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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know it's like anything else. You ask four planted tank enthusiasts a question and you get six answers. But, I am caught up in when to use Excel. Some say not until my tank is one half to one third full and the plants just stop growing. Others say to use it to keep the algae down. My planted tank is suffering and I have been following the recommended dosing from the Seachem website and adjusting dosage per my monthly water testing results. Maybe I don't have enough plants maybe I have too much light maybe I need co2 or maybe I just need to knock off with the Excel regime?
 

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Well, you bring up several points which would best be discussed individually. I see from another thread you may have an excessive amount of light. There's only 78W of T5HO light, with good reflectors, over my high-light 46G bowfront. That absolutely requires CO2 (Excel will not suffice), and is probably the max light I'd ever want to attempt; I usually turn it down 20% (DIY dimmable fixture). Plus, it's possible some of your big-box store plants aren't truly aquatic, I haven't seen a listing of what you have.

But unless you have plants that are sensitive to Excel like anacharis or vals (and maybe others), I see no harm in using in any planted tank, at the standard dosage and once a day.

There may not be much of a benefit to doing so in some tanks, and Excel is expensive. I got Metricide instead, so I can provide any benefit, however small; without worrying about the expense.
 

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If you could post the following info it would help forum users give you more accurate info:

Tank Size
Lighting
Ferts
What plants you have

Also, some plants do well with Excel, where it can have a detrimental effect on others. Are some of your plants doing well? Or are all of them doing not so well? If you could describe how your plants are being affected, it may be a nutrient or a light deficiency.
 

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I never had issues with vals and excel, but I can't say why.

Just use the standard dosage of excel if you are going to use it. The KISS principle... If you are med-high light you should be injecting co2. But then there isn't much point to using excel.

If you tank is suffering, I strongly doubt the excel is the issue. If anything, it would help a little. What problems are you having?
 

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What exactly are you "testing" to adjust excel dosage?

How is it suffering?

How exactly could not enough plants effect if excel worked at all? I've never heard this suggestion, and think it has no merits. What is your tank size? Lighting? Substrate? other fertilizers?

You've given us enough information to basically give no info...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes, it is true that I have had some feedback that I have too much light and I have also had some that says that I have low, medium and medium-high light. I really do not know what I have. I have 4.2 watts/gallon by that theory. According to Hoppy's chart I figured 2x96W=192W 20" above the substrate is right in the "medium light" range at 40-50PAR, though it does not directly apply to compact fluorescent twin tube fixtures.

I bought this particular fixture because I thought my old two lamp 30W T8 fixture was my problem. With two 96w lamps have I crossed over into the co2 required zone? If I try 8 hours total light with a sunrise/set on the timer, what hours should I program to achieve this? My current schedule is below.

The plants I have now are mostly amazon swords and a java fern. The anubias and mondo grass just dont make it, no new growth and smothered in algae. The anubias failure is probably due to direct planting the rhizome into the gravel. I know now not to do that again.

My plants just kind of barely hang on. The swords had stems and leaves when I planted them bu now they just kind of have thin leaves and no stems. I have learned that some of the big box store plants are hydroponically grown and need to die back and regrow aquatic leaves but these have been like this for many months. I grow a lot of algae. I clean the glass every week but it could use it every three days!

I am not testing for excel, there is no test for excel in my test kit. That is part of the confusion. I have seen some advice to add more excel eliminate the algae and others advise to stop using it.

The cost of excel or co2 is worth it in the long run because I just would really enjoy a healthy, natural looking well planted fish tank.

I have been contemplating a packaged assortment of plants but am hesitant at this time to drop another $100 if my current set up is just going to kill them, right!?

Here are my aquarium specs-

Aquarium-
46 gallon bow front
Net 35 gallons water
Natural gravel, rocks and Ironwood

Filtration-
One 250 GPH Marineland HOT Magnum canister filter with polishing micron filter cartridge
One 250 GPH Marineland HOT Magnum Pro canister filter with Bio Wheel, filter sleeve and media canister with EHEIM Substrat pro bio filter media

Lighting-
Fixture +/- 20” from substrate
Glass hinged top on tank
Plastic lens on fixture
Fixture on factory stands
Chrome reflector
Coralife Lunar Aqualights Compact Fluorescent Strip LightsTwo
4-watt Lunar Blue-Moon-Glow LED lamps
Two SunPaq Dual Daylight 6,700*K/10,000*K 96W lamps
Schedule-
8am – 8pm single light
10am – 4pm both lights
8pm – 8am LEDs only

Fertilizer products-
Seachem
Florish
Excel
Iron
Phosphorus
Nitrogen
Trace
Potassium
Prime

Water parameters (last test)
Temp 76* - 86* F
Phosphate 1.0 mg/l
Calcium 120 ppm
Nitrate 10 ppm
Ammonia 0.1 ppm
pH 7.6
K hardness 60 ppm
G hardness 230 ppm
Nitrite 0.0 ppm
Free Iron 0.0 mg/l
Chelated Iron 0.3 mg/l
 

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An easy one - mondo grass isn't a true aquatic plant, and will survive a while, but not grow.

The rest of the plants are low light. That doesn't mean they won't survive in higher light. But the anubias still grow fairly slowly, and are easily overtaken by algae unless everything is just right.

With the T8's, you had really low light. I had issues with 36W of T8 on my 46G.

I have no experience with linear compact fluorescents, but it is likely you jumped straight to the other extreme of high light. And almost certainly to the point of requiring CO2. Maybe someone with a similar fixture can verify that.

You could add CO2, more ferts, etc. But given your current choice of plants, it would be easier to suspend the light, reducing it to low-medium.

Just curious - how are you testing the water? Those are very complete results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I bought a nice test kit from Hagen
http://www.hagen.com/uk/aquatic/product.cfm?CAT=1&SUBCAT=124&PROD_ID=01078600030101
My next questions are-
Would changing the light timing program give me the results with my current plants?
How far above the substrate should the light be placed to get the low lower lighting level I need?
Are there plants acclimated to the lighting strategy that I have without adding co2?
 

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Sorry to jump in and hijack this thread but it fits nicely with an ongoing issue I have.

I have been trying for ages to get the right balance of ferts to excel to light and while my tank looks ok I still have issues with leaves going very slowly brown, black edges (see previous thread of mine) and what now seems like an increasing amount of long green hair algae.

My tank spec is:

Tank:The tank is a Juwel Rio 125, 27 gal.

Stocking Fish: 5 Red Eye Tetra, 4 Neon Tetra, 1 Guppy, 2 Harlequin Rasporba, 4 Cory, 1 Bulldog Plec, 2 Ottos and 1 SAE (fake!) Also have a happy colony of Malaysian Trumpet Snails plus a growing number of ramshorn snails.

Stocking Plant: 2 Wisteria, 1 anubias on wood, one java fern, a lot of crypts, some moss and a couple of unknowns! Anubias is developing some brown/yellow areas which turn to holes. Wisteria has the big black scorch marks around the edges of some leaves (it does not rub off or appear to be growing into hair).

Lights: Two 35w T5 high lites tubes, one is day and one is nature. These are brand new and went in a month ago running for 9 hours a day.

CO2 - I have no injection but simply dose Excel at a capful every two days.

Ferts - I use Flourish Comprehensive at a capful or equivalent every week.

Root Tabs - I place these at the base of plants roughly every four to six weeks.

Water Change - Between 40% weekly. Certain areas of the tank are cleaned with a gravel vac, many remain untouched due to heavy planting.

I have recently moved my anubias to be under my wisteria giving it some shade and trimmed it right back removing any poorly leaves, lots of new growth appearing now. My moss is growing like mad but is covered within with long green hair algae; it is not yet on many other plants. Beard algae was a problem but is now under control. But I am at a loss as to whether what I am doing is correct.

Is my routine a sensible one? I am really trying to find the best way to give my plants everything they need to grow and stay green while limiting the impact of hair algae and beard algae. Do I have too much light? Do I need to dose even more Excel? Should ferts be added daily? Should I dose in higher amounts and then continue my large water changes to 'reset' the system?

Any advice much appreciated. I am willing to put the time in to look after my tank but nothing I seem to do gives me the balance I think I require.
 

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Sorry for the delay in reply, was out for a few days.

Would changing the light timing program give me the results with my current plants?
It's unlikely that any burst of high light would be particularly beneficial without CO2. Though it might be interesting to see what only an hour of the CF's would do.

How far above the substrate should the light be placed to get the low lower lighting level I need?
As a rough estimate, raise the CF's about 6".

Are there plants acclimated to the lighting strategy that I have without adding co2?
No. All require CO2 at that lighting level. Though floating plants like duckweed might work; because they can pull their CO2 from the air rather than the water, and also block part of the light that enters your tank.
 

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Sorry to jump in and hijack this thread but it fits nicely with an ongoing issue I have.
Assuming your bulbs are about 50cm over your substrate, sounds like high light to me. Which of course requires real CO2 injection, and additional ferts.

If you want to stay low-tech instead, I'd raise the lights 15cm, or otherwise cut light by half. And dose Excel daily for the full effect.

The black edges on the wisteria are now suspected to be a form of cyanobacteria, rather than algae; and may respond to erythromycin antibiotic. However, I'd correct the tank conditions first and see if the wisteria will outgrow it, allowing you to simply trim away the infected leaves over time.

Hair algae in moss is a bit trickier. For that, I'd remove the moss to a bucket with water, and use Algaefix for three days at the recommended concentration; followed by a good rinse before returning it to the tank. Don't use Algaefix in the tank itself. If Algaefix isn't sold in the UK, I'm sure there's probably an equivalent product with the same active ingredient.
 

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Assuming your bulbs are about 50cm over your substrate, sounds like high light to me. Which of course requires real CO2 injection, and additional ferts.

If you want to stay low-tech instead, I'd raise the lights 15cm, or otherwise cut light by half. And dose Excel daily for the full effect.

The black edges on the wisteria are now suspected to be a form of cyanobacteria, rather than algae; and may respond to erythromycin antibiotic. However, I'd correct the tank conditions first and see if the wisteria will outgrow it, allowing you to simply trim away the infected leaves over time.

Hair algae in moss is a bit trickier. For that, I'd remove the moss to a bucket with water, and use Algaefix for three days at the recommended concentration; followed by a good rinse before returning it to the tank. Don't use Algaefix in the tank itself. If Algaefix isn't sold in the UK, I'm sure there's probably an equivalent product with the same active ingredient.
Thanks for the reply DarkCobra. I do think the lighting is too much for the tank. I have Juwel stock lights and there is no way of simply turning one of the tubes off. Could I simply remove a tube and keep it as a spare? But wouldn't doing this open the connection to damp from the tank itself? Maybe I could half twist the tube so it isn't fully connected - this might mean it stays off but I don't know what implications that might have. If I did go down to one would there be any reason to keep the 'day' over 'nature' or vice verse?

As far as Excel goes I am dosing over the suggested amounts in a bid to provide the plants with what they need and limit algae growth.

The Wisteria are still growing strong with lots of new growth without black markings. The older leaves are more prone to the edging and as you mention; I am am snipping those away when they become too unsightly. The Wisteria is actually now beyond the height of the tank and is flopping over the water surface which is acting as a nice shade-maker for my anubias below. Should I let the Wisteria continue to grow at the surface or trim it right back? All my plants seem to be growing ok as there is always new growth. The black edges appear on more than one plant type (including my Sword) so it must be part of my tank setup causing the issue?

What I have also noticed is brown patches and tiny holes on some of my leaves which eventually expands and I remove the leaf. This must be a deficiency of some sort. I have light (too much), I have some CO2 and I have ferts. Could it be a potassium deficiency as I do not supplement this nutrient at all. Should I be using Flourish Potassium alongside the Comp Supplement. My worry is that if I keep getting extra bits eventually I will have to be buying shed loads of supplements, CO2 and root tabs and I want to try and keep the workload down slightly. If I have a huge 100g tank or something I would be happy to put the hours and finance in but as my tank is only 27g I want to keep it reasonable.

Thanks for the reply and I look forward to hearing what else you suggest. Cheers.
 

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Could I simply remove a tube and keep it as a spare? But wouldn't doing this open the connection to damp from the tank itself? Maybe I could half twist the tube so it isn't fully connected - this might mean it stays off but I don't know what implications that might have. If I did go down to one would there be any reason to keep the 'day' over 'nature' or vice verse?
Some ballasts will let you disconnect one bulb, while the other continues operating. And some won't, shutting down the other bulb as well. Only way to know for sure is to try it. If it works, the half-twist sounds like a good idea as long as the bulb isn't at risk of falling out, or you could probably find some way to cover the exposed socket. Keep whichever bulb appeals most to your eye, the difference in plant growth will be minimal.

The Wisteria are still growing strong with lots of new growth without black markings. The older leaves are more prone to the edging and as you mention; I am am snipping those away when they become too unsightly.
Excellent. Sounds like you'll be able to get the black stuff under control with trimming and patience.

The Wisteria is actually now beyond the height of the tank and is flopping over the water surface which is acting as a nice shade-maker for my anubias below. Should I let the Wisteria continue to grow at the surface or trim it right back?
No harm in it as long as it doesn't get excessive light at the surface. Typically, that will manifest as GSA on the surface leaves.

The black edges appear on more than one plant type (including my Sword) so it must be part of my tank setup causing the issue?
From my experience with it, the black stuff shows up on slow-growing plants, or parts of plants (like old growth), when the plants are also under some kind of stress. The extra light, and insufficient carbon for the amount of light, could be the source of stress here. Wait and see what happens when light is reduced.

What I have also noticed is brown patches and tiny holes on some of my leaves which eventually expands and I remove the leaf. This must be a deficiency of some sort. I have light (too much), I have some CO2 and I have ferts. Could it be a potassium deficiency as I do not supplement this nutrient at all. Should I be using Flourish Potassium alongside the Comp Supplement.
Could be a potassium deficiency. Usually the pinholes are surrounded by a bit of yellow leaf tissue, but that varies with the exact plant.

My tanks always seem to need a bit of extra potassium, and for them I consider Flourish Comprehensive, Potassium, and Excel (or equivalents) a bare minimum. However, that may not be the case with your tanks. And when you reduce lighting, it also reduces nutrient requirements; so any deficiency might disappear. If you don't want to accumulate too many different products, you can wait and see with that one too.
 

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DarkCobra Sir, thank you ever so much for taking the time to help me out. I'm going to buy some Potassium anyway but will also have a play around with the light tubes to see if I can run on one. Will post up results when I have some and might be back for more advice! Thanks again.
 

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Quick Update:

I have purchased Potassium and am now dosing. Will keep an eye on growth.

The light unit on a Juwel has an annoying safety feature. If I disconnect a tube and try to run with one then the whole unit just shuts off. It simply won't run unless two tubes are running together so my lights can't be altered. I am running both a day and nature tube for 8.5 hours a day at the moment. Will start to dose Excel above suggested amounts to try and account for this. Any other bright ideas as to what I could do to improve routine now that the lights are stuck?

Thanks,
 

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I've had no problems using Excel at 2x recommended daily dose for long periods. But even then, Excel supplies only a fraction of the carbon that real CO2 does. If your lighting is high as I believe, Excel won't be enough.

So at this point, you can either make the jump to high-tech with dry ferts and pressurized/DIY CO2, or try some other ways to reduce lighting.

You could suspend the light, raising it 15cm. Or mount one or more layers of window screen under the light; that's a popular option because it allows some airflow through it to keep the bulbs cool. If there's a glass cover or integrated splash shield that already blocks airflow, window tint is also an option. Taping black paper to the reflectors isn't one I've yet seen anyone do, but should work also.

Of course for any of these, you're still using that extra bulb, and throwing away the light. That's (8hours*35watts*365.25days)=102kw/hour per year of electric usage, times your electric rate; plus you'll still need to replace the bulb on a regular basis, typically every year. So if light reduction works out as intended, at some point down the road you may consider replacing your fixture. This is one of the reasons why I custom built a dimmable T5HO fixture, so I can get any lighting I want from the same fixture, without wasting electricity. It's a shame these aren't commercially available.
 

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Had a quick scan through this thread, can't remember who posted about dosing alternate days. You really need to dose daily. The best way would be to follow the directions on the bottle.

You either dose or you don't dose otherwise you will have unstable co2 and the algae that comes with it along with failing plants.

OP if you can't reduce light output then shorten your photo period. 5-6 hours is enough.
 

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I've had no problems using Excel at 2x recommended daily dose for long periods. But even then, Excel supplies only a fraction of the carbon that real CO2 does. If your lighting is high as I believe, Excel won't be enough.

So at this point, you can either make the jump to high-tech with dry ferts and pressurized/DIY CO2, or try some other ways to reduce lighting.

You could suspend the light, raising it 15cm. Or mount one or more layers of window screen under the light; that's a popular option because it allows some airflow through it to keep the bulbs cool. If there's a glass cover or integrated splash shield that already blocks airflow, window tint is also an option. Taping black paper to the reflectors isn't one I've yet seen anyone do, but should work also.

Of course for any of these, you're still using that extra bulb, and throwing away the light. That's (8hours*35watts*365.25days)=102kw/hour per year of electric usage, times your electric rate; plus you'll still need to replace the bulb on a regular basis, typically every year. So if light reduction works out as intended, at some point down the road you may consider replacing your fixture. This is one of the reasons why I custom built a dimmable T5HO fixture, so I can get any lighting I want from the same fixture, without wasting electricity. It's a shame these aren't commercially available.
I don't think i will be doing anything about the lights, as you say it is a waste to block it out. CO2 might be my way forward? Which type of method be most effective? I read a lot about DIY CO2 systems but is there anything that is really simple and easy to use? Buying a system is a way forward but I suspect that these will be pricey and the refills equally so. What options do you think I have to go down the CO2 route - bearing in mind I am really into new territory here?
 
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