Setting up a 125. Questions on cycling and when to plant.
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Old 01-05-2014, 08:06 PM   #1
Greg0u812
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Setting up a 125. Questions on cycling and when to plant.


As title says, I am in the process of setting up a 125 aquarium.

I should have a couple hundred pounds of Eco-Complete at my doorstep tomorrow afternoon.

I plan on doing a fish-less cycle.

I believe I have everything I need to start the cycle, but have a few questions.

Should I go buy RO water (will be doing a RO/DI install in a couple weeks) or just use tap water and dechlorinate it? I don't mind the expense of the RO from a lfs to get it started properly (if that is what is needed).
If I do the RO side, should I be adding other things back into the water (and if so, what)?
I have already spoken to a young man at my lfs and he will be able to get me some bacteria from one of their tanks to help start. As soon as I hit the submit button, I will walk out the door and go get the janitorial strength ammonia from Ace. I believe (at the moment) that should give me what I need (unless I go with RO and need to add some things back to it).

Once I have started the process, how long should I wait to start adding plants (it will be a rather heavily planted tank).
Should I let it cycle completely, or can I add some during the process?
I am a rather patient person and I don't mind looking at an "empty" tank throughout the process. It would be nice to be able to add a little bit more color "here and there" during the process.
I just want to make sure I do it right the first time.

I am really starting to get excited now that I have actually been buying products to get this thing up and running (it has been sitting empty in my living room for two years).
Actually, I filled it with tap water a couple weeks ago for a leak check (it sat empty in the previous owners house for three years prior to my wife buying it as a present for me).

Again, I am quite patient and don't mind seeing it empty, if that is what is needed.


I have a myriad of questions, but want to wait to ask each of them until each task approaches (could clutter up one thread very badly).

Thanks for any help and insight y'all can give.
If needed, I can build a list of what I have and what I will be ordering/buying over the next few weeks. I do feel like that should be for a different thread though (I don't really want to clutter this thread with to much info on different aspects).
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Old 01-05-2014, 08:13 PM   #2
Texan78
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You should really add the plants before you flood it and just use regular tap water then treat it for chlorine. You don't need a cycled tank to add the plants. The plants will help your cycle and the tap water has some of what the plants need in addition to dosing. I see you're in Arlington so you're going to be like me with very hard water. Do you plan on keeping fish that need softer water?
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Old 01-05-2014, 09:52 PM   #3
Greg0u812
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Originally Posted by Texan78 View Post
You should really add the plants before you flood it and just use regular tap water then treat it for chlorine. You don't need a cycled tank to add the plants. The plants will help your cycle and the tap water has some of what the plants need in addition to dosing. I see you're in Arlington so you're going to be like me with very hard water. Do you plan on keeping fish that need softer water?
Hey Texan,
Not 100% sure on the type of fish yet. I have been more interested in the types of plants available (contradictory to my next statement).
I do know that I want the tank centered around Boesemani Rainbow's (they are just a cool looking fish).
If that means a water softener, so be it.
I actually have not tested our water for hardness yet.
I have been thinking about adding a whole house filter system.
I travel all over the country and have always assumed our water was pretty hard (a "soft water" shower bugs the heck out of me (just doesn't feel like I can get all the soap off)).

I guess it's just the way I grew up?

Thanks for the info!

Should I dechlorinate the tap water prior to putting it in the tank?
My understanding is that Eco-complete is a live substrate. I don't know how the chlorine in the tap water would effect it.

Again, thanks for the info.
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Old 01-05-2014, 10:11 PM   #4
Texan78
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Should I dechlorinate the tap water prior to putting it in the tank? My understanding is that Eco-complete is a live substrate. I don't know how the chlorine in the tap water would effect it.
Some people put it in before, during, after or all three. I just put it in after I fill it or after water changes and have never had problems. Just make sure you are treating for the total water volume of the tank, not just what you are adding. You shouldn't have any issues using tap water with eco-complete. I am pretty sure you are going to have hard water though.

One thing to keep in mind, with keeping plants. What you're taking out of the water through the RO process will just need to be put back in through dosing. Unless you're keeping something that requires softer water. IMO there is really no need for a RO system on a freshwater tank. Some prefer it and some don't.
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Old 01-05-2014, 10:21 PM   #5
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Plants can go in right away like Texan said. I'd recommend filling up half way while planting though. The water helps support the plants and I find that easier personally.

As far as eco complete goes... well, I use and love it. There is nothing special though and I'm fairly certain folks have figured out that whatever the bag says is in there to help with the cycle or plants is useless.

With my 125 I pretreat with prime, but I have a 35g trash can right behind the tank and water lines ran. ButiI've also ran water directly into another tank and dumped the prime in the tank.

Good luck! You're on the best resource for planted tank folks
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Old 01-05-2014, 10:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Texan78 View Post
...
One thing to keep in mind, with keeping plants. What you're taking out of the water through the RO process will just need to be put back in through dosing. Unless you're keeping something that requires softer water. IMO there is really no need for a RO system on a freshwater tank. Some prefer it and some don't.
Well CRAP!!!!
You have me second guessing myself on the RO/DI system now!
Might save me some money to spend on plants or fish.

Ok, so plan (at the moment) is to have the canisters hooked up and run some tap water into the tank (with dechlorinator). Put some plants in while filling and let it rip.
I do have a couple 300 watt heaters that I will crank up during the cycling process.

It just dawned on me that I have no way to hold down the driftwood sitting on the top of the tank! I am about to dunk a small piece to see if it is going to float or sink. If it floats, I will be doing some more planning tonight.


Quote:
Originally Posted by scapegoat View Post
Plants can go in right away like Texan said. I'd recommend filling up half way while planting though. The water helps support the plants and I find that easier personally.

As far as eco complete goes... well, I use and love it. There is nothing special though and I'm fairly certain folks have figured out that whatever the bag says is in there to help with the cycle or plants is useless.

With my 125 I pretreat with prime, but I have a 35g trash can right behind the tank and water lines ran. ButiI've also ran water directly into another tank and dumped the prime in the tank.

Good luck! You're on the best resource for planted tank folks
I will look into the prime additive tonight. I really like the idea of adding some water to the tank and adding plants. It just makes sense.


I've lurked on a few different planted tank sites for the past couple years. The help I've seen people give around here is one of the main reasons I've decided to call this place home!

Well...

The driftwood is doing what I expected...
Drifting on the top of the tank (I know, who woulda thunk?).

On my way to the Depot to get one of those light grids to give me something to bury in the substrate to tie it all to.


Edit:
After a quick internet search, I guess it is called a light diffuser.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 01-06-2014 at 12:54 AM.. Reason: Back to back posts
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Old 01-06-2014, 02:21 AM   #7
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+1 to what others have provided, no need for a RODI in a freshwater planted tank, I have one in the garage that I have not used for over a year, I dumped in tap water originally and added Prime after the water was in, my driftwood floated after soaking in the tub for two weeks and I attached it to a piece of slate, I added plants after my cycle just to have one less variable but rule of thumb is that plants actually can participate in the cycle

RODI water would be more appropriate to replace water having evaporated from the tank as the minerals do not evaporate, knowing this I still use tap water and water changes take care of any build up
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Old 01-13-2014, 04:15 AM   #8
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+1 to what others have provided, no need for a RODI in a freshwater planted tank, I have one in the garage that I have not used for over a year, I dumped in tap water originally and added Prime after the water was in, my driftwood floated after soaking in the tub for two weeks and I attached it to a piece of slate, I added plants after my cycle just to have one less variable but rule of thumb is that plants actually can participate in the cycle

RODI water would be more appropriate to replace water having evaporated from the tank as the minerals do not evaporate, knowing this I still use tap water and water changes take care of any build up
I probably should have picked up some slate.

I ended up just tying the pieces to the light diffusers and buried the grids under the substrate and a few sizable rocks.
Two of the pieces could have gone in the turkey fryer to boil for a few hours to help. The other two pieces were just entirely to large to fit into anything I have.


I think I went in a bit heavy on the ammonia. It was at almost 8ppm this morning.
I will check the level again in the morning and (most likely) do a partial water change to get the ammonia level back in check.

No plants yet, but the tank is really starting to look nice.
I Think I might add a few background plants (fast growing background plants) after I get the ammonia sorted out.

I don't have the CO2 system here yet so, if I do add some, it will not be many at all.

Heck, at the rate I've been going so far, it may take the entire cycle of the tank before I figure out what plants I want!

Last edited by Greg0u812; 01-13-2014 at 01:24 PM.. Reason: Poor spelling
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Old 01-17-2014, 03:00 PM   #9
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Late to the party, but....

The only reason to have a RO/DI for a planted aquarium is if you're going to mix RODI water with dry ferts to make your own solutions. Otherwise, RODI water isn't healthy for freshwater fish or plants.
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Old 01-18-2014, 10:29 AM   #10
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Late to the party, but....

The only reason to have a RO/DI for a planted aquarium is if you're going to mix RODI water with dry ferts to make your own solutions. Otherwise, RODI water isn't healthy for freshwater fish or plants.
I will most definitely be mixing my my own.
Considering I can buy it from the lfs for .59 a gallon, I may just do that for a while.

I've been wanting to put a ro system under the sink for some drinking water.
If I decide to go ahead with it, I may just go ahead and add in the cost for a ro/di with the tap between the two.
I haven't been studying up much on those yet (as far as maintenance costs, upkeep, etc...). It may or may not be worth it for me.
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Old 01-18-2014, 12:46 PM   #11
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I would stay away from RO water for planted tanks, unless your pH is like 8.5 out of the tap, and your KH is really high too. Otherwise, you'll actually be doing more harm than good to the plants. Many new planted tank setups look amazing in the first 3 months because the plants have everything they need from the substrate, and the tap water.

Once you get everything together, create a new thread in the "Tank Journals" section. I'm sure you'll get tons of advice as you encounter issues. One piece of advice with a 125g, and because I went through it myself, is to make sure you don't rush it. Because once it's set up, it's a pain to have to redo. I learned more from looking at what other 125g owners were using (equipment wise, ferts, etc) and tried to do the same or similar.
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Old 02-22-2014, 05:02 PM   #12
Greg0u812
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I would stay away from RO water for planted tanks, unless your pH is like 8.5 out of the tap, and your KH is really high too. Otherwise, you'll actually be doing more harm than good to the plants. Many new planted tank setups look amazing in the first 3 months because the plants have everything they need from the substrate, and the tap water.

Once you get everything together, create a new thread in the "Tank Journals" section. I'm sure you'll get tons of advice as you encounter issues. One piece of advice with a 125g, and because I went through it myself, is to make sure you don't rush it. Because once it's set up, it's a pain to have to redo. I learned more from looking at what other 125g owners were using (equipment wise, ferts, etc) and tried to do the same or similar.
Thank you for the advice on the PH and KH! PH is ok. I will check KH when I get off the road in a few weeks.

Not sure about the whole tank journal deal (probably the best thing I could do!). I'm just a bit shy about posting pictures of the hobbies I have until they look FANTASTIC. Yeah, it tends to cost me money in the long run by doing it that way.

I am leaning further away from the RO filter system as time goes by.

The wife is taking care of the cycling process (and doing an awesome job of it) while I am out of town.

As far as "rushing it" goes...
I have been planning this tank for two years now. Finally started buying equipment a couple months back (once I decided to go with a planted tank). I am taking my time and not rushing it in any way.

Last edited by Greg0u812; 02-22-2014 at 05:13 PM.. Reason: More info
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Old 02-22-2014, 05:48 PM   #13
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On the RO system, I would suggest against it unless you know you need it. (b/c specialty fish, super high pH out of tap, etc.)

I got a cheap RO system 3 years ago because I wanted to do Apistos and read from several sources that they need the super low pH, soft water, etc etc. Used it for the first year 50/50 RO and tap (tap was softish, 7.2 pH), but noticed the plants in the non-RO tanks were doing a lot better. The plants weren't anything special -- Crypts, mosses, Hygro, Swords, etc.

But the non RO water made the plants in the RO water look unhealthy in comparison. Lighter colors, less growth, etc. I wouldn't have noticed the difference had I not had them next to eachother. But looking at them next to each other there was noticable difference.

I started cutting back my RO ratio until I wasn't using any RO. Fish, including Apistos, never noticed and the plants started doing a lot better. Actually I think some of my fish, like my barbs, did better.

I still have the RO unit but haven't used it in 2 years, and wont in the forseeable future. If I start getting Apisto eggs that dont hatch or something like that I might go back to it. As is, I consider it a bit of a waste, considering for the same price I could have bought all the RO water I ever needed (none thus far) from the LFS and had money in my pocket.

Pictures. Sorry not better resolution, taken with phone. Look at the Crypts

First Pic is RO tank. Notice the thin leaves, long stalks, lighter color.



Second Pic is another RO tank. Crypts in front left. Thin leaves, but better color.



Third pic it non-RO tank. Crypts on right. Broad, long leaves, deep green with some red.



Fouth pic is all 4 tanks next to eachother. First pic is top right tank, second is top left, third is bottom left.



All crypts are same species. Actually, the crypts in the 2nd and 3rd pics are from tiny bits that from the crypts in the first tank that I split off or split off naturally. As you can see the baby plants quickly (2-3 months) caught up and surpassed the mother plant without RO.

As a sidenote I found that the crypts (and my plants generally) also did a lot better in Flourite (2nd and 3rd pic) rather than Ecocomplete (1st pic). All tanks had same lights, temp, and fert (not much). Only other difference is that nonRO (3rd pic tank) was a 10 gal, not a 20 (like 1&2), but they are the same height so I think the effect on light would be non-material.

[Edit: Don't use the other plants in the 1st tank pic as reference. They were brand new plants, just planted. The swords ended up dying back and the Hygro got leggy. Also the sword on the top left tank slowly shrunk over time, and I got a runner from it that I planted in the bottom left (non-RO) tank that outgrew it.]

Bottomline, I found RO to hurt me more than help.

Last edited by cjipping; 02-22-2014 at 06:24 PM.. Reason: Added info.
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Old 02-23-2014, 01:29 PM   #14
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If you haven't added plants yet I would personally hold off. I did plants early on while fishless cycling and realized later that it was a mistake.

Doing fishless cycling without plants you can leave the lights off the entire time. This will greatly reduce algae. If you do fishless cycling with plants then your lights must be on for the plants and you will experience an algae bloom.

If you're doing injected CO2 then you could add plants while cycling but should start the CO2 and fertilizers as soon as you add plants. Keeping these 3 (lights, CO2, ferts) balanced will greatly help reduce algae.
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