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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my first high tech tank and I'm thoroughly confused on lighting and CO2. First the specs:
20 gallon high tech, co2 with Aquario Neo ceramic intank diffuser, Twinstar EA, Aquario Neo Soil
Tank has been up and running about 30 days.
I made it through the diatoms phase but am still getting quite a bit of fluffy/fuzzy brown looking algae mostly on the moss and now am starting to get some staghorn algae on the drift wood and some of the leaves of plants. I think the issue may be two parts... Not enough CO2 prior to the lights being on and/or CO2 not getting around the tank enough and possibly my photoperiod not being dialed in yet.
I'm still confused about when does the photoperiod start? Is it as soon as the lights turn on or when they reach a certain percentage of power? I have a ramp timer set to the following:
9am - 0%
10am - 25%
11am - 50%
1pm to 4pm - 100%
6pm - 50%
7pm - 25%
8pm - 0%
The light sits about 5.5-6 inches above the water line. My thought was the photoperiod really doesn't start until the light gets to about 50% power so when I look at my light schedule I have a 7 hour photoperiod. Is that accurate? Does the photoperiod start around the 25% level or the moment those lights turn on at 1%?

In regards to the CO2 issue, I think I may start the CO2 at two hours before the lights first turn on as I feel like I'm not seeing the lime green as soon as I should on my drop checker (which is placed opposite corner of the diffuser) but do plants block the distribution of CO2 bubbles? My diffuser is set on the side of the tank so that it has to blow through my 'rotala forest'. The Rotala is pretty covered in bubbles by the end of the day but I do see some mist blowing through to the other side. The plants in all areas of the tank do pearl but I also noticed the hair grass near the diffuser the the S. Repens have struggled more. Is this weird?

Sorry for all the questions. I've done a lot of research but these couple issues are really throwing me for a loop. Here's a pic of the tank for reference.
1028020
 

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well, technically, the photoperiod starts when any amount of light is on. but practically a period of 75% and higher is what i would consider as the "real" photoperiod. instead of starting at 25%, start with 50%. then 75% followed by 100% and back down to 75% gives you 7 hours.

with respect to co2 if you can see mist on the other side of the tank and all plants pearl, your co2 distribution is where you want it to be. my best guess as to why hairgrass and s repens are struggling is that mist is being blown away from them with out dissolving or being able to attach. plus, the repens and patch of hairgrass right in front of it look like they're being shadeded by the rotala and seiryu stone.

most people inject co2 hours before lights turn on. i do 3 hours. i get a pH drop of ~1.25 in that 3 hours; and surface agitation and plant useage keep it there until lights off. btw, don't know why so many new to pressurized co2 use drop checkers. they give you and indication of what your co2 levels were 2-3 hours prior. get a pH pen/monitor to get instant and real-time estimation of co2 levels. makes dialing in co2 so much easier.
 

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A month is not a long time for a planted tank. Especially when its the first month after planting.

The staghorn would be what I would worry about the most. Once that gets established its super hard to get rid of. What are you using for fertilizer and how often are you adding it? What are you doing for water changes?

Plant growth looks normal to me honestly. Your light schedule sounds fine as does your co2. The mist is not an indication of coverage, its what gets dissolved in your water which is definitely going to be pretty uniform throughout your tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
well, technically, the photoperiod starts when any amount of light is on. but practically a period of 75% and higher is what i would consider as the "real" photoperiod. instead of starting at 25%, start with 50%. then 75% followed by 100% and back down to 75% gives you 7 hours.

with respect to co2 if you can see mist on the other side of the tank and all plants pearl, your co2 distribution is where you want it to be. my best guess as to why hairgrass and s repens are struggling is that mist is being blown away from them with out dissolving or being able to attach. plus, the repens and patch of hairgrass right in front of it look like they're being shadeded by the rotala and seiryu stone.

most people inject co2 hours before lights turn on. i do 3 hours. i get a pH drop of ~1.25 in that 3 hours; and surface agitation and plant useage keep it there until lights off. btw, don't know why so many new to pressurized co2 use drop checkers. they give you and indication of what your co2 levels were 2-3 hours prior. get a pH pen/monitor to get instant and real-time estimation of co2 levels. makes dialing in co2 so much easier.
This was very helpful, thank you! It's kind of what I was thinking but glad to know I was on the right track. I'm bumping my CO2 to start 2 hours before lights kick on. I work from home and the tank is right next to my desk so even with the drop checker delay it's not a huge deal for me right now because I can monitor it all day.

A month is not a long time for a planted tank. Especially when its the first month after planting.

The staghorn would be what I would worry about the most. Once that gets established its super hard to get rid of. What are you using for fertilizer and how often are you adding it? What are you doing for water changes?

Plant growth looks normal to me honestly. Your light schedule sounds fine as does your co2. The mist is not an indication of coverage, its what gets dissolved in your water which is definitely going to be pretty uniform throughout your tank.
I'm starting to wonder if the fertilizer is where I am going wrong. So Aquario Neo technically says you don't need to add ferts at all for the first 60 days. I of course didn't listen to this but the sample they showed didn't have any epiphytes or plants with roots feeding from the water column (I used some monte carlo and cuba as 'tree tops').
I was dosing Tropica Premium Nutrition (so just the micros) based on George Farmers dosing method which is 5 ml per 10 gallons daily. But as the algae increased I back off to half of that and this week I've only dosed a half dose yesterday. Plants are not suffering at all from what I can tell. At this point I'm doing 50-60% water changes weekly. The first two weeks I was doing ~50% every 3 days. I should note I did a dark start for the first two weeks so I didn't have to do as many water changes and the filter could start to cycle so technically the filter and soil has been in place for 6 weeks while the plants and light have only been up and running for 4 weeks. I removed 90-95% of the water prior to planting. All plants used were tissue culture except for the bucephalandra which as of last week has started to sprout new leaves and looks really healthy.

Is the staghorn a result of too many nutrients? Nitrates have consistently been 20 ppm for the duration of the week the last two weeks. Based on these two responses I don't think it's too much light or lack of CO2. I'm almost ready to get the Twinstar Algae inhibitor to at least slow it down because removing this stuff sucks. I'm dosing some Flourish excel right now to kill it and hopefully the Amanos I have will munch on it.
 

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I'm starting to wonder if the fertilizer is where I am going wrong. So Aquario Neo technically says you don't need to add ferts at all for the first 60 days. I of course didn't listen to this but the sample they showed didn't have any epiphytes or plants with roots feeding from the water column (I used some monte carlo and cuba as 'tree tops').
I was dosing Tropica Premium Nutrition (so just the micros) based on George Farmers dosing method which is 5 ml per 10 gallons daily. But as the algae increased I back off to half of that and this week I've only dosed a half dose yesterday. Plants are not suffering at all from what I can tell. At this point I'm doing 50-60% water changes weekly. The first two weeks I was doing ~50% every 3 days. I should note I did a dark start for the first two weeks so I didn't have to do as many water changes and the filter could start to cycle so technically the filter and soil has been in place for 6 weeks while the plants and light have only been up and running for 4 weeks. I removed 90-95% of the water prior to planting. All plants used were tissue culture except for the bucephalandra which as of last week has started to sprout new leaves and looks really healthy.

Is the staghorn a result of too many nutrients? Nitrates have consistently been 20 ppm for the duration of the week the last two weeks. Based on these two responses I don't think it's too much light or lack of CO2. I'm almost ready to get the Twinstar Algae inhibitor to at least slow it down because removing this stuff sucks. I'm dosing some Flourish excel right now to kill it and hopefully the Amanos I have will munch on it.
Nothing eats staghorn while it is alive near as I can figure out. I'd spot dose the excel with a eye dropper or syringe on the staghorn and hope that kills it. If not, then lookup the "one two punch" on this forum for some descriptions on how to use hydrogen peroxide and excel together. This is a very harsh method and can kill plants and critters so only use it if you can't get the staghorn through other means.

I would definitely start doing macro dosing as well. Your substrate is not doing a lot for anything not in the substrate and frankly I am always skeptical of claims about not needing to dose ferts for X period of time because the people that make those claims don't know how much substrate is in 'your' tank and how many plants, and how much light, and how much co2 etc. Instead do as big a water change as you can manage without freaking out your critters (I aim for 70 to 80% once a week) and dose all ferts according to directions.

Staghorn can as easily form from too little nutrients for plants to thrive as too much. Killing it is of paramount importance because once it establishes... its the worst algae to try to get rid of.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Nothing eats staghorn while it is alive near as I can figure out. I'd spot dose the excel with a eye dropper or syringe on the staghorn and hope that kills it. If not, then lookup the "one two punch" on this forum for some descriptions on how to use hydrogen peroxide and excel together. This is a very harsh method and can kill plants and critters so only use it if you can't get the staghorn through other means.

I would definitely start doing macro dosing as well. Your substrate is not doing a lot for anything not in the substrate and frankly I am always skeptical of claims about not needing to dose ferts for X period of time because the people that make those claims don't know how much substrate is in 'your' tank and how many plants, and how much light, and how much co2 etc. Instead do as big a water change as you can manage without freaking out your critters (I aim for 70 to 80% once a week) and dose all ferts according to directions.

Staghorn can as easily form from too little nutrients for plants to thrive as too much. Killing it is of paramount importance because once it establishes... its the worst algae to try to get rid of.
Sounds good. I'll start dosing the Tropica Specialized that contains the macros. Thanks!
 

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The brown fluffy stuff is rhizoclonium so there's definitely an issue with unbalanced ferts. Remove it manually daily as much as you can because it grows fast and will take over the tank chocking everything it sticks to. An easy way is to suck it out with a syringe or thin hose. You can try excel but rhizoclonium once there, it just refuses to go no matter what. Often time a black out is the only way without resorting to some drastic measures.
 

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The brown fluffy stuff is rhizoclonium so there's definitely an issue with unbalanced ferts. Remove it manually daily as much as you can because it grows fast and will take over the tank chocking everything it sticks to. An easy way is to suck it out with a syringe or thin hose. You can try excel but rhizoclonium once there, it just refuses to go no matter what. Often time a black out is the only way without resorting to some drastic measures.
At first I thought it was diatoms. I never seen this algae before. I've been slowly getting it out and at this point it doesn't seem to really be coming back. It's only on the mosses. Maybe because they are really slow growers? Thanks for the advice.
 

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At first I thought it was diatoms. I never seen this algae before. I've been slowly getting it out and at this point it doesn't seem to really be coming back. It's only on the mosses. Maybe because they are really slow growers? Thanks for the advice.
I think it appears more now due to commonly used LEDs which give out more intense light than t5s. The rhizoclonium spores get triggered where the level of light is higher than the level of ferts with inadequate CO2 level in particular. It poorly attaches to plants so it loves to grow on mosses or carpeting plants where this attachment is more effective and let's it remain exposed to light. It once ruined my nice HC carpet. I had to pull most of it out because it kept coming back from under HC. When you keep up with removing it, your CO2 and other ferts are decent, it eventually goes away but removing it, from a larger tank with needle leaf plants and carpets of HC without some damage to the plants can tricky. You pull that thing and it literally falls apart in your fingers to become just a smudge of brown dirt. Shrimp and otos munch on it but if you don't have enough of them, it will grow faster that it is eaten. Like diatoms, rhizoclonium mainly loves new tanks with immature substrates. It's frequently "accused" of being diatom but diatom it is not. Diatoms don't organize into puffy cotton balls :)
 
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