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Observations from simple experimentation

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Gerryd, Jan 29, 2010.

  1. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi all,

    Over the last several months I have been experimenting with lower light levels and at the same time inducing algae via c02 and macro/micro fert reduction. I have some observations/experience that I would like to share. Perhaps some of it may prove useful.

    Please note that this is MY EXPERIENCE with MY TANK. This is not scientific in any way, shape, or form. I learned a lot about my tank and c02 in general, and saw how these deficiencies affected plant growth and algae formation. Also how quickly the plants/tank can rebound with good c02, ferts, and flow.

    Light

    I have 3x150 w 6500 MH bulbs currently mounted 24” above the 72x24x24 tank. PAR readings at the surface range from 175-250 and the substrate ranges from 20-80 all based on placement of the sensor (under plants, in shade, in the open, etc). These values were previously almost twice as high! The lights started at 14" above the tank and were increased every several weeks by 2" up to the current height where it has been for 4 weeks now.

    Duration: 8.5 hours daily with a 30 minute lights off break 6 hours in. This is to extend my viewing window later at night.

    Overall I have found the rates of growth much more manageable and the tank requires MUCH less pruning and maintenance. C02 is easier to supply and growth is splendid, just slowed (thank goodness!).
    I am so sorry now that I spent almost 1K for a MH fixture 2 years ago. I should have kept my T12 setup  At least just gone to T5’s and be done with it…If I knew then what I know now….

    Surface ripple

    I have recently pointed my hydor II directly at the surface from point blank range. I get great surface ripple across the entire surface area, pearling is increased, and the fish seem a bit more active during the c02 hours..I have NOT increased c02 and plant growth is great. No cons to report so far.
    It is hard in my setup to balance the c02 needs of the many plants, my still high light levels, and my cardinal armada…. They are not super sensitive IME, but I have the mazzei and the mist is very efficient and the bio-mass requires a good amount of c02. Pearling is intense on all plants. I am still trying to find the right balance.

    It seems that a lot of surface ripple is not a bad thing.

    Algae

    To conquer my fear of algae and to better understand MY tank and basic plant growth, I grew algae 3 different ways:

    1. Reduce c02 over time but keep other dosing the same. Every 2-3 days, a slight reduction in bubble count.
    2. Reduce ferts OTHER than c02 over time.
    3. Reduce c02 AND other ferts over time.

    Basically, this grew 3-4 types of algae:

    1. BBA – caused by c02 reduction. Was not an issue when reducing ONLY N/P/micros.
    2. GSA – caused more by N and P reduction than c02. However, it did get WORSE when c02 was also reduced.
    3. A type of cladorpha that covered gravel and wood only – caused by c02 reduction only. Was not an issue when reducing ONLY N/P/micros.
    4. Hair algae almost exclusively in the carpet plants (hc and glosso) – caused by c02 reduction only. Was not an issue when reducing ONLY N/P/micros.

    The BBA usually took 4-5 days to develop and got worse as the c02 was reduced. GSA showed up pretty quick when N and P were reduced, usually within 2-3 days. The other two types took about 5-7 days to develop.
    None took more than 2 weeks to disappear with good maintenace restored. EI dosing was reduced either by amount, or purposelfully 'forgetting' to dose 1-2 days per week. Never went to NO EI, but dosed only once a week more than once lol

    All cleanup was done without using any blackout, simply increasing c02 and EI dosing back to pre-experimentation levels and being patient. Manual removal where possible, and NORMAL dosing of excel at water change day only. I find this highlights the BGA a lighter color so it is easier to see and guage it’s reduction. You should always look at new plant growth to determine if things are improving. You should see good formation, color, etc and NO NEW ALGAE. It may not go away over night, but you should NOT see it increase.

    Give it 2-3 weeks of cleaning, WC, dosing, etc to rebound. Keep the filters CLEAN and flow up.

    I focused mostly on PLANT GROWTH and paid little attention to the algae except to note the type and growth rate. I didn’t let my tank get REALLY overrun, but it looked ugly at times, and I wanted to stop more than once lol

    Good thing is that after a large WC and some manual removal/trimming the tank always looked better. Going back to normal dosing/c02 and waiting a few weeks was all it took to get back to a nice tank. Several large WC over a week for the worse outbreaks... A WC is a wonderful tool and improves many conditions.

    Just saying that algae should not be feared as much as it is. It can be used as a measuring tool for overall tank conditions.

    If we spent half the time on good maintenance, EI, and c02 management as we do algae, we would be growers indeed!

    Plant growth is more important to focus on IME/IMO. I think I will always have some bits of algae in this tank, but they are not very noticeable, and I can deal/ignore them and really enjoy the tank!

    I am now shape pruning and seeing how that works out. It is fun to do while not thinking about algae. Just watch the plants fill out nicely is wonderful!

    And the fish look great too!

    Will post a pic tomorrow.......just after a heavy prune......
     
    #1 Gerryd, Jan 29, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 30, 2010
  2. Left C

    Left C Lifetime Members
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    I wonder why BBA didn't appear.
     
  3. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    hi!

    could you be more exact? how much N/P/micro's did you dose at the starting point? and at the time of reduction?

    greets,

    yme
     
  4. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Leftc,

    Good catch. It was BBA and not BGA.

    I fixed the post.

    yme,

    No I cannot be more accurate. I didn't care to be exact, just seeing what happened when LIMITING conditions are introduced.

    If I started with say 3 tsp of N 3x weekly. I would just reduce by 1/2 tsp weekly or miss a dose or two (or all) weekly. Just to limit things and be haphazard.

    As stated above, not scientific at all. Just playing around. Perhaps I should not have posted this as it is not documented?

    I stopped 'testing' a while back and now just watch the fish and plants (and algae!) to guage what is up.
     
    #4 Gerryd, Jan 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 30, 2010
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I do similar thing with vacations, but just raise the lights about 40% higher.
    No dose etc.

    I think you would have somewhat different results if the light is maintained low, and used ADA AS as well, then the N/P/micro issues would not be as intense/absent.

    Then the stability is higher for nutrient issues.
    That leaves CO2. Lower light drives everything easier to manage.
    But overall, these observations are fairly well confirmed amongst other folks, myself included.

    It's fairly easy to test nutrients via EI, since you have a fair good idea of the range ppm's.
    WC and dosing are fairly easy. So that leaves light and CO2.

    If you realize light = CO2=> nutrients, then lower light will make management easier.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Tom,

    Yes, I am not breaking any new ground ...

    Just want to see what happens and when, say like when I go on vacation...
     
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