Monday, April 20, 2009

My Tank is Finally Planted!

Ok so my tank has been planted since Friday, and I am expecting more plants to arrive that I got from one of the members on my forum for a very good deal that I just couldn’t just let go. I also set up my DIY CO2 on Saturday, which so far is working well, by my calculations I am getting 3bps. Also myy drop checker showing good levels of CO2. I noticed some growth on some plants already and I can not wait until everything fills in. I’m planning to add some fish this weekend as long as my levels are good.

So now I will move to showing some pictures.

The full view of the tank right after it's been planted.

The close up of the right side

The close up of the left side

The left side view

The right side view

Close up of my Ludwigia
View from the top

The CO2 reactor, It will be moved after I get my new heater. Which I thought I will get today.

Some more pictures of plants.
I really starting to like this plant it's so pretty. And I think it's pearling this is so exciting. I hope it is pearling........

My Water Spryte. You can't tell by this picture but it got couple of new growths.

Glossostygma. The picture is not very clear but I think it's pearling too....

More Ludwigia.

Right side view
Another full view of the tank. Again don't mind the monster heater, still waiting for my new heater to arrive.

Stay tunned for more pictures. :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tank is set up and ready to be planted!

So finally my tank is set up and ready to be planted. Plants are ordered and should be here on Friday, still waiting for my CO2 parts; hopefully they will show shortly after plant. Here are some pictures of my newly set up tank.

Day 1 - 04/11/09
Picture taken right after I filled the tank with water. A little cloudy but that is expected. Don't mind the monster heater in the front, I borrowed it from my 55 gallon tank for now untill I get a different one.

Day 2 - 04/12/09
The water is clearer on day two, but I realize that I did not like the driftwood so the first thing I did the next day was a trip to the store to find a better driftwood for my tank, and maybe a cool rock.

Day 4 - 04/14/09
The water is clear and as you can see there is a new piece of driftwood in the tank. Its Malaysian driftwood and I did boil it for couple of hours just to clean it and hopefully after all this boiling it won’t satin my water too much. I also did find a nice rock to go into the tank but no picture of it yet.

So for the substrate I have mineralized soil topped with black color quarts T grade. I will be adding a little more color quarts to create a slope in the back so it gives a little depth.
I also did a water test yesterday.

H2O test on 04/15/09
pH 7.5
High range pH 8.0
Ammonia 0.25
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0
KH 5-6ppm
GH 11-12ppm

Not to bad, tank seems to be cycling well since ammonia is almost 0.But I’m still kind of confused on the KH/GH part, and I’m not sure which pH I should go by?! I’ll figure it out later.
So that it for now. Once my plants arrive I will take more pictures and post what my tank looks like with plants in it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

SAY NO TO BILL H.R. 669 !!!!!!

What is HR 669?
H.R. 669 stands for House Resolution 669 and is titled "The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act". It is a bill currently before Congress that if passed will change the way that the US Government classifies animal species that are not native to the United States. H.R. 669 will make it illegal to breed and sell many animals that are very common in the pet trade.
To view full text of H.R. 669 click on the link

Why should you care about HR 669?
Anyone with pet fish, birds, reptiles, or small mammals will be affected by this bill. Any company selling product or services for pet fish, birds, reptiles or small mammals will be affected by this bill. Would you be impacted by "The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act"?
Virtually all fish in an aquarium are not native to the United States
Most pet birds are species not native to the US
Most reptiles kept as pets are not native to the US
Hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and ferrets are not native to the US

What can you do to stop HR 669?
Pet owners support the concept of a risk based approach to non-native imports, unfortunately H.R. 669 as drafted does not provide a constructive way forward.You can help by standing up and making your voice heard. Let your Representative know that you oppose H.R. 669 as drafted and the financial and/or emotional effect it will have on you, or your friends, or your family members if it passes. The link below will allow you to send an email to your Representative in Congress and even give you the option to follow up with a phone call.

What else can you do to help?
The best thing that each of us can to do help is to recruit! There is strength in numbers. Send a link to this site to friends, family, church groups, car clubs, and anyone else that might be willing to take a couple of minutes out of their day to send an email via or contact your state congressman by email or phone our voice does count.
Visit for more info and tips on what can you do to stop bill H.R. 669
Support PIJAC.

PIJAC is the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. They are a unified voice for the pet industry representing all of our rights in Washington. There is strength in numbers, so joining PIJAC here it will definitely help. Or you can just visit the link for updates here

I want to keep my fish and continue with my hobby and I hope that you do too, so please take 5 minutes out of your time and do something about it. Doing nothing accomplishes nothing. Make your voice to be heard, stand up for your rights and rights of responsible pet owners. This bill won’t accomplish anything it has too many holes, people need to be educated instead. And government doesn’t need to spend all this money on something this stupid there is other ways to regulate non native species.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Almost ready to start setting up my tank

So it’s been couple of weeks and I got everything I need for my tank, some stuff is already here and some should arrive very shortly. And after everything is here I can finally order my plants and get started as soon as they arrive and for plants it doesn’t take long at all. So I hope by next weekend I will finally start my tank. So far I got my lights my mineralized soil, my color quartz sand which is black. I like the look of black, the colors of plants and fish will stand out very nice against it. As soon as I get my CO2 components I will make my own CO2 reactor which is very easy to make and I will post a detailed step by step directions on how to make one.
For now I will post some links to some reading about CO2, some more on water chemistry and some links which could be useful for anyone who is interested in this wonderful hobby.

Mineralized soil


Water chemistry

There is a big planted tank community with lots of people who are willing to help a newbie I will list some that helped me out a lot. You can browse articles and useful info on fish and plants or just post a question on the forum.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Water quality … pH, GH, KH Oh my!

I want to touch up a little on the water quality. And what I learned after reading and reading on this subject. If there is some mistakes I hope that someone can correct me.
Water is more that just simple combination of hydrogen and oxygen. Water can be describe as hard or soft, and alkaline or acidic, and it acts as a carrier for a wealth of nutrients, toxins, bacteria (both beneficial and harmful), as well as pollutants. Providing good water quality means ensuring that all these factors are at the correct levels so that the water in the aquarium is not only safe for plants and fish but also actively encourages their health and growth. In nature water is rarely pure in the “distilled water” sense; it contains dissolved salts, buffers, nutrients, etc. with exact concentrations dependant on local conditions. Plants and fish have evolved over million of years to the specific water conditions in their natural habitat and may be unable to survive in significantly different environment. As a beginner I think it’s a good idea to select plants and fish whose needs match the qualities of your tap water. An advanced aquarist can change water characteristics there is many ways to do it but its way more complicated than first appears and could potentially cause more problems. In any case I think it’s important to be familiar with water chemistry to ensure that plant and fish in your tank are healthy and happy and have the best suitable environment.
Water has 4 measurable properties that are commonly used to characterize water chemistry. They are PH, buffering capacity (KH, Alkalinity) general hardness (GH) and salinity. In addition there are several nutrients and trace elements, but I won’t be discussing those. The only things I will talk about are pH, GH and KH.


pH refers to water being an acid, base, neutral or alkaline. A pH of the water is a measure of the balance between the hydrogen (H+) and hydroxide (OH) ions in the water. I think most know that low pH means that water is acidic, high pH is alkaline (or basic). So pH of 5 is slightly acidic water, pH 7 is neutral and pH of 8 is alkaline water. There is one very important point and if you mathematician you will see it. The pH scale is a logarithmic scale. In other words a pH of 6.0 is 10 times more acidic than pH of 7.0 and a pH of 5.0 is 100 more acidic than pH of 7.0. When keeping fish is very important to understand that slight and sudden change in pH is very stressful to fish than it might first appear. Remember that it’s not a difference of 1 when you go from 6.0 to 7.0 it is 10 times more, if the difference is 2 it’s 100 times more, 3 a 1000 times more and so on.
In fish keeping hobby pH is very important because rapid changes in pH are very stressful to fish and should be avoided. Changing ph by more than .3 units per day is known to stress fish. And that’s why you want to have the pH in your tank to remain constant and stable. Fish have adapted to thrive in a certain pH range in their natural habitats so you want to make sure that your tanks pH matches the specific requirements of the fish you are keeping.
Most fish can adjust to a pH somewhat outside their optimal range. If your water’s pH is naturally 6.5-7.5 you will be able to keep most fish species without problems and there is no need to adjusts your pH.

Ways to lower pH
Filtering water over peat
Add bogwood to the tank
Injects carbon dioxide CO2
Use a commercial acid buffer
Water changes with soft water or RO (reverse osmosis) water

Ways to raise pH
Aerate the water, driving off the carbon dioxide (CO2)
Filter over coral or limestone
Add rocks containing limestone to the tank or use coral sand substrate
Use commercial alkaline buffers

Here is a pH scale

Carbonate Hardness (KH, alkalinity) or Buffering capasity

This is were lot’s of people get confused and me too, so I hope writing about it will make it a little less confusing for me and hopefully will be helpful to anyone who reads my blog. Sometimes the term alkaline is avoided and the term basic is used for the pH scale is because this reading is measuring the alkalinity of the water. IT IS NOT THE SAME AS ALKILINE. In fresh water aquariums most of the water’s buffering capacity is due to carbonates and bicarbonates. That’s why the terms “carbonate hardness” (KH), alkalinity and Buffering capacity are used interchangeably. They are technically not the same things; they are equivalent in practice in the context of fish keeping. Again I will remind that “alkalinity” should not be confused with the term “alkaline”. Alkalinity refers to buffering, while alkaline refers to a solution that is base i.e. pH higher than 7.0. So alkalinity is a measurement of waters buffering ability, the ability to absorb and neutralize acid. The pH and buffering capacity are intertwined with one another. If the water has a sufficient buffering capacity, the buffering capacity can absorb and neutralize added acid without significantly changing the pH, so the more alkalinity or carbonate hardness in the water the less likely swings in pH. A buffer acts like a sponge, as more acid added the “sponge” absorbs the acid without changing pH. But the buffering capacity is limited, once the capacity is used up the pH changes more rapidly as acids are added. The nitrogen cycle produces nitric acid (nitrate). Without the buffering the tanks pH will drop over time (a bad thing). With sufficient buffering capacity the tanks pH stays stable (a good thing). Hard tap water almost always has a large buffering capacity. If the pH of the water is too high for your fish the buffering capacity makes it difficult to lower the pH to more appropriate value. That’s why when people try to lower pH without fully understanding the water chemistry usually fail because buffering effects are ignored. How much buffering does the tank need? There is aquarium buffering capacity test kits available that actually measure KH. The larger KH, the most resistant to pH changes the water in the tank will be. Tank’s KH should be high enough to prevent large pH swings in the tank over time. If KH is below roughly 4.5 dH, the regular test of the waters pH are required, roughly once a week to get a feel how stable the pH is. It’s especially important if regular partial water changes are not performed. The nitrogen cycle in the tank creates a tendency for an established tank’s pH to decrease over time. If pH drops more than 2 tenths of a point over a month, increasing KH should be considered, or performing partial water changes more frequently, which I think is easier to do as a routine. It is never a good idea to add or use distilled or any pure water for the tank. That means that adding even a little bit of acid will change pH significantly and will stress fish. The good thing is that KH does not affect fish directly.
Ways to increase KH
Adding sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), one teaspoon of baking soda to 50 litters (around 13.2 gallons) of water can raise KH of water by approximately 4 deg dH without major affect on pH.
Adding an air stone to increase surface turbulence driving off CO2
Adding commercially available products to increase buffering capacity

Ways to lower KH
Increasing co2
Use reverse osmosis (RO) water. Mixing RO water with tap water until desired KH is achieved
Adding commercially available products to decrease the buffering capacity
General hardness (GH)

General hardness or GH is a measurement of magnesium and calcium ions in the water. This is measured in the German degrees of hardness scale or parts per million. When fish are said to prefer soft or hard water it is GH and not KH that is being referred too. So the pH, KH and GH form a Bermuda triangle of water chemistry, they are all distinct and they all interact with each other to certain degrees, making it difficult to change one with out impacting the other. That is why it’s better not to tamper with water parameters unless absolutely necessary. Here is an example; hard water usually comes from limestone aquifers. Limestone contains calcium carbonate which when dissolved in water increases both GH (from calcium) and KH (from carbonate) components. Increasing KH usually increases pH as well. Theoretically the KH acts as a sponge absorbing acid present in the water, raising the water’s pH.

Water hardness follows the following guidelines. The unit dH means “degree hardness”, ppm means parts per million which is equivalent to mg/l in water. 1 unit dH equals 17.8 ppm CaCO3 (calcium carbonate). Most test kits give the hardness in units of CaCO3 it means that the hardness is equivalent to that much CaCO3 in water and does not mean it actually came from CaCO3.
Here is a table that shows comparison between ppm, the dH scale and the generalized concept of soft and hard water.
General Hardness Table
0 to 4dH 0 to 70ppm---> Very soft
4 to 8dH 70 to 140ppm---> Soft
8 to 12dH 140 to 210ppm---> Medium hard
12 to 18dH 210 to 320ppm---> Fairly Hard
18 to 30dH 320 to 530ppm---> Hard

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A little bit about plants and how they grow.

I think it’s important to understand how plants grow to be successful. So here is a little bit of what I learned. Aquatic plants grow in water and the surrounding water provides support for aquatic plants, most stems of aquatic plants are thinner and more flexible. Those flexible stems allow plants to move with the water flow and preventing them from breaking. Terrestrial plant leaves have a thick waxy outer layer and it prevent leaves from drying out, in aquatic plants leaves that part is thinner and water is able to pass thru much easily which help plants to get nutrients. Some aquatic plants do grow above the water surface and produce two different leave shapes below and above water. But like terrestrial plant aquatic plant leaves collect sunlight and carry out photosynthesis, stems provide support and transfer gases, water, and nutrients. Roots branch out to anchor the plant. Some aquatic plants grow in clumps or rosettes of leaves; some grow from bulbs which contain large reserve of nutrients. Terrestrial plant have roots that resemble fine hairs and its those are not present in most plants that grow under water, some of those hair like roots may develop in some bog plants when grown out of water. Large plants grow long roots for good anchorage and wide nutrient collecting area. Plants that grow in shallow water are smaller and have shorter, thinner roots. In nature the substrate where they grow is often shallow with little water movement so they do not need long roots for anchorage. Some plants are adapted to live above the substrate and will attach themselves to rock or wood. There is also floating plants that do not need anchorage and they have fine branched roots. Some plants like Anubias grow roots from rhizome, they can be grown attached to wood or rock or in substrate but do not burry the rhizome. Most of the aquatic plants produce seeds and flowers above the water so that they can be pollinated by insects. Some produce flowers under water and a few do not produce flowers at all.
Plants absorb important elements directly from their surrounding environment and that’s why plants were able to spread into many habitats. Plants have a little control over the rate of photosynthesis that occurs within its cells and several environmental aspects play an important role. Light is the most obvious component also temperature, CO2 (carbon dioxide) levels, all affect the rate of photosynthesis. Plants obtain their energy from sunlight, CO2 and water using the process of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis occurs during the day and unlike photosynthesis respiration is a continual process that doesn’t stop at night. Photosynthesis stores food (energy), respiration releases energy. In 24 hours plant release more oxygen through photosynthesis than they use during respiration. Many fast growing plants sold as oxygenating plant for that reason. Fish and bacteria also use up oxygen continually through respiration; actually bacteria are the biggest consumers of oxygen in aquarium.