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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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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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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
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?
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.

If you really want to speed up the process after the soil goes into the aquarium at the expense of time used before, then I recommend trying the soak and rinse method. Just be aware that you lose a good volume of soil this way in my experience, so have extra on hand.
 

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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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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
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?
True, extra nitrates from nitrification could have contributed. I wouldn't quite call it benign...nitrite is pretty toxic, especially at the levels I'm seeing. But hopefully it is short lived.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
6 Week Update

Water Parameters:
  • Ammonia and nitrite have been 0 since March 7th
  • GH Is 0 out of the tap, with about 4 small wonder shells I have raised it to 4gH
  • kH is around 3/4, pH is around 7.0
Plants:
  • Floating plants are growing very quickly! Had to take a bunch out today, have a nice mix of salvinia minima, mini water lettuce, and red root floaters.
  • Bacopa caroliniana is growing well! About half or two thirds of the way to the top. I'm interested to see how high it grows
  • New leaves on the Amazon swords, but still small. I can see some new roots spreading beneath the substrate on the edge of the tank
  • Dwarf sag is getting longer, but not spreading yet. Hopefully it takes off soon. I can also see some new roots through the side of the tank.
  • Hygrophila lost all its original leaves, the new ones are much smaller. But it's growing well.
  • Tiger lotus bulb has sprouted two teeny leaves!
  • Crypt undulatas is doing well, stopped melting and plenty of new leaves
  • Java fern and anubias all have new leaves
  • The fancy pink sword is just green now...I kinda suspected as much. It's not growing much either...hopefully it's just adjusting.
  • Crypt parva is melting considerably...some of it is melted down to the roots. But some also looks fine? Lol, I think it's gonna take literally like a year for this to make any kind of carpet.
  • Hydrocotyle old leaves all melted, slowly making some new ones. Not sure on where to place this one, I'm thinking threaded through the background plants to fill in the bottom of the tank.
Animals:
  • Introduced some blue tuxedo platies on March 10th after a few days of stable parameters, along with some red cherry shrimp (RCS)
  • Moved my Rasbora Espei over a few days after that when parameters stayed solid. They seem really happy, immediately started doing their upside-down mating ritual on the bacopa
  • Yesterday (March 22) introduced some corydoras habrosus (SO CUTE). Parameters still look good.
  • Tempted to add something else in the next few weeks...maybe something small like clown killis...but want to give the tank some time to adjust to an already pretty moderate/high load.
Overall I'm really happy with it so far, but can't wait for the plants to grow out a bit!
(Too early to start planning a rescape of my 6.5g tank? :D)
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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
NICE work! You have a lovely assortment of plants, snails, shrimp, fish. Everything!

I imagine that this tank would provide a great deal of pleasure.
Thank you! Yes, it's very fun to watch. Only problem is I work from home and it's in my office...so it makes a pleasant backdrop to zone out watching during meetings ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Just wanted to share that my red root floaters are blooming! They have the cutest tiny little flowers all over!
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I also added some Celestial Pearl Danios (CPDs), and my stocking is complete. Really hard to get a picture of these, they are so fast and constantly on the move! I wonder if they can detect the laser focus from the phone and dislike it?
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I added my internal pump back in with some purigen to remove some of the tannins and things are looking a bit clearer (but cloudy because I neglected to rinse the purigen first). It's hard to tell though because the wall behind the tank is blueish-green and throws off the white balance in the camera...may put a black backing on the aquarium at some point.

ALSO the tiger lotus is really taking off in the back right area! And the dwarf sag and crypt parva has their first offshoots!
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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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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
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.
 

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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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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
Baby platies! I woke up to find at least 4 babies hanging out in the floating plants today. This tank is already fairly highly stocked so I will have to see what to do about them...assuming they survive their parents.
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hey jatcar can i ask some questions? i just bought e.gabrielli and interested /planning to buy e.miracle , i have 16 gal tank still cant decide where should i put the gabrieli since there isn't much information about this echinodorus (also miracle) , where do you put the gabrieli? midground or foreground? i cant spot the gabrieli on your pic, i read they can only grow up to 20-30cm not sure its true or not
for temporary i plant it behind the halanthium tennelum , thinking to put it in front of my crypt wendtii and crypt tropica but im worried it would grow taller than the crypt
also for e.miracle do they grow big as big as other sword like bleheri or amazon sword? planning to put it in centerpiece
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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
hey jatcar can i ask some questions? i just bought e.gabrielli and interested /planning to buy e.miracle , i have 16 gal tank still cant decide where should i put the gabrieli since there isn't much information about this echinodorus (also miracle) , where do you put the gabrieli? midground or foreground? i cant spot the gabrieli on your pic, i read they can only grow up to 20-30cm not sure its true or not
for temporary i plant it behind the halanthium tennelum , thinking to put it in front of my crypt wendtii and crypt tropica but im worried it would grow taller than the crypt
also for e.miracle do they grow big as big as other sword like bleheri or amazon sword? planning to put it in centerpiece
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Hey justwood, sorry I missed your message. I don't actually know much about these plants either but decided to try them. My Gabrielii is on the left side behind the dwarf sag. It is growing pretty flat and slowly. The dwarf sag is towering over it (and just about everything else in the tank, who knew it grew so high when given the space!). The Miracle has not really been growing well. It is a bit taller with rounded green leaves. The pink leaves all fell off, and the new ones are much smaller and don't grow as fast as my Amazons. Hope that helps!
 
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