Issues I'm having and solutions I'm considering
T5HO dual bulb on 8 hrs/day (I use a layer of window screen to lower the light intensity)
Regular fert dosing
30 - 50% WC every week
My tank has been doing okay, however I've been having BBA creeping up and now I have wendtii leaves melting like crazy. At one point I had decided to do injected CO2, but the first set up I purchased wasn't quite right so I returned it, then I got busy at work and wasn't able to move forward with that plan, and then got honest with myself and decided I really don't want to do a high-tech set up.
Over the months, I have tried experiments one at a time like decreasing the photoperiod, removing the light diffusing screen, raising the lights, increasing nitrates, etc, etc, and haven't come up with a solution that truly creates a worry free tank. I got to the point where I started worrying about the plants more than the fish, and that wasn't the reason that I got into this hobby.
So here's where I'm at with the options I'm considering. I ranked them from most likely to least likely to solve my problem:
1. Get rid of the plants altogether and purchase fake plants. I know this doesn't remove the opportunity for algae, but I would bet there are specific ways that I can deal with algae in a plant free tank (like black-outs, etc). I really pray to God that there are some attractive fake plants out there that look better than the ones I see in the LFS stores.
2. Purchase a lower intensity light set up. This would cost money as lights aren't cheap. I spent $130 on this light set up at the suggestion of the person who sold me the tank, and it's probably the worst decision I made in this whole hobby. It's just too much light, and my attempts to lower the light by raising the fixture (which is problematic) or diffuse the light with a layer window screen have proved ineffective.
3. Rescape with new plants, but I know that this would be a losing battle because I need to deal with the algae not the plants.
if you dont want co2 i would think you would need to replace the light fixture with something less intense. you can get some work lights at home depot or lowes that use cfls. they are relatively inexpensive. then you could either sell what you have or keep it in case you change your mind about staying low tech. i think the light is your biggest issue right now, though.
you could try adding more plants to use up that light. you could also try giving the photoperiod a break: 4 hours on, 3 hours off, 3 hours on, something like that. liquid carbon melts some plants, which might be why the wendtii leaves are melting.
surely someone else will have better advice. i'm not exactly experienced enough to give advice, just trying to help. i have had a t5ho on a 29 gall and had all kinds of problems until i got the pressurized co2 and ferts. i still have to give the photoperiod a break for a couple of hours a day to prevent the BBA from taking over. i also spot treat with h2o2 when doing water changes but i would rather not do that on a regular basis. i am finally getting it taken care of. i think the h2o2 and the break in the photoperiod have been most useful as the addition of co2 alone did not help much (although my plants loved it).
From my experience with BBA, if you reduce the light level to 20-25 micromols of PAR at the substrate, and use CO2 at a relatively low bubble rate, so you never need to worry about hot it affects the fish, BBA is not a problem. Even if it shows up, it will grow so slowly you have plenty of time to schedule a BBA cleanup - shutting down the filter, lowering the water level, then squirting a tanks dosage of Excel mixed in a cup of water over all of the BBA to kill it. It does come back, but it takes a month or so to do it. Many plants will grow well, but slowly, at that light level too.
You can look at the charts in http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=184368 to get a good idea of how much PAR you have, or, much better, borrow a PAR meter to test it.
If you use plastic plants, and the same light level, you will still get BBA at the same rate. The only thing you gain is that you can't kill plastic plants with BBA.
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