Plenty of questions 120 Gallon Tank 

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morley

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HI everyone,
I'm in the process of setting up a 120 gal freshwater tank. It's basically 60"x19"x27" so it's much taller than it is wide. I am in the process of cycling it now so that I can get the fish I really want. I've got a 2200L/h canister filter, 2x 200w heaters, and a dual compact lighting system with 2 x 55w 10000k & 2 x 96w 10000k tubes with a "moonlight" Blue LED strip.

I've got 4 zebra danio's, 2 swordtails, 4 balloon mollies and 2 bristlenose plecos in, and that's as exotic as it will get until the tank is fully cycled and disease free for the more finicky and exotic species.

I'll try and number the questions so that this is a bit easier for everyone to read, and whoever answers doesn't have to answer the whole lot if they don't want to. Please forgive the exhaustive post, I just want to do everything right

1. Firstly, the spray bar on my canister filter is pointing downwards, but when I've put my hand on the inlet and spray bay it doesn't really "feel" like 560 gallons per hour if that makes sense. How much current should a canister like this offer in the water? Should I point this upwards to offer some surface disruption?

2. Also, I've got two air stones at either end of the tank. Being that I have about 8 plants that I've put in during the tank set up (about 5 different types like anubias and green rush) will leaving the stones on all the time get rid of all the co2 that the plants need? And what length of time during the day should that lighting setup be on for these plants? At the moment I've got it on from like 8:30am to 8 or 9pm, which may be a little long?

3. Since the main reason I went to a tank of this size is that I want to gear it around some specific types of fish, most of which would be the Black Ghost Knife Fish, which I know a lot of people love when they meet
If anyone has the time, could someone please let me know if I have got incompatible fish listed here, in addition to the ones above that are cycling the tank now (although I can rehome those into another tank we have established if need be)
Black Ghost Knife
Angels; probably x2
Clown Loaches x4 or x5
Flame Dwarf GouramI x2 so long as I can avoid the male dominance struggle

Doing any corys at this point would probably be no good as I've got plent of bottom dwellers listed in addition to the two bristlenoses I've already got. I've already scratched off tiger barbs for fin nipping tendencies, and silver dollars for plant eating. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance anyone that can bear to read the above post. ;D
 

JRDroid

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1. I can answer part of, I would point the spray bar up for more surface aggitation because it helps with gas exchange.
2. Pretty much everyone in there already will need rehomed. Black ghost knives are predatory and, except for the plecos and maybe the swordtails, sounds like lunch for the knife.
 

JRDroid

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1. I can answer part of, I would point the spray bar up for more surface aggitation because it helps with gas exchange.
2. Pretty much everyone in there already will need rehomed. Black ghost knives are predatory and, except for the plecos and maybe the swordtails, sounds like lunch for the knife.
 
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morley

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Here's aquarium pics

I just turned the airstones off and turned the spray bar upwards, it does disturb the water, but its not blowing much current. Should it be?
 

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flyin-lowe

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Are you running CO2 or do you plan on it? You have a pretty high amount of light and I am betting you will have some algae issues. I have a 120gallon with two 96 watt compacts. I had to get floating plants to keep the algae down in my tank. It is under 2 wpg but after I bought them I was told that compacts are more intense so 2 wpg is closer to 3 wpg of regular flourecent lighting. In that case you are really pretty high.
 

kayeleven

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If your going to use CO2 then you don't want much surface agitation, it will gas off your CO2. Also, if you have lots of plants they will provide all the O2 you need in the tank.
I'd say if your doing CO2 point the bar down and get rid of the airstones, plants are all you need. If you are not doing CO2 then you could either point the bar up with no air-stones, or down with air stones or both. It doesn't really matter as long as you have surface agitation (since your plants won't put out as much O2).
As far as the flow from the filter; the spray bar is intended to allow it to send less "harsh" flow from lots of points rather than a gusher from one hole. It isn't really possible to estimate flow with only your hand. If you feel it then it is good enough. If you do want it stronger you could get a shorter spray bar (less holes, stronger flow) or not use a spray bar at all.
 
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morley

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I wasn't planning on supplementing the tank with co2 specifically. Do I need to?
The plants are secondary to the fish, so I wasn't planning a full on "planted" tank, more just a tropical fish tank with some plants that certain fish need if that makes sense?

And I am up to day 7 from setup. Being that I have fish in the tank should I just be doing weekly 25% water changes for the fish and food waste until the tank is cycled and then switch to water changes every 1-2 months. Is that right?
 

catsma_97504

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Welcome to Fishlore morley!

With the compact lighting you mentioned in your first posting, you will need both CO2 and plant fertilizers to keep everything in balance. With that strong of lighting and no CO2, you are asking for issues with algae. I should know, I made this same mistake. You can try to run a single bulb, if the fixture will run a single tube. You can run your lights for as little as 6 hours a day, but no more than 10-12 hours.


What are your water parameters? As you stated that this tank has only been set up for 7 days, and you have fish, this information is critical. When cycling with fish, you should be using either Prime or AmQuel+ as both help to protect your inhabitants from the ammonia and nitrite spikes. Further, you should be doing a water change daily....anywhere from 20-50% depending on where you are at in your cycle.

Once your tank completes its cycle, typically in 4-6 weeks, you will still need to do a water change every week, if not every other week. Once every 1-2 months will not remove the nitrates quick enough and your fish will become diseased and may die.

Love the pictures! Your tank is coming together nicely.
 
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morley

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HI Dena,
Thanks for the detailed reply!
I've been testing the water for ph, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate daily to get some indication of when the ammonia would rise and indicate the first part of the cycle had begun. This morning I got some measurable ammonia (but still close to bright yellow or zero). The weirdest part was that there was also some nitrite showing also, but I thought the ammonia had to spike way high before that bacteria kicked in and produced nitrite, and even then this took weeks??
So the ammonia was between 0 - 0.25ppm, the nitrite was the same, and the nitrate was somewhere between 0 - 5ppm, so all were showing some form of measurment. My ph is around 7.6 which is a little high for my liking, but our tap water appears to be closer to 7.0 - 7.2, so I'm very slowly bringing it closer to neutral. I have no idea how it has ended up more basic than the tap water when it's a week old but go figure...

Also, if you wouldn't mind can you explain the fertilising and co2 process in more detail for me?

In the meantime I'll test out my lighting to see if it runs with just 1x96w and 1x55w and save the other two as spares. I've got a plug timer on the way for the lighting and airstones. If I have the lighting come on at say 4pm - 9:30pm, and the moonlight LED strip from 9pm - 11pm would that be ok? What time should I run the airstones on at?

Thanks again,
Morley

Edit: One other thing I wanted to mention is that little decorative pot in the tank is from an established tank, and I also prepped the water for the first few days with a bacteria supplement to start the tank cycling, so that may be affecting readings...
 

Nutter

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Welcome to Fishlore Morley.

Good advice above & I agree with Catsma that your most likely going to need co2 & ferts to keep the algae at bay. Having more plants so you can take full benefit from the light, co2 & ferts would also be appreciated by the fish.

Just guessing from your user name, but you wouldn't happen to be in Morley, Perth would you?
 

catsma_97504

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As you moved the clay pot from an established tank, it came with bacteria. Adding the fact that you used some type of cycle starter product, your readings are not unexpected. Do you know the brand name of the product you added to your tank? The reason I ask is that some of them will give you a false sense of cycling when they do not contain aquatic bacteria and things can go crazy in a couple of weeks.

Please do not attempt to adjust your pH, especially while the tank is cycling! Your pH will bounce around as the cycle progresses and will settle at the point that your pH/KH/GH are in balance (another system in our aquarium). Your fish, when acclimated slowly, will be able to adapt to your aquarium environment. After the cycle has completed, if you are still not happy with your pH level, there are ways to adjust it naturally, such as adding driftwood to lower pH.

Air stones in a planted tank are not really necessary. If you do want to run them, I would suggest turning them on when the lights are off. When an air stone is on, it causes water surface disturbance which releases CO2....something you do not want to do when injecting CO2 or setting up a DIY CO2 system.

Now, explaining the balance between lighting, CO2 and plant fertilizer. Think of it as a system with three points that must be kept in balance. There is no magic number for each of the components that I've found. It will take some experimenting until you figure out what works for your tank.

With that in mind, plants need both CO2 and lighting in order to photosynthesize and release oxygen. Further, for the health of your plants some ferts are necessary. In your case, you have a very strong lighting system. Adding the timers would be a great way to know exactly how much light is made available. With an increase in lighting, you must also increase the CO2 and fert levels. CO2 is naturally in the 2-3 PPM range. However, for an optimal environment with your lighting system CO2 should be in the 15-30 PPM range. And, as plants tend to grow faster with increased lighting and increased CO2, fertilization is required to maintain healthy plants. Your goal is to find that balance where plants have as much light, CO2 and fertilizer that they need without having too much of any single component in this system....otherwise, algae can get started.

Now, if you only increased your lighting, then your tank would have an excess of this component in this trinity and the system is out of balance. And, as algae is opportunistic, you've got the perfect environment for an algae nightmare.

On my planted tank, I have 3 built-in timers so I can control the 4 daylight bulbs and LED moonlight. The daylight bulbs output a total of 216W HO lighting, which I understand I should be doubling to estimate the watts per gallon output. Anyway, this is on a 90 gallon tank. My daylight lighting is on a total of 10 hours with all 4 bulbs running 7 hours and only 2 bulbs the other 3 hours of daylight. Then, my LED moonlights run another 4 hours. I do not include the moonlight time as part of my 10 hours as this lighting is too little to allow for photosynthesis.

Hopefully I've explained this clear enough. Sorry it is so long.

Here's what my tank looked like when it was not in balance....before I realized I needed CO2. I ended up with green water which is a free floating algae.


And, here's my tank now that I've found that balance.
 
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morley

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HI nutter,
No I'm not from Perth, but I do get that a bit. I'm from Gold Coast, QLD. Morley is actually my last name, but it's the name all my friends use. ;D

And Dena, thanks for the detailed reply, that algae in your tank was nuts!
I tested again this morning and ph is still closer than I'd like to 7.6 but I'll leave it. Ammonia and Nitrite were still between 0-0.25ppm and Nitrate is between 0-5. I'll test today to see if I can halve the lighting by removing two tubes and see if it still runs. Unfortunately since my air line check valves are still on the way in the mail I cannot turn off the air-stones for fear of dreaded back siphoning. However once they arrive and the plug timer gets here I'll program the lights and airstones right away.

The cycle product I used was 150mL of Aqua Cycle made by Science Products. I used two thirds the day after I filled the tank, and the other third yesterday which is one week later.

How do I apply co2 and fertiliser to the tank? And how do I measure the amounts of these things in the water so I know they're in check?
 

catsma_97504

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You're welcome.

I am not familiar with Aqua Cycle, so cannot speak about its ability to help or hinder your cycle.

There are a few methods for adding CO2. CO2 injection, DIY CO2, or a liquid carbon product such as Flourish Excel. As you have a larger tank the best method is the CO2 injection, but it also has the highest initial set up cost.

DIY CO2 would be my next choice. It uses a mix of sugar and yeast in a 2 liter container. I believe Nutter uses a 5 or 10 gallon container. The larger the container the longer it can go between cleaning/replenishing the yeast-sugar mixture. This is the option I use as it is the most economical and was easy to set up. One day I hope to be able to afford a CO2 injection system.

The other choice is to use a liquid carbon product. Although these products work well, they are expensive over time, especially considering the size of your tank.

In regards to knowing how to measure CO2, one type of product monitors the amount of CO2 in the tank is a CO2 indicator. Another indicator is your fish as too much CO2 can affect them.

Plant fertilizers can be liquid or dry mixes, depending on your preference. One good product is Flourish Comprehensive. It is a balanced fertilizer that is added 1-2 times a week.

As far as knowing when things are in check......if your algae is kept to a minimum (some will always exist), your plants are growing strong and appear healthy, and your fish are healthy and happy, then you've found the correct balance. As I said before, there is no magic number as every tank is different.

Hopefully I've answered your questions and not confused you. I remember how confused I was initially.
 
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morley

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Nope that all pretty much makes sense. Except the inject co2 part. Does this physically involve removing the plant from the tank and syringing it?? (excuse my ignorance)

I would ideally prefer to just add a supplement to the tank in form of liquid or something in terms of fertilising and "co2'ing".

The more the thread discussion goes on the more it sounds like the plants may become the main concern! Lol!

Mostly how this begun for me was that my girlfriend and a few friends at work have various aquariums, and though I had always looked at them didnt know much more about them other than fish and water. Then I fell in love with the Black Ghost Knife fish and said "right, well what kind of aquarium would that guy need to live a long and happy life?".
From there I selected the tank size required for growth and movement, and the other various types of fish mentioned above to suit the BGK on their personality.
The plants I just sort of looked at as nice ornaments within the tank, but now I see why there's such a distinct separation between "planted" tanks and just normal aquariums, as there's so much involved in feeding and keeping the plants happy too.

If the plants would make the tank too much more complicated and/or expensive I guess I can turn it into just a tropical tank with artificial decorations galore for hiding places. I obviously did plenty of reading on all things related to the fish and their compatibility, but nothing on plants. :S
 

claudicles

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Morley you "inject" the CO2 into the water, not the plant It just really means introduce it.
 
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morley

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That makes more sense than performing surgery on plants hahaha.
How much are the fertiliser & co2 products and how are they applied to the tank. Via drip feeding like an ammonia/nitrite/nitrate test kit style?
I've read on Rexgrigg.com that 2.5 watts per gallon isn't too bad especially if your aquarium is 2 feet deep like mine so long as the fertilisers and co2 are looked after, and I keep my lighting and airstones timed to the right times of day.
 

catsma_97504

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If you would prefer to use liquid carbon (CO2) and liquid fertilizer, then I'd suggest you look at the Flourish line of products. Flourish Excel is the liquid carbon and Flourish Comprehensive is the fertilizer.

Good luck with your tank!
 
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Dang! I'm pretty sure my fish have the ich!! Oh no!!!

The ballon mollies have their side and tail fins peppered with very tiny white sugar like "grains". At first I thought this may just be their pattern as I hadn't paid that much attention to them as they came from my girlfriend's tank. However yesterday after looking very closely I noticed the same grains on the swordtails, especially the female! I concluded it must be ich as the "pattern" was across two species. The bristlenoses looked unaffected strangely enough.

After much reading I decided to use the temperature and salt method rather than throwing medication chemicals into the water. I've gradutally heated the tank from 25C (77f) to 29C (84f) to speed up their life cycle, and added about 1 tsp per gallon of rock salt so far. Come to think of it actually, not even that much, probably only 80tsp compared to 120 gal.

Funny thing is though, today (the day after I decided they must have ich) the grains on the mollies and the swordtails aren't evident, except one or two mollies who had the most specks on their fins. Could the beginnings of my treatment have already begun taking effect or have I mis-diagnosed???

Also, I'm not sure if my tank is on the 2nd part of it's first cycle already, because the ammonia which had readings the other day is now show nothing, however the nitrite is definitely showing at least 0.25ppm - 0.5ppm.
Does this mean the ammonia-converting bacteria have already kicked in and the nitrite bacteria have not yet? Isn't the tank technically considered cycled once both ammonia and nitrite have shown positive readings and then reach zero?

Since I'm treating ich do I still do water changes every couple days? My nitrate is up to between 5 and 10, but closer to 5 I think. Should I try and get this ich thing under control before trying to focus back on water changes and cycling or keep doing both?
 

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I'm sorry you are having problems with ich. Raising the temperature is a good first step. IMO you do not need the salt. Here's a good article on how to handle an ich outbreak without reaching for the chemicals/meds: https://www.fishlore.com/Articles/CuringIch.htm. I believe you should bump your temp up another degree or two. Yes, water changes are necessary as the ich will fall off your fish and onto the gravel bed. If you did not vacuum the gravel bed, then the ich will most likely return.

As your ammonia is now 0 and your nitrites are starting to register, it is true that you've moved onto the 2nd phase of the cycling process. This phase can go quickly, so I wouldn't worry too much about having to do the water changes and gravel vacs for the ich. If your ammonia readings continue to be 0 for the next few days, then you have enough of this type of bacteria to convert the waste being produced by your current inhabitants.
 
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morley

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Okay well the ich treatment is going better than I thought. Everything seems to be hyper speed in my tank...
Only one of the molly's still has ich spots on the tail but I can't see them on any other fish now, even though they had a few "grains" each. The last molly was the worst one so she's only got a few left and then I should be under control. I'm so happy that it's working well.
I also did a 30 to 40 percent water change too and added some more salt to the new water. The ph seems to be coming down which is good.

The strangest thing is that now nitrites are zero too! So now my ammonia and nitrates have both shown positive readings on separate tests and now show zero, and the nitrates have been pretty low, but were getting higher before the big water change, which is normal. They'd be lower now with the water change.
Does this mean my tank is cycled? That makes it one week and three days since I got the tank and put water in it...
 
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