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Old 05-13-2013, 09:02 PM   #1
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Lights / nutrient / algae / glosso growth


Let me start by saying I had been aquarist for a long time, but I never had planted aquariums before. Last year I decided to give it a try and my first planted aquarium that I did was a 15 G tank. It surprisingly did very well for over an year. The plants grew extremely well - I had glosso , baby tears and dwarf hairgrass. I had to trim them weekly because they were growing a lot. Until one moment when everything started withering. I even got a lot of algae ! All types. I was doing E.I with high light setup and CO2. For me the reason was the substrate, but I might be totally wrong. I was using really cheap substrate and because of the high growth I thought the substrate couldn't provide any more nutrients after certain time. I removed everything from the tank and decided to start it again but this time with slightly moderate light, dirt and ADA amazonian substrate. 2 months ago I started it with dirt on the bottom of the tank, a little substrate layer from my previous aquarium (to introduce bacteria ) and ADA amazonian on top of that. I planted the same plants again. Let me start by saying what my tap water is. For some weird reason it has PH of 4-5 and KH and GH of 1! I live in White Plains New York, and I don't have a clue why the water is so soft. For that reason, I am adding MgSo4 , CaCl2 and baking soda until I have a water that is around 4-5 GH and KH and around 6-7 PH. I am doing E.I again with the following measurements and parameters:

50% weekly water changes
1/4 Tsp-KN03 3x a week
1/16 Tsp-KH2P04 3x a week - I have a Hanna electronic Phosphate test which can not measure more than 2.5 ppm, and it is higher than that. I assume around 5 ppm ( but can't guarantee... it might be even more)
1/16 Tsp - Plantex CSM+B 3x a week.
I am adding half a cap of Flourish excell every morning just to introduce more CO2 in the water.
My CO2 is around 2 bubbles per second and I assume it should be good enough ( my drop checker is green to yellow sometimes )

Now onto my question
Everything is growing in the aquarium, but not too fast as my light is positioned much higher than what it used to be last year. My light setup is this light:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

and these two strips of light:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

and

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

It is positioned 12'' above the surface and last year I measured the PAR readings when it was much closer to the surface ( around 7 '') and it read around 120. Now I suppose it is much lower but I can't say as I don't have a PAR meter with me. Last year I had it on for 12 hours, now I only have it on for 9hours.
The thing is the plants are growing slow and the glosso is growing high and doesn't crawl. I decided to boost the light and the CO2 just so I can have the glosso start crawling and just for 2 days now I have algae on the glass. Easy to remove, probably a dust green algae, but nevertheless, it's visible and spreading fast if I don't brush it. My question is what might be wrong. Seems the light is not enough for the glosso and the plants as they are growing slow, but if I boost the light, the plants start growing faster, but I also introduce algae. I would be very grateful if you could give me a direction in what I need to look for. Would you like me to provide more information about my setup ?

Thank you in advance!
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Old 05-13-2013, 10:33 PM   #2
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I would think it is the water you are using as you don't state what the water parameters are of your tap (NO3, PO4, etc.);

it is likely source of your algae are the substances contained in the tap.

Using R/O water or the like with water changes will help at least eliminate this as a possible source of the problem.
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Old 05-13-2013, 11:03 PM   #3
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Just did a measurement again of the tap water.

GH / KH - 1
PH - 5.5
NO3 - I can't find any
PO4 - 2.4. I have to say I have never measured my phosphates in the drinking water as I always thought it should be around 0, but I was surprised to find such a high levels. Then I googled it and found this: http://bit.ly/10JtDIw
I`m not convinced my tap water is the problem.
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Old 05-14-2013, 03:04 PM   #4
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This is a picture from the last year when the light was positioned much lower. I was trimming every week, but I couldn't keep up with the growth of the plants. For me, the light was really high. That is when I measured it around 120 PAR on the bottom of the tank. Now it's double the distance from the surface, but the plants don't grow very fast at all.

http://scroll-lock.eu/images/aqua/pl...arium_room.jpg
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Old 05-14-2013, 04:31 PM   #5
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I am not familiar enough with your dosing chemicals to be able to comment on their contribution to your problems, but there are many algae promoting nutrients in tap water, other than phosphate, that are not usually tested for by the home aquarists. These chemicals may be present in your tap and causing the algae. This is not to say this is 100% the cause, but I would tend to lean in that direction.
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Old 05-14-2013, 05:00 PM   #6
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Well you don't need to dose phosphate! What is the nitrate reading in the tank? Isn't potassium included in GH booster? Might look into seeing if adding a bit more potassium changes things around.

You aren't introducing algae, it was already there. You are providing conditions for its growth. Plants aren't doing their best and algae is taking advantage.

I raised the lights and decreased the lighting period and got unhappy plants with no decrease in algae. Lowered the lights and increased the lighting period a little and things are better. Perhaps the sweet spot for your tank is just a little higher than now with a few more or less minutes of light a day?

CO2? How is the water movement in the tank? If plants are denser now you might need some additional flow. Perhaps you can bump up the CO2 a bit as well. Don't do it if you think you are close to maximum unless you can stick around and watch the tank!

I have come to love water changes what with my handy dandy python and all. You might reset the tank by doing a really big one and vacuum the substrate of debris laying on top and rinse out the filter media and wipe down all the tank surfaces while you are at it. Guess you need to be really careful with the change water as you are having to put so much into the water to increase KH and GH.
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Old 05-14-2013, 05:09 PM   #7
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Currently the stats in the aquarium water are as follows:

GH / KH - 4
NO3 - around 10
PO4 - around 5
I`m dosing traces 3 x a week
I have red clay in the substrate.
CO2 is 2 bubbles per sec and the drop checker is yellow. I don't think I lack CO2.
Lighting is for 9 hours. I might try leaving it for longer period.

For a week I tried adding more potassium. Nothing changed.
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Old 05-14-2013, 05:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by melanotaenia View Post
there are many algae promoting nutrients in tap water, other than phosphate, that are not usually tested for by the home aquarists. These chemicals may be present in your tap and causing the algae.
For example ?
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Old 05-14-2013, 05:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scroll_lock View Post
CO2 is 2 bubbles per sec and the drop checker is yellow. I don't think I lack CO2.
Never, ever, ever, ever, ever ASSUME CO2 is NOT the issue. 95% of the time it is. Drop checkers are not a reliable source to measure CO2. Unless you got a spectrometer designed for CO2 instrumentation, The best you can do is watch the plants. THey will tell you if they are doing well and algae like BBA will tell you if CO2 is good. That being said, how is the flow? PAR? Sometimes glosso can grow up, I have never grown it but can you lay it down flat and see if its spreads more horizontally?
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Old 05-14-2013, 06:20 PM   #10
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It doesn't appear to be a nutrient problem although I agree you can stop dosing the KH2PO4.

Two things I would be concerned about would be CO2 and ammonia.

Have you tested for ammonia? Even at undetectable levels NH4 can cause algae blooms especially with high light. The addition of adsorbents such as activated charcoal or purigen may help if the problem is with organics, such as ammonia, whether it be in your tap or from mulm buildup.

Beyond that look into boosting the CO2 just below the point fauna begin showing signs of distress. You should see plants pearling with an appropriate CO2/light level.
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Old 05-14-2013, 06:35 PM   #11
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As far as I can determine your light fixture, with 2 T5HO bulbs, was giving you around 40 micromols of PAR and are now giving you around 25. The latter is definitely low light, probably a little too low for low growing carpet plants to do well. And, 40 isn't so high that it would be difficult to get adequate CO2 and nutrients to the plants to support their growth rate. I would go back to the previous light configuration, perhaps raising them an inch or so above where they were before. Or, if you want to stick with the low light, just don't try to get a glosso or HC carpet. Dwarf sagittaria does well at that light level, and looks good as a semi-carpet.
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Old 05-14-2013, 06:42 PM   #12
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The flow in the aquarium is really strong. I have double the recommended flow for 15 G and I am trying to minimize it because it creates really strong current.

I agree, CO2 MIGHT be the issue. I can't be certain.
I`ll test for amonia and increase the CO2 significantly to see if that will change anything and will write in a week or so. Thanks for all the replies.
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Old 05-14-2013, 07:22 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
As far as I can determine your light fixture, with 2 T5HO bulbs, was giving you around 40 micromols of PAR and are now giving you around 25. The latter is definitely low light, probably a little too low for low growing carpet plants to do well. And, 40 isn't so high that it would be difficult to get adequate CO2 and nutrients to the plants to support their growth rate. I would go back to the previous light configuration, perhaps raising them an inch or so above where they were before. Or, if you want to stick with the low light, just don't try to get a glosso or HC carpet. Dwarf sagittaria does well at that light level, and looks good as a semi-carpet.
Hi Hoppy,
Thanks for the reply. I`m interested how did you measure the micromols just from the distance and the fixture specs ? I measured it with PAR meter before and it definatelly wasn't 40, but 120. Again, I`m not sure how much is it now. But if it was 40 before, how would you explain the heavy trimming I was doing weekly ?
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Old 05-14-2013, 10:11 PM   #14
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When is the last time you replaced the bulbs in that fixture?
I'm thinking that if they are still the original bulbs you probably have lost some of the output and the spectrum has shifted.
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Old 05-15-2013, 01:56 PM   #15
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I changed them in October last year.
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