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.
(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.
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.
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!