Thanks Cliff/Spar! This has been a crazy procedure... people like me should no be allowed to own tanks.
I feel like such a fish-mom failure!
I have spent 3 months studying planted tanks in great depth, but I continue to come-up against conflicting advice and roadblocks I hadn't anticipated - like driftwood that won't sink and like a job change which necessitated my moving the tank and its flora and fauna across town from work, to where it now resides at home. …And the addition of an unexpected feline friend who thinks the tank is a sushi bar.
I also seem to have a mental block when it comes to all the dosing and how you break down volumes for a 10-gallon tank without having microscopic teaspoons at the ready. My LFS here is not well stocked. And I'm trying to figure out what the recommended levels are for water parameters, but there's just no black and white answers it seems - everyone has something different going on inside their own aquatic palace.
The tank was planted Sept 29 seeded with mulm, water, substrate and filter media from an established tank. It's planted heavily. Fish were added immediately (the established tank had a leak). There was too much C02 from the yeast/sugar DIY 2L bottles I created and the fish gasped. I added an air stone, which now clicks on in the evenings via a timer. All fish survived, but I didn’t originally think so.
My oto was M.I.A. for a week. With early signs of algae I went to LFS and bought a clown pleco. Immediately the oto returned as though to say he did not welcome the additional algae eater. Now I'm overstocked. And for the sake of the clown pleco, I needed to add driftwood. Living on the coast, I have a great deal of it at my disposal, I boiled it thoroughly – or as best I could considering it only half-fit into my roasting pan.
I have been battling white cloudy water - what I expect is a bacteria bloom caused by over-zealous cleaning of my filter. This cleared up yesterday, but then I received Taiwanese moss in the mail and needed to add it to the driftwood. This required me to remove the driftwood to attach the moss, which in turn, caused the uprooting of nearly all other plants. It also caused my pleco to be lying on the linoleum floor for 5-10 minutes, as I hadn’t realized he had hitchhiked his way out of the tank on the driftwood. He too has survived this ordeal.
I added more substrate (Flourite) from the once-leaking tank to help weigh down the uprooted plants, this caused a chocolate milk-like cloudiness despite the substrate being well washed. There are no corals or seashells, but I do have large rocks trying to weigh down the driftwood.
I have been taking frequent water parameter readings to understand the baseline of my tank water before I start dosing. With all the chaos and being a relatively new tank, I've been reticent to begin dosing. I have on hand all the chemicals needed but Seachem Equilibrium - which I'll pick up this afternoon if the LFS has it in stock. (unlikely)
I don't know where my readings should be. To the best of my knowledge...
PH should be 6.5-7.0 (I'm at 7.0).
KH should be 3-6 degrees (my test kit measures in ppm and I'm at 60).
My GH should be between 2-8 degrees (again, my test kit provides ppm and I'm at 200).
Based on these, my C02 seems to be very low at 10.2 (versus at about 20-30, where most people say they operate).
I have a small trace of ammonia, which is the same amount as what comes from my tap water readings (0.05).
N03, nitrate, should be between 5 ppm, and 10 ppm - I have had none at all which I worry will lead to bga outbreak or something like that.
My P04 is 5.0, someone said it should be about 0.2-0.5 ppm!?!
So, right now I can't see the fish because of the substrate mess. My HOB filter is going, as is a small corner filter I had lying around which I hope will speed up the process of clearing the water. I do not have a diatom filter (at least that's what I think it's called), and probably won't for a while since they seem to retail for $200 here.
As always, I appreciate the knowledge and experience people share. For certain, I would have set my hair on fire by now if it weren't for the generosity provided to me by this site and you fine fish-loving friends. Thank you to shalu who said take deep breaths into a my brown paper lunch bag!
Please give me your thoughts and opinions. Especially on the tank’s water readings, where they should be, how I go about getting them there and how the heck I should dose a 10 gal. Everything is dry mix except the Seachem excel, flourish and iron.