Made the switch - Low tech to High Tech - Reassurance needed - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 01:12 PM Thread Starter
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Made the switch - Low tech to High Tech - Reassurance needed

Ok. I think I just need some hand holding more than anything else.

I finally made the jump to high tech on my 20 gallon long. Previously I was running with a Finnex Stingray9" above susbstrate, 8 hour photo period, EI dosing, cutting out nitrogen, and Excel every other day. I now have a Finnex 24/7 CC 11" above substrate, and pressurized co2. Fluval 206 cannister with purigen and crushed coral, and lots of biomedia.

For plant stock, I have Water Sprite and Nymphoides Taiwan, both of which are growing like gangbusters. I have slow but steady growing Java Fern. I just introduced some Ludwiga sp Red. For fish, I have two nerite snails, a full grown flash pleco at 4.5 inches long, and a guppy infestation which has been self sustaining for five years now.

Water parameters have been rock solid at 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, but high nitrates at 160, stable pH of 6.8.

While things have been pretty stable in this aquarium for quite a while, I personally struggled with the routine involved with things like missing excel doses, irregular water changes etc. This led to issues with BBA outbreaks, and general ups and dows where the aquarium would look great for a while, then look like crap for a while. I decided to go high tech to help force myself to stabilize some of these things.

My list of questions is as follows...

With increasing the lgihting and adding co2, I am thinking that should help with naturally lowering the nitrates since there is no available ammonia to take first? I know that regular water changes are necessary to help with that as well.

With the 24/7 CC light, since it has that awkward three hour chunk timer, I am way over thinking exactly how I want to set it up. I really like the sunsets and how the tank looks, so I want to keep using the 24/7 feature, but with the ramp up and down going over three hours, going from dark to max light, at what point does the light actually become usable? 50% intensity? 75% intensity? I am thinking that if I ramp up, six hours of max, then ramp down, that would give a total of 8 hours of 66% to max light. Or should I go with nine hours max, that would give 11 hour over 66%?
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by straha20 View Post
Ok. I think I just need some hand holding more than anything else.

I finally made the jump to high tech on my 20 gallon long. Previously I was running with a Finnex Stingray9" above susbstrate, 8 hour photo period, EI dosing, cutting out nitrogen, and Excel every other day. I now have a Finnex 24/7 CC 11" above substrate, and pressurized co2. Fluval 206 cannister with purigen and crushed coral, and lots of biomedia.

For plant stock, I have Water Sprite and Nymphoides Taiwan, both of which are growing like gangbusters. I have slow but steady growing Java Fern. I just introduced some Ludwiga sp Red. For fish, I have two nerite snails, a full grown flash pleco at 4.5 inches long, and a guppy infestation which has been self sustaining for five years now.

Water parameters have been rock solid at 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, but high nitrates at 160, stable pH of 6.8.

While things have been pretty stable in this aquarium for quite a while, I personally struggled with the routine involved with things like missing excel doses, irregular water changes etc. This led to issues with BBA outbreaks, and general ups and dows where the aquarium would look great for a while, then look like crap for a while. I decided to go high tech to help force myself to stabilize some of these things.

My list of questions is as follows...

With increasing the lgihting and adding co2, I am thinking that should help with naturally lowering the nitrates since there is no available ammonia to take first? I know that regular water changes are necessary to help with that as well.

With the 24/7 CC light, since it has that awkward three hour chunk timer, I am way over thinking exactly how I want to set it up. I really like the sunsets and how the tank looks, so I want to keep using the 24/7 feature, but with the ramp up and down going over three hours, going from dark to max light, at what point does the light actually become usable? 50% intensity? 75% intensity? I am thinking that if I ramp up, six hours of max, then ramp down, that would give a total of 8 hours of 66% to max light. Or should I go with nine hours max, that would give 11 hour over 66%?
What jumped out to me was the crushed coral. Crushed coral is pH activated. A lower pH dissolves some of the CC and the KH, pH and GH go up till the pH is no longer low enough to dissolve any more CC. This is now the stable state till something drives the pH down again. In a low tech tank this stable state is just that; stable.

Not so with injected CO2. With timed CO2 injection you get a Yo-yo effect in pH. In combination with CC this could lead to ever rising GH & KH as each CO2 'ON' cycle drives the pH down resulting in more CC being dissolved. If you leave it in keep a watchful eye on your GH & KH.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 03:08 PM Thread Starter
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What jumped out to me was the crushed coral. Crushed coral is pH activated. A lower pH dissolves some of the CC and the KH, pH and GH go up till the pH is no longer low enough to dissolve any more CC. This is now the stable state till something drives the pH down again. In a low tech tank this stable state is just that; stable.

Not so with injected CO2. With timed CO2 injection you get a Yo-yo effect in pH. In combination with CC this could lead to ever rising GH & KH as each CO2 'ON' cycle drives the pH down resulting in more CC being dissolved. If you leave it in keep a watchful eye on your GH & KH.
Good point with this, and one I had not considered. I am not going to remove the CC just yet, but I will monitor kh and gh closely. I want to make as few changes as possible to avoid having too many moving parameters so I can better pinpoint things that changed in case things start to go sideways.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 03:08 PM
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Good point with this, and one I had not considered. I am not going to remove the CC just yet, but I will monitor kh and gh closely. I want to make as few changes as possible to avoid having too many moving parameters so I can better pinpoint things that changed in case things start to go sideways.
Why do you have CC in the filter anyway?
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 03:32 PM Thread Starter
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Why do you have CC in the filter anyway?
Soft water and low tap and tank pH, with substantial driftwood in the tank. I added a couple of tablespoons CC and it took kH/pH from 0/~6 to 2/~6.8, and has been stable there for a few months. Ideally I would like to raise that a bit more for the nerites, but they do not show any signs of stress and deficiency, and are quite active.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 05:02 PM
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Soft water and low tap and tank pH, with substantial driftwood in the tank. I added a couple of tablespoons CC and it took kH/pH from 0/~6 to 2/~6.8, and has been stable there for a few months. Ideally I would like to raise that a bit more for the nerites, but they do not show any signs of stress and deficiency, and are quite active.
I have a similar problem and have used it before for basically the same reason. It's problematic with time injected CO2 systems.

You can bump the GH for your Nerites with a GH Booster consisting of CaSO4 and MgSO4 in a ratio of 1.274:1 respectfully by weight. That will result in a 3:1 ratio of Ca:Mg which is most often recommended. I just did a bump for my Nerites to GH-9. I have very low KH (0-1) GH (1-2) and TDS (30ppm) at the tap. My utility adds hydrated lime for pipe protection which raises the pH into the low to mid 7's but I still raise the KH with Baking Soda to ~3. Buffering and pH interactions can be strange. With all the gyrations I still end up with pH in the mid 7's after degassing. Make any changes slowly and methodically and keep notes. Baby steps are advised.

BTW into ~18 gal water column 1.4g CaSO4 and 1.1g MgSO4 will raise the GH ~1 and keep the 3:1 ratio.
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Last edited by Cichlid-140; 02-20-2019 at 05:10 PM. Reason: Addendum
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 08:32 PM
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My list of questions is as follows...

With increasing the lgihting and adding co2, I am thinking that should help with naturally lowering the nitrates since there is no available ammonia to take first? I know that regular water changes are necessary to help with that as well.

With the 24/7 CC light, since it has that awkward three hour chunk timer, I am way over thinking exactly how I want to set it up. I really like the sunsets and how the tank looks, so I want to keep using the 24/7 feature, but with the ramp up and down going over three hours, going from dark to max light, at what point does the light actually become usable? 50% intensity? 75% intensity? I am thinking that if I ramp up, six hours of max, then ramp down, that would give a total of 8 hours of 66% to max light. Or should I go with nine hours max, that would give 11 hour over 66%?
welcome to the high tech fold! zealots! we have a new convert!

Hmm, addressing your original questions a little too, I'm not sure what you're getting at with the nitrates as you're currently dosing nitrates as part of EI. Are you worried of too much or too little here?

As for the light, yea, maybe you are overthinking it a little bit. Your 20 long is 12 inches to substrate? a 30inch 24/7 cc light claims to have 85 par at that height. https://www.finnex.net/index.php/finnexcc/ You have low light demanding plants. At that kind of par, even 25% intensity is useable by your plants. I'd worry about balancing CO2 and nutrients and having too much light first. Try the default cycle if you haven't already. The original 24/7 used to spend a lot of time under 20%. I'd emulate that. Even that might be too much.


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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 08:56 PM Thread Starter
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welcome to the high tech fold! zealots! we have a new convert!

Hmm, addressing your original questions a little too, I'm not sure what you're getting at with the nitrates as you're currently dosing nitrates as part of EI. Are you worried of too much or too little here?

As for the light, yea, maybe you are overthinking it a little bit. Your 20 long is 12 inches to substrate? a 30inch 24/7 cc light claims to have 85 par at that height. https://www.finnex.net/index.php/finnexcc/ You have low light demanding plants. At that kind of par, even 25% intensity is useable by your plants. I'd worry about balancing CO2 and nutrients and having too much light first. Try the default cycle if you haven't already. The original 24/7 used to spend a lot of time under 20%. I'd emulate that. Even that might be too much.
About the nitrates...I have been EI dosing tailored without adding nitrates. Without dosing nitrates, my levels are still quite high. I am hoping the co2 and higher light will help drive the plants harder, and consume some of that excess nitrate.

Right now, I was going to try and emulate my old photo period as best as I could with the addition of the ramp up and ramp down, because well, I like the low light ramping With that in mind, I was going to start with the three hour ramp from dark to max. Six hours of max, then three hours ramp down to dark. That, along with 30ppm co2 was my planned baseline.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 09:52 PM
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About the nitrates...I have been EI dosing tailored without adding nitrates. Without dosing nitrates, my levels are still quite high. I am hoping the co2 and higher light will help drive the plants harder, and consume some of that excess nitrate.

Right now, I was going to try and emulate my old photo period as best as I could with the addition of the ramp up and ramp down, because well, I like the low light ramping With that in mind, I was going to start with the three hour ramp from dark to max. Six hours of max, then three hours ramp down to dark. That, along with 30ppm co2 was my planned baseline.
How much nitrate in your tap water?
How much nitrate/urea/ammonia are you dosing from ferts?
Did you leave your tank to evaporate for a long time and just top up instead of water changes?

160ppm of nitrates is unusual, how did you test it?
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 01:12 PM Thread Starter
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How much nitrate in your tap water?
How much nitrate/urea/ammonia are you dosing from ferts?
Did you leave your tank to evaporate for a long time and just top up instead of water changes?

160ppm of nitrates is unusual, how did you test it?
Nitrates in the tap water vary through the year. I use the API mater test kit. I just recently cyccled a new non planted 75 gallon, and according to the test kit, out of the tap, nitrates were showing around 5. In that tank, after the cycle, nitrates have been sitting around 40, so I think the test kit, and my using it is probably in the ballpark correct.

I dose kh2po4 rather than kno3 for my potassium, but my fish load is very heavy and no doubt produces copious amounts of ammonia. I keep a very close eye on the ammonia and nitrite levels, and nitrites are always bang on 0, and ammonia levels usually are at 0, though I have seen them creep from the piss yellow color to a faint green of 0.25 on the rare occasion.

While I have not specifically calibrated my test kit for precise readings, it shows reasonable values for semi-known quantities in tap water, and my 75 gallon, so regardless of exact value, I am confident my nitrates are quite high.

I also tested my kh/gh last night, and I am at 3/25, so very high gh...

So first things first, I need to just do the damned water changes, and not just top off as I had been doing.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 02:12 PM
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Nitrates in the tap water vary through the year. I use the API mater test kit. I just recently cyccled a new non planted 75 gallon, and according to the test kit, out of the tap, nitrates were showing around 5. In that tank, after the cycle, nitrates have been sitting around 40, so I think the test kit, and my using it is probably in the ballpark correct.

I dose kh2po4 rather than kno3 for my potassium, but my fish load is very heavy and no doubt produces copious amounts of ammonia. I keep a very close eye on the ammonia and nitrite levels, and nitrites are always bang on 0, and ammonia levels usually are at 0, though I have seen them creep from the piss yellow color to a faint green of 0.25 on the rare occasion.

While I have not specifically calibrated my test kit for precise readings, it shows reasonable values for semi-known quantities in tap water, and my 75 gallon, so regardless of exact value, I am confident my nitrates are quite high.

I also tested my kh/gh last night, and I am at 3/25, so very high gh...

So first things first, I need to just do the damned water changes, and not just top off as I had been doing.
You would probably benefit from a series of 50% or greater water changes if in fact your nitrates are as high as you say. Getting to an acceptable, manageable stable state will be of great benefit going forward.

I have 5ppm nitrates at the tap and currently my nitrates vary between ~25ppm just before a water change to ~15ppm just after. This has been consistent over several weeks indicating a weekly surplus of ~10ppm. This includes contributions from O'coat+ root tabs, fish and plant waste, my dosing (13ppm+ per week), and reductions due to plant uptake. The only one where I have full direct control is the dosing.

This week I'll start a reduction program by reducing my dosing to eliminate the 10ppm excess. My calculations show I should bring nitrates down from the 15-25ppm range I see now to a 7-9ppm range; much lower and more consistent between water changes. The other contributions will still be there so I'm not in a big risk of deficiencies. I wouldn't be as able to do this if my nitrates weren't as managed as they are now.

Part of getting where you want to go is knowing where you are.

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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-22-2019, 11:10 PM Thread Starter
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Does this count as pearling?



I does that about every 20 seconds like clockwork.
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