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CO2, BBA, and Excell NEED HELP!

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by Tex Gal, Nov 15, 2007.

  1. Tex Gal

    Tex Gal Junior Poster

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    I am new to CO2 and fertilizing. I have 3 wpg of (6700K) light. My 125 g tank is heavily planted with stem plants and rhizome, bulb plants. This is not a new tank. It has been set up for over 3 years. For about 3 weeks I have been trying to adjust fertilizer dosages, light, & CO2. I began with no algae. Now I have BBA starting on my plants. I think trying to learn has caused this to happen.

    The info out there says to keep your Nitrates from 5ppm (Chucks Planted Aquarium page) to 10 ppm (Gregg Watson) 15ppm (Dusko Bojic) to 20ppm (Rex Grigg and others). These amount are the upper range suggested. What is right?

    I think I have my lights on too much 11 hrs. I will cut that back.

    I think I have my CO2 at 30 ppm (drop checker). It may be a little strong as the color is a light green. My pH is down to 6.5 to keep it there. GH (5.50) KH (4.48) I'm afraid to increase the CO2 because my pH will go lower. CAN I ADD FLOURISH EXCELL TO HELP KILL BBA along with CO2?

    I had my Fe at 1 according to the Hagen test kit, which I understand is not an accurate measure. I just had an episode last night where my Plecos were in dire distress. I lost one of them. Did a 50% water change and within 10 minutes they where noticeably improved, (fine this am). Thought maybe I had too much iron. I have not added back any Plantex CSM+B because of my Plecos and because I just put the Nitrates, Potassium and Phosphates back. (BTW had just been to the LFS and they had checked my water and said it was "perfect" PH 6.8, nitrates 20ppm, ect.)

    Current Levels:
    KH - 4.48
    NO3 - 10
    PH4 - 2
    NH3/NH4 - .01
    CA - 60
    pH 6.5
    NO2 - 0
    CO2 - weak green
     
  2. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    How do you get water circulation in the tank? With a canister filter outflow? With powerheads? or what? CO2 that measures out to 30 ppm at the glass at a certain height may not mean there is that much amoung all of the plant mass. We rely on good water circulation to all areas of the tank to get the CO2 delivered to all of the plants.

    You shouldn't be able to measure any ammonia in the water. Either the test isn't quite correct or you have a bigger than usual source of ammonia in the tank, such as a big dead snail.
     
  3. Tex Gal

    Tex Gal Junior Poster

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    I have plenty of filtration. I have 2 Rena XP3 canister filters. I have plant current action in my tank so I know the CO2 is getting mixed up.

    I did have a dead fish. I found my pleco dead and partly decayed when I did the water change, it was in all my plants hiding. I will check the ammonia level again and I guess I should change more water if I have any. I could have a bad reagent. The first test kit I got I had to exchange (that was why I was in the LFS earlier that evening).

    I read some old threads about CO2 and Excell so I have added Excell tonight in hopes that the BBA will die. I also think I should probably do the clorox thing with some of my plants. I don't know when I should add excell again. Do you?

    I really want to know about the CO2 being turned up with my pH already at 6.5 (I have a pH indicator hooked up to my solenoid, which was calibrated so I know the pH is correct.) BTW my drop checker is a vivid green tonight. Without raising my KH my pH will continue to go down. Of course I have also read that since I dose other solids that is also making my water harder so the GH is not a true measure, right?

    Any ideas, anybody?
     
  4. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    If the drop checker has 4 dKH distilled or DI water in it, you have from about 25 pm to about 40 ppm of CO2 in the water, so that should be enough. But, adding more, and having the pH drop below 6.5 is not a problem due to the pH, but the added CO2 could cause the fish some distress. GH is a measure of the ppm of calcium and magnesium in the water, and the test for that is usually accurate when expressed in degrees of hardness.

    When I allow my plants to grow and grow and grow until the tank gets really full of big healthy plants I get BBA, because the water can no longer circulate through all of that greenery, even though I use a powerhead too, just for water circulation. I have seen this happen several times now. It is disappointing because I really enjoy the look of a tank filled with healthy plants. That is why I wonder if you are seeing something similar.
     
  5. Tex Gal

    Tex Gal Junior Poster

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    Vaughn thanks so much for helping me. It's hard to catch on to this high tech system - there is so much to watch and understand!

    My drop checker is with the 4dKH. My plants are not that full. There is plenty of circulation. I have read the threads here about that and seen pxs of the tanks. I think maybe I just had the ferts out of balance.

    I checked the Ammonia again and it is 0. I wish I knew what was going on with my plecos. They were in such distress. I surely don't want to repeat that again. I ended up loosing a white spot and a queen arabesque. Not cheap! I had had them for about 2 years.

    I feel like I need a UV filter in case there is some weird pathogen in the tank that is affecting them. I had recently gotten some fish at a LFS of which every single one of them died (and no I didn't quarantine, shame on me). I have been looking at the Coral Life Turbo Twist and the Aquamedic Helix Max 36 Watt. I don't know which to get. Does anyone know which is better?
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    While is may seem overwhelming initially, it's not that hard later.
    Some prefer a lower tech hands off approach also, not too much to fret over with that method.

    CO2 is the main issue to worry over, nutrients and water changes, pruning are about the rest which are not hard as long as you do them.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  7. Tex Gal

    Tex Gal Junior Poster

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    Tom-

    I've had a low tech tank for decades so I'm ready to go hi tech. I want to grow some of those difficult plants I've always dreamed of having in my tank. I WILL learn this. I am highly motivated. I'm sure I will make mistakes in my learning curve. I appreciate all the advice and work you have done for others in the hobby. People like me depend upon all the knowledge you all have accumulated.

    I am going to use the EI method. Loved Greg Watson's dosing guide! His statement that we don't all have to be chemists took a lot of weight off my shoulders!

    One question for me still remains.... I dosed Flourish Excell yesterday to help with my BBA outbreak. When should I dose again? My CO2 is at green (drop checker).

    Also, if I may..... You state that GH should 17-40ppm but mine is 5.59. I thought I already had pretty hard water. You say to add GH booster at a water change. I thought the CSM+B was providing the trace minerals. Do I just need more Calcium and Magnesium which the GH booster provides?
     
  8. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    The instructions for dosing Excel are on the bottle. You dose a major dose at each water change, then dose about 1/4 of that dose every day or every other day. Seachem does not acknowledge that Excel does anything to algae, so you wont find anti-algae dosing instructions on the bottle. Some of us dose double what the bottle says, some dose 1 1/2 times what the bottle says, and Tom says to just do as the bottle says. The choice is yours. The bigger the dosage the more likely it will harm shrimp and certain plants like vals and anacharis.

    Your GH is either 5.6 ppm or 5.6 degrees of hardness. The former is low, the latter is normal. If you feel you need more magnesium or calcium, use GH Booster or Equilibrium per the bottle dosing instructions.
     
  9. Tex Gal

    Tex Gal Junior Poster

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    `

    Vaughn - my GH is 5.6 ppm. (WRONG: it was degrees of hardness) I guess should get some GH Booster, right? What do you recommend it should be?

    Fighting BBA:
    Well I have been using Excell and upped my CO2. I also dipped some of my slow growing plants in 20:1 water/bleach. I trimmed some of the tops of my Java and the BBA seems to be slowing down. Don't see any new spots. I read completely through a thread on APC about algae and excell. It was very interesting. I will continue doing excell for the next week and a half.

    IRON issues:
    I have been dosing EI for about a week now. Wondering if I should dose a little extra Flourish Iron on top of the CSM+B? I don't want to get too much. My red plants are getting some of their color back but are still not as red as they were when I got them. I don't see any other symptoms of iron deficiency like white veins, yellow plants, etc.

    CO2 issues:
    My 10 lb CO2 tank ran out! I thought it was supposed to last 6 months. I have had it for about a month. My tank is 125g. Does that seem right? I have been running it with a drop checker and a pH indicator. It turns my CO2 off when my pH reaches 6.7. I guess I really need 2 tanks so that I will always have one to switch off.

    PEARLING issues:
    I still don't see any of my plants pearling? What do I need to do to get them pearling? I have searched the threads to find out if this question was answered and I don't see any answer. Does anyone know?
     
  10. Sintei

    Sintei Lifetime Charter Member
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    If you have enough CO2 and nutrients, only thing left is biomass (plants) and/or lights.
     
  11. PeterGwee

    PeterGwee Lifetime Charter Member
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    I think Tom mentioned that pearling happens when the O2 production by plants exceeds the rate at which it is being dissolve which is why you see pearling on leaf surface. You don't need O2 saturation of the water column for that to happen.

    In that case, if you are very sure your CO2 is good, increasing light intensity will increase plant growth (more O2 as a by product of photosynthesis).

    Regards,
    Peter Gwee
     
  12. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I use Equilibrium to boost the GH, but I use only a little, and only when I find the tap water is no longer at a moderate GH level. Equilibrium isn't extremely cheap, but it is usually available at a LFS. For a big tank like you have, it is much more economical to just dose calcium sulphate or chloride, and magnesium sulfate. As I recall, the GH should be above 5 degrees, and yours is less than one degree, so you could just ignore the natural GH and dose enough to arrive at about 5 degrees. That way you know you have both calcium and magnesium in the water. You could start by dosing about one third as much magnesium sulfate as calcium sulfate or chloride. Neither calcium nor magnesium has to be available at some fixed amount, they both have to be available with about a quarter of the GH made up of magnesium. But, the plants wont be harmed if you overshoot in dosing by a factor of two or more.

    Iron is not what gives plants their red color, so you are likely to have enough just by dosing CSM+B. A bit more won't do any harm.

    After re-reading all of your posts in this thread, I really don't know why you don't get pearling. I'm guessing that there is something obvious involved, but the only thing I can think of is CO2 - perhaps it leaks before all of it gets to the tank, and perhaps the drop checker isn't being used right.
     
  13. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi,
    There is no way at 30ppm injection rates that a 10LB CO2 tank will last 6 months dosing a 125G. No Way (sorry:eek: ). Try a 40LB bottle. Also, I may have misinterpreted your post but it appears you are modulating the CO2 as a function of tank pH. Is that right? That might be one reason for your BBA which is associated with insufficient and/or fluctuating CO2.

    In general, it's probably not a good idea to use a pH controller because they tend to generate large swings in CO2 in order to meet the pH demand. In fact you really shouldn't care about what pH you shut the gas off at. You should only be concerned about what your level of dissolved CO2 is (30ppm) based on your drop checker, and whether this concentration level negatively affects the fish. It sounds like you have very expensive fish so you need to be careful about the injection rate. If the rate is steady they can adjust to it but if the rate bounces around it might be problematic.

    Because you have a large tank it's very difficult to get the CO2 right. I have a feeling that you may not have zoomed in on the right injection scheme if you are focused on tank pH. You need to turn on the gas an hour or so before lights on and leave it on until a few hours before lights off. I've got to give UKAPS a plug here so check this article on CO2 measurement: Welcome to the UK Aquatic Plant Society :: View topic - CO2 MEASUREMENT USING A DROP CHECKER

    If you are dosing EI in a 125 then I'm assuming you are adding 1.5 teaspoons or so of potassium nitrate and 1/2 teaspoon or so of potassium phosphate 3X per week plus 1/2 teaspoon or so of CSM+B 2X per week right? In a big tank with lots of plants and light you could easily double those numbers with high CO2.

    I know you said that you have done a lot of research etc, but the combination of BBA and lack of pearling is a pretty clear indication that there is a discrepancy in NPK and/or CO2.

    Adding Flourish Iron if you are already adding CSM would not really be productive. A week is not really enough time to see full recovery. 3 weeks is more likely.

    Cheers,
     
  14. Tex Gal

    Tex Gal Junior Poster

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    Vaughn - thanks for the advice about the GH. I just retested my GH and it is 5.7 percent. I just checked my test kit and used the % conversion, so I guess I don't need to do anything.

    ceg4048 - I think you may have hit my nail on the head. I need more CO2. I finally found 2 leaks and so I think that was my culprit about using my CO2 so fast. I was able to tighten things up and hopefully I have eliminated them. I am going to order another tank so I will have one on hand that is full to avoid spikes.

    While I have been using a pH meter to turn my solenoid on and off I have been watching my drop checker. I will keep my drop checker at a more lime green and see what happens. I will keep an eye on my fish. Thanks for the link - I will check it out.

    My plants do seem to be flourishing except my marimba balls. I dipped them in the 20:1 water/bleach solution and I guess you can't do that because they look bad. Silly me! I trimmed them and cut off 1/3 of the outside. They are green inside so I hope they will be ok. I still don't have much red in my red plants, but good growth. I am dosing the CSM+B faithfully. I want to make my changes slowly so that I don't over do and have real issues.

    My BBA has mostly disappeared except for spots on my anubias nana and another anubias type that I don't know it's name. The latter is actually growing more so I need to dip it and trim it. I am continuing to dose flourish excell and hope with that and more CO2 the BBA will be a thing of the past. I also tested my Nitrate and it was only 5ppm so I re-dosed. I'm sure that is contributing to my BBA issues.

    I am coming along with all this stuff. I know more today than I did yesterday. Like Tom Barr had told someone in a recent thread, "it's the newbees that have all these struggles....." The good news is that we aren't newbees forever!!

    Thank you so much for your help. I've posted a few pxs of my tank. It's a typical collectoritis tank. I want to see what I can grow best first. I have a theory that you are either a plant collector with a mass of plant varieties or a tank collector with the same amount of plants just in many tanks! My husband says I can't be a tank collector :(

    2057847723_fd7b9afc9f.jpg
    2057848279_678c1f3e56.jpg
    2058635162_8cc3c3e3c7.jpg
     
  15. Tex Gal

    Tex Gal Junior Poster

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    Just a quick update:

    BBA: I left for a trip for 5 days and turned my lighting back to 7 hours. I turned my C02 back also since I would not be here to watch my fish with the lower light/plant growth. I don't see any new BBA. The otos have eaten a lot of what was there. Of course I also wasn't here to add ferts.

    Plant Growth: I have had a lot of growth since I left. My aponogetons have almost doubled in leaf height with lots of new leaves as well. My stem plants, of course, have grown a lot and some need a trim. Wisteria doubled. Stargrass doubled. Still don't have a lot of red color in Luwigia repens - just at tops, but growing well. My marimba balls are starting to recover from their bleach dip. Echinodorus Kleiner bar getting big and beautiful dark reddish color. Marsilea has new branches. Vals sending new babies like crazy. Maybe it's just not seeing them every day OR - maybe things are starting to balance out.

    Pearling: Still none. I have 2 36" compac with 96 Watt, 6700K fluorescents in them That is 192 watts each = 394 Watts for 125 gal. Do I really need more light? Thinking about having two 4 hour photo periods so as to maximize light length and yet not stimulate any algae growth. What do you think?

    CO2: Got another tank so that I will have a spare and will not run out. I will turn it back up since I am home. Hopefully will get some pearling.
     
  16. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Lifetime Charter Member
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    !!!DANGER Will Robinson!!!! Adding more light will likely result in more BBA than more pearling. You need to be patient and to keep the eye on the prize. Good plants growth and good health are the objectives. The tank looks healthy and the mass will fill in. Getting hypnotized by bubbles is a less worthy objective although it may seem more thrilling. Breaking up the photoperiod wil only help algae so leave the lights alone - if anything you'd be better served lowering the wattage if anything. Try adding more CO2 instead....:cool:

    Cheers,
     
  17. Tex Gal

    Tex Gal Junior Poster

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    Hate to tell you, but I think you showed your age with that one! There are actually people walking around today that wouldn't have a clue as to who good 'ole Will is! :D

    In the reading I've done it was suggested to do this - that the plants can handle it but the algae can't. Part of the same reasoning, I thought, Tom Bar had given for the 3 day blackout.

    I certainly won't sacrifice plant health for pearling so I will stay my course for the time being. I have my CO2 at lime green now so I know I have enough of that. I had a faulty CO2 needle valve and have gotten that replaced. I think that and just beginning to use EI caused my BBA problem originally. Things do seem to be settling down some.

    On another note: Got another piece of Manzinita driftwood today. It is so cool. I'm working on finding hardscape pieces so that I can take out that one last fake one I had gotten from Petsmart. It's about 18" wide! My plecos are gonna love it!!!

    2089504953_a58095c30a.png
     
  18. FacePlanted

    FacePlanted Guru Class Expert

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    You know, my tank has been up for about 4 months and I've never really seen heavy pearling until my intake tubing had an air leak. A small stream of bubbles was sucked into the pump and mixed into the water. This had to cause higher o2 levels in my tank water and that afternoon all my plants were pearling like mad. I know my co2 is high and my flow/circulation is too, even the surface movement was decent (I thought) but I never saw pearling. And often my shrimp had problems in the early morning - they were all gathered at the top. But when I added an airstone (or recently additional air with a mazzei) I had extreme pearling on all my plants. I have always had great growth and no algae, I use EI and a drop checker, but never saw pearling until I supplemented areation/oxygenation. Maybe this is cheating and I'm not doing something right, it just seemed that my o2 levels were not high enough. The pearling only occured when I oxygenated, and didn't occur on days that I didn't. I know that pearling shows only when o2 is produced faster than the water around it can absorb it, but this was the only thing I changed on these days and the correlation was obvious. It showed up with the airleak in the tubing, when I used an airstone, and when I added air with my mazzei.
    ????
    I dunno why it doesnt occur without it, but this is my observation on my tank and with my setup.
    ???Any other thoughts? Am I doing something wrong/missing something?

    -Mike B-
     
  19. Tex Gal

    Tex Gal Junior Poster

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    How interesting is that! It sure seems counter-intuitive! Supplemental O2 is supposed to drive CO2 out of the water. It's not that the added air bubbles are just being trapped by your leaves, is it? ;)
     
  20. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Haha, you busted me Tex Gal:p I thought I would just pretend that I saw ole Will on Nikelodeon re-runs...

    One analogy that helps me to keep perspective on the plant vs algae response is that of a comparison between a small simple car like a Fiesta versus an exotic car like a Ferrari. The Fiesta is easy to get up and running so responds quickly. The Ferrari is a very complicated machine. Lots of processes going on lot's of parts moving about and very high maintenance. Once it's up and running it can beat the pants off the little Fiesta, but for quick trips, short distances and small spaces the Fiesta wins. Algae is the Fiesta. They easily and quickly respond to changes in the environment so that when you turn the light on they are quick off the mark and can start feeding immediately. Plants, due to their much greater complexity take much longer to spool up. It takes them a while to get going. If you then turn the light off after 4 hours they spool down. Then you turn the light on again a short time later and they have to slowly spool up again. The Fiesta is quick to get out of "Park" and back on the road. When the light goes on they're up and running. If the light goes off for a little bit no problem. When the light goes on again they are back up and running in no time flat.

    I figure that the 3 day blackout works to the plants advantage because it's much more long term. The complexity of the plant means that they have more reserves and backup systems to ride out the long blackout. Algae don't have the reserves so extended loss of light causes them to shut down and head for long term parking until the good times return. Same story with CO2. If there is a change in CO2 concentration the plants try to reconfigure their body chemistry to adapt to the change. That may take a week or more, During this time they are inefficient and they suffer. Algae adapt to the CO2 change immediately, again because of their simple construction.

    If we want the plants to outperform the algae environmental stability is a key. That means by lights on you should have maximum CO2 so the plants don't have to chug and lug waiting for the CO2 level they are accustomed to. That's a reason we're instructed to turn the CO2 on an hour or more before lights on.

    Mike brings up an interesting point about oxygenated water being more likely to have pearling. I'm not really sure but it sounds reasonable. My preference though would be to enforce pearling by producing more oxygen so I reckon more plant mass, more (stable) CO2 and more dosing are the most influential factors. You just have to make very minor adjustments to the needle valve in order to avoid gassing the fish.:)

    Is that just the photograph or is that piece of wood the size of your door??? It looks huge:eek:

    Cheers,
     
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