I can't find the balance between healthy plant growth and algae and it is driving me crazy. - Page 2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #16 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-21-2020, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Asteroid View Post
Personally I don't think that is true and certainly not for all plants. Plants requiring high-intensity light will not receive it no matter how long the lights are on. If that was the case there would be no reason to buy stronger lighting when you could just run your weaker lights longer (which would please most people.) When plants are shaded in our tanks or even outdoors some will die off even though they are receiving some light all day.
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Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
Your plants couldn’t care less if they get 10hr @60% or 6hr @100%. A photon is a photon. Light energy is accumulative.

Slightly slower but still healthy growth IMHO is preferable, less times between pruning.
Yeah, it depends on how much light your 100% is as well as the needs of your individual plants.

Plants have a limit to how many photons they can use in a given time. They have a limited number of photoreceptors, and it takes time and resources for the plant to capture the energy from each photon, so past a certain point additional light is useless to the plant and can be harmful. (Excess light is less damaging for aquatic plants because the water is protective, but they still can't use it and spurs algae growth.)

So, here's a ridiculous example: I have a plant that needs the energy of 100 photons per day and a light that I can make whatever intensity I want. If the plant can handle a maximum of 20 photons an hour, then you can run your light at 20 photons/hour for 5 hours, or 10 photons/hour for 10 hours and it won't make a difference, you get your 100 photons either way and the plant is good. But if you run the light at 50 photons/hour for 3 hours, even though the plant is being hit with 150 photons, it can only use 60 of them, so it's going to have a deficit, and possibly negative effects from the excess light. If you run the light 24/7 at 2 photons/hour, it's only going to get 48 photons a day and have a bigger deficit.

Obviously actual plant light needs are much, much higher, but the principle is the same. The tricky part is we have no way of knowing what our plants precise needs are nor the exact amount of light they are getting. We have to triangulate with stuff like PAR values and information about the plants we have, but nothing beats looking your actual plants in your actual setup and seeing how they are responding.
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Last edited by ElleDee; 07-21-2020 at 04:19 PM. Reason: clarification
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post #17 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-21-2020, 04:17 PM Thread Starter
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If you havent dosed ferts til recently the PO4 action is still going on. Personally, I'd raise that before doing anything else (fert-wise)
I guess I should try this then. The substrate is “UP Aquasoil,” a brand out of somewhere in Asia that I have come across. It is not ADA, it is a bit cheaper so I went with that. Not sure if it will have the same phos-lowering effects (I imagine all aquasoils would?), but it’s definitely worth a try.
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post #18 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-21-2020, 04:49 PM
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I guess I should try this then. The substrate is UP Aquasoil, a brand out of somewhere in Asia that I have come across. It is not ADA, it is a bit cheaper so I went with that. Not sure if it will have the same phos-lowering effects (I imagine all aquasoils would?), but its definitely worth a try.
Yeah all aquasoil types do that. Adding extra PO4 will really make a big difference during the first couple of months. Try an extra 5 ppm all at once after doing a water change, then the normal dose throughout the week


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post #19 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-21-2020, 05:51 PM
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I've dealt with alage many times at this point. My most recent discovery is that I can put my light on 100% for an hour or two depending on how I feel for about 5-7 days and it will get rid of the algae while barely affecting the plants.

Some of the faster grows like rotala do slow down in that time, but there isn't another healthy option imo. Get rid of the algae while your plants grow, do big water changes to make sure it's not over fertilization. Now be careful here because if you dont have newer aquasoil and haven't fertilized, the problem could be lack of ferts. However, if you're plants look healthy and are growing this is likely not the issue.

To be clear, I've done 5 day blackouts and my tank was still fine. The algae straight up dissapeared but the faster growers shrunk a bit. The method above worked to get rid of algae while putting less of a dent in my plant growth.

As for dealing with dosing + aquasoil, I think the theory from reading walstad's book is that if your plants are rooted, you don't need to worry about the soil sucking up any type of good nutrient from the water column. The soil does its job to collect nutrients for the roots while the roots keep that area of the soil healthy. Plants like buce and anubias that don't root in the soil probably don't have the same nutrient requirements as they grow slower.

The ecology of this stuff is fascinating and I highly suggest picking up walsrad's book. If you take the time to read it you'll understand the entire tank on a deeper level and lots of questions just aren't issues anymore.

Simply put, a natural environment just takes care of itself. You just need to take care of the inputs (food) and outputs (water change) because nature can't do that here. You need to get your plants to the point they can perform their role, especially if you're trying to speed the process up with ferts and co2.
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post #20 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-21-2020, 06:43 PM
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Ah yes, the search for balance aka the never ending saga of what causes algae. ADA thinks water column ferts cause algae, while Tom Barr and many other influencers like Green Aqua think not. The search for truth continues...
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post #21 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-21-2020, 09:01 PM
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Yeah all aquasoil types do that. Adding extra PO4 will really make a big difference during the first couple of months. Try an extra 5 ppm all at once after doing a water change, then the normal dose throughout the week
+1.

I changed over to Landen soil, and during the first few months it sucked up PO4 like mad.

Your pic of the algae is exactly what mine looked like if PO4 ran too low. I have seen the same with many other tanks as well.

I would not only add an extra dose, but also bump up your normal dosing. Instead of 15:2:20 try maybe 15:5:20 for a few weeks. I would also take a mid week reading to see where things are. I dosed PO4 at amounts that would make your head spin in the first few months, but whenever it bottomed out things got wonky. PO4 is nothing to be afraid of, and plants love it. In this initial phase don't be afraid of lathering it on.

And remember, things don't change overnight, so whenever you make changes give it time to see the real effect.

It would also be helpful to know the approximate PAR level at substrate. Both too much and too little can be an issue.

Sounds like CO2 is good. I would make sure to create good surface agitation for aeration. Don't worry about off gassing, CO2 is cheap in the scheme of things.

And remember CO2 and O2 are not mutually exclusive. You can have high levels of each. If you have good oxygen levels, CO2 will have less effect on your livestock, and keeping oxygen levels high is just good for the tank in general.

Good luck and looking forward to seeing where this goes.
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Last edited by Greggz; 07-21-2020 at 11:57 PM. Reason: typo
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post #22 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-21-2020, 11:26 PM
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I've got to disagree about the PO4 aspect personally. As I mentioned, if you have soil, th3 soil sucking it up is normal and natural. The roots will have access to it.

I actually made a mistake when I was starting out and trying EI where I thought I was supposed to MAINTAIN the levels throughout the day, not dump that much in each time.

So I ended up pouring monopotassium phosphate into my tank every day until it was around 2-3 ppm. It took a couple of months but eventually the soil was saturated.

However, I got algae, especially green spot and black beard algae like mad, and then some of my plants started stunting and the roots rotted on others.

This is all conjecture but I will defer to the point about letting soil play its role. Now if the soil runs out... yeah you'll definitely have problems.
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post #23 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-22-2020, 12:01 AM
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...PO4 is nothing to be afraid of, and plants love it. In this initial phase don't be afraid of lathering it on.
It's definitely an interesting "debate" if you could even call it that. Don't get me wrong your "preaching to the choir" as you know I have plenty of macros including PO4 in the water column and don't have any issues.

And then there's ADA who's playbook is to provide all PO4 in the soil and non in the column. They do state in their literature that PO4 can cause algae. I've also started up plenty of ADA soil tanks and only dosed K and micros which is similar to their own ferts for the first 6 months or so and there was no algae issues. Maybe if the tank is driven hard enough the ferts in the soil aren't enough and ADA type tanks aren't driven as hard as yours and some others here. So it could be one size, one blanket statement won't work for all setups.
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post #24 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-22-2020, 12:14 AM
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Maybe if the tank is driven hard enough the ferts in the soil aren't enough and ADA type tanks aren't driven as hard as yours and some others here. So it could be one size, one blanket statement won't work for all setups.
I think you summed it up well.

You won't see many weedy flowery stems in ADA tanks. Deny Pantanal column ferts and it will rebel....quickly. And many other stems as well.

So yes, I completely agree, much depends on the plants/goals of the tank.

And as you know, folks like Tom Barr dose full EI into aquasoil tanks. The idea is the best of both worlds, nutrient rich soil and rich water column as well. Burr is pretty much at EI levels as well in his Landen tanks.

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Originally Posted by Ddrizzle View Post
I actually made a mistake when I was starting out and trying EI where I thought I was supposed to MAINTAIN the levels throughout the day, not dump that much in each time.

So I ended up pouring monopotassium phosphate into my tank every day until it was around 2-3 ppm. It took a couple of months but eventually the soil was saturated.
No one is suggesting raising the level to 2 or 3 ppm everyday.

But even then, if you have BBA, stunting plants and rotting roots, likely other problems causing it.

Did you get it solved? Pics?
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post #25 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-22-2020, 12:22 AM
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It was a mix of an overly dirty tank and particularly too much potassium sulfate ruining the substrate. There was plenty of green spot algae.

De-conflating thoughts here - green spot algae is the the most obvious sign of too much phosphate from experience so far.
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post #26 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-22-2020, 12:48 AM Thread Starter
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I like this idea of increasing phosphate. I haven't considered the possibility of the soil absorbing it and pulling it out of the water column. Are there any effects of N or K that should make me adjust my dosing, or should the 15:5:20 regimen suggested provide enough N and K? Excited to try this...
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post #27 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-22-2020, 12:52 AM
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It was a mix of an overly dirty tank
BBA almost always comes down to this, it loves a dirty tank. You won't find it in well maintained tanks regardless of dosing.
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post #28 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-22-2020, 01:07 AM
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BBA almost always comes down to this, it loves a dirty tank. You won't find it in well maintained tanks regardless of dosing.
This I am 100% sure of. And the more light you have the cleaner your tank has to be in way of plant uptake and/or water changes or other methods to remove waste.
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post #29 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-22-2020, 01:18 AM
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It's definitely an interesting "debate" if you could even call it that. Don't get me wrong your "preaching to the choir" as you know I have plenty of macros including PO4 in the water column and don't have any issues.

And then there's ADA who's playbook is to provide all PO4 in the soil and non in the column. They do state in their literature that PO4 can cause algae. I've also started up plenty of ADA soil tanks and only dosed K and micros which is similar to their own ferts for the first 6 months or so and there was no algae issues. Maybe if the tank is driven hard enough the ferts in the soil aren't enough and ADA type tanks aren't driven as hard as yours and some others here. So it could be one size, one blanket statement won't work for all setups.
I think most guidelines that ADA gives are specific to their way of running a tank. Not that you can't apply some of them to an inert gravel, full on EI tank, for example, but you have to know what you're doing with regards to a planted aquarium to a certain degree before you start mixing and matching methods.
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post #30 of 94 (permalink) Old 07-22-2020, 01:45 AM Thread Starter
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Just mixed up a new batch of 15:5:20, going to try this plus 0.3 of Fe per week to see where it gets me. Only have the lights on for two hours per day at 100% to see if that will make any difference as well. Trying all of this at once to hopefully get on the right track then will have to figure out if I can go back to increasing my photoperiod.

By the way, per the manufacturers PAR data, should be about 135 par at the substrate, so pretty high light.
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