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post #1 of 43 (permalink) Old 05-08-2008, 01:20 PM Thread Starter
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Multiple Problems, HEEELLLPPPP!!

Ok now I'm really stumpped. 36g tank been set up for about three weeks. Amazoina II, Bright Sand, driftwood stones, Riccia, Jungle Vail, Hygrophila difformis, Banana Plants, Limnophila aromatica. Was going to do fishless cycle until my local fish store owner said it would take about 6 to 8 weeks to even get it going. So, I introduced a few fish to help the process along. Before I did this, I had added the plants, added Co2, plants were doing really well, growing, thriving and look good. After adding Co2 i noticed brown algae, which I learned is actully brown diatoms. Got a clean up crew, couple Oto's, a pleco, brown stuff is gone. Ammonia readings still high, between 2.0 and 4.0 ppm. Nitrite 0.50 to 2.0. Added Cycle by Nutrafin. Testing twice daily, early morning and late evening, Ammonia way up, Nitrite way up. Three days after adding fish, a strong sulfer smell coming from tank, day three. Foam appearing around the surface edges, day four. Plants start dying day five. Abandoned cycling for water changes to combat the smell, getting worse, no help. All plants that were once doing well are looking very poorly. I am about to break everything down and abandon my attempt to re-enter this hobby.
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post #2 of 43 (permalink) Old 05-08-2008, 01:47 PM
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What kind of lighting? How many watts?

Are you dosing ferts?
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post #3 of 43 (permalink) Old 05-08-2008, 02:06 PM Thread Starter
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What kind of lighting? How many watts?

Are you dosing ferts?
Not dosing yet, was advised not to until Ammonia and Nitrites are lower. Lighting is 2X39watts. Hagen Life-Glo, T5 HO, 6700k.
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post #4 of 43 (permalink) Old 05-08-2008, 02:47 PM
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Sounds like maybe too much too soon? Your LFS gets to sell you more fish if you use them to cycle. I do recommend going fishless, though it may not be the popular opinion. The more changes you make in a short period of time, the more chance there is for things to go awry. I think patience is key. If it were me, I'd tear it down to just plants and a fishless cycle, & keep my lighting down to 1.5-2wpg, w/o c02, and when it IS cycled, then add more light & c02, if everything's still stable after another week, then slowly stock it with fish. It's a fine balance.

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post #5 of 43 (permalink) Old 05-08-2008, 02:54 PM
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From what I've read Aquasoil take a while to settle down. During that time Ammonia will spike. Water changes are needed to correct that But the sulphur smell has me stumped. Could it be the driftwood?
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post #6 of 43 (permalink) Old 05-08-2008, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
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From what I've read Aquasoil take a while to settle down. During that time Ammonia will spike. Water changes are needed to correct that But the sulphur smell has me stumped. Could it be the driftwood?
The wood is not exactly driftwood but rather Zoo Med Aquatic Natural Mopani Wood http://www.petco.com/product/102556/...pani-Wood.aspx#. Wouldn't water changes prolong the cycle process? Might bite the bullet with the Amizonia, not really comfortable with it anyway.
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post #7 of 43 (permalink) Old 05-08-2008, 03:29 PM
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Arghhh, don't ditch the amazonia. Its one of the best substrates you can get.

When you set up a tank with AS you need to plant heavily from the start and do 50% water changes every other day. The directions are right on the bag. The substrate will leech ammonia into the system for weeks (3-4) and you need the water changes to control it a bit. During this time your plants will adjust and use the available ammonia. During this time the tank will usually cycle fully and begin the process of converting ammonia>nitrites>nitrates.

Without doing the waterchanges you've allowed the ammonia to build up to a much too high level and then added a cycling product on top of that. Start doing the water changes and wait it out. Once the leeching stops you should be good to go. Be patient.

I recommend taking the fish back to the shop and do your research here or ask questions. Most LFS owners have no clue about setting up a planted system and are going to end up giving you bad advice based on setting up a normal gravel tank.


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post #8 of 43 (permalink) Old 05-08-2008, 03:49 PM
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Dont use cycle type products ever. All that is is a bottle of ammonia! Thats how it starts the cycle, theres no bacteria in it, its just the food the bacteria needs to grow. I swear! Test it yourself. Take some fresh tap water and test for ammonia and then add cycle and test again. You will see a huge jump in ammonia.

Heres what i do when i initally setup a planted tank. I draw up a layout and plant the tank heavily and have CO2 running from the start. Also, flourish excel is like the miracle drug for planted tanks. Once the plants start to settle in and you see some new growth, the tank is cycled. Go ahead and add whatever fish you like. Theres no need for a bacterial culture in a heavily planted aquarium. Plants need whatever nitrogen is available in the water column and its likely they will use all of it immediatly. Theres no nitrogen cycle going on, plants actually prefer ammonia over nitrate. I've never had readable levels of ammonia in any of planted tanks I've had.

The next step is working out your doseing schedule. Watch for nutrient deficiencies starting to develop in your plants. Also knowing the chemistry of your tap water will help you dugin this step. I like this site http://www.aquariaplants.com/plantdeficiencies.htm its a great guide for that. Come up wit ha basic doseing and waterchange schedule and roll with that for a month. Then look for deficiencies and test levels for excesses. do not adjust your doseing schedule more than once per month and only adjust it very slightly. Well i'm getting ahead of myself now... sorry for the book.. i ramble. especially when i'm bored at work !! HTH


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post #9 of 43 (permalink) Old 05-08-2008, 05:06 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by MrJG View Post
Arghhh, don't ditch the amazonia. Its one of the best substrates you can get.

When you set up a tank with AS you need to plant heavily from the start and do 50% water changes every other day. The directions are right on the bag. The substrate will leech ammonia into the system for weeks (3-4) and you need the water changes to control it a bit. During this time your plants will adjust and use the available ammonia. During this time the tank will usually cycle fully and begin the process of converting ammonia>nitrites>nitrates.

Without doing the waterchanges you've allowed the ammonia to build up to a much too high level and then added a cycling product on top of that. Start doing the water changes and wait it out. Once the leeching stops you should be good to go. Be patient.

I recommend taking the fish back to the shop and do your research here or ask questions. Most LFS owners have no clue about setting up a planted system and are going to end up giving you bad advice based on setting up a normal gravel tank.
Well I was doing water changes every other day but not 50%, maybe 20 to 30%. Not exactly sure. I have a three gallon bucket and I changed three to three and 1/2 of these again like every two days. I do have it well planted maybe not heavily but a good number, 15 to 20 jungle vals, 8 or 10 wisteria maybe more, Riccia, Limnophila aromatica, Java Moss, 1 Java Fern and a few plants I don't know the name of. I don't know of any store that will take back fish once sold.

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Dont use cycle type products ever. All that is is a bottle of ammonia! Thats how it starts the cycle, theres no bacteria in it, its just the food the bacteria needs to grow. I swear! Test it yourself. Take some fresh tap water and test for ammonia and then add cycle and test again. You will see a huge jump in ammonia.

Heres what i do when i initally setup a planted tank. I draw up a layout and plant the tank heavily and have CO2 running from the start. Also, flourish excel is like the miracle drug for planted tanks. Once the plants start to settle in and you see some new growth, the tank is cycled. Go ahead and add whatever fish you like. Theres no need for a bacterial culture in a heavily planted aquarium. Plants need whatever nitrogen is available in the water column and its likely they will use all of it immediatly. Theres no nitrogen cycle going on, plants actually prefer ammonia over nitrate. I've never had readable levels of ammonia in any of planted tanks I've had.

The next step is working out your doseing schedule. Watch for nutrient deficiencies starting to develop in your plants. Also knowing the chemistry of your tap water will help you dugin this step. I like this site http://www.aquariaplants.com/plantdeficiencies.htm its a great guide for that. Come up wit ha basic doseing and waterchange schedule and roll with that for a month. Then look for deficiencies and test levels for excesses. do not adjust your doseing schedule more than once per month and only adjust it very slightly. Well i'm getting ahead of myself now... sorry for the book.. i ramble. especially when i'm bored at work !! HTH
Thanks Sammy that site is informative. So plant heavy, dose regularly, supply C02, 50% water changes.

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Once the plants start to settle in and you see some new growth, the tank is cycled.
This is interesting because others have said the tank won't be cycled for several weeks. I was noticing new growth after about 4 day's.

Here's what I have done so far today, I have three or four 5g buckets and a 3g bucket. I was using the 3g to do water changes but today I used two of the 5g's all together three of these were taken out (about 15g's of a 36g tank). I use the 3g to replace the water because of the way it pours. C02 is running at 2.2 bubbles per second. I will start using ferts next, any advice on how much to start off with? Will the plants improve once dosing is started or should I bag the bad ones and start fresh?
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post #10 of 43 (permalink) Old 05-08-2008, 05:33 PM
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I would pack it full of hornwort or something similar, but hornwort floats and grows like crazy so it will suck up nutrients while being easy to remove later.

If my levels were that high I would be doing 25% water changes at least daily if not once in the morning and another at night, it might prolong the cycle a bit but its the right thing to do so your fish don't die a slow and painful death. imagine swimming in ammonia...OUCH!

Can you get bio spira in your area or order some?
or there is a product called tlc that locally own fish stores may have that came highly recommended to me by several here in town and worked really well for me.
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post #11 of 43 (permalink) Old 05-08-2008, 06:53 PM
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Quote:
Thanks Sammy that site is informative. So plant heavy, dose regularly, supply C02, 50% water changes.
You're welcome Don! That site has taught me quite a bit about aquatic plants. Dont begin the doseing straight away. I didnt realize when i first posted that you're useing ADA substrate. That substrate is verrry rich with nutrients. You may not need to dose at all for the first month or two. You're plants will let you know when they're in need.

As far as what others have said about the tank cycleing period, they dont fully understand the fact that , in a fully planted tank, there is no nitrogen cycle going on. The plants mostly eat up the ammonia before the bacteria have a chance to start converting it to nitrite and nitrate. With a tank full of plants you can forget all that stuff about cycleing the tank and how long it takes. That applies to a tank of fish with decorations and a filter. Once you see your plants start growing new leaves and putting out roots and whatnot, its safe to say that the tank is ready for fish.

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I will start using ferts next, any advice on how much to start off with? Will the plants improve once dosing is started or should I bag the bad ones and start fresh?
I know you've probably been told this before but you have to be patient with your tank. Only bad things can happen quickly. Most days, the best thing you can do is to study and enjoy it. I usually setup the tank and plant it, and start stocking it about 2 weeks later. Then after another couple of weeks the doseing will start. All the while in between i'm watching and observing and making mental notes of things.

I think you're doing the right thing with the water changes. A couple of 50% changes and you're 4 ppm of NH3 will be reduced to 1 ppm. After that i would leave the tank alone until next week and then do another wc.

After that it is up to you how you want to do it. It seems like there are two schools of thought for how to maintain a planted tank. One involves strong lighting, ALOT of ferts, fast growing plants, large waterchanges and a TON of trimming. This method requires intense maintenance but the resulting display is bright and absolutley stunning IMO. The other involves less light, minimal waterchanges, minimal fertilising, light stocking and more slow growing, broad leafed plants. This results in a darker more of a calm forest type setting. Its really up to you want you want to do with it. Many (dare i say most) aquatic plants and fish are adaptable to either setting.


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post #12 of 43 (permalink) Old 05-09-2008, 03:53 AM
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I disagree with your assessment of cycling not being an issue in planted tanks, especially newly planted tanks. Plants are a key component in the nitrogen cycle, they don't eliminate it all together... decaying plant matter releases the nitrogenous wastes right back into the tank if they aren't removed.

The cycle is not over until ammonia reads 0, no matter whether plants are growing or not. AquaSoil will release tons of ammonia for a long time- don't add any (more) fish until the tank has cycled enough for the plants and N-bacteria colony to establish.

A "silent cycle" may occur in tanks that are heavily enough planted right from the getgo, but that is rather rare with a person's very first planted tank.

Don, if you haven't already, you need to check your tank for dead fish. It's highly unlikely that your Otos are still alive with testable ammonia levels, for one... dead fish could be a source of the smell.





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post #13 of 43 (permalink) Old 05-09-2008, 04:41 AM Thread Starter
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Don, if you haven't already, you need to check your tank for dead fish. It's highly unlikely that your Otos are still alive with testable ammonia levels, for one... dead fish could be a source of the smell.
Nope all fish are alive and well. My brother said that Ammonium will read like Ammonia so that may be the problem. I did a 50% WC and noticed the Ammonia level was down to 0 ppm for about 2 hrs. then started going back up slowly. Is now at 1.0 and Nitrite is up to 0.50. I think I will continue with 50% WC daily as I read that Amizonia will leach ammonia for a while. Also going to get a lot more plants and dose farts, opps I mean ferts.

I want to go with dry ferts but get confused with all the numbers. Why can't they just say mix 1/2 teaspoon in a quart of water or whatever? I'm from old school and don't do so well with metric measurements. Anyway thanks everyone for helping.
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post #14 of 43 (permalink) Old 05-09-2008, 05:01 AM
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I might ask first what your regiment was when you first started with your tank? Were you doing the requisite minimum 2x week 70% water changes? Aquasoil is odd stuff, and the instructions on the bag clearly state the need for massive water changes, especially early on. Although I can't say much for the smell, my guess is that your high NH4 levels are directly related to the aquasoil. Just out of curiosity - have any of your other water parameters changed?
The link provided below talks at great length about some of aquasoil's less pleasant effects and how to combat them. There's a very useful link to a thread on shrimpnow.com that you should watch for and read through. Although it's a bit too late now, there is a method for cycling a tank with AS in under 2 weeks; I plan on following these guidelines. If I remember correctly, Tom Barr suggests (and I no doubt agree) the bi-weekly 50%+ water changes should go on for 4-6 weeks. https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/su...-plants-4.html
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post #15 of 43 (permalink) Old 05-09-2008, 08:10 AM
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The sulfur smell is hydrogen sulfide cause by some sort of anaerobic decomposition in your tank. I've never used that soil but it sounds like it is full of organic debris that is decomposing which would explain both the hydrogen sulfide and the ammonia.

Hydrogen sulfide is nasty stuff, it can kill everything. Another effect it has, is that it makes fish expel their gut contents which will also increase your ammonia as well as other toxic substances.

To get your biological filter going, raise the pH to close to 8, turn the temperature up to about 90 F and make sure the tank is well oxygenated/aerated. The aeration will add oxygen for the bacteria as well as offgas the hydrogen sulfide and some of the ammonia. If the right bacteria are in there, the full cycle will take about a week.

Turn the CO2 off and take the fish and plants out while you do this.


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