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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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Cleaning a Planted Tank

My 5g tank is clearly dirty, especially with snail multiplication and a sudden explosion of Hydra, as well as frequently rising Nitrate levels. I feed a tiny amount every other day, and still seem to get a lot of ooze in the tank: last night I got a huge amount of mulm out of the substrate with the vacuum. Some reading around the web this morning seems to indicate that I actually want the mulm in the substrate for plant nutrients. Is the water quality of a planted tank typically a bit different from that of non-planted tanks? Is the mulm good to remove if I am using fertilizers? Is it best to leave it? What's the expectation I should have for this? I know that 5g tanks are harder to balance.

I am replacing 2g water once a week and 1g water twice a week at the moment.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 08:34 PM
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What's your livestock load? You want to keep a bunch of the mulm. I just hover my gravel vac over the top of the substrate but don't actually go into the gravel. You may need to do larger water changes once a week. Fertilize less and plant heavy.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 10:33 PM Thread Starter
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What's your livestock load? You want to keep a bunch of the mulm. I just hover my gravel vac over the top of the substrate but don't actually go into the gravel. You may need to do larger water changes once a week. Fertilize less and plant heavy.
Thanks for your reply.

4 Celestial Pearl Danios, 1 Otocinclus, 2 Clown Killies, 1 Thai Micro Crab, 1 Red Cherry Shrimp, 1 Amano Shrimp; bioload on most of that is purportedly quite low, except for the Oto. I was already planning on adding a couple plants and more moss.

Note that the total water capacity of the tank is about 4.25 gallons with the decorations and gravel etc., so 2 gallons is almost half. How much more should I go once a week? And are you saying keep up the additional 1g changes?

And I assume you are noting that mulm is a superior fertilizer to Flourish so I should make sure the mulm gets used by not adding more ferts?
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 10:56 PM
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First thing would be is that to me ay least your bio load is heavy for a small tank like that. Smaller tanks are harder to keep in line as far as water chemistry. Also the flourish is not a full plant fertilizer. It's nothing more then micro traces. As far as water changes just do 60 to 70% once a week. How ate you checking your nitrates?

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 11:35 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aquaticfan View Post
First thing would be is that to me ay least your bio load is heavy for a small tank like that. Smaller tanks are harder to keep in line as far as water chemistry. Also the flourish is not a full plant fertilizer. It's nothing more then micro traces. As far as water changes just do 60 to 70% once a week. How ate you checking your nitrates?
API test.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 11:43 PM
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Is it liquid or strips? Strips are very inaccurate. Liquid is better but you have to remember some things about it like shaking bottle number 2 hard and for a couple minute. Also if you haven't calibrated your test kit your reading is no where near accurate. You will want to calibrate it. This way you have a true base line. What readings ate you getting now for nitrates?

Here is where you can find more info on how to calibrate your liquid test kit.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/fe...-chemists.html

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-09-2012, 12:31 AM Thread Starter
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It's the API liquid test, not strips, and I follow the directions for shaking. I'll need to chase down some saltpeter for calibration. It tests 0 on distilled water, though. I am not off the charts with nitrates, bouncing from 20-40 or so, but I change my water a lot. The tank is only a month and a half old, so I'm sure it also has more maturing to do.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-09-2012, 01:50 AM
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20 to 40 ppm NO3 suggests too much N is entering the tank.
Exploding populations of snails, hydra and other undesirables suggests too much food.
So much mulm the tank is difficult to clean suggests too much waste falling to the floor of the tank.

N enters the tank via fish food. Protein has nitrogen. Decomposition via digestion or falling to the bottom and rotting results in ammonia.

Quit adding so much food. This may mean reducing the livestock, or moving up to a larger tank.

Increasing the plant population can help, and improving the conditions for the plants can help. Better light, CO2, balanced nutrients...

Fish food provides a fair amount of N, P and traces. It seems to be lacking in K and Fe. I would start by adding chelated iron, potassium and carbon (excel, DIY yeast method or paintball pressurized) to help the plants, and make sure the light is appropriate.

Cut the food in half.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-09-2012, 01:50 AM
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How did you cycle the tank? Sounds a bit like that may be your issue.

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-09-2012, 02:05 AM
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Cycle problems? I do not think so. The nitrifying bacteria are doing their job: Ammonia and nitrite are getting turned into nitrate.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-09-2012, 02:26 AM
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I didn't notice that he said ammonia and nitrite were zero. He did say the tank was on a month and a half old though.... That kind of load added over a short period could kick a mini cycle.

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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-09-2012, 02:27 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks.

The Ammonia and Nitrite consistently test 0 or bounce along on the surface of 0 (occasional .25 Ammonia or Nitrite, usually 0, never any more). I feel like it's cycled okay, but who knows.

I'll drop back on the food, but it's super minimal now (every other day one of the following: bare pinch of Hikari Micro Pellets, bare pinch of Cyclop-Eeze, fragment of a Daphnid frozen block thawed in a cup of tank water). Upon reflection, I've been experimenting with various supplemental foods for the Oto, I'll try knocking those off entirely or dropping in an occasional algae tab *sliver* at most.

I am adding Flourish, Flourish Iron and Excel, trying to do it without CO2 for this tank. I can add Flourish Potassium, too.

I picked up a couple micro swords (novaezelandiae) tonight. Any other suggestions for plants?

I have not been able to find better light for this, I have a 10w 5100 CFL in there, that's the best I have seen with a "screw in" standard bulb interface to fit my tank. Can I just get a regular one from the hardware store? My sense is "no". The Clown Killies beget a hood and there aren't a wealth of alternative options for a 5g, so switching lighting is tricky.
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