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My plants looked like they were going limp and they were getting coated in brown algae, so I did a massive water change, rubbed the algae off their leaves. I also set up the co2 last night and I am amazed at how cheap and easy it was, and how well it's working.

It cost $3 for the tubing, 40c for the yeast, and $2lbs for a huge bag of sugar. Just used a 2L soda bottle.

For a diffuser I just rolled up a tiny piece of felt and jammed it in the tube. Makes very fine bubbles. They also rise up to where the water pours out from the filter and they get blown all around the tank.

I would have done the water change sooner, but the tank was cycling. It's just about finished now and I will pick up some cherry shrimp soon to help with the algae.

Now I want to make the tank perfect for plants.

1. I have a 10W compact fluorescent screwed in there now, but what would be better? Should I just remove the hood completely and set up a desk lamp behind the tank? (will the shrimp escape? What about my pair of black skirt tetras?)

2. I am picking up a bag of eco-complete this afternoon and I will replace most of my gravel with the stuff. This won't mess up the cycle will it? Should I just add it to the gravel (I don't have enough gravel in the tank anyway).

3. I haven't been able to check yet, but I'm worried the co2 and my piece of driftwood might make the water slightly acidic. Is this a problem for the flora or fauna?

4. Is the co2 supposed to be on all the time? If not then what do I do? Just pull the tube out of the tank at night?

What else might I do? I'm very serious about the plants, I have never had this much fun with a fish tank.
 

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i'd put the shrimp in after the plants have filled in. the plants should be given longer to root, etc and this'll aid in the cycling of your water further. shrimp are finicky if things spike. besides, they get in the way; once they take hold, you can't really get them all out. I made the same mistake: shrimp for the algae, sounds pretty good. But it's really much easier in the long run to start up a balanced maintanence regime to avoid algae than to deal with shrimp, esp. if you don't necessarily want an exclusively shrimp tank. (or maybe you want a different sp. of shrimp than those that you actually started, etc. )

you really can't turn off yeast :) so it's going to be going on constantly. don't pull it out at night. You'll just waste a lot of co2 b/c it diffuses to the air faster than it does in the water. if you're concerned about the livelihood of the livestock, then set up an airpump to go on when your lights turn off. but i wouldn't worry unless you see gasping, etc.

most plants prefer acidic water. apparently the water where i live is some of the most acidic in the US, i have no issues whatsoever. but sometimes inverts have a hard time in acidic water.
 
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