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Massive water change necessary for 1st couple of weeks for planted tanks?

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by ralliart12, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. ralliart12

    ralliart12 Junior Poster

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    Hi fellows, may I know if massive (50% & above) & frequent water change (every 2~3 days) are required for the initial stages (1~2 weeks) of newly set-up planted tanks? In order to leech out & dispose of excess nutrients (especially if using rich substrate)?

    Although in general, for the cycling of tank, I read that we should not change the water until the cycling process is completed; but I seem to recall to do the otherwise for (densely?) planted tanks?
     
  2. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi, a lot depends on fish and plant stock, type of substrate (ADA leaches nh4 for ex), etc, I don't know why you would wait until the cycle is complete to start water changes...

    IMO, water changes are good even for fish only setups........
     
  3. ralliart12

    ralliart12 Junior Poster

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    Am not keeping any fishes at all; plant stock is a lawn of HC that almost occupies the entire surface of the substrate whilst the rear third of the tank is completely occupied by stem plants. There are 2 pieces of driftwood in the tank, & they are moderately covered in moss. 8-19 lava rocks, also moderately covered in moss are scattered around the HC lawn; & a few other pieces of (what I think are granite) rocks with Bucephalandra on them, are once again' scattered around the tank. A small amount of foreground plants like downoi, C. Parva & E.cetacum are grown as well. A satellite breeding tank containing some hornwort, egeria dense & frogbits are also connected to the same water column. Am using full ADA substrate system, i.e. AS with power sand special & those nitty gritty base ferts.

    Oh? This is new to me: I thought for the very initial stages of a tank, if it is intended for fauna, one should only change water after the nitrite spike stage, & not any time before that (for the 2 types of bacteria to establish themselves & do their thing)?

    So for densly-planted tanks, do we do the opposite simply only to avoid algae bloom during initial stages?

    That's what I have heard: if utility bills are not a problem, frequent water changes with properly treated water, is always a good thing.
     
  4. roncruiser

    roncruiser Junior Poster

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    Leaching

    I'm glad I read this post. I thought I read everything about ADA Amazonia. I just started to cycle a tank. It's been 5 days now. Until now, I did not know it leaches NH4 (Ammonium). How long will the leaching last?

    Best Regards,
    Ron
     
  5. fplata

    fplata Member

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    Which anazonia do you have?
     
  6. krandall

    krandall Prolific Poster

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    My experience is that it leaches for a while.(several weeks at least) There are two issues. The first is that you need to wait for the tank to cycle to make it safe for animals... That's really the easy part, IMO. The second issue is that even after the tank has finished cycling, and you are getting only nitrate readings (no nitrite or ammonia) you have to use a combination of LARGE water changes to reduce the nitrate AND supplement rather heavily with phosphate or you can get BAD algae problems. (I also run the CO2 really high during this period)

    The first time I used Amazonia, the tank was a mess for several months. Once I realized HOW MUCH phosphate I needed to add to keep things balanced, I was able to keep algae to a minimum from the beginning.

    It grows plants well, but it's not without its challenges!
     
    #6 krandall, Nov 21, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 22, 2012
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    The frequent water changes works nicely for most all new tanks, particularly till you get the CO2 dialed in which is often pretty tough for many folks.
    A mature filter from an older tank, or media, or the filthy mulm dirt from a sponge filter from a mature tank will speed the process up a great deal.

    I do 80% water changes 2-3x a week for the first 1-2 months. By then, plants are going crazy and have filled in well. Like Karen, I made a big mess the 1st time I used it, I hated it and sold it right away. But gave it another chance later.
    The product comes laden with N as NH4, not NO3, NO3 does not bind well to soils, NH4 does.........but in aquatic systems, bacteria attack and oxidize NH4, and plants will take up a fair amount also.
    So that is why it is used vs the much less toxic NO3.

    It last in much smaller amounts inside each grain perhaps 12-18 months, and by then........all the NH4 usable plant plants is gone.
    Either roots got it or bacteria.

    Good news though, the ADA AS still is loaded with every other nutrients and should last a decade or so, or until it crumbles apart.
    So later, you end up needing a good fish load and/or some KNO3 dosing.

    Then it last forever pretty much as far as we are concerned.......
     
  8. krandall

    krandall Prolific Poster

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    Tom wrote: The frequent water changes works nicely for most all new tanks, particularly till you get the CO2 dialed in which is often pretty tough for many folks.

    I think one reason people have trouble with the CO2 part is that they want to put fish (and/or shrimp) in too soon. If you leave the animals OUT for a while longer, you can REALLY crank up the CO2, without any problems. Then when things are growing well, you can dial the CO2 back, find the optimal level for the tank and THEN safely introduce the critters.
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    True Karen, there's no rush to add fish, but like my client's, they always want to add them about 1 month too soon.

    I tend to add shrimps first and if they make it...........then I go to fish a week or two later.
    If I can hold the client's off.

    Myself.........I tend to add about at 3 weeks..........mostly a few shrimp and torture them.
    Fish, I'm slow and indecisive:)

    I still have not figured out what specific species I want for 2 of my tanks.........and a lot of trial and error.
     
  10. krandall

    krandall Prolific Poster

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    Ha! I do very much the same. I just introduced 5 fat old Amano shrimp from my old 75g into the new one two days ago. (the tank is just about one month in) they are as happy as clams. (errr, shrimp:)). My LFS actually has my fish for me, they've just been holding them until I'm sure the tank is safe.

    I'll be adding 24 Orizias woworae, and 24 Celestial Pearl Danios. I am planning on adding the rice fish in the next couple of days, then adding the CPD's next week. I tend to like to have one or two species that are not only an attractive, interesting addition to the tank, but will also breed prolifically enough that I can harvest fry for sale from time to time. I'm also hoping that the rice fish, swimming higher in the tank, and not being particularly shy, will help the CPD's stay out more in the open too.

    I also have a very nice, colorful strain of Trichopsis vittatus that I collected in Thailand on my last trip that I MAY add to the tank, but I have to decided first whether I want smaller shrimp in the tank... The rice fish and CPD's I think would not be able to do too much damage to a good breeding group of red cherry shrimp, but I think the gouramis, even though they are small, would systematically and relentlessly hunt them down.
     
  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Another option forced upon me with a client's impatiences..........he bought the fish and added them without telling me............I added several large bags of zeolite sand. Zeloite remove sNH4, Ammo remover it's sometimes called, this along with Carbon, you can avoid some water changes, but for the cost etc, the water changes have always seemed a better solution to me.
     
  12. Snydermann

    Snydermann Subscriber

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    My first post here at TBR, I've been wanting to write and thank Tom and the Plant Guru Team for all their excellent aquarium advice and this seemed an appropriate thread to do so.

    My wife and I tried to keep a planted aquarium back in the early 1990s, with little success. But, we were good at keeping fish and kept discus for many years, until we moved, and with all the associated activity never set a tank up again.

    That is until recently, when we found a local planted tank for sale by a person who was moving and couldn't take it along. The tank is a 90 gallon Oceanic with a fair amount of nice-ish equipment. The price was right and the timing was right, so we purchased the tank, that was two months ago.

    The tank was well-intentioned but had suffered from some neglect or inexperience. The BBA was rampant and the growth of the plants seemed distorted with many curling leaves. We broke the tank down to move it and when we set it back up we removed as much of the algae infected leaves as possible (50-80% loss) and bleached all the hard items in the tank, including the top 1" of gravel (Laterite-gravel blend, it seems). We also started reading this forum and applying Tom's methods as best we could.

    It took a few weeks to get the tank set up properly, mostly time lost waiting for parts and supplies to arrive for changing the light bulbs and building our own co2 reactor. It also took time to get everything dialed in properly and train ourselves as to what to do to make the tank work. We kept improving tank flow, filtration, lighting, co2 quantity and distribution and fertilization, constantly referring back to this site when we had an issue or a question. During this time every species of algae known to exist made a home in the tank. BBA still popped up, mostly on the gravel and on old leaves, GDA was on the glass, GSA on old leaves and the glass, thread algae grew on some plants, and of course diatom algae was everywhere. These were not particularly serious infestations, but it was there in significant quantity.

    We were ruthless with the algae. BBA gravel was removed as it was spotted (every day) and BBA infected leaves were removed. We lost so many leaves that we went to the LFS and bought $30.00 worth of the most inexpensive plants they had just to fill out the tank. We added 9 otocinclus fish, three grass shrimp, 6 nerite snails, and one real SAE to the fish that came with the tank.

    And now finally to address the thread topic, we changed 50% of the water and vacuumed the gravel every 3 days.

    We also ran the Vortex D-1 Diatom filter while we were changing water and any time we cleaned the aquarium glass or disturbed the substrate material to move plants. The amount of detritus that came out of even the freshly washed gravel was incredible. I think the water changes and the diatom filter were instrumental in helping fight the algae problems. Every time we ran the diatom filter, the filter powder would be green. If that algae hadn't been removed I think it could just spread through the tank. I even believe the diatom filter will remove algae spores and stop it from spreading. Within a few weeks the algae in our tank was reduced by at least 95%. The only algae we still have is a tiny bit of GSA, small amounts of diatom algae and some BBA that still likes to grow on individual gravel pieces. Now we're changing water every 5 to 7 days and running the diatom filter at least once a week or any time we disturb the gravel or clean algae from the glass.

    The photos below show the tank as purchased before we moved it, after 4 weeks, and after 6 weeks (2 weeks growth).

    [​IMG]

    3-phase-comp_zpsfebf2e03.jpg
     
    #12 Snydermann, May 31, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: May 31, 2013
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    CO2 is tough thing to adjust for most new folks.

    Too much: dead fish
    Too little algae and poor plant growth.

    With experience, this becomes easier.
     
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