3 Week Update & Questions - El Natural - Aquatic Plant Central

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El Natural Diana Walstad's low-maintenance, soil-based 'El Natural' method for keeping plants and fish.

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Old 07-26-2020, 06:32 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 3 Week Update & Questions

Hi all, its been three weeks since I set up my 4.6 gallon tank and I had a few observations and questions about how it has progressed so far.

1) I'm starting to get a decent amount of algae on the glass. This was to be expected since I had the light on for 13 hours a day with a 13 watt 6500k CFL daylight bulb. I'm going to lower the lighting period to 10 hours because it gets about 1 hour of natural sunlight as well and see if the algae goes down. I also want to try and figure out how to incorporate a siesta period into my timer.

2) The dwarf hairgrass is growing really tall, almost 6 inches (a lot taller than I expected). I was wondering if I could trim it or if that would ruin its growth. Also, will it flatten out a bit and flop over? I'm new to dwarf hairgrass but am starting to think I should have gone with mini dwarf hairgrass.

3) Will the hairgrass spread with my gravel size? If you can't tell from the picture the gravel is about the size of the average human pinky fingernail. I feel as if this is too large for the hairgrass to spread in but I could be wrong.

Thanks for reading this!
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Old 07-26-2020, 08:33 AM   #2 (permalink)
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About the algae, I think what you have is Brown Algae. I used to have them too in my tank when it's 2 weeks old and they virtually cover everything, plant leaves, substrate, glass, you name it. I attached the picture below and see if it is indeed the same algae like mine used to have. If it is Brown algae, you shouldn't worry too much because from what I've read and experience, they're common on new setups because of nutrient imbalance and they'll disappear all on their own. Things you can do to mitigate them is scrub every surface you can and do a water change.

For the hairgrass, plants tend to grow taller in lowlight condition and spread in medium to high light condition. From your photo your tank looked quite dim and I guess this is why they're grow tall upwards. I don't know if your gravel size will inhibit the spreads of the hairgrass because I've never use gravel before.
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Old 07-26-2020, 02:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: 3 Week Update & Questions

Thanks for your reply! Based off of your description, your picture, and what I see online I think it is brown algae as well. That's great to here that it should balance out.

That's interesting about the hairgrass and it makes sense. The only thing is that my light is actually pretty bright and I think the camera focused in on the light to make the tank look more dim. I could be completely wrong though. We shall see as time goes on!
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Old 07-26-2020, 03:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: 3 Week Update & Questions

Your gravel size is bigger than ideal, but the main problem is that the gravel layer is too deep for such a small tank, small plants, etc. I would remove at least 1/2 inch (1 cm) of that gravel. Otherwise, the substrate could go severely anaerobic, causing all kinds of problems.

I also wouldn't trim the hair grass. I would definitely reduce the length of lighting and try the Siesta Regimen. I use cheap timers ($5) from hardware stores to manually program lighting schedules. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to do it.
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Old 07-29-2020, 07:20 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: 3 Week Update & Questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by dwalstad View Post
Your gravel size is bigger than ideal, but the main problem is that the gravel layer is too deep for such a small tank, small plants, etc. I would remove at least 1/2 inch (1 cm) of that gravel. Otherwise, the substrate could go severely anaerobic, causing all kinds of problems.

I also wouldn't trim the hair grass. I would definitely reduce the length of lighting and try the Siesta Regimen. I use cheap timers ($5) from hardware stores to manually program lighting schedules. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to do it.
Thank you! Since this post, I think the substrate has gone very anaerobic like you mentioned. There are bubbles on almost all the surfaces of the plants but I believe the bubbles are on algae and not from the plants themselves. There is some very thin layers of algae covering some of the back stem plants.

I will try my best to skim off some of the gravel throughout the tank without disturbing it as best as I can, continue doing water changes and try and get the ideal lighting periods. Hopefully it starts to balance in the coming weeks.

Again, appreciate all the help!
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