First planted tank ever. 14g - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 41 (permalink) Old 02-03-2017, 03:13 PM Thread Starter
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First planted tank ever. 14g

Hello everyone. I'm new here and figured I would start my journal for my first tank. I've Been interested in this hobby for awhile now. Finally bought a set up in craigslist for cheap. Came with the 14G tall tank, filter, heater, air pump, net, and suction tube. With help from my LFS I decided to only use the tank and filter as the heater was insufficient for this tank and also pretty old.

Currently I have no organics in the tank. I started by getting the tank cycles and getting the hardware set-up. So far I've brought a water sample to be tested for free at my LFS. Test came back great except a slightly high pH which I'm not to worried about yet because im still going to be adding some drift wood.

I'll be adding some pictures along the way to let keep up with it.

The water im told is cloudy because a bacteria bloom but should go away.


I've built a custom light set-up for a single t5 bulb. Definitely going to be low tech.
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post #2 of 41 (permalink) Old 02-24-2017, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
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So here's an update. Got the tank cycled now and the bacteria bloom has subsided. Also my elevated pH has come down since the addition of the driftwood. Finally purchased the flora for the tank and have since gotten it planned. I went with a Amazonian micro sword for the foreground even though I have been advised that it may take some work to get good growth due to the low light conditions. I also picked Dwarf sagitaria for the background and a java moss for the wood. Im hoping I'll get the sword to grow but if not ill pick something better suited for the conditions.

As for the livestock, nothing is in there yet. I have ordered from my LFS three Banded Kuhli Poached and Male betta. Mainly because my kids really liked those two fish species and my LFS said they would be compatible. One question I have is if I add say two shrimp will that be too much bioload for this tank? I would like them but not if it's going to hurt the others.

Anyway here's the updated planted photo.

http://i1304.photobucket.com/albums/...psoikxgvmo.jpg
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post #3 of 41 (permalink) Old 02-24-2017, 06:44 PM Thread Starter
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I always select the wrong picture link. Sorry

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post #4 of 41 (permalink) Old 02-24-2017, 07:07 PM
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Hello! Nice little setup! I'm a Huge fan of Kuhli loaches, and I'm jealous you can get the banded as opposed to the black. I can't get them here without outrageous shipping fees from out west. I'm not an expert so I'll offer my experience mostly...

In my 10g I had 6 Kuhli loaches, 6 neon tetras, and a couple of mollies with no problems whatsoever. But I couldn't even grow java moss with the few LEDs built into the hood! I had a few ghost shrimp, but they never lasted more than a week. I think that was something to do with particular needs of the shrimp though, and not the water quality generally. The more "surfaces" you have in the tank, from things like your driftwood and plants, the more good bacteria you have to process all the waste. I wouldn't worry that you are overstocking at this point, but gradual additions are best just to give time for the bio-film to develop and adapt to the extra load. Maybe let the Loaches and friends settle in for a week or so before bringing in others. It's also good to know that it's okay to under-feed for a while, but over-feeding can cause big problems fast. Testing for ammonia early on helped to settle my worries.

My only question is how you would have had a bacterial bloom with no livestock yet. The fog looks a lot like what I would get after adding sand, just the fine particulate matter.

Your loaches will Love that sandy bottom!
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post #5 of 41 (permalink) Old 02-24-2017, 07:23 PM
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I'm just curious how the tank was cycled? obviously fishless so I'm assuming ammonia added. The reason I ask is sometimes the process of cycling a tank is poorly explained by the lfs and people are under the impression that adding something like tetra safe start of other bacterial additives (which I have found useless but that's just my opinion) will cycle your tank. Without a biolaod such as ammonia or fish poop (essentially the same for the sake of cycling) the bacteria have nothing to feed off of and die. Then when you add fish all hell breaks loose and the fish die or are permanently damaged due to poor water quality namely ammonia poisoning. I understand its cheaper to take your water in for testing but the purchase of a ammonia, nitrite and nitrate test kit will go a long way to ensure your success as a beginner in the hobby (not to mention easier that taking a sample in). Daily and weekly testing will help you understand the bioload your tank is under and ensure you are doing adequate water changes that allow you to maintain a healthy environment for your fish without waiting for signs of distress that may lead to more complicated issues and expenses down the road. This is the single most important factor in a successful tank.

Welcome to the hobby and I encourage you to read through as many sections of the forum as possible to help make your first tank a success and an enjoyable experience. It is one of the most rewarding hobby's in my opinion and there are some really great posts here that will help you succeed in what can easily become a fascinating addiction.

Maintainable bioload= how much work your willing to commit to. I would suggest starting slow as it will give you time to adjust and get a feel for your tank

Dan
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post #6 of 41 (permalink) Old 02-24-2017, 09:05 PM Thread Starter
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Luke thanks for the info. The loaches were a popular pick for my son because they look like snake and he thinks that's hilarious. I was told to get three or more because they are a communal fish and don't do well by themselves.

As far as the lighting in my tank I switched out the t5 bulb that I had for a t8 plant growth bulb. Hopefully the better light spectrum can help the sword and moss grow.

Dman pardon my ignorance to all of this. I may be using the term cycling in the completely wrong way. When I set out to start this tank my guy at the LFS started me out with the bag of sand, a bottle of prime and a pre colonized sponge filter to get things started. He gave me directions and told me to come back in a week and we would test the water to see where it was at. The cloudiness one as told was from bacteria although we never tested for anything. It went away and he said my water parameters were good so that's why i ordered the fish.

I hope i didn't just screw myself but not going about it the right way. This is the only real LFS around outside of petco (who i trust as far as I can throw them). So basically I believed what he was telling was true.
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post #7 of 41 (permalink) Old 02-24-2017, 09:26 PM
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I believe that nitrifying bacteria require a source of food to survive more than a couple of days. So unless you added some kind of ammonia source, the bacteria on that sponge filter are dead and the colony will need to completely re-establish. I'm not sure what your LFS guy would expect to change in your water parameters over a week of nothing happening, but it's no surprise that they're good. You've got no organic waste in there to cause problems. Once you get fish in there, your parameters (Ammonia, specifically) are going to change a lot.

I definitely recommend getting a test kit. If you add fish to the tank as it is, you're going to need to check the water constantly, and probably do very frequent water changes until the cycle runs it's course. If it's possible to have your LFS hold the fish until you can get the tank properly cycled, that's what I would do.
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post #8 of 41 (permalink) Old 02-24-2017, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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Wow well this sucks. They should hold the fish for me. I wonder now, can the sponge be 're colonized since it's been starved for so long. I mean I just added the plants this week but the tank was running probably two weeks without any organics in it. I feel like I've just wasted a bunch of time. And on top of that I question the reliability of the guy at my LFS.
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post #9 of 41 (permalink) Old 02-25-2017, 01:20 AM
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Originally Posted by lordheavyc View Post
Wow well this sucks. They should hold the fish for me. I wonder now, can the sponge be 're colonized since it's been starved for so long. I mean I just added the plants this week but the tank was running probably two weeks without any organics in it. I feel like I've just wasted a bunch of time. And on top of that I question the reliability of the guy at my LFS.
It might recolonize faster than something that never had the right bacteria in the first place, but I would expect it to take a few weeks regardless. I have a tank cycling right now; I added 4ppm ammonia a week and a half ago, and it's still there, so I've got a long way to go. Cycling isn't usually a very fast process. You could always try one of the bacteria-in-a-bottle options. I've heard decent reviews of a few of them, but none of them are guaranteed to work. You will need a source of ammonia to run the cycle without fish. I'm using ammonium chloride I got on Amazon, but you can also get pure ammonia/ammonium hydroxide from hardware stores (make sure there are no surfactants or anything other than ammonia). Or you can just toss in some fish food and let it break down. It works, but is less precise.

I always question the reliability of LFS people. Some of them know what they're doing and some don't, and it's often hard to tell the difference. I try to do my own research as much as possible, even if it's just to confirm what they already told me.
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post #10 of 41 (permalink) Old 02-25-2017, 01:56 AM
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Originally Posted by lordheavyc View Post
Wow well this sucks. They should hold the fish for me. I wonder now, can the sponge be 're colonized since it's been starved for so long. I mean I just added the plants this week but the tank was running probably two weeks without any organics in it. I feel like I've just wasted a bunch of time. And on top of that I question the reliability of the guy at my LFS.
I would highly recommend a test kit. One option may be to ask the LFS guy to swap you a seeded (seeded meaning a sponge filter that has already established the nitrifying bacteria) sponge filter of the same size at the time of purchase with your new fish. This would be the best option as the new fish will continue to provide food for the established bacteria and essentially allow you to skip the cycling process. The other would be to start with minimal fish and test parameters daily or every other day until you get a good idea of how much and how often you need to change you water to keep the ammonia, nitrites and eventually nitrates at acceptable levels (usually 4-6weeks).

Don't panic this happens a lot and its really not that bad if you understand the process and what needs to be done. The people here are great and very helpful. First I would suggest reading up on the nitrogen cycle and how its works (I'm to lazy to type it out and its very accessible by a simple google search). If you have any questions or concerns regarding it just post them here and you will definitely get all the help you need.

Added: its not the plants that provide the ammonia needed its the fish poop, decaying plants will contribute minimally but if he will agree to trade you a seeded filter try to get one out of a tank with fish. If he will agree to hold the fish then start with a small number to get the cycle going.

Again don't panic... you got this!

Dan

Last edited by Dman911; 02-25-2017 at 02:10 AM. Reason: clarity
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post #11 of 41 (permalink) Old 03-02-2017, 03:39 AM Thread Starter
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Ok update time. I went out and got a full test kit instead of relying on the LFS. Very glad I did. Now I feel a little more in control of my own tank. So here's the results from a couple of days after adding my three kuhli loaches.

pH 6.5
gH 10
kH 5
NH4 .0
NO2 .0
NO3 25mg/L
PO4 1,0
Fe 0
Cu 0

Oh yea and the water temp is at 80 degrees F.

Now on to the things I'm concerned about. The plants I've noticed are having a tough time. The dwarf saggitaria seems to be melting. At least that's what I think you call it. The leave are turning yellow and some are even going translucent. Almost like they've been eaten. I think I've really got two problems. First I think the light is still too low. I've been running a single T8 plant growth light on a seven hour cycle. I've also noticed from the tests that I have zero iron in the water which I think means I'm going to have to dose ferts. The micro sword seems ok right now but I have noticed any new growth yet. The moss also seems to be ok.

As far as the fish go they seem to be adjusting well to their new home. They really seem to enjoy the sand substrate and the drift wood. They like to munch on the algae that forms on the wood. Which I'm quite ok with. I also noticed I picked up a couple hitch hikers from the store. A single small guppie as well as what looks like a snail. Not sure how long the guppie will last but I think it's fun trying to find him. Kind of like a game of where's waldo.

Here's a couple of new pictures of my new tenants. I apologize for the poor quality photos. I'm still using my phone instead of my good camera.

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post #12 of 41 (permalink) Old 03-02-2017, 04:00 AM
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Originally Posted by lordheavyc View Post
Ok update time. I went out and got a full test kit instead of relying on the LFS. Very glad I did. Now I feel a little more in control of my own tank. So here's the results from a couple of days after adding my three kuhli loaches.

pH 6.5
gH 10
kH 5
NH4 .0
NO2 .0
NO3 25mg/L
PO4 1,0
Fe 0
Cu 0

Oh yea and the water temp is at 80 degrees F.
Awesome. Those parameters look great for Kuhlis, and judging by the Nitrogen numbers, your tank might actually be cycled! You should still keep a close eye on it, but I'd be optimistic. Maybe those bacteria are hardier than I thought.

I can't help you much on the plants, I'm afraid. My first planted tank is still in the dry start phase.
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post #13 of 41 (permalink) Old 03-05-2017, 02:27 PM Thread Starter
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Update. So I've done another water test and the water parameters have stayed the same except pH increased from 6.5 to 7.0. Not a huge increase but i'll keep an eye on it. I also saw a slight increase in FE which is from the fact that I started dosing this week. Trying to give these plants a fighting chance. We've finally added our Betta to the mix. His name is Emma mainly because my daughter thinks he's to pretty to be a boy. He's a nice fish but I'm a little worried he's too much of a bully for the loaches. He doesn't seem to bother them to much except ive seen him steal food from them a few times. Is there a way I can get him to eat his food at the top while leaving leaving their sinking food alone? Otherwise they seem to be co-inhabiting well. Also how do I know if my current is to strong for him and what can I do to fix it? He seems to be sticking to the bottom portion of the tank. Around the grass and wood.
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post #14 of 41 (permalink) Old 03-10-2017, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
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Quick update. There have been a couple of additions since my last update. First I've added a new plant, an Amazon sword. I feel like it adds a little something aesthetically. Plus the betta loves the big leaves.

I've also upgraded the light to a full on LED strip. So hopefully I'll see the plants start producing some new growth.

Third I wanted to finish off stocking the tank and got five cardinal tetra. I think that's what they were called lol. Either way it doesn't matter because I'm down to just one left. Poor guys just couldn't survive the water differences. I tested my levels and had elevated nitrate levels. I did an immediate 25 percent water change. Hopefully I can save the last little guy and maybe try getting him more friends next week. If not maybe I'll try some neons as long as my tests come back ok all week.

Lastly the fish tank has a new home. Going from my basement room to my living room. I now get to look at it everyday. Click image for larger version

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post #15 of 41 (permalink) Old 03-10-2017, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by lordheavyc View Post
Quick update. There have been a couple of additions since my last update. First I've added a new plant, an Amazon sword. I feel like it adds a little something aesthetically. Plus the betta loves the big leaves.

I've also upgraded the light to a full on LED strip. So hopefully I'll see the plants start producing some new growth.

Third I wanted to finish off stocking the tank and got five cardinal tetra. I think that's what they were called lol. Either way it doesn't matter because I'm down to just one left. Poor guys just couldn't survive the water differences. I tested my levels and had elevated nitrate levels. I did an immediate 25 percent water change. Hopefully I can save the last little guy and maybe try getting him more friends next week. If not maybe I'll try some neons as long as my tests come back ok all week.

Lastly the fish tank has a new home. Going from my basement room to my living room. I now get to look at it everyday. Attachment 731138

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How elevated were the nitrates? And how did you acclimate the fish to your water? I think cardinals are supposed to handle highish temperatures (like 80) better than ordinary neons, so you might not have any better luck with those.
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