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Getting Started with Planted Tank, Newb Questions

918 Views 3 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  northbyns
Hi all!

First of all, thank you for sharing your knowledge and making this community a thing!

I started a 29 gal planted tank a few weeks ago and have a couple questions.

1) I (yes, stupidly) did not adequately rinse the Flourite before getting the tank going. I have been doing bi-weekly siphons and 20% water changes. I have two filters running... a Fluval 207 and a waterfall-type filter running simultaneously... but I notice I have an abundance of small bubbles. I read that this could be a protein issue? To try to combat this. I just started the waterfall filter in tandem with the Fluval. As I try to right the initial mistake with the Flourite and get rid of the dust/debris, how often should I be changing the filter media and is 20% water changes 2x week a good amount? I've been replacing the polyfill weekly as well and I have fluval peat in a media bag in the last stage of the 207 filter to try to bring down the pH (about 8.0 at last check). I also put some extra carbon in the waterfall filter.

2) When I had a reef tank 10 years ago, I had a Vortech pump on a low side wall to mitigate debris settlement. I'm assuming that's also a good idea now?

3) I found a local RO water source so I'm planning to use that with Seachem Equilibrium for water changes. Sound good?

My parameters:

Temp: 79 degrees F
pH: 8.0
Ammonia: .25-.5 ppm
Nitrite: .25 ppm
Nitrate: 5 ppm

Also, the rocks you see were fizz-free when tested with API nitrate testing liquid. I'm planning on adding a nice rock set so I can get into some cave design once I've gotten these things ironed out a bit better. I am in the LA-area and would love to connect with other hobbyists and get leads on good/ethical plant and fish sources, as well as driftwood -- or ideas on where to find good stuff.

Any ideas or pointers would be most welcome! Feel free to ask for clarification, if necessary.

Thanks so much for your time and help.


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It's been awhile since I've used flourite but the dust storm will settle in time. Just keep up with the filter material changes and it'll clear up eventually. Give your tank time to settle and go through its cycles.

I've had a few reefs in the past and the care is a bit different for a planted tank. You want to keep the flow a bit lower than what your used to in a reef. In a 29 I would maybe use a small powerhead, something with adjustable flow. But from the looks of it your tank has a good amount of flow already.

RO is great for a planted tank. I think the ferts you use will help balance out anything the RO water has removed. Also, are you planning high tech or low? Any idea for ferts?
1) Yes, wait it out.

2) Reef guy here too. I run a pair of Tunze 6015s in my 36" 75g planted -- works well to keep things stirred up (there is an Eheim Pro4+600 on there as well). They cycle on and off (tank is run by an Apex) in a more-or-less alternating counterflow pattern during daylight hours.

3) Yes, RO with Equilibrium here too. Funny how reefkeepers know how miserable tap water can be for aquariums. I use sodium bicarbonate to adjust KH.

I'm assuming that with an 8.0 pH you didn't use RO for startup?

This may be a minority opinion, but best to pull the magnet scraper out when not in use. Rusting neodymium magnets are pretty scary -- worse in saltwater, but still.
Hi guys! Thanks so much for your thoughts.

Little update:

  • We had a nitrite spike from an issue with an automatic feeder. Did two 50% water changes on consecutive days and now here's where we stand thanks to the water changes, and dosing with prime
  • Added some driftwood. That with the water changes has brought down the pH towards a more ideal spot :)

pH 7.4
Ammonia .25-.5 ppm
Nitrite .25 ppm
Nitrate 5-10 ppm

- The tons of little bubbles remain, but I think it's because of the air wand. It produces mostly small bubbles, but some big ones that dissipate more quickly. Maybe I should just get a smaller bubbler? This wand seems like overkill anyway
-Just ordered 40 lbs of Icelandic lava rock, Ultum Titan 90w light, Eleocharis pusilla, weeping moss, microsorum pteropus from Glassaqua

More Questions:

1) Should I do another water change today, or wait till later this week? Another 50% or go back to 20%?

2) When should I start swapping filter media? And should I swap just one stage per week starting with first stage to last?

3) I'm going to do a re-scape and try to grow some Eleocharis Pusilla after my Icelandic lava rocks and plant cultures arrive. Should I be worried about grass-like stuff taking strong enough root in the fluorite? And what method for planting do you prefer?

4) I've noticed very gentle powerheads and bubblers in beautiful aquascape tanks... is the Fluval 207's return too strong? And is it's position at 1/4 below water line too high (you can see in photo)?

Thanks Socratic for the advice on the magnet. I'll pull it out!
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