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Old 07-28-2015, 07:58 PM   #1 
MadtownD
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will fishless cycling kill MTS?

I've just started fishless cycling a tank. I can never read the API test well, but I think the ammonia is between 2 and 4ppm, which is what was recommended. Will that kill my Malaysian trumpet snails??

I really appreciate their services in my soil-based planted tank, so I'd hate to kill them... It's been running about three weeks, but the plants look pretty bad and levels have been measuring 0/0/0 since startup, so I thought I'd jump start the cycle. I only have MTS in the tank.

Thanks for any help!

Last edited by MadtownD; 07-28-2015 at 08:01 PM.
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Old 07-28-2015, 08:50 PM   #2 
Aqua Aurora
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Trumpet snails, ramshorn snails, and pond and bladder snails are indestructible in regards to water quality. They can handle high ammonia, nitrite, and/or nitrate levels. I cannot speak for nerites, mystery, apple, and 'fancier' snails though.
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Old 07-28-2015, 09:14 PM   #3 
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Phew, thanks! I've just got trumpet snails in there, nothing fancier.

Appreciate the quick response. Was worried :) This NPT is not going well so far, hopefully getting some N in there will turn the plants around from their insistence on dying. Then I looked at that green test vial and thought...oh, no, the snails!
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Old 07-29-2015, 11:54 AM   #4 
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Anything organic will establish the nitrogen cycle-the MTS and plants are both organic as well as the soil-You don't need to add the ammonia.

The beneficial bacteria are self limited and as long as you provide/met their needs they will colonize-that being-oxygen (either filtration or live plants) surface area (everything in your tank) and a food source-live plants, soil and livestock.

If your plants are not thriving-it is usually due to wrong lights, incorrect planting, non-aquatic plants or plants changing from above water to underwater growth (emersered-vs-submersed)

What species of plants, how many and how planted, type of lights, kelvin, watts, age of bulb, PP and distance from the water-also, any partition used between the lights and water.

What type of soil used, cap and how deep of each-can you post a pic
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Old 07-29-2015, 01:25 PM   #5 
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If they plan to add say a school and shoal of fish (12+) they will need to add ammonia, mts won't make enough of a cycle to magically handle new fish bioloads, and sol leeches ammonia but not forever, it gradually slows and stops leeching. When the soil slows and stops leeching ammonia the beneficial bacteria colonies that grew from that ammonia source would starve and die off, I've noticed the nitrospira bacteria (consumes nitrite and makes nitrate) is prone to die off quicker from lack of food and is the slower colony to grow. If not fed a new ammonia source (pure ammonia) it would undo what was done. It is best to do a API liquid ammonia test often to make sure not to overdose ammonia though, and adjust amount put in as soil slows/stops leeching.
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Old 07-29-2015, 02:27 PM   #6 
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I really appreciate the detailed replies. I think you're at the 'advanced' level, and I'm just at my 'first planted tank' level. Aqua- your input has been really helpful on all my posts getting through this startup !! I'm three weeks into this and a bit lost.

Please see specifics below, and I'll attach some pics. Input is appreciated.

Goal: Easy, low maintenance NPT, not frequent trimming needed. Jungle-ish with open space in the middle. Low tech, no ferts, no CO2.

This soil has never leached ammonia that I have measured. Levels have always been 0/0/0, e.g. at days 2, 6. 8 and 11. Even with a week no water changes when tank less than two weeks old, even with dirt seemingly everywhere from my messed up job filling it up, even with decaying plant matter around.

The plant existing growth dies off as I'd expect, but the new growth tries and then dies. Leaves whiten and/or turn black at the edges and die. The only plant not struggling, and actually doing OK, is jungle val. And so far the MTS are happy and multiplying.

I also have noticed what I think are detritus worms on the glass and swimming in the water during the 4h lights off period mid-afternoon.

Yesterday I pulled on a pennywort that I had stuck in the soil at tank startup to root, but had developed a whitening leaf, and the entire leaf and stem dissolved in my hand. It was like rotted.

I poke the soil daily now, and bubbles are released throughout the tank, but I suspect they're CO2 rather than anaerobic conditions as no rotten egg smell.

I've also been adding pinches of finely ground fish food for nutrients/fertilizer/N/start cycle. I suspect that's brought me the MTS population explosion (Which I don't mind) and the detritus worms.

Specifics: Tank is three weeks old tomorrow. Added pure ammonia to 2-4ppm yesterday- thinking (a) a N source for the plants if that's the problem, and (b) cycling for stocking and (c) testing if maybe the 0/0/0 is because it IS cycled, and just needs more N.

Equip:20 gallon long with glass lid (& condensation); new Finnex stingray light (4h on, 4 h break, 4h on); Hydro III sponge filter (rated <40 gallons) run by Aquaclear powerhead 20 at lowest setting (hoping to have betta eventually) with oxygen input dialed to minimum (to minimize bubbles/keep CO2 int the tank); Aqueon Pro 100W heater

Substrate: MGOPM soil w sticks/clumps removed ~ 1" (I aimed for 1" depth; it is be more or less in some places as everything went wrong with the soil/cap/tank filling process), Black Diamond medium grade 20/40 sand ~ 1/2" depth (again, that was my goal, but it's more and less in some places)

Water: Hard, pH 8+

Livestock: Added nine Malaysian trumpet snails on day 2. No fish yet.

Plants: All newly purchased, so small. My plan is “try a variety of different stuff and see what lives, most probably won’t." I realize, for example, the Starogyne repens is a long shot.

Ludwigia repens; Nymphaes stellata (red lily); Jungle val; Echinodorus tenellus (small chain sword) x 3; Monoselenium tenerum (occ called pellia); Lysimachia nummularia aka Golden lloydiella (Gold Creeping Jenny); Staurogyne repens, Hydrocotyle leucocephala (pennywort)

Currently being shipped to me are: E. parviflorus tropica, Hygrophila corymbosa stricta, E. Indian Red Sword.

I tried java fern and the leaves just got black dots immediately (on the tops) and I gave it away.

Last edited by MadtownD; 07-29-2015 at 02:44 PM.
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Old 07-29-2015, 02:32 PM   #7 
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In general, I think I need to give it some time.

Pic of lily as an example. The leaf circled grew, turned all black, then died off. The other leaf started off red, then whitened.

Full tank shot a week ago to give you an idea of what is/was there and where. Most of the E. tenellus leaves have died off.

Pic of pennywort whitening.

Jungle val is doing great. Perhaps I should just cycle it and enjoy a jungle val tank :)

Three sword plants are on the way to increase the planting density.
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Old Yesterday, 10:58 AM   #8 
Aqua Aurora
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I would not say I'm advance, maybe intermediate, I still ask for help at times on a freshwater plantedtank specific forum. You're lighting is good and your soil will feed plants once they've rooted. I really can't think of what is causing NEW growth to die back. I've done narrow leaf pygmy chain sword in soil based tank, dwarf lily, creeping jenny (gold and regular), and pennywort in inert with liquid ferts,. I had some s. respen but it got smothers out by hygro sp. tiger... btw when you have hygro plants keep an eye on the leaves, if they start developing fin holes its a potassium deficiency (happens on older leaves).. hygros are huge potassium hogs. Lilies are also potassium hogs but get large holes in leaves when deficient (happened in new and old leaves for me).
BTW the java fern black spot: completely normal (though unappealing) when it gets in a new environment (your tank or possibly the store) its leaves will start growing plantlets (baby java ferns) and the leaf they grow on breaks down at the plantlet grows. Eventually the plantlet pops off/leaf completely breaks down and the new plant is adapted to the new waters. The original rhizome will still put out new leaves as well as long as its not buried or tied too tightly to something (think of it like your arm-don't cut off the 'blood flow'). Oddly enough it only seems the normal java fern does this. Needle leaf, narrow leaf, Philippine, and threadfin java fern do not. I've not tried willow or trident ferns yet. My large batch of java fern in the 7g has all its old leaves breaking down but they're covered in new plants. I'm waiting for the plantlets to mature enough to not need the mother plant and pop off before anchoring them, removing them early makes them grow soooooooo slooooooow.
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