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Advice for Converting Established Tank to Planted

This is a discussion on Advice for Converting Established Tank to Planted within the Beginner Planted Aquarium forums, part of the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium category; --> Thanks Byron thats what I was trying to explain you do it so much better. LOL Kangy Java Fern maybe a option that would ...

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Advice for Converting Established Tank to Planted
Old 11-30-2011, 01:59 PM   #51
 
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Thanks Byron thats what I was trying to explain you do it so much better. LOL Kangy Java Fern maybe a option that would give you a different look instead of useing all swords they do grow kind of tall, not sword tall but tall maybe think about that. Remember the plants you have will grow up and be bigger. ; )
Edit to add: Melon sword can get to 1.5 feet I think.

Last edited by Calmwaters; 11-30-2011 at 02:11 PM..
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Old 11-30-2011, 04:10 PM   #52
 
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Originally Posted by kangy View Post
Thanks Byron, althrough now I'm even more flip flopped lol. How big will that large/melon sword get. Would it be fine on the front right corner by its self?

Now y latest idea is to get one single sword to place where the melon is now hoping that will fill up that area, put the tall grass behind the driftwood leaving that and the anacharis to kind of create a thin fill there, that would leave the center of the back empty for the black background. Also put some more of the tall grass on the left wall and move the short grass and add more ground cover in front of the large drift wood. That would leave the channel between the two driftwoods blank leading to the "dead space" in the background with decent cover on the back left with the sword, baby tears, and tall grass "surrounding" the small wood piece.and the anacharis, melon, and tall grass holding down the right side of the tank.

Thoughts, or am I just randomly spouting gibberish.

p.s. Byron, my mom hails from Vancouver, I'm a dual citizen myself, spent many of summers up there. Next time im in the area I'd love to buy you a beer or 12. :)
The size of many Echinodorus plants can vary from tank to tank, even within the same tank. Presumably the light and nutrients have a lot to do with this, but when it occurs within the same tank... it is "one of those things." My E. bleherae in the 115g have been different sizes. When they were in the 90g, same depth tank, they reached the surface. Same when first moved into the 115g, then they grew even more. Then they developed a nutrient deficiency of calcium and an excess of iron (cause and effect) and I had to prune them down to a few small leaves when I reset this tank this Spring. Now they are finally starting to grow back, but so far not to their former height. The so-called E. amazonicus in the 70g have done much the same thing over 3+ years. I also find that they can grow slowly for months, or very rapidly; they have rest periods between growth spurts. Where all this is going is, plant your swords (leaving space around them) and see what they do.

It's great to meet other forum members. Not to mention I love giving tours of my fishroom. I'll PM you with my phone number.
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Old 12-01-2011, 06:09 PM   #53
 
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So I've been testing my water levels a lot recently since going planted, and other than the PH and Hardness slightly dropping (which I assumed was due to the driftwood) my water parameters have not budged. Mostly concerned about the Nitrates. I keep reading posts about people testing 0/0/0. I'm still running a steady 10-20 on my Nitrates. My thoughts were that as the plants slowly took over the biological process the Nitrates would dwindle down. Keep in mind the tank has been established for almost 5 years now. I do 20% water changes religiously every Saturday and last week dosed Flourish Comp on Sunday and last night (Wed). Will steady weekly water changes slowly dillute the Nitrates? When I went planted I dropped one of my filters and changed to new medium (clean and with charcoal removed), I left the old bio-wheels on though and mixed the substrate 50/50 so my thoughts are the substrate is still housing all of the Nitrates.

I guess I'm just concerned that the Nitrates will compete with the plants, or is that being silly? Is 10-20 Nitrates normal in a planted tank?
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Old 12-01-2011, 06:32 PM   #54
 
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So I've been testing my water levels a lot recently since going planted, and other than the PH and Hardness slightly dropping (which I assumed was due to the driftwood) my water parameters have not budged. Mostly concerned about the Nitrates. I keep reading posts about people testing 0/0/0. I'm still running a steady 10-20 on my Nitrates. My thoughts were that as the plants slowly took over the biological process the Nitrates would dwindle down. Keep in mind the tank has been established for almost 5 years now. I do 20% water changes religiously every Saturday and last week dosed Flourish Comp on Sunday and last night (Wed). Will steady weekly water changes slowly dillute the Nitrates? When I went planted I dropped one of my filters and changed to new medium (clean and with charcoal removed), I left the old bio-wheels on though and mixed the substrate 50/50 so my thoughts are the substrate is still housing all of the Nitrates.

I guess I'm just concerned that the Nitrates will compete with the plants, or is that being silly? Is 10-20 Nitrates normal in a planted tank?
First, have you tested the tap water on its own for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate? This is worth knowing. Could be the reason for nitrates, and in this case obviously water changes will not dilute nitrate.

Second, if you are using the API nitrate test, are you shaking Regent #2 for at least 2 minutes before adding the drops? Theinstructions say 30 seconds, but this often gives a faulty--and high--reading.

Aquatic plants prefer nitrogen as ammonium, and there are scientific studies proving that when both ammonium and nitrate are present, many plants will only begin taking up nitrate when the ammonium is completely used up. So if there are nitrates in the tank from, say, the tap water at each water change, and the plants are photosynthesizing to their capacity using the ammonium and not further due to some other limiting factor such as CO2, light, micro-nutrients, etc., then the nitrates will remain in the tank water.

Nitrates cannot "compete" with plants in any way. Nitrates in the aquarium are actually used by some bacteria. Rather than go into all that here, have a read of this, esp the paragraph on denitrifying bacteria:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...quarium-74891/

Because of the denitrifying bacteria and the plants using ammonia/ammonium so rapidly, nitrates in a natural or low-tech planted aquarium will usually be low, and sometimes even zero (using our basic test kits like the API). This assumes nitrate is not being introduced via water changes and nitrate fertilizers. My tanks run around 5 ppm or less.

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Old 12-02-2011, 12:44 AM   #55
 
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First, have you tested the tap water on its own for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate? This is worth knowing. Could be the reason for nitrates, and in this case obviously water changes will not dilute nitrate.
Wow, I'm not sure why I have never done that before. What an eye opener. I did a liquid test and a strip test on both tank and tap water. Results were nearly identical between strip/liquid and tap/tank. Both tests are so hard to tell the difference between the colors so here goes my best assumption of the results. (Note: I made sure to shake regent #2 for at least two minutes this time, results actually came back higher on the liquid than the strip and higher than normal which now worries me more about my nitrates,

Numbers will be in this order (Ammonia / Nitrite / Nitrate / PH / GH / KH / Chlorine) the GH,KH,Chlorine are only read from the strip as I don't have a liquid test kit for those.

Tap 0 / 0 / 20 / 7.6 / 170 / 60 / 0
Tank 0 / 0 / 35 / 7.3 / 150 / 40 / 0

What can you determine from my results? Is there anything I can do to remove the nitrates from the tap while treating during water changes? I currently use API Tap Water Conditioner (aquarium dechlorinator) when changing the water.

That seems like really high Nitrates either way, especially in the tank. It's never tested that high before, I shook the bottle more than normal, second time using the strips. The numbers I came up with above for the tank are because the liquid was more near 40 but the strip was right between 20 and 40 so I "settled" on 35 (same as the PH, was between ranges on both) GH and KH are so hard to determine on the strip since the ranges are so far apart, the strips for the tank were slightly in the lower direction than the strips for the tap. Good thing is both both tests showed zero amonia and nitrites for both tap and tank. So my only real concern is the high nitrates on both ends. As you mentioned water changes obviously won't bring it any lower than 20 but as you can tell will help keep it in check as the tank is slightly higher than tap. The PH concerns me doing too large of water change causing a "large" swing, I'm pretty sure the massive driftwood I have has something to do with the slightly lower GH/PH in the tank.

Sorry for the long post, but now I'm concerned about constantly running high Nitrates, then again the tanks been up for almost 5 years, held fish pretty steady and healthy less the one mysterious wipeout I had about 6 months ago.

Also, how will these water parameters effect the plants. They are growing really nicely now, the Melon Sword is taking off!

Byron, once again, you are a gracious man for the goodwill time you commit to our questions :)
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Old 12-02-2011, 11:32 AM   #56
 
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Originally Posted by kangy View Post
Wow, I'm not sure why I have never done that before. What an eye opener. I did a liquid test and a strip test on both tank and tap water. Results were nearly identical between strip/liquid and tap/tank. Both tests are so hard to tell the difference between the colors so here goes my best assumption of the results. (Note: I made sure to shake regent #2 for at least two minutes this time, results actually came back higher on the liquid than the strip and higher than normal which now worries me more about my nitrates,

Numbers will be in this order (Ammonia / Nitrite / Nitrate / PH / GH / KH / Chlorine) the GH,KH,Chlorine are only read from the strip as I don't have a liquid test kit for those.

Tap 0 / 0 / 20 / 7.6 / 170 / 60 / 0
Tank 0 / 0 / 35 / 7.3 / 150 / 40 / 0

What can you determine from my results? Is there anything I can do to remove the nitrates from the tap while treating during water changes? I currently use API Tap Water Conditioner (aquarium dechlorinator) when changing the water.

That seems like really high Nitrates either way, especially in the tank. It's never tested that high before, I shook the bottle more than normal, second time using the strips. The numbers I came up with above for the tank are because the liquid was more near 40 but the strip was right between 20 and 40 so I "settled" on 35 (same as the PH, was between ranges on both) GH and KH are so hard to determine on the strip since the ranges are so far apart, the strips for the tank were slightly in the lower direction than the strips for the tap. Good thing is both both tests showed zero amonia and nitrites for both tap and tank. So my only real concern is the high nitrates on both ends. As you mentioned water changes obviously won't bring it any lower than 20 but as you can tell will help keep it in check as the tank is slightly higher than tap. The PH concerns me doing too large of water change causing a "large" swing, I'm pretty sure the massive driftwood I have has something to do with the slightly lower GH/PH in the tank.

Sorry for the long post, but now I'm concerned about constantly running high Nitrates, then again the tanks been up for almost 5 years, held fish pretty steady and healthy less the one mysterious wipeout I had about 6 months ago.

Also, how will these water parameters effect the plants. They are growing really nicely now, the Melon Sword is taking off!

Byron, once again, you are a gracious man for the goodwill time you commit to our questions :)
The plants won't be affected by the nitrates, as I said previously. Now that the source of the nitrates is identified, being the tap water, I would suggest smaller water changes more frequently rather than larger volume changes. Twice a week, doing a 1/4 change. And here I would use Prime as the water conditioner since it handles nitrates. I would do a test for a week or two to see just what occurs.

On day 1, after the tank has gone without any water changes for a week, test pH and nitrates in the tank just before the water change. Change 1/4 of the tank. The following day, check pH and nitrates; again the day following that, and so on each day for the week. Record the numbers. Report back.
I'd like to see the results before going further. Realize that Prime negates nitrate somehow (Seachem are not sure how) but it will still show in nitrate tests. And Prime remains effective for 36-48 hours. The daily tests for the week should be useful. Don't bother with tests for ammonia, nitrite, GH, KH and chlorine. Just pH and nitrate.

Each tank is biologically different so one simply has to experiment/test to get a feel for what's happening. The pH fluctuation between 7.3 and 7.6 is insignificant. My tanks run at pH 5 and pH 6 (depending upon the tank) and with 50% water changes with tap water at 7.0 or 7.2 the pH change in the tank is around .4 or maybe .5 but that is not an issue. The diurnal pH fluctuation in any natural planted tank will be close to that, and the same occurs in nature. You have no pH problems.

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Old 12-02-2011, 12:00 PM   #57
 
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Thanks Byron, did I also mention you have the patience of a saint, I'm sure you get the same questions over and over again :)

By using Prime, as you mentioned it stays active for 36-48 hours, won't that also remove the ammonia that the plants need or will they grab it before prime kills it? It seems if I'm doing 2xWeek water changes with Prime that I will have a nearly steady flow of ammonia killing chemicals in the tank. I may not know a whole lot but the one thing that seems to be pretty engrained in my head is the less additives you can get by with the better. The only other thing other than the basic API water treatment I use is Comp for the plants. I put nothing else in there other than food/plants/fish.

Another thought I had was using filtered source water. I have a 5 gallon water jug that costs a dollar to fill with drinking water that goes through RO (and a few other treatments) at he gas station down the road. A few bucks a week I can handle. However, while that would eliminate the source of the Nitrate I'm pretty sure it also would slowly soften and effect the PH in the tank with each water change.

My school of thought was that regardless of what the water is (as you mentioned every tank has it's own biology) the best thing is to keep it steady and standard. Perhaps every other water change use the filtered drinking water just to keep the Nitrates in check? My biggest fear is causing any massive swings of anything.

I'm due for a water change this weekend. I'm pretty sure the PetsMart down the road carries Prime so I'll pick up a bottle and try your regime for a week or two. The more I think about it, changing my water source to purified drinking water probably will have worse long term effects as that will overtime completely change the biology of the tank. The one thing I like is how close the tap and tank are.

Another thought is, yes, the Nitrates are higher than preferred but as long as I steadily keep them under 40, the tank is gonna do what the tank is gonna do, plants are thriving and fish seem healthy, why screw with chemicals at all?

p.s. We live in a heavy agricultural area so the source water isn't surprising to me.
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Old 12-03-2011, 11:58 AM   #58
 
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Originally Posted by kangy View Post
Thanks Byron, did I also mention you have the patience of a saint, I'm sure you get the same questions over and over again :)

By using Prime, as you mentioned it stays active for 36-48 hours, won't that also remove the ammonia that the plants need or will they grab it before prime kills it? It seems if I'm doing 2xWeek water changes with Prime that I will have a nearly steady flow of ammonia killing chemicals in the tank. I may not know a whole lot but the one thing that seems to be pretty engrained in my head is the less additives you can get by with the better. The only other thing other than the basic API water treatment I use is Comp for the plants. I put nothing else in there other than food/plants/fish.

Another thought I had was using filtered source water. I have a 5 gallon water jug that costs a dollar to fill with drinking water that goes through RO (and a few other treatments) at he gas station down the road. A few bucks a week I can handle. However, while that would eliminate the source of the Nitrate I'm pretty sure it also would slowly soften and effect the PH in the tank with each water change.

My school of thought was that regardless of what the water is (as you mentioned every tank has it's own biology) the best thing is to keep it steady and standard. Perhaps every other water change use the filtered drinking water just to keep the Nitrates in check? My biggest fear is causing any massive swings of anything.

I'm due for a water change this weekend. I'm pretty sure the PetsMart down the road carries Prime so I'll pick up a bottle and try your regime for a week or two. The more I think about it, changing my water source to purified drinking water probably will have worse long term effects as that will overtime completely change the biology of the tank. The one thing I like is how close the tap and tank are.

Another thought is, yes, the Nitrates are higher than preferred but as long as I steadily keep them under 40, the tank is gonna do what the tank is gonna do, plants are thriving and fish seem healthy, why screw with chemicals at all?

p.s. We live in a heavy agricultural area so the source water isn't surprising to me.
Yes, that is the source of the nitrates. But it is presumably safe for humans or the water folks would do something.

Any form of "pure" water would lower hardness and thus pH. It also deprives the tank of minerals that are needed, depending upon various circumstances. Of course, we don't know how "pure" the bottled water is. I would take the easier route which is the one week plan first and see what that results in. While nitrates at 40 may not be an urgent problem, any nitrates are detrimental to fish, some more than others, so keeping nitrate as low as possible, preferably below 20ppm, is always safer. Still, this is another option; mixing part tap/part bottled would reduce nitrates but still allow some mineral.

Prime detoxifies ammonia by changing it to the harmless ammonium form, and plants grab it as will bacteria, so there is no negative there. Nitrite (which will be minimal anyway) is rendered harmless but it too is still available to bacteria. I fully concur that the fewer chemicals and the less fiddling with biology in a fish tank, the better; this is why I frequently advice not using Prime even though many other members recommend it regardless of the circumstances. I see no value in messing with nature when it is not necessary for the better health of the fish.

Byron.

Last edited by Byron; 12-03-2011 at 12:02 PM..
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Old 12-03-2011, 06:25 PM   #59
 
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Thanks Byron, will start the regime tomorrow. Today was an exciting day, I found a good home for the clown loaches. Someone with a 50g adopted them :) They sure tore up the tank getting them out though lol. So I figured since I had to replant a lot I'd throw in some new plants. What do you guys think? I just put in some Argentine Sword, Micro Sword, and a Crypt. I'm pretty sure the Argentines are going to need to be slimmed down some once they grow in, they came potted and when I took them out it was actually 4 plants, I bunched three together in the back right corner. The leaves though look like the emersed form so I'm half expecting them to die off as they regrow the submersed leaves.

I got some heater loop things to position the Anacharis on the wall haha random but I think it looks pretty good until I get a Sponge filter (too much current right now for them to free float), once my Sponge gets in I'll let them loose and get some more surface plants to give my new fishes some cover.

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Old 12-03-2011, 08:48 PM   #60
 
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Thats great that you found a home for the loaches! I like the way its looking so far its really going to look good when the plants grow in.
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