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Intro + questions

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by Chiya, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. Chiya

    Chiya Prolific Poster

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    Hi All,

    I'm very new to planted tanks. I've been reading through most of the threads and I can say this is the best forum I've been to. All posts are valid and to the point. Everyone is so sincere about helping one another. It's a pity that I found this site so late.

    Anyway, hopefully my questions have not been asked before. But in the event that they have been, please be patient with me as I'm still learning. Also, I'm from Singapore so if there's any term that's used wrongly, please correct me :)

    Tank specifications :
    36" x 18" x 18"
    Currently approx 3/4 filled, containing 30 gallons or 115 litres of water.

    Water specifications :
    Water temp - 24 degrees Celcius
    KH - 2 degrees
    GH - 1 degree
    pH - 6.5
    No3 - 12.5 ppm
    Po4 - 0.1 ppm
    CO2 - 25-30ppm

    Lighting :
    T5 - 2 x 39W from 8.15am to 6.45pm (10.5hrs)
    Can be increased to 4 x 39W if required.

    Inhabitants :
    4 otocinclus
    approx 40 crystal red shrimps
    7 bumblebee horned snails

    Fertilizers :
    Flourish Iron
    Seachem Phosphorus
    Seachem Nitrogen
    Flourish Potassium
    Flourish Trace

    Been looking through the EI and I've tried it. I know I've got it all wrong on the first try as I've been hit by BBA / Green spot algae. My first mistake was adding all the ferts on the first day with 4 x 39W T5 shining into the tank. I came home to a large patch of BBA :(
    Re-reading the EI thread, I realised ferts should be added based on tank requirement divided by no of doses per week. I've tried that too and still I see new patches of algae growing daily.

    1. Noticed that dry ferts are used in EI. Is there a difference if I'm using liquid ferts? I'm unable to obtain dry ferts from the LFS.

    I did some calculations on my own based on EI's target nutrients.
    Potassium - 20ppm
    Iron - 0.3ppm
    No3 - 20ppm
    Phospate - 1.0ppm

    My dosing per week as follows :
    28.4ml of Flourish Potassium
    9ml of Flourish Iron
    15ml of Seachem Nitrogen
    14.4ml of Seachem Phosphorus

    Thread algae / green spot algae are still found daily after weeks of manual removal. BBA was diligently removed upon sight :D

    2. Is my dosing regime correct? :confused: I strongly believe (influenced by Tom's multiple reminders in multiple threads) algae is caused by problems in CO2 or lighting.
    Drop checker shows light green in the morning and dark green at night (when CO2 is switched off).

    Attached is a picture of my tank, all comments are welcome. It looks clean as I've just done a major clean up / replanting before the photo.

    Thanks for bearing with me and reading through the long post. Please let me know if I've missed out anything.

    Thanks once again and cheers to happy plants ~~

    Regards,
    Ryan

    P.S. : I've halted my dosing regime after the major cleanup in case I'm doing something wrong.
    P.P.S : Anyone able to identify the plants with red leaves? My LFS calls it the red leafed plant.
     
  2. Mooner

    Mooner Lifetime Charter Member
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    Your plant biomass is to light. Add 4x-5x more plants. Also, the DC should turn green and stay that way as the day goes on, you didn't mention how you are dissolving the CO2? Pay attention to circulation in the tank as things grow in.

    As far as your fertilizers are concerned, many here deal with the dry bulk fertilizers. I believe over at The Planted Tank - Articles, Forums, Pictures, Links someone has worked out the flourish to dry ferts conversion. Might try a search there or someone here may chime in.

    So get more plants, do weekly WC's and definitely get a fertilizer routine in place. EI will work and has been proved many times over, so don't give up:)

    Good Luck
     
  3. Chiya

    Chiya Prolific Poster

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    Co2

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the encouragement and pointing me in the right direction. I managed to find a flourish to dry ferts convertor.

    Additional information

    CO2 :
    Via a ceramic diffusor at 2-3bps.
    I'm using a solenoid one, timed to switch on 10mins before lights on and switch off 10mins after lights off.
    I was told that big differences in CO2 content during lights on will induce some sort of algae??

    Noted the suggestion about increasing plant biomass. Based on my fauna/water specs, which plants can be included to complement the tank?My tank has crystal red shrimps so plants needing water >25 degrees Celcius will most prob perish in the tank.

    Also, increasing plant biomass in terms of stem plants? or foreground plants? I've uprooted half a tank full of glosso and hairgrass recently. Might plant back the glosso if necessary.

    Lastly, is EI based on a full planted tank?Like 4-5x my plant biomass? As it's recommended that I start dosing (in case my plants starve while I'm getting more advice :eek:), how do I reduce my standard EI dose? 1/2? 1/3?

    So many questions, so little time..

    Thanks in advance for the advice !!

    Regards,
    Ryan
     
  4. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    EI is an estimate of how much of each fertilizer will ensure there are no shortages of any of them for any planted tank. So, a tank with half the mass of plants of another tank would only need half the dosages of fertilizers of that tank. Considering that all of this is estimates, I suggest you just dose half of the EI amounts and see if the plants grow well that way. If they don't you can always increase the dosages.

    It doesn't matter if your plant mass is made up of carpet plants or big stem plants. It is the total change in mass of the plants per week that determines how much of the fertilizers those plants will use. Of course a 18 inch tall plant has more mass than a 1 inch tall plant has, so a tank with the substrate covered with 1 inch tall plants will have a lot less plant mass than one covered with 18 inch tall plants.

    EI works so well for two reasons: first Tom determined that overdoses of fertilizers don't cause algae, harm the plants or harm the fish, unless those overdoses are way more than twice what EI provides. Second, replacing half of the water once a week limits the buildup of fertilizers in the water to twice what is dosed per week, way less than harmful buildups. For me, this takes all of the fear of dumping chemicals in the water out of fertilizing.
     
  5. Mooner

    Mooner Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi Ryan,

    Sorry about the late reply, my ISP is down due to a lightning storm. Vaughn gives a good explanation of biomass and reducing fertilizers. Concerning your CO2, try starting one hour before lights on and off about an hour before lights off. Also search here on this forum for CO2 reactors. I don't believe your CD will keep up when plants start growing. These reactors are easy DIY and do a good job of dissolving CO2.

    Differences can cause issues, steady is best. Look into the above mention CO2 reactors.

    What you have is fine, just add more of the same, your choice really.

    I beleive you are using ml's to dose from the converter you found, simply divide those by 1/2 or 1/3 or .... I find fewer issues by increasing the bio load though. As stated, the extra fertilizers are less harmful than not enough. Really concentrate on your CO2 and circulation while providing nutrients.
     
  6. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I just noticed that you have a 50 gallon tank, with about 30 gallons of water in it. Why not fill the tank with water? It doesn't affect anything except perhaps the amount of fertilizers you dose. Based on a 50 gallon tank you have the equivalent of about 2 watts per gallon with only two of the T5 bulbs, assuming you have an individual reflector for each bulb. Reducing the amount of water doesn't increase the watts per gallon, because the lights are then further from the water and substrate, and more light is lost through the glass sides of the tank. That should be enough light for almost all plants you would want to grow.

    You say you have 25 to 30 ppm of CO2. It isn't possible to know the ppm of CO2 with that accuracy without buying a very, very expensive piece of test equipment. If you use the drop checker with 4 dKH distilled or deionized water in it, you can say with reasonable certainty that you have 25 to 40 ppm of CO2 in the water, but that is as accurate as you can get. If you are using tank water or tap water in the drop checker you can't tell how much CO2 is in the water.

    The speed at which BBA appeared suggests that you are very low on CO2. But, with so little mass of plants that might have happened anyway.
     
  7. Chiya

    Chiya Prolific Poster

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    Chiya

    Thanks to Hoppy and Chris for your valuable input.

    Is EI is based on high plant biomass or average? Since my inexperienced perception of biomass will differ from experienced guys around here, is there an easier way that we are able to reference to? For example, 50% of tank space is considered low/average? :confused:
    Tom's 180G seems to be an example for high plant biomass??

    Forgive me if I understood wrongly, tall plants will take in more nutrients and hence 'stabilise' the tank more readily than short plants do (in terms of dealing with excess nutrients) but will also make it trickier as it's easier to under-dose.

    Will pop over to my LFS to see if they can recommend any nice stem plants. Realised that tall plants can provide shade for my shrimps from the light.

    Hoppy, thanks for going over EI's benefits again, sometimes I need someone to knock information into my 'thick' head =)

    CO2 is sent into my tank via a ceramic diffuser connected to 2kg CO2 tank. (with solenoid). I'm able to adjust the bps. Believed that some algae issues actually started as I was playing with the valve too much. :eek: As stated/proven, varying levels of CO2 within the tank will start algae off.
    Will change timing to +/-1 hr lights on/off.

    For circulation, I have 2 canister filters.
    Eheim 2224 (135gph) and Eheim 2028 (272gph)
    The rainbars are on each side of the tank blowing towards each other. Despite the 'over' filtration, my plants are not swaying. Hence I've added a 50gph power head to the right side of the tank. Manage to see a little sway to my plants.
    Maybe it's the position of the rainbars, will need to move them around some more. Any suggestions?

    I was under the impression that light reduces in intensity near the bottom of the tank. I thought that if I filled the tank to 50gallons, my glosso will not get enough light. Reading Hoppy's post today cleared my doubts, I will top it up =) Do I need to increase my lighting then?
    I have 4 x 39W, but they are connected in pairs. So, I'm only able to have 78W or 156W at any time. Will explore the possibility of buying separate bulbs if required.

    Lastly, I guess-timated my ppm for CO2. I bought 2 'drop checkers' and 1 of them read 20-40ppm range (light green). The other displayed
     
  8. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    The loss of light as you get deep into the water in an aquarium is trivial compared to the loss just from being farther from the light bulb. The first time you see a PAR meter reading the actual light intensity in the water at various places will cause your mouth to drop open! Our eyes really play tricks on us. I look at my tank and I can see virtually no difference in light intensity at the surface vs at the bottom, but the PAR meter shows a huge drop off in intensity. If the light is 2 inches above the water surface and the substrate is 22 inches from the light, the light intensity can drop to as low as .0025 of what it is at the surface! It won't drop that much unless the light is a very small, very bright near point source, but the actual drop isn't a whole lot less than that. This is why when a stem plant grows upwards, the rate of growth really accelerates as it gets near the surface. It is also why you can't rate light fixtures using PAR values - they depend totally on how far you are from the bulb.

    By contrast 20 inches of water will barely reduce the light intensity by absorption of the light.
     
  9. Chiya

    Chiya Prolific Poster

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    Quick update,

    Listened to Hoppy's advice to top up tank. Took a measurement of the internal dimensions, seems like I can only top up to approx 48G max.

    Added more plants into the tank. Will post up pictures as soon as I can get a camera.

    Current around the tank seems weak. How do we run a current through the length of the tank without shaking the 1st plant too much?
    Tried shifting my rainbars all over the tank but no avail.

    Are there strategic positions for rainbars/powerheads? Aim it at the sides?

    Regards,
    Ryan
     
  10. Mooner

    Mooner Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi Ryan,
    My @&#^$%@) ISP and me are going around and around :mad: No other options where I live. Hopefully back for good :)

    With 2 filters running wide open on 48G tanks and no current seems odd?? I run one 2217 on a 30G and plants move a lot. Check for obstructions and/or clean filters good. Aim the spry bars opposite each other(one high, one low) to create a circular current. Keep plants trimmed out of flow paths.
     
  11. Chiya

    Chiya Prolific Poster

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    updates

    Hi all,

    Took me a little time to borrow a camera from a nice colleague.

    Updates
    Aimed both spray bars opposite each other as shown.
    Eheim 2028 (272gph) spraybar is the one at the back, aimed at the front so it moves the surface enough to prevent surface slime.
    Eheim 2224 (135gph) spraybar's at the front pointing downwards.

    On the right is a small powerhead, 50gph aiming left. This is set with the lights.
    When the lights come on, the 50gph powerhead switches on.

    Hopefully my plant biomass is suitable for full dose of EI.
    Please let me know if I'm not. :) I totally agree with the idea of high plant biomass. I have a small 15G grow out tank for plants.

    Please comment on how I can better arrange my plants. I'm not known for being artistic/creative :eek:

    Anyway, I saw BGA in my tank. A small spot, about 0.5cm in diameter.
    CO2? Water circulation not good enough?

    Am I doing something wrong?

    Regards,
    Ryan

    updated.jpg
     
  12. Mooner

    Mooner Lifetime Charter Member
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    The biomass is getting better and the flow should be really going now. Manually pick out any BGA and keep up on your ferts/WC's. If you look back at the beginning of this thread, you wrote that the DC color dropped of later in the day. This can be a diffusion issue (ie. the ability of your diffuser to keep up as plants use CO2) I still think you should address your method of dissolving CO2. Many great methods here to try. If parameters are right, you should see growth soon.
     
  13. Chiya

    Chiya Prolific Poster

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    I've shifted the rain bars once again.

    Updates
    Both spray bars still opposite each other.
    Eheim 2028 (272gph) spraybar is at the front pointing 45 degrees towards the back.
    Eheim 2224 (135gph) spraybar's at the back pointing up moving the water surface.

    I've placed the diffusor at the back of the tank and a 50gph powerhead pointed left.

    I'm see better plant movement in the tank. Believe water is better circulated now.

    Currently dosing EI, dosing plan as follows for comments/advise.

    Day 1
    5ml x Flourish Iron
    4.2ml x Flourish
    3.1ml x Flourish Phosphorus
    3.1ml x Flourish Nitrogen

    Day 2
    5ml x Flourish Iron

    Day 3
    5ml x Flourish Iron
    8.3ml x Flourish Potassium

    Day 4
    5ml x Flourish Iron
    3.1ml x Flourish Phosphorus
    3.1ml x Flourish Nitrogen

    Day 5
    5ml x Flourish Iron
    8.3ml x Flourish Potassium

    Day 6
    5ml x Flourish Iron
    4.2ml x Flourish

    Day 7
    50% water change
    Adjust KH/GH/pH

    The online calculator recommends the following parameters. So before I whip out my calculator and my chemistry text book, I'm assuming the dosing regime sets me the following parameters too.

    pH : 6.0 - 7.0
    KH : 3 - 6 degrees
    GH : 2 - 8 degrees
    NO3: 5 - 30 ppm
    PO4: 0.2 - 2.0 ppm
    Fe : 0.2 - 0.7 ppm
    K : 10 - 30 ppm

    Noticed that on day 1 and day 4, Fe and PO4 are dosed on the same day.
    I've read on other threads that Fe and PO4 creates an insoluble precipitate but it's only seen in dry ferts. Is it the same for liquid ferts?

    Thanks to Chris and Hoppy for following up with me since post 1.
    I've gotten rid of BBA and have managed to slow BGA down. Believe the BGA will wear itself out soon.

    Regards,

    Ryan
     
  14. Mooner

    Mooner Lifetime Charter Member
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    Glad to hear progress is being made:)

    It is common practice to dose P and FE on opposite days.

    Take your weekly total ml's for Macs and divide by three, dose Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday.

    Likewise for Mics (trace) for Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

    Saturday nothing, Sunday WC and start again.

    Day 7 you say adjust PH? Wouldn't bother, buffers are not needed, Plant and fish will adjust to your water. GH additions on WC day only are fine.
     
  15. Chiya

    Chiya Prolific Poster

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    Update

    Hi All,

    Just an update.

    Doubled EI dosing. It seems dosing extra is better than dosing too little.

    Day 1
    10ml x Flourish Phosphorus
    10ml x Flourish Nitrogen
    8.3ml x Flourish Potassium

    Day 2
    5ml x Flourish Iron
    4ml x Flourish

    Day 3
    10ml x Flourish Phosphorus
    10ml x Flourish Nitrogen
    8.3ml x Flourish Potassium

    Day 4
    5ml x Flourish Iron
    4ml x Flourish

    Day 5
    10ml x Flourish Phosphorus
    10ml x Flourish Nitrogen
    8.3ml x Flourish Potassium

    Day 6
    5ml x Flourish Iron
    4ml x Flourish

    Day 7
    50% water change
    Adjust KH/GH

    CO2 is increased till drop checkers display a light green (near to yellow).
    Outlets/powerheads placed so all plants sway with the current.

    Plants are growing extremely well. The fast growers are sprouting new leaves almost daily. (my shrimps are reproducing very quickly too. Good sign that there's not too much chemicals left in the water)

    I've uprooted my glosso and replanted with HC.
    Once HC is able to attached to the substrate, I might remove some plants to make space for HC to grow.

    So, some questions for the planters here =)

    1. Assuming we want a change in landscape(with livestock in the tank), is the uprooting done completely? With the replanting done immediately?
    I know the tank is going to cloud up bad and a huge water change has to be done.

    2. Do we let the substrate rest for a couple of days?

    3. Do we continue with dosing after re-planting? Do we dose more or do we dose lesser?

    4. Lighting? Higher than normal to 'force' the plant to grow? Or lower than normal for the plant to slowly acclimatize?

    I'd like to convert to a monster tank one day so these questions will help me plan.

    Thanks in advance

    Regards,
    Ryan
     
  16. Mooner

    Mooner Lifetime Charter Member
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