New 54 gallon and new to CO2 and fertalizers - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-07-2017, 10:12 PM Thread Starter
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New 54 gallon and new to CO2 and fertalizers

10 years ago I maintained, or failed to maintain, a 20 gallon freshwater aquarium/swamp for 3-4 years. After a 7 year break I decided to try again and restarted the 20 gallon freshwater aquarium. This time I spent some time doing research, increased my budget, and developed a routine and spreadsheet to track results. I started off by using bottled ammonia to cycle the tank without fish. The fishless cycling process captured my interest. For two years I have run the following:

Water
For most of the past two years I was disciplined with 50% water changes each week. In the second year I let the tank go 2 weeks without a water change on some occasions. My tap water is from the town. It consistently runs a ph of 7.6 and is soft (GH 2-3; KH 2-3). Until very recently I have never attempted to adjust the ph, GH, or KH. I use dechlorinator during water changes. The tank has been kept at 75 degrees.

Since the initial cycling I have never detected any ammonia, nitrites, or nitrates. In the first months I checked levels regularly but once it was stocked I never really checked again. It is certainly possible nitrates were greater than 0 some of the time, but I wasnít watching closely.

Equipment
20 Long, freshwater
Fluval 206 canister filter
Marineland 24 inch LED planted light
JBJ 150W heater

I have run the filter with the setup it shipped with: foam, bio-foam, bio-max bio rings, polishing pad, and carbon. I replaced and cleaned media per the filter instruction manual. After reading this forum for a couple of months I have concluded:
given that I was trying to keep live plants, using carbon didnít make sense (once I completed the cycle)
if I was going to use carbon I probably wasnít getting much benefit replacing only once a month
i did not need to be replacing 50% of the biomax bio rings every 3 months. On the one hand only replacing 50% at a time was good. On the other it probably had plenty of life left when I replaced it.
replacing the polishing pad ever 3 months likely made sense. It was haggard by the time it was removed.
foams in the foam screen could probably be rinsed in aquarium water rather than replaced every 6 months, at least for a year or two.
i probably helped pay the mortgage of fluval executives while replacing more of the media than necessary.

Fish
Unlike my initial attempt at keeping an aquarium 10 years ago, very few fish have died. I have kept what seems like a lightly stocked tank -

8 zebra danio
3 Corydoras sterbai
2 unknown fish the LFS said would eat algae
3-10 platties
3 unknown snails

During this time I have lost 3 danio. One turned up dead stuck to the filter intake stem. One was found on the floor next to the aquarium. And anther was abducted by aliens - I have no idea where it went.

I began with 1 male and 2 female platties. I have given 6-10 back to my LFS and currently there are 7 of various stages of life and unknown sex.

The unknown fish the LFS said would eat algae seem to be doing well, but their management of the algae problem has been questionable at best.

By far the sterbai are my favorite. They seem to be thriving and they are the most fun to watch.

One of my three snails died within the first week or two. The remaining snails cleaned the inside of the tank glass with impressive speed.

Algae
Around 9 months into this tank algae really started to become a problem. I began by cutting back from 10 hours of light a day to 7 hours. The LFS started by giving me snails to help, then a couple of unknown fish to help, then advised I start dosing Flourish Excel. The snails helped. The fish made no noticeable difference. The Excel helps when I devoutly dose daily, but my travel schedule means this variable.

Plants
Plant names make my head hurt. I havenít kept track of what I purchased. I gave no thought to low/high light when I started this two years ago. Below is a current photo.

Plans
I recently purchased a 54 gallon Aqueon corner tank. The location I am using in my house lends itself to a corner tank. I had initially focused on a cube, but then found a good deal on this tank on black friday.

I went a little nuts studying CO2 systems and decided I wanted to set one up for this new tank. Whatever money I saved on the aquarium was more than spent putting the CO2 system together. I pieced together a setup using the following:

DIYCO2regulator.com CO2 Regulator Post Body Kit
Micromatic Premium Series Primary Double Gauge CO2 Regulator
PneumaticPlus PPR2-N02BG-2 Miniature Air Pressure Regulator
Aqua Medic CO2 Reactor 1000
EHEIM Compact+ Pump 2000

A dedicated intake leads to the Eheim pump. The pump pushes the water into the reactor which then goes straight back to the aquarium via its own return line.

I have a 5lb CO2 tank connected to the double gauge regulator. This first regulator drops the pressure to 30 psi. The second regulator reduces the psi to 3-4 and the needle valve is giving me the ability to finely regulate the CO2 supply. I am trying to learn how to use this CO2 system on my existing 20 gallon tank before I begin setting up the new 54 gallon tank.

What I am learning
After following these forums for a month or two I have a better understanding of how CO2, KH, and ph fit together. I am still using the 20 gallon tank as it seemed wiser to learn about CO2 in an established tank. Again my tap water is consistently:
ph - 7.6
GH - 2-3
KH -2-3
(as measured by API test kits and my pathetic attempts to distinguish colors)

I do not understand why, and this seems counter to everything I have read, but when I remove the carbon from my filter the ph goes up. After years of the ph running at 7.6, when I removed the carbon it went up over 8.5. After putting the carbon back in my ph returned to 7.6. And when I removed it again it went up over 8.5. All of this without CO2 and with some desperate water changes on behalf of the fish.

As I am begging to work with CO2 I have also begun to use Seachem's Alkaline Buffer and Equilibrium. My impression is that I want my water to be a little harder if I am going to be using CO2.

In my current state I am running CO2 at 1-2 bubbles per second. No carbon in the filter. And I am very gradually using the Alkaline Buffer and Equilibrium. This afternoon my water is measuring:

ph - 7.6
GH - 3
KH -3

Fertilizer
I purchased 500ml of each of the following from Seacham:
- Nitrogen
- Phosphorous
- Potassium
- Trace
- Flourish
- Iron

I have been following, or attempting to follow, the directions on these bottles. This means twice a week am adding the following to my 20 gallon tank:
1.25ml nitrogen
2.50ml phosphorous
3.33ml potassium
5.00ml trace
1.66ml flourish
2.00ml iron (adding this the day after the other five fertilizers)

This seems like an expensive approach to fertilizing, but my inclination is to start with as few unknowns as possible. This approach helps me reduce the number of errors I can make. While I have more than one graduate degree, none of them are in a basic science. The one and only year of chemistry I took in high school was focused on converting lab equipment into drug paraphernalia. If I can get it right with the Seacham fertilizers I will then likely try to move to dry fertilizers.

Questions I am pondering
1) What GH/KH should I be aiming for? I am thinking something in the 5-6 range.

2) I have been happy with the Marineland 24 inch LED planted light. I plan to use two for the new 54 gallon Aqueon corner tank. The unusual corner shape gives me space for two of these. Ultimately I think I would like to try to suspend them from the ceiling and hang them over the tank. The 54 gallon tank is 23 inches deep. Would two of the Marineland LEDs constitute medium or high light?

3) For the new tank I will be switching from the Fluval 206 to the EHEIM professionel 4+ 350 canister filter. What should I use in each of the three media baskets?

4) It seems like I need to be more thoughtful in how I plant the 54 gallon aquarium. What should I be planting with 2 mainland LED lamps and CO2 in a tank that is 23 inches deep?

5) My impression is that I am under-fertilizing. When I setup the new tank should I begin titrating up all the fertilizers at once, or should I stagger titration?
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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-11-2017, 01:53 AM Thread Starter
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Old and new

I am soaking decorations and contemplating how to avoid creating a larger algae farm.
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post #3 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-11-2017, 02:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMullin View Post
Questions I am pondering
1) What GH/KH should I be aiming for? I am thinking something in the 5-6 range.

2) I have been happy with the Marineland 24 inch LED planted light. I plan to use two for the new 54 gallon Aqueon corner tank. The unusual corner shape gives me space for two of these. Ultimately I think I would like to try to suspend them from the ceiling and hang them over the tank. The 54 gallon tank is 23 inches deep. Would two of the Marineland LEDs constitute medium or high light?

3) For the new tank I will be switching from the Fluval 206 to the EHEIM professionel 4+ 350 canister filter. What should I use in each of the three media baskets?

4) It seems like I need to be more thoughtful in how I plant the 54 gallon aquarium. What should I be planting with 2 mainland LED lamps and CO2 in a tank that is 23 inches deep?

5) My impression is that I am under-fertilizing. When I setup the new tank should I begin titrating up all the fertilizers at once, or should I stagger titration?
1. Research the plants you wish to grow and try to stay close to their needs.
2. 23" deep tank can be tough. Any PAR data on the Marineland lights?
Again what plants are desired?
3. Media? If this were my tank. Pumice or Seachem Matrix would be my choice for Bio-media.
I presently use lava rock which has been more than adequate.
Purigen in "The Bag" by Seachem would be my second compartment.
Some sort of foam type media to grab particulates would be third.
Not sure how that filter stacks up but flow-wise foam/floss, Purigen, and then Bio-media.
4. Again @ 23" I am unsure of the PAR values, maybe some light research?
5. Seachem is under fertilizing IMHO.
NilocG.com sells dry ferts and is a member here. I recommend a small scale and measured ferts.
My new philosophy is dose to reach 15-20ppm of NO3 and 1.5ppm of PO4 with a PPS-Pro Mix.

I hope this helps in some way.


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Growing is not that difficult.
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post #4 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 02:09 AM Thread Starter
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Again @ 23" I am unsure of the PAR values, maybe some light research?
Very helpful. Here is what marineland says about their lights:
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post #5 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 06:09 AM
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My 20 gallon long. I also have a 54 gal corner tank like yours .
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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
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My 20 gallon long. I also have a 54 gal corner tank like yours .
Impressive. You seem to have healthy plants and little algae. Any thoughts on how I should approach my new 54 gallon in terms of light and plants?
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post #7 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 04:15 PM
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I have run the filter with the setup it shipped with: foam, bio-foam, bio-max bio rings, polishing pad, and carbon.
I think I am reading right that you are using carbon in your canister. I was under the impression that using carbon (activated) in the filter would impact your ferts. I am by no means an expert but just sharing other information I have read.
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post #8 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-12-2017, 05:01 PM Thread Starter
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I think you are correct. Prior to using fertilizers I was using carbon. Once I started using fertilizers I stopped using carbon in my filter. For some reason this seemed to cause an increase in my pH.
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post #9 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-13-2017, 12:50 AM Thread Starter
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1. Research the plants you wish to grow and try to stay close to their needs.
Any advice on a trustworthy source for researching plant needs?
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post #10 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-13-2017, 01:28 AM
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post #11 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-13-2017, 02:03 AM
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It looks like 2 of those lights will get you into the high light range, depending of course, on how high above the tank you put them. Are you going to be able to space out 2 36" lights? I thought you might need a shorter one towards the back. I have a 92g corner tank. You have it a little easier because mine has some bracing on top. My tank is 48" from front corner to front corner, but because of corner bracing on top I can only use a 36" light. I have and 18" in front of that and a 24" behind it.
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post #12 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-13-2017, 11:26 PM Thread Starter
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My 20 gallon long. I also have a 54 gal corner tank like yours .
Can you share a list of plants and fish you keep in the 54 gallon tank?
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post #13 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-14-2017, 02:29 AM Thread Starter
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It looks like 2 of those lights will get you into the high light range, depending of course, on how high above the tank you put them. Are you going to be able to space out 2 36" lights? I thought you might need a shorter one towards the back. I have a 92g corner tank. You have it a little easier because mine has some bracing on top. My tank is 48" from front corner to front corner, but because of corner bracing on top I can only use a 36" light. I have and 18" in front of that and a 24" behind it.
The two Marineland's that I have are both 24 inches. Initially they will be on the tank lid. Ultimately I would like to suspend them from the ceiling. When they are on the lid they will be spaced ~4 inches apart. If I suspend them I will be able to make that distance greater, likely 6-8 inches.

May ask how deep your tank is?
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post #14 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-14-2017, 03:14 PM
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The two Marineland's that I have are both 24 inches. Initially they will be on the tank lid. Ultimately I would like to suspend them from the ceiling. When they are on the lid they will be spaced ~4 inches apart. If I suspend them I will be able to make that distance greater, likely 6-8 inches.

May ask how deep your tank is?
It's 24" deep. I've played around with a few different light setups. What I have now provides pretty good growth but I'm still not real happy with the appearance of the color. I'll probably eventually build a light for it. Some sort of powerful pendant light would probably work better. I have a full sheet metal shop so I was able to build a curved hood front. It's 12" tall. I can make one as tall as I want to conceal lights.
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post #15 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-15-2017, 03:49 PM
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Sounds like a nice project

I, too, use the Seachem products for dosing and used their dosing calculator to determine the amounts and schedule

Seachem - Dose Calculators

Or instead use this weekly dose chart as a basis and adjust the numbers to match your aquarium size

http://www.seachem.com/downloads/cha...Dose-Chart.pdf

That said I found the chart to be too rich and scaled back the amount of dosing in order to get nitrates around 20-30ppm and phosphates around 1-3ppm, keeping them at the desired 10:1 ratio

I do not dose Seachem trace or advance; you can skip using Excel since you'll be using CO2

In order to save some $$s you can make your own 500ml NPK solutions using dry ferts...I wanted to include that reference here but can't locate the url. Meantime this site explains ferts very well and different dosing strategies

Aquarium-fertilizer.com -

As to your questions:

1) Your tap water KH and GH numbers seem fine to me but 5-6 should work, too. I use 100% RODI and reconstitute it to 5GH using Barr's GH booster, and 4KH using potassim bicarbonate (postassim carbonate will work, too; some use sodium bicarbonate aka baking soda, but I prefer not due to the sodium)

2) I use LED but not the Marineland products. Start with those units and go from there

3) I recommend mechanical and biological stages. I can't explain what you saw using carbon vs pH - I don't use carbon

4) Start with easy plants and once you've mastered them move up to more difficult. The type of scape you want to keep could determine what you begin with. Aquatic plant central has a plantfinder 'database' with plant descriptions and difficulty ratings (ease, moderate, hard, etc.) - I always found it helpful. An aquarium of ferns, mosses, and driftwood can look stunning

5) Get some test kits and find a dosing schedule/regimen that works for you and start there
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