Pretty plant pictures and parameters!

The tank is cruising right along!

Before I jump in to pictures and parameters, here’s the nitrogen cycle in a nutshell:

Aquatic critters make ammonia through respiration, urination, and excretion. Ammonia is toxic. So if you don’t want to change 100% of the water in your tank on a regular basis to ensure your fish have clean, safe water, you need something to get rid of the ammonia. That’s where bacteria comes in! You need a colony of a certain type of bacteria to grow that will eat the ammonia. The catch? They just turn it into something else that’s even more toxic: nitrite.

The good news is that there’s yet another kind of bacteria that have an appetite for nitrite. When they eat it, they turn it into something far less dangerous than nitrite or ammonia: nitrate. While you still don’t want a bunch of this in your tank, it’s perfectly fine in small amounts – and actually, plants will use it to grow and keep the levels of it low in the tank, so plants are a win-win!

Speaking of plants, I got some more planted today! Nothing soothes rattled emotions after a car wreck like aquatic gardening. So behold my aquatic garden!
Crypts! All the crypts! They look a little sad right now after spending a couple days crammed in a dark box, but after a week or two of light, nutrients, and space, I’m sure they’ll perk up. 

Sword babies! The three on the left I actually propagated from swords already in the tank; eventually they’ll get big and need to be moved to the back. The one on the right with the little buds is new; it’s a Pygmy chain sword that will stay about that size but shoot out a runner along the substrate (which you can see pictures) to grow more Pygmy swords.  

Rotala rotundifolia! I also call this one Hampton’s Plant. He picked it out for my tank when we lived in California, and I ended up really liking it. I’m hoping it’ll grow as tall as the tank.  

Water parameters! Ammonia 0.25 ppm, Nitrite 5 ppm, Nitrate 5-10 ppm, and pH 7.2. It’s normal for pH to drop during the nitrogen cycle. I keep a cuttlebone in the tank and crushed coral in one canister filter to help buffer it. 
And lastly, FTS!

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