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I've never had aquasoil drop the pH low enough to stall a cycle. A month seems like a really long cycling time. Do you have any used media to seed your filters? Would you consider Seachem Stability?

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Discussion Starter #62
I've never had aquasoil drop the pH low enough to stall a cycle. A month seems like a really long cycling time. Do you have any used media to seed your filters? Would you consider Seachem Stability?

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I'm still getting inconsistent pH measurements. My main task this week is to sort out my pH meter and get some starting baseline data points.

I have no cycled media available to me, I haven't used any biological media for 2 years now. I'm also not a fan of any of those bacteria / stability products, I'd rather wait it out. Rushing things always bring up issues that can be avoided. I have lots of patience.

I tested NO3 prior to a water change and it was around the 5ppm range, light orange, so the cycle has started to progress a little further.

Ammonia is still hovering 0.5 - 1.0ppm.

Once the ammonia levels have bottomed out I'll watch for the nitrites to drop and then give the tank another couple weeks before I grab some fish.

On another note, the flow meter seemed to have jumped up to 23 cc/min. I haven't changed anything, it was sitting at 17 cc's / min, maybe it's just settling in now after 5 days of use. I'll continue to keep an eye on it.
 

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On another note, the flow meter seemed to have jumped up to 23 cc/min. I haven't changed anything, it was sitting at 17 cc's / min, maybe it's just settling in now after 5 days of use. I'll continue to keep an eye on it.
Are you using the needle valve on the regulator or the valve on the flow meter to set the flow??
 

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Discussion Starter #64
Are you using the needle valve on the regulator or the valve on the flow meter to set the flow??
Flow meter valve is set wide open, needle valve on regulator was used to set the flow. Flow meter valve is too aggressive, I can't fine tune it very accurately. If I wanted to go from 16 cc/min - 17 cc/min using the flow meter's valve, I would take a lot of trial an error. I read a few Dwyer RMA user's experience on TPT and some seem to have this issue, some don't.

My process:

Flow was adjusted via needle valve 2 weeks prior to flow meter install to it's current level. Solenoid was shut off, pressure was released from the lines, flow meter was installed with valve shut, solenoid was turned on, pressure built in the lines pre-flow meter, flow meter valve was opened fully, pressure built post flow meter until check valve opened allowing gas to enter reactor, flow meter jumped around slightly as equilibrium was met a few minutes later.

It sat at the 17 cc/min mark for 4 days and 2 water changes, on the 5th day (3rd water change) I restarted the filters, turned on the solenoid and noticed the flow meter was sitting at 23 cc / min. It might just be settling back to an equilibrium after toying around with the solenoid and filters - I'll check again today after work.

EDIT:

Forgot to mention I target dosed my incoming water up to 10ppm NO3 during my last water change because of the in-tank ammonia levels dropping and biologically produced NO3 beginning to rise.

Current incoming parameters every other day 68% WC:

10ppm NO3
25ppm K
14.69ppm PO4
25ppm Ca
12.5ppm Mh
0.0 dKH
 

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Interesting. I use the flow meter valve for control.

My guess is if you are using the needle valve and see fluctuations in flow, it has to do with the needle valve. Or like you said, maybe something else (pressure?) bumped it and it will settle back to the right rate.

Have you been testing PO4? Curious how much the soil is soaking up. Mine ate it up like crazy for a while.

The issue for me was that I had a tank full of plants, and when PO4 bottomed out so did the plants!
 

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Discussion Starter #67
Interesting. I use the flow meter valve for control.

My guess is if you are using the needle valve and see fluctuations in flow, it has to do with the needle valve. Or like you said, maybe something else (pressure?) bumped it and it will settle back to the right rate.

Have you been testing PO4? Curious how much the soil is soaking up. Mine ate it up like crazy for a while.

The issue for me was that I had a tank full of plants, and when PO4 bottomed out so did the plants!
The flow meter valve is too "broad spectrum" on my unit, I may try it out again and see what I can come up with.

PO4 has probably bottomed out once or twice if I let the tank go an extra couple days without a water change. Plants rebelled hard after leaving the tank a few extra days. Could be lack of PO4 in the water column, or too much ammonia.

I've dropped back to every 3 days now for water changes, ammonia is staying below 1ppm and PO4 is between 1 and 2ppm before the water change, so never bottoming out. I dose the full tank volume up 10ppm with every water change, but I test first to make sure the soil was still eating up the last 10ppm dose.

Great journal man! Im just now seeing it.

Thanks! It's a it slower of a process using soil vs what I'm used to, and not having all the equipment ready from day 1, but it's starting to get somewhere!
 

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Discussion Starter #68
Ammonia closer to 0.5ppm instead of 1.0ppm prior to water change.
NO3 was closer to 20ppm prior to a water change (I dosed less than 10ppm) so the cycle is really moving along now.
PO4 was closer to 2ppm prior to a water change meaning the soil is just starting to slow it's uptake of PO4.
pH drop with a new decent pH meter out of the box(factory calibrated) 1.1 or so.

Flow meter settled back down to 17cc / min but after the water change it jumped up to 25 or so. I think I'll just have to live with it.

Couple species are still lagging behind, but it's all been forward momentum for the past 1-2 weeks.

FTS, a lot of plants are starting to become weeds:



Left Side:



Right Side:

 

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That is looking good! I'm starting to miss my different colored t5's. I probably missed it, are those PowerVeg bulbs?
 

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Discussion Starter #70
That is looking good! I'm starting to miss my different colored t5's. I probably missed it, are those PowerVeg bulbs?
They are similar to PowerVeg's but are from a Canadian horticultural supply company.

Bulbs front - back go:

Zoomed Florasun
Grow Lights Canada Full spectrum + UV
Grow Lights Canada 420nm
Grow Lights Canada 660nm
Zoomed Florasun

I also have a 3000K bulb being delivered today. I like this first combo of bulbs personally, but I want to see what the tank looks like a little warmer and having the bulbs re-arranged slightly. Pictures to follow of course.
 

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They are similar to PowerVeg's but are from a Canadian horticultural supply company.

Bulbs front - back go:

Zoomed Florasun
Grow Lights Canada Full spectrum + UV
Grow Lights Canada 420nm
Grow Lights Canada 660nm
Zoomed Florasun

I also have a 3000K bulb being delivered today. I like this first combo of bulbs personally, but I want to see what the tank looks like a little warmer and having the bulbs re-arranged slightly. Pictures to follow of course.
Very nice. I'm currently using a couple Agrobrites (6400k) and a couple Halco (4100K). I've seen bulbs similar to yours on Amazon. The brand is Nobel I believe.

That 3K bulb should round it out some I bet. I prefer warmer color temp in the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #73
If I were you, I’d get a power head as otocinclus and hillstream loaches are adapted to live near waterfalls
I think I am set for flow at the moment. I've got 10-15 x tank turnover per hour. Any more and I'm at serious risk of physically pushing over more plants. Currently I'm considering lowering the velocity of 2 of the filters.

And I want to keep as much equipment out of the tank as possible so the focus is on the plants and livestock.

On the topic of livestock, I picked up a new, used (for about a week for hermit crabs) 40 gallon breeder. I'll be using this with a HOB filter for a quarantine tank so I can order larger shipments of fish online. Local stores just don't carry what I want at a price I'm willing to pay.

I'll get to setting it up once ammonia has flatlined out in the main tank. Should be soon.

Changed out some bulbs for a slightly warmer look:

Back - Front

FS+UV
660
420
3000K
Zoomed FlorSun



 

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Discussion Starter #74
Plant groupings are starting to get a little too large. Too many side shoots are creating a bush like grouping rather than an individual stem grouping. Likely my species selection has something to do with this, I'll start diversifying.

Micro mix should last me 40 days, I did some math and it lasted me exactly 40 days. I mixed up a fresh micro batch last night.

I also opened up the needle valve and used the flow meter's valve to control the flow. It did get a little easier and now it's always the same and rock solid. Currently using 20cc's per minute - Tank is a nothing but Sprite water on the tail end of the photo period. Need to do some consistent pH drop measurements this week and next if I'll be ordering a large shipment of fish :rolleyes:

Cycle is essentially complete, I'll be ordering fish in a week or so:



Big trim and replant coming this weekend:



L. repens 'Rubin'



L. ovalis:



Crypt flamingo making a comeback:



Echinodorus aflame:



Myriophyllum tuberculatum got hit with something that stunted it, it was growing 1.5" - 2" per day earlier:

 

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I'm liking that velvet like color on the Echinodorus aflame.
 

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Discussion Starter #77 (Edited)
Big trim last night. Thinned out the groupings dramatically and started to place some species I nursed back to health into a more appropriate location aqua scapingly speaking.

Also moved some species who don't appreciate higher flow into areas with less direct flow.

Started a pH tracking log that I'll be following as much as I can, daily pH drops and degassed measurements. Yesterdays pH low in tank was 5.17, 12 hours degassed in a container is 6.27, 10 hours CO2 off in tank reading was 5.83. 20cc / min.

Full Tank:


Mayaca fluviatilis and Rotala macrandra being nursed back to health:


Cabomba piauhyensis starting to bounce back:


Finally had 2 female Blue Diamond shrimp have shrimplets:


Current Specs:
 

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Discussion Starter #79
Nice update and interesting dosing. Looks like soil is still soaking up PO4?

Good to see some plants are perking up. Looks to me like you are well on your way now.

Keep the updates coming this is good stuff!!
10ppm PO4 full tank dose based of 44 gallons every water change (= 14.69ppm in my 30 gallon WC). I test PO4 before every water change with a 1 month old API test kit, it's always been between 1.0ppm and 2.0ppm. Until I see it hovering much higher, I'll continue lathering on the PO4 liberally. Knock on wood I haven't noticed any algae at all....

NO3 is being dosed lower because the soil was supplying the ammonia and the cycle is producing that into NO3 with ease now - testing NO3 with a new kit and shaking bottle #2 to death before a water change results in 20ppm or so (mild orange colour, not deep orange but not light orange either).

When I order some fish I'll grab some more plants to fill in the back and mid ground a little nicer. Updates will continue to roll in! I'm far from auto pilot with this tank ;)

EDIT: Also remember I loaded on the granular fertilizers under the substrate high in PO4: Osmocote+ and a 10-50-0 + Zn, S.
 

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Discussion Starter #80
Fish have been ordered, shipping Monday and hopefully arriving Tuesday - I might do an unboxing for something "new" in these journals????

I left the tank a little longer without a water change to see if I'm ready to start dropping back on WC frequency, plant's aren't doing as well. So I'm not quite ready for weekly water changes yet. 2x weekly is my current plan. Good data to come on how the cycle is when left for a few extra days without a large water change and to see if the soil is still eating up PO4.

pH drop's to 5.10 at the peak, blips to 5.09, but is stable at 5.10 - Degassed measurements to come, my only measurement was 12 hours degassed in a cup @ 6.27.

20cc / min - Much more stable running the needle valve opened more and using the Dwyer to fine tune the flow.

Bacteria bloom is completely gone, running the SunSun 9w UV sterilizer 24/7 in the holding tank seemed to have worked. I'll have it on a timer once my water change routine is dialed in.

Ludwigia ovalis finally showing the colours I remembered from a few years back:


 
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