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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-31-2007, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
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semi-natural planted tank questions

I was wondering if my plants will need fertilizers, how much CO2, and what amount of water changes being under 2.9watts per gallon of light?

I currently have root tabs for my melon sword. No other ferts used. I donít have fish in there right now. I would like to add an apple snail, otos, and/or neons and zebra danios. I use three DIY 2liter CO2 bottles on my 55gal tank. Do I need to increase this? Is it possible to overdose CO2? If so, what happens? I was also thinking about getting the Hagen Plant Grow Natural System with CO2. Is this system worth it compared to DIY?

http://www.petsmart.com/global/produ...N=2030065&Ne=2


Right now I'm having problems with blue-green algae and hair algae mostly. I have a relatively low plant mass. I will be getting more plants today. I want to use seachem flourish excel but I can't find it in my lfs. I don't want to buy it online because it cost $14 a bottle (for a small bottle), including the shipping. I just can't bring myself to pay that for a small bottle of it. Should I use regular flourish instead? What are the differences between the two? My substrate is 3.5'' of cheap topsoil topped with a 1'' of play sand. This tank is semi-el natural. I would prefer to not have to dose ferts daily. Weekly at most. I will not buy pressurized CO2. Can't afford it right now. I prefer for this tank to be semi-low maintenance. Under 2.9watts per gallon is this possible?

I currently have these plants in my tankÖ
1 melon sword
1 large ball java moss
1 medium-small size java fern
15 stems creeping jenny
5 un-sprouted Aponogeton bulbs
A good amount of native lake plants (unidentified)
Unidentified stem plant
Ludwigia Repens broad leaf
Small fist size glosso
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-31-2007, 07:04 PM
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Quote:
I was wondering if my plants will need fertilizers, how much CO2, and what amount of water changes being under 2.9watts per gallon of light?
In general, yes plants need fertilizer and yes they need CO2 to grow. You mention later on that you have a soil substrate covered with sand - this gives you a few advantages. Soil and peat provide an organic source of carbon, but it gets depleted over time and eventually to get your plants to grow well again you'll have to replace the soil (about every year or a bit longer). It can also provide many, if not all, of the nutrients that plants need to grow. Diana Walsted wrote a fantastic book on this low-tech approach - "The Ecology of the Planted Aquarium". Not many pictures, but a fantastic read!

Water changes are subjective, depending on many things. I do mine every two weeks. I've seen tanks go completely without - though this is rare. Monthly is the standard I think.

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I currently have root tabs for my melon sword.
Right on - they are heavy root feeders.

Quote:
I use three DIY 2liter CO2 bottles on my 55gal tank. Do I need to increase this? Is it possible to overdose CO2? If so, what happens? I was also thinking about getting the Hagen Plant Grow Natural System with CO2. Is this system worth it compared to DIY?
If you're dissolving it well then three should be enough. I admire you - keeping 3 DIY bottles going is more trouble than I want to deal with! But yes, if dissolved well, it should be enough. Do you have a reactor? Venturi-style reactors work very well and aren't too tough to make. It IS possible to OD on CO2 from the fishes perspective (but not for the plants). If you ever see your fish gasping near the surface, just do a good water change and run an airstone for a bit and they'll generally bounce back. If you're already doing DIY CO2, there's really no reason to get a Hagen system, except maybe for the ladder. It is EXACTLY the same thing as DIY CO2, except in a smaller container.

Quote:
Right now I'm having problems with blue-green algae and hair algae mostly.
Many times BGA will pop up when your nitrates bottom out. If you're not fertilizing, well, then I guess that makes sense.

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I have a relatively low plant mass. I will be getting more plants today. I want to use seachem flourish excel but I can't find it in my lfs. I don't want to buy it online because it cost $14 a bottle (for a small bottle), including the shipping. I just can't bring myself to pay that for a small bottle of it. Should I use regular flourish instead? What are the differences between the two?
More plants = better! And Flourish is a very good trace element fertilizer. It'll help plant growth, but it lacks a lot of the macro nutrients (NO3, PO4, K). Seachem sells the macros separate though, and so does Greg Watson. Macros are what your plants need in large amounts, so some source - be it substrate, fish, ferts, etc. of these is necessary for healthy growth.

Seachem EXCEL is a whole 'nother beast. I think it is the best thing since sliced bread. It is completely unique to Seachem - think of it as basically liquid CO2. The chemical makeup is similar to a sugar in the intermediate stage between photosynthesis and consumption, carbon in a usable form. Not only this, but Excel is a mild algaecide. They can't advertise it as such, but I guarantee that once you start using it you'll see SIGNIFICANTLY less algae. Many people use it as a spot treatment for certain types (BBA especially). I buy it by the 4L jug, and can't say enough good things about Excel. I paid... $45? I believe that was including shipping, for a 4L jug from Big Al's. If you'd like to try some Excel, go ahead and PM me your address and I'll send you a little bottle from my big jug to try. You'll love it.


Quote:
is this possible?
You didn't mention what size the tank was, but yes, I do believe it is possible!


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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-31-2007, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JenThePlantGeek View Post
Diana Walsted wrote a fantastic book on this low-tech approach - "The Ecology of the Planted Aquarium". Not many pictures, but a fantastic read!!
I know, and I want to get it. I read her column in TFH every month. It is very refreshing to know that there are others out there who go el natural and don't feel the need to push high tech, pricey, equipment in your mouth and tell you if you don't do it this way you shouldn't have a planted tank at all.

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Water changes are subjective, depending on many things. I do mine every two weeks. I've seen tanks go completely without - though this is rare. Monthly is the standard I think.
I might do it once a week or every other week.

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Originally Posted by JenThePlantGeek View Post
Do you have a reactor? Venturi-style reactors work very well and aren't too tough to make.!
Quote:
Originally Posted by JenThePlantGeek View Post
More plants = better! And Flourish is a very good trace element fertilizer. It'll help plant growth, but it lacks a lot of the macro nutrients (NO3, PO4, K). Seachem sells the macros separate though, and so does Greg Watson. Macros are what your plants need in large amounts, so some source - be it substrate, fish, ferts, etc. of these is necessary for healthy growth.!
Ok. I don't think I'd have to worry about the nitrate. Just the potassium and PO4 (What's the PO4 stand for again? ::blushes: Does seachem sell a liquid PO4 and Potassium fertilizer? If so, what's it called? I might get that until I can get my hands on the stuff from Greg Watson.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JenThePlantGeek View Post
Seachem EXCEL is a whole 'nother beast. I think it is the best thing since sliced bread. It is completely unique to Seachem - think of it as basically liquid CO2. The chemical makeup is similar to a sugar in the intermediate stage between photosynthesis and consumption, carbon in a usable form. Not only this, but Excel is a mild algaecide. They can't advertise it as such, but I guarantee that once you start using it you'll see SIGNIFICANTLY less algae. Many people use it as a spot treatment for certain types (BBA especially). I buy it by the 4L jug, and can't say enough good things about Excel. I paid... $45? I believe that was including shipping, for a 4L jug from Big Al's.
And that's why it makes me crazy that they don't sell it. They won't ever special order it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JenThePlantGeek View Post
If you'd like to try some Excel, go ahead and PM me your address and I'll send you a little bottle from my big jug to try. You'll love it.
Wow! really? Thanks! PM sent


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Originally Posted by JenThePlantGeek View Post
You didn't mention what size the tank was, but yes, I do believe it is possible!
Itís a 55.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-31-2007, 08:30 PM
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PO4 is your phosphate - http://www.bigalsonline.com/BigAlsUS...hosphorus250ml

And Potassium - http://www.bigalsonline.com/BigAlsUS...potassium250ml

Got your email - I'll try to send that stuff out on Monday


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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-31-2007, 08:34 PM Thread Starter
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opps! forgot to put this in. Here's my design for the diffuser.

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-31-2007, 08:36 PM Thread Starter
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Got your email - I'll try to send that stuff out on Monday
Thank you so much!!
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-31-2007, 08:40 PM
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Your design looks great! Go for it!

The venturi design isn't that far off from what you came up with - just run another little thing of airline tubing from higher up on the pop bottle to the powerhead intake (covered with a sponge strainer). Then the bubbles get sucked from inside the bottle through the powerhead, around and around, chopping them up even finer into a mist.

Have you built this yet, or is this your plan?


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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-10-2007, 05:43 PM
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Lightbulb

Would it be possible to "sandwich" the airstone with filter floss, top and bottom?
With the powerhead sucking beyond the top layer filter floss?

Am I making any sense?

I would draw it, but I'm at work...

But the order would be like this:

Powerhead
----------
Filter floss
----------
Airstone
----------
Filter floss
----------
Hole

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-10-2007, 09:19 PM
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If you add a 90 degree elblow inside on the power head where it's inside the tube, then you do not need the floss, the smaller hole etc.

You can also add a hole and airline to venturi the CO23 accumulated in the tube at whatever level you desire.

Both these additions will greatly enhance the efficacy of the unit.

Regards,
Tom Barr




Regards,
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-10-2007, 10:10 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
If you add a 90 degree elblow inside on the power head where it's inside the tube, then you do not need the floss, the smaller hole etc.

You can also add a hole and airline to venturi the CO23 accumulated in the tube at whatever level you desire.

Both these additions will greatly enhance the efficacy of the unit.

Regards,
Tom Barr
Can't quite picture it. I'm a visual person.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-10-2007, 10:21 PM
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haha I was ust thinking the same thing, TigerLilly

Tom, were you replying to TigerLilly's OP or my recent question?

Would the 90 degree elbow cause the whirlpool-effect that is desired??
Or is it just deflecting?/redirecting water?

Am I wrong in thinking that the filter floss will "slow things down" (prevent CO2 bubbles from being lost)?

I was thinking that the filter floss would absorb the CO2 bubbles made by the airstone and this would make them smaller or more dissolved in the water....

Am I totally off???
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