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Old 09-07-2011, 05:45 PM   #1
Mightymouse1111
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Pearling and DIY CO2


I set up a 15 gallon tank around 2 weeks ago and have been watching typical new tank brown diatom algae forming over the last week. Last night, though, I noticed an algae explosion taking place and there are at least 3 algae’s now – Brown algae, hair algae, and a strange translucent green slime algae. Also, there is SIGNIFICANT pearling on several plants and algae (particularly the brown algae)

Current setup:

Two 23 watt CFL bulbs = 3 watts/gallon
TopFin filter for 20 gallon aquarium
No air pump
Heater that keeps tank at 82F

Plants
6-8 java fern
3 anubias
2-3 golfball size Christmas moss tied down
1 dwarf lilly
1 banana plant
1-2 unknown

Fish
3 dwarf puffers
4 bumblebee gobies
3 otocinclus (put in last night after finding algae explosion with lots of brown algae)

Tank parameters 3 days ago (still cycling)
Ammonia - .5
Nitrites - 1-2
Nitrate - 40
pH - 7.6
GH – 11/196 ppm
KH – 7/125 ppm

Questions:
1. I don’t know much about pearling but from what I’ve read it sounds like it’s actually a sign of happy and healthy plants with strong growth. (GREAT!) right?
2. I WAS interested in installing a DIY CO2 setup, but if I don’t have an air pump pumping O2 in and I’m already having a this much pearling, is it really necessary?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 09-07-2011, 05:52 PM   #2
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1. Correct, pearling is a good thing, but not a required indicator of healthy plants.

2. CO2 is really another form of fertilizer for our plants. If you are happy with your current growth rate and the way your plants look then you don't need it. If you want things to grow faster then give the DIY CO2 a try. You can have your air pump and your DIY CO2 going at the same time. You can take a look at the Dollar Store Dirt Tank for a setup similar to yours with 2 CFLs and an air pump running with DIY CO2.
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Old 09-07-2011, 05:53 PM   #3
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pearling is a good sign. I'm pumping a tank full of co2 and not getting anything of the sort, so i'm not sure how you're getting pearling without introducing co2.
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Old 09-07-2011, 05:56 PM   #4
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I do have my doubts that what he is seeing is really pearling as opposed to micro bubbles from the air pump accumulating on the undersides of the leaves. A pic would help. Either way CO2 definitely won't hurt.
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Old 09-07-2011, 06:04 PM   #5
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Hey, thanks for the quick replies!
I don't have an air pump so it's definitely not that. Also, it was nearly two weeks before any bubbles formed, but seemed to coincide with this algae explosion. I can post pictures later tonight after I get home, too.
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Old 09-07-2011, 06:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scapegoat View Post
pearling is a good sign. I'm pumping a tank full of co2 and not getting anything of the sort, so i'm not sure how you're getting pearling without introducing co2.
coČ is not needed to have a plant pearl!! it does play a role but flow, light intensity, plants, temp of water, ext ext all play into the equation thus seeing pearling doesnt mean anything but excess oČ than that water can support. it doesnt mean they are growing at there maximum potential so its really a poor standard on which everyone seems to be stuck on. i can say with out a doubt if there was added flow the pearling would stop completely or be seen as minimal
as seeing your tank still have ammo lvls i would not add any more fauna till this balances out, i would also do a wc to keep your ammo lvls to below your .5 much higher and you can get into trouble real fast so keep a eye on that.
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Old 09-07-2011, 08:39 PM   #7
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Did you see pearling on the Java Ferns? It does not take a lot to get them pearling though. I do worry that most of the plants are Java Ferns which are known to be slow growers. You have high light. Maybe medium if the reflector isn't that great. No CO2. 3 anubias. These plants do not need high light. I would watch out for algae outbreaks. Maybe adding more fast growing plants.

If I were you, I would reduce to one light. Maybe 10 hours a day photo period. Add some liquid fertilizer. If you want more light, you have to prepare to add CO2 eventually.
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Old 09-07-2011, 09:04 PM   #8
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You can use this chart to help you figure out how much light you have. It took me a while to find a happy medium to keep algae at bay and still grow anything I wanted (like HC).

I found that somewhere ~55 par works well for 8 hrs per day. Not much algae and plants grow fine. I also have a topsoil substrate, DIY CO2, and follow EI Dosing.

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Old 09-08-2011, 12:04 AM   #9
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If you're seeking Words Of Wisdom I would definitely recommend the Nerite Snail> I got a Tiger Nerite and it maintains my 10gal with no diatoms and green spot algea. My mystery snail can't touch it because it helped eat the algea/moss growing on its shell.

Don't take this advice wrong, but we all have a trial-by-fire learning experience:
1) Post a picture of your unknown plants

2) Don't forget a water change every other day for this cycling tank, the smaller tanks are more stressful on fish, and they can accumulate damage, don't be disappointed with a die-off.

3) Gobies are brackish water I think, so there might be issues with the plants & otos.

4) Regarding lights: OK for now, but down the road I would invest in 24" fluorescent bulbs with a full spectrum in both red and blues, the screw CFLs are blue spectrum heavy(algea love them), the lilies need red spectrum more so.

Good Luck
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Old 09-08-2011, 10:00 AM   #10
Mightymouse1111
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Hey thanks for the great advice and thoughts everyone!
I had trouble uploading the pictures and could only link them to flickr. Hopefully you can still see them.
http://flic.kr/p/akmx6P
http://flic.kr/p/akmx6R
http://flic.kr/p/akmx6X
http://flic.kr/p/akmx72
http://flic.kr/p/akmx76
http://flic.kr/p/akmx78
http://flic.kr/p/akpmMS
http://flic.kr/p/akpmNN

Dwarf puffers are molluscivores and so I don’t think I could add nerite snails, although I do have some in my other tank and could try it temporarily when I’m home to see what happens. I also have read that gobies are brackish water but several accounts of success in freshwater led me to attempt it. They, and otocinclus, are some of the few fish that dwarf puffers will actually let live in their tank. Thanks for the heads up though

1. As for the lights, they are 6700K color temp but I found others that were 5000K, and I thought I saw some that were even lower than that. Would that be better?

I went with the screw type CFL because I could get 23 Watts from them a piece and I thought the long fluorescent type were only 18 Watts each. I also thought the long tube flourescent hood for my tank, if I were to purchase it, only took a single bulb but maybe it was actually two, not sure.

2. Since I’m using CFL right now, can I use the graph that was provided? Or does that only apply to the linear fluorescent? Mine aren’t really vertical or horizontal, just spiral.

3. It sounds like my algae explosion is due to very high lighting without enough (a) CO2 or (b) fertilizer/nutrients. Do you all agree? If that’s the case, would adding either of these help prevent the algae? Or would I just be feeding them more?

Thankyou, thankyou again to everyone.

BTW, The unknown plant is in the top left corner of the last picture, but I’ll get a better one posted tomorrow afternoon.
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Old 09-08-2011, 01:44 PM   #11
BlueJack
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mightymouse1111 View Post
1. As for the lights, they are 6700K color temp but I found others that were 5000K, and I thought I saw some that were even lower than that. Would that be better?
It doesn't matter what the color temperature is. Plants will do fine under any of those. Just depends on how you want your tank to look.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mightymouse1111 View Post
2. Since I’m using CFL right now, can I use the graph that was provided? Or does that only apply to the linear fluorescent? Mine aren’t really vertical or horizontal, just spiral.
That graph only applies to CFL spiral bulbs not linear fluorescent's. The lines are referring to how your bulb is set up. Is it hanging straight up and down (vertical), or is it on it's side (horizontal)? From there you need to measure how far is it from the substrate in inches. Then you can find out how much light you have.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mightymouse1111 View Post
3. It sounds like my algae explosion is due to very high lighting without enough (a) CO2 or (b) fertilizer/nutrients. Do you all agree? If that’s the case, would adding either of these help prevent the algae? Or would I just be feeding them more?
If you can grow plants, then you can grow algae. It's just a part of life with planted tanks since algae are basically plants. You just want to try and keep it to a minimal amount(I manually remove algae when doing weekly water changes). High light usually makes controlling algae more difficult to do. Fluctuating CO2 levels also make this more difficult. Go with a pressurized system or a non-CO2 system. My DIY-CO2 tanks fluctuate widely as the month progresses. Ferts/Nutrients don't play a factor in algae. Algae can bloom with very little nutrients. Ever notice how people with artificial tanks who don't ever dose nutrients still get algae blooms?
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