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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I set up a 20 gallon tank and it's almost done cycling. It has ADA Aquasoil for substrate, and I'm still trying to find the right amount of CO2, but regardless, the plants seem to love it.

However, I'm also getting various kinds of algae. I don't mind green algae, and diatoms are a given for setting up a tank (and easy to clean off the glass) but I've had staghorn set up on the leaves of my cryptocoryne and petite anubias, and hair algae for some reason is trying to establish itself on my driftwood pieces.

I have my lights on a 6 hour timer, using a Finnex FugeRay light. There is a tarp around the industrial shelf the tank is on, so that sunlight cannot reach the tank.

My question is this: I haven't been dosing ferts, should I be? And if so, how often should I dose? I own Thrive.
 

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I set up a 20 gallon tank and it's almost done cycling. It has ADA Aquasoil for substrate, and I'm still trying to find the right amount of CO2, but regardless, the plants seem to love it.

However, I'm also getting various kinds of algae. I don't mind green algae, and diatoms are a given for setting up a tank (and easy to clean off the glass) but I've had staghorn set up on the leaves of my cryptocoryne and petite anubias, and hair algae for some reason is trying to establish itself on my driftwood pieces.

I have my lights on a 6 hour timer, using a Finnex FugeRay light. There is a tarp around the industrial shelf the tank is on, so that sunlight cannot reach the tank.

My question is this: I haven't been dosing ferts, should I be? And if so, how often should I dose? I own Thrive.
Have you been doing the requisite 50+% frequent water changes? Every day for the first week, every other day for the second week, 3 times in week 3 and twice in week 4? If not, that is why you are seeing algae. If you have been and are still getting the algae this early on, then something is definitely off. Staghorn is a bit of a nightmare to deal with and personally I'd tackle that immediately as it can take over a tank.

Anyway typically you start doing fert doses in week 4 assuming you have been doing all the water changes.
 

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If you want to follow ADA guidelines you are atleast supposed to be dosing micros and K from day 1.

It's going to be tough using Thrive with algae already a problem. With Thrive you have no way to adjust. If you didn't have algae already then it probably would be ok but I would think the extra N would just add to the problem.

I dosed full EI phosphates after about 3 months and didn't have a problem, even with an hour of direct sunlight on my tank.

Does the Finnex Fugeray you have ramp? I would reduce lights down to 3 hrs full intensity and see if algae reduces. I ran at that for many months and the plants had no problem with it (I'm now at 4 hrs). But I also ran at 50% for another 4 hrs. And then there was the direct sunlight in the summertime (about 4 months worth). So ymmv. :)

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Frequent water changes are a must, ammonia will build up too high hurting plants and allowing algae to move in.

Drop light by another hour to 5 hours per day.

Ensure CO2 is up at it's max (above a 1.0 drop in pH).

I found with my tank that keeping PO4 up in the water column is vital in keeping the plants happy. The aquasoil will eat it up for a while, but with Thrive you can't really dose PO4 on it's own. KH2PO4 would work well for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I can't put CO2 up to the max because there's fish, shrimp, and snails in the tank. I reduced the photoperiod by an hour and I'll keep trying to rope the algae out daily. If it doesn't look like it's getting any better, I'll reduce the photoperiod by another hour.

For PO4, could I use Seachem Flourish Phosphorus?
 

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Since no one has answered I will say yes! Seachem Phosphorus will work fine in a pinch. And with a 20 gallon tank you should be able to go along time with a bottle. Just know that you are usually paying most of your money for just water with Seachem liquid ferts. Sometimes the convenience outweighs that extra cost as it might in this case.

As to the co2, hopefully @Quagulator will chime in shortly but I will say that max co2 does not mean gassing fish/livestock. You didn't mention how you are measuring co2 but typically it takes more than a 1.0 drop in ph to achieve the ideal 30ppm co2 in freshwater aquariums. Since every tank, more importantly location in this case, is different ymmv and you should watch the tank closely whenever you fiddle with co2 but many can acheive a 1.5 ph drop without ill affects, myself included.
 

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Since no one has answered I will say yes! Seachem Phosphorus will work fine in a pinch. And with a 20 gallon tank you should be able to go along time with a bottle. Just know that you are usually paying most of your money for just water with Seachem liquid ferts. Sometimes the convenience outweighs that extra cost as it might in this case.

As to the co2, hopefully @Quagulator will chime in shortly but I will say that max co2 does not mean gassing fish/livestock. You didn't mention how you are measuring co2 but typically it takes more than a 1.0 drop in ph to achieve the ideal 30ppm co2 in freshwater aquariums. Since every tank, more importantly location in this case, is different ymmv and you should watch the tank closely whenever you fiddle with co2 but many can acheive a 1.5 ph drop without ill affects, myself included.
Is there an advantage to using the pH drop method v a drop checker? I put drop checkers on all my tanks right now (all 3 are injected with CO2). I am not trying to be sarcastic or rude but am truly trying to understand if there is a significant difference or the advantages of pH drop method. I know I like the convenience of the drop checker but may do some spot checks with pH drop method if there is an advantage to that.
 

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@pauld738 I'm having issues measuring CO2 because I'm using ADA Amazonia Aquasoil, and it's been buffering my pH. I'm honestly not sure what level is best for my plants yet while at the same time looking out for the livestock.
What issues are you having? How are you measuring co2, ph drop or drop checker?

Either way the fact that you have Aquasoil, and the resultant low kh, will have no bearing on how you measure co2.

If you are using the pH drop method? You need fully degassed tank water. This usually means several hrs with an airstone or upwards of 48 hrs sitting in a bowl as tank water often times does not return to a fully degassed state in under 24 hrs unless you run an airstone in the tank at night with co2 off. It does not matter what the actual pH measurement is of that degassed water. You just compare that measurement to the pH measurements you take of your tank with co2/lights on. This is a lot easier to do when you use a ph monitor. But it can be done using liquid test as well. You just won't have as much detail.

As an example, in my 10gal tank with Aquasoil which has been remineralized to 1 kh, I have tested fully degassed water and it comes in at roughly 7.1. If I'm super clean with my tank maintenance I will see 7.2 sometimes. By the time lights come on in the tank my pH is roughly 5.9. So a 1.2 pH drop. I've gone as high as 1.5 but my co2 system seems to settle in at 1.2. I have Phoenix Rasboras and Ramshorn snails (breeding) in the tank at the moment. :)

It's worth noting that my tank is usually right around 6.4 every morning when I wake up and comes up to around 6.9, maybe 7.0 the last half hour before co2 comes on. But not always.

Is there an advantage to using the pH drop method v a drop checker? I put drop checkers on all my tanks right now (all 3 are injected with CO2). I am not trying to be sarcastic or rude but am truly trying to understand if there is a significant difference or the advantages of pH drop method. I know I like the convenience of the drop checker but may do some spot checks with pH drop method if there is an advantage to that.
No worries. :)

Both methods have their pro's and con's. They both suffer from user error, worn parts or consumables if you will.

Just for me, the speed at which you can diagnose problems (such as a partially clogged defuser), or dial in co2, while using the ph drop method is gold. With a drop checker you have to wait hours/days to see a change. Of course it is way better if you monitor ph 24/7.

Ideally I supposed the 2 methods should probably be used as a check against each other but since I have invested in ph monitors (note, not ph pens), I've never seen the need to bring a drop checker into the mix. It is definitely cheaper to monitor co2 with a drop checker, that's for sure.

Hopefully @Quagulator or @minorhero can chime in as well with their thoughts. Both on this and with @Ryan Mosby 's post.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
What issues are you having? How are you measuring co2, ph drop or drop checker?

Either way the fact that you have Aquasoil, and the resultant low kh, will have no bearing on how you measure co2.

If you are using the pH drop method? You need fully degassed tank water. This usually means several hrs with an airstone or upwards of 48 hrs sitting in a bowl as tank water often times does not return to a fully degassed state in under 24 hrs unless you run an airstone in the tank at night with co2 off. It does not matter what the actual pH measurement is of that degassed water. You just compare that measurement to the pH measurements you take of your tank with co2/lights on. This is a lot easier to do when you use a ph monitor. But it can be done using liquid test as well. You just won't have as much detail.

As an example, in my 10gal tank with Aquasoil which has been remineralized to 1 kh, I have tested fully degassed water and it comes in at roughly 7.1. If I'm super clean with my tank maintenance I will see 7.2 sometimes. By the time lights come on in the tank my pH is roughly 5.9. So a 1.2 pH drop. I've gone as high as 1.5 but my co2 system seems to settle in at 1.2. I have Phoenix Rasboras and Ramshorn snails (breeding) in the tank at the moment. :)

It's worth noting that my tank is usually right around 6.4 every morning when I wake up and comes up to around 6.9, maybe 7.0 the last half hour before co2 comes on. But not always.
I've been using a pH probe to measure the pH but since the aquasoil is buffering pH, the pH during CO2 times is way lower than it would be without the aquasoil. It's given me a 1.4-2 pH drop and the fish weren't gasping or lethargic.

Tank water that has been left out overnight is about 8.43 pH (my tap water has 8.32 pH), but that's in less than 48 hours time, so I'll just check the sample again in a day. When the CO2 is on it's been about 7.06 pH (as of the latest readings). My drop checker is green.

Ideally I supposed the 2 methods should probably be used as a check against each other but since I have invested in ph monitors (note, not ph pens), I've never seen the need to bring a drop checker into the mix. It is definitely cheaper to monitor co2 with a drop checker, that's for sure.
I've considered a pH monitor, it's just out of my budget for the moment. I don't mind saving up for one, though. My CO2 problems
 

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No worries. :)

Both methods have their pro's and con's. They both suffer from user error, worn parts or consumables if you will.

Just for me, the speed at which you can diagnose problems (such as a partially clogged defuser), or dial in co2, while using the ph drop method is gold. With a drop checker you have to wait hours/days to see a change. Of course it is way better if you monitor ph 24/7.

Ideally I supposed the 2 methods should probably be used as a check against each other but since I have invested in ph monitors (note, not ph pens), I've never seen the need to bring a drop checker into the mix. It is definitely cheaper to monitor co2 with a drop checker, that's for sure.

Hopefully @Quagulator or @minorhero can chime in as well with their thoughts. Both on this and with @Ryan Mosby 's post.
Thanks for the information. I had it backwards about the pH drop v drop checker.

As a side note how often do you clean/replace/calibrate the probe? WAY back when in my teens with discus tanks I had a pH probe...I remember it being a pain to frequently maintain (but that could have easily been user error!).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
With the aquasoil, tank being almost cycled, algae, and CO2, how often I should dose Thrive and Seachem Phosphorus into the tank? The hair algae hasn't been growing as aggressively (I rope it out when I find it) so I think things are getting better. The staghorn is very difficult to get off the leaves so I plan to spot treat it with Excel and then hope the shrimp eat it (I heard they'll eat it if it's dead; if not maybe it'll be finally easier to manually remove).
 

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I've been using a pH probe to measure the pH but since the aquasoil is buffering pH, the pH during CO2 times is way lower than it would be without the aquasoil. It's given me a 1.4-2 pH drop and the fish weren't gasping or lethargic.

Tank water that has been left out overnight is about 8.43 pH (my tap water has 8.32 pH), but that's in less than 48 hours time, so I'll just check the sample again in a day. When the CO2 is on it's been about 7.06 pH (as of the latest readings). My drop checker is green.

I've considered a pH monitor, it's just out of my budget for the moment. I don't mind saving up for one, though. My CO2 problems
I posted on your other thread as there was more community involvement there and hope it sparks a good discussion. :)

I did notice that it was mentioned that a 1.0 ph drop equals 30ppm co2 and wanted to clarify that. That statement is not quite true. The 1.0 ph drop is a 10x increase in co2. So the end ppm result depends entirely on what the starting co2 concentration is. Many years ago when everyone was hashing this out it was assumed that normal atmospheric pressure was able to put 3ppm of co2 into most tanks. This turns out to not be the case for many people due to many factors. So a 1.4 ph drop may mean in your situation that you are sitting real close to 30ppm co2 in your tank, probably over but again real close. If you can rely on that ph reading. I'm super curious to find out if your water supply company puts soda ash into your tap water, lol! :)

With the aquasoil, tank being almost cycled, algae, and CO2, how often I should dose Thrive and Seachem Phosphorus into the tank? The hair algae hasn't been growing as aggressively (I rope it out when I find it) so I think things are getting better. The staghorn is very difficult to get off the leaves so I plan to spot treat it with Excel and then hope the shrimp eat it (I heard they'll eat it if it's dead; if not maybe it'll be finally easier to manually remove).
For me it would depend on your nitrate readings. Thrive is going to add a ton of it and that's not what you need. It will only add to the algae problem. Really you need to be adding only K (potassium), Phosphorus and micros on a regular recommended schedule. You can do this with Seachem products if you want. You already have Phosphorus, you would just need Potassim and Flourish.

If your nitrates are below, I don't know, say 15ppm, somewhere in there, then you might try dosing Thrive? See what it does to your nitrates? :)

But know that adding nitrates is not going to help with reducing algae growth.

Thanks for the information. I had it backwards about the pH drop v drop checker.

As a side note how often do you clean/replace/calibrate the probe? WAY back when in my teens with discus tanks I had a pH probe...I remember it being a pain to frequently maintain (but that could have easily been user error!).
Not all ph probes are the same, that's for sure! I use American Marine ph monitors and in general their ph probes are pretty good and I calibrate roughly every 2 weeks with those. I'm running with one that is at 2 years now for the probe. Others I've used lasted 1.5 yrs roughly before it became rather difficult to calibrate. I did switch last year to a Milwaukee gel filled ph probe (attached to the old American Marine Pinpoint monitor) on my co2 tank and I now go about a month between calibrations, sometimes longer. Love the gel filled. More stable readings then the standard Pinpoint probes in my experience. I clean the probe when I calibrate. But I have fairly soft water that I keep pretty clean so I don't see alot of buildup. I did have one probe that had brown growths on it every week. I no longer have that probe, lol!

There is one user on here, @Greggz , who goes a really long time without calibrating (ever? :) ). But again, he keeps an ultra clean setup and runs with fairly soft water.
 

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I calibrate my American Pinpoint Marine probe about every six weeks or so. I would do it more often but it is rarely off more than 0.5 or so.
This is why I tagged you! I swear I saw you state you don't calibrate much. :)

Thanks for chiming in.

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
For me it would depend on your nitrate readings. Thrive is going to add a ton of it and that's not what you need. It will only add to the algae problem. Really you need to be adding only K (potassium), Phosphorus and micros on a regular recommended schedule. You can do this with Seachem products if you want. You already have Phosphorus, you would just need Potassim and Flourish.
Thank you, I am buying Seachem Potassium and Flourish today. Any idea how often to dose?
 

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Thank you, I am buying Seachem Potassium and Flourish today. Any idea how often to dose?
Typically its every other day 3x per week. Dose the Potassium and Phosphorus one day then dose the Flourish on the other. You don't want to mix macros with micros together. Thrive gets away with it by using extremely low ph and some stabilizers.

For actual amounts I'd shoot for 25ppm K per week and start at 2ppm Phosphorus per week. You can adjust that so you aren't having to add fractions of a ml per dose. Just don't round too far. :) If you get algae growth on the sides of your tank, especially green dust algae, then bump up the phosphate a bit and see what happens. For Flourish, I'm not too familiar with dosing that product. The iron concentration appears to be similar, but slightly less, than Thrive so I would say dose recommended 3x per week should be fine.

If using Seachem products gets too expensive, it's not that difficult to switch to dry. Nilocg has good packages and a $5 bag of kh2po4 will last you a lifetime at 20gal. And you get some Potassium with that as well.
 

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Seachem tends to cater to the non co2 crowd so recommended dosages might be a bit on the low side?

I think Seachem gives you what the increase in ppm is per ml dosed. If not on the bottle maybe on their website? Just use that to get to your target.

There's also royalabutterfly.com which has a great nutrient calculator. Put in your tank size ( I would round down a bit for substrate/decor), choose pre-mixed and then select whatever you are dosing and it will give you recommended EI dosing. I don't think regular Flourish is on there but Potassium and Phosphorus are. You can also experiment with result of your dose too so you don't have to stick to classic EI dosing scheme.

Very cool program. Comes in extremely handy if you ever switch to dry Ferts.

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
@pauld738 To reach 25 ppm of Flourish Potassium, am I dosing 8.33 ppm three times a week, or 25 ppm three times a week? Same question for the 2 ppm of Flourish Phosphorus.

You're right, the recommended doses on the bottle are way lower than what the Seachem and RotalaButterfly calculator says for ppm. Does this sound about right? I don't want to overdose my tank:

Seachem Calculator:
16 gal tank (subtracted 4 gal for substrate and decor)
Flourish Potassium: 33.3 mL (to reach 25 ppm)
Flourish Phosphorus: 26.6 mL (to reach 2 ppm)

RotalaButterfly Calculator:
16 gal tank (subtracted 4 gal for substrate and decor)
Flourish Potassium: 31.5 mL (to reach 25 ppm)
Flourish Phosphorus: 30.3 mL (to reach 2 ppm)

Update 03/23: Haven't dosed the Potassium and Phosphorus yet, but I think I'm winning the fight against the staghorn. I did some spot treatments with Excel over a few days. I noticed some of it has died (is reddish) and pulled out as much as I could yesterday and cleaned off several leaves. There's still some left but I don't think it's expanding.

I will be glad when the algae issues are over with because I think that's the reason my filter hose keeps getting clogged up, reducing the flow.

I do have green spot algae but it's been happening evenly over the glass, not just the sides of the tank.
 
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