Backing of the light, result - epiphany.
My planted tank has been a challenge from the get go, and an expensive one at that, to say the least.
As of this moment, I am running what would be called a 'high tech' tank, 8T5HO bulbs across 2x4foot fixtures. I usually run 3 bulbs per fixture, 4 10's and 2 6500's.
The tank comes in at 6ft long, about 2" high - 95 gallon.
Tank looks great for about a month after another 'attempt', before things get sad.
I have battled algae - by controlling my co2 and methods of diffusion, increasing flow, checking my nitrates, monitoring my PH, adjusting my KH, adding and removing light, and reading Tom Barr.
Originally, I was motivated by what I saw in the Amano magazines etc - countless hours of youtube research, getting to know 5 LFS owners well enough to do me great deals.
I am still battling algae, and what has always been a less than stellar tank.
Never has this tank had the 'wow' factor.
I came close to abandoning the idea of a planted tank, and moving toward a saltwater conversion, silently frustrated that the high tech tank had eluded me.
A mate of mine told me it looked too bright, and by pure chance, turned all bulbs off, spare of 1 per fixture. A total of 2x 6500's over the tank.
Perhaps the WPG rule is no longer applicable given intensity of the light provided, although I believe this puts me at 0.8wpg, rather than the 3.2 I was running previously.
I now have a pink-hued, dull swamp in my lounge room, fantastic.
Two weeks later and my algae problem has improved dramatically, the thick black fur spanning my hairgrass carpet has what looks to have disintegrated, and fallen to the substrate.
There is more green than black through the carpet, the roots look better as seen through the glass, the tank feels happier.
My co2 is still cranked as high as responsibly possible, and I am letting my fortified year old substrate handle the ferts, and have not added anything to the water column in 2 weeks.
My PH still reads around high 6, whereas I had expected it to by burning with all the co2 i have pumped into the tank. I am still questioning diffusion from my dupla reactor 400, or perhaps something is buffering my water?
Drop Check reads lemon yellow, the fluid may need a change, although it is strange I have contradictory readings here compared to the PH.
I have no measurable nitrates, could be the test kit I know, but with a bag of purigen in the filter, I am leaning toward a zero reading.
Obviously I will need to increase the light at some stage, but for some reason, under such low light, my tank seems to be coming back to life.
Have I haphazardly created a 'balance'?
Below I have a picture of the tank while things are happy, I am sure you can use your imagination for the opposite. Needless to say, 80% of background plant mass has been removed.
Perhaps I should have left my ego at the door and started High Tech - Low light from the very beginning.