New to the hobby,need general advice - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-10-2014, 11:33 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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New to the hobby,need general advice

i am new to this forum and this hobby, this is my first attempt at setting up an aquarium altogether and decided to go with live plants instead of plastic. I have a 46 gallon bow front aquarium with a Marineland Pinguin 350 filter. I used Eco complete for my substrate. My water parameters as of yesterday were:
Ammonia = 0 ppm
Nitrites = 0 ppm
Nitrates = 40 ppm
dgh = 4.48
dkh = 2.24
PH = 7.0
Temp = 78 degrees
I believe this indicates i have soft water that may be prone to PH fluctuations. I also use API CO2 booster, but i don<t use any Ferts. at this time. I did a 10% water change for the Nitrates. Do I need to do anything about the hardness issues? As far as lighting goes I am currently using a single T8 25watt colormax 36" bulb. i have only seven neon tetras at the moment as my tank just finished cycling. Am i on the right track any helpfull advice is welcome. i have attached some photos because i have no idea what plants i have.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-11-2014, 11:24 AM
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Do larger wcs. Your nitrates are too high IMO. 50% will take it too 20ppm and another 50% a few days later should bring it down to around 10ppm. This would be a whole lot better.

You need more plants too.

75 Gallon Low Tech w/ Green Terror Pair
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-11-2014, 02:15 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice concerning the high nitrates. Can anyone wiegh in on what I can do to raise the general hardness and carbonate hardness without making my PH too high, also i'm not sure that my lighting situation is adequate.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-11-2014, 05:05 PM
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Hi Damon. Your PH is neutral right now and unless it does start to vary you need not concern yourself with it. Your GH also looks good and I wouldn't add anything to change it unless your PH starts to vary significantly.

Here's some comments by Tom Barr on it;

Using tap water

Tap water is cheap and water changes take less time than the testing (salt water is the exception perhaps, salt mixes cost a fair amount money). Water changes also cost less than test kits/testing and are more fool proof method of estimating the nutrient levels in your planted tank when dealing with NO3, Fe and PO4. It's also simpler and requires less knowledge of chemistry and testing against known standards. Plants are most often starved of nutrients and inaccurate test kits are largely responsible. Many people feel tap is unsuitable for plants, this is simply not true. Old myths still abound claiming excess PO4 in tap water causes algae, this has clearly been shown by many hobbyist to be patently false. The tap water has nutrients in it, then you do not have to dose these nearly as much, this is actually a good thing! Why take something out and then add it back again?

Have hard water?

Great, you do not have to add any baking soda and GH builder to your tank. Adding enough GH to bring the levels to 3-5 GH degrees will address higher light tank needs over a week's time. You can use SeaChem Equilibrium for this or a mix of CaCl2 (or CaSO4 although it is not as easy to dissolve into water) and MgSO4 at a 4:1 ratio to increase GH. You can add this without knowing what your GH is by adding 1 degree's worth after a weekly water change (or slightly less with less frequent water changes)

Plants prefer soft water? Not so, neither myself or other experience aquarist have found plants that are soft water dependent, although there may be a few exceptions out perhaps 300 species, it is safe to say that plants prefer harder water and there is research to show this is true, (Bowes 1985), (T. Barr, C. Christianson observations of clear hard water springs in Florida, USA and in Brazil). A few plants, about 5 or 6 or so species do seem to prefer softer water, but this is due to KH, GH seems to have little bearing as long as there is enough Ca and Mg. So the GH can be dosed a little higher if in doubt or if you want to check to see if that is causing an issue or not.
KH on the other hand does seem to influence these specific plants(most are not affected) to about 5-6 degrees. There is really no limit on how low the KH can be for good plant health, but it can make CO2 measurements trickier. There is a way around that though. Still, any plant can be grown at a KH of 5 and a GH of 5-10, or less. This would not be considered "soft" water, actually it would be ideal. Thus unless you desire to grow a few eclectic species, there is no need for RO, nor DI, carbon filtration of the tap water, but doing so will do no harm to the plants as long as there is enough GH for the plants and KH to determine CO2.

Water changes: use Python like bucket less water change systems, or DIY garden hose systems that attach to a faucet for draining a filling. Large diameter drain hoses make quick work for large tanks. Dedicated plumbing also can make the water change very easy. If the tank is far away from the faucet, a longer hose is all that’s needed. Hard plumbed systems and automatic water changers are commonly detailed on the web.
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