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Fishless cycling my new planted tank...fiddling with lights
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Catfishy
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Joined: 03 Feb 2005
Location: Queensland

PostPosted: 2011.03.26(Sat)22:50    Post subject: Fishless cycling my new planted tank...fiddling with lights Reply with quote

Hi everyone, I'm fishless cycling my new 40g tank that I'm going to try to keep nice plants in. I've never had much luck with keeping stem plants alive before, so in my old tanks back home (USA) I usually resorted to mostly anubias, Java fern, cryptocorynes, and whatever stem plant stragglers stuck around in my not very high-light setups.

Now I live in Queensland and I'm getting back into the hobby (my old tanks are still running at my parents' house...my freaking awesome mom takes care of the fishies for me). I think I need a little advice, mainly about plants and lighting. Right now I have a small light fixture with two 8-watt fluorescent bulbs over one half of the tank, where I have my stem plants and a nice green and red lotus plant (not sure what species). There is no light over the other half of the tank as of yet, but there I just have Java fern, anubias, and cryptocorynes. I want to have less light in that half of the tank for the low-light plants and so that whatever fishes I get can have a dimmer environment in case they want to hide. But I'm thinking NO light just isn't cutting it right now, especially as yesterday I helped a friend set up her first aquarium and she got a really nice T5HO setup. Well, I don't have a moneybags boyfriend like she does, but I think I want to upgrade my tank lighting once I make a little money. I was thinking of just putting a single tube (T5? I wants it) over the entire length of the tank, and leaving the smaller light over one half of it to provide additional light for the stem plants. Does this sound reasonable? I still have to go back and check around all the LFS to see what sizes are available. But the plants I have in there seem pretty happy so far...the stuff I believe is Sunset Hygro went nuts and I already had to prune and replant it two days later Cool

Also, this is my first time properly fishless cycling a tank. My first real tank, about eight years ago, was cycled with cories (before I knew any better, but dang those cories are still going strong). My other tanks after that were seeded with gravel, water, and filter media from the first tank. Now for this one, I just chucked in a prawn and some filter squeezings from a friend's tank. Is this sufficient, and about how long can I expect this method of cycling to take to complete? How about if I add more bacteria from other people's tanks? I haven't tested the water yet because I only set the tank up a couple days ago, but I will take a water sample to the LFS to get tested either today or tomorrow.

And finally, what are the best fertilizers/supplements to get nice plant growth? I'm considering doing CO2 once I have the lighting upgraded, so I want to also make sure I provide adequate nutrients. I just have plain fine gravel in the tank now, because I am on kind of a tight budget and had to pass on fluorite and/or laterite. I poked in a couple of Seachem Flourish Tabs that my friend gave me (I also scored a bunch of plant cuttings from her, yay). Is this a good thing to use, and should I just keep up with that, or are liquid fertilizers more effective? Blah, I feel like I suck at plants.

Hokay, I think that is all for now. Thanks in advance guys, and sorry for the long post!
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unissuh
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Joined: 29 Mar 2005
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: 2011.03.27(Sun)0:19    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome back. Very Happy

If you have a picture of the tank, that would help us picture what is going on!

A new single T5HO fixture might work, but be careful here. Before you step into playing with T5HOs you may want to consider sorting out the CO2 first, or at a minimum having a bottle of liquid carbon supplement handy (Seachem's Excel, Aquagreen's Dino Spit etc). If you can get a 2x T8 unit, that be better, especially if it has individual switches.

I reckon the cycling would take less than two weeks the way you've started it, hard to say for sure though. I do reckon it's worth buying your own test kits though, a couple of days may not be enough for the whole cycle to finish and LFSs tend to charge for water tests down here.

As for fertilizers, Aquagreen sells a PMDD based mix and home made root tabs that is about as easy as it gets (see "Dino Dung", "Dino Pee", "Dino Spit"). Just add a tab under every root feeding plant (e.g. the lotus) and dose the liquid as recommended.

Hope that helps.
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Catfishy
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Joined: 03 Feb 2005
Location: Queensland

PostPosted: 2011.03.27(Sun)1:13    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks! I will try to get a picture of the tank soon, I am always just so lazy about uploading pictures...

I figured I would just get my water tested at the LFS because there is one really near my house and I have a friend who works there and told me they'll test it for free. So yay, much cheaper than buying a test kit (I used to have a comprehensive test kit back home, but they're soooo bloody expensive here). Anyhoo, I'm definitely going to give it more than a couple days even if the cycle goes really fast with the kick-start....I need the plants to establish better and the damn vals and pennywort keep acting all floaty! Grrr!

The reason I thought I would go with a single bulb instead of a double is because I already have the smaller fixture over one side of the tank that seems to be doing really well for the plants there so far, I just want a little more light over both sides of the tank. Does that make sense? The tank in on my kitchen counter and thus sticking out into the room so that only one of the narrow sides is against the wall, and the rest of the tank is visible from all sides. The "front" end is the one with low-light plants, and right now it just looks kind of dark and dingy with no light directly over it.

Why would I have to get the CO2 sorted out before messing with T5? I kinda wanted to just see how the plants go before messing about with CO2 injection, which I have never done before (but I've read about it, so I get the theory). Also, my friend bought a double T5 setup for her tank, so should I tell her to use CO2 as well? Hmmm...I just thought that might be a little overwhelming for a new hobbyist.

Ohhh, and one more question I wanted to ask, though it doesn't really have to do with plants...how the heck am I supposed to keep the temperature down?? I don't have a heater in the tank, but even so, the temperature is hovering around 30 degrees C and sometimes even a few degrees higher than that. That seems waaaaayyy too high to me, I'm used to maintaining my tanks back home at around 72-75 degrees F (22.2-23.9 degrees C). Do I need to get a fan or something to cool the tank?? Sheesh. Living in the tropics is ridiculous.

Again, thanks for all your help!
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unissuh
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PostPosted: 2011.03.27(Sun)1:42    Post subject: Reply with quote

One can still have the benefit of CO2 or liquid carbon without high powered lighting, but the reverse is not true...not without an algae storm! A single T5HO is probably OK, but any more will more often than not land you in trouble without CO2 or liquid carbon. Think of light as the engine, CO2 and other fertilizers are the fuel. Very Happy

The reason why I suggested a 2xT8 fixture is because these are usually cheaper than a T5HO fixture. A single tube of T5HO puts out 2x the light of a single T8 tube (so is much the same as a 2xT8 fixture), but has a bit better spread and tends to get less hot than the former. I'd be temped to get one that is the length of your tank and see how it goes in conjunction with your current fixture. You may find that it is too much over that side of the tank; if you get green spot algae it's a sign that there is too much light.

As for the heat...no real easy solution. If you can rig up a fan that blows across the water surface, thats probably the best way to drop it a few degrees without investing in a chiller. Otherwise you might just have to start freezing some water bottles to drop in the tank on especially hot days...
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Catfishy
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Joined: 03 Feb 2005
Location: Queensland

PostPosted: 2011.03.27(Sun)1:56    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh riiiiiiiiiiiight, the algae thing. OK, I will keep that in mind. I'm definitely planning on putting a few bristlenoses and otos in there though...I've found bristlenoses to be pretty fantastic for algae control and got to the point with my old tanks where I never bothered cleaning the glass myself anymore.

The reason I was thinking only a single bulb instead of another double is simply because of how it would fit on top of the tank. I want there to still be space for the 1' double-tube light fixture that I already have. Plus, the way this tank is constructed is different to the ones I'm used to in the US...instead of a narrow plastic rim all the way around the top of the tank for hinged glass lids, there is a wide glass lip on each side, and four separate glass lids, two of which have these little glass handles that stick up. It's the annoying handles that I think will get in the way of a wide light strip that runs the entire length of the tank (part of the reason I started with a short light so I can keep it on the side without handles). Grr. I guess I'll have to find some way to elevate the lights a bit, but the really nice light fixtures with stands and hangers and such are way outta my price range Evil or Very Mad
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unissuh
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PostPosted: 2011.03.27(Sun)3:21    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like an annoying lid set up.

Have a look online for fixtures. There are a couple of very cheap online stores out there, but be warned that some are more trouble than it's worth. Aquathrive.com.au have very cheap light fixtures, I haven't heard anything bad about them but have not tried myself either. The other option is the DIY route but I'm not sure if you want to go down that path.
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Catfishy
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Joined: 03 Feb 2005
Location: Queensland

PostPosted: 2011.03.27(Sun)3:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the recommendation, I will look into that. It's just that I'm really on a tight budget...I finished my master's a few months ago and JUST got hired at a new place but have not started yet...so it might take me a while to make enough cash to really play with fishie stuff. I was happy with the light I got at first, but now that I've seen how nice and bright my friend's new tank is, mine is really bugging me and I want plant growth that will make her jealous Twisted Evil

But yeah, annoying lid setup. Is that normal for Australia? I got the tank for 50 bucks at a garage sale, and when I first saw it I thought it must be DIY, but now I've seen a lot of tanks for sale in the pet stores and LFS that are built the same way.
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unissuh
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PostPosted: 2011.03.27(Sun)4:27    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some tanks are made very strangely here, braces and lids tend to be glass but with odd fittings like you have described. Never liked it myself. Thankfully I'm a nano tank fan, so all of my tanks are rimless and braceless with clear little plastic clip-on thingies that hold the lid.

Just remember not to overdo the light, that will just cause problems. Slow and steady is the way I prefer to take it. Very Happy
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Catfishy
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PostPosted: 2011.03.27(Sun)4:57    Post subject: Reply with quote

I definitely appreciate the beauty of nano tanks, but I'm a kid in a candy store when it comes to fishies so I'm afraid I need a little more space in my tanks (or I just end up with many many tanks...)

Thanks for all your helpful advice, though! I will look into the light options but I guess I can take it easy for now...at least some of my plants seem to be doing really well so far. And I will look into CO2 system options as well. DIY seems to be the most budget-friendly choice, and I've read that it's best to stagger them to keep the CO2 flow consistent. Does inconsistent CO2 addition really throw things out of whack?

PS, I'm trying to bully one of my friend into buying me another light strip. Told him I would name a fish after him. Dunno if this ploy will work, but it's worth a shot, hey? Razz
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Catfishy
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PostPosted: 2011.03.27(Sun)5:04    Post subject: Reply with quote

OMG he might go for it! Here's the light I was looking at: http://www.aquathrive.com.au/product_info.php?cPath=51&products_id=138
Does this look like a good option to you? They didn't have any single T5 fixtures, but if my friend buys the light for me I don't really care, I can just save my small one for another tank Razz
My tank is a 3-foot, but when I measured it it comes in at JUST under 36 inches long...so I hope the light fits it if I order it sight-unseen.
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