Yes, do tell us more!! I need to leave my tank on it's own for 3 weeks and any insight would be appreciated. The fish and tank will be watched over, but I don't trust anyone with the ferts and WC.
Hey Ken- Sure, I'll detail out what I have been doing, albeit not very scientific!
First and foremost was only running the one Beamsworks fixture all summer. This gave me a maximum of 80 PAR at the substrate. Once I got the numbers out of my head and looked at the tank, the 6,500K fixture is quite a relaxing blend that looked more 'nautral' to me. I also have not been running lids since about March or so, so the one fixture with no lids still gives off quite a bit of PAR. Lights are running 8 hrs a day at full (12pm - 8pm)
With that in mind, the CO2 has stayed the same. Full degassed is ~8.0 and I drop to between 6.4 and 6.6 (the trigger points on my controller). No issues with the fish at this level, plenty of surface agitation and a surface skimmer running on one of the canisters. Running for 2 hrs before lights on (getting to 6.6ish) and stopping one hour before lights off.
For ferts I have keep things the same since March as well, which is the dosing I was using at ~145 PAR. I'll add that dosing picture below. I have been front loading all the macros after the water change and then adding a single dose of micros as well. After that I usually add a dose of the Met 14, but that tends to be the only dose I am giving the tank over that time.
Weekly I have been topping of the tank when I begin to hear the sounds of the water coming from the outputs. It is in my office so I hear it quite well. Simply just add water and Seachem Safe, nothing more. I have not even been pulling out dead/ floating leaves, etc. Really, quite the opposite of what this journal preaches most of the time!
As for filter maintenance, I have probably not opened them up since May? Again, against everything I have said, but just have not gotten around to it. I am sure they are horribly nasty inside, and I do need to get to them...
Feeding this fish has been super simple, just using a few different foods and feeding 4-5 times a week. When I am not around (usually no more than 3 days in a row) I just let them be. A few times I have left API test tubes filled with the right amount of dry food for the family to feed them, and at times they remember, at times they forget! Using primarily Hikari Vibra Bites and New Life Spectrum pellets. At times they will get some cubes of frozen blood worms, maybe once a week? Mainly because it is fun to watch them eat those.
As for the plants, between water change the ones that hit the surface I may rip up and replant, or at times just top them and let them keep growing. Right now the plant selection is fairly simple as you can see by the pictures. The limnophila aromatica mini did not take well to this routine, and was tossed back in June time I believe? It would do fantastic after a water change, but after missing 1 week of water change it would stunt. Ludwigia Broadleaf couldn't be performing any better- it loves my water. The ludwigia peruensis is good for 2-3 weeks before it wants to stunt, otherwise does well. The Pogo K, which I had issues with earlier in the year, is doing amazing. Not super think with the stems, but TONS of them. Really happy with the presentation. Others are pretty well status quo. Maybe some stunting after the 3rd week (usually this will be water change time for me) otherwise pretty happy.
The algae as been interesting to me. When I first started these tanks and joined the forum, my goal was tanks like George Farmer, Green Aqua, etc. which were virtually algae free. It really bothered me when I could not achieve this. Now that I have did achieve that in the past for a few months, with high light, etc. I have reached a point where I am balancing between enjoying the fish and the pants. A bit of algae does not bother me, but I suppose it depends what kind. There are select areas where there is BBA, specifically the rocks, S. Repins, and Java Fern. I have come so accept that, and live with it- and let me tell you I am much happier for it! I am not in competition, just enjoying this for myself and my family and visitors to the house (and maybe some here? haha!). There is really no other forms of algae on the plants, no green spot, or dust or hair (knock on wood) or anything really. The glass gets some GDA by week 3, which comes off easy, maybe a little BBA in the back corners as well. Nothing horrible.
You also know about the H2O2/ Met 14 mix spray bottle I do use on water changes to spray the hardware. I take care not to hit any of the plants with this mix, trying to avoid potentially burning them. Every few months all the hardware comes out and get a bleach/ water soak. This removes anything that accumulated over time.
I think this covers most everything, but If you have a question on something I missed I would be happy to add some more. Like I mentioned above, nothing too scientific. I think the key is the 'lower' light level, keeping CO2 bumped high, and some luck? Haha.
Now that the temperatures have swung from 88 as a high to 35 as a low... I suppose I'll be a bit more active on here. Missed lots of conversation over the summer, but hope to get back up to speed and see how everyone is doing!
Reminder: The lighting is 80 for 8, never more. The Micros tend to be just one dose.