90 gallons of sorrow - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-22-2018, 04:38 AM Thread Starter
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90 gallons of sorrow

My experience in the hobby is not that long compared to many; I have had some kind of an aquarium for about 20 years, planted tanks for about 19 of those 20, and been CO2-injected for about the last 10. I keep boring, easy community fish like clown loaches and boring, easy plants like java fern and BBA.

For about the last decade, my 90 gal tank has looked like the pictures below. The fish are happy, but the plants... The plants would probably rather be somewhere else, like a compost pile. I have tried to fix it. You would think that 10 years of screwing around and reading forums like this would helped, but somehow, I keep missing the mark. I have all the equipment and chemicals I should need to succeed, but I could not get it all to work together, and eventually I gave up.

In the last decade I have probably killed $300 worth of store-bought plants, and I probably blew enough CO2 into the air to hasten climate change. Sorry about that.

Well, I am trying again. I'm getting some good help elsewhere on this forum, and open to changing just about everything except the substrate.

Maybe this time things will be different.




The first thing to do is clean the tank. I do that every month or so, but to do it right I need to vacuum the substrate, and I don't have a way to do that right now. I decided to make my own vac that would easily mate to the hose I use for water changes. This is a drink bottle and one hardware store fitting with different sized hose barbs on each end. I drilled a hole in the cap, and glopped aquarium sealant all around inside the cap for good measure. Not counting the sealant, it cost about $2 to make this. I'll use it tomorrow when the sealant has dried.



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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-22-2018, 04:47 AM
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Heh if I could grow algae walls like that I might just leave them but do you have more info about the tank?

Maybe some more info like what kind of lights/lighting period/water params/what you're dosing might help people help you. That looks like a weak t8 on a fairly deep tank... is this accurate?
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-22-2018, 05:02 AM
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This made me laugh... your sense of humor is not at all lost and that is the important thing.
Good luck to you!


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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-22-2018, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wobblebonk View Post
Heh if I could grow algae walls like that I might just leave them but do you have more info about the tank?

Maybe some more info like what kind of lights/lighting period/water params/what you're dosing might help people help you. That looks like a weak t8 on a fairly deep tank... is this accurate?
I deliberately left out details because lots of things are changing, and I am getting a hand in another thread. Doesn't hurt to say it again though! Summary is it's 2x55W TG11 tubes, 23" to the Turface (fired clay) substrate, also the tubes are... many years old. The tap water is so soft that it's almost distilled, I am using CO2 (but probably not enough, or not timed right), and I am not using ANY ferts or water treatment. So clearly, nothing is right.

I used to have more light via 4x T5HOs, but it was too much light, even when I was trying ferts, so I started pulling bulbs out and eventually rolled back to this old fixture. If I have success and want more light I can always double up on LED units.

The one nice thing about letting the tank run on cruise control for a decade is now there are some great lighting options that don't need bulbs!

(What is funny is the tank looked its best a million years ago with the LFS T8 hood on it... low light and I had a lot of beginner plants like val in there, and not surprisingly it did OK. Then I "upgraded" my lights and all hell broke loose despite adding CO2 and trying to fertilize appropriately. Eventually I gave up and ended up here.)

The game plan is:
  • Replace lights (Fluval LED 3.0 on the way; it may not have more PAR than what I have now but at least it won't get dim every year when I neglect feeding it new bulbs)
  • Thorough cleaning to "reset" tank (gravel vac, scrape algae, trim plants, a few water changes)
  • Boost GH a few degrees and maintain that through water changes
  • Add more plants (easy, fast-growing varieties)
  • Begin a conservative fert regime
  • Tune CO2 delivery
  • Tune ferts
  • Keep on top of weekly water changes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Discusluv View Post
This made me laugh... your sense of humor is not at all lost and that is the important thing.
Good luck to you!
Thanks!
If I couldn't laugh I'd cry.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-30-2018, 04:52 AM Thread Starter
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Over the last week I have made some major changes to the farm.

First, a new light, a Fluval LED 3.0. Compared to my low-tech worn-out fluorescent tubes, it is amazing. I dialed the Fluval down to about the same output as the old lights to start with. Don't need MORE algae, do I?

Then, I cleaned the tank thoroughly. Now, I have been keeping a farm for a long time... over 10 years for this tank, and close to 20 overall. Still, I saw colors I had never seen before when I cleaned the tank. Turquoise?! This MUST be due to the different light color from the Fluval... Right?!



After scraping everything I could reach, the tank water looked like this.



After a few days of filtration, a couple of water changes, and adding some new plants from a swap meet, this is what it looks like.



The new plants are: Crypt spiralis tiger, Juncus repens, Rotala mini butterfly, Ludwigia pantanal, Rotala sp. Enie, Vallisneria nana tiger, mayaca fluviatillis, Ludwigia atlantis. Some of these are difficult or slow growing, but they were at hand and cheap so I went for it. Hopefully there is enough fast-growing stock. I can always add more.

I've also boosted GH to 5 degrees, per advice I received on the forum.

Next steps are to tune CO2 delivery, adjust photoperiod, and begin dosing ferts.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-30-2018, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyano View Post
I deliberately left out details because lots of things are changing, and I am getting a hand in another thread. Doesn't hurt to say it again though! Summary is it's 2x55W TG11 tubes, 23" to the Turface (fired clay) substrate, also the tubes are... many years old. The tap water is so soft that it's almost distilled, I am using CO2 (but probably not enough, or not timed right), and I am not using ANY ferts or water treatment. So clearly, nothing is right.

I used to have more light via 4x T5HOs, but it was too much light, even when I was trying ferts, so I started pulling bulbs out and eventually rolled back to this old fixture. If I have success and want more light I can always double up on LED units.

The one nice thing about letting the tank run on cruise control for a decade is now there are some great lighting options that don't need bulbs!

(What is funny is the tank looked its best a million years ago with the LFS T8 hood on it... low light and I had a lot of beginner plants like val in there, and not surprisingly it did OK. Then I "upgraded" my lights and all hell broke loose despite adding CO2 and trying to fertilize appropriately. Eventually I gave up and ended up here.)

The game plan is:
  • Replace lights (Fluval LED 3.0 on the way; it may not have more PAR than what I have now but at least it won't get dim every year when I neglect feeding it new bulbs)
  • Thorough cleaning to "reset" tank (gravel vac, scrape algae, trim plants, a few water changes)
  • Boost GH a few degrees and maintain that through water changes
  • Add more plants (easy, fast-growing varieties)
  • Begin a conservative fert regime
  • Tune CO2 delivery
  • Tune ferts
  • Keep on top of weekly water changes


Thanks!
If I couldn't laugh I'd cry.

There are some "secret" tricks that people use to keep things algae free:

*Metracide 14-day "liquid carbon" (or name brands) - People use this in high tech tanks when algae gets out of control.

*More and more filtration - They remove wastes the eyes cant see. I have the feeling there is never enough filtration.

*Purigen - also removes organic wastes.

* Better circulation- Get one of those cheap SunSuns to move around the water. Put it on a timer so its only running a couple hours a day.

* More PAR - Its a deep tank, so it's my belief that more PAR, not less will help, assuming CO2 and ferts. YOu can always shorten the cycle, so its best to have a light that can reach the bottom of your deep tank.

*New tubes - I have read that the spectrum and PAR of old tubes changes.

*RO water - Your local water may have "things" that hinder plant growth. Too much kh?

*Better plant varieties - I have some plants that just resist algae better. Its usually the ones with thicker foliage. Some swords would look great in there. The trick with stem plants is to get them growing fast enough so that you can top and replace the bottoms.

*Keep it clean, it will stay clean - Algea begets more algae.

*UV filter- Can help kill algae spoores, may keep algae growth down.

*Ferts- Pick a method and stick to it. Dont forget micros. I use CSM+B and Equilibrium.

*Soil- I now have a low tech tank and a high tech. Low tech tank with soil and no CO2 still showing good growth.


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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-30-2018, 04:57 PM Thread Starter
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I have Metricide and have had good luck with using it to control BBA. In fact right now I have little BBA, most of it seems to be some kind of green hair algae.

I have a lot of PAR on tap from a new LED fixture, and I know my water parameters. (I got a detailed lab test once because I also brew beer.) I could use more and different plants still I bet, but starting the right fert regime seems like the next big step--and I'm not sure which way to go. My goal is to keep the tank looking good with the least effort possible, not to win aquascaping awards. I'll dose daily if I have to, a couple times a week would be better even if that brings a compromise in the kinds of plants I can grow.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-30-2018, 05:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyano View Post
I have Metricide and have had good luck with using it to control BBA. In fact right now I have little BBA, most of it seems to be some kind of green hair algae.

I have a lot of PAR on tap from a new LED fixture, and I know my water parameters. (I got a detailed lab test once because I also brew beer.) I could use more and different plants still I bet, but starting the right fert regime seems like the next big step--and I'm not sure which way to go. My goal is to keep the tank looking good with the least effort possible, not to win aquascaping awards. I'll dose daily if I have to, a couple times a week would be better even if that brings a compromise in the kinds of plants I can grow.
Probably easiest to go with an EI dry fert package with CSM+B. Mix the dry fertz into solutions you can dose throughout the week.


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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-31-2018, 04:48 AM Thread Starter
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That's basically what I am doing. I measured out a few weeks of ferts into little plastic cups like you'd get with take-out so they are ready to go. Once I get things finalized I may switch to liquid.

Tonight I got my water dialed in and figured out dosing to keep it that way during water changes too:

3 dKH, 4 dGH, pH 6.6. KH/pH means CO2 is at 30 PPM, supported by a green drop checker. I'll check NO3 in a few days and then weekly.

I do need to improve CO2 delivery so it gets to 30 PPM earlier, but that's one of the last things that needs tweaking.

Now we'll see if Nature agrees with my plans... Her vote is the only one that matters.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-08-2018, 08:37 PM Thread Starter
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Here is a current image. The week-old plants do have some new growth, which is nice.

I have continued to slowly increase my CO2 levels, and started the gas earlier. The drop checker is now dark green when the lights come on, and lime green an hour or so later. Per a KH/pH/CO2 chart I should be over 30 PPM now, but maybe it's not as high as I think yet, hard to be sure.

Other details are in this post, over in the thread where I first appealed for help.

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