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Nice to meet you all

184 Views 7 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  PeaceHeather
Hello folks, I've kept aquariums for decades, planted tanks for... maybe five or six years?... but have only recently learned that I'm still making newbie mistakes. I am doing better now about maintenance and overfeeding, but I still need to prove to myself that I can properly keep my 9 gallon cube tank. If it improves and stays doing well, I will be setting up a 55 gallon tank later this year.

In the meantime, I'm here to learn and to ask lots of questions. I've been researching everything from plant types to lights to filters, and everything else, with obsessive enthusiasm over the past couple of weeks. Right now I'm on lids: I need something that will let the light I buy (probably a Fluval 3.0) shine through the top of the tank, but also be sturdy enough not to shatter if one of my cats decides to jump up on it. She thinks the 9 gallon is a great resting spot sometimes. I'd show you a picture, but the tank itself is embarrassing -- remember those newbie mistakes.

Incidentally, where should one's phosphate levels be in a planted low-tech tank? I've heard "zero" from the LFS, but then seen posts here talking about fertilizers for their plants and the amount of phosphate they add deliberately.

Not sure what else you need to know about me, but I'm happy to be here.
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Welcome to The Planted Tank!

I may see if the tank manufacturer sells a lid for you specific tank. If you wanted something stronger, a glass shop should be able to cut you a peice of glass 3/16" or 1/"4 glass should be more than enough. Then you could get the rimless lid clips that they sell, just be sure to get the appropriate size for the thickness of your tank.

There is no set level for many of the fertilizers we dose. Usually a nitrate/phosphate ratio of 10:1, for example, 10ppm nitrates to 1ppm phosphates, but this can vary from tank to tank and you will need to have all the essential nutrients in balance, along with your lighting (and co2 for a high-tech system.) Are you dosing fertilizers currently?
 

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still planning the new 55 gal. low tech tank
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Good morning!

I am not dosing fertilizers, though I do add Seachem Flourish Excel (the liquid carbon) with some but not all water changes. On the other hand, I was terrible about consistent water changes, and also drastically over feeding my fish without realizing, and that was resulting in some really high phosphate levels. (When the LFS staff test your water and then say, "Wow, I've never seen it turn that color before" you're probably doing something wrong.) I've done four water changes in the past eight days or so, and nitrates are back in a healthy range, while phosphates are slowly coming down. I've switched to feeding less and feeding only every other day as well. We shall see if this will get the algae and other unwanted life under control. And despite all this, my plants are growing... I just gave the store several pygmy java ferns, and I'm going to ask them if they want my extra crypts and a couple of anubias cuttings.

But you see why I'm not setting up that 55 yet. I need to demonstrate to myself that I can keep a smaller tank, and keep it healthy, first.
 

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Large, regular water changes are your friend!

Dosing fertliizers can be as easy as a few pumps from a bottle or as complicated as mixing individual dry ferts to make your own solutions. There are many options out there. Most planted tanks are usually over-dosed with ALL the required nutrients at appropriate levels, then "reset" with a 50% water change weekly. This is called the EI (Estimative Index) method. There is plethora of information on this subject, if you type that into the search bar on this forum.
 

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still planning the new 55 gal. low tech tank
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Do low tech tanks get fertilizer as well, or are soil nutrients enough? Despite the algae, the plants have been doing great so far. I figured I would need to do root tabs once the soil is depleted, but for now, is it necessary?
 

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Do low tech tanks get fertilizer as well, or are soil nutrients enough? Despite the algae, the plants have been doing great so far. I figured I would need to do root tabs once the soil is depleted, but for now, is it necessary?
Soil will not provide everything plants need to thrive. You indeed need fertilizers for a low tech tank but in smaller ammounts when compared to a high-tech tank. Algae is able out-compete plant growth when there is an imbalance in your nutrient levels. If all nutrients are available to plants and the lighting (and co2 for high tech) are in tune, plant growth will exceed algae growth.
 

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still planning the new 55 gal. low tech tank
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That's so counter intuitive! I mean I know they need more than just what fish waste will give them, but it hadn't occurred to me that they would need anything beyond what soil could provide. Thanks for the tip!
 
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