Redoing planted tank due to excessive ammonia..Choosing new substrate! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-21-2013, 11:45 PM Thread Starter
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Redoing planted tank due to excessive ammonia..Choosing new substrate!

So, when i set up my planted tank with Miracle Grow Organic Potting Mix [Capped with sand in front, gravel in back]on December 11th, I waited until the 27th to add fish. I have since added four endler males.
the ammonia levels have been erratic to say the least. Most of the time, the level is .20-.25. I have been doing daily water changes on this tank of about 60-70% everyday since i fist set it up.
The filter media used in this tank came from another tank, and my nitrIte level is always zero, and myNitrAte levels never get above 15, and thats when i miss a day.
I have alot of gas bubble coming from my substrate, though only when i poke it or plant something. Parts of my substrate actually form little hills from having so much gas in there! I have to press my whole hand down on the hill to avoid an explosion!
I did have a habit of replanting my plants, as even with a drawn up plan, i was still deciding where i wanted stuff.
Ive since found what i want it to look like, and will hopefully be able to recreate it when i redo the substrate.
I have all sorts of plants, stemy, swords, aponogetons, dwarf sag, a whole mess of plants..

What substrate should i redo my tank with?
I know my petsmart has flourite, and maybe flora max.
Ive heard of eco complete, though honestly when i researched last time,i focused on MGOPM, and not other substrates.

I am so lost on what to choose, and im gonna be researching, believe me, but you guys are so knowledgeable, i cant not present this problem to you guys!

50g, 45g, 15g, 10g, 2x2.5g, 2g bowl

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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 12:08 AM
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Hm. Before you switch over your substrate, may I ask, how heavily planted is your tank? And are you sure you used the organic potting MIX and not the potting SOIL?

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 12:39 AM Thread Starter
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Its pretty heavily planted.
Heres a thread that has a picture of it. Its post 911
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...=99729&page=61
Though i could always go with gravel or sand, and just use osmocote tabs and such.
I just want something thats going to work well, grow my plants, and be as low maintenance as possible.
Yeah, i used the potting mix, i still have another bag of it!

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 12:52 AM
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Nice looking tank. It would be a shame to tear it apart. What dechlorinator do you use for your water changes? Also, how old is your test kit? If your guppies are doing fine and with that much plant mass, something might be throwing off your test results.

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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 01:12 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you! But i honestly wouldent mind tearing it apart. The 'dirty' sand is driving me nuts! Ive tried to add a layer of sand, but as it falls, it pushes the dirt peices up, and then the float down on top of the new sand!
I am due for another test kit, bought it last year and im running out. I know theres actually a problem cause sometimes the fish race the tank sides, and look stressed. thats why i took my otos [the first fish] out and my least killis. Theres a few endler males left in there, cause i cant catch em!
I actually had an endler death today, and found one of my juvie apple snails dead, floating as well. Thats when im drawing the line and getting rid of it...
There are still shrimp in the tank, though it looks like fewer than i put in, but they could just be hiding. The ones i do see are active and looks healthy.
I am really at a loss.
I only put in like 3/4ths an inch of MG, and about an inch of sand in front, 1.5 inch of gravel in back..Though with the amount of rescaping ive done, i have no idea how close the dirt is to the top, and theres even spots where there is just the dirt on top of the substrate. Coiuld that be causing this? Exposed Miracle Grow?
Should i try to cap it again?

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 03:53 AM
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If you're seeing fish get stressed, then there's a definitely a problem. I think using gravel is allowing the soil to become exposed to the water column causing ammonia spikes. Also, constant uprooting and rescaping might be causing problems as well. Dirt tanks are usually plant it and leave it alone. I'd start over to be honest and stick with just sand as the cap if you're going the dirt route again. Also, poke different areas of the substrate with a chopstick or bamboo skewer daily to remove any built up gas pockets.

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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 04:40 AM
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ammonia is coming from the soil, I guess you didn't cap it tight enough.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 04:58 AM Thread Starter
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Well, I'd rather not use the miracle grow again. It's too much of a hassle.
What other substrate would you reccomend?
And would I have to cap it or not? Aren't there some planted substrate you don't have to cap?

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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 05:04 AM
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Depends on how much you want to spend. You can go just plain sand and use root tabs or you can use Flourite and root tabs, neither of which need a cap.

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 07:23 AM Thread Starter
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Well, the tanks a standard 15 gallon, but I'm not sure how that relates to ponds or substrate depth, though two inches would be good.
Spending options are pretty open, just want hassle free! Does flourite give off ammonia? I read that one needs a lot of rinsing.
What about fluval? Or Eco complete? I hear those names a lot.


I'm reading and it says fluval causes the ph to lower? My ph is already 6.4-6.5!!

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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 07:40 AM Thread Starter
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The. Substrate can be inert...I have no problem adding ferts to it.
I love the look of sand, but have read it can bind the roots, since it packs together so tightly.
Could I just just gravel? Or would the fert caps be too exposed?

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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 09:38 AM
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I havent tried yet, but heard great things about Safe T Sorb and its cheap! $5 for 40lbs.
Maybe someone who ahs tried it already with chime in.
Soon i'll be trying it out.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 04:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LyzzaRyzz View Post
Well, the tanks a standard 15 gallon, but I'm not sure how that relates to ponds or substrate depth, though two inches would be good.
Spending options are pretty open, just want hassle free! Does flourite give off ammonia? I read that one needs a lot of rinsing.
What about fluval? Or Eco complete? I hear those names a lot.


I'm reading and it says fluval causes the ph to lower? My ph is already 6.4-6.5!!
Flourite does not give out ammonia. ADA Aquasoil does. Fluval Plant/Shrimp stratum is way too light IMO. Plus it pulls down your KH and pH and breaks down too easily causing a mess. I use Eco Complete and it has a nice CEC plus it's usually black. The only problem I have with it is the size of the substrate varies from bag to bag. I have fine sand particles then huge, almost pebble sized pieces in my tank.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LyzzaRyzz View Post
The. Substrate can be inert...I have no problem adding ferts to it.
I love the look of sand, but have read it can bind the roots, since it packs together so tightly.
Could I just just gravel? Or would the fert caps be too exposed?
Depends on the sand you use. Play sand is too fine and will compact if you use it too deep. Plus it is very light and will get kicked up into your filter. Pool filter sand has a larger grain size and it's perfect for using in a tank. Another popular choice is blasting sand which comes in black. It comes in different sized grains but you should stick with a medium grade. I use it in my 5 gallon and it does a great job with root tabs.

You can use gravel as well. If you want to use root tabs/fert caps, be sure to insert them into the substrate as deep as possible. They should be close to or touching the bottom glass. That way if they won't be exposed to the water column when you're rescaping.

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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 05:02 PM
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Go with Eco Complete.
or Fluval stratum.
Its only going to cost you 30 bucks for that 15Gallon and your plants will grow with the proper nutrients and co2.


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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LyzzaRyzz View Post
Its pretty heavily planted.
Heres a thread that has a picture of it. Its post 911
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...=99729&page=61
Yeah, i used the potting mix, i still have another bag of it!
Potting mix has never been a problem child for me to date so I question something causing damage to the bacteria or dead animals overloading the system. The poulty litter included in the mix is minor.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LyzzaRyzz View Post
Here is my 15 gallon 'Bedside" tank. =]

Its standard size, though its my first 'dirted' planted tank, so im having a bit of problems, but im blundering though it with many water changes.
[My other planted tank has only sand!]

Its Miracle Grow Organic Potting Soil, sifted though a wide tank cover, and capped with half sand/half gravel.
Explains the ammonia if in reality this was used. (contains cow manure)


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