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chodovet 07-25-2020 05:00 PM

Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
4 Attachment(s)
Hello all, I'm new to this forum as I endeavor to set up a 29 gallon el natural style tank. I have a 10 gallon low-tech planted tank that has been set up for about 3 years with eco-complete substrate and a dense forest of Cryptocoryne undulata that I keep having to trim back - I think there is a lot of mulm built up which has allowed this plant to thrive. Also water sprite is doing well, some other plants not so much, but that's a story for a different thread. Just neocaridina shrimp and a nerite in there right now, used to have ember tetras but they are all gone now.

But on to the new set-up! I wanted to document my journey here and see if it seems like I'm on the right track. I did a lot of reading and started setting up this 29 gallon tank about a week ago with a 1-1.5" layer of Miracle-gro Organic Care garden soil which I did not pre-treat (hope this doesn't come back to bite me), but I did let it sit in the tank saturated for a few days - very strong ammonia smell when I came back to add the substrate cap. Oh and I added about 1.5 quarts of clay cat litter. I capped it with about 0.75-1 inch of black diamond blasting sand, which I did rinse beforehand. I did a few fills and rinses until the water was pretty much clear, then drained to ~2inches add plants on 7/19. Plants were ordered online, including: Water wisteria, Dwarf saggitaria, Jungle val, a couple of Hygrophila stem plants, Bacopa, and another unidentified stem. I also snipped a small piece of water sprite from the other tank which is floating and may add more later.

Attachment 63665
(don't know why this keeps uploading upside down)

The water clouded up by the next day, which I attributed to an expected bacterial bloom. Then I got nervous maybe it was related to not rinsing the sand well enough, so I did a ~9 gallon water change. Things started to look more clear after that, but not crystal.

Attachment 63659
Attachment 63661

I got some spider wood driftwood, was careful to embed rocks in the substrate all the way to the glass for the wood to rest on, so it is not sitting directly on the substrate.

Attachment 63663

The next day, the water is very cloudy again - I'm assuming another bacteria bloom from the driftwood, though it's also possible it's related to stirring up the substrate (maybe both!). I have an AquaClear filter running with the sponge, carbon (in case there were any weird toxins? I'll take it out later), and a minimal amount of bio-media.

A question - Ammonia is at 4ppm since yesterday - this is mostly from the substrate I guess. No nitrites or nitrate yet. Should I do a water change? Is that high enough to damage the plants?? I do plan to add more plants - including java moss, Hornwort, and Echinodorus spp. - hopefully by the end of the week. The current plants have had some melt but for the most part seem to be doing okay. Now this is about

I am using RO water remineralized with SaltyShrimp shrimp mineral GH/KH+ as this is what I use in my other tank and the shrimp are thriving (after some trial and error with Seachem Equilibrium). My tap water is terrible, super soft but high in carbonates so very high pH. The remineralized water that i use in the tanks is pH ~7.6, TDS ~250. My GH kit is expired, but it should be around 6. The light is a Finnex Stingray2.

Okay so, should I do a water change or just wait? I hate to throw away the nutrients that plants could use, but also don't want to burn them. Any other thoughts? Thanks in advance!

dwalstad 07-26-2020 03:58 PM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chodovet (Post 1007897)
Hello all, I'm new to this forum as I endeavor to set up a 29 gallon el natural style tank. Ammonia is at 4ppm since yesterday - this is mostly from the substrate I guess.
Okay so, should I do a water change or just wait? I hate to throw away the nutrients that plants could use, but also don't want to burn them.

Welcome to APC!

I would do water changes every few days until water clears and ammonia gets down to traces. With 4 ppm ammonia, you can be sure that the soil is pumping out an incredible amount of plant nutrients.

chodovet 07-27-2020 06:40 AM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
Thank you Diana! I did a ~30% water change last night (hard to do more with the RO system), but just ran out of drops in my ammonia test bottle #2 so not sure of the current reading until I can get another. I'll keep checking and changing and anxiously awaiting more plants! I may throw some duckweed in from a nearby pond if I can figure out a good way to corral it.

The water is definitely clearer but there is a white haze on all the glass. The pest snails eat it, but just make tiny little tracks, not really helpful. I rubbed some of it off during the water change. I think this is okay and normal? Or does it suggest too much light? I remember in my last tank once I got a Nerite I had no more issues with stuff on the glass!

dwalstad 07-27-2020 05:08 PM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
You might want to tell us why you are using RO water instead of tapwater.

And I couldn't find the ingredient list for "Salty Shrimp."

Michael 07-27-2020 06:36 PM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
Forgive me for a completely frivolous post, but "salty shrimp" is an entree at one or favorite Vietnamese restaurants.

chodovet 07-28-2020 12:08 PM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by dwalstad (Post 1008009)
You might want to tell us why you are using RO water instead of tapwater.

And I couldn't find the ingredient list for "Salty Shrimp."

Indeed, and unfortunately, there is no published ingredient list for SaltyShrimp products. The one I am using is Shrimp Mineral GH/KH+
It is recommended in several places online by people who keep shrimp in remineralized RO water. I like it because it dissolves almost instantly in water (they must use the dihydrate form of the salts), unlike Seachem equilibrium which I had issues with. It also has a relatively low TDS as compared to Equilibrium. It's easy for me to add it to a bucket of RO water and double-check the concentration with a TDS meter. For a GH of 6 it has a TDS of ~200ppm. It is more expensive than other options, but for my 10 gallon the smallest bottle has lasted almost 3 years and it is what I settled on as the easiest thing to do.

EDIT: From a reddit post I found this about another of their products. I guess the shrimp mineral gh/kh+ product would be similar but with more KH ingredients, though I'm not sure:
Bee Shrimp Mineral GH +
Soft Water Mineral GH +
17.88% Calcium
6.76% Magnesium
2, 11% Potassium
0.69% Hydrogen Carbonate
41.50% Chloride
16.91% Sulfate
0.35492% Trace Elements

I would love it if I could use tap water instead. Especially now with this larger tank, that would make things much easier! However, my city tap water is weird and terrible (notoriously so). Let me give details. It is very soft (Hardness 3.96 - 11.9 mg/L = <1dGH), and yet has very high bicarbonate (382 mg/L) so a very high pH (8.5-8.7). Sodium levels are also high (181 - 207 mg/L). Calcium is so low (3.23 mg/L). Anecdotally, everyone will tell you it will kill your (terrestrial) plants, and I know the greenhouses on campus use a lot of RO water. I don't think freshwater aquatic plants would enjoy that much sodium either? The TDS is 400ppm out of the tap. And I would still have to add in more minerals.

Water report from 2019:
Attachment 63679

Your thoughts welcome!

dwalstad 07-28-2020 04:54 PM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
Your tapwater sounds weird and terrible! Can see why you use R.O. water, especially with that amount of sodium, high pH, etc.

Salty Shrimp sounds good. Tank has a nice assortment of good plants. Maybe, this (4 ppm ammonia) will work itself out as the soil settles down at 6-8 weeks post-setup?

I would do water changes every week or so--whenever you think ammonia and cloudiness are getting out of control.

chodovet 07-29-2020 07:55 AM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by dwalstad (Post 1008035)
Your tapwater sounds weird and terrible! Can see why you use R.O. water, especially with that amount of sodium, high pH, etc.

Salty Shrimp sounds good. Tank has a nice assortment of good plants. Maybe, this (4 ppm ammonia) will work itself out as the soil settles down at 6-8 weeks post-setup?

I would do water changes every week or so--whenever you think ammonia and cloudiness are getting out of control.

Thanks! The ammonia got up to almost 8ppm the night before last, but I didn't have time to to a water change until yesterday evening. I filled 3 5-gallon jugs with RO water at a water vending station down the street, so was able to do a BIG water change (almost 20 gallons) last night, which brought the ammonia back down to ~1ppm. It looks to be holding there this morning. We also grabbed a bunch of duckweed from the neighborhood pond, which hopefully will help with the ammonia and maybe bring some beneficial bacteria along with it.

I haven't seen any nitrites yet. I could add filter media from my other tank, but no reason to rush the process of ammonia to nitrate at this stage right? I don't plan to add fish until the soil settles down (probably too hot to ship them now anyway and no good local options). I just received my Ecology of the Planted Aquarium book yesterday so will be busy reading more details :)

The additional plants I was expecting this week look to be delayed (not shipped yet), but hopefully the duckweed will help!

Karen in San Jose 07-29-2020 03:52 PM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
Do you have a UV filter? I had some really weird stuff show up in my tank after adding daphnia from a culture I bought that was obviously just collected from a nearby water source. Of course, you can always get weird stuff from purchased plants, anyway, but I won't ever add anything from a pond type source in my tank again. I ended up with some small fast worms on the glass that I'm pretty sure were planaria. Since I added cory cats, I haven't seen any on the glass, as the corys clean the glass up and down. I also ended up with mosquitos hatching in my apartment. I thought - How did that mosquito get in here? Haven't seen any outside. Then another one and another one - and I realized they were hatching in the daphnia tank lol. If I'd already had fish, they would have enjoyed eating the larvae. There were also some bloodworms, which are just a midge larvae. But, you can get some weird stuff show up - you don't know what's in that water.

A UV filter won't kill critters like planaria, but it will kill any bad bacteria pond plants or creatures bring into the tank, and won't hurt the good bacteria attached to the surfaces in the tank.

Sorry if I just freaked you out for no reason, if you've already put the duckweed in your tank :-) I'd just turn on that UV filter for awhile, in that case. It will take care of algae blooms, too. And just keep your eye out for anything bad like hydra or planaria, etc. I haven't seen the planaria bother anything in my tank yet, including the shrimp, so they may not be a parasitic type anyway. But, just keep your eye on your tank for weird stuff, is my point and I advise you to turn on a UV filter for awhile.

Ms. Walstad has suggested UV filters are great for killing bad stuff in the aquarium. I think they're really good preventive medicine. For what it's worth :-)

dwalstad 07-29-2020 04:32 PM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chodovet (Post 1008051)
The additional plants I was expecting this week look to be delayed (not shipped yet), but hopefully the duckweed will help!

Duckweed will always help! See page 25 in my book for removal of ammonia by duckweed.

chodovet 07-30-2020 07:53 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by Karen in San Jose (Post 1008065)
Do you have a UV filter? I had some really weird stuff show up in my tank after adding daphnia from a culture I bought that was obviously just collected from a nearby water source. Of course, you can always get weird stuff from purchased plants, anyway, but I won't ever add anything from a pond type source in my tank again.

Well, this may be naive of me but I’m not too worried about weird stuff from the pond. I figure any random organisms will either add to the natural ecology of the tank, die off when they run out of food as things balance out in the aquarium, or be eaten when I eventually get fish. We’ll see! I don’t have a UV filter but will look into it before getting fishies.

Today the ammonia is below 0.5, and nitrite is off the chart! So, things are happening at least. I suspect the substrate is still releasing a bunch of nitrogen. I didn’t get a chance to check nitrate but will do that tomorrow. EDIT: Nitrate is 5-10ppm. Ran nitrite again diluted 1:2 and still >5ppm. Might do a water change tonight..

A stem plant I also brought home from the pond is going crazy - it has doubled in height in 24 hours and is almost to the top of the water! I need to try to figure out what it is.

Karen in San Jose 07-31-2020 02:24 PM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chodovet (Post 1008141)
Well, this may be naive of me but I’m not too worried about weird stuff from the pond. I figure any random organisms will either add to the natural ecology of the tank, die off when they run out of food as things balance out in the aquarium, or be eaten when I eventually get fish. We’ll see! I don’t have a UV filter but will look into it before getting fishies.

Today the ammonia is below 0.5, and nitrite is off the chart! So, things are happening at least. I suspect the substrate is still releasing a bunch of nitrogen. I didn’t get a chance to check nitrate but will do that tomorrow. EDIT: Nitrate is 5-10ppm. Ran nitrite again diluted 1:2 and still >5ppm. Might do a water change tonight..

A stem plant I also brought home from the pond is going crazy - it has doubled in height in 24 hours and is almost to the top of the water! I need to try to figure out what it is.

You're absolutely right. My tank has survived my foolish attempt at a daphnia culture lol. I thought they'd be great to add to the tank as a natural food source, but they die quickly if there isn't a ready source of algae in the water. Then, the separate culture tank I had kept crashing and then I noticed all kinds of weird other stuff... it's just something I wouldn't do again, but you're right that things should all balance out.

That plant is so familiar. I could swear I saw it on a Florida aquatic plant website for plant identification, but can't remember the name of it. Someone here should know. If not, I can see if I can find that website again for you.

chodovet 08-12-2020 01:54 PM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
Well Karen, you were right! I had a plague of mosquitoes. Must have scooped up a mosquito egg raft or two with the duckweed. What a nightmare!! There were so many. I killed a bunch of adults (used the vacuum to suck them off the wall and ceiling), and scooped a bunch of pupae out of the tank. Even grabbed a couple of wild mosquitofish (Gambusia sp.) from our outside tank and threw them in there even though nitrites were still high. I moved some filter media from my established tank to help speed up the nitrite conversion. We were leaving for a few days on vacation so after killing as many adults and pupae as I could, I covered the open parts of the top in plastic wrap.

When we got back, no more mosquitoes, and the fish were (somewhat surprisingly) still alive! Also, the nitrites are now measuring at 0 and the plants exploded. Will add photos later. I need to do some plant trimming and re-arranging, things are getting crazy in there

What a mess - I guess I learned my lesson! I should really have known better, having spent the last 6 years studying vector-borne diseases..!

chodovet 08-16-2020 07:35 AM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
2 Attachment(s)
Things seem to be going well and stable. I did some plant trimming and rearranging. Nitrates were under 5ppm, so I started getting impatient for fish (besides my one Gambusia mosquitofish friend - I put one back outside but couldn't catch the other), so I visited a local pet store (a chain but seems better fish than the big chain stores) yesterday and came home with 8 Black neon tetras and 2 small nerite snails. I acclimated them carefully and everyone seems to be doing well (except I can only find one nerite at the moment). I was prepared to remove the mosquitofish, but there haven't been any shows of aggression and it sometimes even schools with the neons, so I haven't yet.

Lots of bubbles coming up from the substrate, and I've been poking it with a wire to release more. They don't smell bad, so I think we're okay. The vals and sag are sending out lots of runners!

Attachment 63791

Attachment 63793

hoppycalif 08-16-2020 10:52 AM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
I would be very happy if my tank looked like that! Congratulations!

dwalstad 08-16-2020 07:07 PM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
This tank is a pleasure to look at.

chodovet 08-17-2020 06:46 AM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
Thank you both! I admit I spent a lot on plants to make sure it was heavily planted right away. I'm really happy with it, though most of the stem plants are arranged pretty haphazardly until I can see what is going to make it long-term. Next I plan to get some Corydoras, but need to wait til the weather cools off a bit so I can have them safely shipped...

Karen in San Jose 08-21-2020 08:52 PM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chodovet (Post 1008625)
Well Karen, you were right! I had a plague of mosquitoes. Must have scooped up a mosquito egg raft or two with the duckweed. What a nightmare!! There were so many. I killed a bunch of adults (used the vacuum to suck them off the wall and ceiling), and scooped a bunch of pupae out of the tank. Even grabbed a couple of wild mosquitofish (Gambusia sp.) from our outside tank and threw them in there even though nitrites were still high. I moved some filter media from my established tank to help speed up the nitrite conversion. We were leaving for a few days on vacation so after killing as many adults and pupae as I could, I covered the open parts of the top in plastic wrap.

When we got back, no more mosquitoes, and the fish were (somewhat surprisingly) still alive! Also, the nitrites are now measuring at 0 and the plants exploded. Will add photos later. I need to do some plant trimming and re-arranging, things are getting crazy in there

What a mess - I guess I learned my lesson! I should really have known better, having spent the last 6 years studying vector-borne diseases..!

OMG! I've never been so sorry to be right in my entire life! What a nightmare! I'm laughing only because it sounds like a nightmare SNL skit, and because I actually paid for my mosquitos including crazy shipping, too, from a seller on Ebay, which is pretty funny in a dark comedy kind of way - actually paying for my mosquito nightmare. The saran wrap on the tank cracked me up - great idea. They were sitting ducks for your fish, so to speak. I'm not surprised your fish lived. They never had it so good. [smilie=b:

To make you feel better - all of my mystery and sort of scary things like planaria have all disappeared, thanks to the wild cory cats I added to my tank, and I haven't had any problems, so odds are you will be fine, too. Those tetras are so pretty! I added a school of 26 cardinal tetras to my tank and they're gorgeous. I love the little schooling tetras - so pretty.

If I had to do it over again, I would not have added snails deliberately. They will eat your plants, no matter what people say, I've learned. Shrimp do a great job cleaning the tank and they don't eat the plants. I'd just add a bunch of shrimp instead of snails, if I had to do it over. For any algae problems, I have a UV filter. And I just pull out the hair algae that shows up. The snails won't eat the hair algae anyway. I never had shrimp before. They're really cool. My tetras are keeping the shrimplet population in check - ouch, poor shrimplets! But, they don't get them all. I was afraid of a shrimp explosion, but I'd rather have that than the snail explosion I got.

REHavis 09-09-2020 03:10 PM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
I have non standard 48 / 50 gal and that I recently totally cleaned and replanted after nearly five years. When set it up originally, I did not use soil, I only use Seachem flourite for substrate and I planted the tank Crypto. Balensis, Microsorum pteropus, and Elecharis acicularis? I use regular Houston Tap Water, treated with SeaChem Prime. I had a 24" 36watt BeamsWork LED light with a 6500K color temp, and a Eheim 250 canister filter. I run the filter 24/7 the are on a time with 10 hour Photo period.

I have had good luck with this setup and I have made adjustments over the past 5 years.

REHavis 09-09-2020 03:44 PM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
Living in Texas, I doubt you need a heater in you Aquarium. Most people i know in my area keep their homes in a very narrow temperature range. Switching from heat, a/c and back in single day. I have had several heaters stick over the years. My current aquarium is generally 74 deg.F plus or minus 2 deg. Use City of Houston tap water and do 50% water changes weekly.

I am nearly 75 years old, and have kept aquariums for about 50 out of the last 65 years. I have breed/raised many species of fish.

REHavis 09-09-2020 04:37 PM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
Your tank looks very nice, and I look forward to seeing more.

REHavis 09-09-2020 04:57 PM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
Your aquarium looks very nice, and I look forward seeing more. If I could figure out how to post pictures, I would post some of my tank.

I don't know where in Texas you live, but the major cities along the I-35 Corridor, DFW and Houston have some "Fish Stores" that have some fish and plants. I would look local and see if there can order what you want. I would suggest "Panda Corys" (4 our 5) for fish, also maybe about a dozen or so small tetras. I think you said you already have some shrimp?

chodovet 09-15-2020 02:44 PM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by REHavis (Post 1009383)
Living in Texas, I doubt you need a heater in you Aquarium. Most people i know in my area keep their homes in a very narrow temperature range. Switching from heat, a/c and back in single day. I have had several heaters stick over the years. My current aquarium is generally 74 deg.F plus or minus 2 deg. Use City of Houston tap water and do 50% water changes weekly.

I definitely don't need one in the summer, as we keep the a/c between 78-80 (sometimes down to 77 at night!), but likely will in the winter, as I don't like to set the heat in the house much higher than 68! Pretty frugal with our temps and I hate the feeling of artificial heat blowing on me. Right now I don't even have the heater plugged in as I felt it was melting some plants that were right up against it. But will need to work something out in the next couple months lol...

chodovet 09-15-2020 03:15 PM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
2 Attachment(s)
As an update, the black neons are doing well. I have a shipment of 6 Corydoras sterbai arriving from Aquatic Arts tomorrow. Plants are doing great - I have to remove hornwort and duckweed every couple weeks. I do have some Hydra, a little bit of cyanobacteria, and possible Cladophora. I plan to manually remove the cyano and clado later today and will try to spot treat with H2O2 if necessary. Have been ignoring the Hydra so far (??). I am hoping having the additional fish load will help some with the imbalances...

Attachment 63959

REHavis 09-16-2020 02:44 PM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
Over the years I have changed the planting several times, removing the. The Crypt. balansae took over the tank in a few months (leaves grew to over 4' long) and Hygrophila sp. was added. The Hygrophila grew large, but was easy to trim back as necessary.

dwalstad 09-16-2020 04:20 PM

Re: Setting up a new 29gal NPT
 
With a lovely tank like this, I wouldn't worry about imbalances. :)


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