Fluval Spec Five


Nov 15, 2023
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As MTS slowly returns and there is no real working cure, except giving in... I started fishless this Spec V, around 3 weeks ago.

I thought that I should at least wait until there is something to say before posting something.

But there it is, 2 weeks in cycling... I seeded the tank directly with water changes and filter squeezes from my shrimp tank. And with Ammonia at 2ppm, nitrite over 5ppm and rising nitrate... There is already ostracods swimming around... How can they stand that ?

For this tank I want a bunch of cherry shrimps and real fish... A large school of celestial pearl danios. Since I discovered lately that bettas are some kind of amphibian that lost the ability to walk out of the water and are not real fish indeed.

I found a good chunk of mopany wood to make a beefy center piece and a couple more botanicals to enhance hiding spots. I added everything at startup except the mopany that already had 3 weeks soaking in a bucket.

I when with two layers of different sand size of relatively same color and it already looks dirty :)

After an absolutely epic bacterial and fungal bloom, concurred by a total Coca Cola water episode that lasted 3 complete water changes.

I'm proud to announce that with a good glass scraping, plants are coming soon.

Ancillary Filtration is about to be installed and current filtration flaws will be attempted to be addressed at the same time.
Mini update.

Ammo drowned to 0.25, nitrite are off chart and nitrate increased to 40ppm. Fungus and cyanobacteria are recessing quickly as the good ones builds up.

But still, the seed shrimps are overriding the tank like pest and are actively cleaning all the glass for me. I believe they are creating more ammonia.

Since the new light came in yesterday I thought it earn a pic... All the little whites peckers doing the job they are doing... The left is nearly cleared.


Can you see these three evil faces in the wood ? 2 are really apparent the other needs another angle of view. But is terrifying. This piece of wood chose me in the store, I walked like a zombie to the cash, payed and when out.

It fits perfectly the height of the tank, is pretty thin and leaves a lots of place behind it. Both sides looks amazing. for a five pounds piece I felt like it was... (going to have a lots of tannins) a good deal.

And it is...
Well this is precipitating fast.

Ammonia is at 0, Nitrite are already dropping, and nitrate moved a little higher.

Since the two purple at the end of the API test, I cant differentiate (seriously, are you ?). I Cross tested with my Nutrafin A7860 kit. Surprisingly the Nutrafin test reported significantly lower nitrite levels. That could explain the seeds shrimps survival. The Nutrafin kit reported 1.6 ppm... On the API, it was (for my eyes) still between 2 and 5.

Detritus worms also appeared and are happily swarming the glass. reducing the thickening biofilm layer building in.

Some adults seed shrimps looked hungry today :) and where scanning the tank back and forth. I dropped in a pinch of Betta pellets that Big's hates.

Loll, under 2 minutes there was not a single seed shrimp swimming around.
A week later.

Some surprising results. The seeds shrimps are nearly done with a good part of the biofilm and slight algae.


But the cycle showed up with uncommon results. I have not done any water changes since the first time I added ammonia.

Friday these where the results: ( 2 center tubes are nitrite with API to the left and Nutrafin test kit to the right )

Strangely nitrates where coming down too ?!? I added 2 ppm of ammonia that day.

Today (Sunday):

Nitrites are finally nilllll and... Something is feeding on nitrates, loll

I Added 3 ppm of ammonia. Plants are coming soon :)
Strangely nitrates where coming down too ?!? I added 2 ppm of ammonia that day.
Nitrate test kits read nitrite as nitrate. If you have a nitrite level in the water, the nitrate test kit will pick up the nitrite and say it's nitrate, giving you a false nitrate reading.
Nitrate test kits read nitrite as nitrate. If you have a nitrite level in the water, the nitrate test kit will pick up the nitrite and say it's nitrate, giving you a false nitrate reading.

Yes, I understand the zinc reduction to nitrite then using the Griess reagent to test the converted nitrates as nitrite and the fact that the current nitrite will be added to the converted nitrate.

But on the second pic all the nitrite is gone and there is no nitrate left. it's the third time it does that (no water changes).

Not that I really mind, but where are the nitrate going at the end, they should be building up.
Little Update...

Sponge filter is installed... Witch made me remark that... There is no channels to bring air tubes or electricity inside that thing. Had to lower water level and use power tools to fix that.

The seed shrimps and detritus worms nearly finished cleaning the glasses, So I'm skipping the glass cleaning for this one. loll.

The water is deep red from tannins, the light has difficulty to go trough and it triggered a ascension of dark Brown algae. I seeded thoroughly the tank with Bacter AE and under a couple hours the algae turned light brown and whitish... Started detaching in slimy patches. That's very good news... But I'm nearing another 90% water change soon.

Still bursting ammonia at 3 ppm as soon as it drops. Nitrates have started to remain. and complete process is accelerating.

There is a poor baby cherry shrimp alone in there. So I added a clump of java moss. to help the poor thing at least feel more secure...

But as long as fishless cycle goes, with the level of ammonia and nitrite off chart... It's growing and already showing colors...

Another observation I made: As soon as I add ammonia, the seed shrimps start swimming in open water in masses, every time...

I'm still tinkering on the plant setup... But it will be simple and overwhelming.

Running this one for an heavy load of micro fish and shrimps. My current choice has a pretty good common ground on water parameters and sociability. Cherry shrimps should be able to make it, with little dispositions.

I count on adding directly enough large schools of them to make everyone feel at home, on drop.

I skipped planting this week because I still struggle with the heater I got for this setup. The installation makes it quite slow to compensate. Once in line it looks stable. But there is a large discrepancy between the heater thermostat where it is and a thermometer in the tank, I'm still tweaking that.


I need two large areas for bottom feeders, one in plain view and one completely hidden, plus a good surface cover and a couple layer breakers, while leaving a good empty space under the surface for at least two third of the tank.

It's 5 gallons :rolleyes:
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Well it seems that the Java moss brought some undesirable hikers. When I got it, I wanted to put some in my shrimp tank too, but my little voice whispered "Don't do that..." Glad I've listened. I took the whole mutt and tossed it in the cycling tank.

I found this crawling on the glass this morning.


My first reflex... I refrained, squishing it is not a good idea to prevent the proliferation of stem cells in the water. I have traps that I'll have to dig somewhere. And setup asap. I was leaving for a job and didn't think at the moment to siphon it right away with a baster....

I'm killing so much snails at the moment from my betta tank, that my first thought was automatically to squish it. Loll.

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