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Wow, I don't envy you trying to lift that onto the new stand!
On a more serious note:
The dirt is a potting + garden bed soil. It listed multiple types of manure in the ingredients list which is slightly concerning, but it's what I had laying around. Again, experimenting. It's probably going to be very hot/give off a lot of ammonia for a bit.
I think you're spot on with using what's "been lying around" as a suitable choice. In another thread, @dwalstad made a bombshell contribution to my understanding of aquarium substrates. And, that is the fact that nitrification takes place inside bags of ordinary potting soil - even as they are sitting on the shelf . I really think using an old bag of soil has helped make the mineralization process a little easier (I'll bet your nitrates are off the chart, though.)

Just yesterday, I made it my business to stop by the local hardware store in order to pick up a bag of MG Cactus Plants and Citrus potting soil - just to have on hand and to start nitrifying on its own.
 

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A few days later and I’m still getting very high (1.0ppm) ammonia readings every day. When I go downstairs in the morning the tank water is tea colored from tannins/soil.

All pretty normal at this point, I expect it to take another week or so to level out. It’s just a very stark change from my 6.5g tank. For that one I did soak and rinse for all the dirt, and mixed the dirt with some flourite black. I had slightly high ammonia (0.5ppm) on the second or third day, and then it went away completely by the end of the first week.

So if you’re looking to speed up the process at the cost of an extra day or two of soil preparation, it seems definitely worth it. I’m not in a rush though, and I’m using this opportunity to keep the water levels low for emergent growth, but next time I might do more rinsing beforehand.
Have you moved the tank yet? I'm pretty sure adding more water will reduce your ammonia parameter somewhat. That happened with me. All in all, you're right on schedule, IMHO.
 

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It's tricky because I think your salvinia will help shield the tank from too much light once it gets going. I have no way of dimming my LED array but haven't had a huge algae prob due to the floater carpet, I think.
 

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Have you tried the tape trick? Put black electrical tape over some of the diodes, you can put paper on the portion of tape that's over the diodes so you don't get sticky residue on them. It's a low tech trick that works in a pinch.

Sent from my EC211001 using Tapatalk
I think I'd need to see a vid to see how that works.
 

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Your sag looks very green and healthy. I can only imagine it will be a week or less before you start seeing runners. Did you sort them by size like that on purpose? I like the look.
 

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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.
How long do you think it takes for an unopened bag of potting soil to completely nitrify? I ask because I recently purchased a bag of MG potting soil for cactus with a view towards just letting it "age" until I need it in the future. Is that a practical step to take in conjunction with mineralizing?
 

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The soil I used was admittedly probably much hotter than cactus soil, but I had the bag open for months before using it. While I can't say it didn't have an effect (I've never used this soil fresh from the bag, so can't compare to anything) it definitely did not eliminate the "problems" associated with fresh submerged soil.
Perhaps not to a degree to be of any practical use, but it does explain the nitrite spike (which @dwalstad believes will resolve itself in a few days.) All in all, nitrate respiration seems to be a fairly benign process, no?
 

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The floaters in my porcelain bowl have definitely suffered since I removed the six danios. Another reason I put them back in again. I'll journal about it when I get a chance.
 
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