testing water parameters - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-09-2010, 02:57 PM Thread Starter
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testing water parameters

I'm completely new to all of this... aquariums, planted tanks, the forum, and probably anything else you can think of. But... I am excited to try and make it work!

The question in short: What water parameters do I need to test? If any? Any recommendations on types of tests to get? Strips? Drops? None of it is accurate anyways?

Details on my setup (if interested):
I have a 20g tall tank with Eco-Complete substrate, a half dozen cherry shrimp, and a few plants. The floating plants on top (sorry, don't know the name) are the only ones doing well. Baby tears and Myriophyllum are doing okay. The African water fern I got from a friend seems to have gone into dying stasis... it does not want to live, but hasn't decided to completely die yet. The Anacharis has been dying ever since I trimmed it (I didn't know that would happen!) The shrimp are doing great, and I'm starting to get some bright green algae growing in the substrate (joy). I am supplementing CO2 with a yeast/sugar mix, but the bubble rate seems kind of slow- 1 bubble every 5-8 seconds. The lighting level is high... 6500K fluorescent at 4 wpg. It has been set up for about 3 weeks.

So my thought was to test the water and find out what is going on in the tank and try to adjust things so they are better for the plants. I use tap water, so I know it is rather hard.

Recommendations on testing or how to improve the setup so the plants actually live are greatly appreciated...
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-09-2010, 03:30 PM
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You don't have nearly enough CO2 to make any significant difference. And, if you really do have 80 watts of Fluorescent light on a 20 gallon tank, you need CO2. Are you using screw-in power saver bulbs? I ask that because 6500K is a standard number for some of those bulbs. If that is what you are using, be sure to ignore the big wattage numbers on the package, and look for the actual power that the bulb uses, which is usually an odd number, like 27 watts, or 23 watts, or 17 watts, etc. Those are the numbers that count.

Plants need nutrients to grow, so you need either a nutrient rich substrate, like ADA aquasoil, or mineralized topsoil, or you need to use substrate fertilizer tabs, or you need to add fertilizers to the water. Which are you doing?

Hoppy
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-09-2010, 03:36 PM
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Get the API Freshwater Master Test Kit. Add to that, a KH test kit.

I have a lot of phosphates in my water supply so I added a PO4 (Phosphate test kit).

With that much lighting you will need probably need pressurized CO2 or (as you are already experiencing), you WILL grow algae.

Cut back on the length of time for the lights (8 hrs).

When I first set up my tank I had lights on for 12 hrs, ferts and CO2 and I had algae, lots of it.

I cut lights back to 8-9 hrs, upped the CO2, increased ferts, algae is almost gone.

BTW... Welcome to TPT!


PS.... Don't pull your hair out.... things will get better.

Steve

90 Gal, 4x65 CFL, 2 Eheim 2215, Pressurized C02
First attempt at planted
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-09-2010, 04:30 PM Thread Starter
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Ooh... good suggestions already, thanks.

Hoppy, you are right, they are the screw-in CFL bulbs. Not my preferred choice, but I inherited the basic tank setup, so I had to find screw-in bulbs for that light fixture. It has 2 bulbs that are 7 watt, saying they are 40 watt equivalent... so I take it that means I actually only have 14 watts, so it is less than 1 wpg? I wasn't sure which number to count with these bulbs...

I haven't begun adding any kind of fertilizers yet because I wanted things to get a little settled first, and I wasn't sure what to use. I also thought the EcoComplete would have enough nutrients. Perhaps not?
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-09-2010, 09:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naturelady View Post
Ooh... good suggestions already, thanks.

Hoppy, you are right, they are the screw-in CFL bulbs. Not my preferred choice, but I inherited the basic tank setup, so I had to find screw-in bulbs for that light fixture. It has 2 bulbs that are 7 watt, saying they are 40 watt equivalent... so I take it that means I actually only have 14 watts, so it is less than 1 wpg? I wasn't sure which number to count with these bulbs...

I haven't begun adding any kind of fertilizers yet because I wanted things to get a little settled first, and I wasn't sure what to use. I also thought the EcoComplete would have enough nutrients. Perhaps not?
Yes on the 14 watts, IMO I would defiantly get more watts on that tank since it is a high if you are wanting to grow plants. You'll need to add ferts in addition to the EcoCompelete, it does not have everything a planted tank needs.
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