Good plants to filter water more?
I was wondering if I could get my water any better with my plants. I started using some easy balance thing from Tetra that has gotten my nitrates done to 10ppm from 40, but when I added a bit more danios to bring the number back to 5 the nitrates went back up to 20, I think that should still be fine but I'd like to get it lower if possible. Other than the danios I've got 2 bamboo shrimp and 2 platies in a 16 gallon. Plants I've got one big java fern stuck between some rocks with a bunch of new plants growing off the leaves, and a few baby plants I've pulled off that haven't been growing to great, the ones I put to rocks are better than the first few I stuck in the gravel before I knew that wasn't good, but still not great. Also have an anubias nana and 2 stems of anacharis about 2 feet long each I just put in this week from my pond(soaked them in clean water for a week first)
Would putting more anacharis in help? There's not really much more room left to put any more java ferns attached to anything, should adding fertilizer make it use up more nitrates?
Nitrates at 20ppm is not a problem for the vast majority of fish. However, with plants it should not normally be that high, and from your comments there may be other issues here. Best to find the cause and fix it rather than allowing it to continue.
First, on the Tetra Easy Balance, don't use it. The claims the manufacturer makes for this product is astonishing, from keeping the water "healthy" for 6 months to reducing water changes (not sure if 6 months is intended for water changes too:shock:). Here's the link:
Any product that interferes with the bacteria in a fish tank is dangerous. There is a natural bacteria balance in a healthy aquarium, and we should encourage that and not resort to artificial products that at best may do nothing and at worst may cause harm to the bacteria and fish. Enough on that.
This is a 16g tank, with 5 danios, 2 platies, and 2 shrimp. I'm assuming the danio are smallish species, like the Zebra? If you are not over-feeding, there should not be a nitrate problem and especially with live plants. Have you tested your water for nitrates? Even 10ppm in the tap water could make a difference.
A 50% partial water change every week, nothing added except a good water conditioner, controlled feeding once a day, and things should be fine. Let us know about the tap water test for nitrates.
And one other thing, if you use the API liquid test kit, the second regent has to be shaken for 2 minutes, not 30 seconds as in the instructions, or you can easily get a faulty (high) reading. Try that on the tap water test, and let us know. I may have more suggestions then.
Last on the plants, Java Fern and Anubias are slow growing so you are correct in thinking they use less nutrients. Anacharis is a stem plant and thus faster growing and requiring more nutrients (and light in balance). I am not a fan of this plant as it frequently falls apart in warmer water. If it grows well in your tank, fine, adding more won;t hurt. But the issue is still to address the source, which may be one or more things mentioned above.
Well about a month ago I had a bad die off and the only thing I could have thought as a cause was high nitrates of 40ppm like I said. I've seen different things telling me 40 is alright, 40 is way to high, etc. After that my mom got the easy balance thinking it'd help, I didn't think it'd do anything but it did go down from the 40ppm to 5ppm after the first week and after I put the shrimp in to 10 and now to 20 with the danios.
I also finally got a gravel vac and cleaned up the bottom of the tank, I figured that may have been a cause as well after I tested my tap water and it came up as no nitrates(I have to get an ammonia test kit, if that's in it that could cause it maybe right?) It was a lot more than it looked like, stuck it to any point in the gravel and just a giant stream of brown came up for a good few seconds.
About water changes and feeding, used to do one 25% every 3 days, fed once in the morning just enough that they could eat in a couple minutes.
And wasn't aware of the test kit thing, so I could have been getting wrong readings the whole time. I'll test it again later doing it the right way. Just the second bottle? The 1 minute then wait 5 for the whole mix is good?
thanks for the reply and help.
With plants, a "dirty" substrate is useful as the organics provide nutrients for the plants. But that assumes substrate rooted plants (like swords, crypts, Aponogeton, Vallisneria, etc); plants like JF and Anubias attached to wood or rock derive little if any nutrients from the substrate unless they dissipate into the water column. So without substrate rooted plants, a good vacuuming of the gravel will help with the nitrates.
Adding the Easy Balance lowered nitrates initially because it interfered with the then-level of bacteria in the tank. My earlier point was that it should not be used or relied on to do this, as the aquarium will (should) develop a healthy balance on its own, and when it does, adding Easy Balance interferes with it. And we work toward a natural healthy balance, esp with live plants.
Alright, so I'll stop using the easy balance, and retest everything. I had one last question. I'm using the light that came with my tank, which is a T8 15W 8000K. I know that 6500K is supposed to be better, would switching to that help the plants grow more? Maybe get a higher wattage too.
Ok, just retested everything. Tap water still 0(though I still guess there could be ammonia from the conditioner) tank is only 10, guess that's not bad.
Yes, I would change the tube. You can get good tubes at hardware stores that work fine; full spectrum or daylight, whatever they call them, with a Kelvin around 6500K. You will have somewhat better plant growth but the natural colour rendition of the fish and plants will stand out. Tubes come in standard wattages for the tube size, generally speaking; e.g., a 48-inch tube is 40 watts. But some manufacturers make tubes that emit the same light intensity with less energy so the watts are less which means less electricity/cheaper to operate, more efficient. Just measure the existing tube end to end (minus the prongs) and that is the tube size in T8 that you want.
I read somewhere duckweed can help keep the water cleaner. Not sure if it is true. It grows extremely quickly so I'd think so. I have some in my 10g tank... erm, I mean, a TON. I take out litterally 2-4 fish nets full (I use a small one to scoop it out. It fills the entire net to be about 10 square inch blocks (about 1x2x5 in) full every 3-4 weeks and I still have enough left over to cover the top almost! Guessing with this fast growth that it must suck up a ton of fish waste in the process. I do not think they are good CO2 makers since I bet they use oxygen from the surface, but I've never had any fish stressed from low oxygen. But, despite what I see as positive, there's lots of negatives. It seems to starve my other plants of light and nutrients (plants with I don't care a ton about in that aquarium, since w/o it I had an algae problem which complicated it anyway. My algae problem has stopped as well in that aquarium, although I am sure it is because the light is reduced probably 80% from the duckweed covering the surface. It's also unappealing to most people. For some reason I can only get it to grow well in my 10g, my other aquariums have a few in it, but it has never gone crazy like in my 10g aquarium. It grows like crazy (when it feels like it) so you'd have to take TONS out often. Especially if you want to keep other plants. It can be a pest.
But, I think as was mentioned, faster growing plants use more nutrients than slower growing typically I think. Get some stem plants. Ones with too fine of leaves might get in your tank and be a nuisance like hornwort if not kept healthy. Also, stem plants will mostly get nutrients from the water. If you want a big gravel cleaning plant get an amazon sword or something. They grow quick and are heavy root feeders. Might fill the enter 16g though....
Nitrates at 10 is great, Ammonia at 10 is horrible with your fish facing imminent death.
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