Noob questions about new planted tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 06:59 AM Thread Starter
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Noob questions about new planted tank


I am very new to the world of planted tanks and just started my first 'high tech' planted tank last week.

I have a 29 gal low tech aquarium for a while now so I thought I gonna try something new.

My new setup is a 10 gal Penn Plax with a 20 inch Finnex FugRay Plated+ LED Light, a Fluval 206 canister filter, CO2 injection (regulator + Paintball tank) and I also got one of those fancy TwinStar M3 anti algae device because I read it helps a beginner to control algae.

I filled the tank with ADA power sand and 2/3 ADA Aqual Soil and 1/2 Pecto Aquarium Sand.

For plants I planted mostly Hairgrass and some other plants I cannot recall (I think some sort of sword and a rotala) + I tied some moss to the stones.

This is the setup:

Now here are my questions:

1. Light
I always read about WattsPerGallon, but I cannot find good information about how to apply this to LED's? I assume the Finnex LED should be ok for my tank but it's more a guess than knowing for sure. Would be great to get some hint how to choose a fitting LED for a new planted tank. Also I am unsure how long I should have the light running. My timer will arrive tomorrow and I plan to set it to 8 hours, but I wonder if I could go higher to fasten the hairgrass build a carpet

2. Cycling
When I started this hobby with my 29 gal tank I read everything about cycling and my new tank 'behave' exactly as described: Started with low Ammonia, this would start raising and then eventually nitrite would build up and ammonia would go down. At some point the nitrite started to disappear and nitrate build up. Like this:

Now with my new tank in the hope to speed things up a little bit I put some of the filter material of my 29 gal (also Fluval filter) into the new filter and I used 50% treated tap water + 50% aquarium water of the established tank for the new tank.
Now my Ammonia levels are very high in the new tank (>8ppm - using API master kit), zero Nitrite and 20-30 ppm nitrate. Is the high ammonia due to the aqua soil? And is it the kind of ammonia I need to build the bacteria or is it ammonium in the aquasoil that does not help building bacteria at all? Even right after 50% water change with water from my other tank (0 ammonia) its reads >8ppm.

3. Water changes.
I am not sure if I should do them or just wait until the tank cycled? Also should I continue to use Aquarium water from my other tank or should I use treated tap water. My 'idea' was to use aquarium water to provide the fish waste needed for proper cycling as I don't have any fauna in the new tank (beside one single babysnail that must have sneaked with some of the plants), but now with the very high ammonia readings I am not sure if tap water might be better?

4. Drop checker
The description of that drop checker told me to use aquarium water but I read to use it properly I need to use 4 dKH water. Since I don't know where to get this I just checked some bottle water I had around which actually tested for 4 dKH so I used that. Is this ok for the readings or do I need to get some distilled water and mix with baking soda to get a proper 4 dKH solution?

5. CO2.
My bubble counter is set to ~2 BPS and the drop checker always shows more yellow than green so I wonder if this is too much CO2 - if there is such a thing as too much as there are no fish in it yet. The snail mentioned earlier does fine tho.

6. Filter
I think the 206 is rated for up to 45 gal and I run it at 100%. is that too much water flow (I use a glass lily pipe so the current is not that strong)

7. Water
I use tap water in my 29 gal (treated with Aqueon water conditioner) and I am using the same treated tap water for the new tank. It's LA tap water (around 8.2 ph with 4-5 dKH and around 7 dGH) but my LFS guy told me I should use his water (25cent per gallon). Is tap water really that bad or does the guy just want to sell me his water? I am ok to spend some bucks on good hardware and healthy plants, but the idea to drive to the LFS (even if close by) to get water for water changes annoys me - I do water changes once a week on my 'old' tank and plan to do them regularly on the new tank as well.

8. Trimming
The hairgrass was very long when I got it and I did not trimmed it. The goal tho is that I want a nice trimmed 1 1/2 inch 'grass carpet'. Also I read that trimming speeds up horizontal growth. But I don't want to 'stess' the plant before it settled (I guess). So when should/can I start trimming?

The tank is setup since 5 days and I think I can already see some hair grass runners (jay) but the sword plant seems to melt (nooo). So I am not sure if the setup is ok. Also when I first filled the aquarium the hair grass was pearling a lot, but if I look into the tank now it does not perl as much anymore (but might be just my subjective view?).

That's why I hope to get some tips/help for the setup and other general beginner tips.

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Last edited by MrCrabs; 11-24-2015 at 07:31 AM. Reason: fixed spelling
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 07:28 AM
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If you are good/w DIY and feel like you can rig a dimmer switch into that fixture you
may be able to use it for that tank. If not a Current Satallite Freshwater Plus would
be a better light for it. You can adjust that one.
I would do a 50% water change to try to get the Ammonia down to a 4. Once your tanks beneficial bacteria takes over
then it should handle the Ammonia after that.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 08:21 AM Thread Starter
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Hey that was fast, thanks! So you are saying that light is too much for my setup? I'll have a look into LED dimmer tomorrow to see how easy that would be.
For the water change, should I use fresh tap water or continue using water from my main tank?
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 08:28 AM
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I would honestly use RO water if you are still cycling and have access to it. My plants seem to like it.

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 04:18 PM
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Actually, the tap water should be fine. The beneficial bacteria consume carbonates and actually prefer a slightly alkaline pH (learned that from several of @Diana's fishless cycling posts).

RO water, unless remineralized, and depending on how much minerals were removed, likely does not have enough carbonates. Due to this, as soon as it hits the atmosphere, the pH drops.

You can trim the hair grass now, it will be fine.

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-24-2015, 05:02 PM
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Nice job Crabs, welcome aboard!

Forget about WPG as a measurement of light. Look into PAR. There should be some info on the forum. Basically, you'll want somewhere in the neighborhood of 60-100 PAR on the substrate for "high light". I'm pretty sure you are in the high light zone w/ that fixture.

A word of warning, I would strongly suggest you get some more plant mass in there asap to avoid algae. Also you didn't mention anything about dosing ferts. Look into EI method. I like the kit from GLA: Estimative Index | Aquarium Fertilizer | Green Leaf Aquariums

8 hour photo-period is good.

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-25-2015, 07:37 AM Thread Starter
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Hey, thanks a lot for all the advise!

So if I understood correctly I have too much light for the 'few' plants. I could either reduce the light (modding the fixture/buy a different one) or just increase plants. I think option 2 sounds like the better choice. I guess I can just get more hairgrass and plant it 'more dense' + also get some more rotola for the background and maybe some other plant - will look what the LFS has in stock on the weekend.

As for the water I guess I'll stick to my TAP for now (at least until its cycled and I don't need to do frequent changes). I did a full 50% water change today but the Ammonia readings are still in the dark green (8ppm), so I will do another tomorrow and see if it goes down, maybe I should just be a little bit more patient.

I did not wanted to get into ferts yet as I thought too much 'new unknowns' might complicate things too much. Are ferts that crucial? My LFS said I am ok without for now. I'll start reading about the EI method tho to get a better understanding on that topic, thanks for the hint! If I really want to start doing ferts I will check out my LFS first I guess (it's a very nice place that carries ADA products and has a very good choice of plants and fish so he should have good ferts too I guess) - Although I had good experience with GLA too (got my CO2 regulator from them) - But first need to do some more research I guess.

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