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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been keeping my first planted tank for about 7 months now with moderate success. I recently added some plants, that required high light, so I increased my light with some extra lights I had laying around to see if the plants would take off. They seem to be doing fairly well, but the rest of my plants really died back, even my hornwart, and I have developed some algae(I think BBA). I'm assuming most of this occured because of a lack of Co2. This all was in a 55 gallon setup.

I recently came across a 75 gallon setup that I couldn't pass on. I've moved everything to that tank. I'm by no means an expert, but I want to get things in order and really see things flourish. I will lay out the setup and hopefully I can get some suggestion.

Tank: 75 gallon 4 foot

Substrate: 3-4 inches

Lighting: Nova extreme t5 HOX2 54 watt. The pink bulb went out and my LFS didn't have a replacement in stock, so I went for Coralife 54watt daylight bulb(I hope this wasn't a bad mistake).
In addition, 1-40 watt plant and aquarium bulb.
All together 148 watts: Lights are on for 13 hours. The first two hours at 108 watts, the next ten at 148 watts, and back to 108 watts the last hour.

Co2 and nutrients: Cheapy Jungle brand Co2 system rated for 40 gallons that used fizz tabs(once a day).
Flourish excel every (1-2 days)
Flourish supplement 0.07-0.01-0.37 (1-2 times a week)

Plants: I'm not 100% sure I have my species correct.
Cardamine lyrata
Ceratophyllum submersum
Echinodorus amazonicus
Echinodorus palaefolius var. latifolius
Ludwigia repens
Ludwigia palustris
Pistia stratiotes
Some variety of Anubias
Also, onion, lily and misc bulbs that haven't done anything in about 3 weeks.

Filtration: Fluval 404 canister filter, I try to keep surface agitation as low as possible without stressing my fish.

Temp:78-80

I'm unsure about my water parameters. My water is usually7.5-8, but I use neutral buffer. I have a Red sea test kit that I don't trust. I'm afraid my water may be hard.

What should I change or keep the same in all of this. I am in time planning to add a better CO2 system, but money is tight right now, so what should I do in the mean time? Also, it is my understanding that plants absorb oxygen and release CO2 at night, so should I increase the oxygen when the lights are off. Any info will be helpful and I really appreciate it. Thank you.
 

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I'd upgrade to pressurized CO2 when you can. It's more reliable than the one you have, so you should get a more consistent level. Plus those little kits just don't work well on big tanks usually; they can't give you enough CO2 for that much water volume.

Also, if you switch from the Flourish to dry fertilizers (you can buy them online, aquariumfertilizer.com is a good source) it will be cheaper for you in the long run and you can dose individual nutrients that way, so you can customize it better for what your individual tank needs. It's a bit more work, but worth it if you are up for that.
 

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First, you can't successfully use that much light without having good CO2, and the system you have will not give you good CO2. So, you need to reduce the amount of light you are using. You can probably keep the plants going with just one of the 54 watt T5HO lights, or you can use both, but raise the fixture a few inches above the top of the tank.

Next, to use high light intensity as you have been doing, you have to provide all of the nutrients the plants need. You are now dosing a trace element mix, which is all the Flourish supplement is. You need to dose lots of nitrates, potassium and phosphates for the plant's basic needs. Read up on dosing strategies on the sticky in the fertilizing forum.

Don't use a buffer solution. Hard water is fine for most plants, and adding more chemicals to lower the pH just makes the water less friendly for the plants. Plants don't like really high TDS (total dissolved solids), which goes up with everything you add to the water.

Your substrate is good enough, but with limited fertilizing as you are now doing, you could benefit a lot from using substrate fertilizer tabs, adding several spread out around the tank, under the plants.

Keeping the water surface completely undisturbed isn't a good idea. Much better is to have the surface rippled, which increases the surface area substantially, allowing for much more oxygen absorption. Don't worry about losing CO2 by doing that since you have very minimal CO2 anyway. The Excel will be the primary carbon source for your plants.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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You really will need to limit your photoperiod until you can get that CO2. I'd back down to 6 hours. And raise your light fixture at least a few inches higher too, if you can manage that.

The new bulb is proably just fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So, I already eliminated my 40 watt bulb and added root tabs. My T5 is 3 inches above the surface. Should I go higher?

My logic in buying the cheapy co2 system was some is better than none. Am I just wasting time and money or should I continue to use it. Also, any suggestions on good affordable CO2 systems or links to DIY systems.

I looked at aquariumfertilizer.com, which fertilizer(s) should I get?

Hoppy, when I was starting my planted tank I was told to avoid HOB filters and creating surface agitation. Would you suggest adding an HOB filter, powerhead, or ??? So, I won't lose the carbon from the excel through surface agitation? I'm still curious if people increase oxygen at night and decrease it during the day.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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I think you may just want to run the 40watt fixture till you get the pressurized CO2 and the algae in check. Even just 108 watts of T5HO is much more light than you need. I'm down to 6 hrs/day with 108 watts of T5HO myself on my 90gal, and that's much taller than your tank.

I personally always recommend that people run airstones in their tanks at night if they're dosing pressurized CO2. Just as a safety precaution.

No, Excel won't be lost by additional surface agitation. But both DIY and pressurized CO2 would. So you might run an HOB for now, but a powerhead would be a better alternative for increasing flow over the long run.

And you've got hair algae.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Laureleellbp, I've read that overdosing excel will help remove hair algae, but could that harm/kill my fish? I have extra HOB filters and powerheads. Which should I use?
Is your suggestion of lowering my light a life support or will they recover and grow in those conditions? I'm willing to spend the money if it means having some healthy plants and a tank I can feel good about.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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There's "overdosing" and then there's "overdosing"... There is a safe "overdose" recommendation on the Excel bottle that is pretty effective on many algaes. Or you could take one dose of Excel, mix it in a little tank water, and spot-treat algae with a syringe or eyedropper.

There is definitely a range at which a true Excel overdose could kill just about everything in a tank. Stay within the recommended dosings, however, and you should be fine.

I didn't see any Vals in your plant list- those do tend to melt under Excel.
 

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Pardon me for jumping in but Adam79 you need to go back and reread all the posts. Pretty much everything is in there that you need to know to get started researching. Things that you can do now: turn off some lights/raise the lights (by raising we are talking a foot or so or more) put in some power heads to circulate the water, fertilize the plants (reread Hoppy's post-he told you what you need) and use excel for a carbon source till you get a pressurized CO2 system. The only thing that you are going to grow successfully if you don't heed their advice is algae. High light plus no CO2 equals algae-word.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
When I was running the t5 alone with no CO2 on my 55 gallon things were doing fair. I was throwing away hornwart once a week, my water lettuce and Cardamine were spreading. My swords were growing slowly and my anubias looked healthy, but never seemed to grow. Now I have more water surface, so I'm assuming that will cause a decrease in light. So, what I'm hearing hear is that if I raise my T5 way higher or reduce the watts, my plants will do better than they were at that time. Also, given my plant list, can I add shade areas for certain plants that may benift from really low light? Sorry about all the questions, I just want to come out of this as knowledgeable as possible. Thanks again!:proud:
 

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When I was running the t5 alone with no CO2 on my 55 gallon things were doing fair. I was throwing away hornwart once a week, my water lettuce and Cardamine were spreading. My swords were growing slowly and my anubias looked healthy, but never seemed to grow. Now I have more water surface, so I'm assuming that will cause a decrease in light. So, what I'm hearing hear is that if I raise my T5 way higher or reduce the watts, my plants will do better than they were at that time. Also, given my plant list, can I add shade areas for certain plants that may benift from really low light? Sorry about all the questions, I just want to come out of this as knowledgeable as possible. Thanks again!:proud:
The purpose of everyone's advice was to head off the eminent algae infestation. It will come if you don't have good CO2, ferts, traces, water circulation and high light. Decreasing the light will not make any of your plants grow faster-they will grow slower. That's the point: they will require less CO2 enabling you to provide enough CO2. You create a balance that favors plants and not algae. Don't get mired in the details of providing shade ect for certain parts of the tank. Fix the light/CO2 relationship and start reading posts by people like Hoppy. There are a bunch of very experienced people here that can help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for all the advise! I lowered my watts down to 40 for about 6 hours a day and added a power head, adjusted to give a slight ripple across the surface. I trimmed back leafs that were infested with algae, added root tabs, and have been over dosing excel. Things are turning around. The algae is almost gone and I have some positive growth. I'm going to order some dry fertilizers and begin putting together a pressurized CO2 system. I will post my tank as things improve or if I develope any new problems. In the meantime if any one can suggest some good fertilizers or the most essential nutrient needed, I would appriciate it. Once again, thankyou.
 
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