Vacation, Algae, & EI - What the heck happened? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-06-2005, 02:00 PM Thread Starter
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Cool Vacation, Algae, & EI - What the heck happened?

First some background. The tank has been set-up since around mid-April. At the very start, things were growing like crazy, everything was beautiful. A few weeks in, algae started to take hold and, in retrospect, I wasn't on top of it. I went through stages of just about every type of algae except the dreaded blue-green slime. This was the first aquarium I've had in 10 years, and so there was a learning curve there as well. A few weeks ago, hair algae was just killing me. It had spread over everything and I ended up throwing out at least 50% of my plants (there were quite a few I wasn't wild about anyway). Daily pruning and light maintenence was helping to turn the tide. My normal routine and setup was as follows:

120 gallon (4 x 2 x 2)
6x55 W (330W total) CF lights from AHSupply on for 10 hours per day
Ehiem 2028
Homebrew CO2 reactor made from a filter housing and some CPVC conduit (very proud of this )
KH: 4 (add about 1.5 Tbls baking soda at water change to get it up to this)
pH: controlled at 6.6
4x per week:
NO3: 1.5 tsp (about 11 ppm)
PO4: 1/8 tsp (about 1 ppm)
3x per week:
30 ml CSM+B (mixed at 1.5 tsp / 250 ml water)
50% water change on Sunday (sometimes Saturday). I recently started adding K2SO4

Plants were growing good, Swords recovered very quickly from a pretty severe pruning, Elodea growing about 1-2 ft per week. Fish load is light with about a dozen small tetras, 6 Amano shrimp, 2 corys, 4 tiny flying foxes, and 3 or 4 very fat, very secretive Ottos. (I had more fish at one point, but I gassed them with CO2 - remember the learning curve). Basically everything was going good including the hair algae, and I was trying mechanically pester as much as possible.

I had a trip planned to sunny San Diego, CA for 1 week and was scared to death that my recent battles with hair algae would be for naught. So, based on my very, very shakey understanding of the EI dojo, I made the following changes before I left:

50% water change on Tuesday (leaving at 4:30 AM on Wednesday)
Dosed 2.5 tsp KNO3 (19 ppm NO3), 1/4 tsp PO4 (2 ppm), and 2 tsp K2SO4 (for an additional 15 ppm K).
The fish were fed very sparingly with an automatic feeder.
I also dialed the light back to 8 hours of 220 watts, hoping the plants wouldn't motor through the ferts too fast.

I was expecting the worst.

But I came back to a tank that is literally filled solid with plants. Just about every stem plant made it's way to the surface and then some. It's totally and completely overgrown. It looks like the plants grew at least 2x as fast as normal in the span of 1 week. The algae is almost nonexistant. There are a few strands left on the spraybar, but it doesn't look like it made any new inroads.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy the gates of hell didn't open up, but it is a little confusing. Is this nature's way of telling me it's better off without me? Were my ferts too low in the normal routine? My test kits are close to worthless, nitrate doesn't work at all, the phosphate kit is possibly OK, but I gave up on it anyway.

What happened?

Last edited by jkolb; 07-06-2005 at 08:53 PM.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-06-2005, 02:20 PM
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I think you can say that. I think that your macros where too low before. I run my EI skinny and I still maintain 2-3ppm PO4 and 20-30ppm NO3. Also the cut in light probly helped you quite a bit. I think your CO2 levels were probly just a bit low. I usually target 40-50ppm of CO2 for EI, as long as there is no visible fish strain. I think that by lowering your light, you found a balance. None of your nutrients were limited.....thus the plant growth. If you are going to turn the other lights back on, I would up your CO2 a bit and take a look at your macros.

It should also be said that K is often over looked. You might have had K deficiancies without even know it.

Either way.....enjoy the tank!!!

jB
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-06-2005, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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Meaning you dose 20-30 ppm of NO3, or you keep it at that level?

Also, my understanding was that, in terms of light, CO2, and other macros, more is more, not less is more. You know what I mean? If the plants were NO3 limited at the higher light, for example, lowering the light would help restore some balance, but they shouldn't grow any faster, right? The fastest growth should be when everything is available at levels the plants can use. If any one thing is less than that, growth should slow, correct?

I don't know, it's just so completely opposite of what I expected. I turn down the wattage and the duration of the lights in an effort to slow the plants down, and they accelerate. Again, I'm not complaining or disagreeing with anything you said, I'm just trying to understand. Because if I knew what happened, I think my tank could be that much better.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-06-2005, 08:06 PM
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You can certainly run the EI skinnier.
Try about 1/2 that much, 3x a week at most.

Less light also.

Try 220w most of the day, 330 for 2-4 hours at most.

220 w seems to do very well on 120's IME.

Even with high bioloads.
Your tank had plenty of nutrients already, the plants were fat, so you(the plants) just purged the tank some.


Regards,
Tom Barr



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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-07-2005, 12:31 AM
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Correct me if I'm wrong or if this has nothing to do with it.

Don't plants take in nutrients during light hours and use them to grow during dark hours? This explain why the grew more.

Ron
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-07-2005, 08:10 PM Thread Starter
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I will give that a try, but I am confused at how I'm running so rich. The dosages were taken directly from your recommendations for a high light 20 gallon tank - just scaled up by a factor of 6. I'm assuming I am "high light" at 330 watts if 220 is more than enough.

Do the recommended dosages start to break down for larger tanks in the same way the "watts per gallon" rule does? Which, on second thought, might make a lot of sense, it's just that I've never seen that suggested.


(BTW, I really do appreciate your response. I'm making my way through your June newsletter right now )

Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain
You can certainly run the EI skinnier.
Try about 1/2 that much, 3x a week at most.

Less light also.

Try 220w most of the day, 330 for 2-4 hours at most.

220 w seems to do very well on 120's IME.

Even with high bioloads.
Your tank had plenty of nutrients already, the plants were fat, so you(the plants) just purged the tank some.


Regards,
Tom Barr
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