Newbie plant/nutrient/algae post (long) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-10-2005, 09:25 AM Thread Starter
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Newbie plant/nutrient/algae post (long)

Hi everyone,

I'm still reasonably new to the hobby of fish keeping and looking after aquatic plants. I seem to be doing OK with the fish and mostly with the plants but I need some help and advice. Rex Grigg suggested I join this forum to get some more input on my problem.

Long and short of it is I can't get my water clear in my tank. There is a green hazy tint to the water and I have also noticed that there are also fine white particles floating in the water.

The tank itself is an Aqua One AR-850:

• 82x44x58cm
• 155 Litres Capacity

It's lit by 3 tubes, the stock Aqua One tube and two T8 Aqua Glo 25W tubes. I'm told this equates to 2 WPG.

Nitrites and ammonia are nil and nitrate is between 5 and 10 ppm. pH is usually 7.0 but has dropped a little as I've been using a Sera CO2 tablet every couple of days.

I've been adding Sera Florena on a weekly basis and Sera Floreplus root tablets in the substrate. The tank has a gravel substrate and some pebbles and driftwood.

Plant wise, I have the following:

- Ambulia
- 2x Java Moss
- Several crypts
- Glandular Ludwigia
- Bog Scarlet Hygro
- Another plant that looks like the Hygro with the top of the leaf green and underside red. Red stem.

On the plus side:
The Ambulia is doing really well with plenty of roots growing all over and what look like flowers.
Java moss is doing really well.
Crypts have been in the tank about 3 weeks but there is new growth.
Bog Scarlet Hygro seems fine. No significant growth and nothing dying or wrong with it (just read this is not a true aquatic plant).

On the negative:
Glandular Ludwigia has leaves that discolour and drop off. Usually the lower leaves but plenty of growth at the top and the plant is about twice the original size.



The other plant that looks like Hygro has green algae spots on the leaves but appears to be growing well. Some parts of the plant have grown out the water and are trying to get out the tank. Plenty of root growth on the stems which makes me think I can take cuttings and replant.

I originally posted in another forum as I added Riccia to the tank and the water went green. I have since removed the Riccia.

How do I set about getting these plants to grow better? I realise the CO2 I'm adding by tablet is not ideal but I'm not sure about setting up a CO2 bottle system and it seems expensive looking at the Sera kit here for example:

Nutrient wise, is Florena good enough? I've got some Flourish liquid but not sure if I need other Flourish products.

Does anyone have any experience with either dinosaur dung or dinosaur pee ? Will this help boost my tank?

Thanks in advance for any help and advice. I'm in Sydney, Australia so it would be great if anyone could point me to local sources for anything like CO2 kits or lighting.

Cheers,
Chris
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-10-2005, 04:14 PM
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At 2wpg i dont know how vital the CO2 will be, but if your looking to add low quantity of CO2 run DIY with yeast and sugar. do a search for DIY CO2 on this forum. basically your putting water sugar and yeast into a bottle with an airline that goes to your tank, prefferably into a filter intake tube, so it gets diffused by a filter impellar. should only cost you like $10. I know im speaking US currency but from my understanding things that cost us 10 US dollars cost you about 10 AUS dollars. as far as ferts, pehaps you have too many for a medium light tank? could be that the addition of the riccia and the green water are coincidence, and the green water is actually a bloom caused by excess nutrients available via ferts? I have never used the other products you are referring to, but i have used flourish both in the tabs, and as a liquid fert. I have found the CO2 drop in tablets to work fine for smaller tanks but as tank size increase, and number of plants increases, they stop being enough.

As for Pressurized CO2, the internet is local to everyone. Jack Wattley has a pretty good price on a regulator with bubble counter and needle valve at wattleydiscus.com under products. get your CO2 bottle from a local welding supply shop. also soda machine suppliers carry CO2. I recommend either a 5 or 10 lb bottle. the way it works here, you buy a bottle with a fill, then when your out, you take it in and trade it for a new full bottle for the price of a fill. the bottle are always pretty beat up looking, but they work fine. No need to buy the ultra expensive shiny stainless steel versions they sell.

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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-10-2005, 06:18 PM
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at 2 wpg you're definitely gonna want to add at least *some* CO2, the stem plants like the hygro are definitely going to need it. And you have enough light and nutrients in the water from fish that algae will take over without the CO2. I have tried the tablets in my little tanks and my experience was that they really sucked. I had a pH probe in the tank at the same time and I'd drop the tablet in, pH would plummet, then go up back to where it had been within an hour or two. Fish were NOT happy. White particles EVERYWHERE. If I were you, I would get pressurized CO2 not because you need a ton of CO2 but because the tank is big enough that DIY CO2 becomes a pain in the behind. If you can't afford pressurized CO2 now, try doing DIY CO2 using two 2-liter soda bottles going into a reactor of some kind (DIY, Hagen's ladder thingy, etc.). It won't be optimum, but you should definitely see improvement in your system.

DIY CO2 Recipe (lasts 1 month):
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp Champagne yeast (go to beer or winemaking supply shop)
water

If you alternate bottles (i.e. one bottle gets replaced on the 1st, the other on the 15th of every month), you'll always have a constant supply of CO2. A 5 gram packet of Champagne yeast (enough for several months) is less than a dollar here. Just throw it in the freezer in between batches.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-11-2005, 08:38 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input. I think I'll look at doing the DIY CO2 thing.

Can I use the Sera CO2 reactor that I got with the tablets? Hopefully, I can link to the image on the site I bought it:



How do I control the flow of the CO2? Won't it all just seep into the tank and kill the fish?

I've been doing partial water changes every other day and will test and post the results of the water parameters on the weekend.

Cheers,

Chris
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-11-2005, 12:40 PM
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Hey Chris

The thing about DIY CO2, is that u can't control the CO2 flow rate. So this means you will have to do some adjustments. For example, if you find that you have too much CO2 then you can add an air stone to help dissipate excess CO2.

I use to have DIY CO2 on a two foot tank, 10 gallons? and never had any problems with fish deaths but everyone's water parameters are different so you will have to check it out for yourself, good luck

cheers
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-11-2005, 10:46 PM
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A mild disagreement: At 2 WPG or a little bit more you definitely do not need CO2 enrichment, although it might would help. My tanks are all around 2WPG and plants grow fine (most of the time), but I usually have a soil substrate.

Bill
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-11-2005, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
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OK, I'm back from the home brew shop where I got a small packet of champagne yeast for $4.95. Also went to the hardware store for glue and the LFS for some pipe.

I'm now confused as to whether or not I need to do the CO2 or should be looking to increase my WPG?

Whichever I need to do, my primary objective is to try and get clear water like I keep seeing in everyone elses photos
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-12-2005, 02:41 AM Thread Starter
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Just tested the tank. Levels are:

NO3 = 5.0 ppm
NO2 = 0.0 ppm
NH3 = 0.0 ppm

GH & KH - I'm new to this test and 3 drops seemed to change the water to the colours mentioned in the instructions (looking straight down the tube).

Ph = looks to 6.8, could be 6.6. I can't be sure and I've tried in different light.

Looking at a chart in another post, does this mean my CO2 is too high? I've not dosed the tank for a few days no.If the levels are already high, I guess I needn't bother.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-12-2005, 03:43 AM
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If you are starting with RO and your pH is 6.6-6.8, you most likely have some CO2 in your water. thats not a massive drop so assuming you can keep that number stable continue to use CO2 in some form. You should be able to use that CO2 diffuser that was supplied with your sera tabs. I never had problems with pH drop from DIY co2 largely because it just isnt as effective as pressurized systems. I saw a drop in pH from the addition of co2 but never enough to cause a health problem with my fish. All you can do is trial and error and monitor. You may want to post all of your water quality readings with your algae problem into either the "algae" forum or the Water parameters" forum here on the site. The water quality buffs may be able to help you more. I noticed it took quite a few hits to get a response from this particular section of the forum so perhaps it will do better in there. I would leave youre lighting as is. One possible problem none of us have asked about yet is your color temperature of your lighting. You should be prefferably above 5500k most people tend to usee either 5500k or 6500k although there is also 7200 and 10000k that would work fine. if you dont have a Kelvin rating, you could tri using a CRI rating to figure out your spectrum. too much of the lower temperatures can cause excess algae. Check out the "lighting" forum.

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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-12-2005, 06:36 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by all4funwfish
If you are starting with RO and your pH is 6.6-6.8, you most likely have some CO2 in your water.
I'm just using normal tap water that I treat with a Sera conditioner before adding to the tank.

Quote:
Originally Posted by all4funwfish
You may want to post all of your water quality readings with your algae problem into either the "algae" forum or the Water parameters" forum here on the site. The water quality buffs may be able to help you more.
Thanks, have done this and getting some other responses there too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by all4funwfish
One possible problem none of us have asked about yet is your color temperature of your lighting. You should be prefferably above 5500k most people tend to usee either 5500k or 6500k although there is also 7200 and 10000k that would work fine. if you dont have a Kelvin rating, you could tri using a CRI rating to figure out your spectrum. too much of the lower temperatures can cause excess algae. Check out the "lighting" forum.
I have two Aqua~Glo tubes along with the standard Aquaone bulb that you have to fit.
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-14-2005, 04:54 AM
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You can have low-light tanks, medium-light tanks and high-light tanks, but with each you need a matching level of light, CO2 and nutrients. If you have extra of one or not enough of one, the algae will take the extra that the plants aren't able to use. So if you add more lighting and don't add any CO2, I can almost guarantee you that you have an algae outbreak (personal experience with that ). You absolutely do not have to add CO2 to your tank. You are right on the cusp of a low-light and a medium-light tank. However, some of the plants in your tank will be happier if you treat the tank as medium-light because they have fast growth and will want more CO2 then they would get if you didn't add any CO2. I had a low-light no-CO2 tank that was super - BUT I filled it with slow-growing low-light plants like java moss, anubias, and crypts.

The DIY CO2 will constantly release CO2 as the yeast inside consume the sugar. It's not going to be an explosive amount and the nice thing about Champagne yeast is that the CO2 amount is nice and steady for about 4 weeks. You can use the reactor you have, use anything to keep the CO2 bubbles in contact with the water as long as possible. I even used to use a giant anubias barteri plant - I had an airstone at the bottom and the bubbles would be caught under the curved leaves. Whatever works!

There are lots of ways to do this, just try to maintain a balance between lighting, CO2 and nutrients depending on the needs of the plants you want. IMHO, YMMV.
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-14-2005, 07:45 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbennett
DIY CO2 Recipe (lasts 1 month):
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp Champagne yeast (go to beer or winemaking supply shop)
water
OK, set this up earlier. How long does it take for things to start happening?

Also, should the Sera CO2 reactor be totally submersed?
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-14-2005, 08:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enigmatic
OK, set this up earlier. How long does it take for things to start happening?

Also, should the Sera CO2 reactor be totally submersed?
If you use warm( NOT hot or boiled) water for the yeast/sugar mixture, it'll take less than 1 hour.

I'm not sure about the Sera reactor. But when I was on DIY CO2, I was using this reactor. 100% disolved rate. It's cheap, but it needs a power head.
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-14-2005, 05:51 PM
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as long as you didn't kill the yeast using hot water, you should start to see a little foaming at the top within an hour or two. I generally didn't get a full amount of CO2 production until a day or two had passed. If you think you killed your yeast, just add a pinch more from what you have. The solution will be room temperature which is fine. Also, you'll notice you'll get more CO2 production in summer and less in winter because the yeast are more active when they're warmer. Depends on how much you heat/air condition your home.

Yes, the reactor should be completely in the water. also double-check there are no leaks in the bottle cap etc for the solution.
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 11-14-2005, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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I just ran the tap water until it was warm. I don't think it should have been hot enough to kill the yeast.

Will see how it goes today. Forecast is only 19C today and we don't have air con.

There don't appear to be any leaks. Squeezing the bottle has an immediate effect on the water level inside the reactor.
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