Whoever reads this, I do appreciate it! I will add as much info here as possible.
Little background - I'v been into this hobby for about a year now having only previously kept fish in non planted tanks growing up. I started off recently without knowing anything about keeping plants and was doing it for the fish until about 8 months ago when I found out about proper planted tanks and made the switch. I tried a low tech setup with an inert substrate, no ferts, no CO2 and a random lamp. Learnt the basics from this setup.
Fast forward a few months after a huge amount of research through experimenting, forums, reddit, asking local fish shops etc and I took the leap into a high tech system. I now have the following setup:
- Standard 60cm ( 2 foot ) tank
- Pressurised CO2 running about 1.5 bubbles a second ( drop checker green / blue in the morning and lime green slightly on the yellow side throughout the day. CO2 running from 1pm to 9pm
- 33ppm CO2 during the day ( 3.5dkh & 6.5ph )
- Finnex 24/7 light running on max on a timer from 3pm - 10pm
- Black Earth Premium substrate
- Eheim 2213 with lily pipes ( lot's of flow ) ( I do a rinse every month or so of the filter) ( Normal eheim filter media, crushed coral, activated carbon, Seachem Purigen )
- EI dosing with Lenolax, Natures No Salt, Saltpeter and CSM + B for traces
- 20ppm Nitrates, 2ppm Phosphates, can't get testing kits of Potassium in South Africa
- Heavily planted ( moss, crypts, MC, S.Repens and a lot of stems )
- 50% weekly water change ( and lot's of manual algae removal )
- Dosing excel daily ( purely to help with algae although it has had no effect )
Iv'e been struggling with all kinds of algae but mostly BBA and hair. I was having a huge amount of trouble with Cladophora but after redoing the tank and switching to an active substrate that one is no longer an issue. My algae problems were slightly reduced after switching from the 24/7 mode on the Finnex light and putting it on max on a timer. I also suspended the light from the ceiling and it is now 40cm ( 16 inches ) away from the substrate.
Iv'e upped the CO2 so that the drop checker is almost yellow during the day ( using 4dkh solution ) so I believe that it is spot on. I'm also dosing EI and have got the N and P just right as well. Initially my ph was dropping too low ( shrimp were wiped out ) and added some coral to the filter to try raise the kh a bit. I also add half a teaspoon of baking soda during the weekly water change. It was the death of all my shrimp as well as wanting better results with my plants ( I dream of a beautiful carpeted tank ) that made me start paying attention to my water parameters. This was about 1 month ago and I went out and bought the SERA range of test kits. I now monitor my water parameters quite closely.
I don't believe it is due to the light as I run a 7 hour photoperiod and have it raised quite a bit.
Next steps for me - Iv'e ordered the EI ferts from Aquarium Plant Food UK - Home Page
as well as a new diffusor. I know my current ferts are fine but want to use these ones to completely rule it out. My bubble rate is quite high for a 15 gallon tank so I think it is not diffusing very efficiently. This was solved however by cranking up the CO2 slightly to achieve the 30ppm target.
I feel quite lost right now however definitely not giving up as this is part of the journey and will make it even more rewarding when I start winning the battle against algae. I am quite demotivated however as I am putting quite a bit of cash into my tank and doing so much research, setting things up properly and still suffering. My plants are definitely growing, stems in particular however they are all being covered by algae. Can hardly get my MC to carpet.
My plants don't have that luscious look, Getting lot's of leaves breaking off. Tons of hair algae on the moss.
Possible next steps: Increase the light? Decrease the light further ( surely not )? Get an Iron test kit ( could be dosing too much CSM + B? ) I am open to all suggestions. Some pics below of my tank as it stands today.
Thanks in advance.