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Lots of questions: 20 gallon high tank

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Hello all -

Being a newbie to the whole planted tank thing, I did a lot of research and talked to people at the fish store, and I *thought* I had a good handle on a planted tank before starting one, but I've been running into TONS of issues with algae, phosphates, dosage rates, etc.

Equipment
20 gallon high Marineland aquarium
AquaticLife's Edge 24" (spec sheet) (I leave on for 8 hours a day)
Eco-Complete
Fluval C3 filter (with phosphate removal pad and purigen)
Marineland 100W(?) heater
UV Sterilzer with pump

Fish
2 panda corys
1 Dwarf Gourami
1 Pineapple Swordtail
1 Zebra Danio
1 Pearl Danio
SEVERAL apple snails (my parent snails decided to lay eggs and I didn't catch the eggs and now I have baby apple snails in my tank)

Food
Fish: Was using flakes, but JUST switched to pellets. Frequency: Once a day.
Snails: Algae wafers. Frequency: 1-2 times a week.

Plants
Microsword (floats, my snails and gourami think its a great idea to uproot it whenever I put it in, so I don't bother replanting.)
Jungle Val
I've been holding off on purchasing plants because I needed to get my algae issue under control and learn the proper dosing rates.

Dosing equipment
I use Seachem's line of products.
Excel, Flourish, potassium, nitrogen, iron, and phosphorus. I *had* a notecard with what I thought was the correct dosage, but honestly I'm not sure if that was even correct.

I've had this tank setup since the beginning of July, and I thought I had a good handle on things but some things have gotten out of hand.

Q1: My phosphates are WAY out of hand. My water naturally has 10+ppm. I know planted tanks are supposed to have phosphates, but not this much. Should I filter out the phosphates before a water change? Maybe this is the main issue to my algae issue?

Q2: Going off of my algae issue, I can't seem to get away from it. I tried reducing the light duration and that doesn't seem to help. Its also to the point where I am getting diatoms in the tank to turn my water green. I bought a UV sterilizer and a pump and it is clearing the green water. How would I prevent continual algae issues? I'm also getting hair algae in the tank in some spots.

Q3: What should my dosing rates be? Should I add more plants first THEN begin dosing, or begin dosing and slowly add plants? What should I be dosing with? Is there anything I'm missing chemical wise? Should I buy a doser from my local fish store to do the dosing for me? This is where I am the most lost and confused.

Q4: The Eco-Complete is VERY dirty. I heard that its actually good for plants and they like that. However, having so many snails that I can't get rid of because no one wants them and not cleaning it, would it be worth my time and money to replace the Eco-Complete?

On a side note, before my tank became all green and whatnot, my Jungle Val wasn't doing too well. When my tank became green, it began growing and healing and actually spread and sprouted 2 new stem things.

Any help would be appreciated. Thank you!
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I've been holding off on purchasing plants because I needed to get my algae issue under control and learn the proper dosing rates.
Any help would be appreciated. Thank you!
You do pose a lot of good questions BUT I don't think that anyone can give you the miracle answers your looking for. I just want to focus on this one statement above. You'll probably never get your algae issue fully under control AND for you to even begin to do so, IMO, you need to purchase more plants and lots of them. Fast growers like Wisteria and Ludwigia and the like. These plants in effect become your nutrient sink. They can better out-compete algae for available nutrients.

Every tank that I ever started that I didn't fill with plants from the start, I've had problems with. If I jammed them full of plants from the beginning, algae was rarely an issue.

I understand that you want to balance your dosing and your lighting and substrate, etc., but start by getting more plants.

I would suggest daily "micro-dosing" cutting back on your lighting a little and leaving the substrate alone. Eco-Complete is an excellent substrate. If it's getting too dirty, It may be that you are overfeeding. That could certainly be a source of excess Phosphates as well.

Hope this is helpful.

Roy
 

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Get some Hygrophilla, it grows so quickly that just one plant will fill your whole tank in a few weeks time. As it grows to the top of the tank you simply cut the top half off and plant it. In a few more days you will need to do that to both and so on. Does not take long.
. . . except H. polysperma is on the federal noxious weed list in all states. As I suggested H. dysformis (Wisteria) would work just as well.
 
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