First time posting hear so i feel an introduction is in order prior to my cries for ideas. Hazardous Waste Management Specialist, WMD response instructor/responder, Storm water management specialist, and 3 years into a Comp Sci degree. Just finished 8 years in Uncle Sam's Misguided Childrens club, and now work as an environmental specialist (primarily compliance).
Ok enough about me now for the tank:
150 gallon Oscar tank
(i have included the links i used to ID the pleco and cat):
Bioload consists of the following:
5 Oscars (ranging from 6"-9")
1 common pleco ( 5", recently replaced the 9" i had more to follow on that later)PlecoFanatics.com - General info for pleco
1 pictus catfish (4", new join to the tank (moved in about 2 weeks ago)
The Pictus Catfish: The Fish That Needs A Shave?!
1 crayfish (5")
5 mystery snails (1.5" diameter)
1 amazon sword (8" tall)
1 melon sword (6" tall)
2 amazon broadleaf (24"+ ID is not 100%)
Hornwort (3 bunches (too much to count) ID is not 100%)
Ludwig (2"-10" (if i thought the hornwort was too much to count this is 3 times that and ID is 90%)
Tank setup is as follows:
2 fluval 404's (loaded with biomedia)
4 maxi-jet 900's (tied to the UGF not set for reverse flow)
1 penguin PH (170 gph tied to CO2 diffuser)
3 DIY CO2 bottles ( I know pressurized is the way to go but i will elaborate later)
40 watt UV (tied to one of the 404's) 5 hours a day
110 watts flourescent (3 bulbs, 1 full spectrum 40watt 14 hours a day, 2 "plant bulbs" 70 watt total 10 hours a day)
2x a week flourish (not excel)
feeding is daily consisting of alternating between the following:
Rosies (2 dozen at a shot, no goldfish (due to HITH))
Large Shrimp (3 per feeding)
Dry food ( 2 heaping tablespoons worth)
CO2 bottles are changed out every 2 weeks, but they are on alternating schedules
waterchanges are monthly 33%
The current water parameters:
Temp - 80 degree's F
Ammonia - 0 ppm
Nitrite - 0 ppm
Nitrate - 30 ppm
KH - 9 degrees
GH - Unknown at this time ( i think my testing solution is borked, no immediate color change to yellow, solution simply turns to dark yellow/orange after about 10 drops, but never goes green as indicated on the instructions)
pH - 7.4
Ok now to the nitty gritty. I currently have a red beard algea infestation ( ID'd here Control of Red Algae in the Freshwater Aquarium
1. I have reviewed the link and am i right to beleive that my problems are coming from my nitrate levels?
2. If so then is my issue my w/c schedule?
3. If w/c is the solution then, Is there a way to mitigate the frequency/need for w/c by increasing my plant load, or can i use a terrestrial plant filter to resolve the issue (without altering my feeding schedule).
Ok now for the "why are you making this so complicated kramer?" question. I was in my LFS about a year ago purchasing my oscars. My wife saw some of the plants and inquired about using live plants in the tank. I had never had any luck with planted aquariums in the past (mostly due to lack of care/research), the LFS guy assured me that it would be impossible with the Oscars. Needless to say with a gauntlet like that thrown down i had to accept the challenge and prove him wrong. So off i went, I set up DIY Co2 due to the fact that i figured once the oscars got to the size they are now the plants days would be numbered. I was wrong. I know the way to go is pressurized Co2 but there are two things holding me back. first is the cost factor of the controllers, second is the wife. I am a control freak and relying solely on a pH controller just isn't my style. I looked into the lab grade pH,CO3 selective ion electrodes and they are just out of my current budget range ( I also saw a nice Co2 electrode which would rule but that was the worst one fiscally coming in at about $800 us). My plants seem to be recovering from a frustration induced algea trimming session and now the algea seems to be limited to my PH's and my two large broadleaf's. The pleco (just like the one he has replaced) seems to no longer be interested in the algea on the plants and finds sustenance elsewhere (lol not yet sure where though, perhaps the uneaten pellets like his predicessor). The snails are doing a great job everywhere except the broadleafs (they just cant seem to get up the stem before the oscars decide to play soccer with em). The pictus, as he should, sticks mainly to the bottom going after food scraps. The crayfish spends most of his time in hiding and takes care of the shrimp leftovers at night. Smaller pond snails dont last more then a few minutes ( the oscars have learned to eat any "small rocks" they see moving). I am heading out to the LFS this afternoon in search of a chinese algea eater in hopes that, one i can find one large enough to introduce, and two he will do a job on the algea. I would try dosing with Flourish excel however it is unavailable in my area, and i am not paying cost+50%(for shipping) to purchase it online. Plus if my calculations are correct (3*KH*10(raise to the 7-pH) my Co2 is about 11 ppm.
Any idea's regarding solving my balancing issues would be greatly appreciated.
PS. How about a venturi protein skimmer?