write up for a dirty old tank and how to make it a success

foxfarm ocean soil. you can get it at most hydroponic or gardening supply stores.

look for NPK or nitrogen phosphorus potassium, the less of those in the water the better. plants need a good substrate but the enhanced stuff can sometimes be a little too strong. look for numbers near 1.0 or under percentage. you should see some numbers in their due to the organic richness of the soil. 

one thing you can do to boost plant growth is get some clay (non toxic red molding/potteryclay) and toss some dime size bits in the soil before capping it with sand / gravel.

dont feel you need to rush with tanks, a good tank takes lots of time and practice, even amano (plant god) killed alot of fish and plants before he became famous. alot of the tanks you see in the showrooms or contests have had alot of attention and time given to their success.

id start out with some easy going plants that dont require much to survive, amazon swords, anubias java fern, saggiteria. they do well in your tanks and dont require much to thrive.

keep in mind after you plant these plants it will make a mess when you try to move them so def consider spacing and growth and what their light needs are, (anubias low light) (sword-low/med light) so putting an anubia under a sword gives you the advantage of shielding intense lighting off the plant. just take your time look at what plants you want and their comparability to your tank parameters.

ok now before you go into fish there is something to consider. when your start a tank for the first time I would wait 2-3 weeks of it running with no fish so the water can cycle. in this course of time the water will spike in ammonia and NITRITE levels. so getting a master test kit will save you alot of guess work. if not you can always have your LFS(local fish store) test your water for you. make sure if they use strip tests that the strips are not over a year old because as inaccurate as those strips are, they are even more so if they are old. 

when you notice the spike then slowly level off and your water is back to normal you can begin to introduce fish 1-2 at a time. the spike is from beneficial bacteria's building up in your system. they eat waste (ammonia/nitrite) and convert into nitrate which in small doses is harmless.

one way to speed up the process as at the start of your tank drop in a good pinch of fish food to rot and feed your bacteria or use water from an already established tank or even better run a filter from a set up healthy tank on your new tank. this will colonize your tank with beneficial bac's

ok now back to fish. adding them slowly lets your tank handle their waste and slowly grow, as you slowly add more fish the bacs will multiply and grow to meet the needs of the tank, if you add too many fish at once then your tank will crash because there wont be anything to handle the waste.

when it comes to fish look at what kind of fish are attractive to you and what conditions they live in aka their "biotope" some fish like african cichlids will prefer no plants in very hard water vs angels like soft water and love plants. they too are a chiclid. most common is tetras, they are hardy and come in a variation of colors. neons are common but more often than not kind sickly from constant inbreeding bloodlines, dont be afraid to try an uncommon fish like rasbora or minnow. find what fish you like and see how they do with plants and other fish.

Lighting- 5000-6500k for plants you want to pick up a timer from homedept or where ever is closer to you, trust me it makes all the difference i get packs of two analog timers for 5bucks and its not a head ach to constantly turn lights on/off. i set mine anywhere from 6hrs to 8 

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