ksand's 25gal journal - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-10-2004, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
 
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ksand's 25gal journal

As a beginner, I want to share with everyone my progress with this new 25 gal. Any suggestions and/or comments will be appreciated. My goal with this tank is to try very acidic water to see if maybe that helps with the hair algae problems which have plagued me thus far.

Here's the tank, just filled last night:

Florabase substrate, 2 65W Coralifes (5 WPG), EJ heater, Fluval 1+, Boyu diffuser, Malaysian driftwood. Noshock needle valve. Regulator and 2-way splitter from www.beveragefactory.com :

Nice bubble counter from Plant Guild, I'm not using the check valve:

And the Boyu diffuser looks pretty cool:

Calculating CO2 will be tricky, because the Florabase takes the pH down 0.4 and KH down 3. Trying Florabase for 1st time, con: it doesn't take much turbulence to kick up clouds of dust. Weird substrate, very light and dusty, almost like dusty peat pellets.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-10-2004, 06:40 PM
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Wow, that's some interesting equipment.

I hate acid buffer when you're trying to do CO2. Augh.

One question, why are you not using the check valve?

James
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-10-2004, 07:33 PM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquaverde
Why are you not using the check valve?
The CO2 tank and the aquarium sit on the same shelf, and the diffuser doesn't produce a back pressure, so I figured, what the heck, live dangerously.

Aqua, when you calc CO2 when the water parameters are affected by something like peat, etc, do you simply adjust the pH and KH up or down before you find the CO2 concentration?
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-10-2004, 08:03 PM
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Trust us Karl, spend $15 and get a check valve!

Check valves are relatively inexpensive and so easy to install that it doesn't make sense to take a chance!

You wouldn't want us to say "I told you so", do you?

Mike

[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-10-2004, 08:17 PM
 
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yea a check valve is a must i thot i would not need one and i had i lesson
learned a check valve is a must btw cant wait for plants [aB]
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-11-2004, 09:19 AM
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I'm not sure what to do with acid buffer. I'm putting a bubble rate into my aquarium that should be dropping the pH .7 or more and all I'm getting is .2 or .3 Buffer would mean the buffering substance keeps readjusting the pH to some level. I'm weak on the chemistry, so I don't know how this is supposed to work. Needless to say, I haven't solved the problem quite yet.

James
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-11-2004, 04:10 PM
 
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well have not used any buffers so i would not know what dose the contaner
say to do and keep adding it untile it hits were you want it
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-11-2004, 04:25 PM
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Which acid buffer is it? Some of these really arn't a buffer, just a highly diluted strong acid. It works by 'eating' away your carbonates (KH), converting it to CO2. The ones to avoid are phosphate based.

I have that glass diffuser. A tip - keep it where water flow can carry the bubbles through the current as opposed to bubbles rising straight up.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-12-2004, 03:33 AM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Momotaro
Trust us Karl, spend $15 and get a check valve!
OK, OK!! I'll get a check valve .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo
Which acid buffer is it? Some of these really arn't a buffer, just a highly diluted strong acid. It works by 'eating' away your carbonates (KH), converting it to CO2.
I suspect the Florabase leeches humic acid, which, as you say, both lowers the carbonate concentration and raises the H+ concentration. I'm wondering how this affects the CO2 calculation. I'm guessing that the CO2 levels would be lower than what the chart says.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo
I have that glass diffuser. A tip - keep it where water flow can carry the bubbles through the current as opposed to bubbles rising straight up.
Gotcha

Quote:
Originally Posted by aquaverde
I'm not sure what to do with acid buffer. I'm putting a bubble rate into my aquarium that should be dropping the pH .7 or more and all I'm getting is .2 or .3 Buffer would mean the buffering substance keeps readjusting the pH to some level. I'm weak on the chemistry, so I don't know how this is supposed to work. Needless to say, I haven't solved the problem quite yet.
Do you use tap water? If so, what is your KH out of the tap?
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-12-2004, 09:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ksand
I suspect the Florabase leeches humic acid, which, as you say, both lowers the carbonate concentration and raises the H+ concentration. I'm wondering how this affects the CO2 calculation. I'm guessing that the CO2 levels would be lower than what the chart says.
Oh, you meant the Florabase. You can find out if the substrate is invalidating the CO2 chart. Test some tank water (w/o CO2) for pH and KH. If you don't get a CO2 reading around 3ppm, then there are other players in your tanks buffering.

You can no longer match KH and pH for an accurate CO2 concentration, BUT this does not make it impossible to know your CO2 levels. Tom Barr stated a method that makes sense to me. A certain amount of CO2 will drop pH approximately the same irregardless. For example, look at a CO2 chart and notice that going from 3ppm to just over 20ppm is about a 1.0 pH drop. Just use the tank's initial pH as a starting point and lower it accordingly w/ CO2.
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-13-2004, 01:31 PM Thread Starter
 
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Plants!

Got some plants. Ludwigia narrow and broad leaf, R, wallachi, Java Fern, and a crypt. Also a stem of R. inidica that survived another tank.


CO2 is around 30, 5WPG is on 10 hrs/day. I have the Greg Watson ferts. Any recommendations on when to start dosing? Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-13-2004, 04:33 PM
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careful with that Flourish, Eugene...

What are you waiting for? Wait, keep reading. Thereís a caveat comingÖ

You really have a pretty sparsely planted tank there- I strongly suggest increasing that. I would be more comfortable with about 2-3x the planting you have. Then I would let the ferts rip. Don't forget micros...

Suggestion #2. Assiduously clean the plants, hardscape, equipment and glass of algae just prior to water change and suck it out with your siphon. That is, if you have any.

Suggestion #3. Donít put any fish in the tank for a month. Ah, method to my madnessÖ

Stop reading now if you have anything important to do. Iím getting ready to go off on my soapbox.

Thereís really no reason to wait on your dosing, especially injecting 30ppm of CO2. Folks are fond of advising that you should wait 2, 3 weeks. Never made any sense to me. But the whole inexplicable ďcompetitionĒ argument never made sense to me, either. Plants during this period of time are living off reserves, so all you can be doing by waiting is to jeopardize their health. Are the plants growing or disintegrating, or doing nothing?

One idea seems to be, that excess nutrients will promote, spark or engender algae. Thatís an idea about dealing with algae that has been in the hobby for decades. And yet, the Barr method (the Estimative Index) that we use involves providing an excess of every nutrient that plants require, except perhaps light.

Since itís Tom Barrís method, letís see what he says.
1. Concentrate on growing plants, not inhibiting algae. Growing plants inhibit algae from growing. I never got an explanation for the mechanism that makes this work. Basically, give the plants everything they need, and theyíll grow, which will inhibit algae growth. Besides, algae can grow off ppb nutrient levels, so inhibition by water column reduction is futile. You will really only stop the plants from growing, then bingo, algae.
2. NH4 is the only nutrient found (so far) that triggers algae. Add NO3 to your heartís content (well, OK, within reason). But, aprŤs NH4, le deluge. Plants prefer to take up NH4 over NO3, but I believe Tom stated at one point that the plants canít reduce the NH4 levels enough to really prevent the algae trigger. This is why he religiously adds mulm to every new tank he starts. Itís the biological filter that completely eliminates the remnant NH4.

Plants are happy as pigs in mud with NO3 as the nitrogen source, so who needs NH4? Thatís the reason I wouldnít add fish until things are growing well and the biological filter is established. If they are growing well, you should be trimming plants every 7-10 days under 5wpg and 30ppm CO2. Is that what you are getting? Adding fish means NH4 from the leftover food and fish poop. The cleanest start Iíve had so far is with no fish. On a new tank with no mulm added (didnít want to risk getting MTS in the tank) and no fish, I got only some glass dust/fuzz. This didnít come back after the first cleaning. Tank wasnít even heavily planted. I dosed from day 1 with DIY CO2.

But! If you are dosing, and you get an ammonia spike (for whatever reason), the resulting algae will be sitting in some tasty soup. It would be easy for someone to mistakenly blame the dosing for the potential horror that followsÖ

Now, just in case you thought I know what Iím talking aboutÖ

Buffering Threadjacking (my apologies, prolly should be a sep. thread)
Just to clarify a little, Iím not using any kind of acid buffer or pH adjustment product. I fully subscribe to the notion that the only substance suitable for lowering pH in a planted tank is CO2. I am totally behexed, flummoxed and bamboozled by the water parameters in my 65. Confused, even.

My tap water, after being rested 24 hrs., reads pH 7.0, KH <1 degree, GH<2 degrees. This varies very little during the year, and Iíve never seen it above 1 and 2 respectively; only lower. Now, what drops pH in the aquarium? Tannins, humic acids, certain silly chemicals, if you use them. Thatís all Iím aware of. Addition of wood can mess with this a little. Usually the pH doesnít change so much as the turbidity and color of the water from tannins. Use of exorbitant amounts of peat or Leonardite can affect the pH, and can add lots of brown tint to the water. I know- I set up a 10g with about 6 or more oz. each of peat and Leonardite, and didnít cover it with enough gravel. Now, as this stuff leaches into the water column, I can expect a drop of pH. I read Tom Barrís post on the subject, stating to just readjust the starting point commensurate with the drop from the acid. Fine.

Iíve got lots of cork bark and some driftwood in the tank, and there isnít any real appreciable darkening of the water from tannins. There is some turbidity; all that wood/bark adds particulates and how. I suck a lot of it up each week at water change time. The substrate is split. One area is moon sand, one area is eco over volcanit. Thereís a very small amount of Leonardite added to amend the substrate, but it was added to the bottom glass, too deep and too little to make water chemistry problems equal to what I am experiencing. I scratched Florabase and ADA substrate offerings off my list when I found they are designed to drop the pH. I have automated my fast tank at significant cost with pH controller & solenoid; Iím not about to deliberately defeat the system by using a product that buffers the pH down artificially.

The measured pH shortly after water change time is 6.5. Even with injection, Iíve never gotten my pH down that low. In the 30, with a KH adjusted to 4 or 5 with baking soda, I would set the level for about 6.7. and the measured pH prior to injection would be about 7.6 or 7.8.

The way I figured it, Iím not able to account for .9 point of pH in the 65, after adding baking soda. There it sits at 6.5, grinning at me. My probe reads correctly; I recalibrated, didnít need to adjust, and it still reads my tap the same.

Iím injecting enough CO2 to open a drugstore fountain, the plants pearl like no tomorrow, but I get a drop only to 6.2. I know I have to be missing something here. I think Iíll scoop up a glass of aquarium water this week and read the value after resting. Anyway, Iíve vented enough for this month.

James
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-13-2004, 04:58 PM Thread Starter
 
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James -

I really do appreciate your taking the time to reply! Sooooo, although plants like the NH4 for their N as per Diane Walstad, excess NH4 triggers algae and plants are really happier with NO3 as per Mr. Barr (well not happier, but they do just as well, it's the algae that are not happy with low levels of NH3). I definitely want to test this theory, it makes perfect sense to me. After I read the Walstad book I (1) replaced all the bio-media in my filters with pure floss and (b) upped my fish load. Yeah, nasty algae now. I'm going to back to the bio-filtration on one of my tanks and see what happens.

OK, so with my new 25 gal... I will follow your suggestions: more plants, then ferts... no fish.

Re: your tank, it's a little too advanced for me but is the problem that your pH readings seem too high for what you expect they should be?

Last edited by ksand; 12-13-2004 at 06:36 PM. Reason: Correction
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-13-2004, 06:32 PM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo
...If you don't get a CO2 reading around 3ppm, then there are other players in your tanks buffering.
...Oh, now I get it...thanks, Rolo, nice tip! That makes sense to me, because I think its correct to say that, in the absence of any CO2 injection, the CO2 in the air in the room is going to be at equilibrium with the CO2 in any standing container of water... so you say about 3 ppm, which jives with me, since my tap water is about pH 7.8, KH 8 or 9, for which the chart gives a CO2 concentration of 3.8 - 4.3 ppm.
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-13-2004, 08:45 PM
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Water change on my 30g with the same system produced about 7.6 pH after adjusting KH. My target would be 6.7 pH for something close to 30ppm. Doing the same thing on the 65, the pH is much lower (6.5-6.6 after adjusting KH). So, this is about a full point pH below what I would expect. If I follow the logic, assume I have acid source lowering the pH a point, my target would now be 5.7. About this time Iím getting really nervous. If there is no real acid buffer, my CO2 is at 75-125ppm at the pH I have (~6.2). That would mean floaters, I think, but I have no floaters. So I have a challenge to figure out exactly what is going on here.

When I get home, I will do Wasserís trick and check pH. Also, will rest some water to check what the real pH is with ambient level CO2.

James
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