What now? co2, light, and fert triangle - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-08-2008, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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Question What now? co2, light, and fert triangle

I started up my tank in Aug of '07 and nothing quite went how I wanted it to. All the time I spent reading, I felt was vain. My mother/ her boyfriend being a major part of this. They rushed the process and caused me a great deal of stress, so much I resent what I have left of it. And occasionally I want to give up. I can't be too disheartened because he paid for it all, though it is my time that keeps it alive.

At the moment:
- 96 watts of 6500k over 46 gal.
- diy co2
- eco complete
- no fertilization apart from fish
- emperor 400 (That is two biowheel HOB, running no carbon, have quilt batting in it's place.)

Inhabitants:
- 2 white skirt tetras (That my mother bought dyed, which I don't even want to think about. All I need say is I was extremely unhappy, there for the purchase, and educated them beforehand of dyed fish.)
- 1 diamond tetra
- 9 albino corydoras aeneus
- 9 otocinclus

And some random plants from petco.
(Also another big sore as I didn't pick them though it was supposed to be my tank... I was upset at this point and not talking. 3/4 of the bought plants were not aquatic, which this board confirmed.)

As I don't test, I'm not sure the parameters of my water, but I have been doing 7- 10 gal water changes weekly, switching to 50 % weekly with well water that goes through a water softener.

Here is a poor, full shot of my tank. As for that plant on the far right end, it's a walmart bulb surprise and seems to put out a new leaf every several days for every one that browns.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v3...g?t=1220887612

And a little older video. Didn't mean to chase my tetras around at the end. : (

http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v3...t=P5180003.flv


So, I'm not happy with what I have so far. I have a few concerns.

The DIY co2 and the biowheel filter
sort of negate each other. I have seen improvement in growth since starting Diy co2.

I have 2 wpg of light on a 46 gal. Should I upgrade my co2 to pressurized in the future? Or would it make more sense to upgrade lighting?

I need to fertilize, yes. I will dose according to the 20-40 gal plan in the sticky under the sub forum "Parameters". Is this acceptable?

In my opinion, I think the tetras need more room because they seem high energy at times. I'm interested in maybe replacing them with some ghost glass cats, but I would need a larger group. My question being If after attaining more plant mass, rid of the tetras, and maybe cut down on the number of corys, will my tank be a fine environment for a shoal of ghost glass cats?

Personally I like the Julii corys better than the ones I have now. But Pangio Kuhli catch my eye. Just some suggestions on this, of course influenced by the question above.

And after purhcasing the otos, leftover diatoms disappearing, my back wall and two older stems are sprinkled over in the black/ red/ brown alage that grows along the edges in tufts. This is BBA I assume. The co2 questions above might answer this issue I read. However, would it be wise to think of an SAE? I like the ghost glass cat idea, and don't think they would appreciate him, plant mass or not to hide in. As well, would some nerites do me any good?
So, my final question is: What needs to be done first and foremost? Then in what order must the following steps be taken?

I'm at a complete loss as to what to do now and I would sincerely appreciate some advice, critique, suggestions, and maybe even some encouragement if I do so deserve. : )
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-08-2008, 04:35 PM
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1. More plants. Look for a variety package in the swap and shop.
2. As I understand it glass cats need live food. Are you ready for that?
3. 2wpg isn't a lot of light I don't think you "need" CO2. You could try excel. DIY CO2 is cheaper than excel. CO2 doesn't hurt at any rate. You would need some sort of diffusion system. There is a great idea in this thread that works quite well and is cheap.
http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...2-reactor.html
4. As your plants get long and lanky reaching for the top trim then down to 1/3 of tank height and replant the tops. That will help you get a clump growing. Always plant each stem individually, about 1/4" from the others. That gives room for roots and light to each stem. As you trim most stems branch out.
5. Group like plants in bunches. It looks more like nice groupings. You can repeat groupings at different parts of the tank.

GOOD LUCK!

Just keeping on keeping on....


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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-08-2008, 04:48 PM Thread Starter
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I have been watching the swap n shop.

I'm aware glass cats are finicky feeders and am willing to learn to culture live foods well before purchasing.

I already have DIY Co2, and a reactor built from a water bottle and a pump that produces very fine bubbles/ dissolves them.

I have been replanting the very tops. It seems if I cut 1/3 off the stem never gets much taller and grows very small leaves at the very top, not much more.

So, I'm assuming from this post that I'd do better with a lighting upgrade.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-08-2008, 05:35 PM
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"As I don't test, I'm not sure the parameters of my water, but I have been doing 7- 10 gal water changes weekly, switching to 50 % weekly with well water that goes through a water softener."

Would advise that you DO water tests, especially for pH,GH,KH. And be advised that some water softeners "soften" water by adding salts, increasing total dissolved solids, which may not be good for your fish/plants.......

James

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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-08-2008, 05:43 PM Thread Starter
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I was recently reading about the effects of water softeners.

Thanks for the input. What do you think about switching to RO?
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-08-2008, 06:57 PM
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RO water is used by many on this forum who have issues (Hardness, pH etc...) with local "tap" or well water. Testing water is still highly recommended in any case. You generally want water conditions to match Flora/Fauna you are trying to keep, or that can be safely acclimated to your existing conditions.
I would also advise searching the forums under the separate headings for each issue you have brought up,(e.g. Lighting, Water parameters, Algae, CO2,etc..). Planted tanks are a balancing act (sometimes quite finicky as I've found!) but the info from forum members is invaluable IMHO

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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-08-2008, 07:05 PM Thread Starter
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I'm definitely going to purchase some testing equipment this week. I imagine that decision will rest on the results.
Thank you very much for cluing me in a bit. It's nice to have a plan of action.

If I decide I'd like to upgrade my lighting, I have a second 2x 96w fixture. I'd have to buy bulbs. What if I were to run one 96w bulb for the first three hours both bulbs for two hours and one bulb again for the last three hours of an 8 hour photoperiod? I ask seeing as how 2x96 appears to be too much light.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-08-2008, 09:49 PM
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Never upgrade light without upgrading CO2. The two are hand in hand when it comes to balance in the tank, the amount of light you have should be limited by the amount and consistency of your CO2. DIY can produce the amount in many cases but never the consistency. Since the yeast is a living organism, the amount of production is always wavering. The Coralife 96w aqualight is an effective light (I have one too), IMHO it's good enough for your tank. Don't get too rapped up in the watts per gallon mumbo jumbo. You are in the realm where DIY and no ferts can be sufficient, any more light and you'll require a pressurized CO2 canister to ward off black brush algae. At that point you'll need to adopt a full on fert schedule of macro and micro nutrients.

Before you decide to go with RO, first see if there is a place to pull water before the softener. Take that unsoftened water and test the KH and GH to confirm whether RO even makes sense. Once you start using RO you'll have to buy a GH booster like Seachem Equilibrium, and add it to your RO change water to get the GH back up to 4-6 dGH. This will avoid Ca and Mg deficiencies in the plants.

As Texgal said, your first and foremost issue is plant mass, you need to add a lot more plants. I might be able to help you out a bit in a few weeks, just PM me to remind me.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-08-2008, 10:05 PM Thread Starter
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Within the next couple of weeks I should have parameters for water before and after softening and we'll see.
Thank you for your generosity.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-14-2008, 11:04 PM Thread Starter
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Test results in.

Tap Before the Water Softener
PH: 7.2
Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate: 0ppm
GH: >12 (At 20 drops and no color change I quit adding drops- >20)
KH: >12

Tap After Softener
PH: 7.2
Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate: 0ppm
GH: 1
KH: 12

Tank
PH: 8.2
Ammonia: 0ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 40ppm (Two water changes dropped this to 10 over two days)
GH: 6
KH: 12
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-15-2008, 08:44 AM
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Dang. You can always stick to hard water plants. Or an RO would strip it down. With that hardness you could just cut in some tap with the RO mix water to get enough Ca and Mg for the plants (3 to 6 dGH), or if you want to cancel all carbs and bicarbs out (KH) for the super soft water loving pants, you can strip it with RO then add the Equilibrium or a more DIY GH booster.

Your softener certainly isn't giving you ideal parameters, they're more useless than the pre-softened ones. (no Ca/Mg, bunch of useless carbs)

Personally, I would set up a rift lake tank w/ a couple smaller African cichlid species, your water is perfect for it. Tons of big rocks, anubias and java ferns, maybe some vallisneria nana draping across the top. Generally, fish species will adapt to your tank's parameters when they're not specific to it's region, but I think I would take your hardness into consideration while you plan your future stocking. That is unless you plan to change it.
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-15-2008, 08:57 AM
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This is my idea of a good rift lake hardscape, just needs a lot more effort put toward plants. http://www.aquahobby.com/tanks/e_tank0408.php
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-15-2008, 12:34 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks. : )

I will certainly look into it.
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-15-2008, 03:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musing.Dog View Post
I was recently reading about the effects of water softeners.

Thanks for the input. What do you think about switching to RO?
I don't suggest it unless you specifically need it for for only a small handful of fish and plants. Basically you are pretty specilized and have experience and know what you want.

If not, do not bother.

As far as test kits, if you do not use them right and do not know what the results really mean, they often do more harm than good and lead folks off on many wild goose chases rather than the simple basics of good planted aquarium keeping:

Pruning, watching plant growth/health, water changes, good dosing routines, feeding fish, cleaning filters, good CO2 etc.

Even folks with a fair amount of experience run all over chasing one nutrient after another. A simple question is did you get into this hobby to do water testing and research?

Probably not.
And no, testing is not required to have a high level of scaping, the goals folks started off with generally.

Sometimes testing can help, but take such results with a grain of salt and see about by passing the water softener. You already have a lot of info to deal with. pH/Kh/Gh test kits are pretty decent over all and do not cost much.

Still, they are general parameters and are not specific(they do not test solely for the parameter you are interested through direct readings).

GH=> could be all Mg, or all Ca, so unless you are specific, you might be low/absent on one and not the other.

pH=> many things other than KH/CO2 affect this parameter.

KH=> many other forms of non carbonate alkalinity exist in tap and tank water.

So............

The best test is still the plant's themselves and algae.
Less light, good consistent CO2 and routine ferts.
That's a good combo for many.

I had much harder Gh than you and about the same the KH in my tap and simply used tap on all my tanks:





Grew most plants at a very high level.

Regards,
Tom Barr




Regards,
Tom Barr
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-15-2008, 05:30 PM Thread Starter
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It would be easy enough to bypass the softener.
The fauna and flora of the riftlake/African cichlid suggestion doesn't appeal to me as much as my ideas from the first post. I'd like a densely planted natural feel with slow/ peaceful inhabitants.

Thank you very much for your well founded advice. I'm assuming then that I should think about switching slowly to bypassed water in the future.

Just to inform, I own a 3-stage RO unit, but I'm limited for space. I don't have it set up, and I'm not sure the condition of the membrane. Nor do I have a tool to measure TDS, at the moment. It isn't any 50 gpd either.

Thanks for the great pictures. When you say consistent co2, do you mean a steady routine of DIY, or is all DIY fluctuating enough in your opinion not to be considered consistent?
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