New Setup

Discussion in 'General Planted Tank Discussions' started by JamesM, 1 May 2008.

  1. JamesM

    JamesM Member

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    Hello all :)

    I've just upgraded my shrimp tank to a 24x12x15" tank with 36w compact T5 lighting (daylight 7500k bulb). I'm running a hob filter with sponge from my main 4ft tank (established for over 5 years).

    Also, I figured I'd try a few harder plants as I'm using better lighting and good substrate (several thin layers of jbl proglora, sand and some of that Azoo rip-off ADA stuff). I've also used some iron and nutri tabs, and I'm going to run some 'el cheapo' canned CO2 made by Colombo (similar to the Tetra co2 Optimat but half the price. Yes I'm tight).

    The plants I'm using are HC, Glosso, Lilaeopsis Novea-zelandiae, and Pogostemon Helferi. I have no experience with these plants, so its trial and error. Maidenhead have a bargain on plants like these atm too - 5 pots for £10. And the pots aren't small. To avoid algae I also bought several bunches of Densa.

    Two questions...

    The substrate is going to mess my ph around for a while, but how long do you think it will take to cycle and balance the tank using old media?

    How long should the densa remain in the tank to prevent algae?

    Thanks,


    - James
     
  2. aaronnorth

    aaronnorth Member

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    your tank will be instantly cycled using media from another tank

    leave it in until you have all your co2, lighting period and the plants have settled in. and everything is running as it should be.
     
  3. beeky

    beeky Member

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    Yes, if the media is old and fresh (does that make sense?!) then it's instantly cycled. If your substrate is like aquasoil though and releases ammonia then I'd leave it for a couple of days for the spike to go.

    Why did you add the elodea? If it's to soak up ammonia then your filter's doing that. If it's to soak up excess nutrients then you need a word with cegipedia....
     
  4. JamesM

    JamesM Member

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    :huh:

    Thanks... yeah, I'm worried about an ammonia spike because shrimp are so sensitive to it. I don't have a test kit for ammonia atm either >.< My ph shot from 7.2 to 8.4 though, and no2 and no3 are quite high.

    As for the densa, maybe its old school learning, but I've always done it with new tanks and, touch wood, never had a problem with algae on any tanks. Usually I keep the densa for months, but in this case I'm wanting rid of it asap.
     
  5. aaronnorth

    aaronnorth Member

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    ceg4048 is known as cegipedia for his knowledge, his real name is Clive
     
  6. JamesM

    JamesM Member

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    Thanks, I PM'd Clive :)
     
  7. Dan Crawford

    Dan Crawford Founder Staff Member

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    I also use weeds to start off a tank, I'm doing so at the moment.
    In my tank it will be predominantly planted with HC and until there is a large enough biomass to absorb the added nutrients, light and co2 I'll leave the weeds in.
    Its always stood me well. I'm sure it is possible without but it ain't worth the hassle in my book.
     
  8. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi James,
    I guess I'm never really convinced that any tank can be instantly cycled if the substrate is newish, so I'll have to disagree a little bit with Aaron and beeky. "Cycled" to me means a high and stable bacteria population permeating every cubic millimeter of the tank, and if you have new substrate then it will take some time to increase the population of the bacteria colony into the new substrate. It will take time for plant roots to penetrate and populate the substrate and oxygenate the substrate to support high bacterial count. I would have thought a couple of weeks, at least. It's good that you have a mature filter, that will certainly give you a head start but did you also add some of the mulm from the filter into the new substrate? It's not clear to me how you added the new substrate. Did you add it on top of the old? The other thing is that I'm not sure of the capacity of the HOB or of it's throughput. This is a 20Gallon tank (more or less) so optimal filter throughput would be 200G per hour or 800 litres per hour. Is your HOB rated that high? 36W T5, though not unreasonable, is a substantial amount of light for this size tank, so throughput is important.

    CO2 is also important with this lighting level. I wouldn't call you "tight" - maybe an "intrepid bargain hunter" but this is one area on which you need to loosen the reins and splurge. Poor CO2 will have dire consequences. Poor CO2 + Poor filtration + high lighting will have apocalyptic consequences for carpet plants. They are considered "hard" for a reason - mostly due to their intolerance of poor CO2. :idea:

    You can plant the densa. As long as you are dosing properly, that it's healthy and that you don't think of it as some kind of magic wand. I reckon it will help a little bit with ammonia. High plant mass always helps. It's only if it becomes unhealthy due to poor dosing or poor CO2 that it will be problematic - then it will cause algae. Keep it in there as long as you want because algae never goes away. Algal spores are always in the tank watching your every move. Once you make a mistake (like having poor CO2 or poor nutrition) they pounce.

    The plants you've selected require proper water column dosing under your proposed conditions, unless your tap water is high in K, NO3 and PO4, and you haven't specified how you plan to do that. Will you use an all in one like TPN+ or a combination of NPK and traces? I'd use TPN+ and maybe think about some Excel to supplement your "CO2-in-a-Can" because you are clearly asking for trouble in this regard - major trouble it seems.

    Also forget pH. Forget that you even know how to spell it because it does nothing for you right now. Just live with whatever pH you have and get on with it. Every second you spend thinking about pH is wasted time which is better spent thinking about things that are really important, like nutrient dosing and CO2.

    Cheers,
     
  9. JamesM

    JamesM Member

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    Thanks Clive :)

    Yes, I'm not overly convinced the tank is cycled either, as everything is new except the filter, so I will be patient with it.

    I also didn't think to add any of the filter mulm... I'll bare that in mind for the future though.

    As for the hob filter, I think this will need upgrading... its no where near 800litre/h.

    I've been speaking with a welder friend of mine and he is on the hunt for a used but tested co2 bottle and regulator. He's away atm so I wont hear from him for several weeks. The solenoid will have to wait too as funding is low right now.

    As for dosing - I'm not >.< I only have Colombo Flora-Grow, and JBL Ferropol (and the 24hour one), but I've heard they contain too much copper for the shrimp... what do I do now? Take the densa out? Lower the lighting?

    If crunch comes to crunch I'm not bothered about the harder plants as its only for kicks and giggles at this stage. I'll experiment more with harder plants on a smaller tank later. I'm more concerned about algae breaking out.

    Thanks for your help, I appreciate you taking the time.

    - James
     
  10. aaronnorth

    aaronnorth Member

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    I suppose you are technically right Clive but if fish were added then nothing bad would happen and the substrate i was told it only held minimal amounts of bacteria and the substrate alone if added from another tank it would not cycle or make much of a difference to the bacteria colony (a mistake i made when upgrading my tank). Everyone has different views though which is always good (sometimes).

    If you didn't know already you will need to add ammonia or fish to help 'feed' the bacteria in your filter otherwise it will die.
     
  11. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Aaron,
    I think you might be right that a mature filter basically give you a head start from a fish toxicity standpoint. I can't really predict whether adding the fish right away with a mature filter bed will be OK or not, and I'm always thinking in terms of plants and algae so I think that's why our opinions diverge probably. I probably would not choose to add ammonia to a high light tank to aid in cycling though. That's for sure. I'd probably throw some guppies in there. Had a re-read of the post and it seems James has upgraded but left the shrimp in? You can always just do frequent water changes to control the NH4 and NO2 levels. If James is seeing elevated NO2 levels then that means the tank hasn't cycled doesn't it?

    You would be amazed though at how much bacteria is in the substrate and how important it is to the ecology of the tank as a whole. If you have a substrate made of porous material then the nitrifying capacity of the substrate can be as much as the filter assuming it is well oxygenated. There is actually flow into and out of the substrate (obviously not as much as in the filter) due to thermal gradients, gaseous exchange and pressure variances which is facilitated by the flow of filter output. If you consider the volume of substrate that you add to your tank, even if you only consider the top centimeter of the substrate, that is an awful lot of colony space. There is a lot going on in the substrate. It is not just some convenient place to anchor the plants. Feces and detritus settle in the substrate and break down into ammonia where the nitrifying bacteria convert it to NO3 which is then released into the water column. The level of ammonia held and processed by the substrate is enormous. It is for this reason that if you disturb the substrate too much without doing a water change you risk initiating an algal bloom because you will release that unprocessed ammonia into the water column. When plants are established and they are healthy they transport oxygen to the substrate via the roots. This facilitates the development of greater amounts of aerobic bacteria which can perform higher rates of nitrification. Poorly aerated substrates develop just as many bacteria but the species are anaerobic and so in the absence of oxygen other elements such as sulfur and hydrogen are metabolized. This often results in the formation and release of hydrogen sulfide or methane which have unpleasant odors.

    I had to go look up Colombo Flora-Grow, looks like it's just traces, including Iron so there is no need to add Ferropol (I'm not even going to ask what is 24 hr iron, I'm not sure I want to know :wideyed: ). High light tanks need NPK dosing unless your tap water is high in NPK. The easy solution is to lower you lighting by at least 50% (at least for the short term.) This will lower your demand for CO2 and NPK until you get a handle on your CO2 injection system. Then you can get some TPN+ from Aqua Essentials and just dose leisurely, like once a week. When everything is sorted inject the CO2 for a few weeks and then you can up the lights and the dosing.

    Cheers,
     
  12. JamesM

    JamesM Member

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    My shrimp are still safe in their 13" cube! :D

    Water seems to have returned to normal now, but I will leave it for a few days then test again.

    The Ferropol 24 is a daily dose to be used along side the normal Ferropol. Apparently.

    Thanks, I'll drop my lighting a little and see how it goes :)
     
  13. Wolfenrook

    Wolfenrook Member

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    I personally would dump the ferropol 24 and just start dosing your weekly ferts daily instead, just remember to divide the recommended dose by how many days you are going to dose over.

    I've found that my plants are much happier with steady dosing throughout the week than one big depot dose.

    Ade
     
  14. beeky

    beeky Member

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    I agree Clive, a fully mature tank has huge numbers of bacteria coating every surface which all aid to it's stability in my mind. I suppose it all comes down to what the definition of "cycled" is.

    For me the danger is setting up a new tank with old media but leaving it empty and waiting for it to "cycle". If nothing is added to the tank then the bacteria will have nothing to feed on. I don't know how long they'll last for, but I'd add (a small number of) fish straight away to keep them going.

    In my view, the best way to cycle a tank from scratch is to fill it with substrate, water and then fishless cycle the filter. Once that's done, drain, scape and refill. Having said all that, that's probably how I'd do it but I've never had the "opportunity"!
     
  15. JamesM

    JamesM Member

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    Later today I'll add a few silver tip tetras from my main tank.

    Thanks again :)
     
  16. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi beeky,
    Yeah, the definition depends on the priorities. For a fish only tank you really only care about toxicity, so once your NO2 and NH4 levels go to minimum then the standard practice is to slowly add fish. For us though we really want to avoid algae as well so we've got to consider everything. I reckon that if plants are installed then the tank is far from "empty" from a cycling standpoint. You still have bits and pieces of plant debris that fall off and decay. Not only does this happen but the debris releases organic forms of carbon and other nutrients to feed the bacteria so plants accelerate the cycling. This is why I agree with Dan about the planting of the E. densa. It's a great idea. It's consistent with our philosophy of adding the most plant biomass that we can during a setup. There is a study out there which demonstrates that the bacterial colony is massively accelerated by the presence of rooted plants. On the other hand, floating plants have almost zero impact on bacteriological population increase. I would do as Dan suggests, get lots of easy to grow plants (even ones you don't like) and just stuff them in in the tank without regard to scape or art. The more the merrier. They will allow the cycling to be completed much earlier so fish and shrimp can go in much sooner. What I was trying to say in the earlier post though is that the infrastructure for the plants needs to be addressed. You shouldn't just chuck plants in a high light environment with poor CO2 and poor dosing. After a while, you can start to replace the original plants with the ones that you really wanted.

    Hope this makes sense.

    Cheers,
     
  17. JamesM

    JamesM Member

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    Makes way more sense to me now you've put it like that Clive. I've got 4 more bunches of Densa to add, plus some other fast growers like Bacopa Australis and Echinodorus Quadricostatus too. As soon as I dig them out of another tank that is :lol:

    Ooooh, and the moss will be coming along with the shrimp when they are ready to move over.
     

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