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-   -   Various plant/cycling/light questions (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/beginner-planted-aquarium/various-plant-cycling-light-questions-122434/)

BWG 12-11-2012 08:26 PM

Various plant/cycling/light questions
 
I have a new tank and a bunch of questions that I hope can be answered. I'm still wrapping my mind around the cycling with plants. I did it once before and that wasa tank packed with stems, not the case now.

First thing first. My tank is a 10 gallon with an Coralife 10,000k 15W T8. Out of Petsmart, Lowes, and Home Depot this was the only bulb that wasn't about 4,500k. Nothing that was 6,400k like I wanted. Can I use this as it seems to be working so far? Will changes it cause my crypts to melt?

Everything in this tank is slow growing. That's what I wanted, but it's not going to help me cycle, especially since I decided on a dirted tank as an experiment. I was wondering how many plants I need to add to help me cycle. I have a bit of red root floater and plenty of stems. I'd just have to cram the stems in the front. I'm uncertain of how many to use or if Rotalas would be a good choice (I have the most of those). Also when I trim them should I replant the tops and discard the bottoms? By that I mean will they use less nutrients in the time in between trimming and regrowing if I discard the tops?

redchigh 12-12-2012 03:08 AM

Couple things:
1: Are you sure home depot and lowes didn't have any "daylight" or "cool white" bulbs? They are usually close to 6500k. I would try to find a better bulb.. Plants need some red spectrum light, and the 10000k has very very little. (6500k is fairly balanced by comparison). If you can't find one, try pet stores. Either sun-glow or life-glow is 6500k. (Not sure which)

2. On the crypts, it depends on the species. I've only ever had one crypt ever melt, and it melts fairly often. (after water changes or when I move it... Its a crypt blassii. My wendtiis never melt.)

3: For clarification- Plants don't speed up or help a cycle.. They replace the need for a cycle. If you stock the tank extremely slowly, then a couple bunches of rotala would be plenty. (watch the parameters to be sure.)
During the break-in period at least, I'd leave the bottoms of the rotala in the tank to grow. If you start with the rotala along the back wall, then you can plant the tops in front of the ugly bottoms when you trim (and get a nice thick forest pretty quick)

Dont let the red root floater cover more than half the surface, oxygen is important when the substrate is getting broken in. (O2 is quickly turned to co2 in soil tanks, but if there's not enough oxygen to be converted, bad things happen.)

Byron 12-12-2012 03:45 PM

I concur with redchigh on all points. Only thing I would add is that since you have soil (I assume this is what you mean by "dirted") you should plant very heavy at the start. Walstad and others are careful to point out that the tank must be heavily planted at the start. But be very vigilant as sudden rises in CO2, ammonia, etc can occur. These do not happen in non-soil substrate planted tanks at start-up.

Byron.

BWG 12-12-2012 03:51 PM

1. They had cool white bulbs at the hardware stores, but they were all really low in temperature, about 2,500k. I bought A GE plant and Aquarium bulb, brought it home and found out it was only 3,100k. That's sitting in my bedroom needing to be returned. Petsmart only offered the Coralife and Aqueon Colormax in 18" bulbs. Looks like I'm hitting the interent for a new bulb.

2.I have three varieties of wendtii at the moment, melting hasn't been bad. Not like my previous attempt at crypts when it was all melting, all the time.

3.Sorry. I was lazy and just referring to "silent" cycling. One issue I have is the tank is a result of my getting extra plants when I was setting up a tank as a present (also the reason for the bulb since it was local). There's some room, but not a ton for stems and I'd actually be putting them in the foreground. I have established filters, two of which are identical to the one on this tank (although that tank is wall to wall stem plants so I don't know how much bacteria is in them), is it possible to switch out filters/media and forego the stems? I'm not sure how long/much the organics leech in an NPT tank.

4.Another random question since you mentioned O2. Should I direct my spraybar slightly up to increase air exchange?

The reason I had done soil was because I wanted some crypts and had had very poor luck with them in Eco Complete and root tabs.

BWG 12-12-2012 03:53 PM

1. They had cool white bulbs at the hardware stores, but they were all really low in temperature, about 2,500k. I bought A GE plant and Aquarium bulb, brought it home and found out it was only 3,100k. That's sitting in my bedroom needing to be returned. Petsmart only offered the Coralife and Aqueon Colormax in 18" bulbs. Looks like I'm hitting the interent for a new bulb.

2.I have three varieties of wendtii at the moment, melting hasn't been bad. Not like my previous attempt at crypts when it was all melting, all the time.

3.Sorry. I was lazy and just referring to "silent" cycling. One issue I have is the tank is a result of my getting extra plants when I was setting up a tank as a present. There's some room, but not a ton for stems and I'd actually be putting them in the foreground. I have established filters, two of which are identical to the one on this tank (although that tank is wall to wall stem plants so I don't know how much bacteria is in them), is it possible to switch out filters/media and forego the stems? I'm not sure how long/much the organics leech in an NPT tank.

4.Another random question since you mentioned O2. Should I direct my spraybar slightly up to increase air exchange?

The reason I had done soil was because I wanted some crypts and had had very poor luck with them in Eco Complete and root tabs.

BWG 12-12-2012 03:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Byron (Post 1346572)
I concur with redchigh on all points. Only thing I would add is that since you have soil (I assume this is what you mean by "dirted") you should plant very heavy at the start. Walstad and others are careful to point out that the tank must be heavily planted at the start. But be very vigilant as sudden rises in CO2, ammonia, etc can occur. These do not happen in non-soil substrate planted tanks at start-up.

Byron.

Soil, yes sorry. I hadn't been intentionally trying for the Walstad method so it is not what I would consider heavily planted. Fish are of course the ultimate goal, but if I need to wait for the soil to break in I can do that. My last tank went 4 months between planting and the first fish and that was a traditional planted tank. I don't think I've mentioned it, but I only have the light on 6 hours a day. No algae yet after 3 weeks.

redchigh 12-12-2012 04:14 PM

If you just have crypts in the tank, you could drain the water and treat it as a terrarium. The crypts will grow faster, the soil will establish, and you can set it in a window. The only trickiness is heating the tank, but emersed crypts seem hardy to cooler temps. If you have a sand cap on the soil, hairgrass also will grow well emersed.

BWG 12-12-2012 04:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by redchigh (Post 1346610)
If you just have crypts in the tank, you could drain the water and treat it as a terrarium. The crypts will grow faster, the soil will establish, and you can set it in a window. The only trickiness is heating the tank, but emersed crypts seem hardy to cooler temps. If you have a sand cap on the soil, hairgrass also will grow well emersed.

Do you mean doing a dry start or an actual terrarium? I have crypts, peacock moss, Java fern, and four different varieties of Anubias. I'm getting much better growth than I had anticipated, with some of the crypts and anubias seeming to grow a new leaf each week. The ramshorn and pond snails that came on the plants don't seem to mind the water lol. If I had to I could also switch to all playsand and save the experimenting for the next tank.

redchigh 12-12-2012 05:01 PM

I was referring to dry start. Its by no means mandatory. If growth is good and you don't see algae, then no worries. I'm a believer in the "If its not broken, don't fix it." Philosophy.

As for the spray bar: It's up to you. As long as you have some water movement you should be fine.


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