New planted tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-12-2013, 02:38 AM Thread Starter
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New planted tank

Apologies for the long read in advance, but I have a lot of wrinkles to iron out.

After taking a long break from the hobby, I decided to give it another go. This time around I bought a used 55 gallon tank, with a 130w coralife light, which has two compact florescent bulbs. I have an old fluval 305, which I should probably replace. I built a co2 reactor, which seems to be working well, alongside my 20lbs co2 tank. I made a sub par drop checker from a hagen test tube and a piece of 1/4" vynal tubing and filled it with my attempt at 4dkh solution(not quite 4dkh, I think its more between 3-4).

Long story short, things are not going as well as I had hoped. I grew a carpet of micro sword immersed and it quickly carpeted the entire foot print, I then submerged it and to my surprise it didn't die. I added some bacopa stems two weeks ago, which are also growing. Nothing is growing very well though and there is definitely no pearling of any kind.

The new submerged growth of the micro sword is longer, which I expected, although I am surprised how much longer(4-5" top to bottom), while the old growth isn't looking great, it has curled slightly.

The original bacopa stems I purchased from pet land are dying, I am not surprised since they were in rough shape, but it is putting out new stems which look good.

I have been dosing 5yr old sea chem ferts sparingly, until my dry ferts get here.(flourish, trace, excel)

I also have next to no fish load, other then 4 feeders I purchased to be pioneers in my experiment. I want to add ten ottos and 20 cardinals, but both lfs suck and I haven't been able to find either.

I feel like I need more light, which I happen to have in the form of two HO T5's, so I could immediately add another 50watts. I also wonder if my two florescent bulbs are at the end of their life.

I have my ph at around 6.8-7 and my kh at between 90-100mg/l, which if I did my math right(0.056x90) means I have a dkh of 5.04. so according to the co2 chart I have been using means i have around 20-25ppm of co2. My drop checker also indicates a lime green. I wonder if I should increase the co2, but my bubble counter is at 160per min which seems high.

My ammonia, nitrates and phosphates all read 0, although my test kits are old and I wonder if they are still viable.

Anyways I think that is enough info to digest for now, I would be happy to answer any questions and I would appreciate any advice.
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-14-2013, 07:23 PM
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Hey northman, I will attempt an answer, but keep in mind I am still learning too

I had a lot of those questions when I setup my first planted tank (a used 55g btw)

I would scrutinize this thread for details, but I can tell you I am running 2x54w t5ho over a 55g and it is high lighting. It is suspended about 8" above the top of tank and an 8hr photoperiod.

When I started, I set the light right on top of the tank and ran it for 12 hrs a day, within a week the whole tank was covered in algae. Of course, at that time I was using 6x2L diy co2, which I am sure didn't help.

It seems to me that the moral of the story is: the more light, the better and faster growth if you balance co2 and nutrients to match that light level.

Well that's easy to say, actually doing it though, I find challenging.

It's much easier to simply reduce the lighting, by raising it or window screen etc., thereby reducing the demand for co2 and nutrients.

In my 55g, I have 40 cardinals and 4 otos atm, and they are what I used to gauge my co2. I too built a clumsy drop checker that changed colors, but at the end of day who cares what color the drop checker is? What you care about are a.)the plants getting enough co2 and b.) can the fish be comfortable with the co2 level

I'm not saying dc's can't be useful, but you will likely end up with less co2 than is possible, if you rely on that only.

I slowly increased my bps until the cards all hung out at the top, then I backed it off until they were fine and this is where it has stayed. If I put a drop checker in there it will turn yellow.......does this matter to me? not at all

Don't gas your fish, just patiently adjust and observe with the goal of maximum co2 and healthy fish in mind

I also use a diy reactor, do ensure there is adequate flow to deliver the co2 and nutrients around the tank. I like hydor koralia, or circulation pumps as opposed to powerheads, an opinion

Finally, I would add that you should avoid allowing nitrates and phosphates to fall to zero. When you give plants high lighting and high co2, the demand for nutrients also rises in a corresponding way, therefore if there are no available nutrients the plant will suffer

Anyway, some rambling thoughts to consider, best of luck to you

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-16-2013, 04:16 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply norbot, apologies for not responding very quickly.

I got my compact fluorescent fixture from my brother in law, he also used it for a planted tank. I think 100w of light is satisfactory, but I suspect I am not getting that and the bulbs are toast. I added my old HO T5 a couple days ago and now the plants are pearling like crazy.

Anyone know a good quality compact fluorescent bulb?

I share your sentiment on DIY co2, I also did that for years and although the plants grew, so did the algae. I always suspected the inconsistency of CO2, but I also lacked lighting at 54watts.

I agree about the drop checker, I can't see how it could be all that accurate anyway, seems many variables could skew the accuracy. I know my dkh fluid is not perfect, I doubt I am the only one. It reads 4.43dkh, I am not sure how that would effect the color change, it does seem to corroborate my calculations though.

My co2 is at 6 bubbles per second and the feeder fish are moving around the top, so I am going to reduce it a little today, drop checker is yellow too. I got a slow motion camera on my iPhone to help me count the bubbles accurately lol.

I wonder if my reactor is dissolving all the co2, my spray bar is spitting out tiny bubbles, but very few and I soap tested the regulator, tubing and where it enters the reactor, no leaks. The reactor is about 18" long and 1-1/4" wide, both water and co2 enter at the top and exit at the bottom. I wonder if I should have built it out of wider PVC?

Norbot I think your right about the nitrates and phosphates, hopefully my dry ferts get here this week. I havnt been trying to nutrient starve the plants, but with no fish load and fertilizer that is quite likely ruined, not to mention old test kits that may not even work, I honestly don't know what's happening. I need to test my test kit, I know the ph, gh, kh all seem to be working properly, but the ammonia, phosphates and nitrate kits keep reading 0. When I get my dry ferts I can set a bench mark and test and see if my kits reflect that.

I am surprised how much diatoam algae my feeder fish eat, there isn't a trace of it in the substrate, or on any hard surface.

I ordered Brazilian penny wort, parrot feather, willow moss and a red rubin sword?, hopefully it all works out, I think the willow moss and Brazilian penny wort will do fine, but I may lack the lighting for the other two.

I ordered my dry ferts and plants from "the plant guy". They are in Winnipeg. I was going to try aquarium but the shipping was apperantly 45$ which was more then my order and I didn't want to get dinged by customs.
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