Newbie to plants

Maddog9

New Member
Oct 1, 2023
6
1
3
Illinois
My goal for a new 75 gallon tank is, large fish load (say 5 angels, 8 red-eyed tetras, 5 mollies, 6 rainbows, 1 ram and several bottom feeders). I'd like a moderate planted tank low tech - an A.Swords (or 2), a few Aunbius, a few Java Ferns, and maybe Hornwoth and maybe some Vals.
I have average well water - 7.7 PH, 125ppm GH, 20 KH, <20ppm Ca. I will using an average LED light with gravel substrate.
I understand that this is a big experiment but I need a good starting point.

Several questions. Should I worry about low Ca and add some (20-30 ppm)?
Should I add an all-in-one fertilizer and root tabs?
One source (Aquarium CO-OP recommends keeping Nitrates at 50 by adding his Easy Green Fertilizer- is that too high?
Should I can back on LED intensity to say 75%-50% with 10 hours? Using probably a Flugger 2.0 light.
With these goals and parameters, how frequently do you think I'll need to water change? I'd like to get by with every 2 weeks if possible but the large fish load maybe not.
 

Allwissend

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Lifetime Member
Jun 20, 2016
894
390
63
www.intuitiveaqua.net
Welcome to the forum. In general, my recommendation if you are new too all this is to start with the recommendations from one source. Preferably a sou source that is able to show a that they have achieved a similar aquarium to what you would like. Do not mix and match, do not adjust. You have time to adjust later and try out new things and ideas.

Is the KH value also in ppm or in dH ? That would be a main concern.
125ppm GH and 20 Ca is rather uncommon for tap waters and most natural(whell) waters, one of the test kits /sources of information is likely not reliable. If you use tap water without any water softener get the water report from the company that supplies you.

Liquid fertilizer should provide what your plants need and gives you a little more control. Even amazon swords can be kept healthy if water parameters are good. While not harmful, 50 mg/L (ppm) nitrate for the plants listed in an aquarium with no injected CO2 is more than what the plants need. Around 10-20 mg/L NO3 from fertilizer would be my target. Light duration is also better kept short at the start of the tank. In time you can get it to 10hours without major algae issues. Do not expect to have an aquarium that is without any spec of algae but if you don't want to grow it be active in manually removing it.

Frequency of needed water changes, as you intuit, can be a function of the bioload. New tanks do better with frequent water changes as it help keep things low. If everything works out with weekly water changes, try every two wweeks and ssee how it goes. If everything progresses according to your goal it's fine. If not, come back to weekly.
 

Maddog9

New Member
Oct 1, 2023
6
1
3
Illinois
Welcome to the forum. In general, my recommendation if you are new too all this is to start with the recommendations from one source. Preferably a sou source that is able to show a that they have achieved a similar aquarium to what you would like. Do not mix and match, do not adjust. You have time to adjust later and try out new things and ideas.

Is the KH value also in ppm or in dH ? That would be a main concern.
125ppm GH and 20 Ca is rather uncommon for tap waters and most natural(whell) waters, one of the test kits /sources of information is likely not reliable. If you use tap water without any water softener get the water report from the company that supplies you.

Liquid fertilizer should provide what your plants need and gives you a little more control. Even amazon swords can be kept healthy if water parameters are good. While not harmful, 50 mg/L (ppm) nitrate for the plants listed in an aquarium with no injected CO2 is more than what the plants need. Around 10-20 mg/L NO3 from fertilizer would be my target. Light duration is also better kept short at the start of the tank. In time you can get it to 10hours without major algae issues. Do not expect to have an aquarium that is without any spec of algae but if you don't want to grow it be active in manually removing it.

Frequency of needed water changes, as you intuit, can be a function of the bioload. New tanks do better with frequent water changes as it help keep things low. If everything works out with weekly water changes, try every two wweeks and ssee how it goes. If everything progresses according to your goal it's fine. If not, come back to weekly.
KH is in degrees (DKH). I have a water softener so it's probably taking out the Ca. My Ca is <20 which means it could be zero. Should I be concerned with this low of a Ca and should I add calcium? I need to use the softener or my PH and hardness would be way too high.
 

Allwissend

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Lifetime Member
Jun 20, 2016
894
390
63
www.intuitiveaqua.net
It sounds like your water (before the softener) is just saturated with carbonates and calcium. Can you easily source water before the water softener? If so, I would try and take a bucket and leave it out with an airstone for a few days then test the parameters. It can happen that once the water is exposed to the atmosphere the pH will come down some and you will start seeing some precipitation occuring. To be honest I would be more inclined to use this water and dilute it with Reverse Osmosis (RO) water.
While it is possible to add Ca and Mg back into the water, the water softener works by replacing Ca and Mg with Na and K ... the higher the starting GH the more Na and K you end up with. It's good for your pipes and heaters, not great for the aquarium. To increase Ca and Mg use gypsum (CaSO4) and epsom salt (MgSO4) hydrates. I would suggest starting at least with 20 ppm Ca and 5 ppm Mg
 

Maddog9

New Member
Oct 1, 2023
6
1
3
Illinois
My main concern is this. With my goals of having a large fish load and an average plant load, is this even doable without a 50% weekly water change?
 

Allwissend

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Lifetime Member
Jun 20, 2016
894
390
63
www.intuitiveaqua.net
I think the fish load is approapiate for the tank if on the heavy side. When they grow and your are likely to feed more to have them grow bigger it would definately benefit from that water change. You can start at 50% and slowly prolong the interval and see how the fish, plants and water parameters react. Hornwort is your friend as it can take up quite a lot of ammonia when it grows well. Leave it floating and remove old parts as needed so it doesn't overtake the tank.