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Cycling my first new tank

Val1311

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6 Nov 2023
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Galashiels
I need help! I am a total beginner to keeping an aquarium and every time I go on the internet for advice I read something different.
I have purchased an 80 litre tank. 3 days ago I did the following:-
1) planted 5 aquarium plants in a basket of fertiliser substrate placed in tank and covered the remaining base of the tank with sand and planted a couple more plants.
2) arranged a few brown volcanic rocks.
3) filled the tank with 80 litres of soft water
4) started the filter
5) set the heater to 24 degrees and turned on.
6) On filling I added appropriate amount of water conditioner, starter bacteria, liquid CO2 fertiliser and plants green fertiliser as per advice on bottles.
7) Today added more CO2
8) Today tested water with 5 in 1 dipstick and
PH<6.4,
KH 3,
GH 3,
Nitrate <0,
Nitrite 0.
The water looks lovely and clear and has done since day 2. See photos.
I am going away for a few days in mid December and do not like asking a neighbour to feed the fish when I am still a novice myself, I have no intention of adding fish until about 15 December.
My question is should I do partial water changes prior to the fish being added and if so how often?
Thanks for your help.
Val
 

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I imagine you've probably read:

1 - add magic bacteria and you can add fish straight away
2 - you need to cycle a tank with ammonia and this takes weeks

You are aiming for a 'cycle' where your filter takes the ammonia from fish waste and processed it to nitriate and on to nitrate. The bacteria take time to populate. The bacteria in a bottle claim to make this quicker - be sceptical of this.

But, you are setting up a planted tank, which is a bit difference as it has the benefit of plants that like to eat ammonia. That means if you have dence plants actively growing, the filter bacteria are much less important and the plants are doing a lot of the job.

So waiting a few weeks and getting your plants growing well is a good plan. You can get into your water change routine as well.

If you go away for a few days it's better to just not feed your fish. They'll cope fine with a few days of no feeding. It's generally safer than getting a neighbour with no experience involved as people have a tendancy to overfeed.

When you do start adding fish, add them gradually. Waiting a couple of weeks between each batch.
 
Hi all,
What @tam says.
and every time I go on the internet for advice I read something different.
That is the problem and even worse a lot of these posters aren't honest brokers, they are out to <"sell you a product">, and then, ideally, carry on selling you a product.

We don't have <"anything to sell"> on UKAPS.

Have a look at the links to <"Seasoned Tank Time"> etc in the <"How do I know if cloudiness is bacteria bloom or suspended sediment?"> thread.
planted 5 aquarium plants in a basket of fertiliser substrate placed in tank and covered the remaining base of the tank with sand and planted a couple more plants
It isn't really a "planted tank" at the moment, it is more a "tank with plants". Have a look at @GHNelson 's <"floating stem plant tutorial"> and <"The scientific background to the "Leaf Colour Chart"">. This thread (and linked threads) is quite long, but well worth reading.

I'm going to guess that in Galashiels you don't have easy access to live plants, but there maybe some-one who can offer you some? I know we have some members in the Edinburgh area. In a couple of weeks I'll have spare floating plants etc. but I've just given a lot away.

cheers Darrel
 
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Just wait at least a month for the plant to establish and grow well before adding fish and stock the tank very lightly at first. It's the safest way to do and remember that patience is the aquarist best friend !
I also tend to put a little fish food in the tank at first to help the cycling process but I'm not sure if it really helps.

On a side note :

The plant on the left side of the tank with purple underleaf is Hemigraphis Colorata.

It's not an aquatic plant but a bog plant and will not survive long term submerged.

But if you can attached it to the top of your tank with only the roots submerged it will do fantastic even without that much light.

I have it growing above my tank and it's a beautiful plant.
 
Thank you so much for all your help. You are all great. Val

Alec, thanks for your offer but I rarely come to Edinburgh but if I do I’ll give you a shout. That’s very kind 👍
 
Hi all,
Thank you so much for all your help.
You are good, that is <"what we are here for">, to <"offer advice"> that will (hopefully) lead to people having healthy, successful planted tanks.

In terms of plants? Plants from the "Tropica Easy Range" <"plant details - Tropica Aquarium Plants"> are usually a good start.

You could buy some online from one of our sponsors- Sponsor Forum - <"UK Aquatic Plant Society"> (<"Aquarium Gardens"> or <"Horizon Aquatics">) and know that you would be getting both good advice and a good plant.

I'm a <"floating plant obsessive">, but there are <"advantages to them">, particularly during start up, mainly because they have <"access to atmospheric gases">.

cheers Darrel
 
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Irrelevant to what you're asking I suggest you read up on what the stuff sold as "Liquid co2" actually is and decide wether or not you actually want that (accumulating) in your tank, assuming you have not done so already, in which case I'm just a scarecrow.
 
I am going away for a few days in mid December and do not like asking a neighbour to feed the fish when I am still a novice myself, I have no intention of adding fish until about 15 December.
All other issues disregarding, acquiring new fish and leaving just afterwards is always a bad idea.
Fish are never in perfect health, and are stressed after introduction to a new tank - no matter how perfect one. Various diseases may develop almost instantly, and you'll have to react somehow. One of the worst calamities ever is a dead fish lying & decaying in the tank.
 
As others say, I'd stop using liquid CO2. The pleasure with a new tank is the slow process of the plants thriving (some) or dying (some), and replacing the ones that die. Getting fish is thrilling, but so many of us regret having waited. Once they are in, if the tank isn't stable then you just added to your stress exponentially. Sit back and enjoy some Foo the Flowerhorn videos and buy some cheap stem plants that will really thrive. Keep reading and asking questions. And maybe keep pondering what fish you definitely want. Fish are always more stressed in a tank that hasn't grown in fully. I think you are doing great, just take your time and don't worry too much.
 
Personally, I haven't had any issues with liquid carbon supplements. Not sure of accumulation effects, but I have been dosing for years without noticeable issue. However, as stated previously, it is not an equivalent to CO2 injection, but does yield some available carbon and certainly helps from an algaecide perspective. If you are going to continue dosing, I'd suggest picking up a gallon of metricide 14. Toss the activator bottle. It is the same (and now same [glut] as Seachem excel) active ingredient. Metricide 14 is ~ $20 USD per gallon. It's been a long time, but I do recall seeing better growth / coloration in my low tech tanks w/ glut. A long while ago, there was a forum called "Aquarium Advice, " and a user, Janis, whom went by "Rivercats." She had an incredible 1000L tank running super high light with only glutaraldehyde as a carbon source. Never could wrap my head around how she balanced it, but it certainly worked.
 
The Liquid CO2 in question is MicrobeLift BioCO2 which is Humic and Fulvic acid based and not the Gluteraldehyde you assume so there is no acute toxicity risk (I have dosed at 6x the rate on the bottle when I use it as the liquid carrier component for phosphate dosing instead of just water). Humic and Fulvic acid are long chain carbon molecules and have chelatory properties so used in conjunction with a Micro fertiliser it can have an augmentative effect if the molecule chelates a metal ion before uptake by the plants, it’s a more complete meal.

:)
 
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