40GB Planted...fishless cycle?
Today I bought a 40GB tank from Petco (Hey, I'm a woman and can we say the word "sale!) LOL!
I am still very new at this and still going through "birthing pains" with my 8 week old 20GL. I am LOVING the whole plant thing! I am an avid gardener, I've seen people actually pull over and take pictures of the gardens outside my house. Ok, that was shameless!:roll:... but true.
My 20GL was an impulsive weak moment...I was totally uneducated and ignorant...but I'm trucking along and I'm watching my 4 pink Cory's having a ball swimming all about the tank right now....so I'm doing something right!!!
In some of my previous posts I stated that "the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know"..
OK...cut to the chase....
I want to plan a planted tank.....I'm not doing anything right away....this will be a summer project.
Here are some questions:
1. What should I use as substrate? I'm leaning towards Eco-Complete? Comments, advice, depth etc.
2. Plants? I'm still new at plants.....I'm leaning towards NO Co2...the whole Co2 DIY injector thing overwhelms me.
3 Cycling.....I plan on doing a "fishless cycle" this time. but from what I've read planted tanks don't need to be "cycled" I'm unsure on this..can someone educate me?
4. Wood.....I would like to have a wood feature. what type and where do I get it?
5. Fish.......I'm leaning towards Cichlids , but really love Killi's
I know I'm asking a lot ..any and all advice will be so appreciated!
I have no experience, with Eco-complete, but it's a dark substrate, if you want that. 2-3 inch minimum of depth is recommended if you want plants. Many here, including me, use plain playsand, that is cheap to buy, but does take lots and lots of rinsing. The end results are nice and plants do well in sand. I thought about a DIY CO2 thing, but Byron suggested against it, so I've not bothered. You can have a low-tech tank and still have plants grow well. It's finding the balance of light and nutrients etc. You do need to find a bulb in the range of 6500K for growth. Try to shoot for 2-3 watts per gallon, and that should allow you to grow most minimual light requirement plants, and even some moderate light. I just go with "easy" plants, and have been doing okay, with Seachem Comprehensive and root tab fertilizers. I'm sure others will weigh in with types of plants - I can never spell the names of the plants :oops:
I totally disagree that tanks with plants don't need to be cycled. They do help, but if there is too much bio-load for them to adequately assimilate the ammonia and convert it, and bacteria isn't there to do it's done, you could kill fish, IMO. Fishless cycling is so easy, and the best way to go, so fish are not tortured.
As far as wood, stay about from mopani wood, but malaysian wood is great. Fish love it, helps provide tannins in the water, and it looks great. Many fish stores sell it, and it's not that expensive if you are buying smaller pieces. You can of course find it on-line too.
Post pics when you get started.
I'm definitely going to go with a dark substrate, I just love the contrast....it really makes the plants "pop".
I was looking at the Eco-Complete and Seachem's Flourite. What is the difference between the two? Is this ok for Corys?
Is there a reason I should stay away from Mopani wood?
Rocks?.......I live on the sea shore...can I use rocks from the beach?
Background? What color would go best with a dark substrate?
What type of lighting? I have a 6500k tube over my 20GL and my plants seem to be doing pretty good. I dose a tiny bit of Excel daily, Comprehensive 2x a week and some Flourish root tabs.
Apparently, it's very prone to a fungus, which is cottony looking, and I had it once, and my snail ate it, which I read they will do. Byron has posted that he had fish deaths from it, and won't deal with it again, and he is very knowledgeable. My German Rams cost me too much to take the chance, that is why I pulled mine. Stick with the malaysian wood to be safe. It also doesn't need to be boiled to death to get out most of the tannins, so your tank won't look like black tea.
Picking up a couple of issues from this thread to date.
Substrate. Flourite and Eco-complete are basically similar, an enriched substrate. However, they are not smooth and if you intend substrate fish like corys or loaches, I would stay away from these. I have Flourite in my 70g and I removed the corys for this reason after a couple months. There are other enriched substrates, I have not tried or seen myself so don't know how they compare on this issue. But bottom line is, they are all expensive and as sand or fine gravel will work, it is your decision whether to spend $60 compared to $6 for a substrate to adequately fill a 40g. I have been switching over most of my tanks to playsand. The benefit of Flourite in the one tank is minimal with respect to plant growth, and possibly not even that.
CO2. Only you know the sort of tank you want. If you want to grow many species of plants, including the more challenging, and want to do this to the level of propagating them, then going hi-tech is better. This means increased lighting (2-4 times the light intensity), CO2 diffusion, and daily nutrient dosing. At the other end of the scale is low-tech or natural planted tanks, with minimal light, no CO2, and minimal or even no fertilization. Most aquarium plants will grow nicely in this setup, a very few will not; growth will be slower, but can still be lush--just check the photos of my tanks. Whichever method, the trick is balance. Light must balance nutrients at a certain level, and the level depends upon the light intensity. You can read more on the natural method in the 4-part series "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" stickied at the head of the Aquarium Plants section of the forum.
Cycling. The nitrification cycle will establish itself in all new aquaria. The benefit of live plants is being able to achieve this with no detrimental impact on the fish. There will be no discernible cycle, meaning that tests for ammonia and nitrite will be zero from day one and never rise. The reason is that plants grab the ammonia and change it into ammonium to use as their preferred source of nitrogen. Plants out-compete bacteria in this, so eventually a bit of ammonia will get by and be used by nitrosomonas bacteria and a correspondingly minimal amount of nitrite will occur and be used by Nitrospira bacteria. The amounts will be so low as to be undetectable with our standard test kits. To achieve this, use lots of plants, including some fast growing ones (floating plants are ideal here) and few fish at first.
Wood. I also prefer Malaysian Driftwood as it seems to be called now; it is dark brown, almost black. It is heavy so it sinks immediately. Tannins are present as with any wood, but not so bad with this type. And it is very natural, and comes in dozens of individual shapes so you can create a very natural aquascape. If you check out my tank photos, all that wood is Malaysian Driftwood. The problem with Mopani and another called grapewood is fungus. Not always with Mopani, but often enough that I will not buy these. The fungus that sometimes occurs from this wood is highly toxic, and will kill fish and plants, and I suspect everything else. Safest to stay away from it.
Rocks. Calcareous rocks will slowly dissolve minerals into the water that will raise hardness and corresponding pH. Not an issue with rift lake cichlids or livebearers, but with soft water fish this is the last thing you probably want.
You mentioned Excel; I do not recommend this product because it is a chemical compound that has been known to kill some plants (Vallisneria for instance usually melts with this), and if overdosed it will kill fish. There really is no need for an external carbon source in a balanced aquarium, so using a product that can be detrimental is best avoided. CO2 (the source of carbon for plants) occurs naturally from the respiration of fish and plants but most from bacteria during the breakdown of organics in the substrate. Allowing nature to do its thing without interference is my preference.
Co2- I'm thinking no....I am not a scientist, nor do I play one on TV!! :)I'm going to go with "low-tech"
Cycling- Everything you say Byron, makes perfect sense to me....but I was so STRESSED about my fish during the cycling of my 20GL...I'm hesitant to set up my new planted tank and throw some fish in. I am still having ammonia problems with my tank I have now. I did a 50% WC a couple days ago, did a really good substrate vacuuming (sucked up a ton of crap) and I just tested tonight and I'm getting a reading of1.0 for ammonia??? I bought a Seachem Ammonia Alert 2 days ago and it's reading in the Safe Zone????? My nitrites are O and my nitrates are O??? Shouldn't I have some nitrates???? I have been feeding VERY lightly.
Right now I have 3 Wisteria planted, Wisteria floating, 1 Banana plant, 2 Petite Nubia, 2 Pixie Lilliy, 1 Amazon Sword, 1 Tropica Fern and 4 other plants that I don't know the name of? Why do I still have high ammonia and no nitrates?
My fish seem very healthy and active!! My 2 little "surprise fry" are swimming about and eating good.
Wood- toxic fungus??? I'll go with the Malaysian! :)
Rocks- I'm assuming calcareous rocks refer to ocean rocks? I want to have rocks...are there any inert rocks that you would suggest?
Excel- ARGHHHHH! The woman at the LFS told me I needed to buy this!! So I bought it as I am still very ignorant. I will stop using it asap.
Substrate...I really appreciate the sand, and I do like the look but I just really LOVE the contrast of the darker substrate....is there a dark" sand" out there that would be safe for Cory's (I Love those little guys and cannot be without them! LOL!)
Thank You, Kathy
There have been several threads about ammonia like you have, and frankly I just don't understand how. And your more sophisticated (I assume) Alert says safe, and ammonia above zero is not safe. I'd be tempted to leave it if the fish look fine. I can't remember the last time I tested for ammonia or nitrite; I just know they won't be there.;-) Not with so many healthy plants.
Just wanted to thank you and Gwen for responding to my posts! Means a lot!!! I feel like I'm "flailing in the wind" so to speak. None of my friends have fish tanks. I own a small business and a few of my customers have fish tanks....but these are very wealthy people who have hired people to come in every month to "take care" of their tanks! So they are useless! LOL! One of my customers have a custom-made saltwater tank that is 15ftL x5fHtx5ftW....it is SPECTACULAR!!!!!!!
I get the whole "balance" thing...I go to a Naturopath (in addition to my regular doctor).
I'm hanging in with my 20GL......I'm going to do a WC tomorrow .....I'll do my testing again....and guess what I'm DONE! I can't think of anything else to do for the "ammonia readings?.....oh yes I do! I'm going to go to Petco and buy a new ammonia test kit!!! Maybe the original test kit is defunct?
I guess time will tell....all I know is my 6 fish look very healthy, are eating good, and very active!!! I'm done trying to "fix what ain't broken"!!!!! I'll get back to you! Thank You, Kathy
I was nervous to do a fish-in cycle but Byron convinced me. :) I had a heavily planted tank, ran it for a bit, added fish very slowly, did water changes, monitored my levels, and it all worked out just fine, with happy and healthy fish. I think if you do it right and are patient (which is hard) and careful it is surprising how well those plants balance it all out. AND the fish love the plants - you can see the difference, for example my fish all seemed happier when I got a bunch of floating plants.
I used Flourite mixed with another substrate. Be sure to RINSE it very very well if you do decide to use it. Mine clouded up things like crazy and I had to clean my filter almost immediately due to all the dust and silt.
I got my driftwood here and am happy with it. He had a bunch of variety and was pleasant to deal with. And decent prices. The Driftwood Store
Good luck and have fun - you'll looove having a planted tank, and your fish will, too.
First of all I just wanted to tell you that pic of "Avatar?" on your profile is priceless!!! Love it! I am curious, what did you mix with the Flourite? My 20GL IS planted...and I am loving it!!!!! I bought the 40GB because I am am "hooked" and want to plan an "artistic" creation!!! I have my tank pictured in my mind....but I want to take my time and research and learn as much as I can. I will definitely take pics of my progress! Thank you all so much!!!! Kathy
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