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Im so confused!

The tank details: I just set up this 55 gallon. It has a fluval fx4 with a heater, bubbler, prefilter, and spray bar. I added the monte carlo about 3 weeks ago and the other plants about 3 days ago. The monte carlo was a tissue culture, so all the terrestrial leaves are melting and new ones are growing in, as well a new roots. Ive added easy green and easy carbon around every other day for the last week and a half. I also added cycled media from my old tanks and beneficial bacteria starter liquid.

Now for the problem: I just checked my nitrates and the its sitting really high, around 40-80ppm (i cant really tell which color it is based on the chart). The ammonia is at 0ppm and the ph is around 7. I think it maybe all the melting from the monte carlo causing a spike in ammonia->nitrates. Ive never had this happen during a tank start up. 

Also, should I do a large water change. I have ludwigia in the tank and have read they dont like dramatic changes in water parameters. If I should, what percentage do you recommend?

 

Update: I just moved into this new apartment thats a few blocks away. I assumed the water was the same. However, this is the reading of the faucet water with dechlorinater in it. Nitrates: 20ppm, ph is at 8.2., ammonia is at 0~0m25ppm. Is this normal?

Also, after a 50% water change my waters sitting at about 40ppms still and ph is now 7.8. Should i do another 50% water change? 

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Edited by Hemali
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Without knowing if you have any livestock or what the other plants are that you have easy green every other day is a lot and probably the cause especially it being a new tank without well established plants I would probably do a 50% water change and test regularly before dosing more and seeing how the plants look.

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43 minutes ago, Sleepy said:

Without knowing if you have any livestock or what the other plants are that you have easy green every other day is a lot and probably the cause especially it being a new tank without well established plants I would probably do a 50% water change and test regularly before dosing more and seeing how the plants look.

Theres no livestock. The other plants are 6 anubias nana petite, 4 anubias barteri nana, 3 amazon sword, bought two containers of staurogyne repens, 12 ludwigia natan stems, and 7 containers of monte carlo. 

Ill get on that 50% water change today and update tomorrow. 

 

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I know nothing except that I cycled my tank w plants and ammonia and got several nitrate spikes requiring water changes. I figured my numerous half dead plants were the culprit. 

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1 hour ago, Maggie said:

I know nothing except that I cycled my tank w plants and ammonia and got several nitrate spikes requiring water changes. I figured my numerous half dead plants were the culprit. 

The ammonia will definitely, naturally lead to nitrates as you know, and so will decaying matter. I'm definitely not a plant guru.  I keep pretty easy to grow plants, but in my understanding, they'll need less ferts when you first plant them as compared to when they are established and thriving, especially when you have an abundance of nitrates already present from the act of cycling. 

Right now I think you have nitrates being introduced by the cycle plus the addition of fertilizers. If you added ammonia to cycle the tank, plus the seeded media and starter, and you're also reading no ammonia or nitrite at this point, I'd do a water change to get the nitrates lower and then recheck after some a few days to see what rate the nitrates are increasing at. 

As other's have said, a completed tank cycle will result in high nitrates naturally when it's complete. It's normal to do a large water change at the completion of that process. The ferts are definitely also adding some nitrates as well, but that's their intended purpose.

Edited by tolstoy21
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I'll echo what others have said - you're probably dosing too much easy green. You want the plants to use up some of what you've put in before you keep adding more. You can test for nitrates as a measure of how much easy green the plants are using. 

13 hours ago, Hemali said:

The other plants are 6 anubias nana petite, 4 anubias barteri nana, 3 amazon sword, bought two containers of staurogyne repens, 12 ludwigia natan stems, and 7 containers of monte carlo.

About your plant load- Looking at what I quote above, this isn't an especially high plant load for a 55 gal. Anubias are all very slow growing and won't suck up ferts too quickly. The swords are primarily root feeders. Your stem plants, mostly the ludwigia, will probably be your biggest nitrate sinks. The monte carlo will as well, but if it's new from tissue cultures, it's likely to be a few more weeks before it gets rolling in terms of growth. It's my experience that when I first get a plant, it takes a few weeks for the plant to settle in, adapt to my water, and start growing & using nitrates.

You might benefit from adding more fast growing or stem plants or floating plants to your set up, until your plant mass increases.  Water sprite, hornwort, guppy grass, water lettuce, and salvinia are a few examples of the many options for this purpose. You may run into algae issues in the future, as a tank with fewer plant is far more difficult to keep balanced. 

High Nitrates- There are also reports & rumors that high nitrates (more than 60 ppm) may actually inhibit plant growth in some species of plants. It's interesting to look into. Either way, a constant 10-20 ppm nitrates dosed in an all in one fert should keep plants happy.

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@Irene wrote about dosing with easy green in the blog post, "Which Planted Tank Fertilizer is Right for You?" She wrote, about easy green:

"Directions: 1 pump per 10 gallons of water once a week for low to medium light tanks (and double the dose for medium to high light tanks)

For a 55 gallon low light tank, that means one bottle will last you about a year. If your aquarium has medium to high light, then dose two to three times a week. The key is to use a test kit to measure your tank water and aim for 10-20 ppm of nitrates. It’s as simple as that."

Edited to add: 

About water changes- When you think about if you should change water, it's first good to know what changes it will make in the tank. In this case, you want to lower nitrates. Test your tap water to see what the ph, ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites are. For me, ludwigia reacts well to a water change. Generally plants can hold up to the stress of a water change better than fish. But this all depends on what's in your tap water. If your tap water has 60ppm nitrates, then water changing won't help you here, although this example is exaggerated and it's very unlikely your tap has 60ppm.

 It's also helpful to know the "PH swing" of your tap water (more helpful with sensitive fish, but good info to have). Test the PH of your water out of the tap, then set a glass of water out and test it again at 12, 24, 36 hours. Some water will change PH, others will not. Many people who keep discus age their tap water in barrels before doing water changes to avoid stressing the fish with big PH swings. If your tap changes PH drastically, then you know a large water change (50% +) will likely stress out fish. 

That was a longwinded way to say yes, you should probably change water over the next week or two to get to 10-20ppm nitrates and then try to keep it there. For me, with my water, I can do huge water changes with few ill effects on my tanks because my tap water (well) does not have much ph swing and I don't need to dechlorinate it. 

Cory did a good video on water changing-

 

Edited by Jessica.
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20 hours ago, Sleepy said:

Without knowing if you have any livestock or what the other plants are that you have easy green every other day is a lot and probably the cause especially it being a new tank without well established plants I would probably do a 50% water change and test regularly before dosing more and seeing how the plants look.

Theres no livestock. The other plants are 6 anubias nana petite, 4 anubias barteri nana, 3 amazon sword, bought two containers of staurogyne repens, 12 ludwigia natan stems, and 7 containers of monte carlo. 

Ill get on that 50% water change today and update tomorrow. 

Update: I just moved into this new apartment thats a few blocks away. I assumed the water was the same. However, this is the reading of the faucet water with dechlorinater in it. Nitrates: 20ppm, ph is at 8.2., ammonia is at 0~0m25ppm. Is this normal?

Also, after a 50% water change my waters sitting at about 40ppms still and ph is now 7.8. Should i do another 50% water change? 

Edited by Hemali
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12 minutes ago, Hemali said:

Theres no livestock. The other plants are 6 anubias nana petite, 4 anubias barteri nana, 3 amazon sword, bought two containers of staurogyne repens, 12 ludwigia natan stems, and 7 containers of monte carlo. 

Ill get on that 50% water change today and update tomorrow. 

Update: I just moved into this new apartment thats a few blocks away. I assumed the water was the same. However, this is the reading of the foced water with dechlorinater in it. Nitrates: 20ppm, ph is at 8.2., ammonia is at 0~0m25ppm. Is this normal?

Also, after a 50% water change my waters sitting at about 40ppms still and ph is now 7.8. Should i do another 50% water change? 

Well, that water sounds good for plants I don't think I'd like to have to work around it for fish though do you know if you are on a well? If its coming out of the tap with that much nitrates and some ammonia you probably only need to dose something like potassium and trace minerals but you will probably also want to see what your GH and KH are if possible. So if you wanted to get it down to 20 ppm nitrates and thats whats out of the tap it would need another large water change.

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1 hour ago, Sleepy said:

Well, that water sounds good for plants I don't think I'd like to have to work around it for fish though do you know if you are on a well? If its coming out of the tap with that much nitrates and some ammonia you probably only need to dose something like potassium and trace minerals but you will probably also want to see what your GH and KH are if possible. So if you wanted to get it down to 20 ppm nitrates and thats whats out of the tap it would need another large water change.

Its from our tap unfortunately. I really want shrimp in the tank and some more sensitive fish species, so Im getting a reverse osmosis system for the sink for both the fishes health and mine. Thank you for you help!

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1 hour ago, Hemali said:

Its from our tap unfortunately. I really want shrimp in the tank and some more sensitive fish species, so Im getting a reverse osmosis system for the sink for both the fishes health and mine. Thank you for you help!

That’s cool let us know how it goes!

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Thank you everyone! Ive recieved a lot of helpful advice! I feel so much more confident going into fixing the issues with this tank. Definitely doing another large water change to get the nitrates down a little more, adding a lot more plants that take nutrients from the water column, adding floating plants (thinking red root floaters from my other tank), stopping fertalizers until my plants are fully established. Also, i realized I mixed up the instructions from the easy green and easy carbon. One suggests once a week and the other every other day.

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