Gravel Substrate/Root Tabs/CO2 questions - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-23-2011, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
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Gravel Substrate/Root Tabs/CO2 questions

Heya,

I recently changed out the light (going from not enough light to low light) in my 55gal low tech setup, and started growing algae.

I have amazon swords, micro chain swords, anubus, java fern, and java moss. So far, I've only dosed ferts via root tabs. I have a shipment of gel caps + osmocote plus coming so I don't have to keep buying the expensive root tabs. By the way, so far I've gotten extremely slow growth.

I have a drop checker, with home-made 4dkh solution (I also have a kh/gh test kit coming with which I intend to test the accuracy of my solution) that's consistently blue-green, so I think that my CO2 doesn't get very high.

So, here are my questions: I think I have a CO2 shortage - is the best way to test this to start dosing excel, and see what happens?

Excel will not show up on the drop checker, correct? So eventually I'll want to go DIY CO2 or pressurized CO2 to avoid the expense of constantly dosing excel?

How often should I replenish the root caps? Is there any particular way to tell when they are being depleted? Does the plant growth slow down enough to be noticeable before the algae starts taking off?

Do you think that I will be okay with dosing root caps only, or will I need to start dosing the water column?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-23-2011, 12:36 PM
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Most substrate ferts last about 3 months.
What light did you end up with and how did you mount it?


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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-23-2011, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by d3snoopy View Post
Heya,

I recently changed out the light (going from not enough light to low light) in my 55gal low tech setup, and started growing algae.

I have amazon swords, micro chain swords, anubus, java fern, and java moss. So far, I've only dosed ferts via root tabs. I have a shipment of gel caps + osmocote plus coming so I don't have to keep buying the expensive root tabs. By the way, so far I've gotten extremely slow growth.

I have a drop checker, with home-made 4dkh solution (I also have a kh/gh test kit coming with which I intend to test the accuracy of my solution) that's consistently blue-green, so I think that my CO2 doesn't get very high.

So, here are my questions: I think I have a CO2 shortage - is the best way to test this to start dosing excel, and see what happens?

Excel will not show up on the drop checker, correct? So eventually I'll want to go DIY CO2 or pressurized CO2 to avoid the expense of constantly dosing excel?

How often should I replenish the root caps? Is there any particular way to tell when they are being depleted? Does the plant growth slow down enough to be noticeable before the algae starts taking off?

Do you think that I will be okay with dosing root caps only, or will I need to start dosing the water column?
The only way to monitor the depletion of a root fert is to push a fert tab down right next to the glass, so you can see the tab as it diminishes.

If your set up is continues to be low light, you can live without water column ferts. You will just have to see how your plants behave. Good luck!
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-23-2011, 02:56 PM Thread Starter
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Most substrate ferts last about 3 months.
What light did you end up with and how did you mount it?

Aquatic life T5HO, 48" 2x54W, Running a single bulb, mounted on the tank with the little feet provided, so it's 4-6" above the surface of the water.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-23-2011, 03:22 PM
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The only way to monitor the depletion of a root fert is to push a fert tab down right next to the glass, so you can see the tab as it diminishes.
Now why didn't i think of that.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-23-2011, 04:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d3snoopy View Post
Aquatic life T5HO, 48" 2x54W, Running a single bulb, mounted on the tank with the little feet provided, so it's 4-6" above the surface of the water.
That is probably not low light. I would call that on the very high end of low light (really could be considered medium lighting). I will be running the same exact thing (same fixture, one bulb, 55G tank) with pressurized CO2 and fert dosing. If you raised it up a couple more inches you would probably be safe from algae, but without CO2 injection you can expect to have some algae, although it will probably be able to be controlled.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-23-2011, 04:23 PM
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Now why didn't i think of that.
It won't work with ferts like RootMedic, Tropica, or Osmocote. The membrane stays behind. Time is your friend.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-23-2011, 04:47 PM
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It won't work with ferts like RootMedic, Tropica, or Osmocote. The membrane stays behind. Time is your friend.
That was my only complaint with those ferts. Those darn membranes working up through black substrate,,,, UGH!

Having crypts and swords I can tell you regardless of what root tab type I've used beyond 3 months without replacement I've seen growth issues.

I did a single T5HO 65k bulb with a good reflector over a 55g within an inch of the top for a few months on a non injected tank. Didn't see the colors I should out of the plants so I changed things up. Algae was not an issue but I changed fixtures to add spectrum with dual bulbs and now I'm raising the light trying to find the sweet spot without putting the gas to it. With 2xT5HO lower GDA was an issue. Currently 5" off the tank w/10K and a flora pink bulb in the fixture.

good luck OP and I hope you enjoy rather than fight the tank


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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-23-2011, 05:19 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks.

So, it sounds like if/when I increase the light, I'll have to dose the water column in addition to using root tabs. I'll probably ease into a higher tech setup as time passes... I'm operating on a budget. Next will probably be DIY CO2.

I'm tempted to put a second bulb in and screen or double screen it so as to keep it down at low light, but have better color. The other idea I have is to get something like frogbit so I can have a floating plant cut down on the light. I may do all of the above and see what I get.

I'm enjoying it.. learning a lot. I tend to be too impatient instead of giving it time.
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