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Hi Fin Sharks, Plants & Nitrate, Ammonium, Ammonia

This thread about plants using ammonium interests me because my own
experience seems to contradict most of what I've read on the subject.  I've
set up a number of planted tanks, without established bio-filters, that
never cycled. This includes some where I eventually established fairly
heavy fish loads, and even one instance following a move when I kept fish
and uprooted plants in a plastic trash can for a couple of months with only
a heater, power head and strip light.  Since these tanks (& trash can)
never showed more than a trace of ammonia on test kits, and never any
nitrite at all, and had PH levels as low as 6.5 and as high as 8.6, it
seems to me that water plants readily use ammonium, or ammonia, or nitrate.
(Perhaps aided by bacteria on the leaves?)

Regarding the correlation between water cloudiness and PH level, I too find
that I get better clarity if I keep the PH above 7.0.   I've always assumed
that this is because above 7.0 the plants produce fewer tiny oxygen bubbles.

I recently added a couple of Hi-Fin Banded Sharks to my 40 gallon tank, and
I'm noticing that they seem to lose their color when I use CO2 to lower the
PH into the high 6's, even though it doesn't seem to effect any of my other
fish (and never has in the past).  Has anyone found these fish to be
particularly sensitive to higher CO2 levels or low PH levels?

Ken Cova