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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Today is victory dance day! This morning the nitrites were starting going down, almost to a clear reading, while ammonia was still high but less so. Tonight both were at solid 0! Success!

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I'm wondering if I shouldn't dose the tank again with sodium bicarbonate or if need to be patient and let the coral start to dissolve.


Off topic -

This past week I set up my 4.5 gallon aquarium with soil, sand cap, some of the crushed coral as part of the substrate, added plants (trimmings from my other aquariums together with some new ones), a small pump and snails. The readings are off the chart naturally, I'm surprised the snail population has not died but thrived this week. So many baby snails hatching all over the place!

The plan was a shrimp tank, but I'm wondering if maybe a Betta wouldn't be appropriate too? It would help keep the snail population down and eventual shrimp population....perhaps? Pictures to come soon!
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Today I decided to get rid of the black background, the fish were startled at first but soon were out and about like normal.

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A couple of detail shots:

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Very nice! I see healthy fish, no algae, decent plant growth. I would not add any more bicarbonates. Your KH is fine and you don't want to fill tank with sodium. The coral will probably not dissolve much at that high pH, but I just don't see any major reason to mess with this tank.

As to GH, it could be higher. Don't be tempted to add commercial products, because most of them contain high levels of sulfates, and that will cause real problems for this tank. Since Wonder Shells are not available in your country, if you can get your hands on pure calcium chloride (CaCl2), that would be the next thing you might consider. CaCl2 is a common lab chemical that dissolves immediately and that won't change pH. I have a bottle of it that I'm still using after 30 years. See photo.

Your fish are beautiful!
 

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Hurray for you!. This is one of the best journals on APC and it's hard to believe it's only one month old! Fascinating struggle between keeping the beneficial bacteria uploaded via a filter and keeping the dissolved CO2 from escaping during the day. I'm no expert, but I have found that over time, beneficial bacteria will find a home inside the tank wherever they can get a foothold, so running the filter less and less may be a worthwhile experiment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 · (Edited)
Hurray for you!. This is one of the best journals on APC and it's hard to believe it's only one month old! Fascinating struggle between keeping the beneficial bacteria uploaded via a filter and keeping the dissolved CO2 from escaping during the day. I'm no expert, but I have found that over time, beneficial bacteria will find a home inside the tank wherever they can get a foothold, so running the filter less and less may be a worthwhile experiment.
The aquarium itself is four months old, with a slow and steady process of adding more and more plants, which is why I had to put in a filter, becuase I wasn't able to have a heavy plant load off the bat.

I guess tt's technically been only a month since I've started the transition to being filterless, so I think in another month, by comparing the plant growth, I`ll get an idea of how much this is helping them!

I'm going to try to find another way to put calcium in the water, in a way that won't also be dependent on the filter (which is where the crushed coral is placed right now).

I wonder if maybe crushed eggshells dissolve a little better in this situation? Or if I tried crushing it into a fine powder? I tried making the coral into smaller, finer pieces, but they are way too tough! Eggshells are probably easier.


EDIT - Ok, so after reading people's experiences on this site with eggshells, apparently even in powder form, due to my high pH, it might not actually dissolve into the water as I was imagining. I looked up CaCl2 directly on some popular brasilian websites and found a few interesting products...

First one is liquid form, found as a baking ingredient?? Not sure what "40%" means though, but their ingredient list only has calcium cloride? Pão de Açúcar | Supermercado Online
Liquid Bottle Fluid Solution Drink



Same concept in this link, used to make cheese apparently.. 2 Cloretos De Cálcio Líquido 200ml Para Fazer Queijo Caseiro - R$ 29,99
Liquid Bottle Solution Fluid Plastic bottle





Other than these products, I'm finding some chemistry kits, in powder form, but also include other things (magnesium and sodium bicarbonate, which is an interesting kit, but it's not clear if they are sold separately or mixed all together...Brazil has terrible advertising skills.)

The search continues!
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 · (Edited)
No idea if this is the right thing, powder form- (I failed chemistry class and went to art school - just being up front about this right now!)
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Until I stumbled upon Wonder Shells I had an old rock that somehow had become fused to a bunch of clam shells. It was pretty ancient. But, it was a pretty good buffer for my PH and I seem to remember it making my water harder, too. Point being, it doesn't have to dissolve rapidly in order to work. Even Wonder Shell will stick around for months a the bottom of your tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
So I found something very interesting pertaining the black marks a couple of my jungle vals. I have two varieties, one thinner and one thicker, which is the one that is showing the black stripes, turns out it might be natural to the plant! There is such a thing as a "tiger" variety:

 

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No idea if this is the right thing, powder form- (I failed chemistry class and went to art school - just being up front about this right now!)
View attachment 73937
That is what you want! CaCl2 is hydroscopic, so it comes with attached water molecules or eventually accumulates them and turns to a liquid. That's fine. See picture of my jar. The calcium is still there!

The cheese calcium also would probably work. Take your pick and experiment.
 

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CaCl2 will pull water out of the air too if you leave the container open. It will turn to slush if it absorbs enough water. Oh, it will react with water too by releasing heat. It makes a great ice melt on your driveway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Thanks everyone for the information, this is truly all very new to me! I bought the liquid form, because of the quantity.

Last night I put in one teaspoon, which really didn't do much to the gH reading but I decided to go slowly, so this morning I added another teaspoon and the reading budged a little. Probably due to being 40%, so it's very diluted. Last night it turned blue at a solid two drops of the solution but this time it would be close to two and half, because at two it was sort of blue but not persistently blue.

Tonight I'll add another teaspoon and onward we go! I made a video of my Corydoras this morning during feeding, as it's so rare to see them all at the same time, though it's hard to count all 7 of them in the video. I am just so smitten by them!

New video by Laisa Bellomo-Johnson

I also managed to catch my bristle nose on camera, except using my real camera, with a telephoto zoom from the other side of the room, a real wild-life type filmography!! Otherwise she would run away if I held my phone up the tank. So I have to upload that from my memory card still.
 

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Very nice video. Your fish look so healthy and happy!
I'm so glad you are adding calcium to this tank. A GH of 2 is just the bare minimum.
I believe your plants will grow better with this addition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 · (Edited)
Edit- I forgot to mention, I left the filter off last night, ammonia/nitrite readings stayed zero! I'm wondering if I shouldn't just leave it off from now on, make it an officially filter-free Certified Organic Aquarium?! 😁

15 teaspoons later (next time I'm buying the concentrates powder! On the otherhand, this allowed for a much more controlled rise) I managed to get the gH up to roughly around 8-9, so I stopped there.

I think I read somewhere that this will last quite a few months, if I'm not mistaken? Either way, I'll keep tabs on it for a while and see how fast the plants are going to be absorb it considering they are probably missing it right now.

So I've been thinking about the possibility of adding spring/mineral water, as it usually has a lot calcium, magnesium, etc. Although what concerns me is the levels of other stuff like nitrates, sodium, etc. I looked up a few brands and seems like nothing is really 100%. (For example, Nestlé Pure Life). Here in Brazil we have a lot of options for natural spring/mineral waters, so I'm wondering if it's worth the trouble looking into this option.

Decided to place this question out here because my boyfriend is keen on the idea (me, not so much because I haven't really read anything about it.)
 

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Edit- I forgot to mention, I left the filter off last night, ammonia/nitrite readings stayed zero! I'm wondering if I shouldn't just leave it off from now on, make it an officially filter-free Certified Organic Aquarium?! 😁

15 teaspoons later (next time I'm buying the concentrates powder! On the otherhand, this allowed for a much more controlled rise) I managed to get the gH up to roughly around 8-9, so I stopped there.

I think I read somewhere that this will last quite a few months, if I'm not mistaken? Either way, I'll keep tabs on it for a while and see how fast the plants are going to be absorb it considering they are probably missing it right now.

So I've been thinking about the possibility of adding spring/mineral water, as it usually has a lot calcium, magnesium, etc. Although what concerns me is the levels of other stuff like nitrates, sodium, etc. I looked up a few brands and seems like nothing is really 100%. (For example, Nestlé Pure Life). Here in Brazil we have a lot of options for natural spring/mineral waters, so I'm wondering if it's worth the trouble looking into this option.

Decided to place this question out here because my boyfriend is keen on the idea (me, not so much because I haven't really read anything about it.)
If the calcium does benefit, getting the GH up to 8-9 should do the trick. I suspect the calcium levels will stay up there. It's not like CO2 that degasses within a day. Plants won't take up that much calcium. Aquatic botanists think that water calcium protects against metal toxicity, so it's not really a nutrient uptake issue.

Spring water cannot hurt, but the salts are probably so dilute that it would be a rather expensive solution. You could always do a GH test on the spring water.

I would wait a month to see what the calcium results are. Should be interesting!
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Hello all, just posting an update! I officially took out the HOB filter, it had been off for over a week now basically. I turned it on for a few minutes each day just so the water inside wouldn't stagnate and I was a bit nervous taking it off completely, but now I made the full transition.

I`ll post a picture of the plant growth in another couple of weeks for a better comparison.

It's made it easier to keep the lids on too, one of my Rosy Barbs jumped out! My luck we were next to the aquarium when it happened, managed to put him back in quickly. He went all bug-eyed for a couple days from the stress and maybe dirt from the ground irritated his eyes, but he's back to normal now, thank god.

I've got my little shrimp tank up and running with 4 shrimps. There were 5, but one shrimp got stuck in the pump sadly but my boyfriend managed to fix it up with sponge pieces. One of them is berried so that exciting! This is also a dirted tank.

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And for the sake of sharing photos, this is my boyfriend's aquarium, which is planted but not dirted. It has Mbreda Amazonia substrate for plants with a sand cap, with 5 rummynoses and 1 blue gourami, who we are trying to decide if he just scrapped his head on the rock, or might be developing "hole in head"....not fun.

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