So, I got to Day 5 yesterday of the water change cycle, and upon getting home I noticed the water was a little brown. Not super-brown, kind-of-sort-of tannin-ish-but-not-really color. I should further clarify to you about the brown color: more of a slight tint than an actual brown. In otherwords, not perfectly clear water.
What this signaled to me, is that I should be preparing for a diatom outbreak sooner or later (perfectly fine) and that any plants in the emmersed form are currently breaking down and melting (which you can see visibly behind the main rock), a totally normal process.
Because I didn't think ahead and only started to do a water change, rather than getting a picture of the tank with the slight coloration difference (which you probably wouldn't be able to see in a photo anyway), I got you an ever-famous-frank-bucket shot.
If you're feeling particularly motivated you can compare this photo side by side with the other bucket shot, showing the differences in water.
I drained the tank down a bit to:
Exposure to air helps to kill some algae types. In general it's a pretty good preventative maintenance strategy to drain as much as you can on at least a monthly basis.
To spurn some extra aeration on fill-up: I turned the filter on at this water level:
Doing this as a regular practice helps to rapidly oxygenate the water during a water change, which is healthy for the overall environment (due-to-a somewhat long scientific explanation that involves oxygen levels at the microscopic levels, which you don't need to know to know that it helps and is free to do).
Total maintenance time:
Let's go back in time for a minute:
Setting up the filter
Okay, so i'm assuming that you know how to set up a canister filter, and if you don't, just go to eheim.com or the like: it's fairly simple.
Really the point here is to expose my secret
for the setting up a canister filter for a planted tank.
It involves an easy first step, which we're all familiar with:
If you bought an eheim, it should come with Bio Rings (mechanical filtration), if you'd like to use the ADA version, it's Bio Cubes (which we'll have sooner or later), but for now just have a layer of mechanical. This helps to break down / catch larger debris in the filtration process.
The second step is pretty easy too:
Carbon. (Rinse before use always, large explanation as to why, but just know that you need to do it. Also, don't do it in any area where it can stain the surface, carbon stains stuff. Like, say, in the bath tub. I did that once and it took me like a month to clean the carbon off. Bad idea. Use a stainless steel kitchen sink or the like).
That's it. We're going to only use carbon and mechanical, at a ratio of 20% mechanical, 80% carbon
for the first 30-45 days.
The reason you're going to do it this way is because during the set up, we need the extra purification power of Carbon. This helps to polish the water and remove any negative elements, which there will be the most of during this period.
After the first month or so, we'll no longer need to use carbon (it will have burnt out by this point) and we can switch over to biological to maximize our biological filtration (most important step in filtration for us).
Tips for Carbon
*has surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow on (which is why I use carbon instead of purigen in the planted tank, for a while, I / ADG used purigen in planted tanks, but long-term testing proved carbon to be better for this reason, though you can use carbon + purigen as well if you like, however if the choice is either carbon or purigen, go with carbon).
*choose the highest quality carbon you can get, this leads to the best results and the highest capacity for cleaning the water. NA Carbon is an excellent carbon source, and even better than NA Carbon is sources of Bamboo Charcoal (the best aquaria-related carbon, taken from bamboo).
*avoid carbons that are just powdered or "caked onto filter pads," these tend to come by default with filters, the eheim 2211 i'm using came with one, and they're largely useless. They help some to make the water clear, but that's all they do. You always want a carbon that comes in stick form or that is bamboo charcoal (these types are kind of jagged edges).
P.S. if you've found these techniques valuable, help share the information with new comers by linking back here in your own journals when you use my techniques!