Alright, I finally got around to taking some pics and tracking my progress thus far and I thought I would share some pics here so that everyone can monitor my progress. Any comments/critiques appreciated!
Ok...the tank is up and running, plants are planted, and I have even included some pics over in the Tank Journals section. Now just a few more questions.
1. How long do I leave the lights on for during the first few days, weeks, etc.? I do not have any fish yet, so I am hoping the ammonia from the MGOCPM will be enough.
2. When should I begin fert dosing? (Ie. Excel)
3. When should I begin Co2 dosing?
Thanks for the help!
Leave the lights on for 6-8 hours and start adding CO2 now. Excel is not a fert, per se; it is a CO2 replacement. You don't need Excel if you are adding DIY or pressurized CO2.
For ferts, wait until you see deficiencies, then add only what your plants need. The basic ferts are potassium nitrate (KNO3), monopotassium phosphate (KH2PO4), iron (Fe), and CSM+B. Potassium sulphate (K2SO4) can also be used if potassium is the only nutrient your plants lack. Otherwise your plants will be able to get their potassium from the KNO3 or the KH2PO4.
While you're still in planting mode, go ahead and plant the stems of your bunches individually about 1/2" to 1" apart. This will allow the stems to get more light and water flow so the bottom leaves don't fall off.
Do you have any plans for your aquascape? Any inspiration or ideas?
That link has some fantastic layouts that I would consider my "inspiration". My current skills and knowledge will obviously not let me recreate something to that degree, but at least those tanks provide me a goal, and yes, inspiration.
How long ago did you buy it? Test kits can become inaccurate if they are too old. Try redoing the GH, pH, and KH tests with water straight from your aquarium, straight from the tap, from the aquarium after letting the sample sit out for 12 hours, and from the tap after setting it out for 12 hours.
Yeah, that was my other thought was perhaps the kit was a bit old. The kit is prolly a little more than a year old. The other tests seemingly came out "ok", but I think for safety's sake I should purchase a fresh kit to ensure accurate readings. Will update the new numbers after I get the new kit.
The testing kit that I was using for the GH tests was bad, so I went out and got a new one...hence a more normal reading this time around.
I have attempted to make a DIY CO2 system, with little success. I need to find a better diffuser than the current glass diffuser I am using, and I am looking at a pressurized (either paintball or regular tank) system, but want to keep the costs for either below $100. Anyone know of any such systems that are worth it?
Also, pH might be a tad high for some plants, would like to get it down around 7.0...any suggestions on how to do this? My concern is with water changes and that my tap water has a pH of 7.8, on a 55g tank, I don't know of an efficient way to keep or even get to a pH of 7.0 on a steady basis. Suggestions?
Pressurized CO2 is going to be very expensive unless you get all the parts used, and even then I doubt it would cost less than $100. Try getting some good champagne yeast and two gallon-sized plastic jugs. I use this kind:
Drill a hole slightly smaller than your airline in the lid, then use silicone to seal it so there are no leaks. Connect both jugs to a splitter valve, then use three check valves to make sure pressure isn't lost when you change a jug. With good yeast, you should be able to go several weeks between changes. A glass diffuser might work once the pressure builds up, but injecting the CO2 into a filter intake or making a reactor might be better options.
Unless you plan to get very sensitive plants or fish, I wouldn't worry about the pH. If you do need to lower the pH, the best way is to mix RO (reverse osmosis) water with your tap water before you put it in the tank, but that gets expensive very quickly.
Thanks Fishly...that is exactly the bottle I am currently using! I think I will go ahead and try adding an additional bottle for some extra boost in pressure. I'll post more pics with updates in a few days!