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Something's Just No Quite Right

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by Bimmer, Jun 27, 2009.

  1. Bimmer

    Bimmer Junior Poster

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    Hello everyone and thank you for the opportunity to join in the group and learn way more than I already am familiar with. This post may be a tad long but I wanted to give you some insight to where I've been so that it explains my thought processes to what I'm currently involved in at the moment.

    Real quickly, I've been into keep fish since the mid-70's. Just got involved with planted tanks in 2006 with my 55-gallon where I used the infamous dual 2-litre bottle approach and it worked splendidly!! My method of injection was simply to insert the tubing directly into the intake strainer on my Emperor 400 Biowheel filter. To add to the movement of the water I also added a H.O.T. Magnum Pro filter. I want to say again that this system worked awesomely! My yeast mixture was 1/8th teaspoon yeast to 1 cup sugar.

    Now to the present. I'm at a point where I am working on one of my passionate goals. And that is to have a planted Discus tank. I understand that the main things to consider here is to focus on the fish first and their needs and then choose the plants that can thrive under the same temps and pH levels.

    Some incidentals out of the way, I have a 72 gallon bowfront tank. I'm using only two 10,000K bulbs which should be suitable for the plants as using four would have been way too much light for the timid Discus. Even 2 is a tad bright but with the right plants and the addition of natural wood I feel I can tone things down a bit for them. I'm running these 10 hours a day. I'm also running 2 Emperor 400 Biowheel filters. The tank has been set up fish for about 3 months. I initially introduced 10 fry convicts until they reached about the 1 1/2" size and then I rehomed them. Once they were gone I started planting with what you see now. I also added some Seachem Flourish Potassium to help things along. My temperature stays a constant 86F.

    I just tested my water and my ammonia and nitrites are at zero.
    kH = 179ppm (10dKH)
    pH = 8.0

    As far as my general hardness I couldn't get an accurate reading. From the first drop to the 25th drop it just went from yellow to a darker yellow.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see I'm sticking pretty much to the Amazons in the back for cover. The anubias and java moss to add character to the natural wood and I think soon when I get this CO2 thing sorted out some Red Melon Swords to add color. Later I'll tend to the front of the tank with some nice ground cover. By the way there is about 4" of Flourite substrate in the rear 2/3rds of the tank covered with gravel. The front of the tank has much less since the planting there will be much less.


    Now to the main point of my post. The CO2 system. With all my previous knowledge albeit limited about CO2 I planned to do exactly the same as before with my 55-gallon BUT! I knew that I was dealing with more water and more plants so I upped the design and went with a canister in the form a new-in-the-box 1-Gallon Lawn and Garden sprayer. I figured it would be appropriately sealed and the one I chose would several times bigger than my previous setup.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I even stepped up the yeast by finding a local baker who is selling me live yeast at the rate of $3 for a one pound cube. This means I no longer have to activate it with tepid or warm water. It's ready to go right out of the package. I now have to admit I'm totally guessing on the yeast recipe. I'm dissolving 2 cups of sugar into just slight less than 70 degree water. Letting it cool slightly I then add 1 teaspoon of the live active yeast. I let this work for about a day and the best results I'm getting is one bubble about every 6-8 seconds and this seems inadequate to what it should and to what I need for this tank.

    Am I correct in assuming I need to get my bubble count up there a bit? Would I be better served going with a diffuser and bell or is letting the filter do all the work efficient enough?

    Lastly, I just want to state my goal and that is to reach a point with my plants as to not have continuously tremendous growth. By that I mean due to the Discus being such a skiddish breed I don't want to frequently be disrupting their environment with lots of gardening. I realize you cannot grow and not tend it and I loved grooming my plants before. For the sake of the fish I just want to keep it to a minimum.

    Now I'm open to anything anyone would love to share and criticize.

    Thanks so much for staying with this read so far and I thank you for your patience!

    Have a most Blessed day!!!

    ~David
     
  2. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    I tend to run my BPS between 3 and uncountable. Different sized tanks and lighting mean different requirements. What kind of light are you using, and how many watts?

    Bakers yeast fries out after a couple of weeks or months.

    For distribution, look up the needle wheel article; clipping the fins on a submersible pump will help your CO2 out a lot.

    With those plants, you can probably do low light/low tech and not have a huge CO2 demand. You could fert if you want, probably at a light level. Again, those are low demand plants; they can survive on nutrients from excess feeding and tap water if under low light.

    -Philosophos
     
  3. Bimmer

    Bimmer Junior Poster

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    Im' using TWO 10,000K compact bulbs
     
  4. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi Bimmer,

    Understood, but kelvin temperature is different than wattage and does not matter as much.....it is more OUR preference in how it looks than it matters to the plants at all. 6500, 8k, 10k, 14k will all grow plants well as long as c02 and nutrient demand is met...

    What type (MH, CF, T5???) of light and how many WATTS per bulb are they? How is the fixture mounted? Is it resting on the tank? Distance to the surface is also important info for us to help.....

    If you can mount the lights so they are adjustable, it will allow you to add/reduce the light to suit your needs.

    Light is what drives plant growth which drives the c02 and nutrient requirements. The more light, the more c02 and other ferts are required.

    So, controlling the light control the growth rate........

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. Bimmer

    Bimmer Junior Poster

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    I'm sorry you're quite correct. They are both 65W CF. The fixture is a Coralife that has legs the sit on the sides of the tank and the distance from the BULBS (not the fixture) the bulbs themselves is about 3 inches.
     
  6. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    I think you will have more than enough light to grow what you want.

    Don't forget the spread as you mentioned carpet plants.

    May I suggest glossostigma as it does well in lower light and c02 levels..

    HC many times requires more stable c02 than DIY can provide....

    Give it some time to grow in, you may want to add some nice bushy fast growing stem plants to help the tank along and guage overall plant health and make the fish more comfortable. You can always remove them as the other plants grow in like the anubias and such.

    Hope this helps.
     
  7. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    2.3-2.4wpg of CF... and I'm guessing that's a coralife? Something will need to change IMO. Here's the options:

    1) Get compressed CO2:
    It's a big buy, no doubt. I'd say $200 for an entry level system. Plan on advancing in the hobby? Research then go out and buy it, you'll need it. Happy with a simple tank? Tight budget? Stick to DIY for now, and look at the other options.

    2) Change the Light:
    Drop your self down to something like 1.5wpg of T8 or CF. 1wpg if you're getting T5 with parabolic reflectors. This will save you money on power and bulb changes in the future. I'd go this route if you don't want to bother with compressed CO2, and you've got a little cash around. Trade for the difference if you've got a decent reputation with a LFS (not big box chain).

    3) Raise the light:
    Pay $10-$20 at your local hardware store, suspend the light over the tank and have fun counting links. You'll be using more light than you need, but this sort of thing happens some times; I'm facing the same possibility my self. This is a cheap option, and I'd call it a temporary stop gap for your density and level of lighting.

    I'd say option 1 or 2 is your best bet. Maybe 3 followed by 1 if you want some research time, a better system, or a better time to buy a CO2 system.

    As always, if none of these fit, find option 4 and 5.

    -Philosophos
     
  8. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    I could add another option. Put in a couple of floating plants. Impact on your dissolved CO2 would be negligable as they'll get nearly everything from the air. Salvinia or similar will probably have you going nuts in a couple of weeks as you keep scooping it out, but you won't have your hands in the discuss tank. It will drop the overal light in the tank dramatically depending on how often you scoop it out. I second needlewheel approach for getting the CO2 in there, esp. for DIY.

    I don't have discus in the planted tank, yet. However I've generally found that unless you're actively chasing them around or making sudden movements around them they don't seem to care much. As long as they're at a point where you walk up to the tank to feed them and not have them bolt into the glass you should be ok. Discus are definitely more sensitive to CO2 due to their size. They'll let you know when you overdo things by darkening up or going to the surface to gasp for air. Rummynose tetras are another good indicator fish to use for CO2 since they'll go off color when there's too much.

    -
    S
     
  9. Bimmer

    Bimmer Junior Poster

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    This is where my ignorance comes into play. I know nothing about this. Have you seen any DIY step by steps and list of materials to accomplish this?
     
  10. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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  11. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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  12. Bimmer

    Bimmer Junior Poster

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    Well, the weekend has played out and nothing has changed with my output of CO2. It's still only being dispelled at the rate of one bubble every 8 seconds or a little less. For THAT amount of sugar and live yeast I should have a far better output than that don't you think?
     
  13. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    It's DIY yeast... unless you rig up one monstrosity of a system, don't expect to break 10-15ppm CO2. You need 30-40ppm+ most likely for your level of light; compressed is the easiest way.

    8bpm is on the slow side though. Has it always been this bad? The yeast needs to be fed and partially changed out; run it like EI. Try dry yeast next time as well... bakers yeast is touchier stuff to store and transport because it's a live, active culture. Per weight I believe it's less efficient as well because of the culture media.

    -Philosophos
     
  14. Bimmer

    Bimmer Junior Poster

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    The only difference I was aware of was not heating the water first. Introducing the live yeast to less than 70 degree sugar water. Correct me please if I am misunderstanding. The size of my tank and the lights should have zero bearing on how much CO2 is generated. It may not be enough for that size tank. That I can accept but for the generator not to have better output, that I don't understand unless the water needed to be a tad warmer like closer to room temp or perhaps I should let the yeast get to room temp before adding it to the water.
     
  15. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Cooler water would create a delay in metabolism, not death.

    Your output is definitely low for the system its self. Again, I'd have issues with the yeast you're using; live cultures as blocks of bakers can die off easier than dry yeast. It may have been half dead before you even looked at it.

    The other possibility is too much yeast. If you've put in much more than you would for a couple loaves of bread, you're overdoing it. The yeast will poison its self with its own byproducts, and consume its food source far more rapidly.

    -Philosophos
     
  16. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    The alcohol the yeast generates is the killer for them. You could try some of the more expensive brewing yeasts for output but the cost likely won't be worth it. You'll soon spend far more than on a decent pressurized rig. But the yeast will last longer as it can tolerate more alcohol before poisoning itself.

    For a ( relatively ) cheap sanity check, get a couple of 2 liter soda bottles. Fill one, or two, with two cups of sugar and fill to the top of the label with lukewarm water. Add in your activated yeast. Put an airline in the cap, nothing fancy, just cut a small hole and friction fit the line in. Submerge that end in the same depth of water in your tank and see what the bubble rates are. All told this should cost maybe 5$ and will tell you if what you get out of your mega rig is ok, or just plain off. At that point you either have bad/dead yeast, a bad mixing ratio, or a leak somewhere. You could plumb two of the soda bottle generators together for a higher bubble count as well. If both outdo your rig, then something is definitely amiss.

    -
    S
     
  17. EllenOC

    EllenOC Junior Poster

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    Yes. I use regular buy-it-at-the-grocery-store yeast and get more like 2 or 3 bubbles per second when it's fresh.
     
  18. Bimmer

    Bimmer Junior Poster

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    Well we did a side-by-side comparison. For whatever the reason, the dry yeast beat the live yeast hands down. I'm thinking it's just a bad batch. The INTERESTING thing though is the air hose leaving the generator. It's low on the bottle. Not up high as in the case of the 2-litre bottle where the hose is attached at the TOP of the bottle. The one gallon sprayer bottle I'm using has the inlet way down further. So, as the suggestion of my girfriend I set the bottle at a 45 degree angle so that the entry port of the hose is facing straight up. I'm getting much better yield now. In other words the pressure being at the top of the bottle is the optimum place for it to exit via the hose. Where is was before, all the pressure was at the top of the bottle (duh) and the low pressure was near the exit for the tube. (Girls are SO smart sometimes!) This is one time where I don't mind that she's right!! ....LOL

    Will keep ya'll posted as things progress. While rummaging through some stuff that came with a tank I purchased a few months ago I found a Maxi-Jet MJ-1000 that works perfectly so I'm seriously looking at the venturi DIY posted here.

    Have a Blessed night all!!!

    ~David
     
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