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Clueless on dosing for my planted 130g...

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by SpongeBob SquarePlants, Dec 11, 2006.

  1. SpongeBob SquarePlants

    SpongeBob SquarePlants Prolific Poster

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    Hello,

    I've been an aquarium hobbyist for many years, but I've always had simple 30g-55g tanks with tropical fish and fake plants/rocks. Early this year I decided to give the live plants a shot after I bought a new 130g tank. Recently I decided to start the tank from scratch to rid myself of the mistakes I've made when I started.

    As far as hardware goes I think I'm pretty good, but right now I am learning another lesson and that is dosing the right amount of Macro and Micro ferts/nutrients. Unfortunately, my first source of knowledge is my LFS plant guy. While I think he knows his stuff, it is obvious that the knowledge on a forum like this is incomparable.

    So here's where I'm at, I restarted my tank 3 weeks ago. By that I mean I emptied the tank to the glass shell and cleaned everything, except my filter which is full of bacteria. I added new substrate which is a mix of Fluorite red on the bottom and a layer of black Eco-Complete on top of that with a total depth of about 4". I placed plant fert tabs every 4-5" in the substrate. I planted a good amount of plants, see pic below.

    I'm running an automated CO2 system with PH controller, set to 6.4 PH. I was leaving the PH/CO2 running 24hrs and my lights (260w for 130g) running 12hrs with no issues to the fish.

    For dosing I've only been feeding the plants Seachem Plant Fundamentals-3 Pack, which are Flourish, Flourish Iron and Flourish Excel as per the dosing instruction on the bottle. I do a 40% water change every weekend and dose as the bottle says and that is per my LFS guy.

    Things were going great for a few weeks all the plants have doubled in size, now here comes...Algae. It started with this brown muck stuff that seemed to make the tank look dirty. I could wave some water by it and it would get stirred up into the water. Next I started getting green/brown misty algae on the glass that I would scrape with my magnet scrapper. Then in a matter of a couple days my Amazon swords had thick furry green algae on them. I bought an army of those Oto-catfish to eat the algae but they spend all their time sucking on the glass and not the plants.

    Plants were dying left and right, each day there would be hand full of plants floating on top of the water, it’s like the bottom of the stem was rotted away. Now, I've told I was dosing too much Iron, I've been told I wasn't dosing enough, I been told I have too little CO2 or too much. I honestly don't know who to believe or what to do, that's why I'm here. I came across Greg Watson's website during my online research and that led me here. I am ready to purchase what I need as far as Macro/Micro either dry or wet fertilizers. I have taken Bio & Organic Chemistry in college so I am very familiar with all the products and measuring them, I am just not sure of dosing amounts and schedule.

    Here's is all my equipment and water levels:

    TANK:
    130 gallon Tank
    20" deep
    2 x All-Glass Heater-200 Watt
    Eheim 2028 Professional II Canister Filter

    SUBSTRATE:
    50/50 mix 4" deep:
    Carib Sea Eco-Complete (Black) on top
    Seachem Fluorite (Red) on bottom

    LIGHTING:
    48" Coralife Freshwater Aqualight
    Double Linear Strip Compact Fluorescent Fixture
    4X 65W = 260W Total
    So that’s 2w per gallon, light ballast sits right on top of the glass, tank is 20" deep.

    CO2 INJECTION:
    15# CO2 bottle
    CO2 Pressure Regulator w/Solenoid
    Aqualine Bubble Counter
    Maxi-Jet Powerhead 1200
    CO2 Reactor 1000
    Pinpoint pH Controller

    FERTILIZER:
    Seachem Plant Fundamentals-3 Pack
    (Flourish, Flourish Iron, Flourish Excel)

    WATER CHEMISTRY:
    (I only use tap water for water changes)
    AMONIA= 0
    NITRITES= 0
    NITRATES= 0
    PH= 6.4
    PHOSPHATES= .5
    KH= 6

    FISH:
    A few Discus, Tetras, Loaches, Hatchets, Snails
    Food: Little pinch of flakes (has some phosphate in it I found out) and Bloodworms as the main dish.

    Picture before algae attack:
    [​IMG]


    So yesterday, after reading some information on here, I pruned the leaves that had the heavy green algae on them, I vacuumed out as much of the brown algae out as I could and did a 50% water change. I put my conditioners in the water and turned on my air bubbler and turned the CO2 down to nothing and completely covered the tank to black it out. I am planning a 3 day black out right now, so I have 2 days to go. When the black out is over I would like to be prepared with proper dosing, light and CO2 levels.

    CO2 levels, I calculated to be 70 ppm this is based on an online calculator with a PH of 6.4 and a KH of 6. I know it seems high but this is all I have to go on right now.

    Now I’ve read online that since my Nitrates are always 0 that has opened the door for Algae. From what I understand they should be 10-20?

    Is there set formula out there that says if your tank is xxx gallons and heavily planted with CO2 injection then use these chemicals on this schedule? This is what I need, some kind of suggestion to make my tank really shine!

    Thank you to everyone in advance for your help!!
    Lee
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    See the KH reference thread
    You should try this out to see what the real CO2 is.

    pH controllers cause more issues than they solve certainly.

    10 hours of light only.
    50-70% weekly water change will help.
    After, follow EI but about 75% of that for KNO3/KH2PO4, full for the GH booster (1-2 teaspoons per week) and full for the Traces, (tropica master grow is good).

    You sounds like you'll be needing to tweak the CO2.
    Sound slike the KH/pH issue has gotten you and this explified the utility for using a KH reference solution to gauge the CO2 more accurately.

    Now you can by pass that and just lower the pH, but 0.1 units and watch the fish, and you must do so slowly and over a peroid of 2-3 days per drop and just a close eye on fish and plant and algae.

    Instead of waiting for the fish to cry "uncle", watch the algae closely, see if it recedes and if the plants start growing really well.

    Wait till the algae cries uncle instead of the fish.
    This is generally what I do rather than fish torture.

    Algae "torture" death etc is seemingly more ethetical to me.:cool:

    Watch the plants also, they should do much better.

    Also, have the pH control function only work during the day, not at night, and if so, only 60 min prior to the lights coming on and then right before the lights go off.

    Also, get as much current through the 1000 reactor as you can, the more, the better, 400gph is decent.

    Make sure the water coming back to good also, well dispersed evenly throughout the tank!!!.

    That should get thing started well for you.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. SpongeBob SquarePlants

    SpongeBob SquarePlants Prolific Poster

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    Thanks for the informationa and quick response!


    I read the EI over a couple of times and here is what I plan to do after my 3 day black starting Wednesday:


    10 hours of light only
    --Lights on only from 11am - 9pm
    --CO2 on only from 10am-8:30pm

    50-70% weekly water change on Sundays.

    Dosing:
    1.5 tsp KN03 (Potassium Nitrate Dry from Greg Watson) 3x a week
    .5 tsp KH2P04 (Mono Potassium Phosphate Dry from Greg Watson) 3x a week
    .5 tsp Trace Elements (Seachem "Flourish") 3x a week

    Seems like too little additives for such a big tank?

    I have a large bottle of Seachem Potassium, but I see that the dry nitrate and phosphate has K+ in it, shall I dose additional K+ 3x a week as well?

    Same question goes for Iron, I have a Seachem bottle of Flourish Iron, should I use this? My substrate should have iron and so does the Flourish trace elements?

    I feel like I mising something else?

    As for measuring CO2, right now I have a KH dropper test kit and a Pinpoint pH controller and also pH dropper test kit. I am going to keep pumping enough CO2 into the tank to maintain a 6.4ish pH (6-8 bubbles/sec) until I can figure out a good way for me to caclulate my CO2 levels accurately. I am only going to run the CO2 1 hour before lights on and off before lights out. If need be I can lower the on/off pH setting on the controll to pump more CO2 into the tank etc.


    My current lighting is equal to 2 watts/gal I am thinking about increasing this to 3 or 4.

    Any further comments? I am going to record my progess and will post all results I get with pictures as soon as my blackout period has ended.

    Thanks!!
     
  4. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    There is no way to measure the CO2 in the water in a typical aquarium, except for the "drop checker" method. See: DIY Drop Checker - Page 2 - Aquatic Plant Central- aquascaping...a living art, and if you have the time, read that whole thread. This is the method Tom referred to in his answer.

    You have enough light at 2 watts per gallon, for now. Maybe after you get the tank going good, and figure out how to avoid algae outbreaks at that light level, you might want to raise it another half watt per gallon, just so you can do better with hard to grow, high light plants. But above that is just asking for problems.
     
  5. SpongeBob SquarePlants

    SpongeBob SquarePlants Prolific Poster

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    Gotcha :)

    Thanks for the link also, im reading it now.

    Lee
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    For traces: add 30mls SeaChem Flourish.
    Also, you do not indicate if you add GH booster etc or not nor what the GH is.

    You'll need to get a handle on that also.
    Adding 2 teaspoon after a water change will resolve anything there for GH.

    The rest is CO2, cleaning and maintenance.
    You may consider bombing with Excel in addition to cleaning, trimming, and blackout for 3 days+ 50% daily water changes.

    That will knock any species of algae way back.

    More light means more growth and more dosing and more mainteanace
    Careful what you wish for there.............

    There's nothing you cannot grow with 2/w a gallon of PC lighting.
    It just will grow a bit slower and ultimately be more manageable.

    High light tends to be for mid level/intermediate aquarist that do not listen or just figured more was better if they are a newbie, the pros and experts use less.

    If you do decide to upgrade, go with T5 lighting at about (assuming the tank is 48" L) 54w x 6.

    This is a lot of light, and if you space it over the entire top, not all bunched up, this will make the tank look nicers also, same with the 4x 65w, if you can angle them out away from eachother more that's best.

    Note, 4x 54 w is plenty of light for most applications for this tank size.

    But with the 6, you can stagger the lighting, do 2, 2, 2, one then 2, off, 2 off and all off for a 1- hour high noon effect with each light being on for 6 hours etc of some combo close thereof.

    Or you can do the 7 hours of the front 65x 2 and 7 hours of the rear 2X65w with a 4 hour overlap.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  7. SpongeBob SquarePlants

    SpongeBob SquarePlants Prolific Poster

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    Ah ok, I understand about the lighting, I always hear about other successful tanks in the 4 even 5 watts/gallon. I was under the assumption that my 2 watts was like minimal.

    The strip I have is one piece with 4 bulbs in it, it has 2 switches and 2 plugs so I will be able to run the lights on a staggered timer like you suggest. At the moment both plugs are on the same timer.

    So the dosing will go:
    1.5 tsp KN03 (Potassium Nitrate Dry from Greg Watson) 3x a week
    .5 tsp KH2P04 (Mono Potassium Phosphate Dry from Greg Watson) 3x a week
    30ml Trace Elements (Seachem "Flourish") 3x a week

    When you say bomb Seachem Excel are we talking more 30ml 3x a week or more?

    For GH, I do have a test kit but have used it only once. I'm so new to all this I've really only been doing KH tests. Also I just got done making a DIY CO2 measuring capsule with some materials I had laying around the house, so cost = free. I read the post about using distilled water and baking soda with pH drops to visually measure my CO2 levels. Here is a pic:
    [​IMG]
    This was my first attempt I am going to make a glass one next.

    I will get ahold of GH booster to have on hand.

    Thank you so much for all your help!
    Lee
     
  8. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Thats a neat looking "drop checker" you made! It should work just as well as a $20 glass one, just not look as sexy in the tank.
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Just use the 3 day blackout, no CO2, more surface movement, then do 50% water change each day of the blackout, followed by the traces and macros for the first day, then no ferts thereafter till the blackout is done.

    Add the full amount of Excel every day of the blackout.
    So 5 mls per 10 gal, so 13x 5 = 65mls 3 days in a row.

    That will beat the heck out of most any algae species.
    Clean, prune, trim, blackout, Excel.

    This will not hurt plants(Egeria, Lagarosiphon and Vals will) and will ghurt algae bad.

    after, bump CO2 up.on, reduce surface movement to moderate, do another water change and dose EI.

    You can get away with about 2/3 full EI there.
    Keep traces high though.
    For GH, if the GH is about 4-5 etc, you might just need a little MgSO4, Epsom salt, about 1/2 teaspoon 2-3x a week

    TMG is good stuff also, I prefer that for a trace.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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