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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just set up my first El Natural tank Wednesday afternoon. It's a 55 gal and I'm so happy with how it turned out! I had some initial cloudiness but that has cleared up. I had my fish stored in a 10 gal tank to await the tank getting ready, so I tested the water today and here's what I find. Ammonia .5-1 (can't rightly tell) nirIte .25 and no nitrAtes. So, I decided not to put my fish in yet. Do you think I should do a water change or just wait for the plants to do their thing? I must confess I did take the readings right after putting my arm in there and stirring things up so I'm sure that didn't help things any and certainly skewed the readings. I'll do another again tonight after things settle again though. It seems to me that the tank just hasn't cycled completely yet, do you concur?
 

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Some soils take longer to settle down than others. In my 125, the soil I used took a month to settle down. In others with different soil, they were instantly ready for fish. I'd just let it run and see how it does.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Betty. I hoping to get nice well behaved soil and not soil like I heard you got. Oh well. Do you think we're talking days, or months?
 

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The most important (and most difficult to follow) lesson I've learned in keeping NPT tanks is patience. If things aren't going the way you want, don't rush to change water or add chemicals or move fish around, unless plants and/or fish are being seriously hurt. In your case, high ammonia and nitrite, at least at those levels, are not going to harm (and in fact would be beneficial to) plants, though certainly harmful to fish. Since you don't have any fish in the tank, the best thing to do is to test the water every couple of days. Once the ammo and nitrite register at zero, then you're ok to begin adding fish.

-ricardo
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the replys. Patience is so hard!!! I guess my fish will just have to stare at that pretty new tank for a little while and lament the fact that they are in the "little tank" for a while longer. I'll do water checks every day just because I'm impatient.....a watched pot never boils.
 

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scrkpr said:
a watched pot never boils.
Or perhaps: a watched tank never cycles?!

-ricardo
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
One of my 2 water lettuce is shedding it's roots. I don't know what that means. The ammonia levels haven't changed, but I don't really expect them to yet either. (sigh)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Now with pictures

I wanted to let you know that my ammonia levels have started to drop today. They are down to around .75. My Nitrites are WAY high. I can't even measure them. My purple won't even go that dark, so over 5. I'm glad that my water is starting to make progress. I thought you might like some pictures.
Left Side with "sandbox" for my dojo loaches to dig in

Right side with cave for my goldfish

Closeup of center of tank
 

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As I'm sure you know, a nitrite spike after when the ammo. starts to drop is exactly what we'd expect as part of the nitrogen cycle. Also, some soils release lots of nitrite into the water so that could be a part of it too. So far though, sounds like everything is proceeding normally.

-ricardo
 

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scrkpr said:
I just set up my first El Natural tank Wednesday afternoon. It's a 55 gal and I'm so happy with how it turned out! I had some initial cloudiness but that has cleared up. I had my fish stored in a 10 gal tank to await the tank getting ready, so I tested the water today and here's what I find. Ammonia .5-1 (can't rightly tell) nirIte .25 and no nitrAtes. So, I decided not to put my fish in yet. Do you think I should do a water change or just wait for the plants to do their thing? QUOTE]

The water looks a little cloudy to me. I don't see any reason NOT to do a water change. I think it would help get you to your ultimate goal-- lower nitrite levels and being able to add the fish. If it were my tank, I would do a 90% water change.

While doing the water change, I would gently rub the plant leaves to remove any dirt film. Dirt that collects on leaf surface allows algae/bacterial growth and is probably not desirable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks, I had a leak with my DIY chiller and accidently had to do and emergency 10% water change. But I think I will do a BIG change like you suggest. I do have debris and soil on my leaves that could use a brush off. I do want to get those fish into the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well, it's been almost 2 weeks since I set up my tank and I did an 80% WC and that took my ammonia down to 0, but my nitrites were still too high too read. So, today I did another 50% WC and tested my water immediately and my nitrites are still 5. Any suggestions on how to get this under control would be appreciated. More water changes, some chemical that kills nitrites, more floating plants (many of mine died) And now I have the beginnings of brown algae.
 

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scrkpr said:
Well, it's been almost 2 weeks since I set up my tank and I did an 80% WC and that took my ammonia down to 0, but my nitrites were still too high too read. So, today I did another 50% WC and tested my water immediately and my nitrites are still 5. Any suggestions on how to get this under control would be appreciated. More water changes, some chemical that kills nitrites, more floating plants (many of mine died) And now I have the beginnings of brown algae.
I wouldn't panic. Although its very frustrating, I think this problem will be fairly short-lived. Already the ammonia is gone and nitrites are coming down. Nitrogen is quickly removed from most ecosystems. And I doubt that nitrites are killing your plants. Plants aren't very susceptible to this level (5 ppm) of nitrites.

Are any plants growing in your tank? If some are growing, then the death of some species, even floating plants, should not be alarming. Many floating plants won't grow in my tanks unless rooted in the soil where they can get iron.

I would continue to do water changes every week, remove all dead plant matter, and do what you can about the algae. Scrape it off the glass. Chinese algae eaters love brown algae (actually diatoms).

The soil probably was fertilized heavily with nitrogen. A bottle test might have picked this up ahead of time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
dwalstad said:
remove all dead plant matter,
That may be easier said than done. I had a lot die offs, but have been and will continue to do my best. I can't put any fish in to treat the algae yet because of the nitrite level but will as soon as the level drops. Oh well, live and learn and before I set my sisters tank I will do a bottle test!
 

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If you're having a lot of plants dying, that doesn't sound good. Dying plants only make a bad situation worse.

Is any plant doing well in this tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Yeah, a lot of plants are doing well. It was mostly the anacharis that died and I had planted a lot of it as a background plant. My vals aren't doing well because I bruised them during planting. Everything else is growing GREAT. My red ludwigia, cabomba, 2 swords, java fern, anubias and hornwort growing fine and water lettuce is putting out new roots but the leaves are turning yellow. Anyway, I checked my water today and ammonia is 0 nitrite 0 and nitrate 5 ....oh happy day!!! In the fish go! I have purchased some apple snails already to help with the algae and debris and found some unknown snail hanging out in my tank. Haven't decided whether to keep him yet or not. The loaches and goldies will probably eat him anyway :) Thanks for all the help.
 

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I'm delighted to hear that your tank has improved and that you can now add the fish. I was so impressed with the design (sand and gravel areas) for your fish.

Lucky fish! :)
 
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