Need help diagnosing my 6.6 gallon bookshelf tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 08:54 PM Thread Starter
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Need help diagnosing my 6.6 gallon bookshelf tank

Hi everyone! I am having some kind of problem in my 6.6 gallon bookshelf tank, and I'm not sure if it's nutrients, lighting, or what. A little help from you fine, knowledgable people would be GREAT!

Here's the set up...
Tank: 6.6 gallon Petco bookshelf tank
Filter: ZooMed 501 (filled with Aquaclear sponges and biomedia; this tank was cycled with material from my other established tank)
Substrate: Black sand with O+ tabs
Light: Finnex Stingray 24" (about 9-9.5" above the substrate)
Photoperiod: 7am-10am and 7pm-11pm
Plants: Crypt Wendtii 'Tropica', S Repens (both added on 4/26/15) and Rotala Rotifunda, Hydrocoytle sp Japan, and water sprite (added on 5/9/15)
Inhabitants: 3 cardinal tetra, 4 hasborus cory, 2 white cloud mountain minnow, 2 ramshorn snails (the tetra and cory will be moving to my new 15 gallon; more questions on that one coming in a different thread)
pH: ~7.8; GH: 7; KH: 4
Diet: I feed the whole tank once a day (at night; mix of crushed flakes and pellets from and a couple times a week I'll drop in a Hikari wafer (with spirulina, silkworm, and krill) for the cory cats but everyone nibbles on it

The problem I'm having is not knowing how much light this little tank is getting. At least, that's my guess as to the source of the problem. I think it's probably medium light? Maybe low light? I'm not sure, but I think the plants look pretty sad and there's algae everywhere, which suddenly showed up a day or two after I added the second batch of plants. So, at the beginning of this week when I did a 50% water change, I started dosing ferts and Excel. That, in itself, is a mess too!

EI dosing seems pretty straight forward, but it got really confusing between EI Standard, EI Daily, and EI low light/weekly. What I'm trying to go for is Sudeep's Low Tech Excel based aquarium for this setup using dry ferts (NHO3 and KH2PO4), Flourish Comprehensive for micros/trace, and Excel. Here's what I did this week and plan to do unless someone says I'm doing it wrong:

Monday (macros):
-50% water change
-Added 3mL Excel (a little under 0.5 mL/gallon like the bottle says after water change, which I know now is not good to do; I read and learn every day)
-"Pinch" of macros (I was being rushed so I literally just took my planting tweezers and pinched a teeny bit each of KNO3 and KH2PO4 and dropped it in front of the filter output, lol)

Tuesday (micros):
-Added 0.55 mL Flourish Comp per the bottle's instructions (5 mL/60 gallon=0.08 mL/gallon * 6.6 gallons = 0.55 mL)
-Added 0.66 mL Excel (0.1 mL/gallon daily like the bottle says but now I know 0.2 mL/gallon daily regardless of water change is the best option)

Wednesday (macros):
-Added macros according to FertsCalc app; 0.61 g KNO3 and 0.05 g KH2PO4
-Added 0.66 mL Excel

Thursday (micros):
-Added 0.55 mL Flourish Comp
-Added 1.32 mL Excel (0.2 mL/gallon)

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
-I plan to only add 0.2 mL/gallon of Excel until the next water change.

Starting next week I plan to adjust the macros according to Zorfox's dry dosing plan (KNO3 at 46.3 mg/gallon * 6.6 gallons = 0.3 g; and KH2PO4 at 7 mg/gallon * 6.6 gallons = 0.04 g) and keep dosing macros and micros 2x/week on alternating days and Excel every day. I'm thinking I'll make a solution of macros once I figure out the proper dosing; I just don't want to waste it making wrong solutions in the meantime because I don't have very much on hand.

So how does this look? Am I doing something grossly wrong? Here are pics of my tank:

Fuzzy areas are brown algae on the tank walls

Brown algae on the wall and petosky stone and dark green algae on various plant leaves

Hydrocoytle isn't really doing much, not really growing and not really dying

Sad rotala, only the tops are green/slowly growing. The green tops have doubled in length/size this week. (Sorry for the sideways pics; tinypic doesn't have an option for me to rotate it)

Water sprite isn't doing much either; new shoots/growth happening but there's also fuzzy stuff growing on it too

Saw this long string of algae while I was taking pics
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 09:14 PM
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Too much fert, too much light with no co2, excel can work wonders but only to a point, you will need a co2 system to be "algae free", you have to look at what your limiting factor is for plant growth, you are adding more than enough ferts+root tabs, that light should be plenty on a tank that shallow, excel does help but you can only go so far with it, So you either need to cut down on ferts and adjusting lighting, or get a co2 system, depends on what your goals are, I tried riding the line with excel and ferts with no co2 and it just got to be too much of a battle with algae, so I went more low tech less light less ferts and now I can enjoy my tanks vs battling algae. Sure my plants do not grow super fast but yeah that means less trimming
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 10:08 PM Thread Starter
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So the light is more than likely medium to high light at that distance? I thought that might be the case but wasn't 100% sure because of the clear plastic cover between the water and the light. It stays pretty clear but does have condensation on 2/3 of it. I've never had an issue with too much light; it's always the other way around, lol.

I can't really raise the light, so maybe I'll try adding floaters and dosing only 0.2 mL/gallon of Excel every day after the next water change. Or should I dose macro/micro at least once after the next water change?

How's the photoperiod? Is the big gap during the day okay? I have the lights on during the times that we're home and can see the tank.

All I want is a luscious little Low Tech with Excel tank. It seems like there are lots of successful tanks with similar goals on this forum; I just need to figure out how to make it work. But if I'm just going to have algae problems all the time, please don't be afraid to let me know!

Thanks for your input!
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 10:39 PM
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Honestly, it doesn't look that bad. If you can't solve the algae problem, chuck some snails in and let them do their thing. Or maybe try some amano shrimp, or get some cheap neos.

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-28-2015, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
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That's encouraging! I'll add some floaters, dose macros/macros once a week and Excel daily, and see how it goes. If my LFS has some Amanos or cheap neos, I might try a few; they kinda creep me out when I have to put my hands in the tank but are fun to watch, lol.

Any input on the big gap in the photoperiod? Or dropping ferts to once a week?

Last edited by AquaPeanut; 05-28-2015 at 10:59 PM. Reason: typo
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-29-2015, 11:03 AM
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I agree, it looks like CO2 might be your limiting factor. Lots of light, acting as the gas pedal, to drive your plant growth. But not enough CO2 to feed your plants. So the algae is probably having a feast on your ferts. A handful of floating plants, or several bunches of stem plants might help? It usually takes a few weeks to overcome an algae problem, for things to stabilize. My tank is about 7.5 gallons, low tech, micros once a week and two pellets in the substrate. The tank has been algae free for a few months. I think the key is to have a large mass of greens- not just covering the substrate, but occupying a LOT of space through the water column. In shallow tanks, I think that a basic LED can provide a ton of light, because the plants are very close to the light source. Just my thoughts. Good luck with your tank!

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-04-2015, 08:44 PM Thread Starter
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I'm filling up my paintball tanks tonight. My tank is spiraling the drain. The RCS put a pretty good dent in the algae, but my plants look even sadder as they lose their leaves. I stopped adding ferts, only adding 0.2 mL/gallon and 2 days ago dropped my photoperiod to 3 on, 1 off, 3 on.

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