I write to you with assistance requests on a couple topics. I have never had planted tank before. I have been doing a lot of reading and am finding everything very fascinating. Some of my equipment. I have a apex ph controller, and c02 regulator. I have 4 large LED panels accompanied with 2 4x54w t5 units. I just received some topic bulbs for the t5s. I have not checked par yet. I just added soil and did a large water change. My inhabitants at the moment are my Jardini and spanky (my bichir). I would like to have live breeder fish in the tank or sump below to raise for them both. I have purchased quite a few "easy" plants to start with.
1. If I have used the seachem flourite clay and sand as substrate, what elements such as ie. iron should I be testing for on a regular basis?
2. My Ph sits at 7.7-7.9 usually. I have not ran the c02 yet all day with lights to see how it works as I have no plants in the tank yet. What #'s PH should I be shooting for? I have purchased some peat to try to lower the pH a little bit. I would like to be around 6.8-7 as I have read? I have seen the c02 chart contrasting PH/GH.
3. I have RO units and everything for them already. Should I use tap for top off or RO. I have been told to use tap .
4. I wish to have a no water change system, self sustaining with live breeders as much as possible. Is this possible?
Hey, I just met you and call me crazy, but can I call you Maybe?
Joking aside and serious face time. In order to help you the most I'm going to be completely frank, please don't take it as being snarky or rude, I just want to be as clear and direct as possible. From what little info you've given it looks like you have a time bomb on your hands if you're not very careful and/or make changes soon. First things first, until we get you situated, only use enough light to see the fish and only then when you're there to see them
. I'm working on incomplete information here, but it sounds like you've got waaaay too much light and a heavy nutrient load with the predatory fish and added soil.
I'm assuming you're talking about an Arrowana when you say Jardini. Is this correct? Going on the assumption that you're keeping an Arrowana and Bichir in your tank you're going to want to focus on the fish and go with what I call a Fish Tank With Plants rather than a Planted Tank With Fish
. It may seem like semantics, but it's an important distinction; especially as someone who's new to keeping more than just one or two plants here and there. What we need to do is focus on making a good habitat for the fish first, then work on keeping plants that suit that environment
. You've said that you've already bought "easy plants"; what are they? This is important info that will inform advice going forward.
I need some more information to go forward with:
1. How big is the tank and what are the dimensions?
2. If arranged together as a whole, do all of the lights cover the whole tank or do you have to stagger them to get full coverage?
For example, I have a 48"x24" tank and have a T5 fixture that's 48x24, so all of the bulbs cover the whole tank as a single unit. If I have all of the bulbs on at once the fixture produces enough light to make the system incredibly unstable and one mistake away from crashing. This is something you absolutely need to avoid for reasons I'll go into later.
Pictures of the tank and lights will be very helpful with this.
3. How're you filtering the system?
Again, pictures are helpful.
4. What do you mean, specifically, when you said you added soil?
Answers to your questions:
1. Flourite is, for all intents and purposes, inert. It's a mined material that may have at one time been clay but is now rock. Some of the minerals it contains may release in minute amounts, but not nearly enough to be considered, let alone tested for. That being said, I've used the original version in the past and think it's an excellent option if you wish to use it. Silica sand (pool filter and play sand) is completely inert and won't impact water quality.
2. Adding CO2 will reduce pH, so unless you specifically need to stay in a specific pH range don't add anything which will alter it. There are different philosophies and best practices regarding using CO2 in the hobby, but 99% of what you'll find here relates specifically to keeping systems that are heavily planted with plants which require high(er) CO2 inputs, not the type of tank we should be building for you. What you and I need to eventually
focus on is figuring out what the appropriate amount of CO2 your system is going to need as it's not the same type of ecosystem as a heavily planted display. Having a good system to control CO2 injection will be very helpful and you've got that covered with the Apex.
Normally I'd say disregard the pH/KH/CO2 chart, but we're going to be well served by going back to basics with your system and that chart may have some use in this application. We'll look at that more in the future.
3. Using RO has many advantages so if you've got the system, by all means, use it.
4. No water change systems are BAD. DO YOUR WATER CHANGES. Proper husbandry practices are essential, no matter what sort of aquarium you're keeping and water changes are the fundamental basis of that
Back to lighting. Light is the driver of your tank's metabolism. The more light input there is the faster photosynthetic organisms (plants and algae) are going to want to grow. Higher light equals higher inherent instability and higher time investment in the way of maintenance and miscellaneous upkeep. Large predatory fish put off a lot of waste which adds high amounts of compounds algae can use efficiently. The more light a tank like yours gets the faster algae will become an issue if you don't spend the time to keep on top of it. The addition of a nutrient rich substrate such as soil only compounds that.
That's probably enough for now. I think we've come to the point where it would be more appropriate for you to start a thread over in the Tank Journal section so we can have a more focused discussion of your tank going forward.
Oh my I got the popcorn popping and am anxiously awaiting the next update!
This should be good!
As long as there's butter. Popcorn is only a vector for butter.