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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-12-2015, 12:37 PM Thread Starter
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low tech to high tech, need a little help

Hi,

I am hoping I can get some feedback on my tank that was recently converted from low tech to high tech. I am looking for opinions on new settings to compensate for the addition of CO2.

Tank has been up and running for over a year.

For the past week I have gathered some new plants, removed the few plants left that were affected by BBA, cleaned the filter and vacuumed the substrate.

Last night I planted, rescaped (if you can call it a scape LOL) and setup the CO2.

Here are the specs, some parameters are as I had them in the low tech setup, i.e. photo period and light intensity etc.

• TANK: 17.1 gallon Mr Aqua.

• DIMENSIONS: 23.6" x 11.8" x 14.2"

• LIGHTING: 12" Current Sat + Pro light
Photo period: 8 hours. 1pm-9pm. I tried to have it come on so I can see the tank with the lights on when I come home from work, thus the late ON time.
At full capacity, 100 strength on the dimming feature, it is listed at 100 par. I was told this is the best guess per some some members here, and possibly the manufacturer, I cant remember.
I have the dimming feature turned down to about 32 par (32 strength on dimming feature).
Light is about 11" from the substrate.

• DOSING: EI dosing once a week. 1/4 tsp K2SO4, 1/8 tsp KH2PO4. My Nitrates are always high so I do not dose KNO3. (I assume I have all this correct, I followed a members suggestion. Maybe I read his info incorrectly, but that is what I deduced from it per the dosing specs) I never noticed any uptake of my nitrates, they always hovered between 40-60ppm. I cant remember what the goal PPM for phosphates is supposed to be when I dose. i wrote it down and was always within the limits outlined by the member. (very helpful person)

• FILTER: Marineland Magnum 250 external.

• POWERHEAD: Hydor Nano 250

• HEATER: External

• SUBSTRATE: Eco-Complete

• HARDSCAPE: Black lava rocks.

• FISH: 2 Neon Tetras, 2 Harlequin Rasboras, 2 Otos’s, 2 Nerites. (more fish to be added later)

• 50 % water changes every 2 weeks. I was doing 50% twice per week when I was battling diatoms and green hair algae and green dust algae. BBA was a losing battle and finally choked out most of my efforts.

General parameters.
• Ammonia: 0
• Nitrites: 0
• Nitrates: 40-60ppm
• Phosphates: (have not tested in a while since stripping tank due to BBA) Past tests showed 1-2ppm
• KH: 250ppm (14dkh)
• GH: 430ppm (24 dkh)
• PH: 7.6
• Tank Temp: 75-80 F

• PLANTS: Monte Carlo, S Repens, Blyxa Japonica, Limnophila Aromatica (arriving Tuesday), Anacharis (floated as temp plant), Fissidens Fontanus (to be added later possibly grown emersed on lava rock). I also have some anubias petite I can add that are quarantined and recovering very well from BBA.

My questions are the following.

1. Is my 8 hr photo period correct? I have the CO2 to come on at 12pm and turn off at 8pm.

2. Should I increase my PAR setting to account for the addition of CO2?

3. My BPS is set at 2 and my drop checker changed from blue to greenish blue last night. Fish looked like they were ok, so I assume I am not dosing too much.

4. I have the filter in-take, powerhead and bubble counter on the right. Output and diffuser on the left. Does that sound optimal?

5. I am unsure of the EI dosing and the water change frequency. I am not fully sure of the specifics and probably need to read up on this and revamp what I have been doing in the low tech setup. There is a lot of info to sift through and it's not always clear.

I think that’s it for now. I can’t think of anything else. Thanks for the help and feel free to address anything I may have missed.

Tank shot to come shortly.

iso
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-12-2015, 01:42 PM
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For now I would suggest dialing in the co2 till you find the sweet spot. Don't change anything else. Once the co2 if setup to provide a optimal level of co2, let the tank adjust over the next month. You should see an increase in growth from your plants. If all if going well and you want to push things further, you can look at increasing your lighting SLOWLY. its important not to jump from 0-100 overnight.

Something to consider is with your providing optimal co2 levels the plants will demand and use up more nutrients. But with proper ei dosing you should be fine but its something to watch for.

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-12-2015, 02:50 PM Thread Starter
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philipraposo1982, thanks for the info.

Besides the green colored drop checker, how do I know my CO2 is optimal? Just observe plant growth and health?

So even though I am adding CO2, I should not increase the lighting to compensate?

Thanks,
iso
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-12-2015, 03:48 PM
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What that company says about the light is 100+ PAR @ 12". This really gives most tanks(tank owners) no clue where to start from on the dimmer except down towards the bottom somewhere. On the other hand you do have a possible clue in there...the BBA.
It tends to show up in tanks with either fluctuating levels of or not enough CO2 for the light level. Since you listed a powerhead in addition to your filter I'd not suspect the fluctuating near as much as the too high a level of light reason.
Mostly saying I would not raise the light until all other adjustments have been working
for quite a while after they seem adjusted as best you can/w them.
The plants not growing much since the BBA took over is likely the reason for your higher nitrates. They would use them if they were growing. And there is not anything
like a full load of fish to even generate it. So it's just staying there for lack of use by
the plants...which will change once you do this start up and the new batch gets growing.
This is a list for EI in either dry form or a solution. Both require a weekly 50% or more water change. But be consistent with the amount.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/11...n-recipes.html
I would think that dry dosing would be better for now. You'll need to change the amount of KNO3 as the nitrates drop. Hard to do in a solution and duplicate that amount when making the next solution. That list also has no 15g tank on it. Likely what you have after sub is added. For this reason you may want to get familiar/w one of the calculators.

Bump: You very slowly raise the amount of it at times when you can sit in front of the tank and watch the fish. When they react to it you lower it just a bit. Usually takes a few days.

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-12-2015, 03:50 PM
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Image pleaaaaaaaaaaaaase!!

Hey Guys so new to the hobby. So excited to be here.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-12-2015, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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Livins, I have to wait to get the shot tonight.

I was a bit late for work and didn't get a chance to take a pic.

iso
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-12-2015, 04:44 PM
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+1 to philip and raymond

Don't go from 0-100. Add CO2 and you will see benefits. If you already had algae issues I would even consider lowering lighting a bit - even with CO2. Ramp things up slowly once you are stabilized.

Also I would dose some nitrates. You want to eliminate the possibility of nutrient deficiency through use of EI. Dosing less than EI defeats the purpose of EI. Just because you read high nitrates doesn't mean your nitrates are really that high. Many people have tested the API drop nitrate kit to read out at levels up to 10x higher than actual nitrate levels. I believe my nitrates are fine too but I still dose at least 1/4-1/2 x the listed KNO3.

Also EI depends more on plant mass / uptake of nutrients. A heavily planted 10g will often need more dosing than a sparsely planted 55g. The point of EI is to have all nutrients in abundance so that you can eliminate nutrient deficiencies as a cause for poor plant growth.

To determine optimal CO2 levels just slowwwwly crank it up. Little by little every few days. Green drop checker does not necessarily mean CO2 is on point. My drop checker is always yellow and I run into issues if I drop my CO2 so that it is green. Watch your plants' response and your fish to determine the levels you need to be at. Once you see the first signs of stress from fish dial it back a little and you should be at a good level.

BBA will ruin tanks pretty quick (happened to me before) so if you see it starting to come back fix the problem ASAP. It is relentless if you let it take hold. IMO the hardest algae to combat.


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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-12-2015, 04:45 PM Thread Starter
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Raymond, thanks for the info.

My tap has about 20-40 ppm nitrates. It has always been hard for me to reduce nitrates, when I kept cichlids.

In the planted tank, I have never seen a reduction in nitrates. I am hoping this higher plant mass and a hopeful healthy one will show a greater reduction in Nitrates.

I will keep the light setting and photo period where it is. I guess i thought with the introduction of CO2 I would need to increase it. Not because I want a brightly lit tank, but because I thought it was needed. I also thought 32 par was a low setting I guess it was still too strong for the low tech setup.

I do have dry fertilizers. So I will continue with those in the dosing amount outlined in my post and also read up on the link you sent.

Now that I have the CO2 setup I will be able to watch the drop checker and the fish and will adjust from there.

iso
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-12-2015, 08:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by klibs View Post
+1 to philip and raymond

Don't go from 0-100. Add CO2 and you will see benefits. If you already had algae issues I would even consider lowering lighting a bit - even with CO2. Ramp things up slowly once you are stabilized.

Also I would dose some nitrates. You want to eliminate the possibility of nutrient deficiency through use of EI. Dosing less than EI defeats the purpose of EI. Just because you read high nitrates doesn't mean your nitrates are really that high. Many people have tested the API drop nitrate kit to read out at levels up to 10x higher than actual nitrate levels. I believe my nitrates are fine too but I still dose at least 1/4-1/2 x the listed KNO3.

Also EI depends more on plant mass / uptake of nutrients. A heavily planted 10g will often need more dosing than a sparsely planted 55g. The point of EI is to have all nutrients in abundance so that you can eliminate nutrient deficiencies as a cause for poor plant growth.

To determine optimal CO2 levels just slowwwwly crank it up. Little by little every few days. Green drop checker does not necessarily mean CO2 is on point. My drop checker is always yellow and I run into issues if I drop my CO2 so that it is green. Watch your plants' response and your fish to determine the levels you need to be at. Once you see the first signs of stress from fish dial it back a little and you should be at a good level.

BBA will ruin tanks pretty quick (happened to me before) so if you see it starting to come back fix the problem ASAP. It is relentless if you let it take hold. IMO the hardest algae to combat.
Ditto. Don't go blasting the light right away
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-13-2015, 04:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isonychia View Post
My tap has about 20-40 ppm nitrates.
That seems pretty unreasonable. Did your test kit tell you that or an official water report or something of that nature?

Also IMO it is not true that high nitrates are a bad thing. You can safely have 40+ nitrates as long as things are clean / there isn't decaying matter everywhere. Nitrates from dosing are not as harmful as nitrates from the breakdown of harmful organic matter due to neglect of your tank.


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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-13-2015, 12:04 PM Thread Starter
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klibs, I will test them again shortly, both tap and tank.

I have tested the tap before and it is at least 20ppm.

Here is a tank shot. I am still planting the monte carlo and trying to find space for the S repens. I had this image in my head of how my plant choices would look with one another. Now I am not so sure if the S repens will work. I am not too concerned with that as much as I am concerned with getting good growth. I should be getting the Limnophila Aromatica today to replace the Anacharis in the left and right back corners of the tank. In terms of the scape, the things I wish I was able to do was find a bigger piece of black lava rock for the left side and create some more height to the layout. I searched for stone yards near me but couldn't find any places that carried it. I was only able to find that one big piece at a LFS. Also, I wish I had some DSM lava with Fissidens Fontanus on it already. I tried tying the FF in my earlier tanks but algae choked it out. My plan is to replace some of the smaller pieces of lava rock with FF or mini pellia when I can. Hopefully I can do that without messing things up too much.



iso
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-13-2015, 12:54 PM
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Like I said before I wouldn't trust your test kit if you are getting readings of 20+ ppm nitrates out of your tap. Very good chance that is not the case.


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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-13-2015, 01:33 PM
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You should be able to find a water quality report online for your area. It will give you nitrate readings and tons of info regarding your water.

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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-13-2015, 01:44 PM Thread Starter
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klib, per the towns water report it says:

Nitrate (as Nitrogen): MC LG 10 and another column has it as MCL 10

phil, here is the link: http://mods.ridgewoodnj.net/pdf/wate...ood2015CCR.pdf

So I assume that is the same as 10ppm.

I just did the tests and it is in the 20ppm range out of the tap.
20-40ppm out of the tank.

The problem with the test kits is I never know if I should hold it up against the card or an inch away. Holding it further away results in a lighter color. So if I hold it further away, out of the tap and tank can drop to 10 and 20 instead of 20 and 40.

I just tested the phosphates and I am getting something in the range of 5ppm in the tank.

Out of the tap it looks like 0.5ppm

The color in the tube vs the color on the cards is not close. The phosphate test color card has always been weird in terms of the shades they show. Light yellow and light green from 0-1.0ppm, turquoise is 2.0ppm and then royal blue from 5-10ppm. The other times I tested for Phosphates I had the same problem. The color I get in the tube is more dark greenish blue, the card shows more royal blue. So my best guess is 5ppm. I assume it's not in the 10ppm range. I'm not sure 10ppm is even possible with the small dosing I did yesterday. (1/4 tsp K2SO4, 1/8 tsp KH2PO4)

These are all fairly new test kits.

iso

Last edited by isonychia; 10-13-2015 at 01:45 PM. Reason: added report
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 10-13-2015, 02:29 PM
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That report contains test results from 3 different sources. You're looking at the wrong column - I don't know what the MCL column means but the 'level detected' values are what show you the ppm (unit of measure) of nitrates.

Ridgewood test: 2.7 - 6.4 ppm nitrates
Hawthorne test: 3.1 - 3.9 ppm nitrates
United water test: 0.07 - 3.4 ppm nitrates

API test kits suck. I rarely ever use them anymore. You highlighted the same woes I have with them... Do you hold the tube right up to the card? A little bit away? Why does the phosphate color not even close to represent the card? All things I have asked too lol.

The kit simply should not even be close to looking like 20ppm of nitrates out of your tap. That's what I'm saying... These kits can read out at up to 10x the level of nitrates in your tank. People have tested it. So when you say you have 20-40ppm in your tank and think it's too high you also have to think that it may just be the test kit screwing you and you really may only have like <10ppm in there.

That's why I wouldn't completely stop dosing KNO3. Dose at least a little bit to eliminate the possibility of a deficiency. You will 100% guaranteed have bigger problems if your nitrates happen to bottom out completely vs having like 30-40ppm in your tank. High nitrates aren't really a bad thing.

Also I wouldn't be surprised if the phosphate kit is inaccurate as well.

The more plants you have the easier it is to keep high tech stable. Lots of fast growing stems keep algae at bay better than anything. Maybe trim and re-plant the tops of the stems on the left? That would double the plant mass of that little group.

Dig the harlequin rasboras as well. I love those! Have quite a few in my tank. If you go that route I recommend to get a bunch more because they school quite nicely.

Adding some more plants while your foreground fills in might make things easier.


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