter, they are working for you. Some plants do not like high ammonia, though. If a certain plant dies, remove it, and only replace it after the cycle is done.
10) The fishless cycle can also be used when you are still working out the details of lighting, plants and other things. If you change the filter, make sure you keep the old media for several weeks or a month. Most of the bacteria have been growing in this media (sponges, floss etc).
Thank you so much for your help!
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