Please verify/correct my understanding - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-23-2011, 07:46 PM Thread Starter
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Question Please verify/correct my understanding

When I first started reading about light/CO2/Fert balance, I was mind boggled. Seriously, I felt like my head was going to explode, but I kept trying to digest things.

Now I have my lights, I have what I would call a low-medium plant density, I have my dry ferts, and I have a pressurized CO2 system ready to install, and I think I finally have a good idea of what I am going to be doing.

Just for my peace of mind, I want to summerize what I think I know, so if I don't know I don't know something, someone can call me out on it so I know and can adapt. =) Clear as mud? ok, here goes.

I have a 75 gallon tank.

I started with
75g + 2 T5NO bulbs:
Status: decent amount of light, not enough CO2, not enough nutrients
Result: sub par plant growth, a bit of a fight against algea

Then I tried
75g + 2 T5NO bulbs + weekly dry ferts:
Status: decent amount of light, some ferts, not enough CO2
Result: Plants would respond well for a few days, then start to look bad until I did a water change, at which point they would look better again. I assume this was due to poor nutrient use and nutrient deficiencies from lack of CO2. I also had an algea farm because I had too much light and plants could not out compete algea for nutrients due to lack of CO2. Cladophora was the best grower in my tank by far.

My next step will be
75g + 3 T5NO bulbs + 30ppm CO2 + EI doseing per the stickie thread
Status: plenty of light, plenty of CO2, excess nutrients
Expected Result: plants grow like gang busters, algea should be minimal due to plants having everything they need and out competeing algea.

Once everything is running stable and consistant, I can tweak the EI dosing upward or downward to reach a growth level where the pruning/triming and water change maintenance level suits me.

Sound right? I think I am afraid I am missing something because I was so confused before, but now writing it down, it seems so simple...

My only big question remaining is do I slowly increase the CO2 levels over the course of a week or 2 in order to acclimate my fish before I add in the EI doseing? Should I maybe start with a 1/4 or 1/2 EI dose while I ramp up CO2 and once I stabalize at 30ppm switch to the full dose, or can I hit this baby with a full fert rotation the day I turn the CO2 on even though I will be doing a slow ramp up of CO2 levels to avoid gassing my fish?

Thanks for all the help I have found here. You guys Rock.

"I laugh because I dare not cry. This is a crazy world and the only way to enjoy it is to treat it as a joke. That doesn't mean I don't read and can't think."
- The Number of the Beast, Robert A. Heinlein


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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-23-2011, 08:01 PM
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I would just jump right into EI. Since the point of EI is to put in way more ferts than the plants need AND there is no evidence that I know that fish get stressed out at EI levels of ferts, I don't think there is a need to build up to it or acclimate.

Then again, I am cautious and I built up over a period of 2 weeks I wouldn't do it again, though.

The CO2 is the same. You don't need to stretch it out too long, just bump it up a bit each day and look for signs of stress in the snails, shrimp, and fish (seems to go in that order).

I would start it all at the same time if I had to start it again. But, you mentioned the idea of reducing ferts to manage growth and I'm not sure that's the best way because limiting ferts can lead to bad results. You might want to consider adjusting the light intensity or period instead.

Also, are you sure that 3 x T5NO bulbs is giving you plenty of light? How many inches above the substrate are the bulbs and how far apart are they? You may not have as much light as you think, but a solid medium light setup seems like a great way to go so maybe it will work well!



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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-23-2011, 08:08 PM Thread Starter
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Actually, I have the capabilities to go 4 bulbs T5NO. I was going to start with 3 just to see how things go. I do remember reading using light as the limiting factor is less tricky than guessing with nutrients, thanks for the reminder. The fixtures are evenly spaced across the tank, right on the glass. I think for a 75 that's about 20 inches.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-23-2011, 08:10 PM
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Crank it, there's really no sense of easing into fertz or co2.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-23-2011, 11:37 PM
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You don't adjust the EI fert regimen to get the growth level you want. The whole idea behind EI is to provide an unlimited level of nutrients at ALL times, so if you lower it below "unlimited", you may as well go with a different fert regimen (and that's fine too). If you raise EI, the plants should NOT grow faster because if that happens, it means that you weren't providing unlimited nutrients in the first place. What you SHOULD use to adjust the speed of your plants' growth is LIGHT, as DaveH mentioned.

To sum up, light is the BEST way to control growth and can avoid the problems that arise when you try to adjust ferts or CO2 and upset the balance.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-24-2011, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the clarrifications everyone.

"I laugh because I dare not cry. This is a crazy world and the only way to enjoy it is to treat it as a joke. That doesn't mean I don't read and can't think."
- The Number of the Beast, Robert A. Heinlein


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