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  1. Hey folks! So as some of you know I am setting up a 75 and and had planned on moving the sponge filter to speed up the cycle, (which is overrun with green hair algae) and reusing the substrate from the smaller tank (and adding more new eco complete) to increase the beneficial bacteria in the new 75 However, I read somewhere that disturbing substrate will kill the beneficial bacteria colony and cause serious problems. Finally just discovered a hydra outbreak. I don’t know if anything in the old tank can be used, except the plants which I can dip. So my questions are: 1) pros and cons of reusing the substrate? 2] should I use the seeded sponge filter with algae in it? —I will of course remove as much algae as possible. I don’t know if there are hydra in the sponge. If anyone has ideas or has done this, I would love to hear from you!
  2. Okay. So. My 55 gallon was originally supposed to be a Walstad setup. I got impatient when the pet store didn’t have the sand I wanted, so I capped the soil with a layer of imagitarium gravel. Fast forward a year and a half. The pH of my heavily planted, full-of-driftwood, barely-water-changed tank is 8.4, with 300ppm hardness and 300ppm buffer. (Max level on the aquarium coop test strips.) The water out of my tap is almost RO, it has so little in it. The black coating on the gravel is wearing off. So given that plants and driftwood are supposed to lower your pH over time, and the fact that I don’t have this problem in any of my other tanks, I’m 99.9% sure the gravel is sending my pH through the roof. The fish are doing fine—they’ve adjusted to this over a long period of time. I think they’d be happier in a lower pH environment but they’re doing okay. But I know if I ever want to add new fish, they’ll have a rough go of it in this very very hard, alkaline water. I’d also like to be able to grow stem plants in here. At the very beginning of this tank I had beautiful stem plants! But based on the fact that they all died and I’ve never gotten them to grow again, I don’t think they can handle the high pH. (The swords are also nitrate hogs. I fertilized yesterday and today the nitrate is 0.) Plus, the gravel does a terrible job keeping the dirt where it’s supposed to be. There’s always particulates floating everywhere, which I think contributes to my small-leafed plants growing tons of algae. The mulm collects in those plants and the algae love it. So the question is… do I dare change my substrate? I think I’d replace everything with a fine gravel, something on the darker side that still looks natural. Forget the Walstad. I love that method, but the Walstad ship sailed for this tank long ago. I really want to, but I have no idea how, given that this is a dirted tank. I could empty the whole thing and try to scoop the substrate out, but that seems really hard. Even if I get the tetras and gouramis out of there, I’ve got two plecos, two yo-yo loaches, and two otos that I highly doubt I could catch without tearing out the entire scape. And I know my sword plants will not be happy if I uproot them. I could try to replace the substrate one bit at a time, vacuuming out another section each time I do a water change. I had to do that when I replaced the rock in the front right corner. It kicked up a toooon of dirt but that cleared in time. Does that make the most sense, so I don’t have to move anyone? I’d never get all the gravel out, but maybe I could remove enough that the pH goes down. I’m just imagining that between the loaches and the Malaysian trumpet snails, the old and new gravel will get mixed together and then I’ll end up throwing out a lot of new gravel every time I try the next section. That or I’m stuck sorting gravel. 😛 Help!!
  3. Can anyone suggest a sand they like? I’m only going to give my aquariums a dusting of it, so a hobby related sand is fine since the price won’t be a huge issue. i originally was only going to put substrate in the 6 Cory tanks but now I think I want a little coverage
  4. I normally don't order lots of root tabs. I should; I have tons of plants that can use them. But they are more buoyant than anything I've ever seen in a aquarium, and it's really difficult to get them deep under the root of my plants (even with forceps) so that they'll stay there before the tablet casing begins to degrade! It sometimes takes me several minutes to deposit one tablet, and it's a task I really don't look forward to. When folks on this forum a couple weeks ago mentioned a very expensive, unavailable-to-the-US mechanism made just for this purpose, I hit the internets. But there was no way I could have something like this shipped to the US for less than $60! So I started researching the DIY route, and after some trial and error and lots of research, I've come up with this one-handed solution. It can be made for less than $10 in parts from your local Home Depot. In fact, you can make two for about the same cost! It is sized for Aquarium Co-Op Easy Root Tabs. PARTS: So let's dive in. These are the parts I collected together (non-affiliate links) : 1. Straight PEX Pipe: 1/4" ID, 5' length: $1.76 https://www.homedepot.com/p/Apollo-1-4-in-x-5-ft-White-PEX-Pipe-APPW514/301541226 2. Wood dowel: 3/16" diameter, 4' length: $0.70 https://www.homedepot.com/p/3-16-in-x-48-in-Wood-Round-Dowel-HDDH31648/204354369 3. Drawer pull: 1-1/14" birch cabinet knob: $0.98 https://www.homedepot.com/p/Liberty-Rowland-1-1-4-in-32-mm-Birch-Wood-Round-Cabinet-Knob-P10512H-BIR-C/204143998 4. Drawer pull: 1-13/16" birch cabinet knob: $1.88 https://www.homedepot.com/p/Liberty-Classic-1-13-16-in-46-mm-Unfinished-Birch-Wood-Round-Cabinet-Knob-P10515C-BIR-C5/100156480 5. Springs: 6-pack zinc-plated compression springs (used the 3/8" x 1-1/8" x 0.041" spring): $4.22 https://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-Zinc-Plated-Compression-Spring-6-Pack-16087/202045468 TOTAL: $9.54 TOOLS: 1. Drill and assorted bits 2. Wood glue (or white glue) 3. 5-minute epoxy PREP: The 1/4" PEX pipe does not fit the Easy Root tabs. I made it fit by enlarging the first inch or so of one end of the pipe using a 5/16" drill bit. Now, the smaller end of the Easy Root Tab fits very snugly. If I don't push it in too far, it's a perfect grip! Next, I cut a 12" length of the PEX pipe and a 13" length of the dowel. I don't have very deep tanks, so this is fine for me. But this can be cut to any length you need; just make sure the dowel is always one inch longer than the tube. The wooden knobs already have holes drilled in them, which made it very easy to enlarge them to exactly the diameters I needed. For the smaller knob, I enlarged the hole to 3/16", making sure not to drill all the way through. I glued in my wood dowel with a drop of wood glue to hold it permanently: For the larger knob, I enlarged the hole to 3/8" diameter, this time going all the way through. I made sure to start with a 3/16" bit, and repeatedly went larger and larger until I reached 3/8". This ensured my hole stayed centered and I had a nice clean cut all the way through. I glued in the length of PEX pipe with 5-minute epoxy. This should hold well enough for my purposes. I'm using the shorter, wider spring for this project (3/8" x 1-1/8" x 0.41"). For good measure, I used some 5-minute epoxy to glue the spring to my plunger. This is totally optional, but gives me one less piece I can lose. That's pretty much all there is to do. I just inserted the plunger in the tube and I'm ready to try it out! I placed an Easy Root Tab in the end, just far enough for it to grip, but not so far that it won't push out easily. I inserted the tool with one hand into the tank, pushed the plunger, and voila! A deposited tablet in 5 seconds! But I am over the moon about how this tool turned out. I just placed about 20 tabs in two minutes. Even with coarse gravel, forcing the pill in was no problem. The two pieces come apart for drying, as that wood dowel won't last forever. Now I understand why the professional ones are so expensive. This makes things so much easier. I'm definitely making a longer one for deeper tanks. Hope you find this useful. Thanks for reading! Bill
  5. Sup, I have a 100 liter fully planted but the substrate is manado, a neutral substrate and the plants do not feel that well after a year. I was thinking about changing the substrate but the thing is that I already have a established population of fish. So which substrate should I go for? I tried to dodge the nitrate rise of a nutrient rich substrate. Thanksss
  6. I have been thinking a lot about how substrate exists in nature, especially with gravel vs sand. My hobby context is with organic soil underneath, where I prefer gravel as a cap, but I don’t want to be too specific. I grew up on Lake Champlain, which has some of the oldest former reefs in the world, from when it was the Champlain Sea. However, there are very few sandy beaches on the lake. The two big ones are Sandbar State Park on the Vermont side, fed by the Lamoille River, and Ausable Point on the New York side, both cases where the rivers have been depositing sand for millennia. In the marine environment, we expect tons of flow, grinding down rocks and coral. Freshwater seems to have more conditions.
  7. I did a major clean and a 50% water change on my CPD tank yesterday, since I’m trying to fix up my nano tanks this week. I’m not sure what part of this process (which included splitting and replanting some portions of HC) caused my substrate to do this, but some of the balls on the top layer have gone a grey-white colour. What is this??? For reference, I am using Oliver Knott x Pisces ‘AquaEarth’. I’ve seen it do this once before after I moved the tank from my old house to this house, and I can’t remember how I got it to go away. I’d really like to make this go back to normal, so my tank can be beautiful again. Right now I don’t just have the substrate problem, but my tank is cloudy, and a bunch of detritus has settled on all my plants and rocks, which is infuriating! And I can’t do a water change to get rid of this because I just did a 50% one yesterday, and I hate messing with my water to this extent. Also, I think my CPDs are getting ready to breed (as I type this I’m seeing two fish dancing in circles around each other), so I want to make sure I don’t unsettle them by having the tank in such a state. Any advice on what is happening, why it’s happening, and how to fix it would be much appreciated! By me and my fish. Note: my phone has slightly over saturated the last picture. It makes the tank look kinda nice. I wish it looked like this, but just imagine that the water is a bit milky, the plants are covered in brown detritus, and the substrate on the right side looks positively grey.
  8. I'm starting a fun experiment today and thought I'd share. I'm setting up six pods of dwarf hairgrass using three common plant substrates either with or without root tabs. All of the pods will share the same column-fertilized water, the same (hopefully even) lighting, and I will be infusing CO2. At intervals I will rotate the outer pods to the inside to try to remove disparate lighting as a variable. My goals are to find out how much DHG benefits from root fertilization, which of these substrates it grows best in, and also how quickly a carpet can fill out when given optimal conditions. I'm excited to see how this goes.
  9. Hello, I am looking to set up a 40 breeder for a river looking shrimp and goby tank. I went out and got some wild river rocks to make a rock wall hardscape and am trying to determine what to use for a matching substrate. I wanted to keep the substrate dark and kind or river looking. I have eco-complete in my work tank but am having some difficulty planting the tank with my amano shrimp playing gardener. I found this Caribsea Super Naturals- Blue Ridge that has good color, but it has a max particle size of 10mm which kind of seems big in my head. They do not have this product in my local stores to see directly, but in looking at what they do have it seems like standard gravel is around the 5mm mark. For planting purposes do you think this gravel would be too big for things like crypts and moneywort type plants to thrive? I was also going to try to look at the local gravel quarry to see if they have any coarse sand/ small gravel that would fit the bill, or just going to the river and sifting my own substrate which I am a little timid to do. The current plan is ~100 yellow cherry shrimp, 3 amano shrimp, 3 blue neon goby, 3 cobalt goby, 1 hillstream loach, some snails, and would be willing to take suggestions for the rest of what to put in for the top of the water. I was thinking possibly some CPD's or chili rasbora, otocinclus, or honey gourami. Thank you, Brad Caribsea Super Naturals- Blue Ridge
  10. Hello everyone, I have recently started acquiring more tanks for my fish rack that I am building. When looking for substrate for previous tanks I have used only ADA Amazonia (version 1) and CaribSea Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate. I can't seem to find either anymore, I'm not sure if Eco-complete is not being produced anymore; I know that ADA has their version two of Amazonia, just wanted to know what people are using these days and what they have found to be successful/cost effective. I plan on getting some fancy goldfish, caridina shrimp (I've heard UNS controsoil is decent), neocaridina's, and mostly nano fish. So I believe I will probably need a plethora of different types of soil. What do you guys like and what to avoid? :)
  11. I have been running a dirted tank with a pool filter sand cap, but I am going to tear it down and start over. I am going to go with a heavily planted tank with a Fluval 3.0 light and a new substrate. The problem is that I really like the look of the pool filter sand and the smoothness of it for Kuhli Loachs and such, but have read that it is not great for growing plants. I don't want to go the route of having to replace my substrate because the nutrients are depleted, so I plan on using inert material and supplementing with fert and root tabs. I'd like a sand like substrate that doesn't break my budget and will be good for bottom feeders and plants. Any suggestions are most appreciated. Thank you!
  12. So I began to set up a dirted tank, but I don’t know if I have enough. In the pictures you can see there’s around an inch and a quarter (there’s some space beneath the black space) of organic seed starter- https://images.app.goo.gl/tD9k5GbNHix5uKM98 I assume it’s different from your standard miracle gro- and about the same amount made up in pool filter sand, pea pebbles (not pea gravel!) and a small bag of Caribsea gravel. I have a unsettling feeling that it won’t be enough though…so should I buy more substrate? I just don’t want it to be too expensive, and I ran out of all my sand and pebbles. Also I’ve heard sand isn’t great since it suffocates the dirt and everything. In the pictures included you can also see all the gravel pictures, measurements, a little diagram I drew and my ammonia (~.50) level after filling and draining my tank (once yesterday- the day I set it up) and again today. So…thoughts? Also I’m kinda nervous because the substrate seems to be mixing and pouring water on the substrate from a certain height seems to somehow bring out a little bit of dirt.
  13. I need to add real substrate to my new 20g long. Right now it has a thin layer of gravel brought over from my established betta setups, just for the bacteria, but I want to add enough for rooting plants to grow in and a darker color to show off the lighter colored fish in this tank. I'd like something with a mix of browns, ideally. My local stores are strangely out of natural color substrate other than larger pebbles than I want. I bought a bag of Flourite to try because the photo on the bag made it look brown, but it was wayyy too red. Looking online, Carib Sea Peace River seems like one option, and maybe Rio Grande but I can't really tell from the tiny photo what it would look like in a tank. If you have brown substrate you like for plants, I'd love to see it and have the name. Thanks!
  14. Hi, I'm setting up a planted tank. The volcanic soil based plant substrates are new since last time I did this (maybe 15 years ago). I have my hardscape done and an using shrimp king substrate. I'm starting to add plants now. I'm wondering, do I still need root tabs with this substrate? Or is it the point of these new substrates that they have enough nutrients for the plants to grow without the tabs? Thanks, Steve
  15. Want to pick your brains. I’m upgrading my 3rd and final 3 gal betta tank to a 10 gal. The 3 gal is planted with black sand (Imagitarium) and has been running for close to a year. The new 10 gal will have Seachem Flourite black. My thought was to use the old sand with good bacteria as the first layer and then add the new flourite on the top. Thinking this would ease new tank syndrome. Will the sand eventually creep upwards or interfere with the flourite’s benefits? My plants do well in the other 10 gals on just the flourite. I also have a spare sponge filter running in another tank getting it ready for the new tank. Thoughts?
  16. Back when I knew absolutely nothing about fish tanks (aka January of this year), I set up a 55g. Watched many videos about substrates. Decided I wanted sand. Ordered pool filter sand on Amazon, received play sand, returned it. Went to LFS, owner of LFS told me the sand I picked out (the only 40 and 20 lb bags they had in the color I wanted) was good for freshwater (I specifically asked) AND told me not to rinse it. Said sand goes in tank, goldfish go in tank after initial cloudiness dissipates. They live happily for about a month at which point improperly quarantined zebra danios from big box store go in tank (I can’t even). Danios start disappearing, saga of events occur that in sum lead to the death of everything except 1 danio. I felt absolutely horrible. I leave the tank alone except for Mexican dwarf cpo crayfish and mystery/nerite snails which were entirely unphased by all of these happenings. I add back the lone surviving danio and sit tight for a month. Everyone is fine. Weekly water changes ~30 to 50% because cloudy water is unsightly. I kick myself for not rinsing the sand. Parameters not noteworthy, ammonia/nitrites 0, nitrates 0-5, gH ~7 degrees, kH ~6, pH up there in the high 7s. about a month ago, I decide to try livebearers bc hard water. I slowly add 6 mollies 3 at a time (quarantined in bare-bottomed tank with gradually increased then decreased salt). I get the zebra danios a handful of friends. Present day: stock: 6 adult mollies, 5 zebra danios, 2 mystery snails, 2 nerite snails, 2 CPO crayfish. Bunch of baby mollies. Everyone appears happy and healthy. However. The water is STILL CLOUDY ALL THE TIME. I’ve added multiple brands of water clarifiers, they make it looks like it’s snowed inside the tank. I have to do at least a 50% water change 2x/ week or the pH climbs to 8. I completely dismantle my HOB (tidal 75) every week and it is unbelievably filthy. I have been putting pillow stuffing in the basket for fine filtration. It turns black. I am careful to clean everything with dechlorinated/78 degree water to preserve BB, and also have a separate sponge filter running which stays remarkably clean all things considered (ACO coarse sponge). Thought maybe cloudiness from bacterial bloom and skipped cleaning the filter for a week. Cloudiness only got worse. I decide to revisit which sand I bought. I go through pictures of Carib sea products to see if I can recognize which one was the one I bought. It was the ocean direct sand. For saltwater tanks 🤦🏼‍♀️ Based on what I’ve read on saltwater sites, I wonder if the calcium in the aragonite is precipitating into the water. Is that a thing that can happen in freshwater? Aside from tearing down the entire tank and putting new substrate, is there anything that can be done about this? I have a hunch that the only thing that can be done is tearing the tank down. Perhaps I’m telling this story for affirmation of this hypothesis. I have been battling diatoms recently as well, my tank is in front of an east facing window. Recently upgraded lighting to fluval 3.0, custom schedule with siestas/max power 75%, no blue/red, time 8h/day and I have noticed a gradual improvement in the diatom issue since the light upgrade (plants are doing splendidly, I dose easy green twice a week bc I can’t leave my water alone long enough for nitrates to accumulate). Parameters below, but note they are pretty close to my tap bc constant water changes. gH/kH/pH slightly higher than tap, I assume because I am a dunce and put saltwater substrate in a freshwater tank. If I skip a water change, gH/kH/pH rise. If you’ve read all this, you are a saint. Thank you. gH: ACO test strips: 150 ppm, API 6 degrees kH: ACO: in between 80 and 120, API 5 degrees pH: ACO 7.6, API 7.8 phosphate: API 0.5 ppm ammonia/nitrites/nitrates: API 0, ACO nitrates 10, nitrites 0
  17. I use Eco-Complete in my 11g. It works well, but I’m not sure what it’s made of. It looks like crushed lava rock like we use on propane grills.
  18. Planted Nano Pea Puffer Cube For the first time ever, I have a beautiful rimless all-in-one aquarium. Over the weekend, my partner and I picked up a Tideline AIO 11.3G, which is just under 14” cubed. Our eventual goal is to house a single pea puffer (and possibly some amano shrimp as cleanup crew). As a seasoned aquarist, I know this aquarium will take a while to establish before I can add our new tiny friend. In the mean time, I will be keeping a journal about its progress. Full disclosure, I did pretty much pull this entire post directly from my blog. I use the blog to share information with friends and family and document my journey, but it makes it rather easy when I can format it there and just paste everything over here to spark conversation. Hope you enjoy! 💚ALL PLANTS ARE FROM AQUARIUM CO-OP💚 The Process Substrate Egg crate structure with *Magic Mud™️ There are two additional layers of egg crate stacked in the back to create depth without using excess substrate. It also brings the nutrient layer up a bit so it’s easier for the plants in the back to reach. As you can see, there’s about 1/2” of space from the edge of the egg crate to the glass, allowing me to keep a clean edged look on this rimless tank. In the back, I have a total of 1.5” of nutrient-rich layer. This will help feed the Sagittaria subulata (dwarf sag), Ludwigia repens, and Helanthium tenellum (dwarf chain sword) without having to reach their roots through 4” of sand. Hardscape Initial substrate pour. Sand is Caribsea Super Naturals Torpedo Beach and accent gravel is Spectrastone shallow creek regular. Addition of hardscape. I am unsure what kind of wood this is, but it’s very splintery and the glue wasn’t holding very well. Instead, I chose to zip tie it temporarily to ensure it doesn’t disturb anything or shift when I filled the tank. The rocks are a grayish toned dragon stone. All hardscape and sand was acquired from Dallas North Aquarium, which is an excellent store and I do highly recommend them. Top-down view. As you can see, I chose a budget light, the Lominie Asta 20. I will write a full review once I have tested the light for a decent period of time, but so far I really like it. Planting Addition of Sagittaria subulata – contained in the back corner behind the hard scape. My hope is that the hardscape will keep it from taking over the tank. This stuff grows fast and I really don’t want to be yanking up runners every week. Cryptocoryne wendtii sp. pink flamingo in the front (I am so ridiculously excited about this plant, it’s so pretty!) and Ludwigia repens just behind. Althernanthera reineckii and Helanthium tenellum added, and some baby java ferns tucked into the holes in the rocks. We added some Anubias nana petite, some Bucephalandra sp. Green wavy, and shoved some moss (Christmas moss? Unknown sp) into the splintery bits of the driftwood. The zip tie is a bit unsightly, but I would much rather have an unsightly zip tie for a month than have my hard work ruined by a stubborn piece of wood. I squeezed an established sponge filter over the tank, filled it, and started up the filter! After about 10 hours, the water is tannic, but no longer super hazy. The filter pump is a little too aggressive for my liking, so I have one on order that’s a much slower 80gph instead of 150gph. A single pea puffer isn’t going to need that much crazy filtration, and quite honestly the poor thing would probably get blown around by the flow. I’ll reserve the pump that came with the tank for another project. Final thoughts This scape turned out pretty great, and I’m really enjoying staring at it, even without livestock. I uploaded a YouTube short of the “sparkle” that happens in this aquarium that photos just can’t accurately capture. You can find that video here if you’re curious. *Magic Mud™️ is a product of my own design that I am still working on perfecting. Its main components are organic worm castings and natural red clay. The egg crate is simply there to keep everything in place and to avoid having the soil slide down to the edges of the aquarium, giving it a nice clean look all the way around without sacrificing a nutrient-dense base layer. Want to see more? Follow me @Nirvanaquatics on Instagram and Facebook!
  19. We have a 5 gallon with green neon tetras and one mystery snail. The current substrate is river rocks, but we are running into a problem with keeping the tank clean. Food and poop falls down between the stones, and when we vac, we have to stir up all the stones to get to the nasty, which really fouls up the water. We would like to replace the substrate, but are not sure what would be good. We want something that would be good for (or at least not detrimental to) our snail, Fred. We want small size particles. We also have a anubias coffefolia, a windelov java fern, and some java moss growing on some chollo wood Anyone have any suggestions?
  20. I'm looking for some gravel/smaller stones that look like mountain or seiryu stone (really just darker gray). Any leads? All I have found so far has too much browns and tans.
  21. I finished my planting this morning and as I was planting a fair amount of gas was released. What kind of gas was this and is it good that it was released? Does this gas promote anoxic filtration? I have about an inch and a half of organic planting soil topped with about a half inch of Eco-Complete then two inches of play sand capped with two inches of fine gravel and Flourite Red mix.
  22. If this post is prohibited please delete. I just bought 8 20 lbs bags of eco complete for $80 + s/h. Amazon has 2 bags for $20.06. Shipped Nov 18, 2020 - Nov 23, 2020 4 Carib Sea ACS00771 Planted Substrate for Aquarium, 2/20-Pound, Red... $22.06
  23. So it looks like I’ll be setting up a new tank soon. We have the bright colored rocks in my daughters tank now. We use root tabs and the stem plants seem to be doing ok. Is seachem fluorite or aquasoil worth it? Is sand better than rocks?
  24. I set up my 29 I'm a hurry and forgot to add Flourite Red to my substrate. Would it still be beneficial to put it in on top of my gravel and mix it in lightly?
  25. This was one of the first aquariums I put together and I did not get enough substrate in it. I want to add at least an inch to the top (of black) so that the plants will stay planted and there is better contrast for the critters. There is only water sprite and 1 anubias in there now but I want to add a few more different plants. The problem for me is this is a fully functioning cherry shrimp colony. There are tons of little shrimp all over and I am concerned that if I just dump a bunch of new substrate in that I will kill off a decent amount of them. Should this be a concern at all? If I go slow will they just move out of the way? Or since they seem to reproduce like crazy does it even matter? Am I being overly concerned? Thanks.
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