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the basics

761 Views 9 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Roc
Well I have been on this forum for awhile and was on another before this. And I NEVER thought I knew it all but I sure did think I knew what the heck I was doing (mainly becuase of ppl telling me how good my tanks looked)

Well I am here to tell you I knew almost nothing, all it took was adding some extra light and a CO2 system (I had DIY for like 6 months before I added presusized) to tell someone what they don't know.

Anyway the goal here is to build a cheat sheet for beginers so they don't make horrible mistakes. Most of the advice will need to come from others as I myself still learn a lot everyday, but I thought by explaining what an issue was and how they sloved it using the title of your post, it would become seachable

I will start out as I have just started learning this lesson, START SLOW and that means everything except for long stem plants (Fish, Amount of light, CO2, Ferts, hard to grow plants, scaping etc). I just learned within the last 2 days that I was adding way to much CO2 and running it 24 hours a day + running my lights (about 5 watts per gal in each tank) for 11 hours a day and the result was dying fish and algae of every type.

Solution has been started, turned the lights down to 6 hours per day and droped the amount of CO2, I am buying a solinoid but until then I have a Airstone come on when the lights are out to out gas the CO2. I know lots of ppl have had succuss running CO2 alday long BUTTTTTTTT I was not having succuss and my PH was very low. Do I know that if I change anyone of these things I could still be OK, WELL NOT YET, HENCE THE GO SLOW. I am trying to help anyone out there that is just starting out as I have lost some quite expensive plants, and fish lately and don't want any others to go throught this.

This seems more of a rant and kinda is, but sometimes rants are very inforative.

Everyone reading this that is just starting out READ READ READ READ before you plant your 1st stem, this hobby is really a sience, and is not very easy without the right tools.:hihi:
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Good advice.

Unfornuately, more is better is the common thought process for many.
Even if you tell this, and they day yes, they still do what they will ultimately.

They learn via suffering.

I tell folks to use less light.
No one listens.
I show examples, then they ask questions about other things than the light.

It all starts with light, that drives CO2 uptake and demand.
From there, CO2 and carbon drives N and P and K etc demands for growth.

So less slight = less CO2 demand = less nutrient demand.

CO2 is the hardest thing to measure and control in the tank, so less light makes a lot of sense there.

Or go nonCO2 altogether:icon_idea

CO2 and issues there are often from circulation and poor O2 levels.
CO2 and O2 are well linked for us.

It takes some folks getting their feet wet a few times, before they get a handle on things.

But hopefully you improve along the way.
Canned CO2 is one of those jumps. Less light is another, better circulation is yet another.

And that's just dealing with CO2.......

Tom Barr
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CO2 is the hardest thing to measure and control in the tank, so less light makes a lot of sense there.
I learned this the hard way. I have HLD, I put 42 watts over a 10 gallon tank just to grow hairgrass. For a start everything seems growing greatly. Lights, nutrient, bioload, and CO2 is in a great ballance. I have minimum algae, until just in one day my CO2 reactor broke down. Just in one day i have algae outbreak my tank.

So what's the lesson here? i thought my tank was doing greatly, until now i realize that the balance was hanging on the edge of a cliff. I completely agree with Tom. Lights, nutrient, bioload, are things that we decide to adjust. But CO2 is different thing.
I think it's hard to make the transition from having your typical 20 watt fluorescent/incandescent light on all day, to limiting the light to 5-10 hours a day (YMMV on WPG). I know I had that difficulty when I first got into the planted tanks. I wanted to see my plants more hours a day. :icon_frow Until I realized I would see more beautiful plants if I just control myself. :hihi:

I wish I read all of Tom's great advice right from the start. :icon_wink Or even understood half of the stuff when I came across it. :alien:
When I first started I ran 4 x 65W PC's over a 75 gallon x 12 hours while waiting for my CO2 equipment to be delivered. I was dosing some plant gro or some other kind of petstore iron water and trying to figure out what the problem was. Staghorn, hair algae, "brown algae", thread algae, BBA, BGA, and I don't know what all else I enjoyed until I got it figured out. What makes it worse is that the plant package I won, which got me spurred into starting a planted tank in the first place, was all medium to low light plants, LOL.
The worst feeling is being at a Petco or Petsmart (to buy flake food NOTHING ELSE) and hearing someone say, "Oh I'm gonna get the 10 gal tank and put 2 common plecos a bala shark, and 5 or 6 mollies, should I get a filter?" and hearing the salesperson say"you don't really need a filter on a 10 gal" I mean I wanted to shake the customers and punch the salesperson.

I know that i did things backwords and Tom is OH COURSE exactly right. I think as Americans we are driving to buy and when we see some great tank on a forum we want that no matter the cost. I would say with my limeted knowledge the best way to setting up a tank is

1. Decide how large of a tank you can matain on a regular basis (water changes, cost of lights, CO2 etc)

2. Think about what you are most interested in (Fish ~the way the look, size they get, compatabilty, requirements, etc~ plants you would like to grow ~the way the look, size they get, compatabilty, requirements, etc~) Then think about how all those things will fit together with the tank size you feel you can mantain.

3 Knowing the answers to 1 and 2 can help step 3 which would be the planing of equipment you will need to get what you want. I made some early mistakes that were very avoidable (like wanting a planted tank but wanting Africain fish that are agressive, and tear up plants) I think way to often we see a tank sale and have read a little about high light fixtures and we run out and buy both but then get some moss and a anbunais to start the tank.....................

And then as I have alreay said and has been re-said by Tom (lissen to this guy ppl he is very experenced) Start slow, low light no CO2 low ferts with managable bioload, and LEARN ABOUT CYCLING.
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I could not start off learning bass by trying to play Micheal Manring, Jeff Schmit, Jaco or Victor Wooten, that takes time and learning. I start slow and build up speed to get better and also to learn more methods, techniques styles etc.

Merely because I like the "blues" method and have trouble with say Classical, does not imply classical is a bad genra. They have different goals and it takes time and skill to learn each style.

Some give up because they cannot master a style immediately. Some are too lazy to practice and learn enough about a style to gain mastery. Some are too lazy to maintain and set up a nice scape. Some will admit these failings, some do not and blame the style.

This is very true in aquariums and plants.
Same for fish breeding, coral and marine fish etc.
This is not merely a planted tank thing.

Still, helping folks is what it's all about so they do not make these same mistakes. But less light helps in all cases and allows more styles to be achieved with a little more patience but a lot better result.

Speed of growth is something of a two edge sword. Folks like fast growth initially, often hate it later.

Tom Barr
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...Everyone reading this that is just starting out READ READ READ READ before you plant your 1st stem, this hobby is really a science, and is not very easy without the right tools.:hihi:
I am really thankful of all the biology, biotechnology, chemistry, physics, statistics, calculus, critical thinking, philosophy and the other courses that I took in college. W/O these, there would be so many things that I simply wouldn't understand. There's still plenty more, much...much more to be learned and I enjoy it!

You are exactly right about the "READ READ READ READ before...", IROC! It will certainly save you $, £ etc. in the long run and it can help you to become successful.
I started out with just a fish tank and the 20watt strip light, tried to grow plants and did pretty decent when i added the DIY co2 all anubias and java fern, then i did a DIY double 20watt strip light for 40watts and did better, then i got a 2x65watt CF fixture and had problems with algae constantly for the longest time with just java fern and anubias, Then i added two large swords and vals and algae went away. Then i added Pressurized co2 and had problems with that till i got it figured out, then i moved it all into a 75gal tank LOL.

Point of my post is. Theres two ways to learn by doing and by following the advice of people who already did it. I learned by doing and wasted a good 4-500$ in the process of switching gravels, lights, buying and killing plants, and so on.

But i wouldn't trade the experience for anything, When i finally get my own house and my HUGE tank i will have enough knowledge to set it up and get a good start on it.
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BigB I actually think you did it the right way excapt for maybe making to big of a lighting jump, but hell I went from 15 watts over a 20 gal to 110 over the same tank with the same plants...........
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