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"Blackwater" planted aquarium
01-14-2017, 05:54 PM,
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Fishbone Offline
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"Blackwater" planted aquarium
So... I haven't been here in, years, lol.  But I remember that the top admins of this place are more fish than anything else.  @Thor & @Ram, if you guys are still around, you'll be happy to hear that I finally transplanted my ~11-14 year old clown loach into a 65gal last year, all things going well.  I am not sure what I really was afraid of, asides from maybe the work of it all, lol!  Tank has more fish, all water parameters are good, better filtration, etc etc. 

What I need info on is a new tank for the wife.  She's always wanted a black ghost knife.  So this as her Christmas present.  I have a 35gal bowfront (~30"20"x20") with a fluval/aquaclear 70 (rated @ 300gph).  So what I am trying to set up is a South American "blackwater-ish" type tank.  Not a pure biotype, just a bit on the soft and acidic side.  I've got a few bags of CaribSea's EcoComplete in there, seeded filtration, some almond leaves and driftwood to aid in tannins, and a moderate amount of plants.  A decent amount of fish to get the cycle going as well.  Been running 6 days, Ammonia is already dropping <.5 ppm, nitrites still high, but going down.  SO the cycle is going well. 

My question is on the plants, specifically in a soft, slightly acidic tank.  I really want these to thrive, to make this whole thing complete.  I am trying to get my head around the needed kH & gH in association with the pH of 6.6-6.8 I am shooting for, and how all this affects the plants.  As well as what plants will do well in this setup, and the proper lighting.  Then with the lighting, I've already got a sword with leaves that float on top of the water.  Great for the fish, but the plants?  I'd also like to add some type of lilies, e.g. dwarf, lotus, banana, etc), which could also block out some light.  I currently have a ZooMed Flora Sun fluorescent bulb on the tank.  


And @Ram, I remember not understanding your name.  Or your avatar, lol!  Except now, I have done more research into rams than I can spell out.  Golds, Blues, German Blues, Electric blues, Balloons, etc etc, as that has now become the primary species I think I want in with the knife.   There's a 1.2 group of "electric blue balloon" rams at a local LFS that I hope are still there once this tank finishes cycling so I can grab them all (I say this like I can properly sex cichlids, lol!)
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01-16-2017, 07:24 AM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
Hello Fishbone, welcome back!   Welcome
it has been a long while to hear anything from you.

I am glad you are into fish keeping as well.  

As for the new aquarium you are trying to set up for your wife, you can cycle it a lot faster if you get a bottle of Tetra SafeStart.    For the plants, you can look them up here - http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/aquar....cfm?c=768
The fish tank and filter are looking good.  

Same goes for the fish.   A lot of local pet stores carry low quality fish from Asian farmers where antibiotics are overused.  Those fish can easily catch diseases and die once they leave the water full of antibiotics.  

Liveaquaria is the live fish and plants sub-site from Dr Frost and Smith.   They carry really high quality fish.   It is common to hear people's German Blue Ram or any other ram die quickly once got them home.  Mine from Liveaquaria lived for years.  Although they can't guarantee the male/female if you asked.   I got two female German Blue Ram the last time I ordered from them.  

Yes, plants need special lighting.  I use T5HO lights for made for aquarium use.   However, it can still work without good lights if you choose some hardy plants such as Java Moss, Java Fern.  

Personally, I would not try to mess with water PH and hardness.  Yes, driftwood will slowly make the water softer.  That is fine.  But stay away from any unnatural methods such as using commercially available "PH up", "PH down", etc. chemicals.   They will bring more harm than good.     Most fish can adapt to a wide range of water PH and hardness, given that you did not just dump them into the fish tank once you got them (they will die from sudden change in environment).  You just need to acclimate the changes when transfer the fish to their new home.
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01-16-2017, 04:11 PM, (This post was last modified: 01-16-2017, 04:13 PM by Fishbone.)
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
(01-16-2017, 07:24 AM)Thor Wrote: Hello Fishbone, welcome back!   Welcome
it has been a long while to hear anything from you.

I am glad you are into fish keeping as well.  

As for the new aquarium you are trying to set up for your wife, you can cycle it a lot faster if you get a bottle of Tetra SafeStart.    For the plants, you can look them up here - http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/aquar....cfm?c=768
The fish tank and filter are looking good.  

I'm pretty good with the basics, cycling, etc.  I've used safestart in the past, but a combo of SeaChem Prime & SeaChem Seed is so much better. I also added a bag of Matrix from my other filter to this new one, along with the new bag of BioMax that came with it.  I used a couple of bags of CaribSea EcoComplete for the substrate, which has fungi and bacteria for plant health and cycling in it as well.  Also, I carefully selected the 3 pieces of driftwood in the tank from three different established systems, so dragging at least a little more bacteria along there too.   I'm on day 8 since starting it up, and my ammonia already went to 0 last night after being over 2 most of the first 6 days, still 0 tonight.  Nitrite is down under 1.5ppm from ~2ppm yesterday, nitrates steadily climbing.  I'm pretty sure this thing will be completely cycled in a few more days, 4-5 at most. 

I'll check out the site for plant info, thanks.  



Quote:Same goes for the fish.   A lot of local pet stores carry low quality fish from Asian farmers where antibiotics are overused.  Those fish can easily catch diseases and die once they leave the water full of antibiotics.  

Liveaquaria is the live fish and plants sub-site from Dr Frost and Smith.   They carry really high quality fish.   It is common to hear people's German Blue Ram or any other ram die quickly once got them home.  Mine from Liveaquaria lived for years.  Although they can't guarantee the male/female if you asked.   I got two female German Blue Ram the last time I ordered from them.  
 


I'll check them out.  I've heard a few horror stories regarding rams.  One thing I've deduced is, I think with them naturally being softwater fish, it comes into play the water you are getting them from and transferring them to.  There's an old round here who has a small hobby type fish shop (he runs every tank there on on sponge filters except the discus) who quit buying German blues because they died on him.  The breeder breeds & keeps them in soft RO water, this guy keeps everything he sells in tap, pH >7.5, because he says almost all of his customers are using tap.  He gets other fish from the same breeder, and they do fine.  The German blues can't acclimate quickly enough.  Or so it seems. 

I know about the Asian and Indonesian farms (some of the same people doing the same things with snakes and lizards.)  I'm weary of buying fish.  Always gotta be careful.


Quote:Yes, plants need special lighting.  I use T5HO lights for made for aquarium use.   However, it can still work without good lights if you choose some hardy plants such as Java Moss, Java Fern.  

 

Do you like the T5 fluorescents better than the LED lights?  I bought a 5500K T8 plant light because it fit the fixture that went with the tank, and should hopefully be good until I figure out what I want to do long term.  I know the high output T5's are good, but everything they've done with LEDs for aquarium lighting the past few years, I am kinda tempted to go that way.

Quote:Personally, I would not try to mess with water PH and hardness.  Yes, driftwood will slowly make the water softer.  That is fine.  But stay away from any unnatural methods such as using commercially available "PH up", "PH down", etc. chemicals.   They will bring more harm than good.     Most fish can adapt to a wide range of water PH and hardness, given that you did not just dump them into the fish tank once you got them (they will die from sudden change in environment).  You just need to acclimate the changes when transfer the fish to their new home.

Ok, this is the tricky part.  I agree with you on pHup & pHdown being crap.  A side note on that too, they are a tetra product, and completely outdated.  If you need to adjust your pH, it's better to use an actual buffering product.  Everything Tetra makes has been improved upon by many companies.  I'm pretty sure those products are just liquid acids and bases (probably pure ammonia) that create a "quick fix" that usually won't last.  Your better off with sodium bicarbonate, lol. 

But to the original point, I'm not going to mess with it in that way.  It's going to primarily biological.  Driftwood, almond leaves, peat, maybe some alder cones, etc etc.  But I need to start with the right base, i.e. RO or DI water, either alone or mixed with tap at some ratio.  On top of all that biological substrate, I added a few pounds of a carbonate sub, to make sure there is a touch of mineral in the water.  But now with tap, it is hard as hell.  dKh is 3-3.5 and dGh is >13.  I am going to need RO water.  Either alone with some trace minerals added, or mixed with a little tap.  Not sure which yet.
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01-17-2017, 10:09 AM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
I am glad that you know a lot of the basics in fish keeping. Smile

I am unfamiliar with Seachem's bacteria seeding product. If it is just a re-branded product from Dr. Tim's, then it is basically the same thing as Tetra SafeStart.

The thing with changing water hardness and PH is that, even if you do it slowly through the natural way, one partial water change can suddenly restore the water to to its original state. It can be a problem if you have changed the water hardness and PH too much in the first place even though the process was slow. However the problem can be solved if you use RO water. It is the best to use commercially available product to restore the water buffer (minerals etc.). Seachem has a few good ones just for that purpose.

I like T5 lights better, but it is because I want to have the option of having high demanding aquatic plants. Some plants need stronger lights than others. It is entirely up to you what plants you get, and get the necessary lights accordingly.
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01-17-2017, 11:21 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
The SeaChem Seed is simply live bacteria, and that's it. It doesn't contain whatever else is is SafeStart to help reduce Ammonia/nitrite/nitrate instantly, so you still need to use another product like Prime to keep the water safe until the cycle completes. But, it doesn't seem to ever lead to cycle crashes a few weeks in either, like Safestart is prone to do.

I have the SeaChem buffers. I've been doing a lot of research on the water chemistry, how they actually work. The acid buffer converts carbonates in the water (the root of basic water) into dissolved Co2. Which also helps the plants. There are apparently a lot of people that use both acid buffer and alkaline buffer (which adds carbonates to the water) in specific ratios for plated tanks instead of Co2 injectors and such. With the proper ratios, and knowing the pH/kH/gH of the water in the tank and the water you are adding, you can land at the exact pH you want while adding disolved Co2 for the plants. Seems counter intuitive to me, and like it adds a lot of work, but I guess it makes sense if you are going to do constant water changes and have a heavily planted tank.

I am going to start using more RO/DI water. I wanted to use a mixture of RO and tap to keep some minerals in there, but that may be too much work. Just go with the RO water and add some mineral supplement like the Discus trace you mentioned. But since I need to change out the 75% or so tap I have in there now gradually, how quickly can I safely do it? It's a 35gal, so maybe 3 gal every 4-5 days? or every 3-4?

To the lights, the Led lights do not penetrate enough for the more light demanding plants is what you are saying? Regardless of the lumen rating? What lumen rating would I need for a light in a 20" deep tank to keep more demanding plants? Do the LED lamps just not penetrate deeply enough?
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01-18-2017, 12:18 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
Tetra SafeStart worked for me on multiple occasions. The cycle never crashed afterward. If something caused ammonia/nitrite spike in your case, it must be either a mini-cycle due to too much ammonia was produced, or something else was causing the crash. Tetra Safestart is proven to have the right type of bacteria to keep the filter media cycled without the need to keep dosing the product. Some other products have the wrong type of bacteria which will drown in the water after a week or two, and causing the cycle to crash if you don't keep using their product.

I'd think mix up the RO and tap water is too much work. More calculation... lol I am lazy... but it is indeed easy to make mistakes when more calculations are involved.

A 10~20% partial water change is considered a small water change. A 30~50% partial water change is the typical recommended amount. You can do 20% partial water change twice a week to make up for it if you wish to keep the environment change as small as possible for your fish. Then again, I'd think any water change more than once per week is too much work, but that's just me. Wink

If memory serves right, a general rule was that you need 2w of lights per gallon of water for high demanding plants. Whatever rules still have limitations. Yes, 20" deep is pretty deep lol. The height of a tank does matter.

On a side note, I'd like to recommend not to go for the "high tech" route for plants. That is, high intensity lights plus CO2. It is really troublesome. Sure, it is awesome to look at some planted aquariums. The amount of "gardening" work behind it is enormous.
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01-20-2017, 05:32 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
I'm not doing anything high tech here.  I want a close to self sustainable biotype.  No Co2 injectors, lol.  I've got more than enough plants to create the Co2, the trick is to keep them alive to keep doing so, lol.  

With the Tetta, there's a safestart &  safestart plus.  I have no idea the difference.  But they (at least one of them) seem to "mask" the actual ammonia and nitrite levels, so it isn't really as much of a crash, as it is a "revelation", lol.  If it works for you, great.  I have been burnt ebough times by that company that you would have to pay me significantly to even admit that I would even consider using one of their products, and even then, I'd just lie and have a neighbor throw it in the trash.  If it was actually delivered to my door, I'd just give up on the fish since they'd come within 50' of it, and move. Everything they make is at best, questionable. 

They have made so many terrible products (of which all have an equal if not something 10x better) that you could possibly end 95% of the stupid questions you get on here is they simply didn't read the Tetra based instructions.  The pHup & pHDowm are the best examples. . Why not just use ratioed bleach and pool acid?  Same thing.  


I agree with you on the mix of water.  I am just going to slowly purge the water in the tank With R/o.   THen figure how to buffer it in my tank(s). 



On an entirely separate note, what do you know of "balloon rams"?  I've gathered they are line bred, but are they genetically inferior?
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01-21-2017, 06:21 AM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
Actually Tetra SafeStart is the only Tetra product I use. More importantly, it is (not) really a Tetra product since it is rebranded from Dr. Tim's. It is proven working. Dr. Tim is the one who invented the first live bacteria product for aquarium nitrogen cycle. It is rebranded by multiple companies including Tetra. Most of the proven working aquarium nitrogen cycle product on the market are basically from the same origin. If somehow it had failed for you, maybe the bottle you used was not properly stored before it got to you. eg: it was exposed to sunlight or other source of heat, which could have made the product useless.

Earlier version of the product even needed refrigeration to keep the live bacteria effective. The later improved version did not need the refrigeration part, but still need to be properly stored.

As for Tetra SafeStart and Tetra Safestart Plus, I guess the Plus is just another later version of the same product. Many of the aquatic product companies have added "plus" to their "upgraded" version of products. The reason for the non "plus" version to exist at the same time is simply due to the leftover inventory.

From what I have heard from other people's reports, ballon rams are not weaker than other ram. Sure they might be the result of selective breed, but as long as you get them from a good source and give them good care, they are strong enough to thrive.
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01-25-2017, 03:24 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
Thanks.  I really like these balloon rams at this store locally.  They've been there for about a month and still look healthy.  I might need to bite the bullet and get them.
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01-26-2017, 04:40 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
You are welcome.

Please make sure you acclimate the Rams slowly when introduce them to your home aquarium.

Please share some photos or videos of your new aquarium. I'd like to see your Rams and other fish.

Yeah, I never pass the opportunity to enjoy seeing a good aquarium. Big Grin
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02-05-2017, 03:58 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
I passed on the Balloon Rams. I bought two GBRs from another store that I am more comfortable with (there are two particular stores here that I really like). They are also much more forthcoming with their own water parameters, to the extent of testing it in front of me, so I can see haw far off it is from mine. I took your advice on the rams to the extreme, trying to make it is small a jump as possible on top of slowly acclimating them. They've been here two days, all good so far, even in a tank with a few critters that need to be evicted. It's a 1.1 (I'm 90% sure anyways).

I also picked up a beautiful "Colombian" zebra pleco (L129). So that gives me two plecos in this tank along with the long finned albino BNP, after moving the rhino out to my other tank. That was a complete mistake. Not a good fish for a planted tank, lol. This zebra though, is awesome. I'll get a pic at some point. S/he still hides a lot.

I'll get a few better pics at some point. I may have overdone the plants. I don't want to have to deal with adding Co2. But, I may have more plants than I can sustain otherwise. On the flipside, this is one of the nicest aquariums I have ever set up. I'm going to reduce the surface disruption to try to reduce gas exchange, see if that helps. I'm also getting a few more tests (Iron & Phosphates) to see if I am dosing enough for the plants. I don't want to overdo it. And the strangest thing I have EVER had happen with an aquarium. I may be having a problem actually keeping my nitrates over 10ppm. As in, the plants may actually be nitrogen deprived. I've spent my entire aquarium life trying to reduce nitrates, now I am liberally dumping food in the tank trying to get them up, lol! Seriously, I am almost to the point of just dumping NLS pellets in there after dark.

I'll get a few pics or a video soon. Any tips on helping a planted tank and staying "low tech"?
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02-10-2017, 04:26 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
Tips?

Trim often.   For some plants, I had to cut and replant the top part quite often.   Basically it is a small underwater garden you have to deal with. Tongue

Keep the lights on for no more than 10 hours a day.   Some people keep it on for only 8 hours or less a day with a break of 1 hour in between.  Use an automatic timer to turn on/off the lights will save you a lot of trouble.  

With eco-complete, your plants won't run out of iron for years to come.   There is no need to add any more iron.   For other minerals, eco-complete can still offer plenty of them for at least a year or so.   Don't take my word on it, but that is the general accepted idea on the net for eco-complete based planted aquariums.  

You do not have to get CO2 from the beginning.  Just give some time and see how it goes.   A lot of plants can do fine without it.  

Another tip is, you can put your air pump on timer.    During the time when the lights are on, the plants will produce O2.   You do not need a lot of surface movement for gas exchange at this point.   At night, it is quite the opposite since the plants actually produce CO2 in the dark.   Your fish will need extra O2 from the gas exchange.    Yeah, two automatic timers are needed for this to work.  Basically, the air pump gets turned on at the same time the lights are turned off.    <---  That was my own personal idea.  You do not have to follow lol.

I look forward to see your aquarium.   Thumbsup
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02-13-2017, 03:08 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
Thanks for the tips.  I don't even have an air pump running.  Though someone went so far as to suggest to run one to ADD co2 from the air, as they think there may actually be less co2 in the water than in regular air.  Depending on when I test, it seems I have between 5-10ppm co2.  Not terrible, but not great.  I have decided to go with a DIY Co2 system, with citric acid and bicarbonate.  Cheap, won't add a lot, but supplement it up to at least 15-20ppm during the day. 

Overall status of the tans is as goes. 

I had a serious problem keeping any nitrates at all in the tank, and had virtually no phosphates.  So I tried overfeeding the tank, with pelleted NLS foods (I use mostly frozen).  I actually created a "mini cycle".  Nitrites spiked.  A few days later Ammonia spiked.  Very odd.  I'm thinking Over the short life of this tank the amount of beneficial aerobic bacteria in the bio filter was actually pretty low, and the plants were just sucking up every form of nitrogen in the tank, since they can absorb ammonia, ammonium, nitrite, and nitrate.  I just overdid it. 

This was about the time I finally acquired a phosphate test.  And realized, that I didn't ever have enough to even register.  SO I bought a bottle of phosphorus.  Brought it up to ~0.5-0.8ppm.  This was just as the mini cycle completed.

Around this time, I also added a new light, the Satellite Pus Pro LED.  That thing is awesome.  The PAR is extremely high, I think over the next few weeks I will actually need to figure the exact amount to set it at, probably around 70-80%.  With all this, the plants really picked up.  The wisteria looks so much better.  The Vals are growing, and reproducing, well.  Ferns have the little fuzzy "new plant growths", whatever they are actually called.  The swords are a whole separate subject, but they are coming along, I'm just writing it off to my complete ignorance of this whoe aquatic plant conversion process. 

The reason I am so focused on the nitrogen complex and the phosphorus complex, is because the primary fert I use (in smaller than recommended proportions) is Sera Florena.  It has a solid amount of potassium (the other of the 3 primary macro nutrients), plus trace amounts of  Ca, Mg, & Fe.  I had originally thought N & P were things I would never need to worry about, as they are things I have always battled from fish waste.  But between the amount of plants I out in and the fact the system was so new, I have nowhere near enough.  And the reason I am adding even more iron (again, far under the "recommendations" on the bottle) is simply because of the red plants I have.  I have a lotus growing well and beautiful, that likes to absorb Fe from the water column, plus the red vals, temple, and the red ludwigia and crypts that I am thinking of adding.  It's more like the idea of using the fish food with the added beta carotene and other color enhancing ingredients to increase the colors in fish.  The test I have never shows any iron in the water column, chelated or non, ever.  So something is sucking it ALL up (I am guessing the lotus.) 

Also, after the mini cycle, I lost the L129.  That's a completely separate subject. It was near full size, i never saw it eat (though it hid most of the time during the day).  It had only been in the store a few days, who knows how long it had been in country.  The little spike in NO2, then NH3, might've been more than it could handle.  It's the only fatality in this tank thus far, including all the fish I dropped in from day 1 precycle.  I also added two more rams, a definite male electric blue, and a probable female gold.  Acclimated them very slowly.  there was a bit of drama immediately after releasing them with the resident male, but all seems to have settled so far 2 days in.
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02-15-2017, 10:45 AM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
If you are using a API master kit to test your nitrate, you have to be careful on how to proceed. It has been a long time since I used it, but from what I remember the solution bottle requires you to shake it for a minute or so before even using it. Then after the mixture, once again you have to shake it. Otherwise the result will be 0ppm for nitrate. I have made the mistake at one point when I forgot to shake it.

Yeah, ammonia and nitrite are both toxic. Fish can't live long even where this a trace amount of either in the water.
A fully planted aquarium of minimal 20-gallon with every square inch covered with plants might support a single Neon Tetra sized fish without a filter. You can't count on the plants to absorb all of the ammonia produced by the fish and the leftover fish food.

I wouldn't worry about phosphate. All the things you are adding to your aquarium will eventually result in an algae boom. Tongue Once your fish tank is fully stocked, combined with eco-complete substrate, there is very little else your plants need.

I have had very little experience with CO2. I have used a reactor type of system years ago. It produced CO2 upon chemical reaction at a slow pace. Once your CO2 is fully operational, please share your experience as well.
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02-15-2017, 04:45 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
THe API nitrate test I understand well.  I already learned that the hard way myself years ago, lol!  You have to shake bottle #2 well, the vial after adding #1, and then again after adding #2.  I just shake everything madly now.  I even shake the pH reagent before using it, lol!  I really don't like the API stuff, have been looking to upgrade.  What are you using?

With phosphate, here's what I have learned, and this is from scouring what all the ADA type serious plant people say.  With the macro-nutrients, Co2, and light, everything has to be in the proper balance.  Too much or too little of any of the above, and the plants can't utilize whatever is there in excess fast enough, and usually you get certain types of algae that can thrive specifically on that singe nutrient.  SO in theory, you can boost an obscenely high amount of phosphorus as long as the plants also have enough nitrogen, potassium, light, and Co2 to be able to metabolize it quickly.  To little of any of that and the plants can't work quickly enough to pull whatever the single high nutrient is out of the water.  Not that I want to do anything like that.  I have a phosphate test kit, it was literally 0.  I got it up to almost 1ppm about 5 days ago, and it is steadily trailing back down.    *****Of course, all this is in theory, I have no practical experience doing any of this, so I will post back if there is an algae bloom.  Either way, I am not going to ever let the phosphorus get over 2ppm, trying to keep it around 1 for now, and supposedly the algae bloom from too much phosphate requires more than that. 

I'll post up on the Co2 once I have it set up and going.  Still trying to research the best parts.  Again, I am not going high tech on this, I suppose it's Mid tech, lol!  I just want to be able to control the Co2 levels just a little.  And, it's mostly because of the damn red plants.  I am almost obsessed with them.  This red lotus is awesome.  I always like the way they look, and I stumbled across a few little bulbs with just a few leaves a few weeks ago, and it is doing well.  The leaves/pads are gorgeous.   Then the red ludwigia, scarlet temple, and red crypt too.
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02-15-2017, 05:03 PM,
#16
Fishbone Offline
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
And I am putting this in a separate comment, because it is weird. I mentioned I had a "mini cycle" a few weeks ago, I though from trying to overfeed a bit to raise the nitrates. Well, I never saw an ammonia spike. I thought I may have missed it because I don't think I tested the day before.

WELL... Since then I have gone back to testing at least once a day, if not twice. SO I bought the ludwigia and crypt last night. Yesterday morning, 0/0/10 NH3/NO2/NO3. After planting, digging down into the sub, I tested, 0/50+/10. I am pretty sure that last nitrite spike was after I planted something. So, I appear to have nitrite (not ammonia, nor nitrate) trapped in my substrate? I tested this morning, and if anything the nitrites were a bit higher, maybe the same. Tonight, 0/0/10-20. Nitrites gone. I did go into emergency mode last night, After all that, I added two different bacteria boosters, pit a bit of the Sera fert that has a good potassium content in, and retested the phosphorus to make sure it was still in good shape. Kicked the lights so they ran at full blast for 8 hours. Also this morning I did a trick with a combo of acid buffer and alkaline buffer that can raise dissolved Co2 without changing the pH, in short cheating to raise the Co2 short term.

What this means is, I boosted everything else in the tank the plants need since there was also a nitrogen boost, and they sucked it all out if the water. The brand new Ludwigia looks great too, lol.

But what it also means is, apparently every time I dig in the sub, I dig up nitrites? It's 4"+ deep, I don't feed the tank lightly, but I don't think I overfeed. Have you ever heard of this in a deep planted substrate? A "separate" nitrogen cycle inches down that just hasn't gotten all the way to converting all the way to nitrate? Deep enough so that it isn't being regularly and freely released into the water column? Seems weird to me?
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02-15-2017, 06:16 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
And this is obviously one post on the internet, but, it is backed by quite a bit of experience and science. Different types of "Algae" grow in all types of conditions. There is one that is cited as being induced by not enough phosphorus, lol!!

http://www.theplantedtank.co.uk/algae.htm
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02-16-2017, 10:44 AM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
I do not think you dug up nitrite. It could be something rotting in the substrate. You dug it up, and it produced more ammonia than usual. The system had more bacteria to feed on ammonia than the bacteria to feed on nitrite. So the ammonia was gone rather quickly, but the nitrite needed extra time to go down to 0ppm again.

Overfeeding not only can result in direct ammonia pollution from the leftover fish food. Even when all the food was eaten, the fish will produce extra waste and in return it means more ammonia anyway. When I feed my fish, I make sure there is no leftover at all. All fish food is gone within half a minute or so. Any more than that would be too much.
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02-16-2017, 12:58 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
(02-16-2017, 10:44 AM)Thor Wrote: I do not think you dug up nitrite.   It could be something rotting in the substrate.  You dug it up, and it produced more ammonia than usual.   The system had more bacteria to feed on ammonia than the bacteria to feed on nitrite.   So the ammonia was gone rather quickly, but the nitrite needed extra time to go down to 0ppm again.

Overfeeding not only can result in direct ammonia pollution from the leftover fish food.  Even when all the food was eaten, the fish will produce extra waste and in return it means more ammonia anyway.   When I feed my fish, I make sure there is no leftover at all.   All fish food is gone within half a minute or so.  Any more than that would be too much.

That's what I thought too.  Makes sense.  But seriously, 0/0/10, then less than 10 minutes after digging, 0/50+/10?  I dug up enough ammonia to cycle into over 50ppm nitrite, and that cycle happened in less than 10 min?  That seems rather extreme.  Though the nitrite did get wiped out, by the nitrifying bacteria &/or the plants, in less than 24 hours.  And I STILL have negligible nitrates.  I am kinda thinking that maybe the plants suck so much nitrogen out if the water that they are taking it in any form they can get a hold of.  It's a pretty densely planted tank, at least for me.  not up to those whacky ADA tanks,

Feeding is a tough situation compared to anything else I've done.  The Rams, tetras, the swordtail, the betta, the leaf fish, all come right at the food.  SO that is pretty straight forward.  then there are the 4 cories, the two plecos (one primarily carnivorous one primarily herbivorous.)They aren't all necessarily shy, but they don't come up at the food.  The little zebra pleco worries me, I've read of them starving themselves to death.  So I make sure some meat gets down there.  Then the fact that every time I feed, It's hard to get the fish in one general area, all weaving and winding in between stem plants and vals, plus the water flow that is actual quite effective for only having a HOB.  Obviously some food gets left behind, but not much.  The corries work overtime, The rams, especially the largest gold female, clean everything that lands on leaves (swords, lilies/lotus), as well as the bottom.  So do The leaf fish.  There is never a visible bloodworm (and they stand out) after 15 minutes.  I'm sure some brine or mysis shrimp go uneaten here and there, but it can't be much.  There was a week or so a while back where I fed a little heavy, trying to get some nitrates in the water.  I gave up on that.  I am cutting the feeding back.  I'm going to do an intentional test the next time I plant something.  Do a water test, plant the item, and do an immediate water test.  We'll see what that reveals. 

I'd get you some pics, but I don't even remember what email I used for any of those old school photo accounts, much less a password.  Lol.  I'll figure something out, lol.
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02-16-2017, 06:25 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
Check out the book, Ecology of the Planted Aquarium: A Practical Manual and Scientific Treatise, by Diana Louise Walstad. I have decided to try her methods on my big tank when I am ready to set it up. She claims that with 1 inch organic garden or potting soil free of non-organic fertilizers followed by 1 inch gravel or 0.75 in sand, she has tanks that only require replacing evaporated warter, cleaning the mechanical filters every month or so, no gravel cleaning, and a 25-50% water exchange only every 3-4 months. She also does some plant up keep, feeds her fish two time per day and gives a little extra for the plants, she uses natural lighting as well as artificial and chooses not to use CO2 injection but does admit there is a place for it if one chooses to use it. The book is full of resources and research. Now, I'm not saying that everyone should drive to Walmart buy potting soil to dump in there aquariums add a little gravel and plants and throug in some fish turn on the filter and a complete harmonious ecosystem will happen. But it is quite a bit different than all the ultra high tech aquascape tank setups you can find.
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02-17-2017, 02:20 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
(02-16-2017, 06:25 PM)GreenAmy Wrote: Check out the book, Ecology of the Planted Aquarium:  A Practical Manual and Scientific Treatise, by Diana Louise Walstad. I have decided to try her methods on my big tank when I am ready to set it up. She claims that with 1 inch organic garden or potting soil free of non-organic fertilizers followed by 1 inch gravel or 0.75 in sand, she has tanks that only require replacing evaporated warter, cleaning the mechanical filters every month or so, no gravel cleaning, and a 25-50% water exchange only every 3-4 months. She also does some plant up keep, feeds her fish two time per day and gives a little extra for the plants, she uses natural lighting as well as artificial and chooses not to use CO2 injection but does admit there is a place for it if one chooses to use it.  The book is full of resources and research. Now, I'm not saying that everyone should drive to Walmart buy potting soil to dump in there aquariums add a little gravel and plants and throug in some fish turn on the filter and a complete harmonious ecosystem will happen.  But it is quite a bit different than all the ultra high tech aquascape tank setups you can find.

Thanks Green, I'll look that book up.  That is in effect what I want.  And almost what i am doing.  I think i may have in effect a separate nitrogen cycle developing down in the sub.  it just hasn't made it to nitrates yet.   I've used a few "natural" products that may or may not actually encourage this.
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02-17-2017, 02:23 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
I have attained you 1999 image sharing technology, so a few pics, one center, one from each side...


[Image: 16729118_10155015314705148_4832044857483...e=59328C10]


[Image: 16729242_10155015315130148_6114784988481...e=5943A533]



[Image: 16807682_10155015315335148_4223241275350...e=5932D5CB]
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02-18-2017, 08:52 AM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
@ Fishone,

Looking good so far. I always enjoy the looks of Ram. Keep it up.

By the way, since when did you get into fish aquarium? I thought you were always a reptile guy with extra love for snakes and lizards. Tongue Are you still keeping as many lizard pets as in the past?

@ Greenamy,

It is hard to find unpolluted soil. There are always pesticide, chemical fertilizers, and herbicides in most soil you can find. They can be harmful or even deadly to the fish.

Partial water change every 3~4 months is a little extreme. The water change we do is not just for removing the nitrate, but also to restore the water buff, minerals, etc. There are also other organic waste we can't see beside nitrate. Unless the aquarium is heavily planted with very few fish, the need for water change is definitely more frequently than once every 3~4 months.
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02-18-2017, 02:05 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
@ Fishbone,

Looks great!

@ Thor,

I definitely recommend reading the book if anyone is thinking about trying soil. One is taking risks, and the author speaks to many of them. Her tanks are heavily planted and sparsely populated with with fish. I will probably not have my tank as heavily planted as the author and plan to do weekly 20% changes because they make more since to me than doing a larger exchange less frequently. Plus I don't want to restrict my fish population as much. Like I said you can't just run out to Walmart and throw it together with no thought. I just found it interesting that she is able to do it and have tanks that have plants and fish that have been thriving for years. She is a long time hobbiest and microbiologist.
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02-21-2017, 01:16 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
(02-18-2017, 08:52 AM)Thor Wrote: @ Fishone,

Looking good so far.  I always enjoy the looks of Ram.   Keep it up.  

By the way, since when did you get into fish aquarium?  I thought you were always a reptile guy with extra love for snakes and lizards. Tongue   Are you still keeping as many lizard pets as in the past?  

I've always had aquariums.  I have a big clown loach I got somewhere between 2003-2005.  I've still got plenty of snakes, lol.
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