Warning - long post!!
Hi all. I have been keeping fish for most of my life (I'm 33 now) but just started my first planted tank 2 months ago.
It is a 29gal bowfront, so it is tall, but not a whole lot of "floor" surface. I have sand as my substrate, a 24" t5HO light (2x 24 watts, 1 is a 6700k and pink (plant grow light) one is 10,000k) that is about 25" above the sand surface, and on for 8-10 hours a day. DIY co2 (2 2-liter bottles with champagne yeast) and drop checker (with store-bought 4dkh solution) is always green or lime green (usually in the morning a bit more yellow-green).
I have read a lot about EI here and on Barr report, and have been using seachem ferts so far to approximate EI using the fertilator. I will get dry ferts very soon as I start to run out of Seachem stuff.
My first question has to do with KH/GH. My KH is 3 and my GH is 8 out of the tap, and seems to be holding there in the tank as well. I have read a TON of material that discusses KH and ph swings, and understand that the general consensus is that ph swings caused by co2 don't bother the fish, it is when you start messing with kh (carbonate hardness) that you get problems.
But what about GH? I know EI recommends adding some GH boosted regardless of your GH. But I've also been told that a GH of 8 is fine, and seeing as I have some apistos I don't really want to raise it any higher - they apparently prefer softer water and I love these little buggers! So, what do you think? Should I boost my GH a bit anyway for the plants? By how much? Is boosting GH dangerous like boosting KH? Do I need to do it slowly? Should I raise the tank to whewre I want it first and then start doing it to my new water with changes? Or can I just start with my next water change? In all of my reading and searching I haven't read much about GH and changing it's values, so I'd love to know if it is dangerous for the fish like raising KH is, and if I need to do it at all.
Next question - algae and Java Moss! When I started this tank I was completely new to this, so the first thing I did was upgrade my lighting - ALGAE!!! As I've learned more, I have gotten the algae under control, except... I have some java moss that is growing nicely and attaching to a rock. But it is INFESTED with what I think is hair algae. My whole tank was covered in the stuff for a while, but it seems to be mostly gone. But it's still all over my moss, and is starting to look fuzzy. It doesn't seem to be spreading, so maybe it is dead - but I can't seem to get rid of it. When I try a toothbrush I get some out, but then start pulling the moss out. I'd rather not take the moss out as it took a while to attach to the rock and I really can't remove the rock (forms a cave and I don't want to wig out the fish) but if that's what I need to do I will. Again, I'm pretty sure it isn't spreading anymore, but how do I get rid of it, it is pretty ugly.
Lastly, I am using my Fluval 204 as my co2 diffuser for now. It is working well, but I am intrigued by these atomizers I've read a little about - any advice here?
Thanks for any help! This forum is amazing. I've been lurking for a while, but decided I'd finally jump in and post.