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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2008, 04:29 PM Thread Starter
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General advise sought

I just recently set up a new aquarium, and I'm seeking some general advise. I have read many forum posts and articles but I'm not sure how they apply to my particular setup.

I have a 15 gallon tall tank 20x10x20 (SeaClear 18g but actually computed capacity based on interior dimensions is 15 gal) with an Eclipse 1 hood with a compact fluorescent retrofit giving me 32 watts (6700K/10,000K bulb). Substrate is a mixture of used Fluorite (taken from my last tank where I unsuccessfully tried to grow plants under 1 watt/gallon), plain black gravel, and newly added Aqua Soil Amazonia. The fish load is 5 pygmy cories, 3 otos, and 4 female betta.

As far as plants I have a few unidentified plants (in picture) that I transplanted from my old tank where they were doing poorly under insufficient lighting and a piece of driftwood with java moss. Plus I ordered some plants online that range from low to moderate light requirements. The driftwood runs the length of the tank and I intend it to be mid ground with java-moss, anubias nana, and lace java fern growing on it. In the background I bought a Amazon sword and water sprite, plus some of the unidentified plants. For the foreground I bought some micro sword and a crypt wendti.

This tank is completely cycled due to the fact that most of the contents came from another tank that was discarded.

My questions are, do I need to fertilize this tank, or would it be counter-productive. Would co2 make any significant difference with this level of lighting and choice of plants (I would rather avoid any added complicated hardware). Is there anything I should do to help the unhealthy plants transplanted into here. Some of them I had to clip off decaying parts and one the roots were rotting and I clipped off the entire root system and put the stem into the substrate. Will I have trouble growing the amazon sword and micro sword which I know require at least moderate lighting. I also know little about what I should do as far as pruning and trimming plants. I have always seemed to have trouble reaching into a tank and doing it without accidentally uprooting the plant. I'm also not sure how to sew the java fern and anubias to the driftwood.

Any help would be appreciated if anyone bothers to read through this overly long post. I know a lot about keeping fish but totally ignorant when it comes to plants.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2008, 05:17 PM
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I'm not sure the microsword will grow the way you expect it to. The rest of the plants I have grown in a similar setup. They will grow slow, but they'll grow. I don't see CO2 as a nessesity, maybe dose some Excel so the plants get their carbon from somewhere. I think the amazon sword will eventually outgrow/overtake your tank, but the other plants listed will work out well for you.

Personally, I do not like the eclipse hoods. I'm am sort of biased as I like to grow high light plants and this system could not do it for me. I had an Eclipse 3 when I grew plants such as you have listed and it worked fine, but I got bored and wanted to move on to different plants and that's when I noticed the problem.

I usually use black sewing thread to tie plants to wood. For anubias, tie it tight enough to hold the plant in place, but not so tight it cuts into the rhizome. For moss, I just wrap the thread around the moss several times and tie it off. The thread will eventually fall apart in the water, but the plant roots will have taken hold by then.

When it comes to trimming, I like to have a long pair of curved scissors that way your hand doesn't get down into the leaves. Most of the plants you listed won't need to be trimmed very often. On swords, I usually trim the leaves as close to the base as I can. I only trim the leaves that are covered in algae or are starting to fall apart/get eaten. Be careful though as this will cause your sword to get big really quick. The moss you can just rip off handfuls when needed. Try to pull from the top area and leave the bottom portion attached to the wood. The anubias just gets cut at the rhizome, but you won't have to do this for a long time, just let it grow across your wood for now.

Hope this helps.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2008, 06:42 PM Thread Starter
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Your information is helpful.

What exactly should I expect from the micro sword. I have a 6 inch square section of it coming and I would like to know what I should do with it. I also have a 5 gallon tank with 20 watts of standard fluorescent (screw in bulbs) that I haven't done much with yet except a piece of wood with java moss and my male betta.

I'm going to plant the amazon sword in the left corner of the tank and I don't really mind if it becomes pretty large, I have a lot of height in this tank and it will hide the equipment there.

As far as the lighting, I have tried to come up with something that balanced the needs of the fish and the needs of the plants. Based on feedback from other people I understand that bettas tend to be bothered by high intensity lights.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2008, 07:11 PM
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with the light you have, CO2 wouldnt make much of a difference, but wont hurt. you may or may not need fertz depending on the water you are using.

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-20-2008, 07:31 PM
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From what I've heard, the micro sword needs lots of light and a soft substrate like Aquasoil. I haven't tried growing this myself yet, but like you, I also have some in the mail as we speak.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-21-2008, 03:02 AM
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I suspect that the microsword will grow, slowly, as long as you can keep algae at bay. I think you'll probably need to either dose Excel or add CO2 to accomplish that, or pack the tank full of fast-growing stems. Water sprite is a good plant for this- so hopefully what you have on the way will be enough. I'd keep some Excel handy though. Easier to spot-treat algae before it gets a real foothold in the tank.





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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-21-2008, 03:57 AM Thread Starter
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Fast growing stems help with? Algae? I do have 3 otos in there.

I have no problem using Excel if that will make any difference. I don't want to spend several hundred dollars on CO2, but what about these yeast based systems like the Turbo CO2 Bio-System that I see at Dr F&S for $30. Do they work, or are they a waste of money? If I buy one of those do I need Excel? or fertilizer? Please excuse my ignorance. I am clueless in the plant department, and I don't want to have to kill too many more during my learning process.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-21-2008, 04:11 AM
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I used the yeast based CO2 systems for a little over a year. They work pretty good on smaller tanks, they just aren't steady like a CO2 tank is. I had several going on different tanks and I finally broke down and went pressurized. Of course I have a 75, 50 and 2 40s I was feeding. Even if you went with a yeast based system, I would still keep Excel handy for spot treatment of algae. Ferts is up to you. Personally I would use them, but sparingly with the setup you are going with. You have lots of slow growers so algae could become a problem if you dose too much.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-21-2008, 06:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LetDiceFly View Post
I just recently set up a new aquarium, and I'm seeking some general advise...This tank is completely cycled due to the fact that most of the contents came from another tank that was discarded.


1) is this the only reason you believe your tank is cycled?
2) do you have hard water?
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-21-2008, 08:25 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColeMan View Post
1) is this the only reason you believe your tank is cycled?
2) do you have hard water?
No, I am very experienced in keeping fish, I test my water compulsively. Besides a spike in nitrates (probably from disturbing the substrate) the N cycle was never disturbed.

I do not know if I have hard water, it has never been an issue with the fish I keep, so I have never tested for it. I do test for pH and there is something peculiar about my results. My tap water is 7.8 but my tank is much more acidic since I moved things and added the driftwood and a few plants. It has gone to the bottom of the scale on the API test kit (6.0) but I have been maintaining it at around 6.4 through water changes. I know enough chemistry to understand this must have something to do with buffering, and have read enough on various sites to know that in aquariums this has something to do with water hardness. But I do not fully understand this, and have no clue if I should do something about it or what that action should be. This has been only a couple weeks so I have been waiting to see if it corrects itself.

I am planning on putting in an order to DFS, what tests should I get for hardness or other plant related test besides the API Master Kit I am using now.

Also, could you please explain why Excel would help with algae problems, this isn't self-evident to me. And if I am going to lightly fertilize my tank, what should I use? Flourish, maybe?
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-21-2008, 03:46 PM
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I have a thread for you to read through. The first is about Aquasoil melting plants in a newly cycling tank; I 'm not sure how familiar you are with Aquasoil, but it will leach NH4 pretty heavily for weeks on end, regardless of how much established media you used; Tom Barr once posted that with some bags of Aquasoil, even a very-well matured filter won't help with cycling.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/su...ng-plants.html

I hate to ask if you're a compulsive tester, but what, exactly, were the parameters the last time you checked? Aquasoil tends to lower both hardness and pH, and in some cases this can cause a general plant melt...

From a quote taken from the aforementioned Aquasoil thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by styxx View Post
Oh danepatrick,
if you changed the substrate and immediately planted, it makes sense that you might have a "melt down" and here's why:

AS apparently goes through a process in the initial stages when introduced into a tank. Ammonia goes up and various changes occur to KH/GH in the water. Over time these changes decrease and eventually end whereupon the substrate produces no ammonia and slightly buffers (down) the ph of the water. This change can be accelerated or enhanced with addition of Carbon (large amounts of carbon according to Amano-san's practice) as well as the addition of Seachem Purigen to filtration. I can not begin to fully explicate the chemical reactions occurring which cause this dynamic but it seems to be a common occurrence with "fresh" AS. I've personally noticed that over the course of 2 weeks now, the AS has balanced out in my tank (of approx. 20g). Although I've added Purigen to the filtration and no small amount of carbon! AS also was irritating the **** out of me b/c it tends to slightly tint the water but this changed after I took the measure indicated above. I hope this helps and as always YMMV. It truly is an awesome substrate once you get past this initial phase....good luck!
Essentially, what he's saying is this: if you have really hard water to begin with, it's very possible that the massive swing in KH could be detrimental to your plants.


Oh yeah, and there's this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by eklikewhoa View Post
I used a fully established canister from a slightly overstocked tank to jump start the tank with AS and I still had a weeks worth of ammonia....
As for the question about test kits, read this quote from Tom Barr in regards to a post made in which the OP asked which kind of test kits to buy:
Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
I've seen API test claim 40ppm of NO3 when in fact, it was 0.0ppm.
I've never seen any deviations of note from Lamotte's.
Good enough?

Well, if you think so and are willing to accept it as good enough and not want accuracy, I guess, but then why bother testing at all if you are just ball park guessing in the first place?



I can do that with a simple water change and known weight of ferts.

If you test, do it right.
If not, do not bother. There's no 1/2 way here.

If you do not bother to make a reference, then do not bother to use them and do not assume that someone else's test kit is the same as yours.
Your method, the chemicals, the expiration dates etc all vary.
Do not rely on "faith" and "hope" they are accurate.
Make sure they are.

Most folks that do check, check the test kit once, maybe a few times over a short time frame...then they assume that from then on, forever......those test kits are good.

Most pH/KH/Gh test kits are fine in the cheapy ranges, but the Lamotte's are not that much more for those either(5-10$ at most).

I've tested friend's test kits against known standards, Seachem, API, Lamotte, Hach, Tetra, RedSea...........

The Hach and Lamotte where never off by more than a unit in their scales.
All the other cheapo brands have been way way off(not always, but far more frequently than I assume/or risk).

Do yourselves a favor, make some reference solutions.
Make a set of PO4(0.2ppm, 1ppm, 2ppm), NO3(2ppm, 5ppm, 15ppm), KH(17.86ppm, 71.44ppm), GH(17.86ppm, 71.44ppm) solutions.

Make 500mls of each and then get some good bottles and keep them around.
Check the test kits when you test your tank water about once every 3-6 months. Not hard, then you are lot more certain.

"Faith based testing" is poor method to test anything in this hobby.

Regards,
Tom Barr
Hope some of this info helps. Like I said, when you get a chance post your water parameters, and include a KH reading from the tap and from your tank (maybe call the city for a water report if you don't yet have a test kit, and for the tank use the chart linked below to reference your tank's KH by comparing pH and CO2 levels (you know your CO2 level, right)?
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-21-2008, 05:58 PM Thread Starter
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The aquasoil makes up about 25% of my substrate (about 2 liters), the rest is mostly Fluorite with some gravel. The fluorite and gravel came from an established tank.

My current parameters are Ammonia 0, NO2 0, NO3 20, and pH 6.2. I did have a large ammonia reading the first day and I did a 50% water change. The next day it was back to 0. But for the last 2 weeks I have had a lot of NO3 despite 15% water changes daily. I have never tested KH or GH but I will get a test kit in this next order. I have not added any CO2 and I have no idea how to test for it, I don't see a product for this on the Dr F&S web site.

I am planning to order the following, Turbo CO2 Bio-System, Excel, Flourish, Purigen, KH/GH test, and a pruning tool called aquatic gardener. I do not know what to buy to test CO2, please let me know. Is there anything else that I may be overlooking?
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