Algae control balance - Page 2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #16 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-09-2019, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by tylo255 View Post
My tank has been up for about two months maybe now, and yeah, the Christmas moss has grown a bit, as well as the crypts in the back, but the DHG hasn't spread across at all and the AR has just gone from nice and red to dull. The plants leaves had deteriorated a bit, unfortunately I was trying to save them by dosing and water changes, not really pruning them, the only pruning I did was cutting the tops of DHG to get horizontal movement. My regime has been to change about 25% water twice per week and dose after changing. I meant to only do once per week, but as I was fighting algae, I was doing more. Last night I tested everything in the evening right before the lights were at the end of their 8 hour cycle (which is a Finnex 24/7+ Planted Tank).

Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: 0
pH: 6.5
Iron: 0
Phosphates: 0 ( I thought this being high was going to be the issue actually)
gH: 6 drops
kH: 3 drops (I used the AI test and wasn't quite sure how to read the data to be completely honest)

My CO2 has been set at ~3 drops per second. The drop checker is usually green in the day while the plants (or moreso algae) is photosynthesizing, and it is yellow when I wake up in the morning before the lights go on. The products I dose with are...

Seachem Flourish (0.07-0.01-0.37, it says Micro elements, trace elements and other nutrients)
Seachem Nitrogen
Seachem Phosphorus
Seachem Potassium
Seachem Iron
Seachem Trace

I dose all based on the recommended doses on the back based on the unscientific readings of half a capful. My tank is a 20g high, standard dimension of that I think are 24" x 12" x 16". My filtration is a 206, diffuser is inline with that and I do have the one stock outflow that came with the canister, correct. I should also mention hair algae seems to be the number one grower, I have been giving it haircuts utop the tree, but to clean up within the branches I think I would need a shrimp, which I doubt I could get here or an oto.
You're light is running too strong. Try 4-5 hours set for the best viewing pleasure time of day.
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post #17 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 02:40 AM
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Originally Posted by IntotheWRX View Post
You're light is running too strong. Try 4-5 hours set for the best viewing pleasure time of day.
Why would you do that when youíve got a light where you can program a 3hr morn, 3hr midday, 3hr afternoon cycle at any intensity you want. You donít have to have light going full blast every hour itís on.
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post #18 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 04:48 AM
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Originally Posted by IntotheWRX View Post
You're light is running too strong. Try 4-5 hours set for the best viewing pleasure time of day.
You can grow plants at 16 hrs a day with crazy PAR/light intensity and not have algae problems. I don't think reducing the photoperiod is the optimal solution here.

The problem is related to to the fact that the plants are not growing well enough to outcompete the algae.

@tylo255, do you have livestock in your tank? If not, I would recommend either redoing the whole thing or just going HAM on the CO2, doing judicious water changes, and doing some heavy plant maintenance. Cut off any leaves that are covered in any form of algae, remove whole plants if you need (or if you're desperate to keep the plants, just trim them down to just above the first or second node (where the leaves branch off). I'm pretty much recommending you redo all your planting since the plants obviously aren't doing well (and unfortunately I can't really tell you why they aren't doing well since there are so many factors/possibilities).

If you really want to keep the plants as is, then try to the H2O2-Excel one-two punch method. Works like a charm, but you might need to do multiple rounds. If you have no fauna/livestock, then you can go on the higher end of the acceptable usage ranges on the H2O2 and excel.

If you decide to redo the tank, I highly recommend you read through at least the ADA beginner's guide for starting a planted tank. You can download it for free of their website: https://www.adana.co.jp/en/contents/...pdf/index.html.

Again, decades of work has gone into them developing this, and I've never failed when using their method.

Some really important tips that I think a lot of folks miss with regards to starting a new tank ADA style:
1) On page 11 of the beginner's guide, you'll see a picture of their initially planted tank. You'll notice that it is already very heavily planted. This actually makes a difference, because the more plant mass you start with, the more nominal plant growth you'll get (which competes with algae). In contrast to your set up, you're starting with only a fraction of the plant mass shown in the picture. You can definitely start a tank with less plant mass, but doing so means you need to put in more work during the first month of maintenance.
2) Pages 16 to 19 detail instructions on how to do early stage maintenance on your tanks. It seems like a lot of work, but its absolutely necessary. Even more so if you use ADA amazonia or other nutrient rich substrates since they leech nutrients into the water during the early stages of setup.
3) Don't rush into adding fish. Fish = organic waste load. If the plants in your tank can't handle the organic load before you add fish, it won't suddenly be able to handle the organic load after you add your fish. If your goal is to have a planted show tank, then you really need to give your plants the time to settle in and really stabilize the tank.

Also, another random tip regarding the DHG:
- I think you planted too dense of bunches of the DHG too far apart. When I plant DHG, I plant very small bunches (sometimes as small as 4 or 5 blades per bunch) at ideally 1cm apart. This really speeds up the rate at which the whole carpet develops.
- I will also leave a couple bunches right up against the glass so I can see their root development. Once I see new roots forming, I wait a couple of days and then do a heavy trimming down to about 1" or less to really stimulate their growth some more.
- FME, DHG becomes much more prolific with higher CO2 concentrations. As long as they're not shaded out by other plants, they really should be growing like weeds with good CO2 (and obviously good water flow).

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post #19 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 12:57 PM
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If the light was running full intensity for 8 hrs from the getgo then yes to me that's a problem. So the light should have been around 4-5 hrs intense. If it's programmable then you could probably add some dimmer light before/aft.

I don't know if aquasoil is being used, but either way, I think you added too many fertilizers in the very beginning when the plants are getting adjusted. You certainly don't need to dose extra FE and you probably don't need the trace and the flourish comp, just the comp. If aquasoil all you really need is K and micros for the first 4-6 months.

If your using aquasoil and didn't do daily water changes for at least the first week that would have a large impact. Many things in the ADA startup info are very useful whether you use aquasoil or not and most don't follow it. For example at startup ADA recommends around 75% of the filter media is carbon (page 8 of guide attached by @ced281). Around here, most consider carbon the devil even at startup. In addition daily water changes and short light duration are critical. Planting heavy as mentioned helps but not everyone wants that type of tank. What if your doing an iwagumi? I can assure you I've started up hardscape heavy/low plant mass tanks with the ADA guidelines and it works. Sure you can put stems in initially and take them out, but I've never had to do that if you practice good husbandry.


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post #20 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 03:01 PM
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What size is your tank size in Gallons and height from substrate to your light in inches? (That will determine what your par(light intensity) is from Finnex 24/7)
(29G? 20 Inches?)

1) We should estimate your PAR, answering your tank dimensions will let us know if you have medium or low light.

2) We should make sure you have at least a 1ph drop (pH degassed tank water - just before turning light on pH) to make sure you have more than enough CO2.

3) Low plant mass with long light periods(even low/medium light), deficient Macros(no measureable NO3 and PO4) will likely give you some algae. Your tank is still establishing and growth will be very slow if you continue dosing Macros lean, unfortunately Seachem products are dilute and their reccomendations are lean, arguably too lean for early plant growth.

Use Rotala Butterfly | Planted Aquarium Calculators & Information to determine the ppm values of NPK and Fe that you are dosing and copy them in this thread if you want us to help you adjust your dosing of ferts.

4) Nothing you do will eliminate Algae with such low plant mass, you can reduce it and slow it down, but until you increase your plant mass by ~5X(plant more larger, healthier fast growing plants) or wait a long time it will likely be present. The more plants the better so your plants can outcompete algae.

5) I would some do cleaning at first a major clean. Scrape the glass, trim out the worst algae covered leaves or poor growth, vacuum substrate, blow the leaves(turkey baster) while keeping the vacuum nearby and remove as much algae as possible, then do 2 - 3 successive 50% water changes. After that make sure you are doing one 50% water changes weekly and blowing your plants(turkey baster works) and substrate and then vacuuming weekly to remove organics.


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post #21 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 07:04 PM
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*You can run an AQUARIUM at 16 hours of light a day if it is massively planted. You cannot simply light one single plant in a tank that long and not get algae.

I've noticed a trend about how we reference light patterns without referencing the plant mass in a tank.

Either you have enough plants to eat your fertilizers at a certain lighting threshold or not. One plant (as an extreme example) cannot support that.
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post #22 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 03:43 AM Thread Starter
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I switched my light to 4 hours per day now. I cleaned all the walls of the tank, scraped the rocks and took as much hair algae out of the bonsai as I could. Unfortuantely cleaning the small branches of the tree is very tough. I did have no livestock, but today put in an algae eater with the hope he will get up in the crevices and start to remove that for me. Added some Flourish Excel as well. I have no idea what to dose after all this to be honest. May just keep it simple with Flourish for a while and see how that goes.

I read Wong's site and seems like not trimming is something I should have been paying more attention to. I completely removed the Hygros (they weren't doing that well and I didn't really like the look of them anyways). I trimmed up the anubias and AR. I'm not quite sure what to do with the AR, it all looks dull, but none look dying or with bad leaves, just like...struggling in gerneral? You can't see them in the back as well, but the crypts are actually expanding more than anything else in the tank (although the moss does seem pretty good as well, just those two though). While working I was stirring up a good amount of junk in the substrate, which when doing water changes I was always very careful with since the DHG I was concerned I would uproot. Today I kinda waved my hand at the substrate and stirred it up a bit and it seemed to stay pretty well. The substrate I'm using is ECO Complete. How should I keep the substrate clean without messing with roots? Corys? Can they even do ok if I ever actually manage a nice carpet?

And thanks about the DHG advice, should I just uproot it all and separate it more and replant? It does grow vertically at least and is a nice green that the colors don't show, just not carpeting like I want, I've trimmed them down a few times too.

I suppose at this point it's fair to say my imbalance was too much light, and not enough nutrients (or plants to uptake them). I'm still not sure if my CO2 was ok, but the drop checker was green mostly, so couldn't have been too far off. Although I'm not sure if the kH and gH numbers say otherwise.

And lastly, and maybe most important that I didn't say from the original post, but the reason for the planting is that was what I was going for. really I planned on it being primarily DHG and Christmas moss in the tree, with a bit of other plants (anubais petite and crypts) to break things up and a bit of AR for accent colors. Really what I had planted was about the amount I was going for. I understand there are different way to do things, am I just trying to have an Iwagumi style tank with Dutch style maintenance?
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post #23 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by tylo255 View Post
I switched my light to 4 hours per day now. I cleaned all the walls of the tank, scraped the rocks and took as much hair algae out of the bonsai as I could. Unfortunately cleaning the small branches of the tree is very tough. I did have no livestock, but today put in an algae eater with the hope he will get up in the crevices and start to remove that for me. Added some Flourish Excel as well. I have no idea what to dose after all this to be honest. May just keep it simple with Flourish for a while and see how that goes.
What kind of algae eater did you put in? I assume a siamese algae eater (SAE) since you're targeting the hair algae? I don't think an otocat will be very effective against hair algae. Also, just from my experience, SAEs are great at controlling hair algae, but I've never found them effective at completely eradicating it. The base of that algae bonds pretty tightly (or maybe even grows out of) the leaves and whatever material it is attached to, and the SAEs aren't able to complete get rid of it. I've had the same problem with fuzz algae too. Given this, it's unlikely you'll ever be able to fully clean the branches unless you take out the wood and basically sterilize it. You can try the one-two punch (H2O2 and Excel), but again FME it doesn't completely eradicate the problem.

For now you can probably keep it simple with just Flourish for the micros, but you're eventually gonna have to add in macros once you get a full carpet of DHG. That stuff can grow really fast and will be sucking up all your N and P when fully established. K is also important too to maintain the green-ness of your plants.

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Originally Posted by tylo255 View Post
I read Wong's site and seems like not trimming is something I should have been paying more attention to. I completely removed the Hygros (they weren't doing that well and I didn't really like the look of them anyways). I trimmed up the anubias and AR. I'm not quite sure what to do with the AR, it all looks dull, but none look dying or with bad leaves, just like...struggling in general? You can't see them in the back as well, but the crypts are actually expanding more than anything else in the tank (although the moss does seem pretty good as well, just those two though). While working I was stirring up a good amount of junk in the substrate, which when doing water changes I was always very careful with since the DHG I was concerned I would uproot. Today I kinda waved my hand at the substrate and stirred it up a bit and it seemed to stay pretty well. The substrate I'm using is ECO Complete. How should I keep the substrate clean without messing with roots? Corys? Can they even do ok if I ever actually manage a nice carpet?
For the AR, Dennis has some good basic info on growing them well: https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/ar.html
It pretty much comes down to stability though, so they'll start to look better on their own once you address the overall stability of the tank.

Crypts are heavy root feeders and you are using eco-complete, so I'm not surprised they are doing well.

The anubias will take a lot of patience and a lot of trimming since the leaves grow so slowly and your tank isn't entirely stable yet.

I personally don't like using Corys in tanks w/ carpet plants since then they won't have any substrate to sift through. (But I'm also very bad at taking care of corys and have never really had much success with them so you should definitely ask others for their thoughts). I will say though that I have seen a couple unverified sources comment about not keeping corys in tanks with full carpets, but I don't recall ever hearing that from what I would consider to be a truly authoritative source. To do some light cleaning, you can probably go with the turkey baster approach per Dennis Wong. It's really tedious but it works.

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Originally Posted by tylo255 View Post
And thanks about the DHG advice, should I just uproot it all and separate it more and replant? It does grow vertically at least and is a nice green that the colors don't show, just not carpeting like I want, I've trimmed them down a few times too.
For the DHG, I personally would just buy another pot and plant that in very very small bunches in between all the spaces (since it seems like you are going to try and salvage the tank rather than restart it). You can try uprooting all the DHG and replanting it, but I've never done that since I usually just redo the entire tank if my carpet fails. I imagine it will take the DHG time to adjust to the disruption (and probably/possibly longer than usual since your DHG hasn't been doing so well to begin with). FME I've been most successful with DHG horizontal growth by increasing the CO2 concentration with respect to the lighting. My marker of success/optimal DHG health/growth is if it pearls after a trim. Ideally it should be pearling even without the trim.

I don't know how well it will grow with just 4 hours of light, but I do know it can carpet in lower light environments with high CO2 (it takes time for the plant to adjust to the new light to CO2 ratio though).

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Originally Posted by tylo255 View Post
I suppose at this point it's fair to say my imbalance was too much light, and not enough nutrients (or plants to uptake them). I'm still not sure if my CO2 was ok, but the drop checker was green mostly, so couldn't have been too far off. Although I'm not sure if the kH and gH numbers say otherwise.
I always take the drop checker colors with a grain of salt. I pay more attention to changes in color throughout the day, then the color itself... If it stays dark green all day, then you should suspect that you aren't injecting enough CO2 (assuming you set up the drop checker correctly i.e. right buffer solution, right location in tank, etc).

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Originally Posted by tylo255 View Post
And lastly, and maybe most important that I didn't say from the original post, but the reason for the planting is that was what I was going for. really I planned on it being primarily DHG and Christmas moss in the tree, with a bit of other plants (anubais petite and crypts) to break things up and a bit of AR for accent colors. Really what I had planted was about the amount I was going for. I understand there are different way to do things, am I just trying to have an Iwagumi style tank with Dutch style maintenance?
I think the style you are describing is a "planted iwagumi" which is definitely a style that I've seen work really well. It's basically an Iwagumi that also utilizes stem or other noncarpeting plants in addition to the traditional carpet that Iwagumis typically all have.

I forgot who's video it is, but someone (George Farmer or Oliver Knott maybe?) has a video on how to plant DHG to maximize carpeting for an Iwagumi type setup. One of the tricks to successfully doing an Iwagumi that I learned is starting with a larger plant mass/coverage to control against algae (especially so because the rocks themselves will be taking up a lot of surface area). But, like @Asteroid mentioned, you can make up for lower plant massage with better maintance/plant husbandry/aquagardening. The more DHG you start with though, the faster you'll get your carpet with less risk of algae overruns.

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post #24 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 08:53 AM
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You know, I was seriously underwhelmed when I used ECO complete by itself. I experimented with using it to cap soil, and had a better time growing my crypts. Using nutrient-rich soil also takes some of the pressure off your fertilization dosing plan, since it can help fill in for any deficiencies you might have. All my future planted tanks will probably have some sort of soil substrate.

I'm glad you noticed Wong's emphasis on trimming! That is really good advice. I have never regretted trimming unhealthy plants. It helps with algae too, because unhealthy leaves provide surfaces for algae to grow and leak nutrients that fuel algae growth.

Maintenance is where to focus. If you're dosing appropriately, keeping a clean tank, and doing your water changes, I'm not convinced there's much point to excessive testing and chasing "ideal" parameters.

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post #25 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 04:28 AM Thread Starter
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I really only have two pet stores on island, and neither had SAEs or Otos, which were my first choices. I grabbed the one remaining Chinese algae eater...he's pretty much been useless.

Over the past few days I've been doing large water changes daily and dosing afterwards. I did do the one two punch, and It did improve things, there's still hair algae, but I think I'm going to take the tree out and dip it and Excel it again. It's gone from horrendous, to just bad. So I suppose that's progress. For the time being I will stick to Flourish and slowly add in NPK then.

Before you posted I already had taken out my DHG and replanted it short. I tried to plant less strands this time. It's started to grow out vertically a bit since, which has me nervous. I did up the CO2 so I can try to keep the drop checker in the yellow. Where in the tank is it supposed to be positioned? I wasn't sure there was a right or wrong spot? And I've heard it really just tells you where it was an hour before, but I'm fine with that, I can kinda figure from the lights. And is there any downside to keeping the CO2 on 24 hours? Or am I just wasting it to the air while the lights are off?

And yeah, planted Iwagumi sounds about right. Just want the tree with a bit of added touches, more of a terrestrial look under the water.
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post #26 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 04:40 PM
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Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: 0
pH: 6.5
Iron: 0
Phosphates: 0 ( I thought this being high was going to be the issue actually)
gH: 6 drops
kH: 3 drops (I used the AI test and wasn't quite sure how to read the data to be completely honest)


My CO2 has been set at ~3 drops per second. The drop checker is usually green in the day while the plants (or moreso algae) is photosynthesizing, and it is yellow when I wake up in the morning before the lights go on. The products I dose with are...

Seachem Flourish (0.07-0.01-0.37, it says Micro elements, trace elements and other nutrients)
Seachem Nitrogen
Seachem Phosphorus
Seachem Potassium
Seachem Iron
Seachem Trace

For starters nitrates and phosphates should never be zero. I typically aim NO3 at about 10ppm and phosphate a 1ppm Iron also should also never be zero but I doubt your test kit can reads the 0.1ppm dose I apply to my tank. Zero ammonia and nitrites is ideal. Your PH and KH is fine. So you basically had multiple nutrient defiicencies. This can easily cause algae.

your GH test kit is detecting 6 degrees hardness and and 3 degrees carbonate. These should be fine for now but the GH test only tells you the total calcium / Magnesium levels. Plants like a ratio of about 3 parts calcium to one part Magnesium with some sulfur and chloride. However in many cases tap water is mostly calcium with little to no magnesium. At some point you may want to try boosting your GH level by 2 degrees with a GH booster (seachem equilibrium or nilocg.com GH booster) or you could mix your own using epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) and gypsum (Calcium sulfate).

I would recommend you rey the following doising schedule with what you have:
Flourish Nitrogen 2.7ml 4 times a week for a weekly total of 10ppm NO3.

Flourish Phosphorus 5ml 4 times a week for a weekly total of 1ppm PO4.

Flourish trace 6.5ml 4 times a week.

Flourish iron 0.7ml 4 times a week.


If these levels seam high it is because in my opinion flourish produce have way too much water. Flourish iron contains iron gluconate which doesn't last long in the water column. Then I divided the amount needed by 4 because I doubt you have a 20 to 30ml syringe. I strongly recommend using a syringe to measure out the quantity. I did't use the Flourish Comprehensive (macro and trace) you have since it has a plenty of iron and trace amounts of everything else. I also used a fertilizer calculator to determine the doses above:

https://rotalabutterfly.com

Given the cost of all of the Seachem product you might be better off long term switching to a more concentrated fertilizer like Nilocg.com thrive or using EI dry fertilizer salts.


I never had success with flourish because I was following the bottle recommendation. Now I make my own trace and dose that once a week and I does the same levels nitrogen and phosphate but in with 2 dose during the week. Then at the end of the week I do a 50% water change. The dosages I have recommended are based on my own experience with RO water. Since you are using tap the mineral levels in it might help. I would recommend you use google to to search for your local water quality report and then post a link to it. That way others can review it and make recommendations based on the information it contains.

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post #27 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 07:59 PM Thread Starter
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Awesome, thanks for the dosing schedule, just started it today. Should I be changing my water prior to each dose, or just weekly? And isn't Potassium the other important piece to dose?
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post #28 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 08:06 PM
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..I never had success with flourish because I was following the bottle recommendation. Now I make my own trace and dose that once a week and I does the same levels nitrogen and phosphate but in with 2 dose during the week. Then at the end of the week I do a 50% water change. The dosages I have recommended are based on my own experience with RO water. .
You have many posts showing very precise dosing recommendations, etc. Do you by any chance have any pictures of your tanks? I'd love to see how the plants have responded.
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post #29 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 08:50 PM
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You have many posts showing very precise dosing recommendations, etc. Do you by any chance have any pictures of your tanks? I'd love to see how the plants have responded.
This is not a knock on any particular person, as I enjoy seeing folks contribute and share their knowledge.

But I will say when I see someone providing advice, I try to find pics of their tanks. You can search previous posts or threads that have been started. It's amazing how many provide lots of advice but you can't find a single picture of their tank or a single plant.

And not saying they don't have them, or haven't had some success. But let's face it, threads are more interesting and compelling with pictures. There's an old saying around here......Without pics it didn't happen.

And really the same goes for those seeking advice. Many times a single full tank shot can paint a better picture of what is going on than words.

So for those that don't post pics, you should. It would sure add a lot of weight to your arguments/advice.
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post #30 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 09:12 PM
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This is not a knock on any particular person, as I enjoy seeing folks contribute and share their knowledge.

But I will say when I see someone providing advice, I try to find pics of their tanks. You can search previous posts or threads that have been started. It's amazing how many provide lots of advice but you can't find a single picture of their tank or a single plant.

And not saying they don't have them, or haven't had some success. But let's face it, threads are more interesting and compelling with pictures. There's an old saying around here......Without pics it didn't happen.

And really the same goes for those seeking advice. Many times a single full tank shot can paint a better picture of what is going on than words.

So for those that don't post pics, you should. It would sure add a lot of weight to your arguments/advice.
I agree with you, however, there are times when it is best not to post pics.

My tank is clean, there is nothing weird going on, I don't have algae all over the place, ect... However, I currently Jungle Val that I'm patiently waiting for it to transition after its trip from across the country; they got here Monday. If I were to post a pic right now, the first thing I would have to deal with is comments about the very ugly Jungle Val that is sitting my tank at the moment as if I would need to be reminded. I have a second plant order coming that should be here tomorrow or Friday, so more ugly plants are in my immediate future. Some 'battles' are not worth having and this would be one of them.

Once everything settles and is past the melting phase, I don't have a problem with posting tank pics, but to spend my time explaining that melting is normal process, yada,yada,yada...nope, not going to happen.
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