cycling tank with plants - Need some advice
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cycling tank with plants - Need some advice

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cycling tank with plants - Need some advice
Old 07-15-2011, 07:10 PM   #1
 
cycling tank with plants - Need some advice

Hi: I setup my 55 gallon (4 days ago) with a substrate of pool filter sand and 19 small various plants (I'm expecting more next week). I have a Magnum 350 canister filter with the "water polishing" cartridge installed. The water chemistry taken just last night is as follows: phNitrateNitriteAmmoniaKHGH7.4 5 0 090100
The light is a 48" 32 watt T8 8,000K "full spectrum".........Is that the right kind of light?
So, when can I start putting fish in the tank?
I'm using FloraPride 0-0-3 plant food. It says it contains .19% Fe.........Is that sufficient?
Are the water parameters acceptable?
My goal is to have a lot of live plants as it looks much more natural, and it would seem to be "self-balancing."
I'm leaving the light on 12 hours/day to help the plants establish themselves.
I want to put community fish in the tank, nothing exotic.
Is a 10% weekly water change sufficient?

Please give me your input and recommendations.

Thanks
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Old 07-15-2011, 07:57 PM   #2
 
Oops, wait a minute there seems to be an error...Okay, I copied and pasted the water chemistry that I keep on an Excel sheet....It looked fine when I was writing the message but after posting it the formatting was lost. So here's the water chemistry:
ph 7.4
Nitrates 5
Nitrites 0
Ammonia 0
KH 90
GH 100

Thanks again for your input

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Old 07-15-2011, 08:45 PM   #3
 
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Those readings look too good to be true in that short of time. Did you ever have an ammonia source to start the cycle? Did you use some old filter medium from an established tank?

Unless you jump started it, it's possible that your tank hasn't actually started cycling yet and that you have some nitrAtes in your water. I'd check the water source.

Assuming that your tank hasn't started really cycling yet, live plants will aid greatly in the process. I guess we should wait until you give us a little more info. on how you cycled.
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Old 07-16-2011, 06:09 AM   #4
 
Yes, from the little I do know, those readings seem too good to be true! I'll do a test of the water coming out of the spigot and post it. Here's the the rest of the story....I originally set up the tank to do an unplanted cycle. Then I read, and thanks to Byron and others, about using plants. It was suggested I change the water (I had 5 ppm of ammonia in the tank at that time) to 0 ammonia. So I drained the tank, partial refill, then drained it again. Then filled it and this is where I'm at now. I used a little filter medium from a 10 gallon, but that was in the original water, and thought that would have been removed. The Canister filter was used but I used the "regular" sponge type filter and not the micron cartridge that's installed now.

Thanks
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Old 07-16-2011, 08:49 AM   #5
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Romad View Post
Those readings look too good to be true in that short of time. Did you ever have an ammonia source to start the cycle? Did you use some old filter medium from an established tank?

Unless you jump started it, it's possible that your tank hasn't actually started cycling yet and that you have some nitrates in your water. I'd check the water source.

Assuming that your tank hasn't started really cycling yet, live plants will aid greatly in the process. I guess we should wait until you give us a little more info. on how you cycled.
Thanks for the help. I did a test of the city water (Ft. Smith AR) and the results are as follows
ph 7.5
Nitrate 5
Nitrite 0
Ammonia 0
KH 70
GH 100
The Ft. Smith water Dept. site Fort Smith Utility Department - Providing Quality Water & Wastewater Utility Service
reports nitrate as .35 ppm carbonate hardness at 21 ppm and total hardness at 38 ppm.
My readings for the KH and GH are a lot higher but when you're titrating and comparing to a color there's a lot of subjectivity involved....but I didn't think I was THAT far off!

Thanks again
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Old 07-16-2011, 11:06 AM   #6
 
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This looks good. The nitrate is coming from the tap water, so that explains nitrates in the tank. Not an issue, as it is minimal, so I would do nothing at water changes with respect to the nitrate.

You will not see any ammonia or nitrite until a source of ammonia is introduced, but with plants you will still not see any ammonia or nitrite--or shouldn't. Add some fish. Just a few, you don't want to overwhelm the system. The plants will handle the ammonia. Let me know what fish you might add, and what plants you have, and I can comment further if necessary.

As for GH and KH, the numbers from the water folks are much lower than yours. I assume you used a test kit to measure the tank water, which one? Not a problem, but worth sorting out for a better idea of the tank's chemistry.

Byron.
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Old 07-16-2011, 12:36 PM   #7
 
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Originally Posted by Byron View Post
. Let me know what fish you might add, and what plants you have, and I can comment further if necessary.

As for GH and KH, the numbers from the water folks are much lower than yours. I assume you used a test kit to measure the tank water, which one? Not a problem, but worth sorting out for a better idea of the tank's chemistry.

Byron.
I'll be adding 3 platties, 2 tiger barbs, 2 danios and a red tailed shark. I put in all "beginner plants": red melon sword, Amazon Sword, Red Flame Sword, Corkscrew Vallisneria, Narrow leaf sword, Green Wendtii, and two Java Ferns.
I'm using the Hagen brand of GH and KH test kits. All other tests are with the API kits. I have to say, that when titrating to an end point, it's pretty subjective when you're comparing a sample color to a card. Is there a better way of testing or is this satisfactory for what we're doing?

Thanks
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Old 07-16-2011, 12:53 PM   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by never quit View Post
I'll be adding 3 platties, 2 tiger barbs, 2 danios and a red tailed shark. I put in all "beginner plants": red melon sword, Amazon Sword, Red Flame Sword, Corkscrew Vallisneria, Narrow leaf sword, Green Wendtii, and two Java Ferns.
I'm using the Hagen brand of GH and KH test kits. All other tests are with the API kits. I have to say, that when titrating to an end point, it's pretty subjective when you're comparing a sample color to a card. Is there a better way of testing or is this satisfactory for what we're doing?

Thanks
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I don't know the Hagen kits, but the API hardness test is not the easiest thing to ascertain for me, as the colours are quite pale. But once used to it, I think it is reliable. However, I wouldn't waste your money on another hardness kit. Unless one is attempting to adjust the hardness in the aquarium, the tap water hardness once known will apply, and yours is certainly not bad, quite good actually, so i wold not suggest any need to be fiddling with it.

The pH is a different issue, this can change naturally and a pH kit is worth having to ascertain the biological goings on in the tank. I would expect your pH to slightly lower as the tank becomes established.

Now to your fish ideas; here you do have some issues. First, given the water hardness at 100 GH [equate to 5.5 dGH just so you have a comparison, as I have used dGH in the profiles] which is considered soft, I would not recommend livebearers (platies, etc). They need more mineral in their water or they tend to have health issues.

The red tailed shark is not a community fish. I won't repeat all that is in the profile, please have a read [click the shaded name]. While a small one would manage in your tank for a spell, it severely limits other fish and in time can becomes quite a nasty resident. Other members have posted more than once about regrets over this fish after it killed off this and that.

Tiger Barb need a much larger group to (hopefully) confine their natural aggressiveness to within the species. At least 8, preferably 12 or more. And even so, this species also limits other fish; slow sedate fish or fish with long fins would be impossible as this fellow loves to nip. Again, not really a community fish; more in the profile.

The Danio need a larger group. As with all shoaling fish, the more the better for their security and natural interactions within the group. I don't know which species, but they are all peaceful but quite active swimmers. This means sedate fish like gourami, angels, discus would not be good matches, just so you know. Other Danio, the smaller peaceful barb, rasbora, characins [some more than others]would generally work, and most peaceful substrate fish (Cory, smaller pleco, whiptail catfish, small/medium sized loaches).

To the issue of adding the first fish, the Danio would be fine, but as I say a much larger group. Six is minimum, but you have the space so if you want Danio I would go with 7-8 of the species.

Byron.

Last edited by Byron; 07-16-2011 at 12:56 PM..
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Old 07-16-2011, 03:02 PM   #9
 
Thanks! That was eye opening! What I like is the colorful, peaceful community fish, which I see as the platties. Would it be too big of an issue to increase and maintain the hardness, or should I consider other types of fish?
I planned on getting other fish, so adding tigers to the tank won't be a problem. Is there a chart that lists the various fish and the compatibility? That would be the easiest thing. Well, that's too bad about the shark, I guess he'll be donated to the pet store. I just think they're really pretty with the jet black and the red tail.
I have a 32 watt T8 8,000K "full spectrum" light. Is that sufficient? Is there a better one?
How much of a ph change is acceptable before I need to take action. I understand fish can handle, within reason, any ph as long as it's stable. The problem is when it changes. Should I be aware of the rate of ph change? That is, a delta of .2 in two days would seem to be more severe than a delta of .5 over a week.

Thanks again for your help

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Old 07-16-2011, 04:39 PM   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by never quit View Post
Thanks! That was eye opening! What I like is the colorful, peaceful community fish, which I see as the platties. Would it be too big of an issue to increase and maintain the hardness, or should I consider other types of fish?
I planned on getting other fish, so adding tigers to the tank won't be a problem. Is there a chart that lists the various fish and the compatibility? That would be the easiest thing. Well, that's too bad about the shark, I guess he'll be donated to the pet store. I just think they're really pretty with the jet black and the red tail.
I have a 32 watt T8 8,000K "full spectrum" light. Is that sufficient? Is there a better one?
How much of a ph change is acceptable before I need to take action. I understand fish can handle, within reason, any ph as long as it's stable. The problem is when it changes. Should I be aware of the rate of ph change? That is, a delta of .2 in two days would seem to be more severe than a delta of .5 over a week.

Thanks again for your help

Never Quit
Until the aquarium is set up with fish and plants and running, we are guessing at the extent of the pH drop. Fish and biological actions in the aquarium produce organics, and bacteria break these down. CO2 is released in the process and along with the CO2 released by fish, plants and bacteria this adds carbonic acid to the water. This causes the water to become acidic, and the pH being the measure of acidity will lower accordingly. The carbonate hardness (KH) in the source water will work to "buffer" this, but with a low hardness this does not go far. But as this is a natural biological process, everything in the aquarium including the type of food and how much to the fish and plants has a direct bearing on it. Some of my tanks lower more and faster than others, yet I have the same source water and substrates. This lowering is permanent; it is not fluctuating, so the fish become adapted to it.

There is also a normal pH fluctuation every 24 hours in well-planted tanks, due to very similar reasons as I've just explained, except in this case the plants assimilation of CO2 during photosynthesis is the catalyst. A shift of .3 or .4 daily is not uncommon. Because this is minimal and not quick to occur, the fish has no problem.

Increasing hardness can be done by adding calcium and magnesium to the water. The easiest way to do this is with calcareous rock/gravel/sand. But this can go too far if not controlled. Dolomite gravel is the best substance for this, a suitable quantity placed in the filter is how I used to do it when I had livebearers.

I don't quite understand your comment on Tiger Barb; this fish is not a good community fish, which is what I intended to say previously.

It is always best to select fish suited to the tap water, rather than trying to adjust it. Less chance of problems. The incredible variety among soft water fish should allow you to find something, and many of them are peaceful and compatible. Browse through the profiles, especially the characins, Cyprinids, and catfish. Water params are given for each species, along with compatibility issues if any. Remember that the minimum tank sizes are for the recommended number of that species; any other additional fish would mean more space.

It is somewhat ironic that some of the most colourful, attractive and readily-available fish (thinking here of Tiger Barb, Red Tailed Shark and Serpae Tetra) are also the least suitable for community tanks.
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