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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My 17g tank has been set up for 37 days, and completed cycling on/before the 24th day. I’m going to be making some changes, and need advice about sequencing them and any other words of experienced wisdom.

The things I want to change are:

1. Run CO2 to my tank. I am gathering the equipment and should have it all together soon. I am running an AquaClear HOB filter and am thinking I might want to run the CO2 line into the HOB’s intake to diffuse CO2 (probably also jamming a piece of chopstick in the end of the line, as I’ve learned about in this forum — thanks to all for this fantastic wealth of knowledge,).

2. Lift/raise light fixture higher above the tank. My Finnex Planted Plus 24/7 currently sits about 1.5” above my rimless tank. I have some risers and I should be able to use them to lift the light fixture up by 3”-7” above the rim (adjustable). How high should I lift the light above the rim of the tank? When/How/Should I plan on increasing the photoperiod and/or intensity settings to adapt to the new CO2 and the increased fixture height? (My current setting is at 60% max intensity for a 6 hr photoperiod, with an additional ramp up/ramp down @ 10-20% intensity for 3 hours before and after the 6 hour/60% intensity period.)

3. Remove a Valllisneria that never took off and is dying (probably planted it wrong) and replace it with another one, or some other tall background plant. I should also do something about my alternantheria reineckii Temple (at least I think that’s what it is), which has grown taller but is showing lots of roots growing out along its leggy stems below. I’ve not trimmed any plants yet, so not sure of the best way to do that …

4. Maybe raise heater temp a bit to suit fish if needed (have 8 ember tetras in there now; thinking about eventually adding a small number of cardinals and/or otos and/or pygmy corys and/or shrimp for clean up). Temp is currently set at 75F.

FWIW I have an Amazonia v. 2 substrate, about 1.5-3” thick. I’m starting to see a bit of green algae in a few spots on the glass, and a lot of my plant leaves have algae/diatoms on them. There’s also still some bacteria on my driftwood. And there I also see what I think is a noticeable amount of CO2 bubbles (pearling?) on the driftwood algae and some of my anubias leaves. I currently dose 1 pump of Thrive+ 2/week, and I’m sure I’ll need to adjust that soonish.

What sequence should I make these changes to have the best chance of keeping the tank in balance and healthy for its inhabitants? Thanks very much for reading through all this and for any advice/info you can give me on this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thanks @TexasCichlid. Not opposed to buying an in tank diffuser at all; I was planning to do that until I read, here and elsewhere, that a fair number of folks think the chopstick method works better than “real” ceramic/other diffusers that can work with a HOB filter. Do you have recommendations for a “real diffuser?”
 

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Any ceramic diffuser should work fine. I like atomizers, but they result in soda pop water which some people do not like aesthetically. An atomizer placed directly next to the HOB intake would allow both a consistent supply of CO2 but also minimize the soda water look once you got it dialed in. High flow and great CO2 diffusion are the bedrock for a planted setup, IMO. Most problems arise from a lack of either.
 

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Ok got it — thanks @TexasCichlid. Now not to press my luck, but do you (and anyone else) have any input on my sequencing question? :)
Get your CO2 set-up correctly first. Your plan for the light seems fine - I would put it where you want it, aesthetically. 60% intensity seems like a good start, as does your photoperiod. Once you have your CO2 levels dialed in - your CO2 should come on 1 to 2 hours before the lights and you can turn off the CO2 an hour before lights off. I would add as many plants as you can once the CO2 is going, and remove anything that is melted - any plants with algae problems already showing up - go ahead and physically remove the worst offenders or trim the leaves off at the minimum. Get your dosing schedule and ferts ready at this time as well - I would also start adding Flourish Excel daily at the recommended dosing levels. If you see any algae problems creeping up - esp BBA, get a syringe with airline tubing on the end and use H2O2 to spot treat with the filter off, let sit for 5-10 minutes and then turn back on. 5-10ml total dosing of H2O2 in problem spots won't cause anything undue to the critters. The goals are to prevent problems, easier than to try and cure later. After everything is stable, start upping light intensity and photoperiod length as your plants require.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So are you saying I should get the CO2 installed and dialed in first before I raise my light fixture? If so I can do that. I was hoping to raise it soon/now, if for no other reason than to alleviate the issue of water splashing up onto the light fixture. And when I raise it, I think I’d have to increase the intensity and/or the photoperiod to compensate for the fixture height adjustment. But if it’s better to get the CO2 going properly before messing with the light fixture and settings, that’s what I’ll do.
This is the kind of thing I need to know. Tanks @TexasCichlid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Well just to make sure — @TexasCichlid do you mean I should raise the light now? Before adding/dialing in CO2?
But don’t adjust its photoperiod and/or intensity now?
I’m asking only because I want to make sure I dont misunderstand. Don’t want to unbalance conditions in there for my existing plants and fish, which have been running as described in my initial post here since Day 1, sitting on the original legs supplied by Finnex at about 1.5” above the rim. Raising the fixture will lower the light available in the tank and I assumed I would want to adjust it to at least approximate the in-tank intensity and photoperiod I’ve been using so far.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
@TexasCichlid — Not trying to be dense (but I am, I’m sure!) — I do want to raise it for aesthetic reasons. But I could wait for that. Main reasons on top of aesthetics are (1) to reduce or eliminate water hitting underside of fixture and (2) to start getting plants used to the higher light position before adding CO2 IF that is beneficial. And I’m already using the light’s dimmer feature to reduce intensity to 60% max.
 

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Move the light up, keep photoperiod the same, add CO2, when things are all balanced then you can start with higher intensity and longer photoperiod. Lower light levels are much easier to control bad potential outcomes. A thread called 'help my plants are growing slowly' is a lot better outcome than 'help, everything is covered in BBA' for sure
 

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I would raise the temperature to 78.

I use a Coralife limewood mini airstone as a CO2 diffuser. The bubbles are pretty fine. Other limewood diffusers don't work as well. Limewood diffusers are used in protein skimmers I think. This isn't a particularly great way to diffuse CO2. I just moved it from the hood sump to the tank. I didn't have bubbles when it was in the hood sump but I do now that it is in the tank. There has got to be a better way. I could go with an inline diffuser if I had a cannister filter.

Sequencing, sequencing. Maybe 4, 2, 1, 3. Raise the heat because that's fast. Raise lights like you and TexasCichlid were posting about. Then do the CO2 because you might need it when you disturb the substrate by pulling out the Vallisneria. That's my best sequence. I don't think there's a bad sequence. How bad could pulling out one plant be?

I've ruined two fixtures in the last two years keeping them under my hood. I really need a new aquarium. I raised the lights a little with a piece of acrylic and propped the lid open a little for ventilation. Your lights will probably be fine.
 
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Wouldn’t worry about temp. Anywhere between 70-78 is gonna be just fine. I took my heater out of my tank long ago here in SoCal. TexasCichlid’s got you on the right track for sure.
I agree in most situations temp between those ranges is fine. Full disclosure I got rid of my heaters years ago and in New York my temps range between 68 and 74. Right now my temp is around 70 and all my fish and shrimp are perfectly fine.

Can't understate how important consistent good co2 is, especially in hi-tech. Even in lower light, co2 increases uptake which keeps the water cleaner and allow more wiggle room with light, etc. Without co2 lighting is more restricting and will accelerate algae growth even more if it's too much for the setup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Thanks to each of you, @Savetheplants, @Fat Guy, and @Asteroid. I really appreciate everyone’s help here. As for heat/tank temp, even though in in SoCal too, I think I need the heater because my tank is located in my detached garage-adjacent studio room, which has poor insulation and no heater. It gets pretty cold at night here sometimes — like last week — and I think my fish would be a bit frosty at night without the heater. Thanks again, all.
 
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