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post #1 of 57 (permalink) Old 01-05-2018, 02:11 AM Thread Starter
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Elusive's 36G

I decided to start a new journal. I have an old one but so much has changed since I originally posted it, that it's almost a completely different tank. If you want to see what it looked like back then, you can see it here

I always meant to update my old journal, but I never felt the tank looked good enough. I kept saying, maybe next week. Or I just want to get this plant to look a little better first. And as most of you know, it never looks good enough. But I think I finally realized, after reading a lot of other journals, that a journal is more to document an imperfect tank and the progression (or even digression) it goes through. It's more for the poster than others. But if someone else gets something positive from it, so be it. So here it is, with all of it's flaws, algae, struggling plants, and everything else. Its a mess, but it's my mess. And let's just hope it continues to get better.



Tank

Aqueon 36 Gallon bowfront
30"x15"x21"

Filtration

SunSun 304B 525GPH

Flow
Koralia Nano 425
Sun JVP-110 528 GPH

Substrate

Black Diamond blasting sand

Lighting

Finnex Planted + 24/7 30"
Beamswork DA Fspec 30"

Mounted at 19" about the substrate. My best guess is that this gives me somewhere around 80 PAR at sub. But I'm really not sure. Wish I had access to a PAR meter to know for sure. Have considered adding another light to supplement, either another small LED or a single T5HO. Holding off for now though.

Ferts

For the most part I follow EI. I have been playing with it a lot lately though to try and find what works best. Most recently I switched away from using CSMB as a micro fert. I was having a lot of problems that I just couldn't figure out, pretty similar to what @burr740 and others on here have experienced. So I have started mixing my own based on @burr740's base formula. It seems to have made things much better. I also do a 50%-60% water change weekly.


Livestock
German Blue Ram ( used to have a pair)
Bolivian Ram
Australian Rainbows
Peppered cories
Albino Cory
Green Cory
Julii Cory
Ember tetras
Swordtail
Guppy
Kuhli loaches
Otos
BN Pleco
Mystery snails
Nerite snails
Malaysian trumpet snails (by the 1000s - that was a mistake)
Assasin snails ( for the MTS)
A ghost shrimp or two that have survived

Plants

Ludwigia Repens
Ludwigia brevipes
Rotala Colorata
Hygrophila Pinnatifida (still trying to get established)
Rotala Pink
hemianthus callitrichoides (maybe it will survive)
Syngonanthus Belem (Almost melted completely but coming back slowly)
Ammania Senegalensis (One surviving struggling stem)
Blyxa Japonica
Bacopa Salzmanii
Bacopa Monierii
Bacopa Colorata
Hygrophila Araguaia
Pogostemon Kimberley
Ludwigia sp Red
Rotala H'ra
Limnophila Wavy
Limnophila Aromatica
hygrophila corymbosa
Bucephelandra Green
Staurogyne Repens
Vallisneria spiralis 'Leopard'
Hydrocotyle leucocephala
hydrocotyle verticillata
Cabomba Purple
Fissidens Fontanus
Proserpinaca palustris
alternanthera reineckii mini

I think that is all of them, but I definitely could have forgotten some of them. I probably have way too many plants for this small space.

I still struggle with a lot of things in this tank. I almost always have GSA on the glass, rocks, and plants, which eventually changes to BBA. I also recently got an infestation of green hair algae. It attaches on lower parts of a lot of plants that are struggling, and it's practically covering my Fissidens Fontanus. I hate it and I've really had a hard time figuring out how to get rid of it.

Thoughts and suggestions are always welcome.


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Last edited by elusive77; 01-05-2018 at 02:20 AM. Reason: Forgot some plants - Might be more later
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post #2 of 57 (permalink) Old 01-05-2018, 02:29 AM Thread Starter
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Here's a few more pics....

One note: All of these pics were taken after a week of no ferts because of the holidays. Surprisingly some of the plants looked better in a lot of ways such as leaf size and shape. But you will notice a lot of them starting to show deficiency signs.

Ludwigia Repens - I've had a hard time with this plant. The new growth was always small and twisted and the color has never been quite right. Recently it has started to turn around the leaves look much better. Hoping that will continue. Of course you can see some deficiency signs here from the week off ferts. The color is really light, not that it ever gets as red as it should. You can also see the Limnophila Wavy in the back which is almost white on top because of deficiencies. Hopefully these will improve this week.



Ludwigia Brevipes - Again showing some deficiencies with the lighter coloring on the leaves. But the the leaves are as big as they've ever been and nice and flat. In the past the new growht would be small and curled under.



My German Blue Ram. This is my favorite fish. I had a pair, bur the female recently died. It makes me sad. But he is beautiful.




Another thing I have been struggling with is CO2. It's been really hard to find the right balance. If I shoot for 1.0 Ph drop at lights on, it usually continues to climb until the fish are gasping. I tried turning it on earlier at lower rate, but I'm already at 3 hours before lights on. The other struggle is that that it's really hard to make adjustments with my needle valve. I have a Fabco NV-55, which I thought was a pretty good valve. But if I make the smallest adjustment possible it can change the peak ph .3 or .4. So I may have to bite the bullet and get a better needle valve. If anyone has suggestions, I'm open to them.
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post #3 of 57 (permalink) Old 01-05-2018, 04:23 PM
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Funny... you feel the tank doesn't look good enough to post. First pic and I thought to myself "wow". Unfortunately I can't really offer any advice. You are clearly better at this than I am. You are probably doing weekly water changes, but around day 6 I always notice a little algae grabbing onto my moss. Yours is really high up though.. it's going to be tough to keep algae out of that with that kind of par.

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post #4 of 57 (permalink) Old 01-06-2018, 01:14 AM Thread Starter
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Funny... you feel the tank doesn't look good enough to post. First pic and I thought to myself "wow". Unfortunately I can't really offer any advice. You are clearly better at this than I am. You are probably doing weekly water changes, but around day 6 I always notice a little algae grabbing onto my moss. Yours is really high up though.. it's going to be tough to keep algae out of that with that kind of par.
Thanks for the kind words. Ive definitely learned a lot since I first started, mostly from the awesome people here. I'm sure I'll never feel like it looks good enough.

Yeah the fissidens at the top does get a lot of PAR. The interesting thing is the the big patch down lower gets the most green hair algae. It will get completely covered. I have to get out the scissors and cut it off. I haven't a better method. Theoretically though high PAR shouldnt matter as much if the co2 is solid. Which is why that's something I'm looking at right now.

I measured pH this morning before lights on and it was at 7.9. I measured again when I got home right in the middle of the light cycle and it was 6.9. So I'm probably still not getting a full 1.0 pH drop by lights on. I need to check at lights on to be sure. It's just a hard thing to dial in, especially when making even a small adjustment on my needle valve leads to such a big change in co2.

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post #5 of 57 (permalink) Old 01-06-2018, 04:53 AM
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Have you tried an occasional hydrogen peroxide blast? I leave all the filters running and just use a syringenandnblast about 15-20ml right on it to kill algae occasionally. It works.

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post #6 of 57 (permalink) Old 01-06-2018, 05:13 AM Thread Starter
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Have you tried an occasional hydrogen peroxide blast? I leave all the filters running and just use a syringenandnblast about 15-20ml right on it to kill algae occasionally. It works.
I have not tried hydrogen peroxide yet. I know mosses and fissidens are pretty sensitive. I tested a shot of Excel on a small piece and it killed both the algae and fissidens. I'm guessing hydrogen peroxide might do the same but I should test it.

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post #7 of 57 (permalink) Old 01-06-2018, 10:17 AM
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Very impressive.
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post #8 of 57 (permalink) Old 01-06-2018, 12:55 PM
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Looks like the start of an interesting journal. Like others said above, all in all looking very good.

A couple of thoughts. In my experience, the color of L. Repens is directly tied to PAR. You are guessing 80 PAR? So could be 60 or maybe 100? Big difference there.

Looks like you have it placed near the edge of the tank. PAR is not uniform across the substrate. It tails off pretty quickly at the edges. So let's say you have 80 PAR in the center, you might have more like 40 or 50 PAR at the edges. I would move the Repens more toward the center of the tank where there is the highest PAR and see how it reacts. I am guessing it will show more color.

As to CO2, getting the level right is extremely important, and has a big impact on algae growth. I would do what you need to do to get that fixed first. I'm not an expert on needle valves, as personally I use a pH controller, but hopefully others can help you there.

Looking forward to seeing how things develop for you. Subscribed.


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post #9 of 57 (permalink) Old 01-06-2018, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by The Dude1 View Post
Funny... you feel the tank doesn't look good enough to post. First pic and I thought to myself "wow". Unfortunately I can't really offer any advice. You are clearly better at this than I am. You are probably doing weekly water changes, but around day 6 I always notice a little algae grabbing onto my moss. Yours is really high up though.. it's going to be tough to keep algae out of that with that kind of par.
Was thinking the same thing - impressive at first glance! Over the last year I have had several battles with various algae and have learned a bit with regards to kicking its butt (or just living with it, sortof).
You definitely have enough light power. One thought would be to adjust the light timing a bit. Start the CO2 1-2 hours ahead of lighting, then turn on 1 light for 1-2 hours and run it for a total of 6 hours. Turn on the 2nd light 1-2 hours after the first light and run it for a total of 6 hours (or something similar). This would give you your strongest lighting during your peak CO2 period (both lights on) but reduce some of the overall light time which may help with some of the algae issues.

CO2, agree a good needle valve is a must. As for the quality of yours, I cannot comment as I know little about the various CO2 hardware other than what I currently have seems to work well and is very stable. With that said, my experience is not to dwell on getting the CO2 level to 1 point drop before the lights come on. If you can get to a 1 point drop for at least the last 1/2 of your lighting period that should work out well. In my case the lights run about 9 hours and I would guess the CO2 level is near a 1 point drop for about 6-7 hours of the lighting period (still fine tuning a bit now that I am closer to the power of the sun, LOL)


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post #10 of 57 (permalink) Old 01-06-2018, 03:18 PM Thread Starter
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Looks like the start of an interesting journal. Like others said above, all in all looking very good.

A couple of thoughts. In my experience, the color of L. Repens is directly tied to PAR. You are guessing 80 PAR? So could be 60 or maybe 100? Big difference there.

Looks like you have it placed near the edge of the tank. PAR is not uniform across the substrate. It tails off pretty quickly at the edges. So let's say you have 80 PAR in the center, you might have more like 40 or 50 PAR at the edges. I would move the Repens more toward the center of the tank where there is the highest PAR and see how it reacts. I am guessing it will show more color.

As to CO2, getting the level right is extremely important, and has a big impact on algae growth. I would do what you need to do to get that fixed first. I'm not an expert on needle valves, as personally I use a pH controller, but hopefully others can help you there.

Looking forward to seeing how things develop for you. Subscribed.
Thanks for your input. I think you are right about the Repens. I'm sure it gets a lot less PAR on the sides. I wish I had a better place to put it, but since it's a taller fast growing plant it's hard to put it in the center anywhere. Especially with as overcrowded as I've made my tank lol. I do definitely notice it getting more color as it gets closer to the top of the tank and gets more PAR. That's one reason I've considered adding another supplemental light to give more PAR even at the sides. But I also agree with your other point that Co2 is the most important thing. I need to get that fixed first before I do anything else. I might have to consider a ph controller as an option. A lot of the really good needle valves are just as expensive it seems like.

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Was thinking the same thing - impressive at first glance! Over the last year I have had several battles with various algae and have learned a bit with regards to kicking its butt (or just living with it, sortof).
You definitely have enough light power. One thought would be to adjust the light timing a bit. Start the CO2 1-2 hours ahead of lighting, then turn on 1 light for 1-2 hours and run it for a total of 6 hours. Turn on the 2nd light 1-2 hours after the first light and run it for a total of 6 hours (or something similar). This would give you your strongest lighting during your peak CO2 period (both lights on) but reduce some of the overall light time which may help with some of the algae issues.

CO2, agree a good needle valve is a must. As for the quality of yours, I cannot comment as I know little about the various CO2 hardware other than what I currently have seems to work well and is very stable. With that said, my experience is not to dwell on getting the CO2 level to 1 point drop before the lights come on. If you can get to a 1 point drop for at least the last 1/2 of your lighting period that should work out well. In my case the lights run about 9 hours and I would guess the CO2 level is near a 1 point drop for about 6-7 hours of the lighting period (still fine tuning a bit now that I am closer to the power of the sun, LOL)
Thanks You guys are all very kind. That's an interesting idea with the lights. It would require a second timer. I'll have to consider that if I'm still having problems after I get the co2 problem fixed. The Fabco is a very solid stable needle valve, it just seems really hard to make fine adjustments with. So I think I need to bite the bulled and buy a new one...... or maybe go with a ph controller like Greggz. What needle valve are you using?
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post #11 of 57 (permalink) Old 01-06-2018, 05:47 PM
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I might have to consider a ph controller as an option. A lot of the really good needle valves are just as expensive it seems like.
You will hear an equal amount of arguments for and against pH controllers.

Here is my take. I keep my rate of flow higher than it needs to be. Can drop pH over 1.3 points in less than an hour. From there it stays pretty much stable, floating from 1.35 to 1.25 drop for the lighting period. The actual setting on the needle valve does not need to be precise. I just want it to enough to drop pH quickly.

And personally I would shoot for a higher than 1.0 drop. I think you will find many who are closer to the 1.4 or 1.3 peak drop. Just keep an eye on the fish the first time you drop it down further. I am just above where I see signs of discomfort from the fish.


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post #12 of 57 (permalink) Old 01-06-2018, 05:57 PM
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I have not tried hydrogen peroxide yet. I know mosses and fissidens are pretty sensitive. I tested a shot of Excel on a small piece and it killed both the algae and fissidens. I'm guessing hydrogen peroxide might do the same but I should test it.

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I have used hydrogen peroxide on fissidens and several other types of mosses, but only a single 3ml blast per area. Most plants can handle 2 or 3 blasts, but not the mosses. Perhaps start out with 1 or 2ml. I also keep all my filters and powerheads going. It's very quick and the algae will die off slowly over a couple days. Normally shrimp and nerites will eat it at that point.

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post #13 of 57 (permalink) Old 01-06-2018, 07:10 PM
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Thanks for your input. I think you are right about the Repens. I'm sure it gets a lot less PAR on the sides. I wish I had a better place to put it, but since it's a taller fast growing plant it's hard to put it in the center anywhere. Especially with as overcrowded as I've made my tank lol. I do definitely notice it getting more color as it gets closer to the top of the tank and gets more PAR. That's one reason I've considered adding another supplemental light to give more PAR even at the sides. But I also agree with your other point that Co2 is the most important thing. I need to get that fixed first before I do anything else. I might have to consider a ph controller as an option. A lot of the really good needle valves are just as expensive it seems like.

Bump:

Thanks You guys are all very kind. That's an interesting idea with the lights. It would require a second timer. I'll have to consider that if I'm still having problems after I get the co2 problem fixed. The Fabco is a very solid stable needle valve, it just seems really hard to make fine adjustments with. So I think I need to bite the bulled and buy a new one...... or maybe go with a ph controller like Greggz. What needle valve are you using?
Swagelok 21 series metering valve. (you need 5 to 6 turns to see the first bubble) is what I am using (actually have 2 of them). I am also running a pair of Milwaukee pH controllers, one on each tank. In my setups I am not running the co2 wide open and using the controller to hold a certain pH level. To me, that would just be asking for dead fish as the pH probe does loose calibration over time (a month?). If you do decide on a different needle valve, take note of how your existing valve ties into the rest of the setup (tube connection or threaded).

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post #14 of 57 (permalink) Old 01-07-2018, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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You will hear an equal amount of arguments for and against pH controllers.

Here is my take. I keep my rate of flow higher than it needs to be. Can drop pH over 1.3 points in less than an hour. From there it stays pretty much stable, floating from 1.35 to 1.25 drop for the lighting period. The actual setting on the needle valve does not need to be precise. I just want it to enough to drop pH quickly.

And personally I would shoot for a higher than 1.0 drop. I think you will find many who are closer to the 1.4 or 1.3 peak drop. Just keep an eye on the fish the first time you drop it down further. I am just above where I see signs of discomfort from the fish.
I think I'm seriously going to consider getting a pH controller. The Milwaukee one on Amazon is only $120. And it would quickly solve my problems.

I have been trying to get more than a 1.0 drop, but every time I make a slight adjustment I come home to a 1.4 or 1.5 drop and my fish gasping. So I've left it where it is.

And I've noticed too that it can vary from day to day. After a big trim and much less plant mass they just aren't using as much so the drop is greater. And I have a powrhead pointed at the surface to give some rippling and help with gas exchange, but as the water level drops, the rippling gets stronger and the drop is lower. So a pH controller just seems like the best way to get stable, dependable co2.

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post #15 of 57 (permalink) Old 01-07-2018, 10:13 PM Thread Starter
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I have used hydrogen peroxide on fissidens and several other types of mosses, but only a single 3ml blast per area. Most plants can handle 2 or 3 blasts, but not the mosses. Perhaps start out with 1 or 2ml. I also keep all my filters and powerheads going. It's very quick and the algae will die off slowly over a couple days. Normally shrimp and nerites will eat it at that point.
I'll have to try that tomorrow on a small piece. I'd really like to get rid of it. And then hopefully if I get my co2 more stable it won't come back. The fissidens looks amazing when it really grows well, but this algae has really hampered it's growth.

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