Buy new, swap out, give up?
I'm in a quandary over my lighting/tanks/co2 situation and I'm hoping for some insight from those with more nano experience.
I have a Spec V (5 g) that is about 3 months old with stock pump, an In-tank basket (floss/matrix/purigen) and the following plants:
Anubias nana, Anubias minima, Anubias petite, Dwarf Sagittaria subulata, Rotala rotundifolia, Marimo Moss balls, Fissidens fontana, Rotala mini butterfly and some Heteroscyphus zollingeri (pearl moss-if I can get it to stick to something). The tank is also home to 5 small danios and a platy along with 7 nerite snails. The substrate is just Carib Sea Sand with root tabs near the root plants and I've been using various SeaChem ferts as I try to get the balance right. I've been using Flourish but I have a CO2 set-up on order and could introduce that as early as this week, depending on shipping speed. The water chem has been difficult. I try to keep my fish feeding very conservative (1@day, good quality food they can completely consume in 2 min or so). My ammonia level has been 0 ppm since the tank cycled but I do keep an eye on it. My nitrates keep bottoming out (0 ppm) but my phosphate is high (like 3.0-4.5) even though I don't add any outside of what is in the Flourish Comprehensive and 1/3 ml of API Leafzone I add every other day (the other days I add 1/2 ml Excel, 1/2 ml nitrogen, 1/2 ml Potassium, and lately a 1/2 ml Iron. My water is very hard but KH is very low. I've had to fuss with it to get it up to 2 deg.
The anubias started out great - put out new leaves every two weeks or faster and then 4-5 weeks ago started to struggle (pinholes, yellowing, twisted leaves). The rotala r. took off like a shot and went from 8 stems to a fairly lush 2"x8" with frequent pruning, but then started looking leggy and picking up some algae so I took out a bunch (like almost all - I was shocked by how thick the roots were) and replanted some of the nicer, fuller tops. The dwarf sag has never done much but it has sent off several long runners and found a couple of spots it likes. The rotala butterfly and 2 mosses are new (ordered right before the green water-such luck) so no report on their health but they look ok so far and the butterfly is growing taller. I've cut back the anubias harshly, moved out some Java ferns that were struggling with the high light to my 2 g QT tank and I keep working to adjust my ferts. I've averted a couple of hair algae scares but I continue to have some green water issues. I ordered a UV sterilizer that I hope to run for a few days to clear up the green water and I'm hopeful that getting the ferts balanced and the plants healthy again will preclude a relapse.
The tank has a 20" Planted+ on it now. I've cut the photoperiod down to 5 hours for now, and put a piece of black plastic on the lid over the anubias nana for shade (the petite and mini are in a little bit of shade from a very large piece of driftwood so don't seem to be as affected by the too-high light). I love the way the light looks when the water is clear and it fits my tank perfectly, but it is obviously too much without CO2 and unbalanced ferts.
Anyway, that's all the history. Here's the quandary:
I have an old rimmed 20 gal long with a nice, sturdy screen top but no light (was the home to my mouse Coleslaw - RIP) that I was toying with setting up and moving the fish over to so they can have a larger tank and I don't have to worry so much about gassing them while I learn to regulate the CO2.
I also have a fully cycled 2 gal QT tank (with just the crappy 8-LED built-in light but it seems to be enough for the Java ferns on a 12 hr photoperiod).
I can move a heater and filter over from the QT tank so I could probably get the 20g long cycled fairly quickly but it would still likely be a week or so. The QT tank filter I'd be scavenging is just a 10 g Aqueon internal so I'd have to spend something on a new filter for the 20 long at some point (I'd like to move to a canister filter eventually-maybe a SunSun.)
I have some SUPER awesome rock I'd like to put in the 20 g tank, too (too big for the Spec) and plenty of leftover sand. And of course I'd want some plants in there, but I don't want to have two high tech nanos and I can't afford a second CO2 set-up anyway (and the tanks would be too far apart for a splitter).
I also still have the Spec V's stock light in a box.
I have about $50 left in my hobby budget for equipment, so it's tight at this point. I had hoped not to spend more than that until after summer.
So what do I do? Do I put the stock light on the spec, move the 20" Planted+ over to the new 20 g tank even though it's short (I can make it work with the mesh top) and put the CO2 on the new tank too, then move everything except the dwarf sag, anubias and maybe a little rotala over to the new tank? That would mean leaving the fish in the smaller Spec V, at least for a few months.
Do I leave the Spec V with the 20" Planted+, buy a different light for the 20 g long and only go with low light plants in there, no CO2 and move the fish to that larger home?
Do I pull out and chuck all the plants, put 1 cool rock and a $2 plastic plant in the Spec, sell the other light and tanks and just go back to 1 tank, fish only?
Or should I just sit here and continue to rhythmically thump my head against my desk?