When is it safe to add live plants and how do I make sure they are safe?

poeticinjustices

Okay so I'm fish-in cycling a 29 gallon fancy goldfish aquarium. As of this morning, I appear to be approaching the end of my cycle. Things got really hairy for 2 days, my ammonia started coming back and my nitrites shot WAY up to almost 2ppm. I did a 40% pwc and this morning my levels were way lower so, god willing, I am very near the end of my cycle.

Ammonia 0ppm
Nitrite .25ish ppm (maybe a little higher but definitely not .5ppm either)
Nitrate 5ppm

When I started the tank, I had 2 amazon swords in there, one really tall and one smaller. The really tall one started to really fail about a week ago. The small one started to fail a few days ago, I pulled it out yesterday. Best I can figure, this is due to either not enough light or the carbon pulling out my plant food. Probably a combination of both.

I really want to try again with live plants but also don't want to disrupt the delicate balance and am only just beginning to obtain if they start to die or the fish start to eat them. They were really good about not eating the swords until the leaves started to soften and die then it was a free for all.

I would like to try out anubias and maybe make a second attempt with the live sword OR if you can recommend another tall, graceful plant to fill some of the vertical space, I'd be grateful for that. Anacharis may do but the goldfish will eat them up and I don't necessarily have a problem with that except I don't want any decaying plant matter spiking my levels. I'm slowly phasing out the carbon cartridges, so far 2 of the 4 have been replaced and the last 2 are a week away from their 28 day expiration date so I'm thinking I should be able to feed them. I bought Seachem Flourish for that.

The other option is to temporarily use fake plants but they just aren't quite the same. Either way my goldies look a little bored without the plants to poke around in.

If I were to use live plants, how do I ensure they are not bringing any bad things into my tank? The LFS I would be purchasing from keeps their plants separate from the fish but I still worry they could possibly transmit some kind of disease to my goldfish. I don't know if it's really possible to quarantine plants? I've read a little about potassium permanganate to help disinfect plants but am not too clear on how to use it effectively.

Any advice or opinions are greatly appreciated. Thank you!
 

smee82

Live plants can be put in straight away, cycling a tank shouldn't harm them.
Anubis are pretty hardy but ive never kept goldfish so I'm not sure if they will munch on them but I wouldn't think so.
What kind of lights and substrate do you have and are you using any ferts
 

poeticinjustices

Unfortunately no special lights just the led kit lights. but it's a bright room with natural light. Gravel substrate. Seachem flourish.

Thank you!

 

WynterRose

You can put the plants in immediately since they will help keep the water clean. The only bad thing you should really think about is the possibility of snails. They could hide and be too small to be seen. The population of them can explode easily. So, what I did with my plants is I grabbed a small bowl from my dishes in the kitchen, filled it with water, and placed the plants in there. I didn't have a quarantine tank but it worked well. I had purchased the plants in tubes. The leaves will "melt" away because they're used to being out of water but new leaves will grow back. Once they adapt to being underwater completely I spend a few days doing daily checks for snails and any I find are squashed. The reason I used the packaged one was because it has a much smaller chance of having creatures hiding in it. My quarantine trick will work with potted plants or plants that are grown in the tanks. Also, for my Anubias Nana and Amazon Sword, I plant them in CaribSea Flora Max Planted Aquarium Substrate.I had basic low light that came with my tank. Within 2 days they had tripled in size and the Anubias split the rhizome and now I have 2.

Edit: Also, a really feathery plant is Anacharis. Also you could do Cabomba, Hornwort, Hygrophila Angustifolia, and Red Flame. They are great background plants. Other nice plants are Dwarf Hairgrass, lucky bamboo (keep leaves above water; it's not aquatic), java moss, I heard 4 leaf clovers work but I've never tried it, and Ozelot Sword.
 

poeticinjustices

You can put the plants in immediately since they will help keep the water clean. The only bad thing you should really think about is the possibility of snails. They could hide and be too small to be seen. The population of them can explode easily. So, what I did with my plants is I grabbed a small bowl from my dishes in the kitchen, filled it with water, and placed the plants in there. I didn't have a quarantine tank but it worked well. I had purchased the plants in tubes. The leaves will "melt" away because they're used to being out of water but new leaves will grow back. Once they adapt to being underwater completely I spend a few days doing daily checks for snails and any I find are squashed. The reason I used the packaged one was because it has a much smaller chance of having creatures hiding in it. My quarantine trick will work with potted plants or plants that are grown in the tanks. Also, for my Anubias Nana and Amazon Sword, I plant them in CaribSea Flora Max Planted Aquarium Substrate.I had basic low light that came with my tank. Within 2 days they had tripled in size and the Anubias split the rhizome and now I have 2.

Edit: Also, a really feathery plant is Anacharis. Also you could do Cabomba, Hornwort, Hygrophila Angustifolia, and Red Flame. They are great background plants. Other nice plants are Dwarf Hairgrass, lucky bamboo (keep leaves above water; it's not aquatic), java moss, I heard 4 leaf clovers work but I've never tried it, and Ozelot Sword.

I actually just went to my LFS and picked up 3 plants - Anubias Nana, Melon Sword and Hygrophila Corymbosa Kompakt. The last one I didn't even know what it was till I asked someone on here to help me ID it, jeez this place rocks.

Anyway, I'm not sure I can make them live but I am going to try because I just have yet to find a fake plant that I'm impressed with enough to put in my tank and my goldies actually seemed bored when they didn't have their plants to mess around with anymore.

I am just using a large gravel substrate right now for the goldies. I'm not familiar with the CaribSea Planted Aquarium substrate but I do know I checked into their live substrate for freshwater aquarium startup and I was unable to find one large enough not to risk causing problems with my little diggers. Either way, I'm still not quite cycled so changing substrate right now isn't an option.

I would love to hear other suggestions though!

As for QT/disinfection - my PRIMARY concern by far is plants transporting any fish diseases that could hurt the stars of my tank - the goldies. I have become as attached to them as I am my dog and my primary interest is in keeping the safe especially during cycling. They've been total troopers for me and I don't want to introduce anything to the tank that could upset that.

My LFS is pretty reputable and is well-utilized by just about every fish-keeper in Allegheny County. It's basically the place to go for your fish needs so I do trust them. I know their plant tanks do not have ANY fish in them and the filter water for the plant tanks does not at any point come in contact with fish water (though I have seen exactly one unhealthy fish in all the tanks I have explored there - a goldie with SBD).

I can handle snails should they come. I've read up on baiting them but actually the solution I'm MOST interested in trying for runaway snail population is the Assassin Snail. I almost welcome the little buggers so I can justify getting one to shuck them all out.

I can't stress enough - I want to keep my fish safe. I've purchased plants from this LFS and haven't had a problem but doesn't mean I won't now. For the first two plants, I gave them a high concentration salt dip and rubbed down their leaves. The third plant I was waiting for an ID on to plant and now that I have it I'm thinking I should be smarter and QT it in a little one gal fish bowl I have using tank water removed at water changes. Maybe drop some ich attack in there just in case for a couple weeks? I'd really like to get it in my tank ASAP but I've already put 2 in kind of quickly and now I'm all worried they're going to make my fish sick and hesitant to put the 3rd in.

I'm extremely protective of my fish. I feel accountable to them because I chose not to cycle my tank before adding them and now feel this huge obligation to keep them safe. So I'm kind of frozen in panic mode wondering if maybe I should pull the plants back out and sterilize them first. But is there anyway to sterilize any ich cysts other than with time?
 

poeticinjustices

By the way, I just looked up your suggestions and I LOVE Red Flame. Like love love. Maybe my next addition if I can manage not to kill these ones.
 

WynterRose

Let's see, try lowering the water level a little if the filter pours water back into the tank from the top. That will cause enough water movement to encourage gas exchange. With that, there should be enough CO2 in the water for plants. All you need to do to keep them live is keep the temperature where they live, so 70's to 80's for yours, light to reach them, and nutrients, which by burying the roots and keeping the surface moving, you should be fine. Oh, and important notes! For plants with rhizomes, find out where the rhizome is and do not bury it. It will rot and the plant will die. I plant my plants by burying 3/4ths of the roots. The plants will adjust themselves to their liking. Every 3 weeks or so I move the soil around and get new soil to touch the roots. That assures that the plants are getting the nutrients from the soil, because over time the soil will lose nutrients.

Disease won't transfer, but parasites might (rarely). If you see white things on your fish that keep multiplying, try these things. Reduce salt to reduce stress, and lower the temperature (It prolongs their life cycle so it takes longer for them to fall off and reproduce). Don't do these things suddenly and in large amounts though, you don't want to shock fish. then give them API Super Ick Cure (be careful, invertebrates can't be exposed to certain medicines so it's best to remove them so they stay safe when giving fish any medicine). I have that for my fish just in case.

Finally, the important thing is to not mix store water into your tank. Then with plants rinse them quickly in hot water before putting them in the tank. Doing this will ensure that your pets stay safe. Don't worry, the tank will hold a stable ecosystem soon enough. Then you can changes layouts and do all kinds of things and your fish will stay healthy and happy. And red flame is a great plant. It's my personal favorite. The leaves grow to be so amazing, red and purple plants add great accent touches to the tank and wow your visitors.
 

poeticinjustices

Disease won't transfer, but parasites might (rarely). If you see white things on your fish that keep multiplying, try these things. Reduce salt to reduce stress, and lower the temperature (It prolongs their life cycle so it takes longer for them to fall off and reproduce). Don't do these things suddenly and in large amounts though, you don't want to shock fish. then give them API Super Ick Cure (be careful, invertebrates can't be exposed to certain medicines so it's best to remove them so they stay safe when giving fish any medicine). I have that for my fish just in case.

These are wonderful tips and you have been so helpful. I have a lot of surface agitation as it is right now, it's something that I made a fairly large priority. In a standard 29 gallon tank, I have a 350gph biowheel filter (it is 18 inches long and has 2 outlets) in addition to 2 airstones with the pump up high. My surface is not still by any means and in fact I'm struggling a little with the current in on area because of it. But the fish have found the part of the tank where there is no underwater current, only surface agitation, and utilize that area to rest. Otherwise they are zipping all over the place though they do get blown around a little bit by the current near the top in the free swimming area.

Besides that, I have Seachem Flourish for nutrients (and am working the carbon out of my filters slowly) and I get a fair amount of ambient light in the room though not an extraordinary amount. My tank temp is always 74 degrees.

I will do some research on locating the rhizome and adjust my anubias accordingly. Thank you.

I never ever put store water in my tank. I did a salt bath/rub for the plants and a rinse in some of my prepared water. I'll do the hot water rinse on the third plant before I add it in.

I'll definitely be checking my LFS for red flame on my next trip

I am a little confused on your parasite treatment. I'm assuming you're referring to ich, right? I thought you were supposed to turn the heat up because it speeds up the life cycle which allows them to release from the cyst and then you can kill them in their free swimming stage? And I thought salt makes the environment less desirable for the ich and is tolerable in low levels for goldfish?

I have aquarium salt in my tank right now to help deal with a scary high nitrite spike that I just couldn't seem to get a handle on despite daily water changes ranging from 20-60% (the 60% was one time when they got crazy high crazy fast) but now that the nitrite levels are way down I'm going to start removing the salt.
 

tunafish89

I usually quarantine my newly received plants for 1 to 2 days just to remove the snails or anything that I don't want them to get into my tank. I think most plants can still survive even if you throw them straight away into the new tank.
 

WynterRose

When you speed up the life cycle it allows them to breed faster. So by lowering the temp they do stay on fish longer but in smaller amounts which will help treat it before it gets out of hand. These are how I treated ich and I've found that it works really well with stressed fish. And go to liveaquaria, that site has a lot of plants and fish available.


 

poeticinjustices

Ah you know what that is an interesting perspective on it. If I ever have an ich problem, I will consider it. God forbid I ever do. And I will check out live aquaria thank you!

 

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