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Debris, algae, lights...oh my

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by jcran17, Oct 9, 2009.

  1. jcran17

    jcran17 Junior Poster

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    This is my first post, so please bear with me. I have been in the hobby for a little while now and have mostly dabbled in freshwater planted community tanks. Never really having one that excelled, I have decided to try and take better approach with this one. My current set-up is a 29 gallon, with an aquaclear 300 HOB filter (two sponges and some activated charcoal), Barr’s venturi C02 diffuser running from a DIY yeast bottle. I am dosing PPS pro and have two 6500K 55w pc bulbs in a hood I built that run 7 hours/day. At all water changes I use aqua plus water conditioner and have a glass top under my hood to keep in jumpers.

    Fish: Plants:
    9 neon tetras Melon sword
    7 danio choprai (glowlight) Rotala Indica
    6 danio rerio (zebra) Dwarf tiger lotus
    1 male dwarf gourami Anubias nana
    1 pair Kribensis Ludwigia repens
    1 true SAE Vallisneria sp.
    3 otocinclus Crinum calamistratum

    My questions are:

    1. I have a tremendous amount of brown debris throughout my gravel and on my plants. It is so bad that when my my otos are digging around the bottom or on the plants it kicks up and litters the tank. What is causing this? How can I fix it? Even after a repeated vacuuming (the removed water is always brown) it is back within days.

    2. I have a terrible case of Cladophora that I cannot get a hold of, has anyone tried something that works to clear this besides hoping and wishing? I even tried removing the top layer of gravel (sacrificing all my HC), but it was back within a couple weeks.

    3. My wife thinks the tank looks a bit yellow. In an attempt to keep the misses happy, I was thinking about trying one 50/50 bulb and the other 6500K to give a little white/blue light. Will this overly affect my plants i.e. am I losing useable WPG?

    4. Anything I am doing that just doesnt make sense to the professionals out there?

    Thank you all very much for any help you can provide. -Jared
     
  2. nipat

    nipat Guru Class Expert

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    I think one of the cause(s?) is underpowered filter. HOB seems not so good at
    circulating water for big tank (29g is not small for me), even with high flow rate.
    The angle of outflow is generally too steep.
     
  3. jcran17

    jcran17 Junior Poster

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    The aquaclear 300 HOB is rated for 30 to 70 gallon tanks with a max 300 GPH. Would you reccomend I go to a canister filter or just add a power head to help flow?
     
  4. nipat

    nipat Guru Class Expert

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    Most if not all filter manufacturers' claims about filtering capacity are too optimistic.
    Even Eheim that many regard as quite honest about real output of their filter,
    they claim 2213 can handle up to 66g but it's underpowered even for a 29g tank
    (debris problem). Aquatic Eden: Eheim 2213 Review - Freshwater Planted Aquarium Blog

    I'm using a 2217 with 20g tank. From observation, I think the review above is right.
    The smallest filter for a 20-29g tank, especially planted tank, would be 2215 or
    equivalent.

    I think your problem is not about flow rate. The AquaClear 300 flow rate is about 1000 lph.
    But circulation around the tank is the issue here. Too steep angle of outflow doesn't
    flow water far. So it can't blow debris in other areas back to the intake (which is placed
    near the outflow). And you need better mechanical filtration. So I think a canister filter
    is the way.
     
  5. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    Welcome!

    I would advise losing one of your two bulbs...That is WAY too much light for a 29 gal tank with DIY C02.

    I will post more later as I am running late........

    Light is what drives growth and nutrient demand. The less light the less demand and it is easier to supply a lesser demand of c02 and other nutrients.

    I third the motion to go to a canister filter...........
     
  6. jcran17

    jcran17 Junior Poster

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    Thanks Gerryd...I hadn't considered taking away a bulb. Maybe I could go full actinic with one to make my wife happier. I look forward to your comments to follow.

    Also, any thoughts a quality canister that isn't going to break the bank?
     
  7. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    As stated before, drop the lights and find a canister. I would recommend the Rena XP's in terms of best quality for the price. You can pick up an XP1 for $100-$140.

    Someone I was talking to with good experience mentioned Jebo's being dirt cheap but having valve issues; $12 to fix. You'd probably end up paying $60 plus the fix for one, though they don't last so long as XP's when it comes to impeller life.


    Yum, mulm. What's your substrate look like? How much plant matter is shedding off right now? How much do you feed? The new filter should help.

    Balanced nutrient:light:co2 ratios for a start. Excel might kill it off with spot treating.

    Since you're doing the bulb reduction thing, 6500k would be best. 50/50 Actinic will turn your tank very, very blue. Don't do pure actinic; it's uniquely lacking in spectrum, which is something that usually isn't a big deal with other bulbs.

    Good luck with your tank.

    -Philosophos
     
  8. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Hi jcran17, I also think that your lighting is way too much for that tank that cause the algae issues. High light requires high CO2 and nutrients too. Providing the three into balance is not easy. I also have experienced the same issue with you before. Give up the light a bit, increase CO2 (mine is pressurized system) and correct the dosing regime seem to work best. Good luck.
     
  9. jcran17

    jcran17 Junior Poster

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    Would XP1 be OK or should I go with the XP2?


    I am using standard natural colored gravel mixed with eco complete. It does have a slight greenish algae tinge to it at times but looks OK now (except for the absurd amount of mulm, that is)

    Not much plant matter is shedding at present as the initial "shock" of planting has long worn off and all is relatively well from a plant perspective.

    I feed once a day with enough food so it is all gone within 2 min or so and I am dosing 2.9ml of PPS pro and CSM+B an hour or so before the lights come on


    If I wanted to add a little white/blue, would one 50/50 bulb and one 6500k result in a bulb reduction in "usable spectrum" or are the WPG calculation still the same?
     
  10. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    Filtration: I would go as advised with the Xp series. Up to you which one, but you can never really overfilter (IMO). If the difference in price for the bigger model is negligible, I would opt for the larger unit.

    Mulm: If you are not overfeeding and vacuum regularly, small fish, not much plant debris, then where is it coming from? Are you sure it is not brown diatoms?

    If it is indeed detritus, than a bigger filter will help a lot.

    Just so you know what happened to your tank:

    1. Too much light
    2. Too little c02 and macro/micro nutrients
    3. Plants do poorly and release nh4 which triggers algae.
    4. See #1 which multiplies the algae much faster than the plants.
    5. Repeat.

    Light:

    1. First toss off any WPG numbers. They are useless in terms of the amount of fixtures/bulbs/etc that exist. PAR is the most useful measure, but needs a PAR meter to get these values :)
    2. The color of the light is not as important to the plants as we think. I would toss the actinics personally, but that is up to you.
    3. The same is true for the K rating. 6500, 8k, 10k, etc all grow plants well and is up to the owner.

    Reducing the light the tanks receive will reduce the rate at which the plants WANT to grow. However, to fuel that growth rate they need a lot of carbon and other nutrients or they will be starved or limited at best.

    Do what you can to have the light spread as best as possible over the tank so the tank gets a nice even spread of light, as much as is possible.

    C02:

    C02 is very difficult to get stable and sufficient with DIY c02 and reducing the light will help. It is the one component that folks spend the most energy on.

    Do you run the c02 24/7? How is it setup?

    Nutrients: Since your substrate is inert and contains no nutrients, you should dose the water column instead. Here is a nice read on the EI dosing strategy.

    Take a look and see what you think.

    http://www.barrreport.com/estimative-index/2819-ei-light-those-less-techy-folks.html

    Hope some of this helps.
     
  11. jcran17

    jcran17 Junior Poster

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  12. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    I use an xp1 with a 28 bowfront and it works well enough. Perhaps consider tossing in a powerhead to get two directions of current, and needle wheel mod it so that it adds CO2. I've found this the best method for good current/CO2 distribution in the planted tank.

    The 50/50's are actinic/10,000K from what I've seen and their sprectrum is acceptable for plant growth. If there are losses, I wouldn't worry about it since you'll still have a bit more light than you may want for your CO2 levels.

    It's the 100% actinics that likely won't grow well, as they tend to lack on the 630-690nm side of things which is where you'll find some clorophyll A and B stimulation. I wouldn't advise heading that way unless you feel like performing growth form experiments .

    I wouldn't run two 55w CF's; do one and DIY with excel.

    -Philosophos
     
  13. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Filter flow rates are almost universally done WITHOUT media in the filter. For most canisters you can safely assume half the flow rate with media for NEW unclogged media. The latest Eheim Pro III models seem to be good for ~70% flow with media and cost a small fortune but seem as though they'd be really easy to service.

    You can find the "classic" series Eheims for a relatively decent amount at roughly 1/2 the cost of the newer ones and I beleive the powerhead can be swapped out on them to up the flow if needed.

    The XP series has some issues but for the cost they're a pretty decent deal. Local Petco stores also stock them so availability is reasonably good.

    Whatever you go with, I'd shoot for a 10+ tank turnover per hour and probably lose the HOB and at least one of the lights. If you have the option on the cannister, go for the next model up and throttle it down if the flow is too much or split the output for better circulation or use one leg for the CO2 reactor instead. The larger media capacity of the larger cannister is also a plus and will help clear up and suspended particles and generally make maintenance more productive. Consider a prefilter sponge on the cannister intake to prolong the maintenance cycle and reduce stuff decaying in the filter.

    I don't know if you said how old your substrate is, but you may want to get in there with a Python or similar and just give it a good cleaning anyway. I'm not sure how EC breaks down over time into smaller particles. I've no real experience with it.

    Hope some of that helps.

    -
    S

     
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