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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, I set up this tank on the 16th of August. I'm using 2toneds DIY substrate with unwashed propagating sand, 3tbsp of blood and bone, 3 handfuls of small marble rocks, a few piches of shell grit topped off with 3-4cm of washed river sand. The plants were planted on the 21st of August. They were shipped to me.
Filter: Rena Filstar XP2
Heater: 200W can't remember brand
Lighting: Supreme Aqua 3x 39W T5HO using 1 Giesemann Aquaflora, 1 Giesemann Midday and a 10K that came with the fixture. All running 5 hours a day from 4-9pm. The tank receives sunlight during the day, indirectly.
Fertilizer: Dino Spit 8 drops every day. Dino wee 8 drops every day. Only started once plants were in.

To start the cycle I dosed API stress zyme, added a small prawn and a 10c coin size food flake crushed. No fish or plants.
16/8/14 ph: 7.5
Ammonia: 0ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 0ppm

18/8/14 ph: 7.5
Ammonia: 3ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 0ppm
Picked out white stringy algae growth from 2 spots on sand. Pinch of food.

19/8/14 ph 7.6
Ammonia: 4ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: no test
Prawn removed, noticeable tank smell and ammonia is high enough. Cut out almost all light to stop white fluffy algae.

21/8/14 ph 7.8
Ammonia: 4ppm
Nitrite: no test
Nitrate: no test
Plants arrived and were planted. Includes HC, Java Moss, Glosso, val nana, crypt wendtii, Bacopa caroliniana, Aponogeton crispus, Limnophila aromatica green + red asian variety, Rotala s.
dino spit dosed 10 drops, dino pee dosed 7 drops. Water had been cloudy last few days. No fish food added as ammonia is high enough.


23/8/14 ph 7.8
Ammonia: 4ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 0ppm
Noticed small amounts of new growth on the stem plants and small shoots on the glosso.(left corner plants are temporary until they have a tank.)



24/8/14 Weekly dose of api stress zyme

25/8/14 ph 7.8
Ammonia: 4ppm
Nitrite: 0.5ppm first reading!
Nitrate: 0ppm
New growth on the top of short red limnophila is light green, taller one still mostly red. Old leaves on glosso getting darker, new sprouts are nice green. Bacopa getting 1-2 roots high up. One of the temporary limnophila greens in the container on the left had all its leaves and top two stems starting to get mushy so threw it away, it did spend a night in a bucket on top of the transit and it's the only casualty so far. When I looked closely under good light I could see some small brown spot algae on the glass, quite hard to see, cleaned with magnet cleaner.

26/8/14 ph 7.8
Ammonia: 4ppm
Nitrite: 5ppm+ Hello nitrites!
Nitrate: 0ppm
The old leaves on the glosso are getting some brown algae on them or they're actually turning brown, the new growth is still green though. I'll be dosing the spit daily now as well and keeping sun light to a minimum. Also did a 10L water change since I haven't done one since the start on the 16th.

28/8/14
ph 7.8
Ammonia: 1ppm
Nitrite: 5ppm+ off the chart
Nitrate: 20ppm First reading!
Had some aponogeton crispus leaves die but it's growing well, another stem of green limnophila aromatica lost all leaves with very little to no growth (red variety is growing green on top). Small patches of HC are turning brown/dying. Glosso old leaves slowly going brown and snails grazing on them, new leaves look ok but still small. Rotala is slowly growing and getting a couple small shoots from the main stem but about 70% of the leaves are yellowing around the edges and turning brown then dying. Val hasn't made much change, I can see a runner being sent off with a root though.
I'm getting worried now. Should I up the light period? currently 5 hours from 4-9pm with light sunlight during the day.

31/8/14
ph 7.8
Ammonia: 0ppm
Nitrite: 5ppm+ off the chart
Nitrate: looked in between 0 and 5 after the first 5 minutes, then after another 5 mins it looked like 5ppm. Is 10 mins a better length to wait? I hit and shook both bottles well.

Now that ammonia is 0 I have been adding a 10c coin piece of fish flakes crushed up daily, will this be enough to sustain the bacteria until I get 10 neon tetras when the nitrites hit 0?

Pictures:






Any advice for me? Thanks.
 

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Hey, welcome to the forum! I'm guessing you live in Australia? Are you also on the Australian forum?

I think the main issues your plants are experiencing are from the high ammonia levels. Ammonia above 1 ppm can damage plants, particularly HC which seems to be sensitive to it. A lot of the damage your plants are showing is likely from ammonia burns. No worries though, the plants should settle down and put out new growth soon.

Also, some of your plants look like they are still in emersed form (the limnos), they will need time to convert to underwater form, and in doing so the older emersed leaves will probably die off. So don't be alarmed!

Are you running CO2?

You can bring the lights up to 8 hours, and then increase it to 10 in a few weeks. 5 is pretty short and doesn't give the plants enough time to produce extra sugars to fuel new growth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi thanks for the reply! Yep from Australia, not sure which forum you mean?

So it's likely ammonia burns, that makes me feel better knowing that problem should be gone soon.
Since there's no fish and only some very small snails should i still be crushing a flake in every second day to keep ammonia enough to sustain the bacteria until I do get fish when nitrites go down? Or does rotting plant matter produce ammonia? Yesterdays test had a 0ppm reading.

Yeah I had a feeling they were emersed, some segments of the stems basically melted but i'll keep the healthy ones for as long as i can and see what happens.

No c02, the only carbon is coming from the dino spit which is glut so basically excel.
I'll make my way up on the light duration as well, I thought the indirect sunlight may give me too much light but the blinds are only ever half open on the other side of the room.
 

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IMO, your substrate is part of the problems you are experiencing. Replace it with some planted tank substrate. Sorry for being blunt and rude.
 

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Yep from Australia, not sure which forum you mean?
The other forum is called aquariumlife.

Since there's no fish and only some very small snails should i still be crushing a flake in every second day to keep ammonia enough to sustain the bacteria until I do get fish when nitrites go down?
No, the bacteria is established now, it will rapidly grow more cells when you add fish later on you don't need to feed it daily it will digest whatever debris gets caught in the filter.

Or does rotting plant matter produce ammonia? Yesterdays test had a 0ppm reading.
It does but you should remove decaying matter since it can foul the water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
IMO, your substrate is part of the problems you are experiencing. Replace it with some planted tank substrate. Sorry for being blunt and rude.
Understandable but there's plenty of tanks that use this method successfully so i'm sticking with it. Thanks.

No, the bacteria is established now, it will rapidly grow more cells when you add fish later on you don't need to feed it daily it will digest whatever debris gets caught in the filter.
Ok awesome. Just waiting for the nitrites to hit 0 now then a 50% water change to lower nitrates and fish can go in? Only planning on 10 neons or 10 white clouds, not 100% but a small shoaling fish to start.

I've been removing all dead leaves that I can, becomes quite a pain with the small leaf stems but oh well.
For a 2-3 week old tank there looks to be a decent amount of gunk when i disturb the top layer of sand, definitely why the snails are multiplying.
Also I saw some 2-3mm long thin white worms against the glass appear 2 days ago, never before that. I'm hoping they are harmless nematodes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yeah I'm fairly sure they're just detritus worms and the population should settle once less leaves are dying off and I get some native shrimp in a week or two.

5/9/14
ph 7.8
Ammonia: 0ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 30-40ppm, looked right in between the 20 and 40 colours.

So the last 3 stems of limnophila aromatica died off, stems melted so no saving them. aponogeton are putting leaves out, same as crypts and the red asian limnophila.
Glosso seems to have stalled, not sure what's happening.
The HC has continued to degrade but half of it still looks healthy.

So I'm ready for fish and should be off to get 10-12 neon tetras and maybe an assassin snail or two if they have any. I plan on drip acclimatising them over 5-6 hours which should be safe if I clean the outside of the plastic bag with a cloth and tank water? So I can have it sitting in the tank.
I did a 20% water change on wednesday and plan to do one this weekend to keep nitrates in check.

 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
After having to return a neon that looked to have neon tetra disease I now have 12 neon tetras in the tank.
Fed them lightly on their first day and all is well.


As for plants, the crypts are all getting new leaves and roots, glosso still very slow, HC stalled, rotala green has 70% leaves browning/melting with some new shoots and top growth. Over 4 days I saw 3 leaves from the vals shoot up 6-7cm, looking nice and green. Small red aponogeton crispus getting some leaves now. Large green aponogetons growing nicely, bacopa caroliana has nice green growth as well. Red limnophila growing green tops.
Can see some hair algae growing on the vals, will dose the spit there next few days.



Right


Left
 

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Dino spit is gluteraldehyde and dino pee is NK and trace, lacks P which is one significant issue. You need to add P.

Consider a different dosing regime.

http://www.ukaps.org/index.php?page=dosing-with-dry-salts

There was a suggestion to change your substrate, you do not need to do this if you are adding fertilisers correctly.

Your stem plants melting when added to a new setup is not unusual, here is how you manage them

http://www.ukaps.org/index.php?page=a-general-guide-to-plant-maintenance

Using proprietary fertilisers will cost a lot of $. Consider using dry salts and in the longer term you may want to think of pressurised co2 rather than a gluteraldehyde ("liquid carbon") product

I wouldn't add fish yet, although you have cycled your tank, you're plants are not thriving which tells you something....get the plants right first before adding fish and stop adding ammonia.

Personally, I would add more plants
 

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nickmcmechan, THANK YOU very much for that second link! I am going to try that pruning technique on my cabombas this weekend! That will take care of a bit of ugliness I'm dealing with atm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I might have to consider EI dosing but I really want water changes to be at least 2 weeks apart. How can I add P now? It's in the blood and bone under the sand? I don't see myself getting pressurised c02 any time soon but who knows. I would prefer trying DIY but that might be a mistake.
Thanks for the links, I'll need to tidy up the rotala soon.

I do have some dino dung but don't plan on using it for at least a few months because of the blood and bone in the substrate.
Here is the substrate method for anyone interested: http://www.aquariumlife.com.au/show...enerating-Sub?highlight=2toned+co2+generating

7/9/14
API Stress Zyme 20ml dose, FINAL ONE.

8/9/14
16 drops dino spit above vals to kill hair algae. Will do the daily dose there too since I've always done it on the front side of the tank.

9/9/14
ph: 7.8-8 The colour was a bit weird on most of the tests today, not sure if it was the sunlight or just how it is.
ammonia: 0ppm
nitrites: 0ppm
nitrates: 20ppm

I'm happy with the results and will test again in 3-4 days to decide if I need a water change to drop nitrates.

As for plant growth:
- crypts are doing well all getting new leaves and roots.
- HC still doing nothing much, some brown leaves.
- glosso still doing nothing much, only 2 plants seem to have fresh green growth, others look the same. Almost all of them have the base where the roots and leaves start at the top of the substrate, should I push them in?
- aponogetons doing very well, even the red variety that died back heavily has 4-5 small leaves now.
- red limnophila still pushing green growth on the top, can see a little shoot at the bottom of one of the stems.
- vals have shot 5-6 leaves to the water line over the past week, but the older leaves are getting some hair algae on them.
- bacopa caroliana doing great with nice green growth and shoots.

The neons are pretty spread out most of the time and they chase each other around and try to eat anything floating in the water. Does this mean they are hungry? I'm doing morning feedings that they finish in about 3 minutes. Tried some live mosquito larvae and they swallowed them right up but the bigger larvae might be too bit imo.

Most recent photo from the 7th, will take some tonight.
 

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Ahahahahah now it's dino dung? Is this a brand name? Or is it slang? So dino spit is glut, and dino pee is NK & trace. So what is dino dung? (Ahahaha this makes me lol quite a bit.)

About the Neons, and many other fish, they don't stop eating, or chasing food if they're full. They continue to chase, and eat food even to the point of popping; literally. They will eat so much that their stomachs will actually burst, and, of course, they die. So don't let them fool you into thinking that they're still hungry. The three minute rule you're following should be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Yep dino dung is a type of root tab, pushed into the substrate. They're great names I think haha.
I thought so, been a few years since I had fish so wasn't used to the behavior.

Here are a bunch of pics I just took, today I pushed most of the glosso plants a bit deeper to see if that will help. I also trimmed and replanted some bacopa and rotala on the right side, will do the rest over the next week. The bacopa stems had a good amount of roots in the sand.




HC: the single smaller plants were placed by me when they detached from the clumps. No noticeable growth, clumps are getting thinner from the die off.

Glosso: a couple plants do have some growth, most aren't doing anything. What can I do?

Rotala: I took the tops of some stems and planted them, hope their leaves don't die.

Crypts all doing very well, new leaves regularly

Red limnophila, this was an extra in the order, I don't expect it to grow red.



Advice and feedback would be very appreciated.
Green string algae is on the old val leaves, I tried rubbing some of it off, will that help or will the strings just grow else where in the tank? Have been dosing glut right on top of the vals for the last 4 days.
 
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