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Struggling a little - GHA/Cycling

Discussion in 'Planted Chit Chat' started by tayloss, Sep 10, 2017.

  1. tayloss

    tayloss New Member

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    Hi All,

    I have a very small planted 25 litre tank that I started a month to have a go at a planted tank in the view to having some shrimps later on. After a lot of research, I set out and purchased a buffering substrate (Dennerle Scaper's Soil 4L Shrimp & Plants) and some Salty Shrimp GH+ due to the need of keeping the PH low.

    Where i am struggling is with cycling the tank and think I may have made the errors with using RO with GH+ to early?

    For background, I am using an all-in-one fertiliser containing:--

    1.5 ppm Nitrate
    0.4 ppm Phosphate
    1.6 ppm Potassium
    0.2 ppm Magnesium

    And I add 2ml per day as per the instructions provided (5ml per 40l).

    The plants are growing well and have added a nano CO2 system controlled by a solenoid that comes on 1hr (Morning) and 30mins (Evening) before the light comes on/off - Light is on from 12pm until 6pm (6hrs). The drop checker is green and was yellow to start with until i adjusted the levels.

    My Plants consist of:

    Micranthemum MonteCarlo
    Eleocharis pusilla
    Cryptocoryne wendtii Kompakt
    Alternanthera reineckii Mini
    Helanthium tenellum Broad Leaf
    Pogostemon erectus

    Plus a couple of Anbius'.

    I am also ghost feeding the tank with flakes and did for a while produce ammonia, but added some stability to help grow the good bacteria.

    The lasted tests have come out too good to be true:-

    Ammonia = 0
    Nitrite = 0
    Nitrate = 0
    PH = 6.0-6.1
    TDS - 180-190
    KH = 0
    GH = 8

    I know why the KH is at 0 due to only using the GH+ powder, but has the tank really cycled and ready for shrimps, or do I need to increase the PH and other parameters to cycle as I'm also seeing an increase in hair green algae.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    My guess is I've made some error in the early water stages and have seen on another thread that it should be cycled with tap water and then brought to where you want it to be?

    Also, i'm aware that shrimps and CO2 don't mix too well, but other have had success in keeping them? I'm not worried too much about breeding, but as its only 25l, fish are out of the question?

    Thanks in advance!

    Chris

    Just to add, am I right in thinking the reason for the GHA is lack of Nitrate?


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  2. StevenF

    StevenF Member

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    What brand fertilizer did you purchase and what is your source of micro nutrients. NPK and Ma are only 4 of the approximately 15 nutrients plants need to grow. Any deficiencies in the nutrients supplied could cause could help algae grow while the plant growth would stall.

    Bacteria like plants need nutrients to survive. There are some similarities in the nutrients bacteria and plant need but there are also some differences. Your fertilizer probably will not have everything the bacteria need to grow. Your RO water certainly doesn't. using tap water combined whit he fertilizer and GH booster gives you a better chance of getting the bacteria to grow. Adding a small amount of food also would help. However the only way to know if your tank is cycled is to put ammonia into the tank and verify using a test kit is converted to nitrite and then nitrate. If you don't have nitrate in the tank there is a good chance it is not ready for shrimp.

    This link should explain how to do that.
    http://www.fishforums.net/threads/cycling-your-new-fresh-water-tank-read-this-first.421488/

    A 25 liter tank is a good size for a shrimp tank. The water parameters you list are adequate for shrimp.
     
  3. tayloss

    tayloss New Member

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    Hi StevenF,

    Thank you for your reply.

    This is the fertiliser that I was recommended on another forum:-

    https://www.co2supermarket.co.uk/all-in-one-macros-micros-fertiliser-aquarium-plants-p299.html

    I didn't want to use a mix of RO/TAP as my water is rock solid and would deplete the substrate quicker, so hence the use or RO/GH booster.

    Do you recommend using tap water to cycle or do you think its ok to add the shrimp now?

    Thanks,
    Chris
     
  4. Byron

    Byron Member

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    I am going to counter Steven a bit on the cycling issue. You will not see ammonia or nitrite (using our basic test kits like the API) if you have live plants in a tank that is cycling, especially fast growing plants (unless you add a lot of pure ammonia). This is because the plants take up the ammonia/ammonium and plants can take up quite a lot of this. If you did dose more pure ammonia than what they could take up, it would kill the plants. Thus, I do not recommend adding any "artificial" ammonia with plants present.

    The nitrifying bacteria will still appear and establish, but with live plants this will be slower and less, so you will not "see" it via tests. This is why some refer to this as "silent cycle."

    If the plants are clearly growing, you are safe to add the fish/invertebrates. The ammonia these will produce will easily be taken up by the plants.

    The reason you don't see nitrite during this process is because when plants take up ammonia they do not produce nitrite like the Nitrosomonas sp. bacteria. And if no nitrite (ort very little, again it will be undetectable) then nitrate will be minimal and likely zero. The bioload of fish can cause nitrate to appear, but with sufficient plants it will be low, and often remain zero. Some plants will use nitrate anyway, and then there are various bacteria primarily in the substrate that take up nitrate to complete the cycle (de-nitrification).

    Byron.
     
  5. tayloss

    tayloss New Member

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    Hi Bryon,

    Thanks for the information on the silent cycling, and am kind of seeing it from the testing I have done. How do you think i can get the GHA under control other than manually removing with a toothbrush?

    Is this something that will get better with age, or is this something thats to be expected in a planted tank?

    For the next week or so, I'm going to perform some water changes to keep the TDS down and prepare the tank for some shrimp in the coming weeks.

    Do you think that increasing the fertiliser is going to help fight the GHA or is it fuelling the growth perhaps..?

    Thanks,
    Chris
     
  6. Byron

    Byron Member

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    On the algae issue..."problem" algae is always due to an imbalance in the light/nutrients. If the light is of sufficient intensity and spectrum for the plant species, and the necessary nutrients are all available, plants will use the light and nutrients and algae will be at a disadvantage. But as soon as any one factor in the light/nutrient equation is out of balance, algae has an advantage because it can manage imbalances much better than higher plants.

    That is the reason; as for the solution, I cannot be so exact. I have never gone the high-tech approach as you are here. So I can only suggest that something is out of balance, with more than the plants need. I wouldn't think less because the plants seem to be thriving.

    I would suggest light is probably one issue, namely, too much--this can be intensity, or duration, or both. I don't worry much when I see algae on the wood in my tanks, but I aim to keep it off the plant leaves. Light is usually the issue, though I have twice brought on black brush algae simply by dosing fertilizer twice a week instead of just once. So any factor in the balance can upset it.

    Which brings me to the fertilizer you are using...it may likely be way too much, and of the wrong things. Steven touched on this, and I don't disagree there. Nitrate for example is not as good as ammonium as a source of nitrogen, because plants prefer ammonium and most have to convert the nitrate back into ammonium which takes more energy. This is why fish in a planted tank always help, by adding more ammonia/ammonium--back to the cycling issue previously, the plants grab ammonia/ammonium rapidly as their preferred source of nitrogen. So reducing the fertilizing might help control the algae.

    Byron.
     
  7. StevenF

    StevenF Member

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    This is true but the all in one fertilizer you are using does not contain any sulfur, calcium, or chlorine in it (which is typical in many fertilziers). These are vital plant nutrients. So as of right now you have a nutrient imballance which will need to be resolved to address the algae. Now if you were using tap water some or all of these would be pressent. However you are using ro water which has essentially nothing. Now your GH booster will have calcium. However GH boosters come in to verieties, chloride based and sulfate based. Most are chloride based (calcium chloride / magnesium chloride) and that will resolve the chlorine defidciency in the fertilizer. However you are still missing sulfur. An example of a sulfate GH booster is Seachem Equilibrium.

    If you have a chloride GH booster you need to add a source of sulfure to the water. Potassium sulfate would work. If you have sulfate CH booster you need to add a chloride to the water. Sodium Chloride (ordinary table salt will work for that .2ppm of table salt would be enough to resolve a potential chlorine deficiency.

    A silient cycle is possible if there are no nutrient deficiencies prescient. The plants tied to the wood in the tank don't appear to be doing that well. Possibly due to the deficiencies in the fertilizer. The plants in the substrate are however doing well which might indicate the substrate has some of the nutrients needed. Eventual any nutrients in the substrate may be come depleted unless you add the nutrients missing in the fertilizer.
     
  8. tayloss

    tayloss New Member

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    Thanks both, I think perhaps the need for a reduction in the fertiliser and an increase in water changes maybe the better approach to replace the used nutrients from the RO/GH mix.

    After reading the leaflet that came with the booster, it appears to be as good for plants as it is for shrimp and contains the minerals needed.

    Thank you for the ideas and help in trying to stabilise the tank.
     
  9. tayloss

    tayloss New Member

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    So just an update on what I'm doing..

    I've reduced the fertiliser to 0.5ml as that's what the instructions say is suitable for a 25ltr tank and performed a large water Change to bring the TDS to 200.

    Probably think about a couple of changes a week to see if it reduces the algae!

    As the substrate plants are doing well, what's the recommended way to trim them as many articles say to remove the plants rather than trimming with scissors?

    Thanks,
    Chris


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  10. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Keep in mind that it takes a few days (sometimes longer) for changes you make in lighting, fertilizing, etc. to show up. And the more changes you make during this time frame, the less able you might bee to see results. When there is a problem that can bee attributed to more than one issue, it is OK to change this and that. But once that is done, I tend to consider one aspect at a time if something still seems out.

    On the trimming, which plant species? Ste plants can bee "trimmed" by scissors, sometimes, though this has a different result from pulling up thee stems, cutting them, and planting the tip ends. Substrate rooted plants that spread by runners can be thinned out by simply pulling up the plants you want removed and tossing them (or into another tank).
     
  11. tayloss

    tayloss New Member

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    Fully understand about the doing too much in one go as have the same with my marine tank!! I'll reduce the fertiliser for a week or so and continue to perform weekly 30% changes to keep the minerals together and see what happens?

    Sound like a plan?

    The plants are rooted carpeting plants, so I should thin them out by pulling them up rather than giving them a trim?


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  12. Byron

    Byron Member

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    The light may still be an issue, just to re-mention that. Working out the balance does take some juggling.

    On the trimming, if this means cutting leaves with scissors, I would not do this. There is no value in cutting leaves, and it might kill them. Removing entire leaves is a different thing, with plants like swords. To "thin" carpet type plants, puling out the unwanted plants is the only method. I have pygmy chain sword in several tanks as under my light and nutrient balance it thrives; when it gets everywhere, I just pull up the string of plants and replant the best ones, or cut the runner and pull up the ones I don't want.
     
  13. tayloss

    tayloss New Member

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    Of course, not forgetting the lighting :) they are in for 6 hours ATM.. do you think it should be reduced or increased if the fertiliser change doesn't make a different?


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  14. Byron

    Byron Member

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    It is probably the intensity more than the duration. You really don't want to be below six hours.
     
  15. tayloss

    tayloss New Member

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    The light is a dennerle LED 5.0 and so it could be a height issue as it's adjustable up and down... it's not quite at the top of the setting so maybe that's need to be moved upwards .

    Thanks for hanging in there :)


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