Diana wrote:So the soil you are using is one that does not remove the carbonates. This is very important to know.
And for those who are keeping score, I am using ADA AquaSoil Amazonia in this layout.
Diana wrote:The soil is still producing ammonia, so the tank is not ready for fish. It does look like there is a colony of bacteria getting well started.
I assumed as much. Wasn't planning on fish yet, but I have put a few Malaysian Trumpet Snails in there and they have been doing just fine for the past week or so.
Diana wrote:Many aquarium plants do not mind some ammonia, but others will not like it. You can go ahead and plant, but if the plants start melting from the ammonia you will have to step up the water changes to keep the ammonia down to about 1 ppm. I would not risk plants at this point, but would continue water changes to keep the ammonia under 3 ppm until the soil has quit producing ammonia. 3ppm ammonia will continue growing the bacteria, so when the soil finishes its cycle the biofilter will be ready for a full load of fish.
I decided to do a large 98% water change late last night (couldn't get that last 2% without sucking up a bunch of sand). Tested the water just now and found that the ammonia level is at 0.1 ppm, which is interesting considering that the soil is probably still producing ammonia and our municipal water supply still registers at 0.25 ppm. That tells me the beneficial bacteria is reporting for duty. Nitrites are at 0.0 ppm. And even after the massive water change the nitrates are registering at 5.0 ppm.
Go, bacteria, go! Go, bacteria, go!
I'm going to keep monitoring the water carefully for the rest of the week. If all is well I'll start planting next week. I have about half of the plants for this scape floating in my 10 gallon holding tank (along with a few of the fish that are destined for this project). I'll be ordering the rest of the plants online.