Look, if its uncycled you MUST do 100% 2-3 times a week. Parshil will not remove all amonia. If its cycled then yes 60-75% a week. Remember this is a very small volume of water, so their bioload impact on it is much much larger.
Aaaaand in the bunch of hornwort, somehow a narrow-leaf anacharis got stuck in! Free plant!
I got Miracle-Gro garden soil, filled the tank roughly 1.5-2" (probably a little more than is necessary, but I didn't want to not put enough). Planted the plants (except the banana plant), covered with about 0.75" of black gravel, and nestled the banana plant in the gravel. I poured water over a plate, but the water still turned all murky. So I turned the filter on, hoping it would catch a lot of the particulate. The first picture is of right after I finished....and the second is from this morning! The filter totally made it worse, I guess by stirring things up, but I wouldn't think it could stir the dirt up that much if it was covered in gravel. I have since turned the filter off, of course, and I'm letting the dirt settle to the bottom.
So I guess I won't be able to have a filter in this tank, ever?
I removed the filter, and did a few successive water changes, so the water is much clearer. I noticed a few spots where the dirt somehow poked through, so I'll have to cover that up with more gravel. I've picked out a total of 8 of those snails...does anyone know exactly what kind they are? I hope I got them all, but I don't know how small they are initially; if they're microscopic as babies then I'm sure I didn't get them all...and maybe will need to invest in some assassin snails!
The bunch of hornwort was waaay too big and was totally blocking out the light for the other plants, so I took some sections and put a bit in each tank. Hopefully it will help with the nitrates, though I don't know how much you need for it to make a noticeable difference.
I plan to pick up a half dozen ghost shrimp tomorrow; partially because the algae is already growing after only one day, and also because I'll only be buying 12 RCS, and that doesn't seem like very many shrimp (though I hear they breed prolifically). I emailed a guy who put up an ad in a town near me, so hopefully I can pick them up this weekend.
I wish I could put up a few pictures, but unfortunately my internet is out (curse you, AT&T) and might not be on for a week. But I'd just like to say, I love my little shrimpies! They're so adorable, which I didn't think I'd say about crunchy things (generally I don't like crunchy things, or things that make loud bug-type noises). I love watching them flutter around the tank, and I especially love to see them climbing on the plants! I don't know why. But I have tons of shrimp-on-plants pictures :3 I hope to get some more dwarf sag soon so I can make it a bit more lush.
Unfortunately, I'm having ammonia problems. Initially it was because I dropped in a few bits of an algae wafer (don't want them to be hungry!), but it still climbs past 0.25 after only one day. I'm doing water changes, but hopefully things will settle down soon.
I did, but it made the water a muddy mess! I made a thread in the plants forum, and there's pictures. I guess some of the dirt poked through the gravel. Maybe put some more down, and put the filter back in? It's all brown, so I know it did something.
But isn't the tank too small to cycle? Also, where is all the ammonia coming from? They're so tiny! Plus, I'm still confused as to how plants make it so I eventually won't have to do water changes, if the tank won't cycle...there wouldn't be nitrates anyway. But I know people have planted bowls and just top the water off.
They do cycle. Size has nothing to do with that. The bacteria will colonize the gravel bed. You have a smaller biolode so you don't need a huge colony. Do you have any Naja, aka guppy grass? Great plant to have! grows fast!
I tested the water again today (been doing it everyday) but I decided to do everything rather than just ammonia. I was very surprised to see nitrates! I guess it is cycling.
I did a 75% water change, and while the water was low I put another layer of gravel in, to hopefully prevent any further dirt seepage, and put the filter back in. Looks alright now, but we'll know for sure in the morning, when the water will be either clear or brown.
The plants are growing well; noticeable growth in the corkscrew Val, and the new growth on the free anacharis is denser, which is nice. The dwarf sag and the banana plants look about the same.
Hopefully my shrimpies are happy! I saw one swimming around with a plant stem today and it was pretty adorable.
Finally an update! All the little shrimpies are doing fine, but I'm still having problems with the water. First, the hornwort was doing great, but then it started dropping all its leaves, so I moved it to the 55 which has more light. The shrimps did like to climb on it though, so I'm hoping once it perks up I can move it back (since it WAS doing fine). I added a filter, but after only one day (after a water change) the water is all cloudy again. So I've turned off the filter, but left it in the tank (it's completely submerged), so that bacteria can grow on it even if it isn't filtering particulate. I've since added another layer of rinsed gravel, but I wonder if I need to add another? It's at about 0.75-1", but maybe the cloudiness is still dirt seeping through.
The corkscrew val is starting to turn brown (the old leaves, anyway), but the new leaves are doing well. The new growth on the anacharis is much more dense, and the banana plant is starting to put out a new leaf! The dwarf sag looks pretty much the same, but it's sooo algae-y. I was hoping the shrimps would take care of that, but...I'm hoping the algae cover isn't blocking too much light..I wonder if I should wipe it off?
I've been testing the water everyday and doing daily water changes (usually 2x75%). The water is back to clear, and now I'm experimenting with the filter. Before it hung so low that the output spewed out over the surface, rather than dropping down into the tank (technical terms). I raised the filter a bit, but if the water dropped at all before entering the tank, the current was ridiculous. The plants were whipping around, and the shrimps were clearly being flung around the tank. (Sort of like a washing machine...?) So I raised the water level again. The plants are almost still, but the shrimps are very active - maybe I just riled them up. I don't think they're struggling with the current, since the plants aren't.
I'm kind of worried that the water is just bypassing the filter or something though, because it gets so darn cloudy after only one day. Should I put in ANOTHER layer of gravel? How much was I supposed to put in in the first place?
I've also noticed (from the beginning) that some of the shrimps' antennae are broken off, right above the red stripe. Hopefully they'll grow back soon.