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Some observations on what works

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Henry Hatch, Aug 24, 2009.

  1. Henry Hatch

    Henry Hatch Guru Class Expert

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    It's always difficult to figure out why things go wrong in a planted tank. However at least you can take actions and see what happens. I have a little 20 gallon tank where things are going right, but I think it may be more difficult to figure out why. I can't do anything to prove why things are going good - or at least I don't want to.

    I have 3 tanks - a 20, 30 and 50 gallon. All of the tanks have co2. The 20 and 30 have diy and the 50 has bottled co2.

    All 3 tanks are quite similar in terms of fish load, plants,substrate, and fert regime ( all EI).

    The 20 gallon ,which has been very stable for almost a year is the only tank using t5 lighting. Every fresh water tank I have owned has always used NO flourescents t 12 or t8 except for the 20. I took some PAR readings today and the subtrate readings for the 20 were 70-80 while the other tanks were in the 50-60 range. By far, the 20 is the best tank I've ever kept.

    All things being equal - if a tank has about the same PAR levels using NO bulbs vs HO bulbs am I better off with the HO bulbs using co2 ? Or am I just making the mistake of looking for another silver bullet ?


    Henry
     
  2. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Par is Par, doesn't matter if you use incandescent, T5HO or a big stack of candles (all other variables aside, like temperature and sanity). I'd run HO's for the programmed start ballast, or get programmed start ballasts for NO. I say this because it'll save you money in the long run on buying bulbs; the output drop is greatly reduced.

    Your choice in lighting should be made based on aesthetic and spread. Better spread will mean lower leaves get better PAR for the same wattage.

    -Philosophos
     
  3. Henry Hatch

    Henry Hatch Guru Class Expert

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    That is what I suspected. Because I've been keeping aqariums for so long, I have ballasts that use flint to start. I've noticed a big drop in output for NO bulbs in only 6 mos. I think I may get some new fixtures with up to date ballasts for my NO bulbs or just go to t5 for all my co2 tanks.
     
  4. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
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    Just a question. I have a 20 gallon tank and would like to know how many T5 bulbs you run over your 20 and what the wattage is for each T5. :)
     
    #4 Tug, Aug 25, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 30, 2010
  5. cggorman

    cggorman Prolific Poster

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    I'm running low on candles. Taking donations....
     
  6. Henry Hatch

    Henry Hatch Guru Class Expert

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    Tank is a 20H with 2 24watt t5's.
     
  7. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    What brand is the light fixture? By the data I have, a single bulb should give you about the PAR that you measured, unless that light is suspended about 7 inches above the top of the tank. But, if this is one of those that uses a single reflector for both bulbs, that could explain the difference.
     
  8. Henry Hatch

    Henry Hatch Guru Class Expert

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    The light fixture is a Current Nova. It's 2 bulbs in a single reflector.
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    The 20 gallon ,which has been very stable for almost a year is the only tank using t5 lighting. Every fresh water tank I have owned has always used NO flourescents t 12 or t8 except for the 20. I took some PAR readings today and the subtrate readings for the 20 were 70-80 while the other tanks were in the 50-60 range. By far, the 20 is the best tank I've ever kept.

    All things being equal - if a tank has about the same PAR levels using NO bulbs vs HO bulbs am I better off with the HO bulbs using co2 ? Or am I just making the mistake of looking for another silver bullet ?


    Henry[/QUOTE]

    Yes, silver bullet.
    CO2 and light are likely both stable in the tank, whereas there are other issues in the two other aquariums here and there over time for one reason or the other.

    Higher light may be allowing faster growth and good plant health vs the other tanks, which might lead you to think it does better also. I'm not sure. Just ideas to consider.

    As long as the CO2 is well balanced.

    I've had some tanks do very well over the years, even with very high light, some with lower light do not so well, however, I've also had the reverse be true also: high light= poor, low light = excellent.

    Most of the issue seemed to be CO2 and having CO2 be stable over time.
    The latter part, stable over time is a key factor.

    Many things can cause CO2 to do poorly in terms of stability over time.
    Sometimes a tank finally settles into a good state. This is virtually always correlated with good CO2 stability.

    Nutrients could be high or lower.
    Light, higher or lower.

    But the CO2 cannot move around.
    Same for non CO2 systems.
    CO2 needs to be stable.

    Degassing can change things(wet/drys), too much surface movement due to/from evaporation loss and the lowered water level causing the spray bars and filters to cause more surface turbulence are big ones IME.

    Sometimes NOT doing a water change if you do less CO2 ppm's.
    With higher CO2, this does not occur.
    Good tool to look at that issue.

    Clogged filters also play large roles in CO2 and current/mixing etc.

    CO2 drift/flow rate over time, increase in plant biomass over time also play large roles. CO2 disc, mazzei and other methods that can clog, or reduce the atomization over time play huge roles IMO/IME.

    Clean the filters and disc often!
    Keep water level the same.
    Try and keep biomass relatively the same
    Do more water changes to see if you can fix a problem tank as the new water is loaded with CO2 and gives you a good reference about CO2 and intense pearling post water change.

    It is a lot of stress to a plant to have to change the Rubsico concentration to chase around different CO2 ppm's all the time. Plants are not that fast to respond(well, except the real weedy species, which is why they are weeds), typically a few days to weeks, some are really bad at adaption.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. Henry Hatch

    Henry Hatch Guru Class Expert

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    Degassing can change things(wet/drys), too much surface movement due to/from evaporation loss and the lowered water level causing the spray bars and filters to cause more surface turbulence are big ones IME.


    Clogged filters also play large roles in CO2 and current/mixing etc.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr[/QUOTE]


    I've always struggled with the issue of outgassing and surface movement. You need some movement, but how much. Watch the plants I suppose.

    Clogged filters obviously affect flow and the distribution of co2. Any other issues with filters ?

    There are probably more differences between my tanks than I think. However, I was wondering if a plant species does not get sufficient light for good growth I would think that might be a problem. Slow or stunted growth IF due to insufficient light I would think could cause algae problems. Whenever I have algae it's almost always associated with poor plant growth. I've read here and elswhere about people growing so called high light plants at very low light levels. Seeing is believing, but I'm pretty sure that is beyond my skill level.

    The trinity of light, co2, and nutrients - on one level it seems simple. Recently it seems like playing 3 dimensional chess.
     
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