Am I doing the right thing with my tank?

Carissa

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Jun 8, 2007
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I started a 32g tank about 3 weeks ago. I decided to go with using zeolite to avoid any ammonia and thus hopefully avoid algae outbreaks. What I understood was, that the beneficial bacteria would populate my zeolite as it trapped the ammonia, so that eventually even though the zeolite will run out in it's ability to absorb more ammonia, the beneficial bacteria will be growing on it breaking down the ammonia trapped in it and thus it will eventually cycle.

So I've been doing ei, with 50% weekly water changes. I had 5 fish in the tank and in about the second week I started getting nitrite readings even though ammonia stayed at 0. So therefore cycling was happening somewhere.

But after three full weeks some of the fish were acting funny. Ammonia readings were still 0, but then one morning one fish died and then when I tested, ammonia readings were up. So my zeolite ran out, evidently. What I did was remove the biomedia in my filter to make more room, and put it in the tank, and moved the old zeolite down (so it would get the unfiltered water first), then put new zeolite on top of that. I was hoping that there would be a colony of bacteria establishing themselves on the old zeolite, which is why I didn't want to take it out of the filter.

Anyway my question is, should I continue doing what I have been? Or do I need to change strategies somehow? In hindsight I probably should have been doing more aggressive water changes, but what I was thinking at the time was that since there was roughly 0 ammonia in the water at any given time because of the zeolite, I didn't think more water changes would benefit anything since I wouldn't really be taking anything out of the water, just wasting fertilizer more or less.

Here is a picture of the tank as it is now. I know I need more plants. They're not the easiest to come by here, it took me a month to special order these and they didn't even bring in half of what I ordered.

Also I am wondering these two questions: Why is my hygro always putting out roots from the stem? Should I cut them off? And is there anything I can do about the anubias with the algae? It came like that and hasn't really gotten better since I've had it. Some of the other anubias in the tank who don't have it have a really nice dark green color, but this particular plant is not doing so well.
 

VaughnH

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All, or virtually all, stem plants put out aerial roots at the leaf junctions. The best thing to do is learn to enjoy them. But, cutting them off does no harm either. The anubias I have had all had light green new growth, which gradually darkened as the leaves got older. And, those leaves grow very slowly, so they are always subject to algae starting on them. If it is just a few spots here and there I just ignore it, but more than that I start trying to get rid of. If it gets really bad the best idea is to just cut off the leaf.

As far as the rest of the questions go, I don't really have a good suggestion yet.
 

SpongeBob SquarePlants

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Dec 11, 2006
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Carissa, where do live again?

If possible, I would be more than happy to send you plants. Heck I cut and throw away, in the garbage every week, more plant mass than you have in your whole tank.

Lee
 

Carissa

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Jun 8, 2007
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SpongeBob SquarePlants;18974 said:
Carissa, where do live again?

If possible, I would be more than happy to send you plants. Heck I cut and throw away, in the garbage every week, more plant mass than you have in your whole tank.

Lee

LOL

I would be happy to pay you for shipping if it's not ridiculously priced. I will pm you with my info.
 

Carissa

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Jun 8, 2007
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Another question I have. You see how the hygro is all pretty much bunched together at the bottom? This is how it came when I bought it, but now I'm thinking I should have seperated into smaller bunches and spread it out a little so it doesn't crowd itself. Would it be a bad idea to do this now? Is there any reason it should be bunched together or that I shouldn't move it around right now?
 

VaughnH

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Stem plants are sold in bunches, typically. I suspect that is largely so they look good in the display tank in a store. But, when you plant them you need to separate them into much smaller bunches, with only 2 or 3, at most, plants in a bunch. Otherwise the middle plants in a large bunch don't get enough light at the bottom for them to stay alive. The other advantage of separating them is that you more quickly get really large growths of the plants in your tank.
 

Carissa

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Jun 8, 2007
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Good, I wish I had thought about that in the first place! I'm going to seperate some of mine now. They're getting all entangled around each other and the little ones are getting stunted. :(
 

Carissa

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Jun 8, 2007
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Here is what it looks like now after I seperated the plants out. Yay pleco! He's cleaning off my anubias. And why, you may ask, do you have a bag of carbon sitting in the tank? Well I don't have room for it in my filter, but my water has tannins in it and the yellow color is getting on my nerves. I'm hoping this will help clear it up a little over the next couple days.

100_1427.jpg
 

Carissa

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Jun 8, 2007
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Just an update as to where I'm at with this. I haven't had any more fish deaths and ammonia has stayed at undetectable levels since I put new zeolite in. Nitrites are still around a trace or so. However, I got a cloudy water outbreak (you can see it starting in the picture, but it got significantly worse as of today). I did my 50% water change today and that eliminated some of the cloudiness. The fish were still 'flashing' as of this morning. When I did the water change I added 2 1/2 tbsp of salt (sodium chloride) to the water in hopes that it will help the fish fight off whatever parasite or issue is causing this. I haven't noticed any flashing since then but that could be coincidence. I'll be watching for the next few days to see if there are any changes. Also I stopped adding baking soda to my water changes and therefore KH is down to about 60, the reason I did this was because 1. someone told me KH doesn't matter much to plants and 2. it will lower pH and if the ammonia spikes again it won't be as toxic. Hope my reasoning is good on this one. Any thoughts appreciated.

Oh and I forgot to mention, I got a small colony of gsa on my front glass. I think my pleco doesn't like it out there on the middle of the front glass, he goes all around it. So I scraped it off today and I'll see if it returns. I did my normal dosing of ei plus epsom salts for magnesium today too, except phosphates which I do seperately from the rest.
 

Carissa

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Jun 8, 2007
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I was just wondering what I should do if the zeolite runs out again and I start getting ammonia levels. Just leave it alone and start doing water changes every second day?
 

Tom Barr

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Jan 23, 2005
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By the time the zeolite stops binding NH4, bacteria have covered the media and other surfaces and can convert the NH4 that's left over to NO3, or the plants can/will get it.

Bacterial cycling is slow until about 3-4 week in.
You can mitigate by doing WC's, add zeolite, add mulm, pack the tank with plants from day one etc.


Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Carissa

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Jun 8, 2007
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That's good to hear, hopefully by now I already have some good cycling happening so I won't have to worry about too many more ammonia spikes. The tank has had fish for almost 5 weeks now.