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Replanting my 46 gallon

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by filipem, Jun 2, 2008.

  1. filipem

    filipem Prolific Poster

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    First I would like to thank some of the members on this forum for helping me sort through a few algae issues that I posted on a previous thread.

    I want to replant my 46 gallon in the upcoming weeks and I want to try a low light W co2 tank. I have purchased another filter has I found out the hard way that I was under filtered the first time around.

    Here is what I plan on setting up

    46 gallon tall 22" high 2 50% water changes a week

    lighting - 65W CF (coralife)
    DIY CO2 ( 2 one gallon juice jugs)

    Filtration
    Enhiem 1x 2213 and 1x 2215

    Plants
    Java Fern, Anibias nana, Tiger Lotus, Various crypts, Elaide Triandia (sp?)

    Substrate, Flourite black

    Will this setup work without a ferts?
     
  2. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi,
    Not sure why you're having such an aversion to adding ferts. This is like saying you want to avoid feed your pets. If you want to avoid adding ferts entirely then you should probably think about deleting the CO2 because increased CO2 causes an increase in the demand for ferts. I suppose if you have a high fish loading and if you feed frequently though you could get away with it.

    Since the pricing is similar you might do better with Aquasoil in lieu of Flourite due to AS higher nutrient content.

    Remember to save some of your filter mulm and some of the gunk now lying at the bottom of the tank and mix that in with the new substrate. This adds bacteria and organic matter to the sediment to help establish the bacteria development in the new substrate. Also save some of this mulm to seed the new filter.

    Cheers,
     
  3. filipem

    filipem Prolific Poster

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    I am not against adding ferts I will add them if they are needed but I thought that slow growing plants with low light did not require ferts even with CO2. I want something that is easy to maintain this time around. I think I was a bit foolish in thinking that I knew what I was doing the first time around. I now realize that I made several mistakes and things got out of hand fast. I want to take it slow on my next attempt.
     
  4. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    That lighting seems extremely low, in a tank of that depth. I think you could easily go with at least 100 watts of light on that tank and still have a low light tank. Remember that the deeper the tank, the less light reaches the bottom; so any plants that are short will be getting virtually no light when you factor in both the depth and the shading from plants overhead. Java fern and anubias may grow ok, I'm not sure about anything else.

    I had a 32g with 40 watts of light for a while, but the tank was only 16" deep. My plants grew very spindly and many plants would just die off. Eventually I grew frustrated and changed my lighting to 60 watts. It's definitely still low light, but the growth is a lot nicer.

    If you're sticking with extremely low light and low light plants, I think co2 would not be worth the hassle and could even cause problems if it fluctuates too much. It's likely that you would need to fertilize.

    If you're worried about algae, doing water changes and adding ferts will keep algae in check. If you add co2, make sure that you can keep it stable all the time, use a drop checker to keep a close eye on it.
     
  5. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi,
    OK, well it's always a good thing to remember that things don't go out of control because of adding ferts, only due to not adding ferts. Therefore the mindset should always be "How much ferts do I need?"

    Crypts don't grow at the same speed of some of the faster stems but by no means are they slow growing plants. The same can be said for most of the plants on your list. Lowering the light will slow their growth, but in order for them to grow at all then their nutrition must come from somewhere.

    It's possible to have the nutritional requirements supplied from a combination of the substrate and the fish waste alone. I don't have a feel for 65w CF on the 46 G because it's hard to quantify the contribution of the fish waste. Also, having reflectors changes the light energy input versus not having reflectors. With a nutritious substrate and normal fish loading you may only need to add a pinch once or twice a week. As I mentioned, adding CO2 changes things quite a bit, even under lower light so you may need to dose more frequently. I forget the numbers but I think Tom estimated that adding CO2 can increase the growth rate by 2X-5X even in a lower light configuration.

    Because of this uncertainty, the best approach I've found is to dose the standard EI amounts or, say, half the standard amounts and then slowly back off the amounts that you add at three week intervals at maybe 50% dosage values. If you start to see signs of deficiency then go back up to the levels you used prior to the deficiency.

    For example lets say you start off dosing 1/2 teaspoon of KNO3 3X per week and everything seems fine. After 3 weeks, if there are no nitrate starvation symptoms drop the dosage to 1/4 teaspoons 3X per week and see how that goes for three weeks and so forth. If you had dropped to 1/4 teaspoon and then you started to see BGA within that 3 week trial period then you know that 1/4 teaspoon is too low. It indicates that your proper dosage is perhaps somewhere between 1/2 teaspoon and 1/4 teaspoon.

    You can do the same exercise with KH2PO4 and with the trace mix, more or less working your way down to zero. If 1/4 teaspoon 3X per week works OK then try 1/4 teaspoon only 2X per week. Then only 1X per week assuming no problems. In this way you will be able to determine what works for this particular tank configuration.

    No one can predict whether you need to dose or not because only you have your particular configuration. In fact you may have tap water high in nitrates and or phosphates so you can get away with not dosing while someone else's tap water may be low in these nutrients and they can't get away with not dosing. It should not be surprising if someone else gets different results using the same setup and technique.

    Hope this helps.:)

    Cheers,
     
  6. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    Even on my 32g when it had 40 watts of light, co2 increased growth I would say at least 5x. It wouldn't have been as fast as if I had double the amount of light, obviously, but the effect is dramatic. It would be less so for slow growing plants, 5x faster growth on a crypt is not the same as 5x faster growth on hygrophila, for instance.
     
  7. filipem

    filipem Prolific Poster

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    ceg4048, Thank you again that is what I needed to know. I am just starting out with planted aquariums. I have been reading up on planted tanks and one thing that I have always seen on other forums are people saying that dosing too much ferts will cause algae. I was afraid of adding too much. If that is not the case then I will follow your instructions. If dosing full EI will not casue algae to grow then it makes sense to me to dose the full amount them scale back as you suggested. I never wanted to starve my plants I just did not want to feed the algae.

    One question will adding ferts with no CO2 do any harm? Just wondering....

    The lighting fixture I have does have reflectors and it's accually a 2x65W unit. I just never used the second ballast. I thought that it would have been too much light.
     
  8. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Yes, isn't it amazing how many people believe that nutrients cause algae? It seems reasonable on the surface but the reverse is true. If we understand at a fundamental level that algae is triggered only by NH4 + Light then we'll be liberated and will be empowered to make the right choices when it occurs.

    The optical illusion is created because both nutrients and NH4 are often present in a tank. During tank startup, the NH4 production is unchecked because there is not enough well established bacterial colonies in the sediment or in the filter
    to consume the NH4 production. If you turn all your lights on without keeping NH4 production in check you'll have an algae farm. During tank startup try to do as many water changes as possible a 3X per week 80% water change schedule for the first 6-8 weeks is not unreasonable as it directly reduces the NH4 concentration levels and removes algal spores directly from the water column.

    After this time, as long as you are dosing adequately, as long as your CO2 is stable and as long as your filtration and flow rates are adequate the plants will be established and perhaps more importantly, the bacterial colonies in the sediment and filter will be established so that all three will remove NH4 from the tank.

    Adding ferts without CO2 does no harm unless the lack of CO2 causes a deficiency under the lighting condition. CO2 and light have a direct relationship. Just like nutrient demand, the more light present, the more CO2 is required. So if you have too much light without supplementing CO2 the plants will suffer and algae will form. Once algae forms, well, of course they will feed on the nutrients present. Again, the illusion will be in effect as the algae would have been caused due to NH4 production as a result of CO2 starvation, however whatever algae that forms will immediately feed on nutrients present (so people blame the excess nutrients). If the water is nutrient rich the of course the algae will grow more quickly - but the nutrients were not the cause. There are tanks with poor CO2, high lighting, low nutrients and massive algae. There are also tanks with high lighting, poor CO2, high nutrients and massive algae.:rolleyes:

    As hoppy suggested in another post, of course you can use the second bulb - but this must be accompanied by better flow, higher CO2 and higher dosing. Light is the throttle by which you control growth. CO2 and nutrients are the fuel by which that growth becomes possible. Keep the second bulb disabled for a few months until you have a better feel of dosing and CO2. When you can reliably control growth and keep algae at bay with one bulb then you can raise the stakes with the addition of the second bulb.

    Cheers,
     
  9. filipem

    filipem Prolific Poster

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    CEG4048,

    Thanks again now I understand things more clearly. I am grateful for all of the help you given thus far. Now I understand why things went sour last time. The light was not the problem my NH4 must have been high because my filtration was not good enough for my fishload. Adding ferts only fueled the fire. It didn't start the fire. I think I got it now, and I now get a better sense for what to look out for going foward.

    Cheers,
     
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