Newbie Water Parameters? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-19-2015, 07:11 AM Thread Starter
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Question Newbie Water Parameters?

I am new to planted tanks I am giving this a shot, I plan to use all native plants from where I live for my first tank but by the time I gather all the proper equipment plants will be doing into dormancy.

This is why I need to start a 'stock' tank where I can grow plants in pots until I am ready to scape my tank, it is just a derimmed 10 gallon tank and I have a small rubber coated rack in there to elevate a few pots closer to the waters surface:



I have a brand new pump from my new tank (15.8G cornerless bow-front) should do the trick just fine since I will be using a canister with my 15.8G, it was a National Geographic tank:




The lighting is all temporary; the top lights will be suspended off the wall and the bottom will be attached to the underside of the top surface. So I guess my question is starting with the filter, it has two compartments with two sponge filters and a charcoal sack. I read before you do not use or need the charcoal with planted tanks should I remove it? Should I run anything besides two sponges? If I fill it with tap water what types of tests do I need to run on the pond water where I pull the plants from besides pH?? I know I cant just stick pond plants in clear tap water without having certain levels correct.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-19-2015, 02:09 PM
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I would not pay a huge amount of attention pH, as it tends to fluctuate with CO2 saturation. CO2 is an acid in water so it temporarily lowers pH, but with the lights on the p. KH (alkalinity really) is a more useful test in most cases.

Regardless, most aquarium suitable plants are pretty widely adaptable. For the most part, they'll deal with anything "reasonable". There are some wild plants that just don't deal with aquarium conditions however, so you'll have to experiment some.

Thins to keep an eye on:

- Temperature - most plants deal with a wide range and generally all plants seem to like temperatures around 72-76F. There are some that go lower, and others that go higher, but this seems to be the "butter zone" that suits almost everything.
- General hardness (ie: calcium/magnesium levels). Some plants prefer hard water, some prefer soft. Most will adapt to either, but not all will.
- Fertilizer levels - making sure the plants have nutrients they need to grow. Nitrate, phosphate, potassium, etc.. Rich soil can go for for rooted plants, but won't help floaters.
- Light levels - some plants like more or less light. However, without CO2 injection algae is very hard to control at higher light levels.


Filtration - I'd ditch the charcoal, particularly if this is plant only. Add in only if needed to control odors, tannins, or to strip medicines. Ordinarily I'd say stick in a bag of biomedia in its place, but this is plant-only... so that's probably not needed. Cut down a piece of filter floss to increase mechanical if you like???

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-19-2015, 05:55 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks a lot!!!

I do not plan to run CO2 in the 10G stock tank so I will keep lighting to a minimal needed, was hoping it will pull enough from the air with a pump for now.

How do I go about testing the levels of water ferts? There must be a test kit for this and what do I do to raise these levels? I have bags of all these elements for house plants and such in sort of a rock salt form. I am going to go grab my pool test strips and see what it tests for!

I will start comparing p. KH from pond to pond and get a general range then test my tap water, as well as test ponds and tap for water hardness (pretty sure we have hard tap water).

I will keep the biomedia in mind for my scaped tank because I will have small fish in it, but only plants in my 10G. I was not sure if I should run the charcoal for the first few days of tap water for some reason, also this may be a quarantine tank I need to monitor plants for infestations and such so will running charcoal help 'clean' or 'scrub' the plants for long term aquarium use? Filter floss you mean for a finer filtration??

Thanks again very helpful!
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-19-2015, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Teebo View Post
Thanks a lot!!!

How do I go about testing the levels of water ferts? There must be a test kit for this and what do I do to raise these levels? I have bags of all these elements for house plants and such in sort of a rock salt form. I am going to go grab my pool test strips and see what it tests for!
There are readily available nitrate and phosphate test kits.. Nitrate ones have a bad habit of reading very high, and need calibration with a reference solution (which you can make yourself) to get them in the right ballpark.. Iron tests exist too. Potassium is hard/expensive to test for.

Really, most folks pick a fertilizer scheme that doesn't require testing... Pps-pro and Estimative Index (EI) low-light are the two popular ones for tanks without CO2.

PPS-Pro works on the idea of trying to dose what plants will use in a day every 24 hours.

EI works on the idea of providing a lot more than the plants could possibly use, and then do weekly 50% water changes to prevent over accumulation.

As for what to use to add them, the cheapest way are what the above routines are based on.. DIY fertilizers from dry mineral forms:

KNO3 - source of nitrate that is ammonia-free and fish safe. Also provides some potassium.
KH2PO4 - source of phosphate, and more potassium
K2SO4 - source of potassium and sulfate, not always needed but absolutely needed when fish-load demands you to cut back on nitrate/phosphate.

CSM+B or Miller microplex - providing micronutrients, including iron.
DTPA Iron - sometimes used to tweak the iron-vs-other micronutrient balance.

Quote:
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I will keep the biomedia in mind for my scaped tank because I will have small fish in it, but only plants in my 10G. I was not sure if I should run the charcoal for the first few days of tap water for some reason, also this may be a quarantine tank I need to monitor plants for infestations and such so will running charcoal help 'clean' or 'scrub' the plants for long term aquarium use?

Thanks again very helpful!
Charcoal would only help if the plants are contaminated with something that charcoal can adsorb... Mostly it adsorbs organic compounds that smell bad or turn the water yellow-brown (tannis) but isn't terribly harmful. It will adsorb chlorine, but we have dechlorinators for that. It may adsorb some organic chemicals that are pesticides, if you think the plants may be contaminated with them... that said, most pesticides break down after a few days/weeks so this usually isn't a problem if you are quarantining long enough.

Charcoal won't help at all with any kind of infestation with bugs, critters, algaes or diseases.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teebo View Post


Filter floss you mean for a finer filtration??
Yes, in a planted tank, mechanical filtration is important.. In a plant-only tank it is certainly more important than biological media, which is of no value.

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-19-2015, 07:01 PM
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Welcome aboard! I'm a big fan of Greenleaf Aquariums EI ferts package. Very easy dosing instructions and will last you years. http://greenleafaquariums.com/aquari...rtilizers.html


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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-19-2015, 07:26 PM
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+1 GLA is a popular source, as is Nilocg over in the for sale forums here (I got mine through Nilocg)...

Both of these sources are a bit US-centric however...

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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-20-2015, 05:08 AM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb

PPS-Pro sounds much easier for now not requiring water changes.

Okay I will not bother running charcoal and I will definitely order some filter floss, if I was to need that charcoal bag once it gets wet can it be reused later if needed?

Starting somewhere, I began testing today here is my tap water. The TH seems about 100ppm or lower, the pH is around 7.5 and the TA is around 80-90ppm I would say:



This is the results from the edge of the most diverse lake I have found. The TH seems to be 0ppm, the pH is off the chart 8 or higher, and the TA is around 60ppm:



The TH and TA seem very close, only major difference is pH so should I just raise pH run CSM+B & PPS-Pro then monitor the plants?

Thanks!

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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-20-2015, 05:54 AM
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Looks like you have softish water unless there is something wrong with that hardness test..

As others mentioned you probably don't need nor want to worry about pH. Tap water can have buffers in it that will drive you crazy as you change pH the buffers will gradually push the pH back to where it was causing you to put too much pH adjuster in (which is just more chemicals). The exception is that your softer water might be easier to control than hard water if you choose to pH adjust.

Most plants and critters seem to adjust just fine, almost all of my fish are South American (platies, endlers, otos) that apparently come from soft low pH waters but I have very hard pH 8.0 water. They are living long healthy lives. Same experience with plants and inverts. The most important thing is to have stable environment that doesn't suffer wild swings.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-20-2015, 06:31 AM
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pH can change through the day.
It will be lowest earlier in the day, and get higher through the day. Highest in mid afternoon.

As noted above, the low hardness levels (both hardness, and alkalinity) say this is soft water. (and therefore more apt for the pH to change)

I see your location is 'Earth'.
If you are in a temperate zone, with a distinct winter, and the plants go dormant in the winter, then their optimum temperature range may vary. Some bodies of water in temperate regions can get quite warm in the summer, and the plants are OK. Many temperate zone waters freeze in the winter, and the plants go dormant. If your area does not freeze, it will still be a lot cooler in the winter, and the plants may still go dormant. Optimum temperature can vary through the year, into the 60s or higher in the summer, and quite cold in winter.
If you are in a more tropical area, then the suggested temperature of low to mid 70s is great for most plants that you would find in local waters. Most common aquarium plants are from tropical or semitropical zones.

Many aquatic plants will handle a wide range of hardness, but there are a few that require softer water. Isoetids are one such group that are widespread.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-20-2015, 03:28 PM Thread Starter
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Sounds like I am all set than, I am located in MA we have hard winters and everything goes dormant but if I regulate my tanks temperature will it prevent plants from going dormant?? Or do I have to use tropic plants to keep my tank from going dormant? I am building a native tank.

I guess I need to move onto getting a nutrient test kit and fertilizers. If I pull plants now will they be okay for while without fertilizers? Maybe they wont thrive but they wont die?

Thanks for all the great info! I thought we had hard water but apparently it is soft, I thought people complained here about white buildup when washing flat black cars.
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-22-2015, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
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I think tank thermometers are unsightly so I picked up this meat thermometer on a dongle to test when needed, it can also be used to measure pond temps:


Has anyone heard of temperature monitoring being done in-line going to the canister filter? Would that give an accurate reading if my pull tube was opposite from the heater?

If this will work I can easily wire a sensor to notify me of temp changes via my computer.
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-25-2015, 11:56 PM Thread Starter
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Can tap water changes do any harm to a plant only tank if no conditioner is used to remove chlorine? Plants should be able to tolerate tap water just fine right? I am trying to eliminate factors is the sudden slow growth and yellowing after going through a lot of water changes with new substrate however there was a period of rapid growth before this so it had overcome transplant shock.

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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-21-2015, 12:19 AM Thread Starter
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What does the role does Alkalinity play in a FRESHWATER aquarium? Does this only matter for reef tanks??
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-21-2015, 12:38 AM
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Alkalinity, usually misrepresented as KH does matter in freshwater. With no alkalinity, small amounts of introduced acids or bases will cause large pH swings.
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-21-2015, 01:44 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you! Google did not give many results for freshwater, mine is usually between low-moderate just from tap.
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