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Newbee looking for some tips from the pros

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by Dave2010, Apr 16, 2010.

  1. Dave2010

    Dave2010 Junior Poster

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    My first post here, although I've been a regular for some time now, I feel I have finally absorbed enough information to see what you guys think about my current setup. I've grown plants slowly in my old 29 gallon tank for some time, but never had any great success in that tank. It was not fertilized, had no CO2, and also had low light, so that was to be expected.

    I have a 24" up and down x 16" front to back x 48" long 79 gallon tank.
    I dose with Potassium Nitrate, Mono Potassium Phosphate, and Iron. I target the values of 20 - 30 ppm, 1.5 ppm, and 3.0ppm respectively.
    The substrate is just plain gravel.
    Lighting is 4 x 40 watt T12 6500K bulbs.
    CO2 is kept between 20 - 25 ppm with a pressurized tank setup and a power head / homemade diffuser while I wait for the actual one to arrive.
    I use 2 Aquaclear 300 (70) for filtration.
    PH sits at 6.9 - 7.0
    Fish load is currently light for the tank size.
    Currently dosing 2 times a week without doing water changes as test kits (sorry Mr.Tom Barr) have showed the values of whatever I add just go to zero in about 4-5 days.

    This tank is about 90 days old, it's completely set up now, as of this week. Looking for weedy plant growth. Am I missing anything, or any tips the pros would like to share?
     
  2. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    You may find you only need 2 or 3 of the bulbs......I had a 90 gal with similar dimensions and used only 2 x 30 t12 and had nice growth....

    How are you determining 20-25 ppm of c02? Do you use a drop checker at all?

    Why not dose via the EI method? Why only dose 2x per week? Why no water changes? You may want to add a trace mix to your dosing regimen as well...

    What type of plants do you have and what type do you want to have? Stems, rosettes, etc...Stems tend to grow faster and require more pruning.......

    What type of test kits are you using? Are they calibrated to a known solution? Many hobbyist kits are neither accurate nor calibrated....Be careful what you think they are telling you....

    Many folks like myself use plain gravel or flourite so no issues there. A fertilized substrate provide nutrients if water column dosing is neglected....

    How is the growth now?

    Can you elaborate on your current and future c02 setup? Any extra powerheads for flow?
     
    #2 Gerryd, Apr 16, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2010
  3. Dave2010

    Dave2010 Junior Poster

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    I'll try to answer all of your questions in order.

    I use my KH value and PH to determine my CO2 levels. I currently do not have a drop checker.

    I currently don't do any water changes because my nutrient levels are always low. I thought the purpose of water changes was to remove excess Nitrogen from the water, this have never been the case here. Trace mix, I knew there was something I was missing.

    I have some stem plant and a broad leaf plant that grows on top of the ground. I am not sure of either of these what they are called. The other plants I have are a cardinal plant, wisteria, jungle vallisneria, melon, bronze wendth, dwarf water onion, giant micro sword, a creeping moss, and a crispus.

    My test kits are all Nutrafin test kits by Hagen. I have no idea how to calibrate them or I would.

    Some of the plants are fairly new, but i'll give you the growth on what I know. The creeping moss grows slowly, but I can see new growth all the time. The bronze wendth had a melt when I initially added to the tank, it now grows really slow. The crispus was in terrible shape when I got it, I planted the root plug and cut everything off. Thinking, if it makes it it makes it. I has about 30 nice healthy leaves and grows about one a week. The melon grows a new leaf every week or so. I can prune whatever I don't like from this plant and it's not a problem. The giant micro sword started to grow initially but after my fish pick at it, (silver dollar and anglefish) it has now stopped growing completely.

    The CO2 setup today has a power head with the CO2 going directly into the water stream down a tube to the opposite side of the tank to a homemade diffuser where the bubbles circulate until they are almost completely dissolved. Once the bubbles are broken down until you can almost not see them, they go into the tank. The CO2 comes from a pressurized tank with regulator, solenoid and bubble counter. Initially, I turned the CO2 off for night but found the PH fluctuated way to much so instead, I slowed the rate and now have it on all the time so my PH stays stable.
     
  4. dbazuin

    dbazuin Guru Class Expert

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    Water changes are always a good idea. There is stuff building up in your water that can not be tested.
    I have read about plants making hormone like stuff that slow growth down.
    Maybe someone else here knows more about that.
    But I would sure change some water every week. Adding traces will do your plants lots of good. Maybe some extra K would also helps.
     
  5. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    Using just a kh/ph chart and the TANK water will not correlate to the c02 ppm value you think.. A drop checker uses 4 or 5 kh water so it is a known value. It is still an APPROXIMATION and does not indicate that c02 is sufficient for the plant needs nor does it promise c02 stability.

    Water changes eliminate waste products and also add c02 and other new vital trace elements as well. Fish and plants both benefit from regular water changes....

    There are threads on this site that provide abundant information on the why and how of a drop checker and how to calibrate test kits. Calibration means testing against a KNOWN solution value (ph, kh, n03, etc) and then ensuring the test kit records that value accurately. PH meters usually have a low and high calibration point to help ensure accuraccy.

    Making decisions based on unverified or inaccurate results is looking for issues......

    Just know that a $10-20 test kit is not going to be that accurate esp if not calibrated.

    Fish and plants are not going to care about PH drops in general. C02 injection causes a daily variation in ph and noone is losing fish because of it alone. You pose more of a danger of c02 gassing by having the c02 run 24/7. The fish don't need it at night for sure and plants produce c02 at night as well and do not use c02 without light. Turn the c02 on about 60-90 minutes PRIOR to lights on to get the c02 levels up for when the lights are on. Add some water surface movement to provide additional 02 for the fish..Turn the c02 off when the lights are off...

    Getting c02 accurate and stable is not easy. Remember that dosing ferts and c02 must increase as your plants grow and increase in mass.

    I would suggest doing some reading in the following areas:

    1. Dropcheckers. Vaughnh has a nice thread on their usage and how and whys........

    2. EI dosing. See the sticky.

    3. Check out Tom's newsletters for some great information.

    4. Test kit calibration. LeftC has a thread on how to make N and P reference solutions.

    Hope all of this helps somehow........
     
  6. Dave2010

    Dave2010 Junior Poster

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    I also did get the ebook recommended here and read that this afternoon. Lots of good information. I'll be calibrating my test kits asap. I'll try and post back in a week or 2.
     
  7. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Dave,

    Take your time and be patient.. this is gardening after all and that takes time, effort, and patience..

    I would suggest the following for you:

    1. Get some dry ferts from Aquarium Fertilizers.com and dose via the EI method.
    2. Use a decent trace mix.
    3. Use a small water pump and hose to drain and a hose from the tap to tank for water changes. Use Prime or another good dechlorinator.
    4. Stop using c02 24/7. Read some more on c02 in general, it's role in plant internal processing, and other methods to diffuse c02 in water. Many methods out there and many good ideas. C02 is the most vital plant nutrient and is usually the most overlooked aspect of plant growth and health..
    5. Use 3 bulbs for 8-10 hours daily. If using all 4, keep an eye on your c02 and dosing.

    Higher light drives plant growth and thus c02 and nutrient demand. Lower less can prove easier to meet for demand. You can always add more light if you want more/faster growth...

    Keep reading. Tom has tons of great info here and the members are all smart and helpful (unlike myself)...

    The more detail you provide the better help you will get....

    Remember that as long as the plants are healthy and growing, fish are healthy and happy, and little to no algae, that things are doing well and you do not NEED to know how many ppm of X is in your tank at any time. You can if you wish but the plants will still do well :)

    I spend NO time anymore testing anything and use my plants and fish as a guide. That takes time and experience, but it is the best way short of very expensive accurate testing equipment. You will be amazed how quickly you gain experience!

    Please provide more info on fish and size? Angels and silver dollars can be big and get bigger! How many of each do you have? Always better to over filter than to under filter.

    Hope this helps. Pics are good too!
     
    #7 Gerryd, Apr 17, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 17, 2010
  8. Dave2010

    Dave2010 Junior Poster

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    I currently have enough filtration for about 140 gallons. 4 angels and 1 silver dollar atm. I'd like a 2nd silver dollar but can't find one locally atm. For the record, if my plants grew as fast as my angelfish, I'd be rolling in weeds.

    I also reread the ebook link that posted here and realized my CO2 at 20 -25 ppm could be higher. I'll be targeting 30 - 35 which gives me something to play with, and I did hook the solenoid back to a timer as per the advice.

    I have learned something just freaken amazing I'll pass on to the people here. If you have algae, first find the underlying problem. Then get yourself a couple of Siamese flying foxes, or Siamese algae eaters. I'll post a link to the pictures on face-book if it's okay with my existence co-coordinator. Her face-book. With a pleco and a couple of Chinese algae eaters in the tank, after an algae bloom, these guys cleaned my entire tank in 8 days. Even the hairy crap none of the others would eat. Just make sure to do your research, there are 4 species that commonly get mistaken for each other, the other 3 are useless. I bought 10 when I found a place to buy them, even after evaluating them all at the store, once I got them home and in my tank, one acted different than the others, upon closer examination, I found it was a different fish. One I most certainly didn't want in my tank, aggressive, doesn't eat algae and pesters the other fish. The thing that really got me, they even ate the algae off of my moss without damaging it. Wow.

    Calibrated my test kits, great news, they were both bang on the money !! One is tough as hell to read, but it is accurate.
     
  9. Left C

    Left C Lifetime Members
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    I suppose that you know that silver dollars will eat most aquarium plants. They like to be kept in schools of 3-6 or more if possible. Pet Smart usually has them.

    "Because they will eat live plants, it’s advisable to use plastic plants, or very sturdy live plants." from: http://freshaquarium.about.com/od/silverdollarspacus/p/silvedollar.htm

    "Silver Dollars are mostly peaceful but can be extremely aggressive eaters. Watching them eat can be fun. Drop an algae wafer into your tank and watch the other silvers chase the one that gets it around the tank. For the plant keepers out there, they are herbivores and notorious for the serious damage that they can do to your live plants." from: http://www.fishlore.com/Profiles-SilverDollar.htm

    "They can live 10 years or more, and need to be kept in a school of at least 3-6, though 6 or more is better. A silver dollar kept alone will stress and die very quickly." from: http://www.fishinthe.net/html/fishguide/fishguide_fish.php?FC=102&nl=&nt=1
     
  10. pat w

    pat w Member

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    In my last tank we had five. Did the algae waffer trick just for the entertainment value.

    Silver Dollars - Closest thing to an aquatic lawn mower out there. But then prunning won't as much of an issue.
     
  11. Left C

    Left C Lifetime Members
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    lawn mowers! That's funny. LOL
     
  12. Dave2010

    Dave2010 Junior Poster

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    Can confirm the Silver dollar is a grass cutting animal... thinking I might need to get rid of him... a shame, he is my first fish, had him about 6 years.
     
  13. Left C

    Left C Lifetime Members
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    Some African cichlids don't like the taste of Java Ferns and Anubias. I wonder if he does? If he doesn't eat these, you can make a nice looking aquarium. You can add some fast growing stem plants or grass plants for him to eat.
     
  14. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Lawn Mowing Service!

    Hi,

    I can confirm Silver Dollar fish “mow the lawn.” :eek:


    If you wish to keep Silver Dollars, I have kept Metynnis argenteus and plants figure on a large aquarium planted with dense growth of Echinodorus tenellus, fast growing stem plants such as Rotala rotundifolia, planted as usual but also floating, lots of floating Rotala rotundifolia.

    Feed them lots of vegetarian food. :rolleyes:


    Then as Left C suggested tough plants, I used a lot of Java fern, Microsorum pteropus.



    Just do not fall in love with any plant. :(


    Silver Dollar fish like lower light, floating plants add a sense of security, they also like hiding places. :cool:


    Silver Dollar fish are gregarious and need groups of five as a minimum, eight or ten are better. Metynnis argenteus breed readily, sexing is simple, males have a longer anal fin that is red or has a reddish tint.

    Biollante
     
  15. Dave2010

    Dave2010 Junior Poster

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    I've got a 2nd tank, with Piranha's which is where the Silver Dollar is now. Plastic plants in this tank. He'll just have to eat the flake food. Once I get the growth in the other tank nice lush and green, maybe I'll just plop him in there for a couple of days during the week to cut the lawn. Oh don't worry fish lovers, there is a divider in the tank keeping him and the piranha's separate. Does make sense since I started the live plants why his colors and fins looked so much better. Change in diet...
     
  16. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Vegetarian Diet Please

    Hi,

    Please make sure you are feeding the Silver Dollar Fish flake food designed for vegetarians and supplementing that with fresh and par boiled veggies. :gw

    Biollante
     
  17. Dave2010

    Dave2010 Junior Poster

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    Just realized, no comments on the lighting. Is this good or bad. 4 x 30watt T12 6500k bulbs. Should I change 1 or 2 to 3100k plant bulbs. I know some people mix bulbs, what's best for my plants? As for the Silver Dollar, he gets any clippings from the big tank, veg flake food, and algae discs. Spoiled fish really.
     
  18. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Rotten Spoil Them Fish...

    Hi,

    Silver Dollar Fish are good fish to spoil, even if they do view our aquariums as smorgasbords. ;)

    I do not see anything wrong with the lighting, more than you need but not outrageous.

    I would stick with the 6500K bulbs; get the highest CRI number you can. :)

    Biollante
     
  19. Dave2010

    Dave2010 Junior Poster

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    Thanks all for the great advice, it's very much appreciated. I can see growth daily from the time I leave for work and the time I come home. I couldn't have done it without the great help here, thank you all.
     
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