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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, all. I bought a completely set-up heavily planted aquarium last night. I am new to fishkeeping, though, and am a bit daunted. I am trying to learn all I can in order not to mess up. Is there a way to tell if an aquarium is an NPT versus simply a planted aquarium? How? Here is a pic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you! I suspect it is a fancy substrate of some kind rather than actual soil. I suppose it doesn't make a big difference to the care, though.
 

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I can't tell from the photo if there are two layers to the substrate, such as is a layer of soil at the bottom with a layer of gravel over it. As you are there, see if you can distinguish two clear "layers" in the substrate. If not, and the "gravel" I can see on the top goes all the way down, it might be an enriched substrate. Or just plain gravel.

Any chance you can ask the person you bought it from? Also ask what if any fertilizers they were using. That is quite a nice aquascape.:)

Byron.
 

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I texted him. He said it is Fluorite Black.Seachem. Flourite Black

He said he used to "bake small balls from red clay" for the roots and had some root tablets.
OK, now we are getting somewhere. I had a tank set up with this same substrate, Flourite Black; in my tank is looked a bit more gray than brown as it does here, but I suspect that is the light, you have a warmer white tube than I use. Flourite had very minimal benefit for my plants on its own, and I had to resort to fertilizers the same as my other plain sand and gravel tanks. And he has been using substrate tabs too, so that checks out.

Seachem's Flourish Tabs are what I use. API make one too, but from what other members here have posted they have issues so I would use the Seachem. You will also need a liquid fertilizer to provide the nutrients not taken up by roots but via the leaves. Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement is my choice, once a week and a day after the water change.

One other nutrient source is the tap water; do you know the GH? This is the major source of the hard minerals (calcium, magnesium).

Byron.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you! Straight out of the tap, my GH is 0 (we have a water softener), and my KH is 240, or as high as the test goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I bought some of these injectable fertilizer tabs from aquariumplants.com last week when I bought some plants for my betta tanks. Are they any good, or should I just dump them and buy the API?
 

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I'd recommend seachem... never heard of aqua ferts... can u type up/ take photo of the table that tells you what you have in that bottle?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Unfortunately, I didn't keep the leaflet that came with the package. From the website, though, these are the ingredients:

Chemically Active Ingredients: Hydrated Magnesium sulfate, Potassium nitrate, Potassium sulfate, also trace amounts of; Cobalt EDTA, Copper EDTA, Iron EDTA, Magnesium EDTA, Zinc EDTA, Manganese sulfate, Sodium Borate, Sodium Molybdate, (Chelating Agent: Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid)


Physically Active Ingredients: Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3) Magnesium Carbonate (MgCO3) Calcium Carbonate Equivalent (CaCO3) Calcium Sulfate (CaSO42H2O)
 

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IMHO the difference between a natural plants tank and a "regular" planted tank is more of how it is maintained not how it was originally setup.

(besides my "regular" planted tanks are natural because that's the way I maintain them.)

My tanks are basically the fish, plants, water, lights, and substrate. And nothing else. One tank is on the back porch and has no lights.

I balance them out with plants then do no water changes and keep the tank clear by adjusting lights and feeding.

I have found that some peat moss in the substrate at startup helps keep kh and gh in line and is better for neons.

By contrates some use added Carbon dioxide, fertz and do massive weekly water changes.

Just not for me.


and as always my .02
 

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Thank you! Straight out of the tap, my GH is 0 (we have a water softener), and my KH is 240, or as high as the test goes.
I think that is going to be a problem long term for you. Do you have a tap that doesn't go through the softener? If so, you'd be better to use it as I presume that the water is coming from a well and will have some hardness (GH) that will be needed for the plants... that and softened water is just not good for plants or fish if I recall.

I assume that you are using test strips if that is the maximum, the liquid KH/GH test lets you measure well past the charts... I have a 23dGH from my tap which is over 400ppm.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I have a liquid master test kit, but it didn't include GH and KH, so I used a strip for that, yes. If the KH is high, does that not help?
 

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I have a liquid master test kit, but it didn't include GH and KH, so I used a strip for that, yes. If the KH is high, does that not help?
It's not the same. Typically softening is done due to unusually hard water and the hardness from Calcium and Magnesium is replaced with Sodium (more or less) so the harder the water was, the higher the KH will be.

GH is the value referred to when keeping fish and plants and will always be higher than the KH anyway so KH typically is of no concern... except in softened water and a couple of other cases perhaps.

I think our hard water has a 14ppm Sodium which was flagged by our tester as high... if your softened water is off the charts it is at least 200ppm+. You shouldn't be drinking it either. Some water must not go through the softener, perhaps an outside hose even?

The GH/KH test kist is probably under $10 and is worth it even if only to test the water once... it also has no maximum range as you just count the drops.

Jeff.
 

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I agree, you have an issue with GH, and the softener.

Can you use water that does not go through the softener? The problem with most (I won't say all) softeners is that they lower the hard mineral salts (calcium, magnesium, etc) by using other salts like sodium, and the end result is just as bad if not worse for fish.

Aside from the above (which is a major issue) is the GH which has to be no less than 4 dGH in order to provide sufficient hard minerals for the plants.

I have near-zero GH in my tap water naturally, and while my soft water fish (which is all I keep since they suit the water perfectly) thrive in this, my plants do not. I raise the GH to 5 dGH or 6 dGH depending upon the tank.

Can you use the water pre-softener? And if so, can you tell us the GH of that? If you are on a municipal water system, the GH should be posted on their website, or they can tell you. We should get this number before considering options.

Byron.
 
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
We have well water. I used the test strips on water that hadn't gone through the softener yet, and both the GH and KH were as high as the test goes. :-/
 
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