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Having trouble with water chemistry and I don't know what to do!

This is a discussion on Having trouble with water chemistry and I don't know what to do! within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Originally Posted by Byron This is only necessary if you are attempting to cycle fishless, and without plants. If you do get plants, that ...

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Having trouble with water chemistry and I don't know what to do!
Old 12-15-2011, 09:14 PM   #11
 
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Originally Posted by Byron View Post
This is only necessary if you are attempting to cycle fishless, and without plants. If you do get plants, that is the end of any "cycle" stuff, they do it. Put some plants in, and add the Betta. That's it.
I thought that the bacteria removes ammonia and nitrite before the plants have a chance to use it, so the plants use the nitrate. Is that true? What you're saying kind of sounds like you can remove the need for nitrifying bacteria altogether by using plants. So what of my cycled tank that I just added a bunch of plants to? Are they going to starve the bacteria to the point that the tank would need re-cycled if I remove the plants (or they die)? I'm just curious.

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Originally Posted by brandywine75 View Post
Surely, there is more fungus in the tank than just on that ornament though, right? I will clean the ornament, but I would think there would still be some left behind. Am I understanding correctly, that once I add my plants and the water quality starts leveling out that any remaining fungus will dissapear?

Do you have to feed anything extra to the snails? Are we talking about the little pond snails or the big pretty ones? I've read that the tank can get over run with them and they are hard to get rid of. That's the only reason that I shy away from them.

What type of filter media do you recommend? I'm reading up on the other things that smiles told me about. I had no idea that there is so many different types.

Ok, so my plan is to do a 50% water change using Prime to condition the new water, clean the ornament, add some plants, and change the type of filter that I am using (I just have to figure out what to change it to). Does that sound like a good plan?

Oh, and one more thing....do you use aquarium salt with a betta? The pet store told me to use it for the puffer because they need brackish water.

Thanks for the plant recommendations!
Yes the fungus should disappear once the water is clean and stable. Snails feed on rotting plants or food in the tank, so leftovers from what you feed the fish will be plenty. The snails that would be coming with the sponge aren't colorful, I know that. Byron is right about them being beneficial, and there are tricks to keeping their numbers down. As far as I know, aquarium salt is a bad idea with freshwater fish in general, unless you're trying to treat a disease like ich. Not to mention the plants wouldn't appreciate the salt either. I'm experimenting with some plants that are supposed to be "salt tolerant" though. Puffers do need brackish water, so it wouldn't be a good tank mate for the betta. Unfortunately I wouldn't know what species to recommend.

Last edited by smiles; 12-15-2011 at 09:17 PM..
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Old 12-16-2011, 10:56 AM   #12
 
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I thought that the bacteria removes ammonia and nitrite before the plants have a chance to use it, so the plants use the nitrate. Is that true?
No, it is the reverse. Studies have shown that plants grab the ammonia/ammonium faster than bacteria. [See more below.] Studies also show that when given the option of ammonium and nitrate, plants overwhelmingly prefer ammonium. Only when the ammonium is used up will they then turn to nitrate (and nitrite too if present), assuming all other requirements are still present for photosynthesis. This is because plants have to take up the nitrate and change it back into ammonium in order to assimilate the nitrogen. But nitrogen is a major nutrient for all live, as we know, so plants need a lot of it. There is usually no shortage in a natural planted tank; and more ammonia/ammonium occurs from the breakdown of organics in the substrate than from the fish anyway. This is also where most of the CO2 comes from. The substrate is extremely important in a planted tank.

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What you're saying kind of sounds like you can remove the need for nitrifying bacteria altogether by using plants.
In a sense, yes. If we stocked our tanks so lightly (with fish) and heavily with plants, it might come close to this situation, that there would be very little nitrifying bacteria. I am not at all certain how far this would go. But the more plants there are, the fewer will be the nitrifying bacteria, this is proven. And in new tanks, with sufficient plants and provided the fish are not overstocked, the plants do assimilate/take up most of the ammonia.

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So what of my cycled tank that I just added a bunch of plants to? Are they going to starve the bacteria to the point that the tank would need re-cycled if I remove the plants (or they die)? I'm just curious.
I would expect the nitrifying bacteria to lessen due to the plants. Nitrifying bacteria exist at the level needed to deal with ammonia/nitrite. If ammonia decreases, the nitrosomonas bacteria will lessen, whether by going into a type of hibernation as some sources believe, or perhaps dying off. In the event the plants were removed, the bacteria if in hibernation would obvious become active, and the live bacteria would begin to multiply (by binary division) in proportion to the level of ammonia.

The other thing to remember is that when plants take up the ammonia, the process does not produce nitrite.

I have set up many new tanks using plants and adding the fish on day one (and sometimes a full tank of fish as when resetting an existing tank) and never had an issue with ammonia or nitrite; it simply does not exist at a level that can be detected by test kits.

Byron.
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Old 12-16-2011, 11:15 AM   #13
 
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Surely, there is more fungus in the tank than just on that ornament though, right? I will clean the ornament, but I would think there would still be some left behind. Am I understanding correctly, that once I add my plants and the water quality starts leveling out that any remaining fungus will dissapear?
The fungus has a source, we've no idea what this is (yet), so it will probably remain (spores that is) until we find and remove the source. Can you post a photo? I'd like to see this. It is not likely to be due to a plant.

Quote:
Do you have to feed anything extra to the snails? Are we talking about the little pond snails or the big pretty ones? I've read that the tank can get over run with them and they are hard to get rid of. That's the only reason that I shy away from them.
I am referring to the common small snails: pond snails, bladder snails, Malaysian Livebearing snails, maybe ramshorn snails. These are the ones that hitch rides on plants, wood, sometimes even with new fish (in the water obviously), though one usually has to specifically acquire the MLS. They are harmless [one member had trouble with the ramshorn snails apparently eating plants, but others have not] and perform a very important function in natural planted tanks. They will exist in numbers according to the available food. I have hundreds of MLS in my tanks; I do not overfeed, quite the opposite more likely. Which shows just how much "food" is naturally available. This is a major part of "natural."

The larger decorative snails that one might specifically buy as an invertebrate for the aquarium may need feeding.

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What type of filter media do you recommend? I'm reading up on the other things that smiles told me about. I had no idea that there is so many different types.
I've stayed out of this part of the thread because I don't know your specific filter. But if you intend live plants, do not use carbon or any other type of chemical filtration media. "Chemical" here means media that affects or alters the water chemistry by removing substances or adding something. Plants do this much better and should be left alone to handle it. Mechanical filtration (water moving through media such as sponge, floss, pads) is all that is required, to remove suspended particulate matter and keep the water "clear." The plants keep the water "clean." Clear and clean are two very different things.

Quote:
Ok, so my plan is to do a 50% water change using Prime to condition the new water, clean the ornament, add some plants, and change the type of filter that I am using (I just have to figure out what to change it to). Does that sound like a good plan?
Fine. I myself would use a sponge filter. In smaller planted tanks this is the ideal filtration; it performs the mechanical job expertly, with some biological. And it gently creates a water movement without currents. And that is all that is required in planted tanks.

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Oh, and one more thing....do you use aquarium salt with a betta? The pet store told me to use it for the puffer because they need brackish water.
No on salt with Betta. Or any other soft water fish. Long term this can be detrimental with some fish. A brackish water fish (some puffers are brackish) is quite another matter. But you should use marine salt, not aquarium salt. Brackish water is a mix of marine (sea) water and fresh water, and only marine salt achieves this. Aquarium salt is very different chemically, and should never be used to create brackish water. It should never be used in freshwater tanks at all, in my view, except as a specific treatment for certain diseases/parasites and then only if the fish can tolerate it better than other medications.

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Thanks for the plant recommendations!
You're very welcome.

Byron.
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Old 12-16-2011, 08:25 PM   #14
 
The picture isn't focused very well, but I think you can see the fuzzy material on the edges of the bridge.
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Old 12-17-2011, 09:56 AM   #15
 
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I would scrub that clean and keep a close watch to see if this reappears.
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Old 12-17-2011, 12:09 PM   #16
 
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I would scrub that clean and keep a close watch to see if this reappears.
Will do!

I was able to find someone that has an aquarium with plants and they have offered to give me cabomba, taiwan moss, and java fern. You seem to be very knowledgable about plants. Are these going to work? Can any of them be left floating?
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Old 12-17-2011, 04:22 PM   #17
 
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Will do!

I was able to find someone that has an aquarium with plants and they have offered to give me cabomba, taiwan moss, and java fern. You seem to be very knowledgable about plants. Are these going to work? Can any of them be left floating?
Cabomba is a stem plant that will usually grow floating. Check our profile for more info, we have two species included, the Green Cabomba is most likely what you will have. Java Fern should be attached to something, wood or rock. See also that profile. And the moss is one I have not had but moss also attaches to wood or rock. We have Java Moss in our profile that will give general info. [click shaded names to see the respective profile.]
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Old 12-17-2011, 05:11 PM   #18
 
I truely appreciate the time that you have taken to help me! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
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Old 12-17-2011, 06:36 PM   #19
 
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I truely appreciate the time that you have taken to help me! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
You are very welcome. Byron.
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