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2.5 Gal Iced Tea Jug


tinyplants
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Well, I found a 2.5 gallon iced tea jug a couple weeks back, and I put in substrate today.  Water's cloudy due to substrate, even after a tonne of rinsing.  I'm hoping it'll settle, but if not, well, water changes will happen--RO water is cheap around the corner at LFS.

Substrate is Aquasolum Black Humate.  It claims to be buffering and LFS says it should function similarly to Fluval Stratum, so we'll see.  It is VERY black. There are also several pieces of obsidian to disguise the profile of the sponge filter.  I'll be adding some moss and probably java fern over the next little while and I'll be doing a fishless cycle, probably using decaying seafood instead of straight ammonia thanks to the fact that I can't find surfactant free ammonia anywhere.  I went to two separate LFS asking if they knew where to find it and their answer was 'if you find out, tell us, because no one in the area has found it in the city' (Austin).
 

 

Current parameters: 
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: 7.6
GH: 3.36
KH: 1.68

Filter sponge is in the tank but the air pump will arrive for it tomorrow.
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IMG_20150922_141647_zps77r3ynof.jpg

I haven't decided what shrimps I want to put in, but I figure it'll take six to eight weeks of cycling anyway, at a minimum, before we're ready for livestock, so I've got time.

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I actually sealed the spout with sealant.  It's not 100% watertight, but it's a lot better--it only drips a little, so if someone fiddles with it, I won't lose a lot of water.  I'm considering blue bolts for this tank, but I'm not sure yet.  I know they're an advanced species, but I love them.  But if I can't get my parameters totally/very nearly totally stable and keep them that way without shrimps, then I'll pick out a neo colour that I love and keep those instead so I don't kill such a valuable species since they're a) really cute and I'd feel bad and b ) pretty expensive.  I definitely want something bright.

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I actually sealed the spout with sealant.  It's not 100% watertight, but it's a lot better--it only drips a little, so if someone fiddles with it, I won't lose a lot of water.  I'm considering blue bolts for this tank, but I'm not sure yet.  I know they're an advanced species, but I love them.  But if I can't get my parameters totally/very nearly totally stable and keep them that way without shrimps, then I'll pick out a neo colour that I love and keep those instead so I don't kill such a valuable species since they're a) really cute and I'd feel bad and b ) pretty expensive.  I definitely want something bright.

 

I would highly discourage Blue Bolts for such a small tank. TB are more delicate and from personal experience I would never attempt to keep them in anything less than 10g and that is even too small in my opinion. Neos would be fine in that size, I currently have a 1.75g tank with Sakura cherries that are thriving with a colony of about 30-40 that has been going for over a year. Every few months I cull about 10-20 for $1 each.

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I would highly discourage Blue Bolts for such a small tank. TB are more delicate and from personal experience I would never attempt to keep them in anything less than 10g and that is even too small in my opinion. Neos would be fine in that size, I currently have a 1.75g tank with Sakura cherries that are thriving with a colony of about 30-40 that has been going for over a year. Every few months I cull about 10-20 for $1 each.

This is why I'm seeing about my parameters and how stable I can actually keep them.  I intend to experiment with adding foods and stuff and monitoring parameters for weeks once everything is cycled and see if I can keep parameters steady with decaying matter, daily parameter checks and differing things going on.  They're really sensitive and I totally get them.  If I can't keep everything within ideal parameters while adding random challenges to the tank, then it'll be neos.  I'm at least 6-8 weeks out from having a solidly cycled tank and then I'll take at least a month or two of experimenting with parameter challenges to see if maintaining narrow parameters with high maintenance is possible for this tank.  If not, then neos.  If I can make it work, then it'll open up my options more.  This tank is largely about experimenting since my wife and my apartment complex both have restrictions on what I am and am not allowed to have when it comes to tanks.  My 29 gallon that I'm setting up once I've got this one completely stable and have had livestock for a bit is technically over our limit--we're allowed a maximum of 20 gallons of aquarium in our apartment.  So I'd have to either a) make my 29 gallon a shrimp-only tank to keep bolts in, if I can't get the parameters right here or b ) scrap the idea of bolts entirely.  So I'm prepared to scrap the idea entirely if I can't keep parameters perfect.  I have a variety of shrimp foods coming and will begin feeding in the same patterns as I would feed a shrimp tank. 

I don't hate neos, I just think the blue bolts are the prettiest shrimp.  But the blue bolts also aren't compatible in terms of water parameters with the plants and fish I have planned for the 29gal.

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Added ammonia 6 days ago to 2.0 ppm (as my test doesn't have a 3.0 and I didn't want to go too high, to 4.0).  Also added some Salty Shrimp GH+.

Current parameters: 

Ammonia: 1.0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: between 5 and 10 ppm, closer to 5 ppm
pH: 6.6
GH: 6.72 or 120 ppm
KH: 1.12 or 20 ppm

The puzzling thing for me is, because of enjoying doing the water tests, I've been testing every day.  I had detectable Nitrite starting at day 3--I got to .5 ppm yesterday--and today I am down to 0, but my ammonia hasn't dropped at all since day 3 (when it went from 2 to 1 ppm) even though nitrites kept rising until yesterday.  Is this normal?  I always figured it would be a pretty steady progression.

I have added no bacterial seed material aside from the fact that I didn't rinse my moss or my sword plant before putting them in (I figured that, worst case, I would get some snails which I honestly wouldn't mind and best case it might add a little beneficial bacteria to my tank).  I didn't think nitrates were supposed to be rising yet?  Ah well, we'll see how it shakes out in the long term.  

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It is odd that you would have nitrites on day 3 without adding bacteria. But the cycle usually goes that ammonia disappears as nitrites rise to a high level then disappear overnight. Cranking up the temperature also helps the cycle go faster.

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Buying a heater tomorrow to crank the temperature--I'm not in a rush, but I'd like to see progress.

It's been six days since I last posted. I added Seachem Stability to see if it would get things moving.  I added 1 ml the first day and have added .5 ml every day since, after heavy shaking of the bottle.

Current parameters
Ammonia: 4.0 (without adding additional ammonia??)
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: between 5 and 10 ppm, closer to 10 ppm
pH: between 6.4 and 6.0 (I need to get a pen reader at this point because my test kit only goes to 6.0)
GH: 6.72 or 120 ppm
KH: 1.12 or 20 ppm

I DID mess around with the aquascaping some and I have a piece of cholla wood in there now--I wanted to get some moss growing on it so I put some of my moss on the cholla wood and added a piece of Han's steel mesh with the same moss sewn carefully to it--I bent it to make a little moss cave and it will be ADORABLE when the moss grows out.

I am wondering if I should do a partial water change at this point to drop my ammonia down under 4?  Or should I just leave everything as-is and see what happens?

(I have also, this week, added some adorable pink ramshorns to a java fern aquatic vase I'm growing.  I am very happy with them!)

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It is odd that you would have nitrites on day 3 without adding bacteria. But the cycle usually goes that ammonia disappears as nitrites rise to a high level then disappear overnight. Cranking up the temperature also helps the cycle go faster.

How high would the temperature be cranked to?  I've put it to 80.

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Realized I had misread the Stability label (thanks, gallons vs litres and all that jazz) and drastically upped my dose of Stability.  There's been no change whatsoever in my parameters except that my ph is slowly creeping lower.  I'm now at 6.0, very obviously so, or lower, but my tester only goes to 6.0.  

I read a thing where if you have too deep of a buffering substrate, it can have too drastic of an effect so if I haven't seen any changes by next Thursday (my next day off) I'll be tearing the thing down (leaving everything in it in a bucket of water from the tank with the filter going so I won't lose bacteria that may have started) and replacing the substrate partially with inert black sand, with the aquasolum black humate as a thin cap and seeing if that helps.  I figure it's easier to add more as I go if I need to lower the ph than it is to control a really thick layer (my substrate is around 2-2.5 inches due to where the metal band on the stand sits).

I also discovered that the place I'm getting my RO water from must not change their membranes often enough because the GH and KH before remineralization are only half of what tap is in my area.  I'm going to change my sources on that for my next jug, gotta say.

I also had to turn down the heater and let it get no higher than 78 (so actually pointed at around 74) because the fluctuations were getting to 82 and my moss started to turn brown.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Things are FINALLY starting to move.  I ended up not doing a tear down and deciding to just wait it out.

In 24 hours, I am going from 1.0 Ammonia down to .25 Ammonia.  I think I have some soil leach going on because no matter what, I never get below .25.  I figure it's just a matter of waiting it out.  I never did have a nitrite spike that made any sense, but my nitrates are going up every day.  

 

I got a wide range API pondcare PH test kit so I can see that my PH is staying pretty stable at 6.0.  It's occasionally dipping just barely below, but it seems pretty stable.  In the new year I'll be getting a PH probe thing, probably the pinpoint, so I should be able to see what it actually is.  I won't be putting any shrimps in there until I get that because I also have to wait out this ammonia leach.

My moss and Amazon sword are both flourishing and I have lots of copepods doing their copepody thing in there.  They just showed up one day!  It looks really great in spite of a little bit of algae that likes to dust the glass and obsidian.  I'm doing 50% water changes every few days presently but I'm not overly worried about the algae.  It actually looks kind of nice.

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