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Author: Ants (11:24 pm)
Sorry for the lack of updates, been a bit busy the last couple of weeks!
Here is the tank 24 hours after setting up and the water's cleared up.
I'll deal with the plants starting from the back, with updates on their progress since I started the tank up a couple of months ago: (If I've misidentified any plants etc. please feel free to post below)
Back left: Jungle Vallis
Supposedly an easy beginners plant, this should grow quickly and eventually hide the pump outlet from sight and spread by runners. This plant is sensitive to changes in water chemistry and the leaves will die over a few weeks, but new leaves tolerant of my water should grow through in that time.
Unfortunately this hasn't worked quite as planned! I belive I initially planted the roots too deep into the substrate and the crowns rotted. One of the plants was dead within a week before I discovered this, I pulled the remaining plants up a little in the hopes it wasn't too late.... Two of the remaining plants started to show signs of recovery with new leaves developing, but these to have now died. I pulled the final stump out of the substrate today.
Back right: Amazon Sword
Another "easy" plant. This tends to be grown with the roots in water and the leaves in air, and once immersed in a tank these air adapted leaves will die off, new water adapted leaves should develop in the meantime. Can grow quite big so suited as a background plant.
This plant has been difficult to say the least, all the old leaves have died off and new ones have developed, however it has a nasty tendency to float to the surface at the slightest touch! I've lost count of the number of times I've had to replant the thing, including today when it uprooted again whilst I was doing my weekly cleanup. A work in progress!
Middle (on the wood): Anubias Barteri
This plant grows from a rhizome and should not be planted directly into the substrate, which will cause the rhizome to rot. Luckily I knew this already from a couple of YouTube videos I'd watched. The plant should be attached to wood, it will eventually form roots into the substrate and firmly attach itself to the host wood. Many people suggest fastening it to the wood with cotton line, elastic bands or glue during the initial stages.
Luckily the wood I'm using had a few conveniently sized crevices which I lodged the two pieces of Anubias into. Much like the Amazon Sword they had a nasty habit of dislodging over the first few weeks but I persevered with my approach and they now seem firmly in place and have started to produce roots which are heading for the substrate and a few new leaves have developed as well. A great plant which really works well as a centre piece in my tank... The fish like it as well
Front Left: Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus)
Another easy plant. Initially I planted this in the substrate, however like the Anubias this grows from a rhizome and should not be planted directly in the substrate but instead be attached to rocks/wood with fishing line or cotton.
Luckily I realised my mistake quickly enough and pulled the plants out and attached them to the wood fragments I'd smashed off the larger piece a few days earlier. These now appear to be doing well and have produced several new leaves along with beautiful brown feathery roots.
They have also started producing several daughter plantlets on the tips of some of the older leaves, these should eventually fall off and can be attached to more decor if required.
Front Middle/left: Baby tears (Soleirolia)
This plant has completely disappeared from my tank. It kept rotting near the base and floating to the top. Further research suggests it may need CO2 injection and high light, definitely not a beginners plant!
Front Middle/Right: Brazilian Penneywort (Hydrocotyle leucocephala)
Supposedly another easy plant which can either be planted into the substrate or left to float on the surface. I opted to plant mine, but all the leaves dropped off in a matter of days, and most of the stalks rotted! I suspect it may have been grown as floating plant in the dealers tank (see the Amazon sword entry) and there is now a single stalk left with one solitary leaf! Your mileage may vary if you try this one.
Front Right: Hygrophila? (Not too sure on this one any help in the comments below!)
An easy plant, however it can grow quite large so possibly not well suited to it's current placement!! I planted several stalks of this, most of these uprooted quickly and I kind of gave up. One plant has survived though and has more than doubled in size. Probably better suited as a background plant if you're going to use it, luckily this could also be considered "the back" from where I sit (the tank is in a corner) so I'll leave it be for now.
****** This post is not finished - more to follow---> 1 surface plant, and 2 replacement plants! ****
Author: Ants (7:15 pm)
Saturday, the water has cleared up nicely and my ammonia plus syringes have arrived. Yay, I can start cycling my tank. I'm following the excellent guide here:
http://www.fishkeeping.co.uk/articles ... hless-cycling-article.htm
I chose the ammonia version as the "fish food" method seems too risky, how much food and when to add it seem like an accident waiting to happen and I've read a couple of forum posts involving this method which don't look like they have been particularly successful!
A test of my water parameters gives me Ammonia (NH4), Nitrite (NO2), and Nitrate (NO3) readings of ZERO with a PH of around 7.4.
To cycle the tank I should be aiming to have 3ppm of ammonia in my tank at the start of each day, this should get converted to nitrites and finally to nitrates by the filter bacteria. Once the tank is capable of converting 3ppm of ammonia into nitrate each day the tank is cycled and ready for fish. (The tank readings should be zero ammonia and zero nitrites 24hrs after adding 3ppm ammonia to the system)
Using the handy calculator at the bottom of the guide I calculate that to add 3ppm ammonia to my tank I have to add 1.5ml, this works out as 0.5ml is roughly 1pmm a nice easy calculation.
|__1__|_0 -> add 1.5ml (3ppm) ______|___0___|___0___| Add Carbon to filter
|__2__|_2 -> add 0.5ml (1ppm) ______|___0___|___0___| Added air pump/air stone
|__3__|_2 -> add 0.5ml (1ppm) ______|___0___|___0___|
|__4__|_2 -> add 0.5ml (1ppm) ______|___1___|___5___| Nitrites and Nitrates first appear in tank
|__5__|_1 -> add 1.0ml (2ppm) ______|___2___|___5___| Replanted a plant disloged by airline.
|__6__|_0.25 -> add 1.3ml (1.75ppm)__|___5___|__10___| Snails start appearing in the tank
|__7__|_0 -> add 1.5ml (3ppm)______|___5___|__20___| ammonia -> nitrite cycle is established?
|__8__|_0 -> add 1.5ml (3ppm)______|___5___|__20___| 15Liter (approx 30%) water change
|__9__|_0 -> add 1.5ml (3ppm)______|___5___| no test |
|_10__|_0 -> add 1.5ml (3ppm)______|___2___|__20___| 10Liter (20%) water change
|_11__|_0 -> add 1.5ml (3ppm)______|___0___|__10___|
|_12__|_0 -> add 1.5ml (3ppm)______|___0___|__20___| Nitrite -> Nitratre cycle established?
|_13__|_0 -> add 1.5ml (3ppm)______|___0___|__20___| 10Liter (20%) water change
|_14__|_0 -> add 1.5ml (3ppm)______|___0___|__40___|
|_15__|_0 -> add 1.5ml (3ppm)______|___0___|__40___| approx 70% water change
|_16__|_0 -> STOP ADDING!_______|___0___|___5___| FISH IN!
So it took me 2 weeks to cycle the tank, looks like some of the old filter bacteria survived. From a standing start this process should/could take 4 to 6 weeks. If you know someone who keeps fish you may be able to get some used filter media and tank water from them to achieve the same result.
A bag of carbon was added to the filter because the wood was turning the water brown. This is a natural process as the wood leaches tannins into the water which can last for months and I didn't fancy boiling the wood for several hours as some people suggest! Whilst not harmful to the fish (some species may even find it beneficial) it can look unsightly, the carbon will remove some of this (and other unwanted toxins) from the water. That's now almost due to be removed as it apparently loses it's effectiveness after 5-6 weeks and can even start leaching any toxins it's collected back into the water.
The air pump/air stone were added because I was getting a film over the surface of the tank, which could indicate inadequate surface movement and low oxygen exchange. I later changed the pump which had become noisy and fitted a spray bar which also increases surface agitation. In a planted tank the plants will produce oxygen, BUT this only happens whilst the lights are on, in the dark the plants will also use oxygen (and give out carbon dioxide) so an air pump may be required to stop O2 levels dropping too low in the night. This is on 24/7 at the moment, but I'm wondering if it might be better to add a timer and only have this on when the lights are off? (comments are welcome below)
Part way through the process I started noticing "brown dust" appearing on some of the plants. At first I thought this might be something falling into the tank, but an online search revealed that this was brown diatoms (a type of algae) which are absorbing silicates in the tank (from the substrate etc.). This is apparently quite common in newly cycled tanks, and should eventually settle by itself. It can be "wafted off" plants by moving the water around them or removed by vacuuming them when doing water changes.
Once the tank is cycled it is important to keep topping up the ammonia until fish are added to keep the cycle going. You should add the last ammonia 12 to 24 hours before putting fish in, and check ammonia and nitrites are both ZERO with low nitates before going to the local fish shop.
The series of water changes in the final few days was done to remove/dilute the nitrates in the tank, ultimately I had to do a big (approx. 70%) change to get it down to a low starting level. This will hopefully be maintained with smaller weekly changes of around 20% once fish are in the tank.
I hope someone is finding this blog interesting (or helpful). Comments are welcome below.
Next time: The plants.
Author: Ants (8:04 pm)
Most of the stuff i've ordered from the internet gradually trickles in through the post during the week, and on friday I get home to find my plants have arrived. I'd better get cracking!
The first thing I need to do is drain all the dirty water from the tank. First beginners mistake of the day... forgetting to unplug the pump and heater first! I quickly unplug them, and decide to leave the rest of the water in my filter area alone, snails or no snails.
The next job is to remove the old substrate, which are white pebbles, which I hate. Removing these from the tank reveals several small medium sized snails, and a handful of worms which I believe are Planeria? I suspect eggs etc. will be throughout the filter system, but I decide to risk it, I do however pour a little boiling water into the bottom of the tank area to try and sterilise that. Voila, one empty tank.
Next up is the substrate. I have 9kg of Eco-complete, this turns out to be about the right amount for my tank. I build this up towards the back of the tank.
Next to go back in the tank is the wood that's been soaking in there for the last week. I pour severeal kettles full of boiling water over it to get rid of any nasties that may have been on there and try to find a pleasing position for it in the tank. It turns out to be a little too wide for the tank in the orientation I like so it's off the the back garden with the wood and a hammer. That's much better, it sits quite nicely in the orientation I want and I dig it into the substrate a little until it feels solid/stable.
Next it's time for the plants to start going in. I've ordered an Anubias, this I know doesn't go in the substrate but gets attached to/grows on the wood. Luckily there are a couple of conventient crevices in the wood which this sits in quite nicely. The rest of the plants were an eBay special where the seller was offering a random selection of any excess stock he had left over by the end of the week, and way more plants have arrived than I need... I could probably plant two tanks!!! I have no idea what any of them are, so I select the ones that I think might look best and guess on how to plant them
Once everything is in place it's time to add some treated water back into the tank and switch everything back on.
The only thing that hasn't arrived so far is the Ammonia, fingers crossed that comes tommorrow so I can start cycling the tank. The water in the tank sould have cleared up by then as well.
Next time: On yer bike! (Tank cycling)
Author: Ants (8:10 pm)
So far the tank is filled with the old dirty substrate, some new driftwood and treated water whilst I wait for my other stuff to arrive. Hopefully some of the filter bacteria will survive and allow me to cycle the tank a little quicker.
On tuesday I get home to a bit of a surprise when I turn the light on... Snails!!!! They appear to be the common ramshorn snails I think i've seen in every tank in existence, and they are all fairly small. On thursday though I get an even bigger surprise, literally. As I make my way downstairs in the morning I notice a new "guest" in my tank... a whopping great snail with a conical shell that's almost an inch long! Horrified I manage to pull it out of the tank and decide to feed it to the birds, not what you need at 7am. The local wildlife obviously apprciates it because the shell is empty by the time I get home with a neatly drilled hole in the shell.
In hindsight I should probably have taken photos and got the beastie identified in case it was a beneficial snail rather than a pest.
This of course leaves me with a dilemma as I realise at this stage that even if I remove the existing substrate (bright white pebbles) there are likely to be snails/eggs throughout the filter system, and quite possibly on the wood as it's now been in there for almost a week. This means I'm going to have to sterilise the filter media etc. and start from scratch, or risk it and hope it isn't a problem down the line.
Next time: New tank setup.
Author: Ants (8:07 pm)
OK, the tank is "up and running" in the corner of the room with a load of dirty substratre, and the water's going a lovely shade of "builders Tea" thanks to the chunk of aquarium wood I bought. I'd better come up with a plan and start ordering the stuff I need.
My trip to the range yesterday when I picked up the tank already added to my start up cost:
Water conditioner/Interpet starter kit ?7
Gravel cleaner ?4
Spotted "The 101 Best Freshwater Nano Species" book mentioned in another online artice I was reading and ordered a copy via Amazon for ?9 http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/09 ... oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00
Half the clips on my aquarium lid are broken, ordered some different ones from Amazon because they look more sturdy, they work great BTW ?7 http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0 ... oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00
Having read this excellent artice on fishless cycling http://www.fishkeeping.co.uk/articles ... hless-cycling-article.htm
I'm going to need some ammonia and shyringes ?5
Next it's off to eBay... Stick on thermometer ?1 (incredibly it works and seems fairly accurate!)
API Master Test KIt ?22 (better than the ?35 Pets@Home want!!!)
LIve Aquarium plants ?6 + ?13 (ordered those Weds so they would arrive Fri/Sat)
Found out the heater was inadequate for my need, replacement one is ?21
Decided to use the same substrate as Pectek (Bio complete) ?26
During the next couple of weeks I also add and air-pump ?25
Aquarium scissors/Tweezers ?14
LED Light ?22
Bag of carbon ?5
Thats got me up to about ?250 so far, maybe this fiskeeping lark isn't as low cost as I thought! Oh well nothing I can do for now until everything hopefully arrives in the post.
Next time: Snails!!!
Author: Ants (9:25 pm)
Having bought my AquaNano 40 tank for ?55 from eBay, the tank came "complete" with the light, pump, heater, filter media etc so it seemed like a good deal at the time at less than half the recommended retail price. However I then encountered a few unexpected costs along the way....
The heater clearly wasn't the one supplied with the tank and had no temperature adjustment. The previous owner had been using it for Goldfish, and whilst the heater might have been adequate for maintaing a steady temperature in the tank it certainly wasn't upto scratch for my plans as I want to keep tropical fish. I chose a 75W Eheim one... add ?21.
New AquaNano 40 setups come with a modern LED light, mines clearly an older model and came with a flurecent tube. Now there's nothing wrong with that, but the tube was clearly past its best because it was starting to go black at the ends, a sure sign it's about to fail. Factor in the fact that most manufaturers recommend replacing the tube every 6 months, even if it is still working, because the tubes light output will drop and the spectrum will change which wont be good for growing plants. A replacement tube is going to run around ?15, luckily for me I find a new LED light from someone who's bought the same tank but plans to keep marine and isn't going to be using it. I manage to win the eBay auction and this keeps the cost down to ?22, much better than the ?40 I can find it for elsewhere.
The pump although working is quite noisey, which the owner did mention on collection, It's not unbearable but it can get annoying. The pump accessories (spray bar etc.) are also missing. Even on it's lowest setting it creates quite a torrent and although my fish don't seem too bothered by it (yes I have got some in the tank now) I suspect they will be happier without the noise and with a spray bar fitted. Add another ?26, hopefully that will arrive by weekend and be fitted when I do a partial water change.
so to sum up my "bargain" ?55 tank has actually ended up costing me more like ?128!!! What makes it worse I was in my local pets at home at the weekend looking for something else and they have brand new ones on offer for for ?120
So should you venture down the used tank route?
If your after a larger more expensive tank then you might just grab yourself a bargain, but at this end of the price range (say sub ?150 when new) then unless your sure the tank is absolutely "complete" and everything is in full working order then it might not be worth the trouble or the added expense.
Author: Ants (7:57 pm)
OK having decided to have a go at fishkeeping, and being inspired by Pecktec's excellent youtube reviews/tutorials which you can find here:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list= ... b7_LnmjMCdR0yP58Eh5JqLVa6
I go for a look at the fluval edge tanks at my local pets at home one evening. I decide that the 23 Litre tank is waaay to small, and the 46 Litre tank is perhaps a little too pricey and might be difficult to maintain because of the small access area (even for my tiny hands). Nothing else really grabs my attention.
A further scour round the internet throws up the AquaNano 40 tank by Aqua One, this looks like it will be much better and I like the idea of the filter area/sump which is the entire back section of the tank. Unfortunately it's quite a bit more than the Fluvals so I decide to have a think about it for a few days.
Bored one saturday lunchtime I have a look on eBay to see if I can find anyhing. There's a used AquaNano 40 within 20 minutes drive of my location ending in an hour.... 1 hour later I've bought a used tank for ?55.
Pickup was on Sunday lunchtime, I'm glad I ddn't go the whole hog and buy a 125 Litre plus tank as it only just fits in my car (one of the drawbacks of driving an MX-5!). The tank has been emptied of water, but all the gravel and filter media is in there, and it's still wet/damp. I wonder if I can keep the filter cycle going by filling the tank up straight away? A quick stop off on the way home for some tap water conditioner, and some decorative wood which I spotted) and the tanks filled up and running.
Now to decide what to do with it long term.
Next time: Is a second hand tank worth the bother?
Author: Ants (8:54 pm)
A colleage at work recently asked me if I new anything about fishkeeping because he was considering having a go. I did keep fish with my dad about 33 years ago, and also considered having another go about 12 years back so did a lot of reading up at that time but was eventually put off by the high costs involved.
Roll on to 2015 and my how things have changed! The advent of Nano tanks has brought the entry level costs down considerably and the tech involved and level of information available seems different from even a dozen or so years ago. This caught my attention and I started considering getting a tank myself and wondering what might be possible..... Many hours of reading articles and forum posts, and the ever useful youtube videos later I was hooked, I had to have a go.
Tune in next time to find out what tank I get.
Oh and by the way my colleage never did end up getting a tank, or any fish :P