When the sleeper wakes...

Bruce Leyland-Jones

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I've been away from the hobby for 13 years and am now able to begin again with a tropical freshwater community tank.
This will be my 'blog', with special mention to things changed for me within this hobby of ours.

When I closed down my last tank, my fish, (bless their little socks), were donated to a good fish shop, to live in a display tank.
The plants went to a compost heap.
Everything else, including rocks, gravel, tank and equipment, went into storage.
Whilst the gravel was rinsed, it wasn't sterilised, although everything else was.

My tank is 30" x 12" x 15.
Just prior to storing everything, a lot of my equipment had been upgraded, so starting anew meant that I didn't need to spend loads on a new pump, aerator or heator. I did, however, need new lighting.

I filled the tank up outside, just to check it hadn't acquired any leaks. It hadn't. It got emptied and located in its new home.
Setting the tank up, the gravel was only rinsed and I suspected that, having been left in aerobic conditions and un-frozen, there may well be an existing bacterial culture amongst the rounded gravel stones. Likewise, my filter sponges were not new.

My larger stones were added and the gravel used to create different layers.
I then filled two thirds of the tank with water, having treated this with Interpet Bioactive tapsafe plus.
The equipment was tested and worked and was switched on.
Juwel EcoFlow 1000 pump.
Eheim 400 Air Pump.
12" Interpet heater.

Heat set to 27 degrees C.

I then realised that all of my medications and test kits were all probably out of date, so off I pootled to stock up on Test Kits and bought some plants. Not a huge range to choose from, unfortunately, but sufficient for now.

Echinodorus sp. Amazons Swords.
Alternanthera rosaefolia
Hygrophila pinnatifida
Taxiphyllum barieri
Java Moss
Microsorum pteropus Java Fern.


Some of these were attached to pieces of my old bogwood, others were seperated from their respective bunches, into single plants and distributed around the tank.

Certainly, the general knowlwedge base about cycling seems to have finally reached the mainstream and potentially useful products are certainly more accessible than they used to be.
Happy days.

Lighting.
Prior to closing my last tank down, I'd acquired some LED tubes, to replace my fluorescent tube starter unit, which had finally bitten the dust after 7 years hard labour. Each of these tubes were bright enough, but each had its own plug and switch and I envisaged having to use a timer and a multisocket arrangement.
However, LEDs have certainly and significantly advanced over the last decade and so I did my research and treated myself to a Fluval Aquasky 2.0, with Bluetooth. This was set to the 'Plant Boost' pre-setting.

The tank was then left to run for 3 days, before I took my first chemistry class, using both liquid testing and test strips.

Nitrate 20
Nitrite 0.5
pH 7.5
KH 40
GH 120
Ammonia 1.0

Looking like the organic matter in the gravel might be doing something useful.
I'd also discovered the 'friendly' bottled bacteria and thought I'd try the Microbe-Lift 'Special Blend' and Nite-Out II now adding these to the water, happy that they'd have some ammonia to munch on.

I'll now leave it a week...

EDIT: Plants and animals in bold text.
 
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Bruce Leyland-Jones

Bruce Leyland-Jones

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So a week passed and I was very happy just to have the subtle sounds of the water pump and am well impressed with seeing my aquatic garden glow under the lighting.
My aerator is operating a pair of airstones and I have a venturi attached to the pump outlet, so I currently have bubbles as well, creating well-oxygenated waters.
(I'll review these when I start to think about adding fish, 'cos some might prefer a more settled tank).

Another play with the chemistry set and both nitrate and nitrite levels are the same, as are KH and GH, although the ammonia has doubled to 2.0.
pH has dropped to 7.0.
 
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Bruce Leyland-Jones

Bruce Leyland-Jones

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Interested in seeing any photos of your build! Do you have a stocking idea list?
Thanks for the interest...first image soon. ;)

I have access to only two aquatic shops...Cumbrian Aquapets in Workington and Maidenhead Aquatics, on the northern edge of Carlisle. The latter seemed quite impressive and I was pleased by the knowledge and willingness to engage of the two members of staff I spoke to there. Good selection of both plants and fish and all seemed healthy.
Aquapets also seemed to have healthy fish, although apparently demand in the local town is only for your standard run-of-the-mill fish and when someone who has been in the business believes that endlers and guppies are south east Asian...
My tank will be of a general South American theme...

I'm likely to be getting some Corys for the tank, so I bought some sand and created a small 'Beach' for them to rummage about in. This is what I have so far...

Stocking levels
It's a 30" long tank, so I can have 30" of fish, right? ;)
However, surface area is 360 sq.inch, which also gives me 30" of fish.
All of which fails to take into account decent filtration and aeration and the small detail that the plants and water parameters will be carefully monitored.
I know I was whiffling through the tulgey wood about aquarium stocking recipes, but this link answered a lot of my query well enough;

For lower levels, I'm thinking Corys and Ottos. Possibly Pygmy Corys, which will also move mid-water.
I'm thinking of a pair of dwarf cichlid, such as rams and either two small shoals, or one bigger one, of tetras, (Black Neons and Cardinals?) I've always liked Golden pencils.

According to the Aqadvisor, I have 237% filtration and, with such a stocking level of some 35 fishes, I'd need to change a third of the water every week.
 

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PorshaF

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It looks great! I really like the color of gravel. I've heard good things of maidenhead- though I'm from the u.s.

Cardinals are going to look great in there! They'll offer so much contrast. I have a soft spot for otos but I have none yet. I bet the rams will love it too.

The background really adds depth, is it real rock? I know that the inch of fish per 1 gallon is incorrect but aquadvisor is relatively fair in stocking inquiries
 
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Bruce Leyland-Jones

Bruce Leyland-Jones

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It looks great! I really like the color of gravel. I've heard good things of maidenhead- though I'm from the u.s.

Cardinals are going to look great in there! They'll offer so much contrast. I have a soft spot for otos but I have none yet. I bet the rams will love it too.

The background really adds depth, is it real rock? I know that the inch of fish per 1 gallon is incorrect but aquadvisor is relatively fair in stocking inquiries
Given that I only have 19.5 Gallons in there, ('proper' gallons, mind you...none of your weedy American gallons :p ), I'm happy with the suggested stocking level. The background is a black piece of moulded soft plastic that, over the years, acquired algae and stopped being just a flat black.
Try Googling for 'Aquarium Background' and go look at the images. Prices appear to have gone up a tad, but I bought mine and fitted it way back in '86. The 3D nature of the thing gives a much better effect with lighting than the many printed images I've seen.
 
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Bruce Leyland-Jones

Bruce Leyland-Jones

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Ammonia down to 0.25mg/L, using API Ammonia Test Kit.

Using the API Test Strips;

GH 60mg/L
KH 40mg/L
pH 7.0
NO2 Nitrite 5mg/L
NO3 Nitrate 80mg/L

So it's possible that the ammonia is being converted to nitrate, which is also being converted to nitrate, as suggested by the decrease in ammonia and marked increase in nitrate/nitrite.
(Ammonia to Nitrite to Nitrate).
This is what's supposed to happen.
 
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Bruce Leyland-Jones

Bruce Leyland-Jones

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Ammonia down to 0.25mg/L, using API Ammonia Test Kit.

Using the API Test Strips;

GH 60mg/L
KH 40mg/L
pH 7.0
NO2 Nitrite 0.5mg/L
NO3 Nitrate 20mg/L

I've removed a couple of small what looked like Physid snails, that would've probably come in on my plants, even though these were treated before planting. These were easy to spot, due to their size and speed across the glass. I suspect there'll be more in there and, as it appears I'm starting to grow some green hair algae, I'm not doing a thorough snail search just yet.
Come Sunday, the tank will have cycled for two whole weeks and it'll be due a small water change and another dose of plant food, Microbe-Lift and Nite-Out II.
I'm also going to check out more closely the local Nerite population, 'cos I can control their population more easily than physids.

EDIT: Plants and animals in bold text.
 
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Bruce Leyland-Jones

Bruce Leyland-Jones

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Two weeks in...

Ammonia at 0.

GH 60mg/L
KH 40mg/L
pH 7.0
NO2 Nitrite 0mg/L
NO3 Nitrate 20mg/L

A got myself a couple of Zebra nerite snails yesterday, which seemed to take to the algae on the outside of my filter straight away. I'm hoping they'll take on the beginnings of the green hair algae that's starting to sprout from some of the plants. There's also a suggestion of brown thread algae beginning on my bogwood that I'm not too happy about.

Nitrates/nitrites are an issue.
Waste food isn't an issue.
Water flow is great, with both the filter and airstones.

This morning, there was a cluster of snail eggs on the glass (!) and, on getting my big magnifying glass out, I saw teeny tiny snails grazing algae on the glass and at least a couple of cyclops.

I've switched my lighting from the Plant Boost setting and created a manual lighting plan, which will have much less light than previous, in the hope of reducing the algae. I've also switched off the blue evening light and bought some more 'proper' plants.

...And, of course, I've also done a 25% water change, using appropriately de-chlorinated water.

EDIT: Plants and animals in bold text.
 
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Bruce Leyland-Jones

Bruce Leyland-Jones

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Ammonia at 0.

GH 60mg/L
KH 40mg/L
pH 7.0
NO2 Nitrite 0mg/L
NO3 Nitrate 0mg/L

My reduction of light seems to have spannered the algae growth, which is a Good Thing and my nerites are still apparently doing what they do best.

I found my old Notebook, containing a handy reminder I found useful, back when it was all fields around here and I had trouble remembering the cycling cycle...
Nitrites NOT Right...Nitrate Great.

It is soooooooo tempting to rush off and buy some fish, but no!
I can and will resist that childish urge. ;)
 
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Bruce Leyland-Jones

Bruce Leyland-Jones

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Ammonia at 0.

GH 60mg/L
KH 40mg/L
pH 7.0
NO2 Nitrite 0mg/L
NO3 Nitrate 0mg/L

Looking good...apart from watching a nerite chomp down on a perfectly healthy Amazon Sword leaf and a definite invasion of baby Physids and ramshorn snails. Obviously, I didn't bleach my plants long enough, although it's entirely possible (apparently) that these little beasties are actually refugees from my old tank and survived, along with the bacteria, in my moist gravel, in the dark and unheated, for 13 years!

On another good note, the green hair algae is now no longer an issue.

EDIT: Plants and animals in bold text.
 
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Bruce Leyland-Jones

Bruce Leyland-Jones

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Ammonia at 0.

GH 60mg/L
KH 40mg/L
pH 7.0
NO2 Nitrite 0mg/L
NO3 Nitrate 0mg/L

Plants are continuing to do well, with no 'melt', which is nice. The chomped on Amazon Sword leaf was removed. It appears that my Zebra snail had found where the leaf had bent, near the base and decided that it was now, essentially, a dead leaf.
Of interest, (to me at least), whilst my home water comes in at a pH of 7.0, just up the road at P@H, the water is a pH of apparently 6.4 and they run it through oyster shells, to try and raise it a tad.
Black Neons, come Sunday?

EDIT: Plants and animals in bold text.
 
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Bruce Leyland-Jones

Bruce Leyland-Jones

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Is your pH of 7.0 freshly run tap water? The pH often changes on standing so we recommend leaving a glass of water to stand overnight, then test it. Of course you may already have done that.......
Dead on 7.0, both freshly run and after 12 hours standing.
That said, it was 7.1 one time and has even been 6.9, so I'm guessing it is also averaging out.
You'll see that when I first set the tank up, the pH went to 7.5, before dropping down to 7.0.
 
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Bruce Leyland-Jones

Bruce Leyland-Jones

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Six bright and healthy black neon tetra, Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi, now in the tank, acquired from Maidenhead Aquatics, on the northern edge of Carlisle. Gotta say that I was well impressed with the staff I spoke to, who certainly know what they're talking about.
I know that there's an argument for only adding three fish at any one time, especially to a relatively new tank, but we decided that the fish would be happier in a group of six and, watching them settle in, that appears to be the case.

I also abandoned the drip-acclimatisation idea. Six fish, sitting in a bag of their own waste products, made me feel that perhaps the Old Way was best, so the bag was floated to match tank temp and then the fish were poured into my bucket, through a well-placed net and then quickly placed in the tank, with lights out. The water in the bucket was disposed off and, an hour later, the lights went on and they were fine.

I'll now be checking water parameters at least daily.

EDIT: Plants and animals in bold text.
 
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