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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Warning. This is going to be a bit long winded, but I want to be detailed.

Hello all. I've been lurking this forum for some time reading, reading, reading, and taking notes. I have since I decided, after years of owning aquariums, I would start my first planted tank. I bought a standard 29gal at Petco during their $1/gal sale, a whisper 30 HOB filter (on a budget until April, then will be switching to a canister), eco complete substrate, and river stone gravel to use as a cap (didn't like the black substrate). For lighting I was given a finnex planted+ 30inch light from a friend and my first plants were freebies from my lfs, he was testing these packaged bulbs a vendor wanted him to sell, and some that were melting pretty bad and he was going to pitch.

The plants are:
1x Water Lily
1x Water Onion
2x Aponogeton crispus
8x stems of dwarf sag
2x stems of jungle val

Ran the tank for a few weeks fishless and the plants exploded. The Apons shot up multiple stems with flowers, I had 2 Lily pads floating, with more on the way, the onion went from 1 leaf to 4 pretty quick, and the jungle val/dwarf sag started getting little sprouts of new growth. All was going pretty well.

Took a water sample to my LFS for free testing, was told my water parameters were good, so I moved my critters to my new tank, 7 neon tetras, 6 zebra danios, 2 tiger nerite snails, and 2 Indian glassfish. All was going well, then my finnex light died.

On one of the forums I saw someone using clamp lamps with cfl bulbs on a planted tank with good success, so since I'm on a budget and can't afford to replace my finnex (will buy another), undecided on would try. For under $20 I got 2 clamp fixtures and some 19w 6500k daylight cfl bulbs from Menard's. The picture attached is from right after those lights were up.

That was 2 weeks ago. Since using these lights on timers for 9.5 hrs/day. My tank has exploded with algae, I have brown algae (diatoms I assume) on EVERYTHING, and hair algae on some of my dwarf sag and jungle val. My little nerites are doing their best to keep the glass clean but they can't keep up. Several leaves from my apons got so covered with the stuff they started to rot.

By the advice of my LFS owner, I have done 50% water changes the last 2 weekends, but I'm not sure if that's doing anything. He has a half dozen zebra nerites in quarantine he got in a week ago he will give me a deal on for an expanded cleaning crew. But they won't clean the plant leaves. I've been using my finger to wipe the leaves clean every day, but by morning they're brown again. I have gotten this algae in nearly every new tank I've ever set up, but never like this, I assume it's the excess nutrients from the substrate.

I am seeking any advice on fish that will clean the leaves of my plants, and the gravel of the brown algae. I will get the nerites from my lfs and return the extras for credit later(his idea) for the glass. Thinking I may have needed to do a bit more research/bit off more than I was ready to chew.

I was thinking about floating giant duckweed to help with excess nutrients, since I like the way it looks, and I have no problem with disposing of/donating excess as it grows.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

-Troy



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It sounds like your lighting is part of the problem. When you point the spiral cfls at the tank bottom, they put a huge portion of their light right where they are pointing, and quite a lot less out to the sides. This is one of the struggles of CFL bulbs. If you're getting hard algaes like thread/string stuff then your lighting is likely a bit too high, especially given you have a very low plant mass in the aquarium.

I'd consider raising the lights if possible. Even a single inch can help quite a bit.

As you suspect you're also likely having trouble because the eco complete is releasing lots of nutrients. While water changes will help, having healthy plants to absorb them helps too. If your LFS has giant duckweed, toss that stuff in for now, let it absorb lots of the nutrients, and additionally reduce lighting if you can't raise the lamps.

I'd honestly consider keeping the HOB filter and spending the money you were going to use for a cannister filter on a new light. Light is one of the trickiest things to manage in this hobby, and using something like T5 tubes or LED bars gives a much more predictable and even coverage for the tank than most alternatives.

Bump: Also, otocinclus love eating diatoms, but really, they should dissapear with time, just keep up with maintenance and see how things look in a week or two.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thank you for the reply. I plan on buying the new light and the canister together. I am just on a budget until end of March while catching up on some medical bills. I'll try and find a way to raise the fixtures for the time being. I'll grab my phone and try and get some current pictures, the one above is from weeks ago, before the algae was everywhere.

My LFS has no duckweed, I'll need to buy online. Seems hard to find many live plants locally. The big box stores' plants are riddled with snails and look terrible, and the only LFS near me is primarily a reef store, with a small freshwater section in the back. Most of the plants he has are listed online as high light plants that a lot of people recommend CO2 for.

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reducing light to 6-8 hours a day isn't a bad idea either. You know it's the light for sure if directly under the lights on the hardscape is where the most algae starts growing. With the diatoms it's probably just the nutrients, in time it will settle down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
reducing light to 6-8 hours a day isn't a bad idea either. You know it's the light for sure if directly under the lights on the hardscape is where the most algae starts growing. With the diatoms it's probably just the nutrients, in time it will settle down.
Timers adjusted. I cant wait until I buy a new finnex. Think I will go with the 24/7 since it allows some more customization, and that is what my friend upgraded to who gave me his old planted+ and it looks awesome.

Any more suggestions on fast growing plants to help swallow these nutrients?
 

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the fastest growing plant I've ever had was guppy grass. If you buy $10 worth you'll be throwing it out in a few weeks. PM me and maybe I can help you get some.
 

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The brown diatoms will disappear as your tank matures. I would suggest adding some fast growing stem plants, such as hygrophila difformis (water wisteria) or rotala rotundifolia. You can always ask at your big box stores what day their plant shipments come in, and try to get there on that day to get plants from the new shipment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
the fastest growing plant I've ever had was guppy grass. If you buy $10 worth you'll be throwing it out in a few weeks. PM me and maybe I can help you get some.
PM Sent


The brown diatoms will disappear as your tank matures. I would suggest adding some fast growing stem plants, such as hygrophila difformis (water wisteria) or rotala rotundifolia. You can always ask at your big box stores what day their plant shipments come in, and try to get there on that day to get plants from the new shipment.
I may have to try that. I did just learn of another LFS that wasn't showing up on google maps for me, hopefully they have a larger selection and take care of their plants a little better.

Now I just need to find a fish locally that will feat on the hair algae...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Added 2 otos, 4 nerites, and some type of amazon sword about 12 hours ago.the Already the difference is huge. The otos have almost all the diatoms off all the leaves. Very impressive cleaners.

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Snagged a coralife dual t5 fixture and paintball co2 setup with 2 20oz tanks off craigslist this morning for $90 (don't tell my wife). About to go buy bulbs now.

With how few plants I have, I assume running both bulbs would be too much light? Also planning on holding off on any co2 until I plant the tank a little heavier. I've been reading others' experiences to avoid asking for recommendations, but the only similar situations I've found are from people with way more plants than me. So please help me avoid making a mistake that would either kill my plants or my fish.

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I ran two Coralife T5NO's on my 20 gallon tank for 4 years. The lights sat right on the rim with a glass canopy. That put them 14.5 inches from the substrate. That was four 14 watt tubes of T5NO.
The tank grew beautifully with very little algae. No CO2 other than Excel every second day. What is the wattage of your bulbs?
Link to photo:
Planted Tank Gallery - Low Tech Trophy Tank
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I ran two Coralife T5NO's on my 20 gallon tank for 4 years. The lights sat right on the rim with a glass canopy. That put them 14.5 inches from the substrate. That was four 14 watt tubes of T5NO.
The tank grew beautifully with very little algae. No CO2 other than Excel every second day. What is the wattage of your bulbs?
Link to photo:
Planted Tank Gallery - Low Tech Trophy Tank
My daughter got a little sick so I never ran to buy some. So right now I just have an empty fixture. Looks like it will be about 18" from bulb to lowest substrate. The guy I bought it from pulled a 10000k and a 6700k out of it for his new fixture, not sure on wattage. I was thinking of duplicating it though since his tank looked awesome.

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Coralife makes T5HO and T5NO fixtures. T5 High Output and T5 Normal Output. The difference is the wattage of the bulbs. In a 30 inch fixture (which you probably bought for a 29 gallon tank), a T5H0 bulb is 31 watts and a T5NO is 18 watts.

This link will take you to the Coralife page which shows pictures of both fixtures. They look quite different, so you can tell which one you have.
Light Fixtures | Coralife Marine & Freshwater Aquarium Supplies


The Kelvin rating is what you noticed on the lights, 10,000 K and 6,500 K.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Can anyone tell me what this plant is that is hugging my swords? Came in a box of plants I received today. I really like the look of it, and want to try and make sure I don't kill it.



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Added 2 otos, 4 nerites, and some type of amazon sword about 12 hours ago.the Already the difference is huge. The otos have almost all the diatoms off all the leaves. Very impressive cleaners.

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Get more Oto's as they like to be in larger groups and there just cool fish. Also be careful with duckweed, it's great for what it does but when it comes time that you don't want it anymore, it's a pain to get out of the tank. Look into red root floaters or even frogbit.
 

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Just put some red belly floaters, frogbit, dwarf lettuce in. The LFS I went to o ly had the 2 otos, I plan on going back Friday for a couple more fish.

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If this is your first time keeping Oto's, don't be to concerned if some die. I believe most of these fish are wild caught and may not make it in your tank.
 
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