newb questions: planting, ammonia and tap water.

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amber_lea84

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Question one: is there an easy way to plant trimmings? I'm losing my mind.

My substrate is gravel and I can't get anything to stay in it. I poke it in and then it floats back out, or my thumb catches a leaf or something. Or I go to plant another one and the last one escapes.

I look at people with intricately planted tanks and I'm like HOW DID THEY DO IT? I feel like there must be a trick or two I don't know about.

Is it a finer substrate?


Question two: I have two tanks. One is 5.5 gallons and has been established for only a week. It's planted with amazon sword, lucky bamboo, java fern, red ludwigia (that I can't keep planted!) and a moss ball.

Now, I have two amazon dwarf frogs and three ghost shrimp in there.

My ammonia readings (I use API) have been high every day for the past six days, and I do two 10%-20% water changes every day to bring that down.

And then I've been taking water samples to Petco to test for everything else and both times I did this (today and three days ago) all my other readings were prefect.

My question is this: how long should it take before I start seeing a spike in nitrites?

I'm going to go on vacation in nine days and I'm afraid I'm still going to be in the ammonia phase of the cycle and everybody's going to die.


Question three: Ammonia in my tap water! We had a huge storm here a few days ago and it's been raining ever since and my tap water tests at .5ppm! So I do water changes and then that's where my tanks are at!

That's no good. But I don't want to use the stuff you put in the water to neutralize the ammonia because I don't want it to mess up my cycle or screw with anything else I've got goin' on. And I don't want to use distilled water because it's bad for plants (and probably even the critters too.)

What can I use that won't cost me an arm and a leg? Spring water?
 

Kunsthure

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Welcome to Fish Lore!

There are much finer substrates than gravel, sand and flourite for example. You have to push those stems all the way to the bottom of the tank almost. How deep is your gravel?

The amazon sword is going to get way too big for a 5.5 gallon and the ludwiga needs more light than your tank has. The lucky bamboo is not a fully aquatic plant so it'll die eventually. I know you didn't ask for help with your plants so moving on.

What is your actual ammonia reading? Do you have the full API master kit or just the ammonia test? I wouldn't trust Petco's readings unless they use a liquid kit. Ask for the numbers, don't just accept the "everything is perfect" answer.

You need to keep doing daily water changes and use something like Prime or Amquel+ for the good of your animals. It will not mess with the cycle, the ammonia is converted to ammonium, which is just as yummy in the eyes of the nitrifying bacteria.

There really is no way to predict when the nitrite spike will occur as far as I know. The nitrite phase is also harmful to the fish. I am worried about you leaving too because I highly doubt you'll be cycled by then unless you use Tetra SafeStart.

Ammonia in the tap is common and that's where Prime or Amquel+ are really important. Once your tank is cycled, the bacteria should take care of the ammonia in about 24 hours. Prime/Amquel+ protects the fish until that happens.

Distilled water isn't good because it's been stripped of minerals. Spring water or RO water are fine.

-Lisa
 
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amber_lea84

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My gravel is about and inch and a half deep. I just posted some pictures in my member gallery if you want to get a better idea. That's not exactly what it looks like now because I planted everything or moved it out of there, but you can see the gravel and everything.

Yeah, it's totally fine if something gets too big because I have a tall 29 gallon tank on the other side of the room. And that tank has a plant light that I used to grow tomatoes sitting on it. Would it really need something stronger than that?

But no! Plant advice is totally welcome! This is my first attempt at a planted tank and I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm not sure what would be well suited for my little frog tank.

I just have the API ammonia test. My reading has gotten as high as 1ppm (the last two days before water changes), but it's been at a steady .5 after water changes because that's what my tap is. I was going to wait until I started getting nitrite readings to get a proper kit because I'm still researching what I should buy. I welcome suggestions.

My nitrites and nitrates have been 0 according to Petco.

I'm only going to be gone four days, but that's definitely way too long to go with ammonia levels this high.

Is RO water easy to find? Is it that pricey $8 gold fish water I keep seeing?
 

Kunsthure

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3" is a good substrate depth for working with plants.

Do you know the wattage on the light on the 5.5 gallon? And what kind of light it is, like incandescent, CFL, etc? The watts per gallon guideline doesn't apply to tanks under 10 gallon. I've got a 13w CFL over my 5 gallon and even though the math says I have 2.6wpg, which is considered to be on the low end of high lighting, I actually have more like the middle to upper range of low lighting.

What's the wattage on the light over the 29 gallon? And what kind of bulb is it? You'll need 1wpg to successfully grow low light plants. While they may grow in 0.5wpg, it won't be good growth.

Are you using fertilizers?

The API master kit is the way to for liquid test kits.

I have no idea where to get RO water or how much it costs. . I just use my tap water with its 1ppm of ammonia, Prime and let the beneficial bacteria take care of the rest.

Four days at 0.5ppm isn't great but it isn't as bad as it could be. Do a big water change the day you leave and double dose the Prime or Amquel+. I was still cycling my 37g and 5 gallon (with fish, shame on me) and went away for five days. The ammonia was still at 1ppm when we left and it was 2ppm in the 37g when we got back. So I did a 75% water change the night we got back. No one died or even acted sick when we got back.

-Lisa
 
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amber_lea84

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Yeah, I tested my 29 gallon which has one plant in it and the ammonia actually went down by .25 all by itself. Since the tank is only three days old, I think it's the plant that's making it go down. Maybe it would be a good idea to move somebody into my bigger tank while I'm gone?

The ammonia in my small tank rises REALLY FAST. Usually about 12 hours after a water change it's gone up quiet a bit.


I think I might buy one more bag of living gravel and split it between my tanks.


My lighting is a 60 watt incandescent, my other bulb is a 24 inch Zoo Med Reef Sun 50/50 and according to the internets that makes it 17 watts. (I bought my hood used on craigslist so it probably needs a new bulb.) But I have a second desk top lamp that I plan to put another plant light in for that tank.


I have flourish plant food, and I also have living substrate in my 29 gal. I'm looking into either adding living substrate to my small tank or food pellets for my plants.


I have another question if you don't mind: what kind of heater do you use?
 

Regal

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The Java fern will rot if it is planted in the gravel. I couldn't quite tell from your pictures where it was planted. You can use fishing line to tie it to driftwood. The ludwiga looks like it's not getting enough light. When it has high light and co2 it looks really different with big red leaves. When you set up the desk lamp maybe you can put the Ludwiga right near the light. Once it starts to develop some roots it will stay down better. You could try snipping the stems in half and replanting the top so that the bottom of the plant isn't starved for light. When the sword gets bigger it will be great in your 29 gallon. Have you tried root tabs?
 
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amber_lea84

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Yeah, the java fern is tied to my driftwood now.

The ludwiga is doing a little better now, but yeah, it needs some help.

I just bought some apI root tabs today, actually.
 

Regal

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They will make a big difference on the sword and help the Ludwiga too!
 
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