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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,
I'm new to forums but need some advise.
This may be a bit long but I would appreciate if you bare with me

So I got a 50L tank for christmas and i thought id do some research and look into a planted tank, I bought some tetra complete substrate and covered it with some gravel. After a week or so i bought some java moss to add to bit of drift wood id bought and some eleocharis acicularis dwarf grass to make a carpet. I did some research on my tank an the light wasn't powerful enough, so i brought home a led panel light from work to give the tank enough light. I got a fluval co2 20 canister system to add co2 for the plants and thought I was set.
I noticed that my PH was low about 6.2 and my GH and KH was 0, my water is very soft, but thought nothing of it.

The plants started sending out runners and everything seemed to be going well. Until I came home from work one day and I had got an bit of brown hair algae, it was only small and thought nothing of it, over a few days it worsened until it was an infestation. I read a feed saying I should do a water change and remove what I can, so I did but was unable to get all of the algae out as it wouldn't hoover up the syphon. It just ended uprooting some of my plants and hiding the algae under the gravel. I managed to clear enough out to make it look a lot clearer.

At this point I was running the light about 10 hours a day. It came back thick and fast stunting the growth of my dwarf grass and i had to do a water change every couple of days. I added some crushed coral to try raise the PH KH and GH, the GH and KH rose but the PH didn't change. no idea why? I had at this point upped the co2 I was putting in the water too to see if that helped. It didn't make any difference.

I read some where to do a total blackout for 3 days helps get rid of the algae and was advised after that to run the light for about 7 hours a day so I did, but after the 3 days I've found some of my plants had died and rotted away and my NO2 and NO3 reading have gone from 0 into unsafe territory. The brown algae on the other hand has still managed to keep growing.

I've had my tank set up for about a month and wanted to get my tank and plants stable before I add any live stock as i don't want to harm or kill any fish. Im at a bit of a loose end

Should I salvage my plants and start again so i have no algae in my tank or just persevere and hope it goes away?

Also any advise on a permanent fix for my low PH?

Cheers in advance :)
 

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sounds like you did too much too fast. if you have high light and CO2 you need fertilizer as well.

i would just start over. get rid of any plants that have algae. boil rocks and driftwood.

fill up the new tank and plant heavily from the very beginning. get some Hornwort, its cheap and it grows quickly. the goal is have enough plant mass to compete with the algae.

after about a month, if everything is going well you can start a low dose of fertilizer and CO2.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
If i want to grow dwarf grass, what would you recommend I do as I have some which is algae free? What should I be doing from the get go? substrate, fertiliser etc..
 

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Dwarf hairgrass actually doesn't need a ton of light. It will spread more slowly in lower light, but it will grow.

And it doesn't need a lot of CO2. It just doesn't compete very well against fast growing stem plants if CO2 is limited.

I'm not sure what plants you have, but the ones you mention are all relatively slow growers that don't need high light and CO2. You should either have lots of fast growing stem plants in there (at least to start) with high light and CO2, or you should go low tech, and just have slow growing plants that don't need a lot of light.

See this page:

How to Setup a Low-tech Planted Tank: Planted Aquarium Guide ? Welcome to Sudeep Mandal's spot on the net

He's got some nice hair grass in his low tech tank.
 

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You actually do need a bit of light and co2 to grow. They can survive in low tech conditions but it won't grow much.

Get a good, high CEC rated substrate like dirt or aqua soil to make your life and the plants' easier. You might be able to get away with no extra co2 & ferts with a dirt tank but it depends.


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IME, the key to growing dwarf hairgrass without injecting CO2 is to make sure you don't force it to compete with more efficient plants. It doesn't need a lot of CO2, but it can't compete with faster growing plants for CO2. If you grow only DHG, or grow it only with slow growers like anubias, java fern, and mosses, it will do fine. If you want to grow fast growing stem plants along with the DHG, you have to inject CO2.

I have several tanks with DHG and no CO2. (Several different kinds of DHG, actually.) I like to dry start DHG; it spreads faster that way. But if you don't dry start it, it will spread, just more slowly than in a high tech tank.

It does appreciate a rich substrate, but I have a lawn in a tank that is just sand and Flourish root tabs, and one with Eco Complete and root tabs.
 

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I have looked at Tetra's site about their substrate.
I suspect this is one of the things keeping the pH low. Adding CO2 will also keep the pH low.
They initially say their substrate has nutrients for the plants, then they go on to say there is no N or P, and give a long list of instructions about which fertilizers to use. I would treat this material as if it had no fertilizer. Or maybe it just has some trace minerals.

Test the tap water for all the same things you have tested the tank for.

What did the GH and KH do when you added the crushed coral?
Calcium and magnesium are necessary minerals for the plants to grow.
The nitrifying bacteria use the carbon from carbonates.

Rising NO2 and NO3 suggest the nitrifying bacteria are growing, but not fully developed yet. The ammonia removing organisms are doing a good job producing nitrite, but the nitrite > nitrate organisms (Nitrospira) are slower growing. They will do better if you can keep the KH and pH up.
Where did the ammonia come from? Some substrates release ammonia into the water when they are first submerged. Dead plants can decompose and add ammonia to the tank.
Do you have a test for ammonia?
 

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I am pretty sure Sundeep dry started that tank. And I am pretty sure he didn't have that tank for long. I bet it didn't take long for the dhg to die off in his tank after he filled it. I do think his guide is good, just don't think it works with dhg in most cases.

I have a medium light diy c02 tank and my dhg is struggles the most.
 

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Diana Walstad used DHG in her shrimp bowls. And I have not had my DHG die off after the tank is flooded. Quite the opposite.

I guess YMMV. But I love DHG and have it in all my tanks, high tech to no tech.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for your help guys, much appreciated.

When I added the crushed coral the GH and KH rose to what would be considered safe, but the PH remained the same, maybe it was the tetra substrate?
I don't have an ammonia test, so I will invest in one.

I think what I am going to do is restart my tank, give it a good clean and boil all rocks and driftwood heater filter etc. I like the idea of a DHG carpet and using several mosses as well.

For a low-tech tank, would it be better from me to dry-start my DHG?
What substrate would be best for me to use, any particular brand or type that will help me? (price not really an issue if it helps)

Or would it be better to dry start my tank and go back to using stronger lighting and co2? and if so how much of each?

Thanks
 

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I would dry start dwarf hairgrass if you can. Spreads faster that way.

As for high tech or low tech...that's up to you. If you are only using DHG and mosses, go low tech. You are likely to have algae issues with high light, even with CO2, because those plants are not very fast-growing.

If you want other plants that need higher light, then go high tech.

You can also use CO2 with low/medium light, either temporarily or long term. Many people inject CO2 when the tank is transitioning from a dry start to underwater, then taper off.

If it was me, I would go medium light. (Either raise your LED so it's farther from the substrate, or put something between it and the tank. Layers of window screen taped to the bottom of the light, or floating plants in the tank.) You can blast the tank with light while you are dry starting, but reduce the light once you flood it.

You might also consider a split photo period. Lights on in the morning, at least 4 hours off, then lights on again in the evening. You can enjoy your tank morning and night that way (assuming you're at work or school during the day), and the "siesta" period helps control algae. (Higher level plants start growing immediately when the lights go on, while algae takes awhile to ramp up.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Exactly what i needed to know thank you, Ive bought some ADA Aquasoil Amazonia and intend to dry start when it arrives. Thanks for everyones help, ill let you know how i get on :)
 
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