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At last it will happen

Discussion in 'Marine Plants - Macroalgae' started by reiverix, Nov 18, 2006.

  1. reiverix

    reiverix Lifetime Members
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    So for well over a year I've thought about this, and now it will become a reality. My 75g coral reef is going to become a 75g SW planted tank. The only corals I plan to keep are mshrooms, ricordia and maybe a few zoas. The rest of the tank will be marine plants and a few gorgonians.

    First a question about lighting. I run an 8*54w HO T5 Tek Systems setup. Bulbs are four actinic, two aquablue (60/40 ~11000K) and two 6000K daylights. Should I consider changing anything in this arrangement?

    Protein skimmer. Is it needed?

    Scaping. I suppose it's basically going to loosely follow the rules of aquascaping a FW tank. You know, nothing right in the face, consideration for focal points, etc.

    Dosing and water changes. Where's a good place to start?


    That's about all I can think of for now, but there will be more Qs I'm sure.
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Lighting is fine, Mushrooms are good etc.
    Note that many of the weedy noxious reef algae that many do not like, are useful for a planted marine tank also.

    Plant the layout good.
    Fining good algae is tough.
    Everything needs shipped next day, the shortest transit possible etc.

    Skimmers and macros really do not go together as the skimmer will not make much foam when you have macro's.

    An entire debate exists there between skimmers and macros, but macros are pretty, look better, fish can eat them etc, but skimmate foam? :p

    Skimmer may act as back up in case you kill off the macros.......

    With water changes: you can never do too much.
    Dosin is not needed that much if you do the water changes other than KNO3, good feeding, Traces/Fe.

    PO4 only if you go full out have a lot of growth, then only small pulses.
    You'll get diatoms bad if you over dose PO4.

    I did weekly 50% water changes.
    Not that cheap on larger tanks.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. Jimbob

    Jimbob Junior Poster

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    With only mushrooms, ricordia, some gorgo's and some marine plants, you can probably get by on half that lighting, perhaps the two actinics, 1 aquablue and one daylight bulb as a starting point.



    Unless you are planning on getting photosynthetic gorgonians (of which there are relatively few), you'll be better off without the skimmer. Most gorgonians are filter feeders and they will benefit for not having a skimmer (or a very undersized skimmer).



    Water changes are always good... as for dosing, I would suggest keeping an eye on Ca and Mg just like with a coral tank. Many of the marine plants, especially the macro algae are calcareous and actually need calcium in much the same way that stony corals do.

    I would also suggest trying to spot feed or drift feed (using the water current) your gorgonians a couple of times per week. Although survival rates are improving, the overall success rate at keeping a gorgonian alive for more than one year in captive aquaria is pretty small. Photosynthetic gorgonians are an exception to this but as a whole, they are a pretty poor choice of marine animal to keep (the colorful sponges fall into this category too; very poor survival rates)... I'd suggest sticking with the mushrooms and ricordia.

    In the wild, gorgonians can live for a very long time (hundreds of years in the absense of catastrophic interference). In captive aquaria, a year or maybe two is considered pretty decent success:(

    -Jimbob
     
  4. reiverix

    reiverix Lifetime Members
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    Thanks. Lots of things to think about here.

    I've been offered some gorgonians from a friend who has been keeping them for several years with success. Now just because he can keep them doesn't mean I will be so lucky. I'll keep them in the back burner while I get everything else sorted out.

    I get the impression that this is going to be similar to keeping a very high light FW but with possibly less leeway on keeping things in order. That's ok since I'm at least more prepared for this than when I first started out in planted tanks. I don't expect everything to fall into place, as if by magic :) I'd obviously like to make the transition as painless as possible though.

    I've been loosely comparing this new setup to the only real high light FW tank I have. A 75g with 6*54w HO T5. I actually find this tank remarkably easy to maintain because I'm so used to it and know it ticks. So this will be interesting to see how they compare. Might be frustrating too, but oh well.

    For critters, are snails, shrimp and crabs going to be helpful? I'm asking this because I have been thinking about getting a puffer and it will see those as a food source.

    For traces, are we talking about regular Flourish/CSM+B ? I find the thought of adding Fe kind of scary. In my FW tanks, I overload on traces and don't worry about it. This seems kind of different though.

    Dang I wished you hadn't mentioned I could possibly half the lighting, Jimbob. Those T5 units are my favorite piece of hardware and it would be a shame to half its potential.
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I did a lot of picking off algae to allow the design to start.
    It's a whole new ball game there.
    But it depends on the macros you have.

    Halophila make nice angiosperm plants:

    halophila - Google Image Search

    I spent about 2 hours a week picking this tank.
    1 hour water changing etc:
     

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  6. reiverix

    reiverix Lifetime Members
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    I've had a bag of Eco Complete sitting in my garage for months. Would it be a good idea to rinse it out and add it to my substrate. At the moment it's all aragonite. Fairly mature though at about a year and a half.

    Or how's about Onyx sand? I don't have any but could pick up a bag if it would help.
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    You do not want EC etc.
    Onyx sand is good, if you like the color......

    For a marine tank I do not.
    Deep is good, 4-6", adding organic matter down there is good ina new tank, you do not need this.

    If you plan on rooted angiosperms, a little is fine.
    Otherwise no, algae do not have roots.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  8. reiverix

    reiverix Lifetime Members
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    Well things are happening. Lots of caulerpa mexicana and prolifera in the tank now. Also some other as yet unidentified species. I'm taking a big hit with brown diatoms. I kind of expected this due to the sudden loss of bioload after removing so many corals. I still have too much live rock to really fill up with macros and vasculars.

    It seems that a lot of sea grasses are not available this time of year. I found one supplier who has shoal grass. It looks kind of delicate for winter shipping. There's also widgeon grass. This looks quite interesting as it could also have potential in my brackish tank. What kind of water turnover would be a good number to aim for?
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Get more in there.
    Diatom blooms can be overcome within about 1-3 weeks.
    Be careful, they are the scrouge that is the main pest, besides poor macro growth they tend to be the main pest/issue.
    Ruppia is fine, it can live at 4x the sea salinity.
    Not just brackish.
    Add any macro you can get a hold of for now.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. reiverix

    reiverix Lifetime Members
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    Things are coming along nicely. I did have some diatom problems for a few weeks after I started removing the corals but it's settling down now. The tank has a nice plant mass but not much in the way of variety. It's mainly caulerpa species and the growth rate is starting to rival FW plants. Now is about the time to start thinking about how I intend the tank to be scaped.

    I've been dosing a scaled down version of EI. KNO3, KH2PO4 and traces. I'm going to add that since I started dosing, the macros are a lot greener and fuller looking. I'm careful with NO3 and PO4. With nitrate, just enough to barely give a reading on a test kit. With PO4 I add the tiniest pinch. I can't get a reding but it must be there.

    The coraline is a relic from the reef days. I'm thinking about getting it off the glass for good.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. PatrikS

    PatrikS Prolific Poster

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    Wow, Reiverix, that's some very nice macrotank! Could You tell more about it, for example how often do You dose.
     
  12. reiverix

    reiverix Lifetime Members
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    Dosing is standard EI but smaller amounts. So, every other day I add nitrate and phosphate and on the in between days I add the micros.

    Measuring is totally an estimate in this too. I actually just grab a small pinch of KNO3 between my thumb and index finger and sprinkle it in the sump. Much the same with phosphate but just a couple of particles. For traces I'm using Kent chelated iron. It's specifically for macros and contains a few other elements. It is a really weak solution though. I just follow the instructions and go for 8 drops per 50 gallons.

    So far I couldn't be happier except for a serious hassle with diatoms that lasted about three weeks. It cost me half of my manatee grass because I couldn't keep it off them. My pistol shrimp is making it hard to keep the rest rooted.

    Next stage is to think about how I want the tank to look for the long term. Some of the caulerpas will stay but mostly I'm just going for growth and balance. Trying to get a feel of how it is in the world of SW plants, and how can I apply EI to a setup like this. No complaints so far but still early days.
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Too much PO4= diatom bloom, careful there.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  14. PatrikS

    PatrikS Prolific Poster

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    Oh, thank you guys for info! Tanks like yours, Reiverix, and Toms pics of his tank, are great inspiration!

    I set up a SW-planted tank also a short while ago, and was wondering how much macroalgae biomass I would need for every centimeter/inch of fish or shrimp I add. I would like to run my marine planted without any skimmer, and would like to have both nitrate and fosfate just barely measurable with hobby testkits, if measurable at all.
     
  15. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Planted marine and reef tanks with a refuge require no skimmer.

    Even if you have a skimmer, it will not produce hardly any foam once you get the plants growing.

    You trade the added lighting for the refuge, but the export using macros is nicer.
    Use use a bit less electric in many cases also and certainly for a macro main tank.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  16. PatrikS

    PatrikS Prolific Poster

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    Yes, I've learned it the hard/expencive way. I bought a big skimmer first, it skimmed a lot when the tank didn't had any macroalgae. When I densely planted the tank I saw that the skimmer almost skimmed nothing. Seemed weird at first. Now I swapted my skimmer for a better lightning. :)

    Tom, do You (or someone else) know how much algaebiomass that can support say 1 cm of fish. By support I mean that can remove N and P from fishfood. Is it like 1 kilo of macroalgae in wet weight for every single clown fish? or for two clown fishes?

    Really appreciate you taking time for answering such simple questions!
     
  17. reiverix

    reiverix Lifetime Members
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    My skimmer is still actually running but it's nothing more than an expensive aerator nowadays. I should really just pull the plug and maybe run it if I do serious maintenance and stir things up a bit. In fact I'm going to do that tonight.

    If I turn off the skimmer but leave it in the sump, is it safe to switch it on again if it has not run for a while? Will the water in it stay fresh?
     
  18. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    There's an entire group of SW folks that have tossed the skimmers for refuges.
    This is not just my observation, everyone reports this.

    You'll also have better coral growth, the micro algae that give the coloration are better as well.

    There's less nutrients stripped out and the macro algae nutrients allow the coral's micro algae to grow very well also.

    If you want very low nutrients etc, and have no refuges, then use a skimmer.
    But if you want to use biologhical means, then use a refuge or just do an outright planted marine tank and make the tank the filter.

    N and P balances with fish waste/food etc are often hard to do, if you remove all the NO3, that's bad for the macros, if you remove all the PO4, that's bad for macros also.

    what you want is an easy to manage low level of nutrients that's balanced, fish alone cannot do that effectively over time, the waste and what the plants demands will be different, therefore you have to top off the nutrients suspected of being too low.

    You can test to see, use Lamotte or better test kits for this also.
    I think doing large water changes makes Marine systems work extremely well.

    MBA uses large flow through water changes to maintain the health of their systems and it works better than anyone else's.

    Yes, it cost $ to do weekly water changes etc, but it's still cheaper and easier than many other solutions.

    No Kalk additions, no dosing various things, no organic build up, no skimmers, no test kits, it makes life simple for smaller tanks, say less than 100 gallons.
    A 32 gall trash can to pre mix the water is all that's needed.

    Salt for that will run a few $$
    200 gal of salt mix runs me about 29.99.
    So 200gal/32 gallons= 6.25 changes per bucket

    30$/6.25 = 4.80$ per water change which for many will not pay for the electrical bill for a huge skimmer and Test kits etc.

    Some might have an issue with a simplified method called water changes due to this cost, but it's not that much really and you spend less on other junk and less time fiddling.

    You can let things go a week etc also and still dose and get a feel for things, maybe doing water changes once every 2 weeks, then the electrric cost for a a large skimmer will be that of the salt cost.

    Balancing the salt cost vs the added junk and equipment is a very real issue, then you are not bound by excess nutrient build up since a water change addresses it, and Alk and Ca++ levels etc

    Economically, you should really look at all the cost and the practical hassle of dealing with all the automation and other crap and keeping it all going.

    The simplicity of a water change is difficult to beat.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  19. Samala

    Samala Junior Poster

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    This tank is going to be phenomenal in just a few months. Don't be afraid of NO3, even in saltwater. I know its a touchy subject, but since you're a planted tank guy as well as a reefer, I think we can toss you into the deep end. You can easily go up to 10ppm of NO3 without negative effects and great growth from the algae/plants. :)

    If I were you, I would get rid of some of the coralline in the back. Spots of it may look very nice and artistic on the rockwork, but it obscures the outline of the macroalgae towards the back pane of glass. Even if you just artfully scraped out sections of it, it may help a lot in the overall appearance.

    Then again, I am not you, and dont have the prospect of hours of wet arms and salt smears to look forward to. I do realize its a lot of work. Would be a real show of dedication if you took on the project. ;)

    I would be very tempted to relocate the mushrooms to that first 1/3rd of the tank underneath (what appears to be) Botryocladia and keep them in a slightly spread out grouping. More impact. I like the rockwork though a lot.

    You have plenty of light for some Halophila seagrass to use in the foreground, instead of allowing Caulerpa to trellis from rock to sand. Just a thought.

    I'm curious, given the amount of macroalgae and the presence of seahorses, how is your pH through the photoperiod? Do you find you have enough gas exchange from water circulation to offset the consumption of CO2 and carbonates, or are you supplementing one or both?

    Overall I love it. Really impressed. Keep up the great work.

    >Sarah
     
  20. PatrikS

    PatrikS Prolific Poster

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    Wow, Tom, what an answer, thank You so much, I really really appreciate it!!

    I understand that fishies only will never be able to support good macrogrowth, I have been keeping FW "high-tech-CO2"-tank for a couple of years with your EI-method, and it worked like a charm with KNO3, KH2PO4 and Traces. It was challenging to keep the CO2 levels high enough, but I understand everyone falling into that trap now and then.

    Anyway, as I said, I fully understand that only fishpoo and ammonia from their gills cannot support good macrogrowth. Due to my background as plantnerd in freshwater I was cocky enough to say to reefers here in Sweden that even macroalgae can strip saltwater clean of nitrates and phoshpates much better then any skimmer and phospatresins. Nobody - except one guy that professionally worked with algae/fish for a living - believes me. Nobody.

    I told reeffolks here that if one has a densely planted refugie, that is as big as the show tank with fish, one gets such low levels of phospates and nitrates that the corals will colour up the same way, if not better, as if one had a skimmer and a phosphatresin. Many people there think I'm an idiot suggesting it. It gets worse when I'm telling ppl that in order to get phospates down one has to dose KNO3. And they think that I am a complete fool when I tell 'em that it wouldn't hurt to dose just a little little tiny bit of KH2PO4 to keep the macroalgae, that in turn consume ammonia and phosphates from fish and fishfood.

    I feel quite confident that macroalgae - just like freshwater plants - shouldn't be underestimated, but I still would like to hear Your opinion: would it suffice with a refugie that is as big as show tank to be able to keep the nitrates and phosphates very very low without skimmer/phospatresins?? (if one wanted those levels to be very low thats is). Or is it even enough with a much smaller refugie than the show tank, and still not use any skimmer/phosphateresins?
     
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