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Hello from a newbie aquascaper!

Pippajo

New Member
Joined
6 Jan 2021
Messages
7
Location
Lincolnshire
Hi All, I found your forum this morning while trying to search for info on whether we are doing the right things with our newly set up aquascape, and if we need to do water changes. We had fish tanks for years but recently came across aquascaping on Youtube.

We have just set up a brand new Fluval tank, 168l, external 207 filter etc. It's been set up and planted for about a week now, treated with fertiliser and a little fish food (no fish in there yet!), plus Easy Balance as we are a very hard water area. We didn't add in any old filter or gravel from our old tank that has been relocated and has the fish in until this is ready. It amazing to see how much the plants are already growing, we now have a few snails and what I think are water fleas. The family are desperate to move fish over from our old tank but I am trying to stick to the slow and steady rules and let the plants settle in so we don't harm any fish :).

I have seen so many different thoughts on adding chemicals, big water changes vs no water changes, while googling, so I'm hoping I can settle on one direction with help and advice on here!
 

John q

Member
Joined
6 Jan 2021
Messages
114
Location
Lancashire
Greetings, this is my first post on the forum so you might want to take my advice with a pinch of salt.
Your story sounds very similar to mine as in returning to aquariums after a long hiatus. In the last 3 months i've set up 2 fluval 240l tanks and here's what I did.

After the tank had initially settled (2-3 days) I added small amounts of ammonia as a food source to try and speed up the nitrogen cycle, pure ammonia is probably best but I must confess i used household ammonia.

I added about 2ml every other day for a week (240l tank.) I then left the tank for another week and just added Small amounts of fish flake daily, at the end of this week I did a 50% water change and then started adding the fish slowly (2-3 every 3-4 days.) As a caveat i now started treating the water with seachem prime, which if dosed at higher doses can neutralise the ammonia and nitrites for 24hrs, I also started doing 20% water changes at this point.

I continued this regime for about 2 weeks and then slowly started skipping water changes to get me to 25% water changes weekly. I must also confess that during the inital few weeks of adding fish i was testing the water rather obsessively, hopefully i can seek absolution for this.

I'd probably switch your water treatment to prime or other brand but ditch the easy balance, it will work out cheaper and I think balance can remove/restrict nitrate and phosphates which you'll need to feed the plants.

Regards your water hardness there are probably easier/ cheaper ways of addressing this if its really needed but I'll let someone more qualified answer that one.
Hope some of the info helps and remember the above is what worked for me and might not work for you.
Jon.
 

Pippajo

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Thread starter
Joined
6 Jan 2021
Messages
7
Location
Lincolnshire
@John q thanks for the reply! We’ve added a fertiliser and flake food but not ammonia as some said it does the same job (just a bit slower). One YouTube video said not to do any water changes but others said 80% and others 50% going down to 25%.

Starting a tank with plastic plants, QuickStart and a few fish was nowhere near as confusing 😂.

We had Easy Balance left over from the old tank (was an Amazon bargain a while back) but cooled down boiled water has kept the old tank topped up after evaporation without any issues over the last few years.

Not being able to work since last March due to Covid (large scale events manager) has meant a slight YouTube addiction 😳😁
 

Karmicnull

Member
Joined
6 Sep 2020
Messages
176
Location
Cambridge
There are lots of different ways of skinning this particular cat, but one approach that has reasonable favour on this form is to take your time and let the plants work their magic. Going into a little more depth and with a woeful lack of links to the relevant posts:
  • there is reasonable evidence that the organisms that do the work converting ammonia are archea rather than bacteria.
  • if you dose too much Ammonia you encourage the bacteria that thrive in high ammonia environments (such as sewage works) rather than low-ammonia settings (where Archea thrive).
  • once your plants establish they will take on a decent part of the job of filtering - effectively they act like a 'backup' filter making your tank more resilient to stuff going wrong in your primary filter.
  • If you take this approach there isn't a point when your tank is 'cycled' You just build up more archea and more capability to handle organic waste decomposition over time.

I let my plants do their thing for the first four weeks with twice-weekly WCs and then started adding livestock (shrimp first) every couple of weeks, so my (low tech) tank had time to adjust to the increased load every time new fish were added. For a much better description from a much more experienced person see @Geoffrey Rea's explanation of how he spins up new tanks - he has a very specific way of doing things that has produced repeatable results for him.

That said there are people who use ammonia, fish food, and there's one thread going into the scientific depth looking at using urea. Ultimately give it enough time and most roads will lead to a tank with sufficient capabilty to break down waste and take on the organic load from fish.

Cheers,

Simon
 

Pippajo

New Member
Thread starter
Joined
6 Jan 2021
Messages
7
Location
Lincolnshire
There are lots of different ways of skinning this particular cat, but one approach that has reasonable favour on this form is to take your time and let the plants work their magic. Going into a little more depth and with a woeful lack of links to the relevant posts:
  • there is reasonable evidence that the organisms that do the work converting ammonia are archea rather than bacteria.
  • if you dose too much Ammonia you encourage the bacteria that thrive in high ammonia environments (such as sewage works) rather than low-ammonia settings (where Archea thrive).
  • once your plants establish they will take on a decent part of the job of filtering - effectively they act like a 'backup' filter making your tank more resilient to stuff going wrong in your primary filter.
  • If you take this approach there isn't a point when your tank is 'cycled' You just build up more archea and more capability to handle organic waste decomposition over time.

I let my plants do their thing for the first four weeks with twice-weekly WCs and then started adding livestock (shrimp first) every couple of weeks, so my (low tech) tank had time to adjust to the increased load every time new fish were added. For a much better description from a much more experienced person see @Geoffrey Rea's explanation of how he spins up new tanks - he has a very specific way of doing things that has produced repeatable results for him.

That said there are people who use ammonia, fish food, and there's one thread going into the scientific depth looking at using urea. Ultimately give it enough time and most roads will lead to a tank with sufficient capabilty to break down waste and take on the organic load from fish.

Cheers,

Simon
Thanks Simon! I do like the idea of letting it do it’s own thing. Will start with WCs, the fish are all quite happy in their old tank so no rush 😁
 

dw1305

Expert
UKAPS Team
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
11,569
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
I have seen so many different thoughts on adding chemicals, big water changes vs no water changes, while googling, so I'm hoping I can settle on one direction with help and advice on here!
That is one of the issues really, there is a lot of conflicting information. I'm reasonably confident that we can separate the <"coffee from the froth">.

Do you have a floating plant? I'm really keen (<"all right, obsessed">) by them, they are the <"gift that keeps giving">, because <"they aren't CO2 limited"> and give you a technique for <"assessing nutrient level"> without needing <"to make decisions based entirely on test kit results">.
plus Easy Balance
I'm going to tell you to "throw it away", Tetra won't tell you what it does, I don't know what it does. The only thing we know for sure is that it transfers your money to Tetra.
little fish food (no fish in there yet!)
Paging @dw1305 for some info on cycling a planted tank
What @Karmicnull says, you don't need the fish food. The idea is that the food will provide an ammonia source until the tank is "cycled" and you add the fish, which are then the ammonia source. Have a look at <"Dr Timothy Hovanecs.....">
I do like the idea of letting it do it’s own thing.
Some of our members use both added ammonia and water testing, a lot of us follow a <"Plants and time"> philosophy.

cheers Darrel
 

Pippajo

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Thread starter
Joined
6 Jan 2021
Messages
7
Location
Lincolnshire
Hi all,

That is one of the issues really, there is a lot of conflicting information. I'm reasonably confident that we can separate the <"coffee from the froth">.

Do you have a floating plant? I'm really keen (<"all right, obsessed">) by them, they are the <"gift that keeps giving">, because <"they aren't CO2 limited"> and give you a technique for <"assessing nutrient level"> without needing <"to make decisions based entirely on test kit results">.

I'm going to tell you to "throw it away", Tetra won't tell you what it does, I don't know what it does. The only thing we know for sure is that it transfers your money to Tetra.


What @Karmicnull says, you don't need the fish food. The idea is that the food will provide an ammonia source until the tank is "cycled" and you add the fish, which are then the ammonia source. Have a look at <"Dr Timothy Hovanecs.....">

Some of our members use both added ammonia and water testing, a lot of us follow a <"Plants and time"> philosophy.

cheers Darrel
Hi Darrel, thanks for the advice! I am quickly learning I could spend a fortune unnecessarily 🙄.
We do love the look of the floating plants, can these go in a tank with a top on it above the light?
I am enjoying the plants and time philosophy and based on when my job might restart I have plenty of time to watch and enjoy 😁
 

Karmicnull

Member
Joined
6 Sep 2020
Messages
176
Location
Cambridge
can these go in a tank with a top on it above the light?

Answering your question with a picture :). Floaters corralled at the top left with an airline pontoon. They love it there and grow like crazy.

7th November - Context_IMGP6851.jpg

Cheers,
Simon
 

dw1305

Expert
UKAPS Team
Joined
7 Apr 2008
Messages
11,569
Location
nr Bath
Hi all,
We do love the look of the floating plants, can these go in a tank with a top on it above the light?
Should be fine. You may have some issues with drips, but I have lids on all my tanks and I've never found it a major problem. This <"one has a lid"> and <"additional insulation">.
I am quickly learning I could spend a fortune unnecessarily
As you may have picked up from the linked threads I have a bit of an issue with a lot of the products sold to "help" aquarium keepers, <"non-aquatic plants"> sold for aquariums are another <"major source of annoyance for me">.

cheers Darrel
 

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