Thanks for the nice comments, guys! I was going for the jungly look and am glad it turned into a somewhat ordered leafy chaos.
Looks beautiful! Did you change your fert dosing at all? What is it now if you don't mind me asking? I live in NYC too and will be setting up a 40 gallon soon. Do you have to add baking soda to the water to raise the kh?
I definitely changed the fert dosing over the months. I started with EI dosing and slowly modified for the needs of my tank. I used (and still do but much more infrequently) nitrate and phosphate testing kits to help me figure it out.
My baseline dosing schedule was based on 1/4 regular EI dosing (to account for excel) twice a week.
These are recommendations for a CO2 tank -----> ¼ dosing for an excel tank
Nitrates 10-30ppm ------------------------- 5ppm
Phosphates 1.0-2.0 ppm -------------------- 0.5ppm
Potassium 10-30 ppm ----------------------- 5ppm
Iron 0.5-1 ppm ----------------------------- 0.25ppm
Mg ---------------------------------------- 1ppm (for soft NYC water)
(you can also use dolomite to increase kh and gh long term, baking soda/Eq need to be redosed)
So, I started the tank with this dosing regimen. Then I built up my fish load, stopped ferts and measured N and P in the tank/tap water over 2 weeks. I found out that that my tank was providing more than plenty N and P so that I wouldn't have to dose them at all. I could just add K and micros to match their amounts in approximate correct ratios to create a balanced nutrient- non-limiting environment. AND I wouldn't have to change as much water since I wasn't overdosing.
N:P:K:Fe --- 10 : 1 : 10 : 0.5 or so
So my current dosing schedule is:
N – runs 10-15ppm from the fish load and food, don't dose
P – mostly runs 0.7ppm or so, water here has high phosphates, dose every 1-2 weeks depending on the look of plants.
K – dose 15ppm 2x/wk to match/slightly overdose N; a have a lot of hygrophila in the tank that loves K and develops characteristic small holes in leaves if K drops a bit low
Micros – dose to 0.25ppm Fe 2x/wk
Iron – dose another 0.25ppm/ 2x/wk (I have flourish iron which has gluconate as chelate and doesn't hang around long)
Seachem Equilibrium – dose to 1ppm Mg with a water change (and omit dosing K early next week since it has a lot of K in it). NYC water is very soft.
I change about 20-25% water once every 2-3wks.
I had issues with any algae twice in 6mo (bba and hair algae): both times when the water movement was poor. One of those times I also was dosing P since I didn't have the kit and didn't realize how much P tap water has here. Both times all algae disappeared when I corrected the problems.
This is a bit more involved and hands-on than EI. But I like being hands-on and really understand what I am doing and why. It's awesome fun
A few words of advice for a new tank set-up that I think are very important – they are often repeated by the long-timers in the hobby but are seemingly often ignored in setting up a new tank:
- lighting set-up largely determines the nutrient and CO2 needs of the plants – refer to the lighting sticky by Hoppy when setting up your tank. Go with low light for a non-CO2/non-excel tank, medium for an excel tank or CO2 tank and high for CO2 tank – and MEASURE the distance from the light to the substrate rather than relying on w/g. It totally breaks down for T5 bulbs. (I have 39W for a 33g tank about 18in from the substate, giving me medium light).
- plant densely from the beginning and use a lot of fast-growing plants. You can always replace them with others when your tank stabilizes (and algae doesn't take hold).
- ensure a good flow of water in the tank – Amano places his outflow about 1/3 from the front glass, with inflow nearby, ensuring good water movement throughout that prevents algae growth and nicely distributes nutrients (and CO2 if one uses it).
- watch the plants, keep a journal and you will figure out their needs. Some like more iron, others are just nutrient hogs and their neighbors might suffer. The plants will tell you. Keep learning.
Let me know if you have more questions and g