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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-18-2007, 06:06 AM Thread Starter
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6 Gallon Nano (56k)

Hi everyone. My name is Stef and Iím new here. Iím thinking of redoing my 6 gallon nano tank, and if you guys wouldnít mind, Iíd really appreciate some aquascaping tips.

Iíd like to keep the tank as heavily planted as possible, to help reduce the waste produced by my apple snails and maximize the amount of hiding places in the tank for my betta, but I need to find a combination of plants that doesnít look so messy and overgrown in my tiny tank.

Hereís some more info about the tankÖ

Fish: 1 betta and 4 apple snails (pomacea bridgesii)

Water changes: 20% every other day (with 4 snails, this is necessary to keep the tank clean). Half of the water changes include a thorough gravel vacuuming (at least, in the spots not covered by plants).

Filtration: 1 small whisper in-tank filter. It came with a cartridge, but I replaced that with two balled-up 10Ēx10Ē pieces of polyester felt. I rinse the filter media every other day, on the days when I donít do water changes. Despite the fact that it takes up a lot of space, Iím not willing to change the filter, since it also functions as the tankís heater.

Lighting: one 13 watt CFL, 5000k. Iíd like to upgrade, but unfortunately, nothing larger fits in my hood, and buying a new hood isnít an option atm. Also, because of the positioning of the bulb, the left half of the tank is significantly brighter than the right.

Substrate: small gravel and about 1/2 cup of earthworm castings. The castings came from my worm bin, so I know that itís high quality, disease-free stuff. The castings were added when I started this tank in January 2007, and I vacuum the unplanted sections of the gravel pretty thoroughly on a regular basis, so Iím not sure how much is even left in the tank at this point. New soil might be an option, if I really need it, but Iíd prefer to keep what I have.

Fertilization: 1ml of flourish twice a week. I tried adding a few drops of fleet enema and some florapride once (not at the same time), and both caused algae outbreaks, so I stopped using them. I also add a decent amount of calcium carbonate (in the form of human grade vitamin supplements) for the snails to eat.

CO2: None, but Iíve been looking into starting a DIY yeast bottle or getting some excel.

Hardscape: One coconut cave and a shell. Iím not too fond of the shell, but it probably has to stay, since itís the snailís food bowl. I considered changing the cave for something larger, but I wasnít able to find any nice pieces of driftwood or rocks at any of my LFS, so I decided that the cave will stay for now.

Algae: green spot, on the glass. It scrapes off easily, but Iíd like to eliminate it altogether.

Plants: java fern, Italian val (?), red ludwigia (?) and melon sword (and a few ďbetta bulbsĒ that arenít doing much of anything atm).

The java fern isnít doing well, but I canít figure out whatís wrong with it. The leaves look dark, splotchy and dull, but itís not the normal ďleaves rotting and sprouting babiesĒ deal that Iíve seen before. The rhizome isnít buried. It looks like BGA might be starting to grow on it, but none of my other plants/decorations seem affected. I think Iím going to get rid of this plant altogether, since the roots never want to stay buried, and it ends up getting uprooted by the snails.

The val seems okay, although it grows very slowly. I was thinking of replacing it with another type of grass- something that grows more vertically, to give the illusion of height- but I canít seem to find any type of grass that grows vertically and is sized right for the background of a nano tank.

The melon swords are doing great. They were growing like weeds when I had them right under the light. Now that theyíre in the dark part of the tank, theyíre growing much slower, but still seem pretty strong and healthy. I think I might have to take out the larger one soon, as itís getting too big for the tank. I really like this plant though, and I donít want to get rid of it completely.

The red ludwigia is new, so I donít have any idea how well it will fare in my tank. I like it because itís a pretty pink color, but I suspect that it wonít thrive in my dimly lit tank. Oh well, it was only $2.

I was thinking that some sort of short grassy plant would look nice in front of the cave, especially if I decide to put grass in the back. I really want something to grow in the front of the tank, and moss and glosso are out of the question (Iíve tried both- java moss collects too much waste, and glosso gets eaten). I was considering adding some heavy root-feeding plants (perhaps crypts) to help remove some of the waste produced by the snails, but Iím not sure if that would require me to change the soil or not.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-18-2007, 06:10 AM Thread Starter
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Pictures!

I took some of the pictures head on, and some of them from a slight left angle, since thatís how I normally view the tank. Sorry they're not the greatest pictures, but I've never been much of a photographer.











Java fern and melon sword, September 2007


Java fern, December 2007


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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-18-2007, 07:15 AM
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Your brigs are gorgeous. I had an ivory, but he was eating my java moss rather aggressively. I'm fairly sure he wasn't not a cana, but oh well.

But yes, doesn't answer your questions, but great brigs!
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-20-2007, 12:03 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Frosty.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-20-2007, 01:30 AM
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hmm on the val... they are the smallest tall grass like plant i can think of, maybe just be more patient on that. On your tank its not surprising that the plants are growing slowly. Maybe try a different type of val? *shrugs* The crypts are a good idea maybe try micro chain swords as a good foreground/midground plant.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-24-2007, 06:22 AM Thread Starter
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ValorG, Thanks for the advice. I appreciate it.

Are there any specific reasons why youíre not surprised that my plants are growing so slowly? What things should I change in order to see better growth? New lighting isnít an option, but new soil, fertilizers and CO2 might be. With my current 13 watt CFL, is any of that even worth the effort/money?

Also,
I think I may have been unclear when stating that I want something more ďverticalĒ than the slow-growing vals. I donít mind the fact that itís taking them a long time to grow in (in fact, I actually prefer slow-growing plants that donít have to be trimmed frequently), but I donít like how ďsplayed outĒ it is. Instead of growing completely straight up, the leaves bend outwards and hang over the coconut shell cave. Some of the individual plants have a diameter of 6Ē when viewed from above, which takes up a lot of room in my tiny tank. Maybe these pictures will clarify what I mean. See how this giant hairgrass grows almost perfectly perpendicular to the soil? I want something like that, if possible. The val looks more spread out like this (non-aquatic) grass.

About the micro chain sword- thatís Echinodorus tenellus, right? Iíve actually been considering adding that plant for a while now, so Iím glad to hear that you think it will work well in my tank.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-24-2007, 07:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hazelceleste View Post
ValorG, Thanks for the advice. I appreciate it.

Are there any specific reasons why youíre not surprised that my plants are growing so slowly? What things should I change in order to see better growth? New lighting isnít an option, but new soil, fertilizers and CO2 might be. With my current 13 watt CFL, is any of that even worth the effort/money?
I am not surprised and the reason is because of your light. The output from a 13W light isn't very high. Not its a bad thing. Based on what you are saying it sounds like you have what you are looking for.

I am not going to suggest any plants to you because I am a high tech guy. I will tell you though that you might want to add some Excell for the plants and possibly some other ferts, especially if that algae on the front glass is GSA. It might help some of the algae recede.

How long has your setup been running?
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-26-2007, 07:08 AM Thread Starter
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I got a $100 gift certificate to That Fish Place for Christmas, so Iím going to be buying some new stuff soon. What would you guys recommend? A clip on light? Fluorite? Filtration media? A master test kit (I only have one for nitrates at the moment)? Fertilizers? Iím thinking of tearing the tank down completely and starting from scratch, so any suggestions are welcome.

BiscuitSlayer, thanks for the advice. So with 13 watts of light, should I not bother changing the gravel to soil? What amount of light would be considered enough to warrant a soil change? I've been trying to find higher wattage CFL's that will fit into my hood, but it seems that a 13 watt bulb is the biggest that will fit. Maybe I should start looking into modifying the hood, instead (actually, now that I think of it, that might be a really good idea). If I can manage to install another light socket, what wattage should I aim for? And just out of curiosity, what is the maximum amount of light I can put over a 6 gallon tank?

The tank has been up and running since late January 2007 (so, almost a year now). Since the beginning, it has housed a betta and two snails. The vals, fern and swords were also added in the beginning (although, obviously, they were much smaller then). The other two snails were added in August 2007. The red ludwigia has only been in the tank for a few weeks.

If I'm not mistaken, the algae on the front is GSA. Iím not sure how to get rid of it, other than by scraping it off manually. I've noticed that I can add trace nutrients without any problems, but adding phosphorous causes BGA to start growing on the plants in the most brightly lit sections of the tank. Adding potassium doesnít seem to do much of anything, good or bad (although, the plants in my newt vivarium need extra potassium or they get pinholes, if that means anything). Nitrate shouldnít be a problem with my bioload (right?), so I havenít tried adding any. Iím definitely getting excel soon, and Iím going to look into starting a yeast reactor too (Do I need a CO2 checker with excel/yeast bottles?)

Also, Iím somewhat concerned about water circulation under the gravel. I think anaerobic bacteria might be building up in the gravel, because a few bubbles came out of the soil when I was replanting one of the vals a few days ago. Would an undergravel filter help increase the water circulation, or would that just make the problem worse by sucking more dirt into the gravel? What if I reversed the flow of the water in the UGF?
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-26-2007, 01:44 PM
 
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I know that you prefer to work with what you have. If that is the case, I would stick to low light plants like java moss, crytocorne, java ferns which should grow well with what you have. Excel should be fine if you choose low light plants although c02 injection cannot hurt. If you want to grow more demanding plants and high light plants, you will have no choice but to inject c02 and try and increase lighting somehow, there is just no way around this. Don't go with or use a Undergravel filter, it is dertrimental for growing plants, especially if you have plants that root into the substrate. For added circulation, I would suggest adding a EliteMini Underwater submersible filter like this one(you may have to set it to a low flow as your Betta may not like the extra current if you set the flow to maximum).
http://www.petco.com/product/13796/H...r.aspx#details

As far as substrates go, I would definitely invest in a good substrate(if you start over). Aquasoil Amazoinia and Soil Master Select are the two most people report the greatest success with. Aquasoil Amazonia is really expenisve, but Soil Master Select is cheap. You can keep some of your old gravel for mulm and the good bacteria and overlay some Aquasoil or SoilMaster Select to quickly cycle the tank and retain some of the good bacteria in the substrate.

If you want to start from scartch or decide to at some point to do so, these two low maintenance approaches may work really well for your size tank.
http://www.barrreport.com/articles/4...2-methods.html
http://thegab.org/Articles/WalstadTank.html

Good luck whatever you decide.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-28-2007, 06:47 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for those links, Homer. If I decide to start from scratch, those will definitely come in handy. In fact, the more I read about setting up a new tank, the better of an idea it seems. I should be able to make room for my snails/fish in my other tanks, so starting over shouldnít be too hard.

I really like Walstadís benign neglect approach (thatís basically what I do with my newt vivarium, actually). Especially the idea that the fish food provides all of the nutrients to the plants. I put a lot of effort into making my snail food as well balanced as possible (yes, I cook it myself), so I know that Iím adding a good amount of vitamins/minerals into the tank. Iím just not sure how to implement such an approach with a tank that produces so much waste. Wouldnít my nitrates spike? Or would I need to get a lot of plants to keep up with the nitrates? Plus, I do frequent water changes to prevent gunk from building up on the tank floor. Wouldnít it be bad to leave that stuff to rot in the tank, especially if my soil already has a tendency to go stagnant(although, I have noticed that my nitrates tend to be surprisingly low even when my tank floor looks filthy to me. Perhaps a darker substrate would be a good idea)? Maybe I should just get another tank for my snails, lol.

Honestly, I donít really care what sort of plants I have as long as they look good together, so sticking with low light plants seems like a good idea to me. That way, the plants should do ok with the stuff I have, and whatever other stuff I get (lights, soil, etc) will just make them even better. I donít think itís a good idea for me to start trying to keep high-light, hard-to-grow plants until I get a better setup and learn more about aquatic gardening. Iím not thrilled with how java moss and java fern look in my tank, but Iím considering buying some Echinodorus tenellus, Anubias nana (only if I can also find some nice driftwood to attach it to), and Cryptocorne wendtii. Itís kind of hard to decide exactly what plants I want before seeing what sort of driftwood/decorations I can find.

Iím going to get new soil. Iíll look for Aquasoil Amazonia and Soil Master Select, but if I canít find those, the store Iím going to should have eco-complete and fluorite. Are those soils ok?

Iím also going to get a lamp like this. I should be able to attach it to the back of my hood with minimal cutting/drilling. It would only add another 9 watts or so (depending on the brand), but that would bring my lighting from 13 watts to 22 watts. The only problem is, it would have to be attached near the side that is already brightly lit, meaning that I would still have the problem of one side of the tank being darker than the other.

Iím still undecided about getting another filter. The one I have now works fine, and if I get new soil, I might not even need a second one to help aerate the soil. So unless I happen to see a filter that I like, Iíll probably just stick with the one I have. Itís big, but it blends into the black background very well. I might get some new filter media, but I havenít decided what kind. Any suggestions?

One last question (for now, anyway)- When I add excel or a diy yeast bottle, should I get a co2 checker?
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-28-2007, 01:25 PM
 
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Originally Posted by hazelceleste View Post
Thanks for those links, Homer. If I decide to start from scratch, those will definitely come in handy. In fact, the more I read about setting up a new tank, the better of an idea it seems. I should be able to make room for my snails/fish in my other tanks, so starting over shouldnít be too hard
You are welcome

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Originally Posted by hazelceleste View Post
I really like Walstadís benign neglect approach (thatís basically what I do with my newt vivarium, actually). Especially the idea that the fish food provides all of the nutrients to the plants. I put a lot of effort into making my snail food as well balanced as possible (yes, I cook it myself), so I know that Iím adding a good amount of vitamins/minerals into the tank. Iím just not sure how to implement such an approach with a tank that produces so much waste. Wouldnít my nitrates spike? Or would I need to get a lot of plants to keep up with the nitrates? Plus, I do frequent water changes to prevent gunk from building up on the tank floor. Wouldnít it be bad to leave that stuff to rot in the tank, especially if my soil already has a tendency to go stagnant(although, I have noticed that my nitrates tend to be surprisingly low even when my tank floor looks filthy to me. Perhaps a darker substrate would be a good idea)? Maybe I should just get another tank for my snails, lol.
There are many people who claim great success with the Diana Walstead method that is why I am experimenting with it. There is a forum in which people post about their experiences with this method. From what I read, most people who try this approach usually end up with zero nitrates and not excess nitrates. Floating plants like cardamine are excellent for keeping nitrates in check and you always need some nitrates in your tank. It is said that one of the causes of Blue Green Algae is zero or minimal nitrates.
Anyway, you may find this forum interesting(it has a section on Diana's method) and registration is free. Even if you decide not to go this route, it is still interesting to read about other peoples' experiences with some using the same sized tank as yours.
http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/el-natural/

Quote:
Originally Posted by hazelceleste View Post
Honestly, I donít really care what sort of plants I have as long as they look good together, so sticking with low light plants seems like a good idea to me. That way, the plants should do ok with the stuff I have, and whatever other stuff I get (lights, soil, etc) will just make them even better. I donít think itís a good idea for me to start trying to keep high-light, hard-to-grow plants until I get a better setup and learn more about aquatic gardening. Iím not thrilled with how java moss and java fern look in my tank, but Iím considering buying some Echinodorus tenellus, Anubias nana (only if I can also find some nice driftwood to attach it to), and Cryptocorne wendtii. Itís kind of hard to decide exactly what plants I want before seeing what sort of driftwood/decorations I can find.
I hear you and you are right. It is better to work your way up from a low light, low maintenance tank to a high light, high tech tank. From what I read, most people who try and switch from high tech to low tech, end up with disasterous results, especially as far as algae blooms are concerned. Also, amake sure that you soak any driftwood that you get in water and rinse the water daily for at least two weeks or you will end up with brown water for some time. This is not a bad thing, but some people don't like brown water.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hazelceleste View Post
Iím going to get new soil. Iíll look for Aquasoil Amazonia and Soil Master Select, but if I canít find those, the store Iím going to should have eco-complete and fluorite. Are those soils ok?
Many people have posted great success using fluorite and eco-complete, but I have read a few people post negative things about eco-complete(apparently it raised their GH and KH but I am not sure how this effected their plant growth as they did not really get into details of why they did not like eco-complete). They now make fluorite black and the black color can really bring out the plant and fish color. Just be prepared to rinse the fluorite really well because if you don't it will really cloud your water.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hazelceleste View Post
Iím also going to get a lamp like this. I should be able to attach it to the back of my hood with minimal cutting/drilling. It would only add another 9 watts or so (depending on the brand), but that would bring my lighting from 13 watts to 22 watts. The only problem is, it would have to be attached near the side that is already brightly lit, meaning that I would still have the problem of one side of the tank being darker than the other.
You can scape around that so the really low light plants end up on the darker side and the moderate light plants end up in the side that is lit more.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hazelceleste View Post
Iím still undecided about getting another filter. The one I have now works fine, and if I get new soil, I might not even need a second one to help aerate the soil. So unless I happen to see a filter that I like, Iíll probably just stick with the one I have. Itís big, but it blends into the black background very well. I might get some new filter media, but I havenít decided what kind. Any suggestions?
For filter media I use some polyfibre(the cotton batting from Wal-Mart). A big bag of this is cheap and I have not had any problems using it. I also use some Seachem matrix stones. In smaller filters I have taken 1 teaspoon of Seachem Purigen granules and put them in a pantyhose cut to size to fit the small filter. This does wonders for water clarity and filtering out excess organic waste without removing valuable plant nutrients like carbon does. This is easy to do with the hagen filter I suggested as you can modify it to put in all kinds of media. I also suggested the filter more for circulation than filtration. Extra circulation in a planted tank is always a good thing no matter what type of tank you set up.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hazelceleste View Post
One last question (for now, anyway)- When I add excel or a diy yeast bottle, should I get a co2 checker?
You only need a c02 drop checker if you go with a DIY yeast bottle to ensure that c02 levels don't climb too high and poison your fish. Quite honestly with a tank your size, I would recommend going with Fluorish Excel rather than DIY c02. In my 10 gallon tank with a DIY yeast bottle setup, I find that I have to run an air stone just to keep the levels in the 30 ppm range. If I remove the airstone, my drop checker shows yellow, which means that the c02 may be dangerously high for the fish.

I have a 5 gallon low tech setup where I don't have DIY c02 but where I use Excel daily and the plants are doing great.

Good luck
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-07-2008, 06:16 AM Thread Starter
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Obviously, Iíve done a lot of rescaping since my last post. I got some eco-complete, a nice piece of pre-soaked driftwood and some new plants. No new lights yet, but Iím planning on getting one asap (hopefully by the end of the month).

Iím really surprised with how quick and easy it is to cycle a planted tank as compared to an unplanted one. I set up the tank with the new substrate, the old filter and new water, and added the betta, two snails (the other two have been permanently moved to another tank) and 3 ďbumblebeeĒ shrimp. There was only a very tiny spike in ammonia and nitrites for the first day or two. I havenít changed any water yet (itís been 10 days or so), but I did add a quart of water to top up the tank. My nitrates were at 13 ppm before I added water, and went down to 7 ppm afterwards.

How high should I let the nitrates get before changing the water? And if the nitrates are within acceptable parameters, is there any other reason to change the water? Should I be concerned about a buildup of snail waste turning the soil anaerobic? I still donít have many root-feeding plants, and snail waste accumulates in the soil very quickly.

Also, Iím still not really sure when to start fertilizing, or what to use. Since there are already nitrates in the tank, I shouldnít have to add any, right? I should also have micros in the tank from all the super-nutritious food I feed the snails, so that just leaves phosphorous and potassium. I guess Iíll add a few drops of fleet enema and florapride (since thatís what I have on hand) once a week and see how that goes. Should I get a test kit for phosphorous?

The current plant list is:
Lace java fern
Anubias nana petite
Crypt lucens (only one, I probably shouldíve gotten more)
Melon sword
Java moss
Hornwort
Italian val

I was really hoping the java moss might look good this time around (it looked so pretty on the wood, at first), but it seems that moss and snails just donít work well together. The moss collects so much snail waste that it looks dirty all the time. Iím going to let it grow in for a little while anyway, though. Maybe once it attaches itself to the wood more securely, Iíll be able to use a turkey baster to remove most of the gunk without disturbing it too much.

The hornwort is temporary. I wanted to add some fast growing plants because thatís what the links homer posted recommended, and I have tons of hornwort in my newt tank, so thatís what I used.

Iím not especially thrilled with the way the val looks, either, but it was a healthy plant that fit into the tank, so I added it. I might remove it later, but for now, I guess it canít hurt to keep it, right?
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-07-2008, 06:49 AM
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Obviously, Iíve done a lot of rescaping since my last post. I got some eco-complete, a nice piece of pre-soaked driftwood and some new plants. No new lights yet, but Iím planning on getting one asap (hopefully by the end of the month).
I thought you were going to take the low light approach and see how things pan out. If you start pumping a lot of light into the tank then it is going to change the way that you do things. It will, for one, have an increased need for regular attention and maintenance. You will also start having to fertilize daily as well as figure out a method to inject CO2 into the tank for the plants. Light is like fuel for the fire. Add more and you're plants will go into overdrive trying to photosynthesize. Daily fertilization and CO2 in higher levels will be required by the plants since you will effectively boost their growth rate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hazelceleste View Post
How high should I let the nitrates get before changing the water? And if the nitrates are within acceptable parameters, is there any other reason to change the water? Should I be concerned about a buildup of snail waste turning the soil anaerobic? I still donít have many root-feeding plants, and snail waste accumulates in the soil very quickly.
Are you talking about nitrites or nitrates? If you are indeed talking about nitrates, then I would not be at all worried about the levels that you are talking about. My expensive Sera Nitrate test kit says that the nitrates in my tank are between 40 and 50 ppm. My fish and plants and shrimp are doing fine. I actually am going against what my kit says. I am dosing KNO3 into the tank at about 1/2 the EI recommended amount three times a week.

Planted tanks = Nitrates good
Fish Only tanks = Nitrates bad
Saltwater reefs = Nitrates bad

Nitrites on the other hand are a different story. Ultimately you don't want to read any nitrites on your test kit. Zero nitrates would indicate that your biological filter is consuming the nitrites at appropriate levels.

As far as water changes go, I would change the water weekly. Thats me though. You might be able to get by with biweekly water changes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hazelceleste View Post
Also, Iím still not really sure when to start fertilizing, or what to use. Since there are already nitrates in the tank, I shouldnít have to add any, right? I should also have micros in the tank from all the super-nutritious food I feed the snails, so that just leaves phosphorous and potassium. I guess Iíll add a few drops of fleet enema and florapride (since thatís what I have on hand) once a week and see how that goes. Should I get a test kit for phosphorous?
You can dose fleet for phosphates which is what I think you are talking about. Don't get too carried away though. It can cause adverse reactions with plants. A little goes a long way. You might want to dose some potassium for your plants, but I would imagine that your low light setup is probably not too demanding fert wise.

One more thing: Homer suggested Excel for a carbon source for your plants. I don't think that he was aware that you had vals. Excel is a good source of carbon for plants albiet it is expensive. There are also some plants that don't do well with Excel. Vals is one of those plants. They tend to melt or just die out.

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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-08-2008, 07:00 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, BiscuitSlayer, for the advice.
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Originally Posted by BiscuitSlayer View Post
I thought you were going to take the low light approach and see how things pan out.
So if I want to go with a low-tech setup, I shouldnít add more lights? I was under the impression that even if I added another 7-13 watts of light, my tank would still be considered somewhat ďlow-light.Ē For a 6 gallon tank, what wattages are considered high, medium and low? I know the wpg rule doesnít apply to nanos, but a rough estimate would be useful.

Overall, itís probably a good idea for me to stick with a low-tech tank for now. I donít mind the extra work involved with dosing ferts and CO2 regularly, but Iím trying to do everything as inexpensively as possible. Iím an unemployed grad student, so I donít really have the money for fancy CO2 equipment or anything like that. I wouldnít mind using a DIY CO2 injector, but they seem a little unpredictable (in terms of how much CO2 they give off), so Iím guessing that itís probably not the greatest idea to use one on such a tiny tank, right? Can I assume that excel (by itself) would not provide enough carbon for a 6 gal tank with 26 watts of light?


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Originally Posted by BiscuitSlayer View Post
Are you talking about nitrites or nitrates?
I was talking about nitrates (my nitrites are at 0). Iím so used to keeping fish only tanks that itís kind of hard for me to accept the fact that nitrates arenít always bad, lol. In my unplanted tanks, the nitrates usually donít get above 10 ppm before itís time for their weekly water change.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BiscuitSlayer View Post
As far as water changes go, I would change the water weekly. Thats me though. You might be able to get by with biweekly water changes.
Have you read the links Homer posted? I donít mind doing water changes (in fact, I actually enjoy doing them), but it seems to me that the information presented by Walstad and Barr suggests that frequent water changes are counterproductive in these sort of set-ups. Walstad suggests changing 50% of the water every six months. Barr explains that the reason for such infrequent water changes is that
ďDoing water changes adds CO2 back to a CO2 limited tank.
Plants and algae both can and do adapt to low CO2 environments and induce genes to make enzymes that concentrate CO2 around Rubisco, the CO2 fixing enzyme. When we add the CO2 at higher levels back, this causes the plants and algae to destroy the low CO2 enzymes and start growing without of them since they no longer need them to fix CO2 form the KH ( the -HCO3).
Why keep all this machinery around if you no longer need it? Doing weekly water changes "fools" the plants and helps encourage algae more. Algae are faster to respond to low CO2 than plants.
Once the plants do adapt, they can do well.Ē (Barrreport, 2005)

So, if my nitrates arenít spiking, is there any reason I should do a water change? Should I change some water once a week just to remove the waste at the bottom of the tank (even if my water parameters are ok) or is that just going to encourage algae? Or, is my bioload simply too heavy for such infrequent water changes? How am I supposed to decide how frequently to change the water?


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Originally Posted by BiscuitSlayer View Post
You can dose fleet for phosphates which is what I think you are talking about. Don't get too carried away though. It can cause adverse reactions with plants. A little goes a long way. You might want to dose some potassium for your plants, but I would imagine that your low light setup is probably not too demanding fert wise.
Yes, the fleet is for phosphorous, and the florapride is for potassium. I think Iím going to start by dosing one drop of each with every water change and see how that goes (I usually change 25%, maybe a bit less). Iím guessing that it would probably be easier for me to use dry ferts (since itís easy to find information about how many mgs/tsp of dry ferts to add each week, unlike premade ferts), but Iíd really like to use up the stuff I have before buying more.

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Originally Posted by BiscuitSlayer View Post
One more thing: Homer suggested Excel for a carbon source for your plants. I don't think that he was aware that you had vals. Excel is a good source of carbon for plants albiet it is expensive. There are also some plants that don't do well with Excel. Vals is one of those plants. They tend to melt or just die out.
I suppose itís good that Iím having trouble finding excel, then, lol. None of my LFSs carry it, apparently. If I do find some, though, Iíll probably just get rid of the vals.
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Originally Posted by hazelceleste View Post
Thanks, BiscuitSlayer, for the advice.


So if I want to go with a low-tech setup, I shouldnít add more lights? I was under the impression that even if I added another 7-13 watts of light, my tank would still be considered somewhat ďlow-light.Ē For a 6 gallon tank, what wattages are considered high, medium and low? I know the wpg rule doesnít apply to nanos, but a rough estimate would be useful.
No problem. Take any advice (including mine) with a grain of salt. I read Homer's post but I didn't go to the link that he posted. Right now, I would say that you are on the edge of low light and higher light depending on the quality of your bulb and reflector. If you jump another 7 to 13 watts, it could throw you into a higher light setup. I have been tracking an oceanic 8 gallon bio cube and its results on the forum lately. I asked the person how they liked their 36 watts of bulit in PC lighting. They said that they loved it, but they only used one of the two bulbs. They were running a medium to high light setup for that tank. With both bulbs, I would think that would be overdrive into high light (which is probably what I want to do anyway).

My water change suggestion was based loosely after the post that you had made previously. It had sounded like you were going to increase lighting possibly. I do have a lot of respect for both Homer and Tom Barr, and I hadn't read that article until you brought it to my attention. If you are going with a low tech approach, I would do water changes less frequently.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hazelceleste View Post
So, if my nitrates arenít spiking, is there any reason I should do a water change? Should I change some water once a week just to remove the waste at the bottom of the tank (even if my water parameters are ok) or is that just going to encourage algae? Or, is my bioload simply too heavy for such infrequent water changes? How am I supposed to decide how frequently to change the water?
I wouldn't necesarily trust the kit to be 100% accurate. Additionally, I wouldn't be too concerned with nitrate levels at the ppm that you are talking about. I am not a low tech expert, but your nitrate levels are reading WAY LOWER than mine. I am not totally sure what the nitrate levels should be for a low tech setup, but having nitrate is fine if you are running a planted tank. My test kit was reading about 40 to 50 ppm, and yet I was having some issues that seemed to be nitrate deficiency related. Tom Barr made me question the accuracy of my kit, so I set it aside and started dosing KNO3 anyway. The deficiency is gone now and my fauna has not suffered any losses as a result. I do have a very high plantload though, and a very high light tank that chews through ferts.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hazelceleste View Post
Yes, the fleet is for phosphorous, and the florapride is for potassium. I think Iím going to start by dosing one drop of each with every water change and see how that goes (I usually change 25%, maybe a bit less). Iím guessing that it would probably be easier for me to use dry ferts (since itís easy to find information about how many mgs/tsp of dry ferts to add each week, unlike premade ferts), but Iíd really like to use up the stuff I have before buying more.
I would research low light setups and dosing regimes for them. You may or may not be on track with your suggested amounts... I don't know.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hazelceleste View Post
I suppose itís good that Iím having trouble finding excel, then, lol. None of my LFSs carry it, apparently. If I do find some, though, Iíll probably just get rid of the vals.
If you want to find Excel, look online. I am pretty sure you can buy 2L bottles which cost about $30 shipped. That would be enough to last you for a long time. A 250Ml bottle at my LFS costs about $8 to give you a price comparison. Other than substrate, I buy everything online. Its cheaper .

Here's a link for excel:
http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...56&pcatid=4656

On a side note, do you have any updates on your tank with regards to growth, etc?

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