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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-22-2015, 11:12 PM Thread Starter
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couple questions about dirt?

been keeping aquariums for around 3 to 4 years and have had pretty good success with plants in a "low tech" setup. But i wanted to try my hand at dirt substrate.

Okay, 3 to 4 weeks ago or so I set up a 6 gallon tank(this is sorta an experimental run for my 55 gallon) with about an inch maybe lil less of MGOCPM. with around an inch of sand as a cap. i used regular PFS like stuff from Menards. so basically i just poured in the dirt, pulled out large chunks of wood chips and stuff. Then i mixed in Osmocote+. Next i wet down the dirt and finally capped it with the sand. filled the tank up with tap water. Did i do this correct?

For plants i have Java Fern, Anubias Nana(maybe idk for sure) 3 small to medium sprouts of a bronze crypt and a small 3 leaf sprout of a green narrow leaf crypt. neways, all of them had nice roots when i planted them and looked healthy! the anubias has put on 1 new leaf. and the crypts have put on a couple new leaves. no change on java fern.

Equipment
small internal filter. (sponge and powerhead) its like for 5 to 10 gal tanks.
im using a small heater rated for 5 to 10 gal. its holding solid at 78F
23 watt CFL in a shop style reflector. its on a timer for 4 hours in the morning then off for 4 hours then on for 4 hours in the afternoon.

Basically for maintence ive been doin 50% WC every couple days cause the water is stained to the max with tanins. i thought at first were from the wood. but must be mostly from the dirt.

Oh and i have no fish in it yet because i dont know if its safe for them. there are however a good number of pond snails. NOT MTS. they are breeding and i can see there egg bubbles all over the rocks and wood.

so i started testing the water to figure out if i had a cycle. this is were my questions started.

after being set up for around a month
im getting pre waterchange
4 ppm ammonia
0 ppm nitrIte
40 ppm NitrAte
ph 8.2 to 8.4

my tap water tests at
0 ammonia
0 Trite
0 Trate
ph 7.5

*also double checked tests and took my time they are done correctly*

after doin a 50% water change my ammonia and nitrate dropped drastically. ammonia was still at .25 to .5 hard to tell with color nitrite was at 0 and nitrate was at 5 ppm(i treat incoming tap water with prime)

My questions are
why is my water in my tank reading ammonia if im cycling and getting nitrate reading?

did i do something wrong with my set up?

thanks for reading!
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-22-2015, 11:59 PM
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Which test kit are you using and how old is it?

The osmocote+ will leech ammonia and nitrate into your water and depending on how much you used and how heavily planted your tank is with fast growing plants, you might see some leeching for a while.

Add some fast growing stems and some floaters to help with the nutrient levels in the water and to help speed up your cycle.

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-23-2015, 12:17 AM
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MGOCPM will produce ammonia for quite a while. Thanks to chicken manure. Any top soil will produce ammonia.
So combining the effects of osmocote described by Monster Fish, your on for some time.
MGOCPM is pretty rich to start with, I doubt adding anything else is required.

Even if you are measuring nitrates, assuming the test kit is ok, it still possible to have ammonia, and nitrites.


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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-23-2015, 12:44 AM
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About twenty of the beads of Osmocote are enough or I might say I would NOT go
over 30 in a 6g tank. Exceeding that would just drive up that which was previously
mentioned.
Don't know the shape of this tank, but a regular 5.5g tank would get filled up completely by two Wendtii Bronze when they get mature. Petchii would be a good size for that tank.
Bacopa M. might work for a stemmed plant in there.
In a common "brooder" lamp in the 10.5" inch size the 13W bulb works well in a 10g tank. The 23W size will be overkill and produce algae in the brooder lamp.

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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-23-2015, 01:43 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the quick replies!

the test kit isnt brand new its about a year old. its the master api freshwater test kit.

the tank is a fluval edge 6 gallon. the little fitler it came with crapped out and the light prongs in the attached hood rusted off so i threw that away and cut the top glass off. so the shape is like a rectangle rimless cube.

as far as adding stems. i have red ludwegia s repens and wistiria growing emersed. would these be suitable stems to use? ill add some of them?

the light is a 18w 6700k cfl.

also i prolly put around that much osmocote+ in the dirt when i started the tank.

1. Do you think i have a cycle? or are the levels just leaching from the soil?
2. what do u think is causing the increase in PH. tap is 7.5 before my water change it was 8.2 to 8.4
3. Is it safe to add fish? what fish do u think would be suitable? ( i assume not since i dont have stabile conditoins)


so plan of action... i add the stems. keep doin water changes. and monitor water conditions levels?

ps. got a gh and kh liquid test kit. its the api one

gh- 17 drops
kh- 12 drops

not sure what this all means

thanks for reading.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-23-2015, 02:59 AM
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Have you been adding ammonia? It's been set up for a month, so I assume you're adding ammonia to cycle the tank? Did you add the ammonia in before testing the water?

Every dirted tank I've owned does not leach ammonia or nitrate. So I highly doubt your MGOCPM is producing it. Also, if you still have tanins in your water, it's probably not from the soil. Is your filter cleaned? It gets quite dirty from plant debris and whatnot. Tanins will also not harm your fish. So don't be worried about that. The fish actually don't mind it one bit.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-23-2015, 04:14 AM Thread Starter
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no i haven't added ammonia. all the ammonia has come from the soil or osmocote+. I thought that was a "benefit" of soil is that it would cycle your tank. Also i didn't know osmocote+ would release ammonia into the water, but that isn't a big deal.

the filter isn't much. it is just a small sponge attached to a powerhead.

and maybe i wasnt clear about it in a previous post but im not "worried" about the tannins. I dont like yellow/brown water thats all the farther my worring goes on that.

oh ps... i added around 5 stems of s. repens, ludwegia red, wisteria all around 4" long with good root growth from my emersed set up. as advised for the nutrient uptake.

thanks for reading
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-23-2015, 06:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kurshin View Post
Thanks for the quick replies!

the test kit isnt brand new its about a year old. its the master api freshwater test kit.

the tank is a fluval edge 6 gallon. the little fitler it came with crapped out and the light prongs in the attached hood rusted off so i threw that away and cut the top glass off. so the shape is like a rectangle rimless cube.

as far as adding stems. i have red ludwegia s repens and wistiria growing emersed. would these be suitable stems to use? ill add some of them?

the light is a 18w 6700k cfl.

also i prolly put around that much osmocote+ in the dirt when i started the tank.

1. Do you think i have a cycle? or are the levels just leaching from the soil?
2. what do u think is causing the increase in PH. tap is 7.5 before my water change it was 8.2 to 8.4
3. Is it safe to add fish? what fish do u think would be suitable? ( i assume not since i dont have stabile conditoins)


so plan of action... i add the stems. keep doin water changes. and monitor water conditions levels?

ps. got a gh and kh liquid test kit. its the api one

gh- 17 drops
kh- 12 drops

not sure what this all means

thanks for reading.
Don't add fish until the ammonia and eventual nitrites measure at zero PPM. Nitrates should be present in the water. To test if your tank is finally cycled, add a little bit of surfacant-free ammonia to your tank, wait 24 hours, then measure your ammonia and nitrites. If you have zero PPM after 24 hours with nitrates present, your tank is cycled.

The stems should do fine. They should convert in time. Just keep on doing 50% water changes to bring down the ammonia from the osmocote+ and your tank should eventually cycle.

1 drop equals one degree of hardness. Your GH and KH are rather high. Are you using tap water and is your area known for having liquid rock for water?

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-23-2015, 04:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kurshin View Post
no i haven't added ammonia. all the ammonia has come from the soil or osmocote+. I thought that was a "benefit" of soil is that it would cycle your tank. Also i didn't know osmocote+ would release ammonia into the water, but that isn't a big deal.

the filter isn't much. it is just a small sponge attached to a powerhead.

and maybe i wasnt clear about it in a previous post but im not "worried" about the tannins. I dont like yellow/brown water thats all the farther my worring goes on that.

oh ps... i added around 5 stems of s. repens, ludwegia red, wisteria all around 4" long with good root growth from my emersed set up. as advised for the nutrient uptake.

thanks for reading
In any regards, if you're still reading ammonia it's not cycled yet. Your bacteria will eventually catch up.

I've never thrown in fertilizers when first starting a tank. I've never needed to. The soil itself is rich in minerals. The only thing I'd add is clay for the iron.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-23-2015, 11:12 PM Thread Starter
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thanks for the replies.

okay i will keep monitoring the levels of ammonia and keep testing to see if my levels even out. I know that zero ppm ammonia and zero ppm nitrite with nitrates present mean i have a cycle i was just confused cause ive always had zero nitrites but some ammonia and some nitrates.

yes i am in southern minnesota the water here is liquid rock. You say my water is a lil hard should i bother with lowering that kh and gh? i read some people want around 6 dkh thats way lower then mine. any suggestions on what to do with that?

also i am in the stages of setting up my 55 gallon again and am still wanting to go dirt capped sand mixed with gravel substrate. no co2 and a finnex planted+ 24/7 fixture. for that tank and the dirt substrate should I do everything ive done with this tank just not add the osmocote+?
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-24-2015, 02:08 AM
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If you're using new soil that hasn't lost its nutrients, then yes, I'd leave out the osmocote.

In all honesty if you're getting your fish from around you, chances are they are using the same water you are. As long as you're acclimating slow enough and allowing the water they came in to match your water it should be alright.

Unless of course you're keeping Crystal Shrimp or something finicky like that. I've even heard of discus kept at higher PH than recommended. Like I said earlier, it's not how high your PH is, it's how consistent it is.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-24-2015, 03:30 AM Thread Starter
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thanks for all the help.

If i dont have "high enough" ammonia, lets say between 3 to 5 ppm will it slow down how fast my tank cycles? sense I've made the post and been doing more frequent water changes to lower the ammonia levels I've noticed i'm only getting up to .25 to .5 ppm of ammonia between water changes. where as when the tank was "newer" it was upwards of 4 - 5ppm.

i figured this would happen as my tank cycled
but if its not because of the cycle do u think its because i've done enough water changes to reduces the amount of ammonia leeching from the substrate?

thanks again for all the help.
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-24-2015, 04:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kurshin View Post
thanks for all the help.

If i dont have "high enough" ammonia, lets say between 3 to 5 ppm will it slow down how fast my tank cycles? sense I've made the post and been doing more frequent water changes to lower the ammonia levels I've noticed i'm only getting up to .25 to .5 ppm of ammonia between water changes. where as when the tank was "newer" it was upwards of 4 - 5ppm.

i figured this would happen as my tank cycled
but if its not because of the cycle do u think its because i've done enough water changes to reduces the amount of ammonia leeching from the substrate?

thanks again for all the help.
Actually, ammonia above 4-5 ppm will slow down your cycle so try to maintain it at 1-2 ppm with water changes. If you need to add more ammonia, grab some surfactant free ammonia from your local dollar store or Ace Hardware and add just enough to maintain the desired levels throughout the entire cycling process.

Most likely. The plants will do a decent job of using up any lingering ammonia as long as it stays below 2 ppm.

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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-24-2015, 06:51 AM Thread Starter
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thanks for the reply

thanks monster. all the info has been super helpful! at least i feel more confident im on the right track with the tank. Was starting to worry i had messed something up or was missing some crucial element.

nehow do u have any thoughts on my hard water?

also i am starting to get some algea growth on my anubias. its the only plant showing any algea so i shot some h2o2 on it and am waiting for a change. it might need to be moved cause it is sorta in the center of my light and isnt shaded as much as i orignally thought it would be.
do u think the algea is just from the imbalances and will slowly work its self out after treatment?
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 09-24-2015, 07:22 AM
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The hard water shouldn't be an issue for the plants you plan on growing. If you get your livestock locally and they're in similar rock hard water, then you should be fine.

8 hours of light is a bit much for a tank that's new. Cut it down to 6 hours then slowly ramp it up to 8 when the plants have become established and your tank has cycled. The algae is normal in newer tanks but it should mostly go away as the plants grow and when you keep up with water changes. How deep is your tank? The 23 watt CFL might be too intense for your tank if you have the dome reflector right over the tank.

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