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20 Gallon Tank Start-up

This is a discussion on 20 Gallon Tank Start-up within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> I've re-evaluated my tap water parameters, this time with nitrite and nitrate levels. The reason I did this is because I was skeptical about ...

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20 Gallon Tank Start-up
Old 04-02-2013, 05:06 PM   #11
 
I've re-evaluated my tap water parameters, this time with nitrite and nitrate levels. The reason I did this is because I was skeptical about the results of my first approach, and this time, I have slightly different readings.

KH - 1 drop; 1dKH; 17.9 ppm

GH - 2 drops; 2dGH; 35.8

PH - 7.2

Ammonia - 0.25 ppm

Nitrite - 0 ppm

Nitrate - 5.0 ppm

This brings up a question that I have. I thought that you can't have Nitrite and Nitrate until Ammonia has spiked up and goes through the cycling process. How can my water have 0.25 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite, and 5.0 Nitrate if it hasn't been cycled?
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Old 04-02-2013, 05:22 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MakoMaui View Post
I've re-evaluated my tap water parameters, this time with nitrite and nitrate levels. The reason I did this is because I was skeptical about the results of my first approach, and this time, I have slightly different readings.

KH - 1 drop; 1dKH; 17.9 ppm

GH - 2 drops; 2dGH; 35.8

PH - 7.2

Ammonia - 0.25 ppm

Nitrite - 0 ppm

Nitrate - 5.0 ppm

This brings up a question that I have. I thought that you can't have Nitrite and Nitrate until Ammonia has spiked up and goes through the cycling process. How can my water have 0.25 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite, and 5.0 Nitrate if it hasn't been cycled?
It can just be already in your tap water, if that is what you are testing. That's some soft water, if you are going with plants you will need to bump up the GH... Byron will probably suggest what he uses for the same purpose.

Jeff.
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Old 04-02-2013, 05:25 PM   #13
 
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Originally Posted by MakoMaui View Post
I've re-evaluated my tap water parameters, this time with nitrite and nitrate levels. The reason I did this is because I was skeptical about the results of my first approach, and this time, I have slightly different readings.

KH - 1 drop; 1dKH; 17.9 ppm

GH - 2 drops; 2dGH; 35.8

PH - 7.2

Ammonia - 0.25 ppm

Nitrite - 0 ppm

Nitrate - 5.0 ppm

This brings up a question that I have. I thought that you can't have Nitrite and Nitrate until Ammonia has spiked up and goes through the cycling process. How can my water have 0.25 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite, and 5.0 Nitrate if it hasn't been cycled?
Are these tests of the aquarium water or the tap water? You say tap water at the start, but there is no "cycling" in tap water. If you are getting ammonia and nitrate showing in tests of just the tap water, that means your tap water has these present. This is not bad, the numbers are both low enough that you can easily deal with it. But I won't go further until you confirm these are all straight tap water tests.

The GH and KH I would confirm with the municipal water people, they probably have a website with this data. Soft water fish won't have issues with this, but some plants may find calcium and magnesium deficient [these are the prime minerals that determine GH] but this too is easily solved if necessary.

Byron.
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Old 04-02-2013, 05:26 PM   #14
 
So my water is soft, slightly over neutral? Is this common in tap water? Yes. This is all from straight tap water.

Last edited by MakoMaui; 04-02-2013 at 05:29 PM..
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Old 04-02-2013, 06:06 PM   #15
 
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Jeff and I posted at much the same time.

GH at 2 dGH is very soft. My tap water is even less, about half of one dGH. As I said earlier, this is no problem for soft water fish. But plants do need calcium and magnesium, both are macro-nutrients having essential roles in plants. You could manage with low-light plants such as Anubias, Java Fern, and Java Moss. Low-light plants are slow growing, relatively speaking [if you saw my Java Moss you would seriously question this], and that means they need less nutrients. So the calcium and magnesium in your 2 dGH tap water will likely be sufficient. You can add some in complete liquid fertilizers like Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement. This is all you should need with such plants.

Moving up a notch, some other plants such as the crypts should also manage; I have chain sword and pygmy chain sword managing with just Flourish Comp, and Brazilian Pennywort and Water Sprite too.

The larger swords will not likely manage, or they might just. But in a 20g these are not suitable anyway. Vallisneria certainly will not; even when I raised my GH up to 6 dGH the Vallisneria slowly but steadily died off.

As for the pH, is is just on the basic side of neutral. Once the aquarium is established with plants and fish, I would expect the pH will lower below neutral. The KH is quite low, and this when higher can "buffer" pH to prevent this, but I wouldn't expect it here. And that is fine too. Fish have no issue with this, nor do plants. And over time the tank will be biologically stable. Water changes are not an issue. My tap water is 7 to 7.2 but the tanks remain in the mid 6's.

Now to the ammonia and nitrates in the tap water. Plants need nitrogen, and aquatic plants generally prefer ammonium (ammonia) as their source of nitrogen. And they can take up quite a lot of it. This is why you can avoid the "cycle" issue completely in tanks with live plants provided you don't add too many fish at the beginning. Some plants also use nitrates; most do this only when ammonium (ammonia) is no longer sufficient for photosynthesis, and provided all other nutrients and light are still available. The only real issue is the influx of ammonia and nitrate at the weekly water change. Using a conditioner that detoxifies ammonia [which they do by changing ammonia to ammonium which is basically harmless to fish] might be advisable.

Byron.
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Old 04-03-2013, 06:05 PM   #16
 
I am relievied to know that there are others out there with tap water similar to mine. I was worried that my water would be unusable. Before I start filling my tank and placing things inside of it, I want to plan out what fish I want to get so that I can create a habitat similar to its natural home.

I wrote down the plants you named as considerations. Do certain fish like certain plants, or are some fish picky when it comes to plants? Also, I was thinking about using rocks and/or wood inside of the tank. What kinds would be good that won't leach any harmful chemicals in my water and are suitable for freshwater tanks.

I heard that changing the pH, GH, and KH can be tricky business. Is this true?
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Old 04-03-2013, 06:25 PM   #17
 
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Originally Posted by MakoMaui View Post
I am relievied to know that there are others out there with tap water similar to mine. I was worried that my water would be unusable. Before I start filling my tank and placing things inside of it, I want to plan out what fish I want to get so that I can create a habitat similar to its natural home.

I wrote down the plants you named as considerations. Do certain fish like certain plants, or are some fish picky when it comes to plants? Also, I was thinking about using rocks and/or wood inside of the tank. What kinds would be good that won't leach any harmful chemicals in my water and are suitable for freshwater tanks.

I heard that changing the pH, GH, and KH can be tricky business. Is this true?
You will have no issues with fish and plants as the fish suitable for a 20g will all be plant loving.

Wood is always a plus with soft water fish as it is natural to almost all their habitats. I like the Malaysian Driftwood, dark brown, heavy so it sinks immediately, and it is not bad for initial tannins (which are harmless to fish anyway). Rock sometimes, just make sure it is not calcareous as some of this (dolomite, limestone, marble) can raise the GH and pH.

Adjusting GH and pH can be done, but it is advisable to select fish suited to the water as this will mean less fuss, easier water changes, and less expense. My article on Hardness goes into this a bit:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...quarium-73276/

The options for fish in your water are almost endless. Check the species in our profiles [second heading from the left in the blue bar at the top] under characins, cyprinids (avoid barbs and danios, these are active and better in larger tanks, but the rasbora are good), catfish, anabantids. There are many smallish species in these categories.

Byron.
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Old 04-05-2013, 08:05 PM   #18
 
I will check out fish profiles and I will let you all know what I am interested in getting and have you guys confirm it. I heard of people boiling wood and rocks. Would I have to do that with Malaysian driftwood? I hope my LFS sells it. I know they have rocks but I'm not sure about real wood.
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Old 04-06-2013, 12:44 PM   #19
 
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I will check out fish profiles and I will let you all know what I am interested in getting and have you guys confirm it. I heard of people boiling wood and rocks. Would I have to do that with Malaysian driftwood? I hope my LFS sells it. I know they have rocks but I'm not sure about real wood.
I no longer bother with boiling bought wood. If you get the Malaysian Driftwood, it is not too bad for tannins, and it can be soaked in a bucket of water for a few days. Anyway, the tannins are not harmful and will dissipate with weekly water changes.

This wood is available in Petsmart, and some other stores. I have seen it under other names. It is very dark brown or reddish brown, uniform colour, and each piece is different as it is natural wood. Some of it has tunnels, which is nice with fish like loaches, corys, some catfish.

The lighter woods like Mopani, grapewood, manzanita are sometimes seen but I avoid these. First, they do not sink without being weighed down somehow, second they leech tannins more, and third they may contain toxic fungus.

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