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Non-CO2/low tech tank - soft water dosing

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Tiff, Sep 3, 2010.

  1. Tiff

    Tiff Junior Poster

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    Hi everyone! This is my first post!

    I have a 29g low light/non CO2 tank with soft water that I am going to switch over to Tom's recommended dosing after I finish a 3-day blackout (bad case of BGA). I am looking for advice on whether I should dose the Equilibrium weekly considering I want to keep my water soft for my cardinals (I use 75% RO water right now). I was thinking I should only dose the KNO3 and maybe Flourish in my case. Any thoughts? I didn't want to dose the Equilibrium weekly and have it raise my GH/KH higher and higher. Also, if KNO3 and Flourish would work, do I use the Flourish comprehensive or trace? I'm still trying to understanding the whole nutrient balance in planted tanks. :)

    I had only been dosing Excel and used root tabs which went well for a little bit, but growth completely stopped. Suddenly all of my crypts melted and now I have a horrible case of BGA. I treated with Maracyn which didn't work at all so now doing a blackout.


    Thanks!
     
  2. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi Tiff welcome to AP. When you say low light, what do you mean exactly and what is the GH/KH from your tap? More information will help the more learned understand what you are doing. What exactly do you mean when you say, "switch over to Tom's recommended dosing"?

    I have not raised cardinals, but any addition of a GH booster like equilibrium will raise the GH and not the KH. For non-CO2 tanks here is a thread on recommended dosing you should try to follow. http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/2817-Non-CO2-methods

    You are most likely starving your plants of both macro and micro nutrients. Go with the flourish and KNO3 for now. You do not need to wait until after the blackout. This calculator will give you an idea of what is in them. http://www.fishfriend.com/fertfriend.html

    Some possible causes of BGA, too much light, not enough water flow, dirty filter/tank, high organic loading (dead stuff) and low levels of NO3. Try improving your water flow and remove all the dead plant material to start with.
     
  3. Tiff

    Tiff Junior Poster

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    Thank you for the response Tug!

    The first link you sent to me regarding recommended dosing is what my goal is. I only dosed Flourish occasionally, used root tabs since I mainly have crypts, and tried the Excel on a daily basis...I feel I must not have given my plants what they wanted which is why I wanted to start a different dosing regimen. I have a 29g tall, eco complete substrate, Coralife fixture (2x18w T5NO bulbs), plants are pretty much all crypts and a few anubias. My nitrates, nitrites, and ammonium has always been 0 (which I'm guessing is part of the reason for the BGA). The house I was living in had extremely hard water which is why I started doing a mix of RO and tap. I moved about 6 months ago and was planning on using RO water only because my bf uses a water softener for the entire house. (I read not to use that water due to the salt). I tested my water (in the tank) yesterday and I have a KH and a GH of 5. I completed the blackout yesterday so I did a 50% water change with only RO water and added equilibrium and KNO3. So far so good (except for my substrate...I tried to vacuum as much of the brown cr@p on top but couldn't get it all. How do people get such pretty black substrate? Mine looks horrible still! :)! I just want to make sure I'm dosing correctly from now on because this has been nothing but a nightmare for me...since I started with live plants I've spent more time on those and haven't even been able to enjoy the fish. :( Do you think I should stay with just the KNO3 and Flourish then? I just changed my bulbs on my light fixture...I was also concerned about maybe too much light with that light fixture? I've been back and forth with algae issues...first brown diatoms, then it was hair algae, now BGA. GRR!!! I'm looking for any help I can get 'cause I was about to take the entire thing down a week ago.

    Thanks!
     
  4. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
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    Include some KH2PO4 to your dosing routine. From Tom's dosing schedule it looks as if he is dosing about 5ppm NO3 and 1.6ppm PO4 once a week or so. Here is another calculator I find extremely useful when trying to understand what is being dosed into the water column, http://calc.petalphile.com/

    Your situation is a little outside my experience. :eek:
    If you can by pass that softening unit for water changes, that's the best solution. Otherwise, I believe you will need to aerate and add back some electrolytes (Ca.Mg) to the RO water. I will be watching your thread to see what sort of work around someone suggests. One thing, I understand it is better to use KCL as the water softener rather then NaCL. Talk to your dbf.
     
    #4 Tug, Sep 6, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2010
  5. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
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    Your lighting sounds about right to me, around low/middle. Maybe someone else can make a suggestion.
    What are you doing about water flow, filter, powerhead?
     
    #5 Tug, Sep 6, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2010
  6. Ekrindul

    Ekrindul Guru Class Expert

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    I've read of people using Maracyn to treat BGA, but you risk your biological filtration having a set back, and it doesn't address the cause of the BGA. If I read between the lines of your post correctly, the diatoms and hair algae ran their course and are no longer a problem. That would sound logical, if this tank is newly set up, as diatoms are common in new tanks but will not last more than a few weeks. Hair algae probably was killed off by the Excel. BGA is probably a flow issue. Can you tell us what filter you are using? Fortunately, a flow issue on a 29 gallon will be an easy fix. One Koralia Nano 425 powerhead, or something similar, positioned corrrectly would be enough.

    Also, I use the link below to decide how much to dose. I like having it measured by teaspoon. The K2SO4 may not be needed, some suggest, depending on your fish load. I believe Tom recommends using Flourish rather than Flourish Trace, but I may be mistaken. The cap on Flourish is about a 5 ml dose, so you can use that to measure it according to the link.

    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/1800-EI-quot-light-quot-for-the-less-techical-aspects-of-the-Estimative-index
     
  7. Tiff

    Tiff Junior Poster

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    Thanks for all of the responses! I really appreciate it as this has been a struggle for me. As far as my filter, I have an Aquaclear 30 which may not be enough flow? I used to have it all the way to the left of the tank but now I placed it in the center so there is better water flow (I hope). As far as bioload, I have 9 cardinal tetras and 6 harlequin rasboras..not sure what that would be considered? You hit it on the head with my algae issues...first diatoms since it had been a newer tank, then went to hair algae which is actually why I started dosing Excel. Things were good for awhile and then all of a sudden crashed.

    I will definitely check out the calculator on the PO4. I didn't order that with the KNO3 as I thought I could get away without it. I have Flourish comprehensive, not the trace so I should be ok with that.

    Thanks again everyone! Sorry I was all over the place! :) I've had so many issues and I thought this low tech way was going to be easy! :)
     
  8. Ekrindul

    Ekrindul Guru Class Expert

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    If it were me, I would make sure I had removed as much decaying plant matter (from the melted crypts) as possible. That may take more than a few water changes, or alot of work with a small net. Clean the filter thoroughly. I would increase the circulation in the tank with a powerhead, preferably a low pressure one like a Koralia. The increased flow is good for the plants, so it's a win-win situation. Do the blackout. Then, lastly, I would dose KNO3 and KH2PO4 every other day according to your tank size per the link I show above, then the Flourish the other days for micros. I've never had to deal with BGA, so I may be way off base, but cleanliness, flow and nutrients seems a good place to start.

    Any suspicions as to why your crypts melted? Had they been planted recently? Like the last few days? or been moved recently?
     
  9. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
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    Ekrindul, while we seam to be saying the same thing mostly (increase water flow, clean filter/tank) are you saying that Tiff should avoid a Non-CO2/low tech tank setup? The link you keep referring to is for high light/high tech methods.

    Initially large water changes every few days and full EI doses are a good idea, cleans out organics and adds CO2. At some point, reducing the number of water changes and reducing the dosing will help to stabilize the CO2 levels.

    "Over time, the plants, adapt well to low CO2 ppm concentration by producing more Rubsico and associated downstream enzymes to fix and make do with much less CO2 than a CO2 enriched system. As long as the CO2 is stable, things are fine." Non CO2 methods, another method for different goals - Tom Barr

    Pretty straight forward really, fewer water changes and lower dosing. What still concerns me is how the RO water effects all of this as well as the type of water softener being used.
     
  10. Ekrindul

    Ekrindul Guru Class Expert

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    Yes, but she is dosing Excel. Shouldn't she be doing water changes weekly based on that? And erring on the high side of nutrients if you are doing WC's weekly shouldn't be an issue. I only pointed out that link as it is probably the simplest dosing regiment for someone new as most people can understand tsp measurements easier than ppm. I should have mentioned she could choose to use the next lowest tank range for dosing I suppose.

    I had to look, but actually, this was a few pages from that same thread you qouted:

    "Excel is not a Non CO2 method, I consider it part of a middle ground to CO2 enriched method, carbon enrichment if you will(rather than CO2 enriched).

    You can and should do water changes if you use Excel."
     
    #10 Ekrindul, Sep 6, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2010
  11. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
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    Nice catch, Excel is not a Non CO2 method.

    Tiff, if you are using Excel, the post Ekrindul is talking about is #39. I was under the impression that you had stopped adding Excel.
     
  12. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
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    In the spirit of double checking some of the assumptions I've made that could be wrong let me review a few other loose ends. :eek:

    Your filter (Aquaclear 30) should no longer be using AC or other chemical filtration.

    Adding another powerhead?
    Good idea and the Koralia's propeller moves a lot of water at a low pressure. Another that people like as much as the K would be the Seio powerhead. The Surflo kit for the Maxi jets is nice as well. The favorite around here, if you can afford it, would be the Vortech.

    Water softening unit?
    Again, my concern is the lost Ca and Mg as well as the increase in Na from the water softener being used. Can you bypass that softening unit for water changes? If not, use KCL as the water softener rather then NaCL.
     
    #12 Tug, Sep 7, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2010
  13. Tiff

    Tiff Junior Poster

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    I discontinued the Excel as I want strictly low tech with no Excel..dosing 1x a week, very minimal water changes is my goal. I do not use the water from our house since it goes through a water softener..just RO water now. I want to make sure I have enough nutrients for my plants with this set up.

    Regarding the BGA, it definitely cleared after the blackout although I still have a lot of mulm on my substrate..that's been a losing battle. All of my plants seem to be in good shape now (including the crypts that fortunately didn't melt). The ones that melted I'm hoping will grow back. I'm afraid to do another water change because as Tug stated I don't want to disrupt the CO2 as that has been the cause to my algae problems in the past.

    Thanks again everyone!
     
  14. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
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    Sounds as if you are on your way. I have been very lucky, the water I use can come right out of the tap. What do you do to recondition the RO water before adding it to the tank?

    P.S. You should still consider using KCL as your water softener. It's a salt too, but I understand that it is better then the NaCL for drinking water, plants, pets, etc. Add it to your dbf's honeydo list. :p
     
  15. Hilde

    Hilde Junior Poster

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    Yeh, I have had the same problems. I think the main cause is the water is excessively treated with chemicals by the city. People whom have well water don't do any dosing. My tap water ph 8.6 and no minerals in it. Dosing with KNO3 kept the BBA under control. Then nitrates got to high, possible from overfeeding, and string algae appeared. Using a siesta of 3 hrs between light period and water changes got rid of the algae. Now I dose daily with excel and Brightwell Florin Multi.

    Found using Reptile coconut bark under Scott's tops soil which is then topped with sand cuts the need for excel to 1/2. Some keep algae under control with excess of plants.

    How is the tank now? Still not dosing with excel?
     
    #15 Hilde, Dec 25, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 25, 2010
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