How much flow in a planted tank? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-25-2006, 10:22 PM Thread Starter
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How much flow in a planted tank?

Hi,

I'm new to the forum. Great resource!

My daughter has decided to start a planted tank (40G acrylic tank with 2x96w pc lighting and DIY CO2).

So far, the only filtration is a Fluval 204, and I'm not sure if that's enough flow for the tank.
I have two saltwater tanks and am used to lots of flow.
Should she add a small powerhead to up the flow a bit?
As long as the surface doesn't get churned up, the CO2 should still be okay, right?

Or do planted tanks prefer very little flow?

The plants went in a week ago, and some of them are showing some filamentous algae growth on the stems and leaves (looks like short hair growing on the edges).

Is it too early to add a few algae eaters? Would siamese flying foxes be the right type? Or a couple of otos?
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-25-2006, 11:14 PM
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Welcome to TPT! Nice to see new plant freaks on the forum.

2x96w over a 40g will be alot of light to begin with. I'd cut it down to one for 9 hours a day or so till things grow in. Plus a need for a good source of NPK and Micros will be needed before you’ll ever be able to really light up both of those bulbs and not get algae to take hold.

DIY CO2 on a 40g is a little difficult as well. Although I have never used DIY CO2 I have brewed beer before. The CO2 production always differed depending on ambient temp. To keep the algae at bay you’ll need a good consistent source of CO2 and ferts.

You’re off to a good start for gear but in the long run a pressurized CO2 delivery system will help a great deal.

There are several methods to fert the plants. But for the most part all of us are using dry ferts. I've heard of others out there but Greg Watson has been an awesome source over the last few years for me.

Good luck let us know what you planted.

Edit: Algae sounds like Black Beard Algae... Or Stag horn... both are signs of low CO2/not enough ferts/too much light on an immature tank. Ottos will be fine for any brown diatom but not much for BBA or Stag horn. If you have not added aggressive/big fish yet look into some shrimp. Shrimp like Amano and Cherry Reds are awesome algae eating crew.

Filter should be fine for a while till the tank grows in.


Sean

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2006, 12:08 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by kzr750r1 View Post
Welcome to TPT! Nice to see new plant freaks on the forum.
Thanks for the welcome!

Quote:

2x96w over a 40g will be alot of light to begin with. I'd cut it down to one for 9 hours a day or so till things grow in.
Will do that! Would one 96w bulb be enough for good, or will the plants appreciate more light later on?

Quote:
Plus a need for a good source of NPK and Micros will be needed before you’ll ever be able to really light up both of those bulbs and not get algae to take hold.
I'm going to show my ignorance and admit that I'm not sure what NPK and Micros stands for.

Quote:
You’re off to a good start for gear but in the long run a pressurized CO2 delivery system will help a great deal.
I had that feeling, and the bubble counter and reactor will work with th pressurized source, too, but right now it's not in the budget.
Any ideas where to get an affordable one?

Quote:
Good luck let us know what you planted.
I'll let you know after the weekend, when my daughter is back.
She researched what plants she wanted.
I know it's a variety of swords and some hair grass with more to be added next week.

Quote:
Edit: Algae sounds like Black Beard Algae... Or Stag horn... both are signs of low CO2/not enough ferts/too much light on an immature tank. Ottos will be fine for any brown diatom but not much for BBA or Stag horn. If you have not added aggressive/big fish yet look into some shrimp. Shrimp like Amano and Cherry Reds are awesome algae eating crew.
There are no fish in the tank at this point.
Would shrimp be safe with the fish my daughter wants to add later (rasbora, cardinals and a pair of dwarf cichlids yet to be determined, a few catfish and otos/siamese flying foxes)?

Quote:
Filter should be fine for a while till the tank grows in.
So, no more flow needed until later?

Thanks for your input!
 
post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2006, 12:16 AM
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You could cut the light back, but I would keep the duration at 10 or 11 hours a days. Shortening the light cycle never has much of an affect on algae. What you need is good circulation, regular water changes and possibly higher C02 levels, and a little patience for for everything to balance out.

There are two types of nutrients plants use, Macro, those they use in larger amounts, and minor or trace, those they use in much smaller amounts.

Here is a break down:

Macronutrients
Nutrients used by plants in relatively large amounts. They are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), sulfur (S), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg) and potassium (K).

Micronutrients
Nutrients used by plants in small amounts. They are iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), molybdenum (Mo), cobalt (Co), and boron (B).

Plants like water movement, good circulation. Surface splashing will burn off C02 to some extent. Good water movement below the water surface helps prevent sediment from building up on the leaves which can block the plants ability to absorb light and nutrients and be a haven for algae. Circulation carries nutrients across the tank, prevents cold or hot spots, and helps keep the water oxygenated. A small pump or powerhead below the water surface is all that is needed.

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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2006, 01:24 AM
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Thanks for stepping in on this Robert. I was trying to type and keep my two year old off the laptop. Doing both at the same time didn't allow for the full fert description.

After a couple of years on my 55 I've done just what Robert suggests. My small Rio pump only runs at night to add surface movement. This way I'm not killing fish with too much CO2 it allows it to gas off at night. Since you’re only going to do DIY I wouldn't worry too much about gassing out the CO2 and keep any additional pump from rippling the water much. Adjust to add surface movement if the PH get's to acidic. Keep the CO2 generator rolling your going to need it!

Sounds like you don't have many stems in there so it's going to be a rough start. Cutting back the light for now will also allow you a few days before the water column is completely stripped of the usable nutrients.

The other item that has been up for debate lately is softer water. Some here have seen better growth with low KH/GH and thus a battle with CO2 over saturating the water column replacing all the O2. Fish death is the outcome in such a case. I'm experimenting with RO water and adding Mg and Ca to keep the plants happy. Without these two beyond the NPK your plants will start to have curled leaves. The Swords will need a nutrient rich substrate so flourish tabs may bee needed later...

Each planted tank is its own animal. No two are the same. All require a little patients and most of all let the plants and inhabitants give you clues what they need.

Sean

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2006, 01:51 AM Thread Starter
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Okay, I'll dig out a small pump and add it to the tank.

The water here has a low KH (3) and pH is about 7 out of the tap.
With the CO2 pH has gone down to about 6.4-6.6.

I have an RO/DI unit for my saltwater tanks. Should I use RO water for the freshwater tank, or will it be too stripped of nutrients?
And can I use a Ca/Mg supplement for saltwater tanks in the freshwater tank?
Or will that drive the pH too high?

What supplements do people here recommend?
I was told to not fertilize for the first month or so. Is that incorrect?
The substrate my daughter used is Flourite (sp?).
post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2006, 02:40 AM
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Plants can only grow if they get fed. And, they eat nitrates, phosphates, potassium, traces, calcium, magnesium, etc. So, it doesn't make sense to withhold fertilizer for a month when you first plant the tank. I just start my regular fertilizer routine as soon as I get the tank planted, relying on the weeklly 50% water change to remove anything that is in excess in the tank.

The main two GH boosters are Seachem's Equilibrium and Greg Watson's Barr GH Booster. The latter is the cheaper, but both work. If your tap water is reasonably normal it is better for the plants than RO water, in my opinion. But, if it is extremely high in KH, or contains way too much copper, for example, then using RO water to dilute the tap water makes sense. pH is not a parameter that needs to be adjusted. It is useful for estimating how much CO2 is in the water, but that's about all. I don't test pH at all now.

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2006, 03:03 PM
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With KH of three I'd just use the tap water. Consider yourself lucky.

Just be cautious with adding circulation that you don't gas out the CO2 with too much surface movement.

If you kept both 96w bulbs on the water would be stripped in a few days. Dropping one of them for now will let the plants settle but you’re still going to need ferts soon.
Make an order of what you can't find in the pharmacy or garden center from Greg. Keep in mind PO4 can be Fleet Enema.

Aquarium Plants, Aquatic Plants, Planted Aquariums, and Aquarium Plant Fertilizer

RIP - 55g - Eheim 2026 and 2217 - DIY CO2 reactor - Turbo Twist 3x - Tek Light t5 pendant w/ 2x54 6500k - ecocomplete mixed with Red Sea florabase.
"Better to be shot out of a cannon then squeezed through a tube" - HST

Last edited by kzr750r1; 11-26-2006 at 08:14 PM.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2006, 05:17 PM
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If she's serious about staying with it I'd definitely look at pressurized CO2 as soon as there's room in the aquarium budget. I did DIY on a 55 gallon for a year and read all the posts about how much easier it is, your tank will be more stable, better plant growth, etc and after making the change to pressurized I can tell you it's true.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2006, 06:57 PM Thread Starter
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Believe me, I know how much easier pressurized will be!

Just tell my husband there is yet another item on the never ending list of things desperately needed for our hobby!

Can someone point me to a good list for the ferts (what exactly to buy), please?
Fleet enema!?

I have many testing kits for the marine tank (PO4, nitrate etc.), but need instructions how much of what to add to a 40G tank, depending on the test results.
Greg's website has a ton of different supplements!
Is there anything pre-mixed out there that would be okay to start with until we can figure out the specifics?

Right now, there is no ammo, trites or trates at all (no fish in the tank yet), so I assume the plants are in dire need of supplements. No readable phosphates either.

Is there a newbie guide to ferts somewhere? One that doesn't assume knowledge of abbreviations, or where to get supplements cheap at the garden center/pharmacy?
I've looked around the articles here, but am still fairly confused.
post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2006, 07:35 PM
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Can someone point me to a good list for the ferts (what exactly to buy), please?...
This EI "light" article will tell you what ferts you need and how much to dose and when to dose. EI "light" for the less techical aspects of the Estimative index - Barr Report
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2006, 07:43 PM
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Right now, there is no ammo, trites or trates at all
Teehee, that's cute&I like it. Sorry, couldn't resist-I just never thought to say em that way.



I have gotten nothin but hospitality here and some good advice on ferts. Keep checking, I'm sure you'll soon love it here as much as I do!
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2006, 07:51 PM Thread Starter
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Teehee, that's cute&I like it. Sorry, couldn't resist-I just never thought to say em that way.
I guess it must be saltwater lingo!


Quote:
I have gotten nothin but hospitality here and some good advice on ferts. Keep checking, I'm sure you'll soon love it here as much as I do!
...Oh, and welcome.
Thanks for the welcome!
I remember being just as confused when first learning about reef set-ups, so I hope to know a lot more about planted tanks soon, too.

And now I'm off to see if any of the LFSs around here have some "real" SAEs.
post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2006, 07:55 PM Thread Starter
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This EI "light" article will tell you what ferts you need and how much to dose and when to dose. EI "light" for the less techical aspects of the Estimative index - Barr Report
Thanks for the link!
Will go and do more studying!
post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-26-2006, 08:07 PM
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EI is a baseline that works well. It assumes weekly WC to take out excess the plants aren't using.

Fleet Enema is for addition of PO4 "phosphate" can be found in the laxative section of any pharmacy.

NO3 “Nitrate” can be found within Stump Killer at the garden center.

Let me make some suggestions from Gregs site to get you started. One Lb of each will last a year or better.
Macros:
PMDD Store: Potassium Sulfate 1 lb., Dry Aquatic Plant Fertilizers
PMDD Store: Potassium Nitrate 1 lb., Dry Aquatic Plant Fertilizers
Fleet Enema or PMDD Store: Mono Potassium Phosphate 1 lb., Dry Aquatic Plant Fertilizers
Magnesium Sulfate = Epsom salt get it at the pharmacy
Calcium = Since you have salt tanks I’d assume your have Calcium but I’ve been pinching in some Kent turbo Ca when using mostly RO water… Since your water is on the soft side you’ll likely need to add a little every water change.
Or use PMDD Store: Barr's GH Booster, Dry Aquatic Plant Fertilizers

Micros: PMDD Store: CSM+B Plantex 1 lb, Dry Aquatic Plant Fertilizers

I understand it’s a bit confusing for a while but if looking up information about the methods find articles about PMDD, “Poor Mans Dosing Drops” may help too…

What folks have found is making solutions with all the ingredients make more of a mess than just dosing according to the EI suggestion. I for one just add the dry Macro powders to my morning liter of water every other day. This replaces evaporated water and gives me a chance to add or eliminate one of the Macros as needed.

Mix 1 TBS plantex to 250ml water and store in the fridge, this way it’s less likely to get a strange mold that looks like curdled milk. This way I just add 10 to 15 ml to that morning’s water addition (1 Liter).

The reason to not add Phosphate and Iron at the same time is the Phosphate and Iron bond and makes them less usable for the plants. This is still up for debate if it actually applies but I’m fine with the routine…

Believe me I understand how one more $200 hobby part can look excessive to your spouse but you’ll be saving time in the process. If you choose to keep going with the DIY CO2 keep up on the generator. I would like to get a new light fixture and add about the same amount of light you have. But finding 300+ bucks in the budget is hard. 

Hope this helps a bit…

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"Better to be shot out of a cannon then squeezed through a tube" - HST
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