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Why not reduce the water level as you did in the beginning? Those stem plants and the swordplant will thank you for the extra light. Fill the tank when everything settles down.

Also I keep many more floating plants than what you show in your photo. Instead of dimming the light, let the floating plants cover 70-80% of the surface.
 

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Looks good! Those stem plants look happy. I think reducing water level was a good move.

Nitrites will come down and source of problem probably is nitrates in the bagged soil. I am pleased to hear that you have alluded to nitrate respiration. Excellent! I addressed that in another thread just a moment ago.

Soil particles are negatively charged and they attract positive charged ions (Ca++, NH4++, K+, etc). And they repel negatively charged ions (anions) like nitrate (NO3-) and nitrite (NO2-). So your nitrite problem will disappear rather quickly as these anions diffuse out of the soil.
 

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I wouldn't bother with aging your bag of soil.

First, nitrification requires oxygen, so except in soil at the top of bag, there won't be much nitrification.
Second, nitrification removes ammonia but it adds nitrates to the soil. So now this aged soil contains nitrates and when you submerge it, you get nitrites (via nitrate respiration).

I would just put the soil in the tank and be prepared to do water changes and a little tinkering until soil settles down. Mineralizing it via Michael's method is another option, but I prefer to mineralize the soil in the tank itself.

Glad to hear that you found potting soil for cactus. Let us know how it works. In theory, I think it would be ideal for aquariums. It would have calcium and hardwater nutrients designed for cactus growing in alkaline soil, yet because cactus are slow growers, it wouldn't contain a lot of nitrogen.
 

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Tank looks good, but your pictures of the red floater blooming takes the prize in my book!

Folks, take note of the solid green color in most of his floaters. They are happy-- getting enough iron. This is usually the case in new tanks like this one. Later on (few months down the road), soil will release less chelated iron into the water and floaters may start disintegrating.
 

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I've been supplementing both tanks with chelated iron. Probably not necessary for this tank as you say, but I have so much of the stuff I might as well use it.

In my smaller tank I start running into iron issues immediately if I don't supplement. The floaters get pale and grow to only a fraction of the size, if they grow at all. I noticed it also helps keep my crypts looking a bit more red.
Thanks for feedback. Very helpful!
 
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