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"Blackwater" planted aquarium
02-21-2017, 02:06 PM,
#26
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
(02-18-2017, 08:52 AM)Thor Wrote: @ 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.

It's really not that hard to find natural unpolluted/unfertilized soil without pesticides.   You have to pay attention, but it is out there, more and more every day.  I mean, if you are going to look at Wal-Mart & Home depot, you might have problems, but with a little effort, it is really no problem.  

(02-18-2017, 02:05 PM)GreenAmy Wrote: @ 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.

I have never actually tried the Walstad method, nor read the book.  But the idea is sound, if you do it properly.  I have read many posts and articles by her disciples over the past few months.  It can work. 

Water changes primarily do two things. 

1.  Remove/dilute toxins.  Primarily nitrates and phosphorus.  Which are two of the three most important nutrients plants need.  I consider my tank moderately planted, and I am already at the point that I have bought both phosphorus and nitrogen to add to the tank (more the P then the N).  The Walstad method relies on this.  Without enough plants it doesn't work.  With enough plants, they will filter nearly all the toxins from the water.  I absolutely can't keep a detectable trace of P in my tank for more than 3 days, using two different brands of tests. 

2.  Replenishing trace minerals, potassium, & carbonates.  Again, all easily replenished without water changes.  There are plenty of people with soft water tanks that only use RO water which ash no minerals or carbonates, so if this was a true reason you needed water changes, they'd all be screwed.  They add back all the minerals they want &/or need.  You can do the same to a runing tank.  You need test kits to do this properly IMHO.  You need to know what is in your tank, how fast you are going through it, and what is in the water you are using to replenish it.  Plus the knowledge of what it is you actually need. 

Short answer, if you pay attention to what you are doing, and learn what you need to do, you can get a much healthier tank doing this than just doing ritual 20% water changes on a schedule.  Of course, if you aren't on top of what's going on, you can make it much worse.
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02-25-2017, 02:16 PM,
#27
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
I will not try the soil method myself, as it is not the usual recommended substrate. And I'd imagine the substrate vacuuming might cause some trouble to the soil since it can be easily removed.

You are welcomed to try it if you are interested. Smile Please keep me updated.
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02-25-2017, 05:40 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
(02-25-2017, 02:16 PM)Thor Wrote: I will not try the soil method myself, as it is not the usual recommended substrate.   And I'd imagine the substrate vacuuming might cause some trouble to the soil since it can be easily removed.  

You are welcomed to try it if you are interested.  Smile  Please keep me updated.

Not recommended by whom?  "Them"?  Lol...  If you look into any of the really dedicated planted tank people, most of the highly experienced say it is one if not the best substrate.  The vacuuming is an issue, they all seem to say the solution is to make absolutely sure you are not overfeeding, and let the biological process take care of the rest.  Most of them also look at fish as the secondary residents, whereas most of us look at fish as the primary residents and plants secondarily.  they simply don't keep fish that could cause problems to the plants.  They also usually keep hoards of shrimp.  Also, plants will utilize ammonium over nitrate when it is available.  To the extent, that some of these planted tank people's idea of cycling a tank is to just establish the plants first, then introduce the fish, without ever working to establish a biofilter.  Just relying on the plants to completely neutralize the water.  Just in my little aquatic jungle, I am already having to add phosphates regularly, and nitrogen (using Seachem nitrogen which is NH4 & NO3) occasionally, as my plants already need more waste then the 21 fish in the 36 gal tank can produce.  It's not quite that simple, but if you provide the plats with all else they need to grow quickly, they'll suck up everything the fish produce and actually start to show signs of nitrogen deficiencies.  It is absolutely crazy to me.  I have Nitrates in a bottle that I pour into a tank with 21 fish.  Seriously.  And, i have reduced my water change schedule, which was already not as often as "they" say it should be, to make sure i am not taking all the nitrates out of the tank.  

But I am nowhere near brave enough to try soil yet my friend, lol.  Check back with me in a few years ;Wink
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02-26-2017, 07:22 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
As the matter of fact, soil is one of the least used substrate for planted aquariums.    More people are using smaller gravel, sand, and other substrate than soil.   Just in any online fish aquarium community you can confirm it.   Wink

It is simply easier to make a mess in the fish tank with ordinary soil as substrate.    Vacuuming is not the only problem.   Some bottom feeder fish will dig around too.   Sure you can partially solve the problem by having a thick layer of something else on the top of soil, but it is just more troublesome if they get mixed up.  

You may get away without vacuuming if you do not have a fully stocked fish tank.   The accumulated organic waste will eventually cause old tank syndrome.    It is really hard to keep the nitrate down even with a full tank of plants.    Trust me on this.  I had covered almost every square inch of the tank with plants yet the nitrate still go up as usual.   The only way to prevent it is for me to have fewer fish.    

Yes, priority plays a role here too.  Some people see their aquatic plants more important than fish.   So it is only natural they keep the environment more ideal for the plants.   If the fish is your priority, nitrate should be as low as possible.   Plants will do fine with even trace amount of nitrogen.    You do not need to keep nitrate high just to please the plants. Tongue
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03-06-2017, 02:37 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
(02-26-2017, 07:22 PM)Thor Wrote: As the matter of fact, soil is one of the least used substrate for planted aquariums.    More people are using smaller gravel, sand, and other substrate than soil.   Just in any online fish aquarium community you can confirm it.   Wink

I dunno, in a Fish community, maybe.  If you scroll through the planted tank forums and FB groups, it is becoming far and away one of the more preferred subs.  If you put it up by itself against all the other subs together, it is the minority.  If you were to combine sand and soil together and compare, they win hands down.  


Quote:It is simply easier to make a mess in the fish tank with ordinary soil as substrate.    Vacuuming is not the only problem.   Some bottom feeder fish will dig around too.   Sure you can partially solve the problem by having a thick layer of something else on the top of soil, but it is just more troublesome if they get mixed up.  

Mess is relative, more a problem to the keeper than the kept.  Same with the bottom feeders, like cories.  Many like the softer substrate, digging is natural behavior.  

Quote:You may get away without vacuuming if you do not have a fully stocked fish tank.   The accumulated organic waste will eventually cause old tank syndrome.    It is really hard to keep the nitrate down even with a full tank of plants.    Trust me on this.  I had covered almost every square inch of the tank with plants yet the nitrate still go up as usual.   The only way to prevent it is for me to have fewer fish.   

I am all but positive that "old tank sydrome" is a completely misunderstood concept.  It certainly exists, but what you need to avoid it is a "bioactive" substrate.

As far as nitrates, There are two ways to prevent it.  Have a better way to deal with the nitrates, or produce less organic waste (or as you said, "have less fish", lol!)  It is not as simple as "have a lot of plants and they will remove nitrates".  All plants, terrestrial & aquatic, require three primary macro-nutrients; nitrogen, phosphorus, & potassium (N,P,K).   They are used in a ration, it varies from species to species, aquatic to terrestrial to air, etc.  That's why, if you go to home depot or a nursery, there are a variety of fertilizers with different NPK formulations.  No3 (nitrate) can't just be overdosed on a plant(s) without the other prerequisite nutrients being proportionately available and be expected to just be sucked up.  Unless there is enough readily accessible potassium & phosphorus, (plus enough proportional Co2 & light), the plants will not utilize the No3.  They simply physically, biologically, can't.  They are not actual filters that you can just use as a pad.  They are living creatures that utilize nitric compounds along with other nutrients for their own growth and propagation. 

As an example, three days ago, my nitrates climbed up over 30ppm.  Because I was slacking and not tracking the levels for a few days.  I was almost 0 on phosphorus.  My tank overall produces a good amount of nitrogen, and far less phosphorus.  The plants utilize all the phosphorus, and as much of the nitrates as they can that correspond to their needed ratio.  When the phosphorus runs out, they stop utilizing nitrates, because they can't do anything with that by itself.   Two days of calculated phosphorus dosing, and the nitrates have righted themselves to below 10ppm.  Because I poured quite a bit of P in the tank in the process. 

I now have what is an officially heavily stocked tank with fish (and plants for that matter, I have to trim at least twice a week).  In my tank, as long as I make sure to keep the P level up to par with the N produced from the fish/food waste, I have negligible nitrates.  

What you need to know is, how much nitrogen is in the tank (including ammonia/ammonium), how much phosphorus is in the tank, how much K is in the tank, what the actual level of disolved Co2 is in the tank (even if you are not adding it, it's in there, and calculable), and how much the light you have can enable the plants to utilize all of these variables.  If any of these are too low, they limit the amount of all the others that can be processed by the plants.  

Saying "Trust me on this.  I had covered almost every square inch of the tank with plants yet the nitrate still go up as usual.", is the equivalent of saying "Trust me on this, I put the highest test gasoline in my car and it still wouldn't start" when you have never checked anything else, the spark plugs, fuel injection, battery, alternator, starter, etc.  But yet you still blame it on the gas.  Very bad science and problem solving.  
Quote:Yes, priority plays a role here too.  Some people see their aquatic plants more important than fish.   So it is only natural they keep the environment more ideal for the plants.   If the fish is your priority, nitrate should be as low as possible.   Plants will do fine with even trace amount of nitrogen.    You do not need to keep nitrate high just to please the plants. Tongue

The priority issue is a big deal here, just as your statement above "just in any online fish community", is close to the exact opposite of what you read in any online aquatic plant community.  It goes the other way too.  So many of the plant guys are very pro glutaraldehyde supplements, like Excel and Co2 Booster, etc.  You can certainly come up with a way to (mostly) safely use that stuff with most fish, but most of the fish people won't touch it. 
You don't want to keep "high nitrates", you want to produce high enough nitrogen that the plants can utilize everything at their disposal.  If you are reading tests for high nitrates, it is not as simple as having too much nitrogen, it is more correctly looked at as a NPK imbalance (which may in fact be too much nitrogen, but without knowing the other two, you are really guessing), &/or an imbalance of those combined with the levels of light and Co2.
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03-07-2017, 03:28 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
Corydoras type of bottom feeders like digging around. Yes, it is their nature. Correct me if I am wrong, most river and lakes have a layer of sand or gravel as the top substrate. So they are basically digging around in sand and gravel, not in dirt.

I guess you made sense on nitrogen was not fully used by the plants due to the lack of other nutrients. It is exactly the reason why not everyone is using CO2 injection and high intensity lights. Plants can definitely make use more of the nitrate if there is more CO2 and lights. Same case with other nutrients.

However as a fish keeper, I am just a little lazy on putting too much effort on the plants. Tongue If anyone who are willing to spend time and effort to calculate the exact amount of other nutrients they need to supplement the tank for the nitrate to disappear, feel free to do it. I will look up to them as professional aquatic "gardeners". Big Grin To me, I use what is easier for myself. I will stick with weekly partial water change to keep my system clean and healthy.
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03-08-2017, 05:21 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
(03-07-2017, 03:28 PM)Thor Wrote: Corydoras type of bottom feeders like digging around.  Yes, it is their nature.   Correct me if I am wrong, most river and lakes have a layer of sand or gravel as the top substrate.  So they are basically digging around in sand and gravel, not in dirt.  

Well, that is a fairly diverse genus of catfish.  Most rivers have either sand or rounded rocks and gravel, but they primarily live on the banks of those rivers, which usually has a more plant rich, "soil like" sub.  Many of the lakes have a more dirt like bottom, depending on the lake.  Also like many of the S American fish, some species inhabit "blackwater" type habitats, flooded plains in the summer, which are very slow moving, basically flooded jungles.  All dirt and leaf litter.  They are highly adaptable fish.  

Quote:I guess you made sense on nitrogen was not fully used by the plants due to the lack of other nutrients.   It is exactly the reason why not everyone is using CO2 injection and high intensity lights.  Plants can definitely make use more of the nitrate if there is more CO2 and lights.  Same case with other nutrients. 


This is a complicated subject that

1.  I fully understand, in theory.

2.  Still escapes me in practice.  

A while ago, you advised me to avoid the "high tech" approach.  I agree.  But, the "low tech" approach isn't exactly what I want either.  At the time, I didn't understand what those concepts meant.  What I want is a balanced system, between the plants and fish.  Modified.  The real key is, depending on plant stock and species, and fish stock and species, making sure all have what they need, balanced, so they can use up all of the waste of the other.  E.g., even without a "high tech" approach, in your tank Thor, do you know what your phosphates (P) and potassium (K) are?   If you are feeding any dried/pellet food, you probably have at least some P.  But if you have plants, it'd be worth the $7 to get a P test.  And if that is high too (not uncommon in a primarily fish tank) then what you need is K.  That will usually not come from anything but your addition.  It can not be produced from normal fish/invert/whatever waste.  FWIW, you almost can't overdose potassium either.  I'm not saying to just pour an entire 500ml bottle of Flourish Potassium in the tank, but with a bit of common sense, it's more than safe.   The P (phosphorus) is the other variable, but if you give the plants what they need, they'll take it all down. 


Quote:However as a fish keeper, I am just a little lazy on putting too much effort on the plants.  Tongue    If anyone who are willing to spend time and effort to calculate the exact amount of other nutrients they need to supplement the tank for the nitrate to disappear, feel free to do it.  I will look up to them as professional aquatic "gardeners". Big Grin   To me, I use what is easier for myself.  I will stick with weekly partial water change to keep my system clean and healthy.

FWIW, I am pretty sure I sped less time overall checking levels doing less water changes, lol.  I was up to 40ppm NO3 a few days ago, bumped the K & P to the needed levels, and the nitrate wiped itself out to less than 10ppm.  Plus, I now have a bright red lily pad bumping to the surface that wasn't there before....
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03-12-2017, 08:17 AM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
I actually never checked my phosphate level. The only testing kits I bought were for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, PH, and general hardness.

In fact, it has been a while since I checked any level of anything at all. During the initial setting up phrase years ago, I checked the readings once per day. Sometimes even twice a day. Other than that, I only check if there is a noticeable problem or potential problem.

I am still not yet in a mood to be a pro aquatic gardener yet. Maybe in the future I will give it a try when I feel like it. Tongue

I am glad your plants are doing better now, and you have found a new way to enjoy your aquarium. Keep doing what you enjoy is the key. Smile
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03-15-2017, 05:22 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
(03-12-2017, 08:17 AM)Thor Wrote: I actually never checked my phosphate level.  The only testing kits I bought were for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, PH, and general hardness.  

In fact, it has been a while since I checked any level of anything at all.   During the initial setting up phrase years ago, I checked the readings once per day.  Sometimes even twice a day.  Other than that, I only check if there is a noticeable problem or potential problem.  

I am still not yet in a mood to be a pro aquatic gardener yet.  Maybe in the future I will give it a try when I feel like it. Tongue  

I am glad your plants are doing better now, and you have found a new way to enjoy your aquarium.   Keep doing what you enjoy is the key.  Smile

Lol, honestly, I do all this to lessen the workload to take care of the fish, plus increase the beauty of the tank.  Get an API phosphate kit.  Plus a bottle of phosphorus, some fertilizer with potassium (Sera Florena, the Seachem potassium, etc), and something with all the micro nutrients (like Flourish).  You almost always need to dose potassium.  There is no regular way to get it from fish waste, and nor reasonable way to overdose it.  Phosphorus, maybe or maybe not. depending on the food you're using.   Dry/pellet foods tend to have more than frozen.  But that test is worth the few dollars, if you can encourage your plants to absorb 2-5 times the nitrates out of the water.  At least it is to me.  But, I just want to do less work, and have the life in the aquarium do it by itself, lol!
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03-20-2017, 04:42 AM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
Thanks for the advice. Please record the details of what you did and share the experience with me. I might try it at a later time. In just a few weeks, I will be out of the country for 5 months. Be back in September. I will still be active on this forum.
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03-22-2017, 03:14 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
I'm really going to need to start a journal of all this. The short answer is, the balance of Nitrogen/Phosphorus/Potassium (N/P/K), Co2, & light, controls everything. "Low Tech" generally refers to a tank with no Co2 added, so you need to add less nutrients (N/P/K) and light. The "High-Tech" tanks with Co2 injected, need more light and nutrients. And the N/P/K itself needs to be balanced. If you have high nitrates but no phosphorus or potassium, the plants can't utilize all that N without the others, no matter the light or Co2 . The separate issue is, especially if you have high powered lights, with a nutrient imbalance like that, you'll probably end up with some type of algae bloom. There are more than a few species of algae that can take advantage of each nutrient imbalance. That's where the thought that excess phosphates and light (especially natural sunlight) cause the green algae that grows on glass comes from. This is not untrue, but it doesn't hit the core of the issue. If you took the exact same tank, boosted the Co2 and made sure the other nutrients balanced out, plants in the tank would more than absorb the phosphorus. It's not so much too much Phosphorus, as it is an imbalance of all factors. If you can't get the others up, you need to balance down to the lowest factor.

FWIW, the K, that's what is really lacking in most non fertilized tanks from what I've seen. There is basically no way it'll end up in the tank without it being added specifically, and without a moderate amount, the plants are limited to the amount of P & N they can utilize.

And that is before you add in all the lesser factors. Like iron, calcium, magnesium, etc etc. They play a smaller role, but again, if you have too much phosphorus and iron, that changes the game. Then there's water flow.

The whole point is, the learning curve on this is kinda steep. I was rocking perfectly with this new planted tank for almost three months. Around 10 days ago I started growing some type of green hair algae on the leaves of a few plants in the top 4" or so, near the center of the tank. I ran one day with the lights off, reduced the time the lights were on full power, reduced the power of the lights by 10%, and knocked back the K & Fe I was dosing. Seems to have died off. And yet, I am not 100% sure what combination of all that has made the difference. I'm pretty sure it was mostly the lights, since the algae growth was mostly at the top near the lights. So again, I need to rebalance everything else, to make sure all is in tune with the new lighting. Lol...
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03-24-2017, 01:42 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
Yeah, I can sum it up shorter.  Low tech means for lazier people like me.  High tech means for less lazy people like you who are willing to put in more effort. Big Grin    I might change, but it is not the time yet.   Have a lot on hand right now.  

Yeah, one thing the algae can't live without is the lights.   Yet the plants can't live without lights either.   But the plants are more developed "higher" species, they can handle periodically darkness better than algae.   A lot of people split the time they have lights on, and use it as one of the method to combat algae.   It is why I have recommended it a while ago with putting one hour of darkness in the middle of lights on period. Some people split it more.

You may also get some "algae eaters" to take care of the very little algae.  We can't relay on them to combat the algae, but they will help.
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03-28-2017, 11:12 AM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
(03-24-2017, 01:42 PM)Thor Wrote: Yeah, I can sum it up shorter.  Low tech means for lazier people like me.  High tech means for less lazy people like you who are willing to put in more effort. Big Grin    I might change, but it is not the time yet.   Have a lot on hand right now.  

I really want to be "Mid tech".  Just enough to get the plants to utilize most of the nitrates in the tank.  Everyone seems to either gravitate to "low tech", no Co2, lower powered lights, etc, Which leaves you needing to do a lot of water changes to remove the excess nitrogen and phosphorus.  Or "high tech", injecting Co2 to a minimum of 30ppm and high PAR lighting, heavily dosing ferts with the E.I. method or something similar, to keep the plants fueled enough to deal with all the CO2 and light.  This leads to needing a lot of water changes to deal with what I think is the overuse of fertilizers.  I want to be lazy, less water changes, etc, lol.  

Quote:Yeah, one thing the algae can't live without is the lights.   Yet the plants can't live without lights either.   But the plants are more developed "higher" species, they can handle periodically darkness better than algae.   A lot of people split the time they have lights on, and use it as one of the method to combat algae.   It is why I have recommended it a while ago with putting one hour of darkness in the middle of lights on period.  Some people split it more.   

True.  Interesting fact.  The reason the split lighting schedule works, according to a lot of tests, is because when you turn the lights off, the plants metabolism changes, including their respiration.  They let off Co2.  So you actually build up a little more Co2 in the tank by turning the lights off.  

Quote:You may also get some "algae eaters" to take care of the very little algae.  We can't relay on them to combat the algae, but they will help.

Yeah, I went ahead and added a few ottos to the tank too.  Can't hurt, lol.
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03-30-2017, 12:05 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
Some dwarf shrimp like red cherry shrimp, yellow shrimp, crystal red shrimp, will help with algae too. Larger fish will eat them for snack though. Anything longer than 3" will be a threat to even the adult sized shrimp. The smaller ones will just be food all the time, unless you have a big chunk of java moss in there for them to hide.

Some aquatic snails like to eat algae as well. Zebra Nerite is one of them, and they do not reproduce in freshwater.

Otto catfish do best when you have a school of 6+. The last time after I lost one of them, they went "under". They get shy when their number is low.
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04-15-2017, 04:03 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
(03-30-2017, 12:05 PM)Thor Wrote: Some dwarf shrimp like red cherry shrimp, yellow shrimp, crystal red shrimp, will help with algae too.  Larger fish will eat them for snack though.   Anything longer than 3" will be a threat to even the adult sized shrimp.   The smaller ones will just be food all the time, unless you have a big chunk of java moss in there for them to hide.  

Some aquatic snails like to eat algae as well.  Zebra Nerite is one of them, and they do not reproduce in freshwater.  

Otto catfish do best when you have a school of 6+.   The last time after I lost one of them, they went "under".   They get shy when their number is low.

Yeah, my tank is burgeoning on "predatory".  The Ghost knife that we set this tank up for is in there now, though he's not big yet, ~4-5".  There are also two African leaf fish/spotted bush fish in there too. Cherry shrimp probably wouldn't last long.  I'm buying small rasboras as "feeder" fish, that I wouldn't mind if they didn't get eaten.  Thinking of getting some pygmy gourami for the same purpose.  I currently have one, very smart, emerald eyed rasbora, that's been in there over a month now.  He sleeps in the water that collects in the lily pads from the banana plant and tiger lotus leaves near the surface.  I've considered buying 10-15 cherry shrimp, and just seeing what happens.  I've got a virtual jungle.  I don't see things for weeks, then, there they are.  if enough of them can hide, they might breed, get a colony going, feeds the fish, cleans the algae, etc etc.  Or they'll all be devoured in a few minutes, lol.  The only shrimp in there now are the two vampire shrimp.  Well, I know one is there, I know where he hides.  I'm iffy on the other.  The ottos are doing well so far.  I think I still have four.  Can't do snails.  I have three assassins in there now.
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04-17-2017, 12:18 PM,
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
Yeah, you can try with cherry shrimp. They are great for the ecosystem.
If you are up for a little more work, you might want to have a shrimp only tank with nothing but a big chunk of java moss in it. A 5~10 gallon basic tank will do fine along with a small sponge filter. You do not even need a heater since you live in Florida. A dozen of them will multiply into 100+ in 3~4 months. Then you will have endless supply of cherry shrimp for you to drop into the main tank. I have done it with Yellow Shrimp which is the same species as red cherry shrimp but different color. They really breed fast when conditions are right. I feed them Omega One shrimp pellets.

Assassin snails won't touch big snail species like Zebra Nerite. First hand experience. Smile They only eat those tiny pond snails which are usually pests in home aquariums.
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04-29-2017, 02:53 PM,
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KayR Offline
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
Wow- I'm really overwhelmed with all the information here. Most of it is Greek to me. I understand ammonia and nitrogen and nitrates but have never paid attention to them. I feel like a terrible fish mommy.

I had 2 10 gallon tanks with some basic fish in them 30 years ago. Kids put some crayons in the tanks and everything died so that was the end of it for years. Last spring we set up a "pond" in the front yard made out of a toddler swimming pool and a small pump. We kept it about 6" deep with cinder blocks and large rocks in it for the birds and feral cats. Spotted some mosquito larvae in there and headed to walmart and got some 38 cent feeder goldfish to deal with them. Ended up with a pond full of tadpoles and we though the goldfish had all died because the water turned into a swamp. We couldn't see through the water at all. So we stopped adding food for the fish when the tadpoles grew up and left and left it alone. Fast forward to fall and we go to clean it out and spotted something move in the sludge water.....

We ended up with 6 goldfish that needed a new home. We put them in a 30 gallon tank we had, got a filter, got an airpump and stones.... and over 2 months we slowly changed the water from the sludge they were in to the crystal clear water they are in now.

We have some live plants with no special lighting. There's no algae build up which concerns me for the pleco but it's growing so I guess it's getting enough to eat. We put in pleco blocks & wafers but the goldfish are quick to get them first. We get feeder shrimp every 2 weeks and they last about an hour if they are lucky (we get 20 at a time). A month ago we got feeder guppies and there are still 2 left!

We use tap water and leave it sit for a week before we use it and we add safe start to it. We change 10 gallons each week- sometimes 2 weeks if the schedule gets crazy. We rinse off the sponge filter every week and change it every month according to the directions.

The goldfish are now 6-7" and appear to be doing great considering where they came from and what they have been through. We're in the process of setting up a 10 gallon tank for shrimp and guppies- the intention is to breed our own feeders but I'm concerned I'll get attached. When we put the feeders into the tank now I always root for them to get away from Chubs- but darn s/he's really fast and just sucks them up whole in the blink of an eye.

So- should I really start testing my water every day? I really like just watching them and feeding them once a day. I am a very low-tech kind of fish/plant owner. LOL
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05-05-2017, 02:58 PM,
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Fishbone Offline
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RE: "Blackwater" planted aquarium
(04-29-2017, 02:53 PM)KayR Wrote: Wow- I'm really overwhelmed with all the information here. Most of it is Greek to me. I understand ammonia and nitrogen and nitrates but have never paid attention to them. I feel like a terrible fish mommy.

I had 2 10 gallon tanks with some basic fish in them 30 years ago. Kids put some crayons in the tanks and everything died so that was the end of it for years. Last spring we set up a "pond" in the front yard made out of a toddler swimming pool and a small pump. We kept it about 6" deep with cinder blocks and large rocks in it for the birds and feral cats. Spotted some mosquito larvae in there and headed to walmart and got some 38 cent feeder goldfish to deal with them. Ended up with a pond full of tadpoles and we though the goldfish had all died because the water turned into a swamp. We couldn't see through the water at all. So we stopped adding food for the fish when the tadpoles grew up and left and left it alone. Fast forward to fall and we go to clean it out and spotted something move in the sludge water.....

We ended up with 6 goldfish that needed a new home. We put them in a 30 gallon tank we had, got a filter, got an airpump and stones.... and over 2 months we slowly changed the water from the sludge they were in to the crystal clear water they are in now.

Goldfish are extremely resilient.  Sounds like you did the right thing overall.  You should adjust your regimen to suit the animals you keep.  I think it is certainly worth testing the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate of any tank you keep.  Just because it doesn't kill them, doesn't mean it isn't stressing them and decreasing their lifespan.  Once you have a good nitrogen cycle set up, it isn't hard to keep it working.  
Quote:We have some live plants with no special lighting. There's no algae build up which concerns me for the pleco but it's growing so I guess it's getting enough to eat. We put in pleco blocks & wafers but the goldfish are quick to get them first. We get feeder shrimp every 2 weeks and they last about an hour if they are lucky (we get 20 at a time). A month ago we got feeder guppies and there are still 2 left!
The whole lighting bit with plants, is a complicated issue.  There is a balance with N/P/K, lighting, and Co2.  If you enhance any of those, an not the others, things go wonky.  I am adding Co2, and fertilizers (N/P/K), ad the light I bought was still too bright.  I had to dial it down.  The real key is balance.  

Quote:We use tap water and leave it sit for a week before we use it and we add safe start to it. We change 10 gallons each week- sometimes 2 weeks if the schedule gets crazy. We rinse off the sponge filter every week and change it every month according to the directions.

Water changes sound fine.  Just my humble opinion, but there is no need to let tap water sit for a week if you are adding a product that detoxifies the chlorine and chloromines.   Add the safestart, let it sit for 24 hours, you should be fine. 

You are using sponge filter?  As long as the spongey part is in good condition, just rinse it in tank water, (Not Tap Water) and keep using it.  All that does is grow good bacteria.  
Quote:The goldfish are now 6-7" and appear to be doing great considering where they came from and what they have been through. We're in the process of setting up a 10 gallon tank for shrimp and guppies- the intention is to breed our own feeders but I'm concerned I'll get attached. When we put the feeders into the tank now I always root for them to get away from Chubs- but darn s/he's really fast and just sucks them up whole in the blink of an eye.

So- should I really start testing my water every day? I really like just watching them and feeding them once a day. I am a very low-tech kind of fish/plant owner. LOL

There is nothing wrong with low tech.  I would recommend getting a ammonia, nitrite, & nitrate test kit. Plus a pH & kH test kit.  Once you have an established biological filter, the real reason of a water change is to reduce the nitrates.  If you know what that is, you can adjust you schedule.  If your combo of fish, plants, and filter only result in 20ppm nitrates after a week, you can probably let it go another week.  If it is over 60ppm after a week, I'd consider an extra change or two.  But without the tests, you are just changing blindly.  I don't think there i any need to test daily.  But weekly or biweekly, at least for a while, I would.
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