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Plant Man
07-26-2010, 08:03 PM
Hey fellow aquatic weed growers or those with weed growing aspirations! I was a poster on this site a few months ago but decided to leave in order to find information more consistent with my needs. I would like to share some of this info with those members who would like to successfully grow some aquatic weeds but have had difficulty. Something that has been an impossible endeavored for many, me included. As there are so many new people on this site, I figured here would be the best place to post my experiences. I hope someone will find some useful information here. This post is filled with some of the most up to date information on the net.

I went to a few other sites that specialize in planted tanks. I learned quite a lot. With that knowledge I attempted to run an experiment. I set up conditions in my aquarium that was said would result in an algae outbreak in my tank. I did this in order to figure out for myself what exactly it took each time to remove the algae. What I have learned, I have been able to demonstrate in my tank far more consistently and reliably then what I had been doing before. Although what I had been doing worked, it only worked to a point.

My question was, “What really causes algae in the planted aquarium?” and “Can I really control it, or even eliminate it without having to pull the plants out of the tank?”

Yes I can,

Before,

http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p296/TheMailman6666/-2515.jpg

After,

http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p296/TheMailman6666/timelaps16-4010.jpg

I thought I had a fairly firm grip on the answer to this (Phosphate and or Nitrate) because this is what we are told at the LFS. “Here, buy this, you have too much Phosphate.” Clerk directs you to Phos-Zorb or some other expensive Phosphate absorbing product. I have learned and demonstrated that Phosphate or any other nutrient for that matter does not directly cause algae. I also assumed that a balance of some nutrient was the answer. Like some crazy ratio between Nitrate and Phosphate. This has turned out to be rubbish! Very low Phosphate can result in GSA and very low Nitrate will more then likely result in BBA both of which I have personally experienced through limiting each Phosphate and Nitrate at different times.

Using the information I gathered, I induced BBA, GSA and BGA (the most common to show up in a mature aquarium) two times, easily. With the info I learned, I twice have turned the tables on them almost as easy. BBA or “Black Beard Algae” and BGA “Blue Green Algae” were the easier ones to turn around in a short period of time 5-6 days max with no signs of them at all after 2 weeks. GSA or Green Spot Algae has taken longer, much longer, but it stops growing and recedes…slowly, under the right conditions, which are surprisingly easy to obtain.

Light,

6,700kelvin has been shown to give the best possible growth per watt. 1 watt of T-5 6,700k equals “about” 1.18 watts of T-8 and “about” 1.32 watts of T-12 but this has many variables not limited to but including fixture height, tank depth and bulb Kelvin. As well different types of lighting put out different levels of light per watt, making quoting watts per gallon pointless. The only way to really know how much light any particular tank is getting would be to measure at the substrate with a PAR light meter. The measuring of light by WPG is so inaccurate it’s simply laughable. However, if you know what type of lighting you have, you can guess. T-5 and T-8 are the most popular and 1 to 1.5 watts is usually sufficient to grow just about anything you may want as long as there are ample Co2/nutrients available. For instance, I am getting good growth from just .91 watts per gallon from a combination of two 21 watt bulbs on my 46 Bowfront. A 10,000K and 6,700k, but this really is the lowest I think I could go and still maintain good growth.

Nutrients,

I fertilize the aquarium using the EI method know for just over 2 months. I dose ¼ teaspoon Potassium Nitrate (KN03) 1/8 teaspoon Mono Potassium Phosphate (KH2PO4), 1/8 teaspoon Potassium Sulfate (K2SO4) and Plantex CSM+B enriched farther with extra Iron Chelate and Ferrous Gluconate. I dose these three times per week with a week ending 40% water change. The tank has LOTS of nutrients in it. The two I test for are Nitrate and Potassium, at any given time the tank has no less 20ppm Nitrate and 5-10 ppm Phosphate! WOW that’s a lot of Phophate! Do I have algae? No, I do not.

The plants/weeds we grow in our aquariums need Light and Carbon (the two most important nutrients) in order to utilize Nitrate, Phosphate, Potassium, Iron (Macronutrients) and Copper, Zinc, Magnesium, Boron, Manganese and Molybdenum, (Micronutrients) through photosynthesis. It seems the “trick” for the aquarist, is controlling the correct balance not of all the individual nutrients but just Light and Co2 (Carbon) and keeping your other nutrients in a state of constant excess, whether through a combination of enriched substrate and water dosing or just through water dosing (what I do). There are many popular planted tank Gurus out there that obtain this but in different ways. Two popular ones are Diana Walstad who uses a heavy fertilizer rich substrate, low Co2 and low light (a “low tec” philosophy) and Tom Barr who uses a method of excess nutrients in the water column with a lightly enriched substrate, high Co2 and slightly higher light (a more “high tec” philosophy). Both methods work but Tom’s and others who enrich there tanks with Co2 look much crisper and cleaner. There is a clear difference in the look of a Co2 enriched tank and non Co2 enriched tank. Mainly because of the slower growth in a non Co2 enriched tank you will see a lot older lightly wilted leaves then you will see in a Co2 enriched tank. As the growth is so much faster in the Co2 enriched tank and so the aquarist is able to clip out all the really old leaves which leave them with a much cleaner newer looking environment. Both methods can be used to create beautiful planted aquaria but I personally prefer the hyper clean look you can more easily achieve with the use of stable high Co2 (above 30ppm) and unlimited nutrients.

Co2,

The basic idea seems to be, that for just about any given amount of light, Co2 is needed, except in the case of extremely low light tanks or low tech as they are known. Very low light keeps photosynthesis at such a low rate that even 3-4 ppm of Co2 will be “sufficient”, although still not optimum. It turns out, even in low light environments Co2 has been shown to be very beneficial by creating a stronger buffer against algae growth and improving growth around 10-15% depending on how “low” the light is. Co2 at above 30ppm, in conjunction with non limited nutrients grows and maintains healthy leaf structure and it does it quickly. The most troublesome issue aquatic weed grower’s deal with in regards to Co2 is how to measure how much Co2 is in the water. Unfortunately, there is no solid approach to this issue. There are “Co2/KH charts” on the internet but this method involves testing the PH and KH of aquarium water and is highly inaccurate for many reasons, mostly because there are many other buffers in the tanks water that negatively effect the test kits accuracy. Even if one “calibrates” their test kit there are so many things that can negatively effect the kits performance/accuracy that they still only amount to a essentially a best guess. There is a newish technology available called a Drop Checker which is a bit more accurate at measuring Co2 concentrations if you use a calibrated solution in it and not tank water but even this has its limits. The best way to measure if your aquarium has sufficient Co2 is through direct observation.

Plant Man
07-26-2010, 08:03 PM
Questions one needs to asked themselves.

“Do I have algae and is it growing, or dying back?

What are my controls?

If the hypothesis is true that “High co2 and lower light make it more difficult for algae to grow” (for whatever reason) then the opposite should also be true. High light and low Co2 should promote algae growth. From what I have learned, light controls the demand for Co2 which in turn controls the demand for nutrients. Whatever your light level is, it would only make sense that there is an optimum/minimum Co2 ppm that corresponds to the light level. However, I have proven to myself that there is also another factor, plant load. The more plant load a tank has the more Co2 is required regardless of the level of light. Many people experience a time of even/solid growth with out any algae growth issues and then all of a sudden as if over night BAM BBA shows up. As the plant load grew so did the demand for Co2 which is more then likely what causes the issue in a tank that has sufficient nutrients. There is a very easy way to control all uptake levels and that is through light levels. Turning down the lights, slows down growth and makes our aquatic gardening much easier. It really does. Turning down the lights lessens the demand for Co2 and nutrients. So in general, less of everything is needed to maintain a larger plant load without algae issues and general maintenance becomes far easier as well. I have demonstrated in my own tank that having high light without sufficient Co2 caused stunted growth in my aquarium plants within 2-3 days (even when all the other nutrients were in excess) and within a week BBA and BGA reared there ugly heads. BBA showed up gradually after a few days and BGA showed up (for me) right after a 40% water change that included non limiting nutrients or EI dosing. Co2 and Light is the “engine” that burns the fuel that we provide, through just water changes, fertilizer enriched water changes or either of these with an enriched substrate. No one knows for sure why but keeping your light below certain intensity (depending on type T-8, T-5 and height of fixture) and having very high Co2 with unlimited nutrients will minimize algae growth. Apparently, you can have low light and high Co2 but not high light and low Co2. Lot’s of light without the carbon to support it causes a carbon deficiency and subsequently algae will be the result and not always right away but eventually, depending on how healthy the plants are and how extreme the imbalance. I am dosing EI with Phosphate levels of 5-10ppm, Nitrate not below 20ppm, low light and high Co2. Algae of all kinds die under these conditions in my tank as long as I keep my T-5 lights relatively low and my Co2 as high as I can (over 35ppm). I probably could up the lighting a bit more without issue. However, if I turn off my Co2, I will get lots of algae. Is the fertilizer the culprit or the lack of an engine to burn it and keep the plants healthy? So, as it turns out, Phosphate is not the culprit that we all thought it was. It is suggested possibly that lots of light without a relative carbon source actually damages aquatic weeds and causes algae to take hold of the dieing rotting parts of the leafs (the edges on most species). For me the answer has been to keep my light surprisingly low with Co2 as high as I can get it and lots of nutrients through dosing EI (Estimative Index), Tom Barr’s system. If you dose IE without a tightly controlled Co2 you will have algae and lots of it, which happens because of the drop in Co2 levels.

It has been just over 2 months or so and I have induced algae each of those months. I raised the light to 1.8 wpg (from .91) with a 12 hour photoperiod and turned off the Co2 which slowed growth substantially in the tank. This action caused damage to the plant leaves and consequently algae to grow on the damaged leaves. I then reversed the conditions back to .91 watts per gallon on a 10 hour photoperiod and turned the Co2 back on which increased growth substantially which allowed me to clip out the damaged leaves and eradicate said algae. The new leaves stay healthy and so algae cannot grow on them. In time you end up with an algae free tank. Clearly, to me anyway, keeping the light low and raising Co2 levels works to eradicate algae very quickly. I should of course mention that I also use Excel at twice the dose (two caps per day in my 46gallon) to help stabilize my DIY Co2. I use a 3 bottle DIY Co2 system which is not as stable as a pressurized system. My plants grow faster and healthier under lower light (.91 watts of T-5, 1 inch off the surface) and high Co2 then under twice the light 1.8 watts and low Co2. Phosphate or Nitrate does not seem to cause algae in my tank, a low Co2 high light condition seems to.

My tank has gone through some rather massive changes under the low light/high Co2/high nutrient conditions. I have removed a few plants and rearranged a few others due to all the growth but clearly my tank is growing like crazy and all under less then 1 T-5 watt per gallon! In 2 ½ months the Java Ferns have exploded. The Cryptocoryne Wendii Brown had to be removed and sold as it was simply just too big for the tank. Even the Ludwigia Glandulosa stem plant is growing; although not as red as it was under brighter light it is very healthy and growing.

http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p296/TheMailman6666/shipping019.jpg

2 months ago, some will remember seeing pictures. I had a nice tank that I was very proud of. However, once the plant load reached a point I started fighting BBA GSA and even BGA. I was like what the hell is going on here? I turns out my Co2 was no longer sufficient to keep up with the light I was providing (1.8 watts of T-5) and the higher total plant load. Lowering the lights and making my DIY Co2 more efficient has solved the problems.

Then,

http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p296/TheMailman6666/Tankpicureit5.jpg


And now!

http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p296/TheMailman6666/5thweekEI.jpg

The Java ferns have simply exploded over the last 2 ½ months.

About EI,

Anyone wanting to give EI a chance needs to understand that if you get an Algae outbreak it is not the fertilizing that is causing the issue. You have to much light or not enough Co2 or a combination. Also, EI is not a rigid dosing regime; you should test for Nitrate and Phosphate for the first few months, so you can modify it to suit your particular tanks uptake rates. It’s not that having to much of either will cause algae it’s just having a lot of extra at water change time is simply a waist of fertilizer. As well, as the plant load grows you may want to retest. Test after the water change. Also 50% water changes are not rigid; I am doing 40% and may be able to drop that even more, it all depends on your particular tanks uptake based on current tank conditions and plants species.

Well, that took a loooong time to write. LOL

I hope someone gets something good from it.

Thanks,

SkipW
07-28-2010, 09:04 PM
That's a lot to take in, but looks like a good collection of data.
I'll have to read through it a few times to grasp the concept, but you've peeked my interest enough to at least consider playing around with CO2 .... damn you!

Good Post. thumbs2:

Scrup
07-28-2010, 09:15 PM
Interesting. So on this methodology, if you increased the co2 output it could compensate for higher lighting, resulting in more plant growth without the algae?

Plant Man
07-29-2010, 12:52 AM
Interesting. So on this methodology, if you increased the co2 output it could compensate for higher lighting, resulting in more plant growth without the algae?

That is the theory. It is not mine though. These are my experiences from running EI (Tom Barr's Fertilizing method). So far, all he has thought me has been true.

You want the limiting factor for your plants growth to be light not Co2, Nitrate or even Phosphate.

When he told me I thought he was whack! LOL. 5-10ppm of Phosphate, I said "Tom, your nuts buddy!" But, I said OK and ran with it. Firstly, I limited Phosphate and ended with lots of GSA, I limited Nitrate and ended up with tons of BBA and BGA. I limited light down to .91 watts, tested for Phosphate and Nitrate closely keeping them 15-25 (Nitrate) 5-10 (Phosphate) and my plants went nuts and so I started clipping/trimming. No new algae grew on any new leaves and eventually I had an algae free tank! The BBA/BGA just dies off, GSA stops growing, recedes slowly. The plants grow faster so you clip out the leaves that it’s on. The idea works! I am going to up my lighting just a bit to 1.4 watts and see what happens.

Brhino
07-29-2010, 01:05 AM
a couple questions from a beginner's perspective:

1. your fert list is an intimating-looking list. Where do you get all that from?
2. what's your substrate? Plain gravel, or one of the enriched types?
3. Assuming a person has an aquarium and all the basic fish-keeping equipment but doesn't have anything specialized for plants, what equipment is needed to get this style of system up and running?

Plant Man
07-29-2010, 01:16 AM
That's a lot to take in, but looks like a good collection of data.
I'll have to read through it a few times to grasp the concept, but you've peeked my interest enough to at least consider playing around with CO2 .... damn you!

Good Post. thumbs2:

Just remember, you need it to be very stable. I run 3 two L glass bottles and double Excel to help stabilize it farther. Co2 stability is VERY important.

http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p296/TheMailman6666/co2valvessetup.jpg

I designed an inline diffuser out of 2 pythons in order to get 100% diffusion.

http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p296/TheMailman6666/defuser010.jpg

Good filtration is also important. Admittedly I have gone overboard. One canister would work fine on this tank.

http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p296/TheMailman6666/full007.jpg

Plant Man
07-29-2010, 01:17 AM
And circulation, you need good water movement.

These work great, Hydor Koralia

http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p296/TheMailman6666/hydor_koralia.jpg

Plant Man
07-29-2010, 01:34 AM
a couple questions from a beginner's perspective:

1. your fert list is an intimating-looking list. Where do you get all that from?
2. what's your substrate? Plain gravel, or one of the enriched types?
3. Assuming a person has an aquarium and all the basic fish-keeping equipment but doesn't have anything specialized for plants, what equipment is needed to get this style of system up and running?


The fertilizer can be purchased from a number of sites online. They probably don’t want me mentioning specific places in the open forum but here’s a picture. I received it in less then a week. And it’s enough to last me years! All for around then 30-35 dollars!

http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p296/TheMailman6666/co2023.jpg
http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p296/TheMailman6666/ferts004.jpg

CSM+B and the extra Irons can be pre mixed in a fertilizer dosing bottle for liquid dosing the others you simply scoop into your water change bucket or dump directly into the tank. I mix them in a bucket and pour them in.

Substrate is Fluorite red and black mixed and a bag of Eco-complete under it.

I recommend a Canister filter (Eheim classics are the best) as you can very easily control surface agitation. You need to keep the surface relatively calm. But some HOBs will work if they don’t cause the water to break at the surface.

You need a Co2 diffuser and Co2 system either DIY or pressurized.

SunSchein89
07-29-2010, 08:50 AM
Nice read thumbs2: . Always like some in depth info and conversation on planted tanks. I was actually just going through a lot of these thought processes in my head myself. My 20 high has recently come across some kind of thread/hair algae. Just did a little googling and found out that it may be an excess of iron, which I was dosing extra of via leaf zone to try to help my red plants I bought already half dead come back to life.

I also, just today, started dosing excel in addition to my DIY co2. While reading your post, I decided to continue dosing excel, and then I came across the part where you said you use it in addition to your DIY co2; good to reinforce my thinking. My co2 batches I make last me about a week, but I notice that within 24 hours or so of my weekly water change, my drop checker starts turning blue, and is normally a nice blue color just before the water change. There still seems to be plenty of life in the bottle, because when I shake it, bubbles explode out of the air stone and I can hear the bottles whistling with pressure, but it doesn't want to come out consistently after the week is up.

I think my overcompensating for iron and the fluctuating co2 levels at the end of the batch are what's causing this little algae problem. Hopefully, removing the leaf zone dosing and just sticking with flourish, now in addition to adding excel will solve this, what do you think?

Plant Man
07-29-2010, 12:09 PM
Nice read thumbs2: . Always like some in depth info and conversation on planted tanks. I was actually just going through a lot of these thought processes in my head myself. My 20 high has recently come across some kind of thread/hair algae. Just did a little googling and found out that it may be an excess of iron, which I was dosing extra of via leaf zone to try to help my red plants I bought already half dead come back to life.

I also, just today, started dosing excel in addition to my DIY co2. While reading your post, I decided to continue dosing excel, and then I came across the part where you said you use it in addition to your DIY co2; good to reinforce my thinking. My co2 batches I make last me about a week, but I notice that within 24 hours or so of my weekly water change, my drop checker starts turning blue, and is normally a nice blue color just before the water change. There still seems to be plenty of life in the bottle, because when I shake it, bubbles explode out of the air stone and I can hear the bottles whistling with pressure, but it doesn't want to come out consistently after the week is up.

I think my overcompensating for iron and the fluctuating co2 levels at the end of the batch are what's causing this little algae problem. Hopefully, removing the leaf zone dosing and just sticking with flourish, now in addition to adding excel will solve this, what do you think?

What type (T-8 or T-5) lighting do you have?

I would suggest you look for leaks in you Co2 system or change you’re recipe.

This recipe lasts 3 weeks.

Fill bottle with "tank water" 9/10 full.
Add 1 cup sugar and 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
Mix till clear
Add 1/4 teaspoon yeast, give the bottle a few bumps to make the majority of the yeast sink (do not shake).

See if you can’t add a bottle to your system and then you can change one every week and a half so you’ll always have flow.

Plant Man
07-29-2010, 02:04 PM
My 20 high has recently come across some kind of thread/hair algae. Just did a little googling and found out that it may be an excess of iron, which I was dosing extra of via leaf zone to try to help my red plants I bought already half dead come back to life.


Nope, it's not the iron causing it. I'm confident that I am dosing more iron then you. I dose CSM+B that has Iron in it, plus I have enriched the iron in the CSM+B with Iron Chelate 13% and Ferrous Gluconate. I dose this 3 times per week!

Also, here's something interesting, yesterday I did a fairly large rescape of the tank followed by a 40% water change (no ferts). I tossed out some plants and rearranged others. I hadn't tested for about 2 weeks so I ran a Nitrate and a Phosphate test. Nitrate 45ppm, Phosphate is still over 5ppm and it’s been like this for over a month! I still show no signs of new algae! :ssuprised: However, this is clearly a waist of Fertilizers. So I'm going to go half EI to bring it down a pinch.

It's all about lots of Co2/nutrients with the appropriate light level and good circulation. You don’t want the plants running out of anything. Lowering your lights helps you to not run out of ferts/Co2.

Algae wise, I think it may have to do with the plants being able to use the available light to its fullest, because everything else the plants need to grow is in excess. Maybe for some reason this situation is not optimum for algae, I don’t know and to be honest, I don’t care at this point. I just want to clip and shape.

Personally, I really enjoy watching my tank change so fast. Sometimes for the better sometimes for the worse (scapewise). But having a fast growing tank allows one to experiment with clipping and learn a lot about how there plants grow after clipping. How you can shape them. Some plants get really bushy and thick when you clip them down to 2 inchs from the substrate. Some stem plants split at the pint you clipped them and grow into 2 stems. It’s really interesting learning.

Scrup
07-29-2010, 07:56 PM
Just curious, what purpose does the filtration serve in this setup? conversion of ammonia? or physical removal of debris?

co2 stability is essential for keeping the plants alive, or for keeping the algae at bay? Slightly confused on this aspect. Also, what temps would you suggest to be ideal?

And if you were to go heavy on the co2 would you suggest a buffering agent of some sort, since I imagine without it, depending on the water source, the PH could drop tremendously, or am I mistaken on this?

SunSchein89
07-29-2010, 08:38 PM
Ok, well I guess I can keep dosing my leaf zone in addition to flourish and end excel then. The one thing I never did was add the baking soda to the batch and I did admittedly shake vigorously after adding the yeast. I never saw to do any different in any of the write-ups I've seen on it, not to mention I only ever saw anything about baking soda until after I had already tried a few batches; figured it wasn't quite as necessary at that point, but now I'm having second thoughts. Definitely going to try those two things next Wednesday then.

Right now my lighting is a 65 watt (6700K) compact fluorescent on a 20 high tank. What I've been doing is using a 2 liter bottle and making a mix of 2 cups sugar to 1/4 tsp yeast (which has been getting me ~30 ppm co2 for a good 6 1/2 days), do you think I should add more baking soda to this mix with the increased sugar, or would 1/8 tsp still be sufficient? I also never thought of or heard of using tank water for the batch, would this have any better effect over using my tap water that I dechlorinate to put in the tank?

And one more question yet: you talk about good water flow being important in all of this. For my tank, I use an Aqueon 20 HOB filter. The water in the tank is really high; sometimes it touches the glass top on water change days to help keep it high enough so the evaporation doesn't wind up gassing off all my co2 by the end of the week. Do you think a powerhead would be necessary in my case since the tank is only 20 gallons? I know the intake on the HOB filter probably doesn't create too much water flow, but I don't know if it justifies buying a powerhead and cluttering up an already not-so-big tank. Let me know what you think. Thanks for taking the time to answer any questions :22:.

smaug
07-29-2010, 09:21 PM
That looks very nice.It is amazing what can be done with some easy plants and a small tank.I know I had fun when I first got into planted tanks as a newbie.Your getting there,,,,,,,,,,watch out Amano!

Plant Man
07-29-2010, 11:07 PM
That looks very nice.It is amazing what can be done with some easy plants and a small tank.I know I had fun when I first got into planted tanks as a newbie.Your getting there,,,,,,,,,,watch out Amano!

Once I finally go pressure, I think I'll be able to do some amazing things.

Thanks,

Plant Man
07-29-2010, 11:47 PM
Just curious, what purpose does the filtration serve in this setup? conversion of ammonia? or physical removal of debris?

The filtration adds a lot of flow and removes solid waist without it building up in a single canister to quickly. I’ll not have to touch the filters for over a year.


co2 stability is essential for keeping the plants alive, or for keeping the algae at bay? Slightly confused on this aspect. Also, what temps would you suggest to be ideal?

Both, they are one and the same. It is the keeping of the plants at optimum uptake/health that holds the algae back. Making sure that the plants want for nothing is the key. By slowing the plants down (controlling nutrient uptake) with slightly lower light you can more easily maintain nutrients in an excess state at all times.

Plants that are very healthy, with strong leaves do not have algae on them. If you look at a tank that has say lots of BBA, you won’t see it on the tops of the plants where the new healthy leaves are. You see it on the old rotting damaged leaves. This happens because the plant is in need of one or more nutrients that are low or nonexistent in the water column or substrate. It is possible that when plants are unable to get the nutrients externally they then take what they need from the older/lower leaves to build the new leaves up top. Sort of like when an animal is starving the body uses fat cells stored for just that purpose. Or something along those lines, the plant starts eating itself and it starts with the oldest leaves first. These are the leaves that get algae on them. So if you have algae on your plants they are not healthy. It is not to much of something (Phosphate/Nitrate/Potassium/Iron ect.) it is a lack of something.

Temps, I don’t know actual ranges for specific plants, I’m sure you can easily find that online though. But I’m pretty sure most of the popular plants can be grown between 70 to the very low 80s. My tank sits at about 78-79.



And if you were to go heavy on the co2 would you suggest a buffering agent of some sort, since I imagine without it, depending on the water source, the PH could drop tremendously, or am I mistaken on this?

Well with DIY Co2 that is a near impossibility. I mean I’m running three 2 liter bottles and just able to get to 40ppm at peak. Not enough to gas the fish to death.

The PH drop from Co2 is not the same as PH swings caused form General Hardness/Carbonate Hardness changes. PH swings caused from Co2 do not affect fish.

If you run a pressure Co2 system then it is quite possible to over gas the tank and kill all the inhabitants.

Plant Man
07-30-2010, 12:08 AM
Ok, well I guess I can keep dosing my leaf zone in addition to flourish and end excel then. The one thing I never did was add the baking soda to the batch and I did admittedly shake vigorously after adding the yeast. I never saw to do any different in any of the write-ups I've seen on it, not to mention I only ever saw anything about baking soda until after I had already tried a few batches; figured it wasn't quite as necessary at that point, but now I'm having second thoughts. Definitely going to try those two things next Wednesday then.

Keep using Excel it will help you greatly. I cap per day in your 20 should work great.



Right now my lighting is a 65 watt (6700K) compact fluorescent on a 20 high tank. What I've been doing is using a 2 liter bottle and making a mix of 2 cups sugar to 1/4 tsp yeast (which has been getting me ~30 ppm co2 for a good 6 1/2 days), do you think I should add more baking soda to this mix with the increased sugar, or would 1/8 tsp still be sufficient? I also never thought of or heard of using tank water for the batch, would this have any better effect over using my tap water that I dechlorinate to put in the tank?

I wish I could help you with the light but I don’t know much about compact fluorescent bulbs.

I’ve been running DIY Co2 for 6 years or so. The biggest break through I had was when I stopped using tap water. I to tried dechlorinated tap water and this was worse, you’re just adding more chemicals! Please try my recipe. Also 2 cups of sugar is just wasting sugar.

Put 1 cup sugar and 1/8 teaspoon Baking Soda in the bottle.
Add tank water to about 2-3 inches from the top, just too where the bottle starts to round towards the top.
Shake until clear
Add ¼ teaspoon yeast and just let it sink.

You want to minimize as much oxygen as you can in the bottle so fill it up. Co2 is heavier the air and so for the first day or so your just getting air out of it.



And one more question yet: you talk about good water flow being important in all of this. For my tank, I use an Aqueon 20 HOB filter. The water in the tank is really high; sometimes it touches the glass top on water change days to help keep it high enough so the evaporation doesn't wind up gassing off all my co2 by the end of the week. Do you think a powerhead would be necessary in my case since the tank is only 20 gallons? I know the intake on the HOB filter probably doesn't create too much water flow, but I don't know if it justifies buying a powerhead and cluttering up an already not-so-big tank. Let me know what you think. Thanks for taking the time to answer any questions :22:.

Yes. I would suggest you get a small powerhead. You would be surprise what good flow does for your plants.

Scrup
07-30-2010, 06:12 AM
Plants that are very healthy, with strong leaves do not have algae on them. If you look at a tank that has say lots of BBA, you won’t see it on the tops of the plants where the new healthy leaves are. You see it on the old rotting damaged leaves. This happens because the plant is in need of one or more nutrients that are low or nonexistent in the water column or substrate. It is possible that when plants are unable to get the nutrients externally they then take what they need from the older/lower leaves to build the new leaves up top. Sort of like when an animal is starving the body uses fat cells stored for just that purpose. Or something along those lines, the plant starts eating itself and it starts with the oldest leaves first. These are the leaves that get algae on them. So if you have algae on your plants they are not healthy. It is not to much of something (Phosphate/Nitrate/Potassium/Iron ect.) it is a lack of something.
So, what you are saying is, the balance keeps the plants healthy, which means the algae will not grow on them. What about suspended algae and hair algae? those are my main concerns.

Well with DIY Co2 that is a near impossibility. I mean I’m running three 2 liter bottles and just able to get to 40ppm at peak. Not enough to gas the fish to death.
With a fishless setup, in something, say a ten gallon, running three, four, five, two liter bottles, I could pump all the co2 I wanted and not worry about it?

The PH drop from Co2 is not the same as PH swings caused form General Hardness/Carbonate Hardness changes. PH swings caused from Co2 do not affect fish. But I imagine if the PH were to drop to, say...4-5...that could have a negative impact on the plants...

Kind of why I was looking for help in a separate post, as my questions do not concern fish at all.

Plant Man
07-30-2010, 11:32 AM
Kind of why I was looking for help in a separate post, as my questions do not concern fish at all.


Good question! As far as I know going over 35-40 equaling a PH of about 1.5 (like from 7.5 to 6) is all that is needed.

ILuvMyGoldBarb
07-30-2010, 10:57 PM
Plant Man, could you please post a link to the site where you purchased your dry ferts? The site I used to use is now gone.
Thanks

SunSchein89
07-31-2010, 05:51 AM
I'd be interested in the site as well. I think if someone knew enough *cough cough* :rolleyes: they could make a nice write up for all of the aspiring planted tank enthusiasts that have sprung up on the AC on the ins and outs of dry fert dosing. The ease of the liquid ferts is nice and all, but I think I would like some more control over what is going into my tank as well as knowing why I'm doing it and what to look for to know how much to put in.

Lady Hobbs
07-31-2010, 07:38 AM
Plant Man, could you please post a link to the site where you purchased your dry ferts? The site I used to use is now gone.
Thanks

Rex's?
http://www.bestaquariumregulator.com/ferts.html

Plant Man
07-31-2010, 03:37 PM
Rex's?
http://www.bestaquariumregulator.com/ferts.html

Yes, you can get them from him but he's kind of unreliable and a bit of a d$%k!

Go to "Planted Aquarium Fertilizer.com" very professional and you'll get your product quickly.

http://www.aquariumfertilizer.com/

This can help you with dosing EI

http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p296/TheMailman6666/EIHandout.jpg


Just remember that until you reach the plant load you'd like to more or less hold at you need to test for Nitrate and Phosphate every few weeks just to keep an eye on it. So you can adjust if necessary. Make small changes each week. if you test and things seem a bit high just skip a few fertilizing days and test till it drops. Large changes (even if you think are for the better) are generally bad. Change things slowly over time.

If you look at 40-60 gallon you can see what my tank calls for. However, even with my fairly heavy plants load which is growing very quickly I only need half what it suggests. EI dosing is just a starting "guide". You need to test to see just what is "right" for your tank and plant uptake. You can use the Nitrate/Phosphate levels to judge and raise or drop everything with just these to measurements.

Plant Man
07-31-2010, 03:55 PM
Oh ya, you'll need a set of fine spoons. I'm in Canada and I found them at a company called Bed Bath & Beyond.

Dash = 1/8 teaspoon
Pinch = 1/16 teaspoon
Smidgen = 1/32 teaspoon

http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p296/TheMailman6666/spoons.jpg

Plant Man
07-31-2010, 04:53 PM
I found making the CSM+B+Extra Iron mix the hardest to understand.

So here you go, for anyone that wants it.

The formula,
Dry Dosing Plantex CSM+B...
Converting 1 tablespoon to 250ml H20,
20 ml = 1/4 teaspoon of dry fertilizer.
There are 12 - 1/4 teaspoons dissolved
250ml/12=20.83ml.

So to make a 500ml dosing bottle you would to put 2 tablespoons of BSM+B, ½ tablespoon 13% Iron Chelate and ½ tablespoon Ferrous Gluconate into 500ml dosing bottle and add water. This gives you a 20ml liquid dose equaling ¼ teaspoon of CSM+B+extra Iron. The Iron is in both forms, long lasting and short. It must be made in a closed fertilizer dosing bottle and kept in the fridge or it will grow fungus on the surface.

You'll have enough trace mix to last you just about forever!

This equals the nectar from the gods trace mix for your plants! You dose this 3 times per week.


The other 3 ferts, KNO3 (Nitrate), KH2Po4 (Phosphate), and K2So4 (Potassium) I just pre mix in a water change bucket and do a mini 14 L water change three times per week.


And don't forget a 50% water change at the end of every week. This is not ridgid though and can be lessend if your ferts are not climbing. This system floods the water column with ferts and you keep things from getting out of control by doing 50% water changes the level everything before you start the next week.

http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p296/TheMailman6666/ferts2.jpg
http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p296/TheMailman6666/ferts1.jpg

Plant Man
08-26-2010, 07:36 PM
I Thought I would bump this as I've seen a few posts on algae that are not getting responses that really get to the heart of the algae issue in planted tanks.

enzo2564
09-08-2010, 01:49 AM
How do you increase the nitrate levels? I think that that is what is the limiting factor in my tank and causing me to have so many algae problems. I have a 5.5G planted, with three white clouds. I dose nutrafin plant grow every other day (about 1/3-1/2 the recommended weekly dose every time) and flourish tabs every 3 months. I also have one DIY CO2 injector. I have a 12" aqua-glo and a 12" sun-glo on for 12hrs a day. Also would you suggest having the lights on for fewer hours?

Thank you in advance this is a great article.

Plant Man
09-08-2010, 03:47 PM
How do you increase the nitrate levels? I think that that is what is the limiting factor in my tank and causing me to have so many algae problems. I have a 5.5G planted, with three white clouds. I dose nutrafin plant grow every other day (about 1/3-1/2 the recommended weekly dose every time) and flourish tabs every 3 months. I also have one DIY CO2 injector. I have a 12" aqua-glo and a 12" sun-glo on for 12hrs a day. Also would you suggest having the lights on for fewer hours?

Thank you in advance this is a great article.

You can try adding a few more fish or you can dry dose it with Potassium Nitrate.

enzo2564
09-08-2010, 09:14 PM
Ok, I will try adding fish or potassium nitrate. Thank you

AdrienDeLaChicago
09-17-2010, 09:19 AM
Thanks, Plant Man for all of your information.

You made mention of a light meter and using this by testing at the level of substrate at the bottom. I am experimenting with compact fluorescent bulbs and am curious if I should just go to a 15w 18" fluorescent bulb 6500-6700K for my ten gallon tanks. This would give me 1.5w per gallon. Otherwise if this light meter that you mentioned is not too pricey I would be interested in trying one out. I am Googling PAR light meters and am wondering if having one will be worth the investment. I see them for about $50. Do you know of these help you to determine if your bulbs are losing their output. Meaning, in six months or longer it can let you know if it is time to change your bulbs by showing a lower reading over time? I am wondering if this would be a good tool to have.

Thanks for the recommendations on the powder fertilizers. Korith also made mention of using this for his tanks. I am changing my setup and want to find a more reasonable way to fertilize my plants.

AdrienDeLaChicago
09-17-2010, 09:34 AM
Hey, I found a video for a PAR light meter on youtube.com.

Let me see if this works.

WZkzb2y25nA
Can anyone recommend a PAR light meter that is quite accurate and not $500 please? :)

AdrienDeLaChicago
09-17-2010, 09:48 AM
Oh, cool! Looks like I found a place to rent PAR light meters. I would imagine this is a heck of a lot cheaper than paying several hundred bucks.

For anyone that is interested I found this site online. I will give them a try when I am ready. This is going to be fun...and hopefully more affordable. :19:

http://www.globeaqua.com/rental_par_meter.html

Plant Man
09-18-2010, 10:41 PM
Oh, cool! Looks like I found a place to rent PAR light meters. I would imagine this is a heck of a lot cheaper than paying several hundred bucks.

For anyone that is interested I found this site online. I will give them a try when I am ready. This is going to be fun...and hopefully more affordable. :19:

http://www.globeaqua.com/rental_par_meter.html


Very cool!

I have not used a PAR meter before and I am curious what readings you will get from CFLs. I hear many peoples plants not doing very well with them installed in there tanks and then switching to T-5s or T-8s.

Tom Barr suggests for a lowish light tank, PAR should be in the 100 to 120 range at the substrate.

Please keep us posted.

Thanks,


Shawn

AdrienDeLaChicago
09-19-2010, 12:00 AM
Very cool!

Tom Barr suggests for a lowish light tank, PAR should be in the 100 to 120 range at the substrate.

Please keep us posted.

Thanks,


Shawn

Perfect, you just answered my next question. I was not sure what the reading should be at the substrate. You must be psychic. :)

Thanks, Shawn.

Adrien

Plant Man
11-29-2010, 03:37 AM
Well I've gone pressure Co2 and I'm lovin' it! I bought the GLA Choice C02 Regulator and found a great wielding supply place for a 10lb tank.

Total control over my Co2 is making a much more dramatic difference in my tank then I thought it would. But I'm not posting any pictures just yet. I will say however that being able to grow just about anything I want is very exciting!

GLA regulator and large 18in long 2 1/2 inch diameter reactor.

http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p296/TheMailman6666/10lbs.jpg
http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p296/TheMailman6666/Co2007.jpg
http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p296/TheMailman6666/reactor-3.jpg