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Start of cycling a brand new tank.

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DKC

This may be a total newbie question. Should I put plants in when I start cycling a new tank?

After reading and thinking for a while, I finally decided to start a tank. 60x45x30cm.Used aquarium gravel, driftwood pieces from Pisces, one sponge filter and one hang out the back filter with a mesh intake to protect tiny critters. Aged water from an outside pool. No living animals then but put in a few sprigs of Elodea and Marsilea from my outside pond. Stuck in some alder cones shed from my tree. Temp was 22. WP then was pH 6.8, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 0.

Fed with flake fish food. After 5 days, all the above stayed the same except ammonia maybe got to 0.25. I was wondering if the testing kit was defective. On Day 6, my ADA Power Sand and Amazonia II substrate arrived so I added them on top of the thin layer of gravel in situ. Replaced the water with the pond water (tested and parameters were the same as above). I turned the temperature up to 28 degrees to try and get BB to grow faster.

By next day, WP changed dramatically.

pH 6.4

Ammonia maxed at 8

Nitrite at 5

Nitrate at 160

at the same time, I got my TDS meter and it read 149.

i thought I should add bacteria so put more elodea from outside pond and got Seachem Stability and followed the instructions. After four days TDS went to 160.

I know patience is a virtue. Should I be seeing any difference in four days doing the above?

When (if) my plants arrive, should I plant the landscape in this water and will it help reduce the ammonia and nitrites and nitrates? 

Is there anything more I should do......or just sit...and wait....and wait....sigh.

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jayc
22 minutes ago, DKC said:

Should I put plants in when I start cycling a new tank?

Yep, it's fine adding plants at the start of the cycle.

24 minutes ago, DKC said:

Stuck in some alder cones

 

24 minutes ago, DKC said:

WP then was pH 6.8

The Alder cone is causing the pH to drop more than needed.

24 minutes ago, DKC said:

By next day, WP changed dramatically.

pH 6.4

pH is getting sub optimal for fast bacteria growth with pH getting lower.

Bacteria grows optimally at higher pH - 7 or above, along with warm temps and plenty of ammonia.

Remove the alder, add in some dechlorinated tap water to raise pH

 

After the tank has been cycled, you can add in alder cones and reduce the pH

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Zoidburg
12 hours ago, DKC said:

On Day 6, my ADA Power Sand and Amazonia II substrate arrived so I added them on top of the thin layer of gravel in situ. Replaced the water with the pond water (tested and parameters were the same as above).

I'll disagree with jayc here... Your Amazonia substrate is likely causing the pH to go lower as well as releasing ammonia. If the water you are putting in the tank has KH in it, then you are increasing the speed at which it looses it's buffering capacities, aka how long it can keep the pH lower.

If you want your substrate to last for as long as possible, switch to using RO/distilled or rain water that has 0 KH. It may result in a longer cycle, but that's okay. The substrate will last longer in turn.

 

12 hours ago, DKC said:

I turned the temperature up to 28 degrees to try and get BB to grow faster.

You could turn it up to a max 29°.

 

12 hours ago, DKC said:

pH 6.4

Ammonia maxed at 8

Nitrite at 5

Nitrate at 160

What GH and KH?

Do water changes to keep the ammonia around 3-4. Best to use RO/distilled/rain with some GH remineralizer to about 5 GH. (or whatever GH required for the shrimp you want to keep)

Keeping the ammonia low will help the tank cycle better, although it should still easily take 4-6 weeks at least with that substrate.
 

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DKC

Only got the GH and KH testing kit a few days back. It’s the API version. 

Read the instructions for KH and it said count the drops from when it turns from blue to orange. Welp...the liquid in the bottle is orange to start with. And with the first drop, the test tube fluid stays orange. ....so I guess it’s close to a lot less than 50ppm?! Or less than 17ppm??? Or do I have a defective test solution??

the GH requires 4 drops to change to green so I guess it’s over 50ppm. Assuming each drop counts for approximately 17ppm, I guess my GH is 68ppm??

Going to start with basic RCS from the local fish shop. I should get the smallest ones huh? Will only put them in when I can’t detect ammonia or nitrites. Maybe ten at the start.

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DKC
4 hours ago, Zoidburg said:

I'll disagree with jayc here... Your Amazonia substrate is likely causing the pH to go lower as well as releasing ammonia. If the water you are putting in the tank has KH in it, then you are increasing the speed at which it looses it's buffering capacities, aka how long it can keep the pH lower.

If you want your substrate to last for as long as possible, switch to using RO/distilled or rain water that has 0 KH. It may result in a longer cycle, but that's okay. The substrate will last longer in turn.

You mean, every time I add in Amazonia II it will make a peak in ammonia? I thought it had less than the original Amazonia?

You could turn it up to a max 29°.

 

What GH and KH?

Do water changes to keep the ammonia around 3-4. Best to use RO/distilled/rain with some GH remineralizer to about 5 GH. (or whatever GH required for the shrimp you want to keep)

Keeping the ammonia low will help the tank cycle better, although it should still easily take 4-6 weeks at least with that substrate.
 

 

Edited by DKC

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jayc
10 hours ago, Zoidburg said:

I'll disagree with jayc here...

Why oh why do you disagree with me? 😄

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sdlTBfanUK
12 hours ago, DKC said:

Only got the GH and KH testing kit a few days back. It’s the API version. 

Read the instructions for KH and it said count the drops from when it turns from blue to orange. Welp...the liquid in the bottle is orange to start with. And with the first drop, the test tube fluid stays orange. ....so I guess it’s close to a lot less than 50ppm?! Or less than 17ppm??? Or do I have a defective test solution??

the GH requires 4 drops to change to green so I guess it’s over 50ppm. Assuming each drop counts for approximately 17ppm, I guess my GH is 68ppm??

Going to start with basic RCS from the local fish shop. I should get the smallest ones huh? Will only put them in when I can’t detect ammonia or nitrites. Maybe ten at the start.

I don't think most people measure GH or KH in parts per million, I think your results would be KH 0-1 and GH 3-4.

You don't need to remember the colour the drops should change too, as, as you say the colour in the test tube should match the original drops colour to get your reading.

You may need to get some GH/KH+ for cherry/neocaridina shrimp, as your results are nearer caridina shrimp parameters. Cherry shrimp though are a lot tougher than bee shrimps so they may even survive in the parameters you have but not do as well? Anyway, if you are still cycling you can come back to that nearer the time that is done.

The best shrimps to get are juveniles as you know you will have them longer (you can't tell how old an adult is) and they are better suited to adapting to new water parameters etc.

You may find the below video interesting and useful as it covers virtually all you need to know at the start:-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pO6iJPbmdk

Simon

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DKC

Thanks Simon, the API test kit I have definitely describes measurements of GH and KH in ppm! One to three drops is 0 to 50ppm, etc etc.

which is why I am confused with the KH reagent as it says “count drops until the blue colour turns to orange”.... the reagent STARTS OFF ORANGE. It does not go blue at all and does not change back to orange no matter how many drops. Has someone else got the same problem? Or am I using the wrong test kit?

 

Edited by DKC

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Zoidburg
On 2/16/2019 at 12:32 PM, DKC said:

Read the instructions for KH and it said count the drops from when it turns from blue to orange. Welp...the liquid in the bottle is orange to start with. And with the first drop, the test tube fluid stays orange. ....so I guess it’s close to a lot less than 50ppm?! Or less than 17ppm??? Or do I have a defective test solution??

Considering you are using a buffering substrate, 0-1 KH is normal. Actually, it's preferred to use RO/distilled water with GH minerals so that you have more stable water parameters.

Buffering substrates work by removing KH from the water (aka it "absorbs" the KH - KH is one thing that can help raise pH and/or keep it stable) and release tannins, humic and fulic acids into the water column. The tannins and acids lower the pH.

Each time you add more KH into the tank via water changes, CC, limestone or any other means, you can have fluctuating parameters which can result in stress to the inhabitants.

In short, your substrate is working as it should and your test kit is reading it correctly. Try measuring the KH of the water you are putting into the tank.

 

On 2/16/2019 at 12:32 PM, DKC said:

the GH requires 4 drops to change to green so I guess it’s over 50ppm. Assuming each drop counts for approximately 17ppm, I guess my GH is 68ppm??

I honestly could care less about ppm! 😉 If it's 4 drops, then you have 4 °GH, aka 4 German Degrees of General Hardness. The ppm tests aren't normally very accurate so it's easier just to say in German Degrees, aka just 4 GH and 0 KH.

 

On 2/16/2019 at 12:32 PM, DKC said:

Going to start with basic RCS from the local fish shop. I should get the smallest ones huh? Will only put them in when I can’t detect ammonia or nitrites. Maybe ten at the start.

Yes to getting the smallest. Also would recommend raising GH to around 7 with a GH remineralizer... unless you can find out what GH the shrimp are being raised in, in which case, you want to match that GH.

That said, since you have the tank set up the way it is, you could probably go with some tiger shrimp or even low grade crystals.

 

On 2/16/2019 at 12:38 PM, DKC said:

You mean, every time I add in Amazonia II it will make a peak in ammonia? I thought it had less than the original Amazonia?

Just because it has less doesn't mean it doesn't have zero... it is less nutrient dense so releases less ammonia and thus should be a faster cycle - in theory.

 

On 2/16/2019 at 6:57 PM, jayc said:

Why oh why do you disagree with me? 😄

I can agree with you in the fact that higher pH can help the bacteria grow faster in a tank... but if you are using a buffering substrate, I recommend keeping the pH low with 0 KH water and probably 3-5 GH, minimum, for the bacteria. Sure, it may take longer to cycle, but on the flip side, the substrate should also last longer! :) I have 3 KH out of tap, my sister has 10 KH, or there-abouts. We live maybe 5 miles apart near the same river but I'm on city water (aka river water) and she's on well water (aka underground aquifer). If we both set up tanks using tap water and added in buffering substrates, her buffering substrate which helps keep the pH low would exhaust faster because her water has more KH in it. Meanwhile, mine would probably last longer since it has less. That's with the assumption that the tanks are set up the same way with no CC/limestone or any other thing that raises KH and we do the same amount of water changes and frequency of them. If we wanted the substrate to last longer, we'd use RO/distilled water instead with GH minerals.

I've heard of people with buffering substrates lasting 3-5 years with RO water and GH minerals and tanks still going strong! I've also heard that shrimp breeding can slow down or completely stop in a tank that's 1-3 years old so it's a good idea to replace the substrate anyway. People who use tap water on a buffering substrate may only get 3-10 months use out of it, depending on substrate and KH of their water/other items in tank.

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sdlTBfanUK
3 hours ago, DKC said:

Thanks Simon, the API test kit I have definitely describes measurements of GH and KH in ppm! One to three drops is 0 to 50ppm, etc etc.

which is why I am confused with the KH reagent as it says “count drops until the blue colour turns to orange”.... the reagent STARTS OFF ORANGE. It does not go blue at all and does not change back to orange no matter how many drops. Has someone else got the same problem? Or am I using the wrong test kit?

 

That is exactly as my readings and correct. The drops are orange and it won't go blue in the test tube at all if there is no KH as there is none to react too. The sheet of paper that comes with that test does say ppm but is same as 1 drop per each KH (I think they say ppm17 per drop on the sheet).

I don't want to make things more difficult but this may help you to get it???? If you put 20ml of water in the test tube (4 times the 5ml normally used) each drop then will be 'per quarter' of a KH. You may then get blue to start with if there is less than 1KH but more than 0 (1 drop quarter KH, 2 drops half KH, 3 drops three quarters KH). I do this sort of thing with the GH kit, ie 10ml tank water so that each drop is then 'a half' of a GH. You wouldn't normally do 20ml as you will obviously be using 4 times the drops and the kit won't last long, but it did help me 'get my head round it' as like you my drops never went blue (so I wondered if the test was working?), but they did when I did 20ml of water, 2 drops so was half a KH, ie normally classed as 0-1GH.

Hope this helps and doesn't make it worse???????

Simon

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DKC

Simon, I’ll go try that in daylight so I can assess colour better. Thanks for the explanation!

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jayc
3 hours ago, Zoidburg said:

I can agree with you in the fact that higher pH can help the bacteria grow faster in a tank...

LOL that was a joke. You didn't have to explain it, I completely agree with you. 👍

Raising pH with plant substrate is always ONLY for the cycling stage. Once a tank is cycled, reduce pH, as that helps with longevity of the plant substrate. The short period where pH is raised during cycling doesn't impact it's longevity by much. But it helps ease the whole cycling process for people new to the hobby. A lot of people cannot understand why ADA needs to cycle so much longer. And when one is new to the hobby, they give up earlier and start rushing with adding in livestock, only to see them die.

I have an ADA substrate tank here that is still going after 6 years without changing the substrate.

 

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DKC

6 years? @jayc, that gives me some reassurance. And I will be patient and wait it Ammonia and nitrite read zero.... even if it kills me waiting.

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beanbag

Fill up the 5ml test tube with water, and put in just the tiniest pinch of baking soda.  Now you will see the test solution turns blue the first drop.

If ammonia reached 8ppm, you probably killed off all your bacteria, and get to start over.  Don't let it go above 2-3 ppm.

 

Edited by beanbag

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jayc
9 hours ago, DKC said:

that gives me some reassurance

Unfortunately, I use Amazonia Aquasoil, not Amazonia II like you have.

The original Amazonia is a lot more potent than the Amazonia II.

But still you should see it last 3 years if you use RO water and keep KH zero to low.

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