T Barr, et al, are absolutely correct!

Paul G

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Sep 28, 2011
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I've been keeping FW tank(s) for a many years, so naturally assumed I had gained some expertise through experience. Oh, the hubris! Just a couple of years ago, after first setting up the 210 gallon display now in operation, I started to pay attention to Walstad, Barr, and others - new insights, very enlightening. I was having difficulties getting plants started, and was fighting algae constantly.

I reached the decision that I would ignore all preconceptions, drive out the myths, do some serious studying, and find a way to get success that other people were demonstrably able to achieve.

I won't make this a litany of all my experiences, as those of you who have already succeeded will be bored, and, in any case, I would rather not embarrass myself describing some of the truly dumb things I did before I learned better.

But I will share the following, as a testimonial:

1.) Excess phosphate and/or nitrate do not promote algae. That phosphate is algae promoter was the most difficult myth to give up, as the implication that it is true seems to permeate the hobby still. Tom has said that if there is any one nutrient that might be described as an algae promoter, that would be ammonia/ammonium. In a properly managed aquarium, between the plants and the biofilter, this should never be an issue.

2.) Establish and maintain stable water chemistry. Settle on a kH and pH relationship which will be a reasonably good predictor of CO2 dissolution. Keep the GH well up so there is no chance of electrolyte shortage. Forget about establishing some special softness or acidity target for your favorite tetra or rasbora - keep it sensible, at least. Peat-filtering is for breeders. An occassional dose of humus organics in a trace/vitamin supplement is sufficient for karmic purposes!

3.) Concentrate on what is working for the plants. If the plants are growing, the algae will subside. Watersprite (Ceratopteris sp) is a weed. Give it lots of fertilizer and you can almost watch it grow. Once I got in the position where I was harvesting huge fronds of Watersprite every couple of days, I noticed that there was no algae anywhere. The troublesome BGA mats on the stem plants, the black crust on the Java ferns, all fully suppressed, indefinitely as far as I can tell.

4.) With the right CO2 dosing and lighting, more nutrient suppresses algae, while insufficient nutrient encourages algae. While not using the EI dosing method, I can say that I am now no longer apprehensive about over-fertilizing. I finally started putting in the ferts at a rate I would not have dreamed of before my education. I test the water chemistry and I observe the plants more patiently. Tom advises that many observable effects can take some time. I am still experimenting, but thus far this tank is densely planted and everything is doing fine.

So, I would have to say thanks, Tom, and the rest of the gurus, for shining that particular light on my path.

Regards,
Paul G
 

tjbuege

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Hi Paul,

Sounds like my story. It's a good feeling, coming to those realizations, isn't it? Like the light bulb comes on and it all makes sense. Well... almost all of it; still working on grasping some of the ideas. Thanks for sharing!
 

Tom Barr

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The goal is have folks spend their time gardening, not squabbling or worrying about algae and stunted plants.
 

AquaticJim

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Aug 2, 2007
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I feel like I have finally "gotten there" I'm actually growing plants and all the other worries are behind me. Now I can start to work on aquascaping and shaping the tank to the ideas that I have in my head.........instead of just warring with algae!
 

Paul G

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Sep 28, 2011
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Independence MO
It's not good if it's a constant burden!

It is absolutely true that there seems little point of going to all this trouble unless in the end you can feel good that you are doing it right for a time extending into the indefinite future. You can't be assured of even the possibility of this unless you try to understand the principles involved and make them work in your favor. It is not a hobby for just anyone, and if there is a tone of sophistry in that, it cannot be helped. There's that hubris again!

I watch the aquarium for hours, listening to Amethystium and Liquid Mind, and am gloriously happy. I have invested time and effort into studying the science and the art (but mostly the science) of how this aquarium works, to the end that I don't have to worry about it or fuss with it from hour to hour or even from day to day. I haven't got it down yet to month to month, but I'm working on it.