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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,
I have a 38 gal with two Aquaclear 200 hob filters. I pulled out some plants and re-arranged others so tank is sparsely planted at the moment.

I have 13 neon tetras in there. If I don't dose any N, nitrate will continue to drop to zero. I know it's not the plants doing this because the few times I was keeping an eye on the nitrate dropping, the plants weren't growing much.

I plan to make everything grow into a thick jungle. Plants are a mixture of slow and fast growing. Water wisteria, various crypts, dwarf sag, anubias nana, buce, dwarf lily, amazon sword, parviflorus sword, ludwigia palustris, Brazilian pennywort, Java fern.

I want to add more fish and allow ammonia to be the main source of N for the plants, but I don't want my nitrate to spike too high. I do 10-20% w/c weekly.

How many more tetras do you guys think I should add? I'm thinking about going to the lfs this weekend to get:

5 black neons
5 glow light tetras
5 white skirt tetras

Together with my 13 neons, it would give me a total of 28 tetras. Do you think this is enough to keep my nitrate low and provide enough ammonia for the plants?

Another thing I was thinking is going with a gold gourami instead of the 5 white skirts but I'm still undecided on this because in my limited experience with gouramis, I feel they seem to prefer shallow tanks with less current. The current from my 2 hobs might be too strong.

I'm currently dosing Tropica Specialised 2ml daily, Flourish Potassium, and Flourish N to bump up nitrate when needed.

What do you guys think? Good idea? Should I go with the gold gourami instead of the 5 white skirt tetras?

Thanks
 

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Too many variables to answer the question. Rate at which nitrates (and phosphates) increase--or whether they do at all-- is a function of how many animals, size/variety of said animals how much they're fed, what they're fed, removal of organics via filtration and manual cleaning/maintenance, how many plants and health/rate of growth of said plants which in turn is a function of light, co2 levels, nutrient availability, temperature and other factors.

Pick a nitrate target based on which particular flavor of kool-aid you drink (EI, Walsted, pps, etc) test your water and either add nitrates or perform a water change to get to that target, then test again in a week. If your nitrates have increased, then your livestock is producing more nitrates than plants can use. Do water change necessary to get back to target. If your nitrates have decreased, then up fertilization.

Or take the Barr approach which posits that there is no deleterious effect on either livestock or plants from "excess" (within reason) nutrients, dump plenty of macros and micros in the tank and do a 50% water change weekly.

As an aside, if your nitrate level is really dropping to zero, then either the plants are using it despite your observation/evaluation of their growth rate, or it's being adsorbed by a high cec substrate; it can't just vanish.
 

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So I like this one. I agree with cloozoe that you should do a little more testing before jumping straight to putting in more fish. And I like what he said there. So my vote is do that stuff first.

But if you are going to ignore all that, gold gourami get pretty good sized, up to 6 inches. with the tetras(black skirt and such) once they get older and get some flowing fins that gourami may have some fun(not the good kind); especially a male. I would recommend a few honey gourami. smaller and more peaceful. If you want a larger gourami I suggest Pearl, slightly smaller I think than the gold but far less aggressive and still curious fish.

as for more tetras, I had 5 serpae and like a lot of fish like them they are happier with more fish and they are now with the 9 that I now have. So maybe get more of one type or two types instead of three types. also don't put in 15 new tetras if you get a gourami as well, the gourami (going off gold sized gourami) will be enough bio load for one of those schools of 5 tetras or more once grown.

I have a gourami tank and put a young gold male in, it has doubled it's size in two weeks and has become a bossy little punk and it's not even the largest fish yet... I have a male Pearl that is a year old or so and I know they are more timid than the other gourami of their size, but he even moves for the gold gourami at least half the time and it is still 2 times the size of the gold one.

PS, gourami do like more shallow waters, they like the 33L they moved to from the 75 I had them in. Mine also prefer nice shady plants, especially floaters. I also set the filter to have no real current (turned the output from the filter at a tank wall to kill the main current line and to let if dissipate throughout the whole water column), though the flow is still good on the canister filter
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the help, guys. I'm going to go ahead and add fish slowly while keeping an eye on the nitrate levels.

The gourami is off the list now due to size. The white skirts are also off the list. I just saw a vid on youtube of a white skirt catching and eating a guppy. A few of my neons stayed pretty small and I'm worried they may become meals. In the past I had Columbian tetras about the size of white skirts that ended up eating all my neons.
I think it's better for me to stick with small tetras like you suggested. Aren't Serpae tetras one of the more aggressive tetra species?

I avoid EI dosing in my tanks. I've tried it several times in both high and low tech, always ended up with algae outbreaks. I also find 50% w/c excessive if the tank is not overstocked, esp low tech.

My current dosing is more in line with pps pro and this has been working for me on this tank.

I'm doing pretty good with water testing. I've been monitoring my levels regularly as this tank was recently converted from high tech to low tech. Been checking ph, gh, kh, nitrite, etc. It's the nitrates that I check on a regular basis. I was checking nitrates daily for a few weeks last month. Now I check once or twice a week.

Reason I don't believe my plants are consuming all the nitrate is because the tank is sparsely planted at the moment. If I don't add N, nitrate will drop about 10ppm per week. My nitrate test kit is calibrated.
My guess is some areas of my substrate is anoxic and it's the bacteria using them up. Substrate is inert sand from CaribSea topped with a thin layer of green decorative betta gravel.

So the plan now is to slowly add more small tetras while testing nitrates.
 

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I can highly recommend the Black Neons, I think they are very unrated. They do great with my much smaller ember tetras. Just for the record I dose high EI and have measured no3 up to 60-80ppm without any fish issues. No3 that is in your tank naturally came from organic decomposition and I don't think it's the no3 that is harmful but the baggage it was derived from (nh3,no2). Also ammonia is a main source of algae development, completely different than simply dosing inorganic salts like no3 directly. That's my experience anyway.
 

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Serpaes may be more aggressive, I wouldn't doubt it. They are the smallest(tied?) in my tank so it doesn't matter if they are they just mess with each other anyway. all the species in my tank behave this way, they don't mess with the other species.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I can highly recommend the Black Neons, I think they are very unrated. They do great with my much smaller ember tetras. Just for the record I dose high EI and have measured no3 up to 60-80ppm without any fish issues. No3 that is in your tank naturally came from organic decomposition and I don't think it's the no3 that is harmful but the baggage it was derived from (nh3,no2). Also ammonia is a main source of algae development, completely different than simply dosing inorganic salts like no3 directly. That's my experience anyway.
Agree on the black neons. They're very striking and I had always wanted some after seeing them at the lfs about a year ago. Glowlights are underrated too imo. They look washed out in regular lighting, but in a dim tank they look fantastic.
That's interesting. Now that I think about it, half of Flourish Nitrogen is made up of urea. That may explain the algae. Whenever I tried EI with it, I always dosed high. Now, I dose low, no more than rec. amount daily if I have to bump up the nitrate, then repeat next day.
Thanks for your input. Can't wait to get the black neons.

Serpaes may be more aggressive, I wouldn't doubt it. They are the smallest(tied?) in my tank so it doesn't matter if they are they just mess with each other anyway. all the species in my tank behave this way, they don't mess with the other species.
Thank you, I'll look into them. On my lfs site, I did notice several variations of the Serpae. Must be from selective breeding. I still like the regular ones most.
 
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