cycling questions for new, planted tank
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cycling questions for new, planted tank

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cycling questions for new, planted tank
Old 01-24-2011, 04:39 PM   #1
 
cycling questions for new, planted tank

I'm newly back into the hobby after not having a tank for about five years. I've just set up a 10 gallon tank yesterday, with 20 lbs of activ-flora substrate and a few plants (java ferns and baby's tears on lava rocks), but I've already run into a few problems and haven't been able to figure out what to do:

1. I use tap water to fill the tank. I have well water, which tests out at a pH of 6.1. My first question is, when I go to top off the tank after it's established, am I better off altering my tap water to be the correct pH, or put a buffer in my tank that'll correct for the low pH of the tap water?

2. I set the tank up last night with the substrate and plants, with the filter and heater running. Temp was at 74 this morning an pH was at 7.6 !?!? I don't know how I went from pH 6.1 tap water to 7.6 12 hours later in a running tank. Any suggestions? Should I be worried? Ammonia is at 0.25 ppm, nitrite at 0.0 ppm and nitrate between 0 and 5 ppm. I did add some water conditioner (I don't have chlorine in my water but I don't know for sure there isn't other bad stuff in there) when I set up the tank, but I don't think that should change the pH.

3. As for the cycling, how do I do that if I've started with activ-flora substrate? I was going to use the shrimp method; can/should I still do that. I was also going to use some bacteria supplement to help with the cycling. Does the activ-flora and bacteria supplement just speed up the cycling or do they replace it?

Thanks for any help you can give -- I want to get this right the first time and not kill off any livestock when I finally get them.
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Old 01-29-2011, 02:05 PM   #2
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hypatia View Post
I'm newly back into the hobby after not having a tank for about five years. I've just set up a 10 gallon tank yesterday, with 20 lbs of activ-flora substrate and a few plants (java ferns and baby's tears on lava rocks), but I've already run into a few problems and haven't been able to figure out what to do:

1. I use tap water to fill the tank. I have well water, which tests out at a pH of 6.1. My first question is, when I go to top off the tank after it's established, am I better off altering my tap water to be the correct pH, or put a buffer in my tank that'll correct for the low pH of the tap water?

2. I set the tank up last night with the substrate and plants, with the filter and heater running. Temp was at 74 this morning an pH was at 7.6 !?!? I don't know how I went from pH 6.1 tap water to 7.6 12 hours later in a running tank. Any suggestions? Should I be worried? Ammonia is at 0.25 ppm, nitrite at 0.0 ppm and nitrate between 0 and 5 ppm. I did add some water conditioner (I don't have chlorine in my water but I don't know for sure there isn't other bad stuff in there) when I set up the tank, but I don't think that should change the pH.

3. As for the cycling, how do I do that if I've started with activ-flora substrate? I was going to use the shrimp method; can/should I still do that. I was also going to use some bacteria supplement to help with the cycling. Does the activ-flora and bacteria supplement just speed up the cycling or do they replace it?

Thanks for any help you can give -- I want to get this right the first time and not kill off any livestock when I finally get them.
hi and welcome back to the fishworld! I wonder are you using test strips? those can be very inaccurate. Just whatever you do dont add ph regulator because after a while it will make your tank ustable and your fish will be pretty stressed out you know? and also if you are using test strips try to get your hands on a master test kit so all the measurements can be more precise. Its a little bit more expensive but its the best thing for long term fish keeping. Make sure that when you read about the bacteria boosters that you read in more than three or four places about those products. The one that I use is tetra safe start because its highly reccommended all over the fish net. The plants are going to help you alot with some of the harmful chemicals so its always good to have them. The shrimp method is the easiest Im sycling a tank right now with a shrimp and its going very well! just add a one inch shrimp per 20 gallons (so if I where you I would put two of those littleshrimp since you have a ten gallon)and the longer you keep them there the better. After you have tested the water and right when the ammonia is at its highest go outside and get some soil from the ground. Make sure that it doesnt have any rocks or roots and grind it up real fine and add 1/2 a table spoon into your aquarium. This will provide a wide variety of good bacteria, and by the time you add fish, you'll have tons of infusoria and planaria to act as fish food. You'll see tiny little worms and dots in the tank, but they're the sign of a healthy ecosystem. Your at a great start just keep asking questions Ive learned alot from people who have helped me in this forum. keep asking from different sources to get the best answers for everything.

Always always ask if you are wondering about something or anything it can mean a big difference to the health and well-being of your little fishies!

take care! and happy fish keeping!

Last edited by leogtr; 01-29-2011 at 02:09 PM..
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Old 01-31-2011, 05:59 PM   #3
 
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Hypatia,

First thing, with plants you don't need to "cycle" the tank. Plants need nitrogen as one macro-nutrient, and they prefer it as ammonium. In acidic water ammonia produced by the fish and bacteria converts to ammonium which is harmless and plants just grab it. As they tend to out-compete the bacteria for the ammonia, there is less or basically no nitrite produced. Provided the plants are sufficient and the fish are few, this works well with no additional stress to the fish.

Bacterial supplements do not "replace" the cycle, they simply jump-start it by adding live bacteria, what we term "seeding." Provided it is one of the true bacteria supplements; Tetra SafeStart is one, and Seachem's Stability is another. I am aware of these two, they are 100% live bacteria and they do work. With plants it may be un-necessary, but considering the plants you have and they are small, it won't hurt. However, if you do get one, use it only when you put a fish in, not before, as without food (ammonia) the bacteria won't last.

The Activ-flora substrate has no nitrifying bacteria, or any bacteria for that matter; it contains trace elements or micro-nutrients that plants need. It may cause an initial rise in pH, I know some types do, like Flourite; I suspect this one is similar.

That is quite a jump though; is there any rock in the tank? Calcareous rock or stone will raise the hardness and corresponding pH. I would not put fish in the tank until the pH is stable, as fluctuating pH can harm fish.

What water conditioner did you use? This should not affect pH, but I'm just asking to know the brand so we are aware of everything in the water.

What light is over the tank? Plants need light, this is the single most critical component. Be specific: type, name, Kelvin rating, watts. And what is the tank size?

Back to the pH: the best course of action is to do nothing, and allow the natural biological system to develop and maintain the pH. However, if this is going to cause trouble some buffering may be best. But before we get into that, what type of fish do you want in this tank? A pH of 6.1 is ideal for soft water fish like most of the characins (tetra, pencilfish, hatchetfish), catfish, cyprinids (rasbora, danio, barb, loaches), gourami, and many others. We can discuss further when I know the fish.

Byron.
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