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Discussion Starter · #121 ·
Yep, I'm just waiting another day before I try to turn it up a little. The drop checker has turned a yellow-green but fish are still darting about and riding the outflow current (some try to dart/swim into the outflow pipe despite that the current is strong. I'm not sure if they find it amusing or if there's some natural instinct taking over.
 

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Discussion Starter · #122 ·
The fish were looking a bit lethargic today and the drop checker was nearly yellow so I did a water change. I think the issue though was that my tubing was clogged with algae and it reduced the flow on my filter. I cleaned out the hoses as best I could (is there some trick for longer hoses? My wire brushes couldn't get in that far) and the flow is back.

So this may sound like a stupid question but ever since I started looking into lily pipes, I still have no idea on the height placement for an outflow pipe. Is it good to have it a few inches from the surface, closer, or just the top slightly above the surface? My flow is too strong right now and I need to readjust it but first I want to make sure the lily pipe is at the right height.
 

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Discussion Starter · #123 · (Edited)
I had turned down the CO2 a little yesterday before I did a 20% water change. Earlier the fish seemed fine today, but I came back 20 minutes after CO2 turned off and the drop checker is yellow-green (more yellow than green), and all of the fish were near the bottom of the tank, at the far end of the outflow, not moving. I only realized as I was feeding them baby brine shrimp; now they're all trying to catch some but not at their usual frantic speed.

I'll do another 20% water change. I think the issue is that while the flow has been set to a comfortable level for the fish, it doesn't do much for the surface. There is circulation but very little surface agitation. How do I get the right level of agitation without blowing the fish halfway across the tank? They're very small so it's very easy unless I turn the flow way down. For now I'm turning the CO2 down a little.

I also found that putting the outflow pipe a little above the surface did create more agitation.
 

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For cleaning the hose, I use something like this:
Amazon.com: yueton Aquarium Water Filter Pipe Air Tube Hose Stainless Steel Cleaning Brush Flexible Double Ended Hose Brush(61inch): Home Improvement

If your agitation is too low with the filter turned down, and the current is too much when the filter is all the way open, maybe a poppy pipe would be the right choice. The first link describes the different types of pipes, and the second is an amazon link.

Lily Pipes: Say Goodbye to Ugly Filter Equipment for Good! (fishlab.com)
Amazon.com : JARDLI 17mm Plant Aquarium Glass Poppy Pipe Outflow and Lily Pipe Inflow for 16/22mm Hose Canister Filter : Pet Supplies

Your other option is to turn the CO2 down until the fish are normal, and see if you have enough CO2 at lights on. Even with a ton of surface agitation, it's still possible to gas the fish. You may find that you're just injecting too much CO2. It's a balancing act for sure, but ultimately, you need to keep the fish happy too.

Edit: Also, you could look into a skimmer intake. Pulling oxygen rich air into the intake and spreading it around the tank will help the fish.

Amazon.com : JARDLI Glass Lily Pipe Inflow with Surface Skimmer for Aquarium Planted Tank (13mm for 12/16mm (1/2'' i.d.) tubing) : Pet Supplies
 

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Discussion Starter · #125 ·
That's perfect, thank you! The poppy pipe also sounds like a good idea. It won't trap little fish in any way though, right? While the flow isn't slow, the endlers seem to like darting into the lily pipe and fighting against the flow. I did turn the CO2 a little but poppy + good level of CO2 might help keep things stable.

Edit: Also, you could look into a skimmer intake. Pulling oxygen rich air into the intake and spreading it around the tank will help the fish.
Initially I had one but the height available to me from substrate to surface was much to short for a skimmer to work. I haven't found a short enough one since so I had to go with a regular inflow pipe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #126 ·
I ordered the hose brush and the poppy pipe to test out.

Had a little mini heartattack tonight; we had a power outage earlier and I had assumed that when power came back on, the timers would check to see if they should be on, and turn off accordingly. Instead I came back and the CO2 has been running 4 hours past shut-off time while the lights were off. I think next time this happens, or if I'm out of town, I'll check up more often to ensure that the timers are working.
 

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I wanted to add one - perhaps useless comment. I started with a co2art se diffusers with inline (like you) and had it hooked up to my outline of the eheim 2217 (this is for a 120). I ran it that way for about a year but when I had to get a second regulator (another se) for a different tank I also picked up TWO in tank diffusers that they now sell and replaced the inline on the eheim. I am much happier for two reasons. First it made it easier to deal with the canister filter and second I always felt that I was wasting a lot of co2 injecting at the water line and then during water changes having it above the water line - with the intank diffuser co2art now sell i was injecting at the bottom of the tank and when i mucked with the filter i no longer have to worry about interfering with the diffuser. I'm sure there are disadvantages on the intank diffuser but seems to work fine in both my tanks (120 and 40).
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For timers I use this:

And they have worked reliably so far (one for 18 months and the other 6 months)
 

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My experience with the timers is that they won't turn on again until the next programed time to turn on. The weird thing, is that should have happened with both the lights and the CO2. You were right to be worried about pumping CO2 into a dark tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #129 · (Edited)
The lights I had set to a dial timer, but after that incident I put both on the bluetooth timers.

I'm still debating poppy vs lily; I got mine today and hooked it up. The poppy pipe has more surface agitation but less circulation through the tank, even with the filter flow turned all the way up. It's not as quiet as the lily pipe since there is more agitation. The lily pipe had less surface agitation but a little better circulation with the filter flow turned down a little.

I've been keeping an eye on it to see how the endlers react, they liked getting in the last lily pipe but I don't think they should try the poppy, I'm not sure what would happen. I'm worried that one will manage to dart in, despite the flow being all the way up, and then get batted around instead of just tossed out.

The wire brush came today as well; the bristles of the smaller brush are too big for a lily pipe (probably due to small curves) but I'm hoping it'll fit in my hose.

Edit: Wire brush fits, and I switched back to the lily pipe after this terrified me.
 

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How has this been coming along? Do you feel like you're striking a balance between surface agitation, CO2 injection, and livestock health?
 

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Discussion Starter · #131 ·
Thank you for checking in!

There is a little surface agitation near the base of the lily pipe but the circulation seems prertty good around the tank. Although the water in the drop checker looks yellow, or maybe a high yellow-green (hard to tell), the fish haven't been lethargic or gasping for air. The plants grow like weeds and I often have to prune them back, which is a pleasant change from having plants in low tech tanks. My alternanthera reineckii is a vibrant pink-red, too, something I could never get in my old tanks. There's some leaves that are still red-brownish, I don't think they're getting enough light. I was just going to clip those off. I ordered some root tabs yesterday so I can stick them in the substrate.

Sadly the algae is coming back; I'm not sure if it's because I missed dosing ferts a few days or if the light is too strong (Finnex Fugeray). Lights are on for five hours at a time, CO2 comes on two hours before lights on and turns off one hour before lights out. The staghorn is small but plentiful on some branches of driftwood, my eleocharis on one side of the tank, and most the anubias leaves are lined with it. I saw some of it on one rim of an alternanthera reineckii leaf, so I've been applying Excel more often. I'm still dosing ferts, micros on what day and macros on another. Usually the staghorn just takes a few days to die off after I use a dose or two of Excel, but it's still a pain because it stays sticking to the plant. Excel is just treating a symptom though, I do need to figure out why it's come back.

I've noticed some green hair algae although it is a bit different than the hair algae I've gotten in the past. In this case it was very easy to rope pieces out without pulling up plants, they were more like strings than a tangle. It didn't dry like typical hair algae, either, it was fuzzy and coarse once dried.

I've only had two fish deaths since I've started, and those were last month: I found an endler on the floor and lowered the surface level afterward, and a rainbow dwarfish that I found dead inside the tank. I'm not sure what the cause was. Only a few shrimp deaths which I attributed to bad molting, but that issue seems to have fixed itself; I see exoskeletons after water changes. Bladder snails and mini ramshorn populations have exploded but I don't mind them in my tanks; I find bladder snail antics pretty amusing. The livestock seems pretty healthy now.

I did notice a while back that the areas around the gills of my endlers are pale (at first I chalked it up to stress of being in a new tank, but it persisted), so just in case it was gill flukes or ick (I don't see spots though), I've been medicating with Hikari Cyropro once a week (as per the instructions) and occasionally dosing some Paraguard. Either there is something wrong or it's in my head.
 

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Here is an awesome article from Greenaqua in Hungary on all of the various forms of algae, what could be causing them, and how to get rid of them. It might be worth a read. These folks are some of the best in the business.

Algae Guide Green Aqua
 

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Discussion Starter · #133 · (Edited)
Thank you, that is an amazing read and I bookmarked it! It says the thing hair algae and staghorn have in common is low nutrient levels. I will try and make sure I keep alternating dosing micros and macros. I missed a few days before, and two days when I went on a trip, so that likely had an impact.

"CO2 levels will have to reach the desired level at the time when light - even natural light in your room - appears." I wonder if this is an issue with my room/tank. The CO2 comes on at 11am, tank lights come on at 1pm, but even with the aquarium facing away from the window and on a tarp-shielded shelf (on the sides and back), it would still be exposed to the natural light in the room. Sun up is at 6:20 am, and sun down is 7:50 pm.
 

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Ambient sunlight isn't as much a concern as direct sunlight. If you had a window in the room, and sunlight poured directly into the tank, then you need to be worried about it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #135 ·
I did have that problem with another tank, once, but since then I've made sure it won't happen again. The fish tank is near a bright warm window but I put a tarp around the industrial shelf it's on. It does get bright when the sun is out but it's not direct sunlight.
 
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