This site is supported by the advertisements on it, please disable your AdBlocker so we can continue to provide you with the quality content you expect.
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. We are after as many aquarium plant images that we can get, doing so will assist us in completing the aquarium plant database.

    https://barrreport.com/threads/aquatic-plant-images-wanted.14374/
    Dismiss Notice

Advice on 55 gallon? (long post)

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by grayceworks, Jun 12, 2009.

  1. grayceworks

    grayceworks Junior Poster

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2009
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    1:41 AM
    I have a 55 gallon aquarium, running for 2 1/2 years, fully stocked with fish, and was heavily planted for over a year, with most of the plants growing ok.

    But they never did "good" ... and then suddenly a couple months ago, they all melted away except the java fern and anubias and a couple crypts...

    I have 70w regular flourescent lighting (1 48" strip light and 2 18" strip lights), and was doing weekly 20% water changes, and dosing trace nutrients 2x's weekly and had DIY co2 using a limewood airstone at the time. Substrate is Flourite, with pea-gravel of several small sizes, mixed with crushed shell.

    So I've essentially started over with the plants, did a 75% water change, re-did my root tabs, replanted heavily, changed the flourescent bulbs out, to make sure they weren't too dim, as they were over a year old, and basically did a re-vamp of the tank... I also realized that at the time when the plants started dying back, that my nitrate levels at water change time were 0.

    So I imagine I have a variety of problems with how I was doing things, since I'd never had such a large planted tank before... ;)

    I've added a second diy co2 and I changed how it gets into the water instead of using limewood airstones, I have a diffusion chamber thingy at either end of the tank which fills with co2 constantly, so it can dissolve into the water as needed... I've notice since I did this that it's dissolving into the water almost faster than it's being produced, so should I add a third one?

    I'm concerned if I add a third one, that my ph will go too low... I have sorta soft water to begin with.. .my GH is around 100 after I use crushed shell in the gravel for calcium to help keep it stable there, and I add a tad bit of epsom salt once a week for magnesium, at the suggestion of another forum.

    my ph with no co2 at all is 7.6, and my KH is 80ish

    my ph with one co2 bottle is 7.2 and my KH is just under 80

    my ph with two co2 bottles is 6.8 and my KH is 60

    I used an online co2 calculator, and it told me that with my 2 co2 bottles, my co2 levels are estimated at 16ppm?

    I've started dosing trace nutrients and potassium 3x's per week, and nitrogen as needed (when it gets below 5ppm) I'm going to be getting the dry fertilizer pre-mixes in the mail in a few days, so I can stop using the Flourish fertilizers...

    Now my plants aren't dying, and I'm seeing new growth, but it's kinda slow and for example, the stem plants are growing with a lot of space between each set of leaves, even though they're growing faster than they were before...

    I know my lighting level is kinda low for this tank, and that's the next thing I'm going to be upgrading... I did line the 18" strip lights with aluminum foil, as they didn't have reflectors... that seems to make the lighting more even from front to back anyhow... before it was darker in the front half than it was in the back half...

    but does anyone have any recommendations besides lighting on how I'm doing so far, what I'm doing right, what I'm doing wrong, what else I need to do?

    Any help and suggestions are appreciated!

    I don't know what some of the plants are, but here's the ones that I know the names of:

    wisteria
    anubias nana
    amazon sword
    chain sword
    hygrophilia
    java fern
    java moss
    cryptocoryne
    red ludwiga
    thai onion plant
    banana plant
    2 other kinds of anubias (don't know which kinds)
    some sort of stem plant that looks like a cross between pennywort and moneywort, kinda like ivy
    some sort of lily bulb with purple leaves

    No real algae to speak of, occasionally I get a bit on the front glass, but that's very rare, and it usually goes away again in a day or so. No beard algae, no rhizo, no green water, no hair algae, no spot algae. Not sure what the green dust is that appears on the glass every so often, but like I said, usually gone in a day or two. It seems to happen right after a water change, so maybe something in the tap water?

    ((It happens after a water change in my tiny planted tank too (2.5 gallon) and there too, it's gone in a day or two. I did have a problem with rhizo algae in the 2.5 gallon until I started co2 on that one too, then it cleared right up! )

    Sorry for the blurry pic, my camera isn't that great... :(

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2009
    Messages:
    1,346
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    1:41 AM
    You're fairly low light, and the plants look like easy ones to start with. Once your fertilization method is worked out and in action, there might be a bit more to it. Feel free to post your exact dosing and water change schedule with the new ferts when/if you've got it together.Otherwise, it seems you've got a tank that shouldn't give too much trouble.

    The only thing I'd comment on is that CO2 isn't calculated so easily as using those charts and a pH measurement. Other variables throw it off. Drop checkers and plant observation are better methods.
     
  3. cggorman

    cggorman Prolific Poster

    Joined:
    May 9, 2009
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    1:41 AM
    Seems like plenty of CO2. In my 55, I can get enough out of one 2L bottle to make my Danios gasp. Although, I'm porting the CO2 hose into the intake of my canister.

    What kind of circulation do you have? Gotta keep that CO2 moving so all the plants get their share.

    Maybe just me, but I kinda like lower light tanks. Less trimming.
     
  4. grayceworks

    grayceworks Junior Poster

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2009
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    1:41 AM
    I have an external Fluval 405 canister, and a powerhead, neither of which disturb the surface, and a bubble thingy that my loaches bubble-surf in, that barely disturbs the surface. the bubble thingy is in the middle of the tank where I have anubias and banana plants and java fern, and I have the co2 coming out at either end of the tank where there's the sword plants and crypts and stem plants...
     
  5. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2005
    Messages:
    3,011
    Likes Received:
    89
    Local Time:
    1:41 AM
    The air bubbler is depleting the CO2 in the water about as fast as you add it. The only time an air bubbler is useful for a planted tank, with CO2, is at night, when some use it to reduce the CO2 level then.

    The "bell" type diffusers you are using are not good. Much better is to use the ceramic disk diffusers, an external DIY reacto, or a powerhead in the tank, with the CO2 going into the inlet to the powerhead.

    You won't get too much CO2 in a 55 gallon tank with two DIY CO2 bottles, so you don't need to worry about that part, and the pH drop from CO2 does no harm, so don't be concerned about that either.

    One thing you can try is an AH Supply 55 watt bright kit, installed in the existing light fixture. That can be too much light to do without good CO2 in the water, but a 55 gallon tank is high enough that it should work well enough.

    To make life easier for you, buy dry chemical fertilizers, KNO3 and KH2PO4 and dose them at about half the rate called for in the Estimative Index method described here: http://www.barrreport.com/estimative-index/2819-ei-light-those-less-techy-folks.html This will ensure that you have non-limiting amounts of all of the needed nutrients, so you won't have to do testing and calculating to fertilize.
     
  6. grayceworks

    grayceworks Junior Poster

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2009
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    1:41 AM
    Ok, so say I get a co2 tank, and a double gauge co2 regulator with a safety blow-off and 3/8" outlet with a shutoff valve on it...

    what else do I need to finish a pressurized co2 setup?

    I need to calculate my expenses before I spend the money on these...

    thanks!

    And thanks for the tip on the bright kit! That will end up being less than half the cost of the ready-made lights we were looking at! Which will leave me money (hopefully) to get the co2!
     
  7. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Messages:
    1,078
    Likes Received:
    4
    Local Time:
    1:41 AM
    For CO2:

    You'll need the tank and regulator, a needle valve, tubing, and some way to dispense CO2 in the tank. That's the basics. If you don't want to run it 24x7, and there's no need to, you'll need to add a solenoid valve as well. To control the solenoid valve you will need either a pH controller or a simple lamp timer. Most of the people here use the timer as it's cheap and reliable plus you can use the same timer you use with your lights anyway or buy another one for 5$ and have some added flexibility with timing. The pH regulators will likely make it harder for you to get that minimum level of stable CO2 you're looking for.

    You can get a regulator with needle valve and solenoid and such as a packaged unit. You will get what you pay for. Cheap units will either be fiddly, a pain to change tanks on, and/or not very adjustable. A Milwaukee unit will run ~75-100$ but will have the drawbacks listed above. Spend a bit more and you can get a "low end" Rex Grigg or SuMo regulator. Short of actually shooting at them with a rifle they should last indefinitely and ( as a satisfied customer of SuMo ) customer service is excellent. Tank swaps involve no mental gymnastics or special sequences to prevent damage unlike some of the much cheaper units. Their high end premium units are top notch. In most cases the premium ones are the same regulator/solenoid combo as the lower end units but have much better needle valves and possibly bubble and check valves built in. The SuMo unit I got came with tubing but I haven't bought the Rex ones so I'm not sure.

    Lately is seems as though people are really liking the needle wheel mods for powerheads to get CO2 in the tank. Essentially you feed the CO2 into the inlet and then let all the little chopped bubbles blast around the tank. Since CO2 distribution is often an issue due to lack of current flow, this is a "two birds with one stone" kind of thing. You can also put this on the same timer you use with the solenoid if you don't want to run the powerhead all the time.

    -
    S


     
  8. grayceworks

    grayceworks Junior Poster

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2009
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    1:41 AM
    I've read that if I hook a powerhead to the end of a gravel-vac tube, and put an inlet there for the co2 tube, and a sponge on the other end, that this will make a good diffuser?

    Is this true?

    I have basically a water pump from an old internal filter I don't use anymore. Will this work the same way?
     
  9. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Messages:
    1,078
    Likes Received:
    4
    Local Time:
    1:41 AM
    That method will work as well. Possibly the simplest is just hooking the CO2 up to the inlet of a powerhead and using it as a needlewheel to distribute "mist". This can be done for
     
  10. grayceworks

    grayceworks Junior Poster

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2009
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Local Time:
    1:41 AM
    Ok, I got all my co2 stuff. I had to go get the tank filled this afternoon, but I went ahead and set up the drop checker in the tank while the diy co2 was still running, just out of curiosity. I positioned the drop checker half-way down the tank wall, on the farthest side from the co2 diffuser. I was really actually surprised to see that it was a nice green after a few hours. But the diy co2 was a LOT of work to keep that steady stream of bubbles, as I was having to recharge it weekly to keep it steady, and that's a lot of SUGAR!

    So I got the new co2 tank and regulator and a glass/ceramic diffuser set up in there. I will end up getting a better needle valve very soon, as this cheap one I got doesn't seem to be very stable. I bump it and it adjusts itself. I have it taped in place for now to prevent it moving until I get a better one.

    I put the glass/ceramic diffuser underneath my powerhead intake, so all the tiny bubbles are going into the powerhead and then out to the tank. Is that right?

    Then my drop checker is on the far other side of the tank, so I can see if it's getting all the way through the tank.

    I ended up getting a different filter yesterday, as my Fluval quit working. It seems it had never been putting out the flow it was rated for, as the new Eheim filter I got has close to the same flow rating, but it is a HUGE difference in the actual water flow! So between that and my powerhead, I have close to 600gph circulation in the tank. Does that sound about right?

    I also found out that my tap water has 1 drop GH, 1.5 drops KH, and has almost 10ppm phosphates, with a ph of 7.2. This ph drops within a day or so very low in the tank, so I started adding the Barr's GH buffer. I had to add 1 full teaspoon last week to bring my GH up, so I guess I'll have to monitor it for a week or so, with water changes, to find out how much to add each week from now on.

    On the whole, the tank looks sooo much better already though, since I started dosing the dry fertilizers.

    Now I just have to watch and see if I have the co2 adjusted right for my tank... Thanks for everyone's advice. I really appreciate it.

    If there's anything I'm overlooking, or any other tips or ideas, I'd love more advice! Thanks!
     
  11. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Messages:
    1,078
    Likes Received:
    4
    Local Time:
    1:41 AM
    CO2 method sounds good. Bubbles into powerhead works just fine. Flow rate in tank sounds good too. Just keep up on your ferts and prune so you get the flow blocked and you should be fine. I should probably take my own advice.... :)

    -
    S
     
Loading...

Share This Page