Non CO2 Tall Tank with Stems--Possible?
I would love some input from anyone with experience or opinions on this question.
Initial success in short tank: I had a very successful 20 long planted tank from May 2013 to February 2014. For the greater part of the time, I was using DIY CO2, "diffused" through my Aquaclear 30. All went well, there were no severe algae problems, and I happily grew wisteria, ludwigia repens, bacopa caroliniana, HM (did marvelously!), myrio aquaticum, and hydrocotyle leucocephala, rotala rotundifolia, and hygro corymbosa (grew very nice large leaves). Lighting was a 48" shop light with 1 or 2 T8 bulbs, which I suspended at varying heights over the tank. When the fixture was lower, I had some really nice pearling. However, I would progressively raise it when hair algae appeared to be getting a little too present.
Since I wanted to get into larger fish, I upgraded to a 29 gallon, and gradually, over maybe a couple of months, started moving plants over there. Eventually I moved my CO2 "system" to the 29 as well, and added a similar shop light fixture. Finally the 20 gallon was taken down completely.
The Problem: However, once in the 29, stems did not do well. Ludwigia repens became severely stunted, full of pinholes, and miniature compared to its lush, quick growth in the 20. Wisteria, now with emersed style leaves, stretched leggily upward. Rotala is now etched in dark brown. Fuzzy algae became a notable problem. However, vallisneria did great and my xingu sword perked up and did better than ever before.
Changes I made: I ended up pulling out the last remaining bits of ludwigia, as well as the wisteria, and starting an emersed tub, hoping to save them.
I had been switching back and forth between one and two T8s, but it seemed the algae would get worse when I used two. So I settled on one, suspended just above the glass. I moved the filter to the side of the tank, so the outflow travels right along the front glass, to hopefully improve circulation, because mulm was accumulating in the furry algae on plant leaves.
However, this allowed me to see that when my DIY CO2 got "chopped up" in my Aquaclear, most or all of it was actually bubbling right out the top of the filter! I don't know if was getting any, or none of the CO2 into the tank. So that was the end of my DIY CO2 endeavors. I also temporarily added a sponge filter, since removed. Ferts were initially increased, then decreased when I realized CO2 system was defunct. Some plants were bleach dipped to get rid of the fur.
Results:I no longer have a problem with the furry algae, nor mulmy leaves. Diatoms, which did not seem to be wanting to disappear "on their own," have greatly diminished, to where I no longer consider it a problem. Either they did really disappear "on their own," (between 4 and 5 months after setup), or something else helped. Tank is still fairly thickly planted and remaining plants are doing well. I still have bacopa, myrio, anacharis, vals, rotala, as well as sword, fern, anubias, crypts, and HM.
My theory: If it's true that I did not have much, or any CO2 diffusion in either tank, maybe my first tank successfully grew stems that my second wouldn't, because, being a short tank, it had stronger lighting, and because some plants reached the surface, thus receiving atmospheric CO2.
I realize I could probably slightly increase the light to the 29 gallon tank by using two bulbs suspended quite high above the tank, but I don't really feel like doing that (feels like a waste of electricity to me). And I would have to do so very carefully so as not to bring on more algae. So I'm using one bulb on the glass, no CO2, and might be looking at more anubias, crypts, ferns, and moss!
My 20 Gallon Long Plant Collection:
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Last edited by Water7; 03-07-2014 at 06:40 PM.
Reason: rethinking conclusion