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Ive got a high tech ( pressurized CO2, dry ferts, aquasoil ) 29 gallon tank with 2x24 T5HO lights suspended about 6 inches above the tank. I have very little algae and decent growth--but not nearly what I have seen from other tanks. I also dont have any real red color to the plants----that is until they get almost to the surface and then they turn bright red ( Sunset Hygro, Limno aromatica and some sort of Ludwigia )

I enjoy seeing fast growth and red colors, but dont relish the idea of ending up with algae everywhere. The stem plants grow steady ( about 1 inch every 3 days or so vs the one inch or more per day as it nears the top ) until they get to the top 1/3 of the tank then they take off--the bottom of the aromatica does have some melting. I assume the slower growth, lack of red and melting at lower levels would indicate that the light isnt quite as high as it could be. I can deal with slower growth and be perfectly happy, but man--the reds look soooooo good that it makes me want more.

Any thoughts on this?
 

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You can try to increase the photoperiod VERY slowly until you notice algae starting to take over, then back it down just a hair. Also you could try more CO2 when lengthening the photoperiod, and be sure your plants have enough ferts as well. You want to keep one step ahead of the algae.
 

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One thing about a 29 gallon is it is pretty tall for it's foot print. So the growth you are getting for the top 1/3 of the tank is what you would get from a "normal" tank. I went from 72 watts of T5NO (probably equivalent to what you have now) to 108. I didn't get any more noticeable growth in the lower half of the tank, nor more color. What I did get is a huge amount of growth up top, a much higher nutrient demand, and a tank that became much harder to care for. I am finding a longer photo period is bringing out color though on my new setup.

I would consider going with a 20 long (same footprint) with your current light, raised almost as high over the tank, as an alternative if you can stand a smaller tank. I have contemplated this many times.
 

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I agree, photoperiod is the best way to go right now simply because it's very easy to control and costs little.

With any more light, you may be looking at a tank that is multiple times more demanding than what your current tank is. Plus, investing in new lighting only to find out that the tank is a runaway nutrient monster or algae farm is a waste of money.

Try bumping up the photo period and see what results you get first.

GL
 

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I would work on the CO2 before trying for more light. If anything, I would raise the light another 4 inches, to get less difference in intensity between the top and bottom of the tank. Do you have good water surface ripple, over the whole surface, but with no splashing? Do you also have good water circulation in the tank, so every plant is swaying in the current? If yes on both counts, you can slightly increase the CO2 bubble rate every day or two, watching the fish carefully to make sure they aren't being over stressed - no clustering at the top "gulping air", no laying on the bottom, no colors fading, etc. CO2 is the most important nutrient for the plants.
 

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Max out the CO2 and EI ferts first and then slowly bring up the light intensity. Slow and steady wins the algae race.
 

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If you have a light that can be adjusted as far as height, then this works very well, the other option and even better if you can also adjust the height, is to have say 1 or 2 bulb option.

I raised my 2 bulb fixtire with PC's over my 20 and it really made a much better nicer difference. All ADA tanks have adjustable height fixtures and tend to be quite high above their tanks.
 

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The other option is simply turning on high light for 1 hour at a time, then maybe 2-3 etc, but no need to add more than this, otherwise you just get weedy plant growth rates.
 

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but man--the reds look soooooo good that it makes me want more.

Any thoughts on this?
You can try plant species that are red from the get go. Two that I've kept and are red from the start are Alternathera cardinalis (being sold at some petsmart's now) and rotala wallichi.
 

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Your lighting seems fine to me. You might try dialing back the NO3 a bit (</= 10ppm) while maintain strong levels of PO4 and micros/Fe. I've had some luck with this bringing out the oranges and reds in Ludwigia inclinata and Limnophila aromatica.
 

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You can try plant species that are red from the get go. Two that I've kept and are red from the start are Alternathera cardinalis (being sold at some petsmart's now) and rotala wallichi.
+1 for this....I got some alternathera in a lower light 29 without CO2 and its amazing looking.
 
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