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PhytaGen is the product line designed by alxyon for the planted aquarium. The purpose of this page is to provide an instrument/protocol that can guide step by step the hobbyst in setting up and maintaining a planted aquarium in a reliable but at the same time simple way thanks to the use of PhytaGen products.

Startup (starting from an empty tank)

The initial setting (Startup) of a tank is certainly a critical period, from which the correct execution and success depends a lot on the future life of the aquarium.
So let's see what are the basic steps to follow to make this period as simple and repeatable as possible

1) Substrate positioning
This should have the following characteristics:

• Be made of very loose material and not compact, with a particle size of about 2-3 mm in order to allow a slow recirculation of water inside (thanks to the radical flow of the plants) and avoid stagnation of nutrients and areas anoxic.

• Do not influence the chemistry of water, unbalancing its ionic content and the main chemical-physical parameters of water. In particular, substrates that release H + ions should not be used, consequently reducing alkalinity and pH or that selectively adsorb Cations (for example those introduced with mineral integration) or organic substances (for example, chelated microelements introduced)

• Present a good surface roughness in order to offer an excellent attack surface for the root hairs of the plants and for the colonies of nitrogen and heterotrophic bacteria

• Having the correct density That is not to be too heavy or too light (to facilitate the operations of planting that will take place) • Have the correct thickness. In general we recommend a thickness of at least 5 centimeters, in order to make planting operations easier.

2) Filling the aquarium
Add deionized water (for example reverse osmosis) until the tank is filled up to the desired volume

3) Start-up of technical devices
Start the filter pumps, the heaters and the CO2 dosage (if present) and recirculate the water until it is completely clear.
Make sure the filter is loaded with a good amount of mechanical material in order to remove the particulate that may be present in the water at this stage.

In this phase it is very useful (where possible) to use part of the filter material (both mechanical, particularly biological) from an already well-established aquarium, so as to bring an initial share of heterotrophic bacteria and the nitrogen cycle (nitrosating and nitrifying) useful for the rapid biological stabilization of the aquarium. This step should last until there is no longer any suspended particulate.

It may be useful / necessary to wash the mechanical filter after this step if necessary.

4) Water remineralization
Add the recommended amount of PhytaGen S1 Planta and wait until total dissolving and full clarity. It is possible to add the salts directly into the tank in a well-recirculated area or you can pour them into the filter.

This passage, starting from an empty aquarium and totally new water, should last from a couple of hours to about half a day, depending on the amount of CO2 dissolved in water.

5) Stabilization of physico-chemical parameters
Stabilize the pH at the suggested level of 6.7-6.9 (ideal range for planted aquariums) by modulating the CO2 intake accordingly. Or, if there is no external CO2 source ... wait until the pH stabilizes. This step usually takes about half a day..

6) Introduction of micro and macro elements
Add about half of the suggested maximum amounts of PhytaGen M1 (or M2), N1 and P1 for the introduction of trace elements, nitrogen (including an ammonia portion useful for nitrogen cycle bacteria) and phosphorus, respectively.tabilize the pH at the suggested level of 6.7-6.9

7) Plant introduction.
In this phase it is strongly advisable to introduce as many plants as possible, preferably fast-growing species, in order to contribute to the balancing of the newborn ecosystem.
At this stage, the introduction (where possible) of plants from a well-established and already growing aquarium, greatly helps the biochemical stability of the aquarium and makes its startup simpler, faster and more reliable.

Maturation and monitoring of the parameters
Wait until the nitrogen cycle is well established (monitor ammonium and nitrite-nitrate levels).
This step should take about 2 weeks if all the previous steps have been performed correctly.
It is however necessary in this phase to support the growth of the plants through the correct weekly maintenance procedures (see below), proceeding to doses halved with respect to the maximums advisable

9) Introduction of the animals
When no more traces of Ammonium are found, fish can be added.

Maintenance (after the first startup phase)

The maintenance of the aquarium, following the PhytaGen protocol, must be carried out on a weekly basis; despite this, depending on the consumption of the tank, it may be necessary a closer integration of Nitrogen and Phosphorus (it is advisable not to exceed the values ​​of 15 mg/l of Nitrates and 1,5 mg/l of Phosphates).
The maintenance is programmed as follows:

• Make weekly water changes of about 20-25% of the total volume of the aquarium, using deionized water (using demineralising resins or reverse osmosis)

• Re-mineralize the changed water with the recommended amounts of PhytaGen S1 Planta This passage is best performed in an external container, in which the required amount of salts is poured into the water to be changed and stirred (manually or with a pump) until it is dissolved or at least a good suspension was achieved.
Then it can be added to the aquarium in an area with a good water recirculation

• Wait until the pH is perfectly clear and stabilized.
In this phase it is strongly advisable to monitor not only the water clarity, but also the pH and check that it does not move for more than a few decimal units.
Once the water is clear and the pH is in the correct range (6.7-6.9), the tank is ready for next step

• Measure iron, nitrates, phosphates, Alkalinity, GH and Conductivity

• Add PhytaGen M1, N1 and P1 as required to bring their level to the recommended values ​​(see details in the relevant product descriptions).
In general it is not needed re-dose the microelements during the rest of the week.
Depending on the consumption of the tank, it may be necessary to reintegrate the macroelements (Nitrogen and Phosphorus).

With this regards it is important to monitor the trend of these parameters by means of colorimetric tests and intervene where necessary to maintain the Nitrogen and Phosphorus target values.

• In conjunction with water changes, it is necessary to check the general state of health of the tank, carrying out the necessary pruning and re-planting operations, as well as removing the residues of organic matter that may have accumulated in the tank (for example: siphoning the bottom).
It is also good to check that no excessive amounts of organic matter accumulate in the filter and, if necessary, rinse and clean the mechanical filter material (sponges, wool). The biological filter material and the filter container should always be free from accumulations of organic substance.

2) Every two months
In addition to what has been detailed above, every two months, in conjunction with a water change, it is recommended, after the introduction of new water and before the reintegration / dosage of micro-nutrients, to filter through activated carbon. (dose: about 150 grams per 100 liters of water) for 2 days.
This is necessary in order to eliminate any dissolved organic substances that may have accumulated in water.

3) Every 4 months
We proceed as detailed above for the maintenance done every two months, but we make a major water change (about 60% of the aquarium content).
This is done in order to remove the inorganic elements that inevitably accumulate and which can not be removed by the use of activated carbon (which removes the organic components but not the inorganic ones).

These build-up can be easily monitored through the measurement of conductivity. Ideally, during the maintenance of the fourth month, we should bring back the conductivity of the tank to its initial value.