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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
40 b, Finnex Planted +
No filtration

sprinkling of dolomite, potash and pieces of dried clay
mineralized dirt, about 1 inch
gravel, about 1/4 inch (I ran out)

Added bacterial slime from other non-planted tank.

Set up tank and planted plants on Thursday and had to go out of town. Evidently the timer wasn't working so lights were on from Friday 8 am until Sunday 4 pm. The tank lid completely closed off the tank from air exposure.

Because I was short on gravel, some dirt got in to the water.

There is what appears to be a layer of silt covering everything, gravel, rocks, wood and leaves. There is hair-like stuff on many of the plants. There is sort of a halo surrounding the piece of crepe myrtle wood.

The water test results are as follows:

pH 7.2-7.6
Ammonia .5
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0
Kh 143.2 ppm
Gh 107.4 ppm

I see one leaf rotting, but in general the plants look okay. What should I do next? I have temporarily installed a filter just with medium to trap particulates. I can't use this nonstop because my non-planted aquarium with fish needs it. Is the hairy stuff algae? Should I leave the lights off? If so, for how long and won't the plants suffer? The tank is pretty murky!
 

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Hi eggplantlady,

The 1/4" of gravel over the 1" of mineralized dirt is going to be an ongoing problem every time you move a plant or a catfish (or other species) does some shallow digging in the gravel. To be truthful I would probably break it down and start over but if you want to try to salvage this set-up then add another 1-1/2" to 2" of gravel on top of what is already in place. Then you will need a good filter to stir up and filter out the silt and detritus.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Roy,

I'm going to add more gravel, but is it okay to just cover up all of the debris that is already there? Will this trap anything bad? I want to make this a Walsted-type tank, so my understanding is that the gravel should be from .5 to .75 inch deep.

If I were to start over, would unplanting the plants, laying more gravel, and then replanting be the way to do it? Can the plants handle that? I guess I could work on a section at a time so that they wouldn't really need to be temporarily 'rehomed'.

What do I do about the hairy stuff (algae?)? Should I keep the lights off for days? Won't that kill the plants?
 

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Hi eggplantlady,

Sorry for the delayed response; just got busy and missed your reply. If it were me I would siphon any large accumulations of detritus out of the tank bringing the water level down substantially. Then I would slowly add the addition washed gravel in the open areas and around the already placed plants bringing the depth up at least 1". As you place gravel around the existing plants gently lift them up about an inch so their crowns are even with the new substrate level. Then I would refill. The reason to siphon out as much water as possible is to lower the ammonia level - about the only time I experience 'hair type' algae is when I start up a new tank with new substrate and the ammonia level rises. Removing as much water as possible will help reduce the amount of silt in the water as well.

I would dose Seachem Excel at 2X the recommended dose for a week, that should kill off the existing hair algae. I would introduce one Siamese Algae Eater (Crossocheilus oblongus / not a Chinese Algae Eater) that will eat up the dying hair algae and a few corydoras to stir up the detritus. I would use a 'reduced' photoperiod of maybe 4 hours and increase it 1/2 every week until you reach about 6 hours and then see how things look. I would suggest getting a filter on there as soon as the water change is done so it can remove the detritus the corydoras stir up.

I'm sure you can recover from this but it will take some patience and work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks Roy, I will follow your instructions unless you think that I can speed up the process to health by removing all of the plants, vacuuming the detritis, adding the appropriate amount of gravel and then replanting. If this will speed things up by a few weeks, then I will do it (I have fry in my other tank that I am anxious to move into a natural environment). If you think this will work, then I assume that I can simply float the plants in a bucket of the tank water (I'll knock off as much algae as I can) for the hour or so that it will take me to redo the tank.

Also, will my rubber nose pleco be adequate instead of the Siamese Algae Eater? I live far from a good aquarium store.

I had to order the Seachem Excel from Amazon and it will be here in 2 days, so whichever method you say is best, I will start dosing on Thursday.

Thanks so much for your help!
 

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Hi eggplantlady,

It would probably be quicker to remove the plants, siphon down the water removing as much detritus as possible while doing so, and then add the additional depth of gravel and replant. It is absolutely OK to float the plants while doing the work.

My experience has been that Plecos do not eat hair-type algae, some species will eat the soft flat algae. I have also had Plecos that have eaten my plants and had to be re-homed; now I just use Corydoras, Otocinclus, and Siamese Algae eaters as my cleaning crew.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Okay, I actually combined both methods. I vacuumed/siphoned 50% of the water, removed rotting leaves, uprooted (and replanted) about 30% of the plants, and added gravel to the entire floor. I have the filter for my other tank running with just the bacteria-laden sponge. The Excel will be here on Thursday. Is it safe to add the corydoras before the tank cycles? If so, should I use any kind of additive to deal with ammonia or nitrate spikes or just do big water changes?

I will drive to Atlanta on Thursday to get the Siamese algae eater and the corydoras if they can be added now.
 

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Hi eggplantlady,

Sounds good. As for the Corydoras just a couple should stir things up enough so the filter can remove any silt since you are going through the nitrogen cycle you don't want to overload with fish. I believe Seachem Prime will 'bind up' ammonia and nitrites so they are not toxic to your fish so I would pick some up as well.
Prime® detoxifies nitrite and nitrate, allowing the biofilter to more efficiently remove them.
I am truly sorry that you have to go through all this extra work, keep me posted as to how things go. (Subscribed)
-Roy
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'll look for Prime along with corydoras; I can't believe that I won't be able to find them in Atlanta. Thanks so much for all of your help. It has been a tough start, but what an interesting way to spend time!
 
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