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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I live in NYC which has soft acidic water, TDS around 40ppm. I have an established planted tank, snails, shrimp, tetras, otos, use co2 and 5-6 hrs of fairly bright LED light daily. Glass gets a coating of green algae within days despite 30% water change per week. Plants have a bit of algae too including some brownish fuzzy algae, not thriving. Shrimp have not done well in the tank generally (I have a surviving amano shrimp and some nerite snails that have been there for 6 months, doing ok.) I have been adding Prime, plus calcium and Epsom salt to raise the GH, and I have added a bit of Seachem acid and alkaline buffers to raise Kh. This makes the TDS of new water around 200. The tank itself is around 300 TDS before water change (I add a few drops of plant ferts daily). With additives, GH is around 7, Kh around 3, ph around 6.5. (Tap water Gh is 1 or 2, kh around 2, ph around 6.0).

Q: despite all of the additives I noticed the Kh only is about 1 degree above tap water, Gh about 4-5 degrees above tap water. Am I getting too little bang for buck with the additives (plus harming plant or inverts with high TDS)? I am not a water expert so any insights appreciated!
 

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Green dust algae on the glass is usually a sign of a potassium deficiency or sometimes too much ;P

Anyway your ferts are likely out of balance to your light and co2 as cause for your algae situation. A picture is always helpful to be sure though.

What is your in tank nitrate reading?
 

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Your tap water is great. It really gives you something you can work with. Your parameters sound good. You could back off on the GH a little. 7 dGH is not bad though. I would go for a little less. What @minorhero posted about the Potassium and the Phosphate might have something to do with the algae. That "fairly bright light" you mentioned might be causing it too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Glad to hear you both are so positive about my tapwater, I was about to look into RODI to see if it would help the shrimp but prefer not to!

I think I never got my light and co2 and ferts situation right. It is hard - my automatic ferts doser is probably not that precise, I haven’t monitored the amts in a while or recalibrated to make sure not too much or too little. I think it was better when I dosed ferts myself daily but too much work!

So here are a few photos. I am mid water change and did some pruning to get rid of algae leaves. AR minis are in bad shape at the moment. My swords have pretty much shrunk to almost nothing, they used to be really tall and lush. Anubias and crypts get algae covered fast. As u can see i have some finnex light strips. Reduced to about 5 hrs a day. I do co2 but maybe i need to increase the bps, it seems to fluctuate between 1 and 2.
 

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I do co2 but maybe i need to increase the bps, it seems to fluctuate between 1 and 2.
I agree that your tap water is amazing. Everyone reading this and dealing with KH/GH levels of 10-12 are super jealous right now.

Instead of worrying about bubbles, start thinking in terms of ppm. Every tank, and every diffuser or reactor is going to be different so bubbles per second is not going to get you anywhere. What you want to do is find out the ph of your fully degassed tank water. Take a cup of water from your tank, and let it sit for a few hours, preferably overnight. Record the ph of this water. From there, you’re looking for at least a 1 point drop in ph while your CO2 is on. CO2 injection will reduce your ph by a predictable amount, and a drop of 1 full point is equivalent to 30ppm of CO2. Your ultimate goal would be to achieve a pH drop of 1 point by the time your lights come on, and maintain it there throughout the full photo period.
 

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Sorry to jump in here and I agree with everything said above. But looking at the plant load, tank size and general BPS on CO2 I would guess you're a little low there. But definitely do your checks via the one point drop in pH.

I don't really do the ferts too much myself. i just do root tabs and drop a little iron in from time to time. Though I want to check into the Potassium and see if I can get that inline with my nitrate levels and co2. maybe then I will bump up the co2, I keep it lower than the 1 point drop on purpose. currently I don't want to over or under do anything and am trying to make only little changes at a time (which is so hard for me, personally.) So while not knowing all my parameters like Potassium I am not blasting away tyring to find that perfect 1 point drop in co2.... yet.

Oh, and I also want your water. Mine also is at the 10-12 GH/KH am doing great with shrimp right now. But really feel a lot of my fish could be happier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks all. I guess I need to get a proper water test kit instead of using my strips, if I’m going to record a one point pH drop properly. That will be my next investment. Pending further testing, I’ve already reduced my calcium and epsom salt and upped my co2 a bit. Probably my imagination, but the plants and fish seem a little bit happier already (photo)
 

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Even without a pH pen, you can slowly increase your CO2 through trial and error. Turn your CO2 up ever so slightly, and observe for a few days. If your fish seem fine by the end of your photo period, then you’re safe to increase a tiny amount again. Make sure you give at least a few days between changes to make sure there isn’t an accumulation problem. Eventually you’re going to increase it, and you’ll see your fish become sluggish near the end of the day. They may also start hanging out near the surface, possibly gulping at the surface. As soon as you see that, turn off the CO2, change 20% of your water, and turn the CO2 down a bit.

If we ignore the livestock, there’s no such thing as too much CO2. It’s not like light or fertilizers, in that it won’t create algae by having too much of it. Your ideal situation is to find the amount of CO2 that starts to stress your fish, and go a little lower than that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Update, I cranked the CO2 for several days and seem to have positive results. But then I bought six amano shrimp at the local fish store, acclimated them over a few hours, lowered the co2 a bit to reduce stress, but 4 of them died within 2 days. :-( I don’t think it was the acclamation, they don’t like something in my water. Ordered a copper test, maybe the hairpins i use to anchor plants are leeching too much-that’s all I can think of. Also really getting bad fuzzy brown algae (see photo). I am a little worried because I have to go away for eight or nine days… I think I will be reducing the light over that time.
 

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A drop checker works well for measuring CO2 levels. I use the Nilocg 4dkh solution with an inexpensive jardli drop checker (The one that looks like a bent test tube and it hangs over the edge of the aquarium). Green=about 30ppm. Yellow and you risk killing inhabitants. Blue is too low CO2.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Huh. I have an inline diffuser and the output pipe isn’t close by.

Maybe my water chiller is making the bubbles stick to the glass when the water cools down a degree or two?
 
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