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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm new to the hobby (2 months), and I'm frustrated about the current state of my 3 planted tanks. I researched a lot but i can't seem to get my tanks balanced. I haven't updated any of my journals because I'm embarrassed about what my tanks look like! I hope that you can help me figure out what I'm doing wrong. Here are the tanks and parameters for each. I know it's a lot of info, but I'd really appreciate even any general advice from anyone. I know that I'll eventually have beautiful plant growth, but I'm frustrated at how long it's taking to get there. Thanks for reading!

Tank 1: 47 gallons, 48x13x18.5
Lighting: 2x54 watts T5HO
CO2: 2 bottles DIY, but pressurized set up is in the mail! Also excel.
Fertilization: half of what EI suggests, since I don't have pressurized CO2
pH 7.0 (before CO2 addition), KH 20 ppm, GH 200 ppm

Problems: green spot algae, diatoms, and see the picture below for hairy/fuzzy algae. Also, new plant growth is wonderful but the bottoms of the stems look ratty.


Tank 2: 5.5 gallons, 16x8x10
Lighting: 27 watt Hampton Bay desk lamp
CO2: none. I dose excel daily
Fertilization: half of what EI suggests
Water parameters approximately the same as the tank above.

Problems: green spot algae (really bad on the glass, and it's even on my marsilea minuta and anubias)

Tank 3: 26 gallons, 32x12x16
Lighting: 36 watts T5NO
CO2: 1 bottle DIY and excel
Fertilization: half of what EI suggests
Water parameters approximately the same as tank above.

Problems: green spot algae (mild), and an algae that looks like human hairs but green. They're sparse, but it's on many plants and a little bit on the glass.

It sounds like a catastrophe, I know. Any suggestions?
 

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I noticed on your profile that you are using sand as a substrate? Do you use root tabs for your plants? When I had swords and crypts, I used root tabs every two or three months to help with their start. It helped a lot!
 

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In your 47g, I think you just have too much light and maybe too little fertz. I have a similar light setup, with 78W of T5HO over 46g that is 36" long, but about an inch taller than yours, plus I raise the light another 3". So for starters, try raising your light some.

I also dose full EI. The higher levels of some nutrients will suppress some algae (low phosphates can be one possible cause of GSA). I was using 3 bottles of DIY CO2, with one changed out per week, but am now using 4 (although nothing has changed algae wise with the addition of the 4th bottle).

I also dose Excel, and have a BNP and 3 amanos. With this setup the only algae problems I have is GSA on the glass, which I clean pretty easily every month or two, and this black algae that grows on anubias some times, but quickly goes away when spot treating with Excel. I just use a syringe with the daily dose of Excel to spot treat while the filter is off. No need to lower the water level first.

The 5.5g has too much light.

For the 26g, I'm not so sure. Maybe try cutting back the light a bit. GSA is still pretty common in low light tanks, and many have problems getting rid of it despite their efforts. Since you don't have much, maybe just a few nerites will keep it under control. Have you identified the hairlike algae yet?

For low light tanks, I like to dose full EI, but just once after the water change. That way you get all the nutrient levels where they should be, and they won't come down that much during the week (you might want a second 1/2 dose later in the week). If you dose 1/2 EI 3 times during the week, then at the start of the week nutrient levels are only 1/2 of where we want them to be.
 

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First, the 48 inch tank has too much light to do without good (pressurized) CO2. And, adding a couple of Otos, or more, will eliminate the diatoms, making the tank look a lot better. GSA usually indicates not enough phosphates being dosed.

The 5.5 gallon tank probably has too little light. That light has no reflector at all. You only get light from the downward facing surfaces of the bulb. When I used one on a tank a little smaller than that I had results consistent with low light.

The last tank probably has medium light intensity from that fixture, and would benefit greatly from pressurized CO2 along with full EI dosing.

You mention "balancing" your tanks. I don't believe balance has anything to do with it. To grow plants you need adequate light, without having way too much. You need pressurized CO2, to get high consistent concentration of CO2 in the water, if your light intensity is high, and possibly even if it is medium intensity. You should have non-limiting concentrations of all of the nutrients, both macro and micro nutrients. And, the tank needs regular pruning to avoid massive buildups of plant density. Plus it should get regular cleaning, regular water changes (unless it is a low light non-CO2 tank), and enough surface rippling to ensure good O2 concentration in the water. If you have good CO2 the plants will grow well even with low light, but if you lack good CO2, the plants will grow poorly if the light intensity is more than low.
 

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The 5.5 gallon tank probably has too little light. That light has no reflector at all. You only get light from the downward facing surfaces of the bulb. When I used one on a tank a little smaller than that I had results consistent with low light.
Sorry, I didn't realize it had no reflector. Do people modify them to add a reflector; maybe just paint it white on the inside or add some foil? Seems like a lot of watts going to waste otherwise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ok, so I think I understand. Here's what I'm going to do to make things better:

47 gallon: I'm going to use only one of the 54 watt tubes, and maybe add the other one for only a couple of hours per day. I will also use full EI dosing. When I set up pressurized CO2 in a week or so, I'll reevaluate the lighting schedule. I already have 10 otos....so I think that's probably enough for diatom control. I'm thinking that the problem isn't actually diatoms, but just plant debris settling on some of the plants. Maybe it's a water flow issue. I have two Aqua Clear 70s in that tank.

26 gallon: not sure yet. Plant growth in this tank is actually wonderful. The hair-like algae is the only nuissance.

5.5 gallon: I bought this light due to many recommendations on this forum. I thought it was commonly used in tanks this size. The tank looks quite bright and for some reason, the one stem of L. aromatica that I have in there LOVES this tank. It's nice and purple. In any case, any suggestions to fix the low light issue?

If I missed anything or said something incorrect, let me know!
 

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I have a 10gal tank that I get the same hair algae in. It's a very low-light/low-tech tank and funny enough it only develops on the sponge filter. It's a stock Wal-Mart lid+light and the only ferts it gets is GH Booster with the weekly WC - it's only a White Cloud Minnow tank so it doesn't even have a heater.

It's not that big of a deal for me since I clean the sponge every week and it only happens in one tank but I haven't beat it yet myself ;)
 

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Ditto what Hoppy said.... he da man!

First off there is no reason to be ashamed of your tanks! We have all been there... believe you me!

Until you get your pressurized CO2 going reduce the lighting. Your tank will take some time to recover so don't expect miracles. Personally I would remove all the plants that are covered in algae and toss them. I would also suggest a better substrate but that is not that critical. And try adjusting your ferts. You might need to experiment a bit. Most importantly start off low and work your way to higher levels. I like to make solutions of my NPK and use dropper bottles that way I can make minute changes when I dose. I have been able over the past 5 years or so to "dial in" my ferts with the dropper bottles by merely eyeballing the plants and algae on a daily basis. Also don't forget water changes... they are the most important thing you can do at this point IMO.

YMMV and I HTH. Good luck!

It's a hobby and nobody ever said it would be easy! It can be a very very rewarding hobby once things start clicking and your plants start growing. Hang in there and keep at it!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Ditto what Hoppy said.... he da man!
LOL. When I first read Hoppy's post, I thought to myself "Hoppy has spoken".

Thanks so much for your encouragement. It means a lot! I always have very high expectations, and I think that's why I get disappointed so easily. I'm going to try to accept that the tanks will require some practice. If it were too easy, it wouldn't be as rewarding to have a beautiful tank. When I finally get the tank I'm imagining, I think I'll feel a great sense of accomplishment :D
 
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