Pallu/Vivarium cycle going weird... - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-12-2015, 11:15 PM Thread Starter
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Pallu/Vivarium cycle going weird...

So I had a couple thread started about this but I thought I'd make this new one so no one that doesn't want to have to go thru the whole thing again but here they are if you want to have a better idea of the whole picture.

So basically I have this pond in my vivarium (I guess we could call it a palludarium at that point..)
I have a total of 50 gallons of water in the whole system; 20 in the sump, 30 in the tank but fishes will only be swimming in 5gallons cause the rest is separated by fiber glass mesh.
I have 500ml of sintered glass (Matrix stuff)... a lot of submerged bioballs, bio ceramic rolls thingy and pot scrubbers in the sump... a lot more than I should ever need.

I been trying to do cycle but I noticed PH keeps dropping back to 6-6.5 because of all the tannins... I managed to see a bit of nitrite at some point but never a whole lot... never saw any nitrate... ammonia keeps disappearing REAL fast...
What's going on??!!?
I thought ammonia was transformed into nitrite, then nitrate and that nitrate would accumulate and never leave the system until you do water change?! Am i wrong? does nitrate slowly leave the water?!
So after SEVERAL weeks of doing this, I just notice that ALL my readings are always at 0... PH ~6.5.. I had been adding a lot of baking soda trying to keep PH up but it always go back down so I stopped... now my TDS is 400.
My current fish tank is only 40 with normal parameter, no ammonia, no nitrite, lil bit of nitrate. PH 7

I been adding only RO water (2ppm) to both tank so obviously I raised my TDS to very high so I am wondering what to do now...

I was thinking that maybe because of the acidity problem along with the fact my sump is overkill, with so few fishes in there maybe I can just ignore the cycle and it will naturally occur as I don't think 15-20 guppies, 6oto, 5 mickey mouse fish can spoil the water?
Maybe do 90% water change to get rid of all that baking soda and tannins?

Oh yeah... I guess I could mention that the water return goes thru a stream that has a pretty crazy algae issue... it's pretty disgusting ahha
not sure what to do bout that too...

Anyways, I'll let you peeps ask me questions if I didn't put enough info in there and hope someone can help me out!!!

Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-13-2015, 12:59 AM
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Normally, because ammonia is toxic at neutral pH ranges, you encourage nitrifying bacteria to grow, to convert ammonia to nitrite to nitrate. But this process doesn't work well (or at all) at low pH 6.0.

In my opinion, if you have water conditions that lead to a low pH 6.0, then forget the cycle.
The ammonia at pH 6.0 will be the non-toxic NH4+ (or at least the concentration of NH3 will be undetectable).
I suspect your plants are gobbling up the NH4+.

It would be good to see if anyone else agrees.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-13-2015, 01:07 AM Thread Starter
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there are no aquatic plants yet... i tryed two of em but they died... im big time beginner in all that stuff....
not sure if the terrestrial plants have roots in the water already as they're sitting on a false bottom above water level but I know for one thing that once the vivarium matures, they'll get their roots in there!
but maybe that huge mass of algae is doing something?
I stopped seeng nitrite after it appeared...
Do you think I should do water change before adding fish? I am concerned about 400ppm TDS water.. or add fish and slowly do water changes as time goes?
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-13-2015, 01:16 AM
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I suspect either plant (by root?) or algae is consuming the NH4 quickly as it's source of nitrogen.
I would try to get the water back to it's 'normal' state before adding any fish - whatever state will exist in the long term (low pH, low TDS, etc), to avoid having to manage the ph/TDS shifts as you change water.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-13-2015, 04:06 AM
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Do a really big water change.
Do all the 'scaping- plants, driftwood, rocks...
Set the water to the parameters your fish will want, depending on the species you want. Guppies are hard water fish, thriving in GH and KH over 10 German degrees of hardness. Platies (the most common ones I can think of that come in a 'Micky Mouse' pattern) are hard to medium hardness fish. GH and KH 5-10 is fine, harder is OK.
Otos are soft water fish, more like the water you have.

I understand you have 50 gallons, so the waste load will be diluted, but I am concerned that their actual swimming space is only about 5 gallons. I think you should stick with the right number of very peaceful fish that are OK in a small space like that. Otos are OK. Most live bearers males will harass the females a LOT. There will be no room for the females to get out of the way. If you want live bearers for that small space, and soft water, try purebred Endlers Live Bearers (not Endlers x Guppy hybrids). Males are a lot more polite toward the females, and they are OK in a smaller space. Maintain the population at about 10, either all males or 2-3 females per each male (so 3-4 males + 6-7 females) and have a place to sell the babies.

Yes, the algae is your bio filter right now.
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