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Old 06-28-2004, 05:10 AM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Help with my 75 gal tank

I have two tanks I would like some help with. I will explain the first now and if things go well will talk about the second one later. This first one is a seventy-five gallon tank. I have about 1.5 inches of soil/sand under about 1.5 inches gravel in this tank. This setup is about six months old.

Lighting: I have (6) 40W NO 48 inch tubes in a suspended hood I built. No metal reflectors, just flat white painted plywood. The tubes are 2325 lumens each, cri-84, 6500K Philips daylight deluxe Altos. The bottom of the tubes are 9.5 inches from the water, and I do not presently have a glass top on this tank.

Ferts: I presently use 10 ppm NO3 from KNO4, 1 ppm PO4 from KH2PO4, .2 ppm Fe from Flourish, and .2 ppm Fe from CSM+B, all twice per week with one 50 to 80 % weekly water change. I have 4 Siamese algae eaters, and about eight 1.5 inch long sheepshead minnows (local).

CO2: My pH is about 6.7 to 6.8. kH seems to be about 5.5 to 6.5. GH I think is about 20.
I get some green algae of the front glass and a little on some of the plants. The algae shows up more on the lighter green leaves. Plant growth is slow to moderate. I just cleamed the glass of the algae before the picture. The water is slightly green. I also have a slight biofilm on the surface that will not go away.

I must be doing something right as there is much less algae in this tank as is in my 125 tank. However, I would prefer less algae and a little more growth. What I think is Rotala indica is a bit scrawny, and growth of the crypts is extremely slow. I figured I was planting too heavily causing less light at the bottom so I have thinned out the plants a bit to get more light down below. I may have reduced the bioload too much as the algae is increasing. Before I had reduced the bioload the B. carolina , L. repens, and Cabomba grew quickly near the top of the tank but were shading the bottom areas too much. Part of my problem is aquascaping. I don't know yet how to grow enough of the tall plants without overdoing it and shading the low plants. My goal is a clear tank with little algae. The darker becketti looks pretty algae free and has been in the tank 6 months, but the lighter quick growing ludwigia has a lot of algae visible on the middle and lower leaves.

One of my problems is that the lighting is not the "standard bulbs resting on the glass top" arrangement, so I have never really figured out how high to hang the lights. I therefore do not know if the tank is a high light or low light tank. It always appears dimly lit to me. I don't want to go with a high light tank if less light will do. I have enough problems with deciding how much to dose anyway. It seems every time I reduce ferts or forget to fertilize the algae increases. So I have been hesitant to lower the lights for more intensity.

Any help on dosing and lighting and algae reduction is appreciated.









Regards,
Steve Pituch
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Old 06-28-2004, 06:34 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Three issues ...

1. Light intensity decreases with distance significantly. Your distance of 9.5" is causing a huge loss of light, at least a half. Not now, but once you get the little algae under control, lowering the hood will help greatly.

2. Too much Fe/TE

3. Your GH is 20, that's a lot of Ca. What is your Magnesium? I can predict none or too low to balance the Ca level. This is why your plants don't grow fast enough.


I would discontinue dosing Fe/TE until deficiency symptoms appear and start dosing the same ppm amount of Magnesium as NO3. In your case 10 ppm.

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Old 06-28-2004, 07:10 AM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Steve,

You definitely are not maintaining a high light system. Although your 6 40 watt tubes may come out to 3.2 wpg, the lack of efficient reflectors and hanging of the lighting 9.5 inches from the surface really cuts back down on light.

Your plants need more light, if the bottoms of those plant species are melting away at that planting density. I would address this issue first.

I would raise the CO2 level to 30 ppm.

As a moderately lit system, I believe you are overloading the aquarium with unnecessary fertilizers. The tank is simply not capable of absorbing all that plant food, and most of it is going down the drain at each water change. I would cut back on how much you dose by half, but do it gradually. Let the tank adjust.

Would you be able to dose for consistency? The algae you describe are, IME, signs of instability. I would split it from two times a week to four times a week.

Let us know how it all works out in the end,

Carlos
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Old 06-28-2004, 08:15 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Steve,

I agree that you have a moderately lit or even low-light tank despite the 3+ watts/gallon. You can either change things to get more light in the tank or start treating the tank like a low light tank.

Three things come to mind for increasing the light; 1) lower the fixture, 2) build a "wall" around the top of the tank to reflect light back into the tank and 3) convert the light fixture to use t8 lamps.

I can understant why you wouldn't want to lower the lights or build the "wall". Both moves would damage the open-topped aspect of the tank. It looks to me like the lights in your fixture now are about shoulder-to-shoulder, which means that most of the light from the top half of the lamps is restriking the lamps instead of going down to the water. The light you get going downward may be as little as half of the light that the lamps are producing. A big part of the light that does go down is spilling outside the tank. The rest is being converted to waste heat. T8 lamps will give you about 1/2" more space between lamps where light from the top of the lamps can be reflected down to the water. There will also be less waste heat from the ballast and less waste from the fixture.

Carlos' comments on over-running the demands of the tank are about right. I recently decided that CO2 and fertilizer on two low and moderately lit tanks was doing more harm than good. I stopped treating them like high-light tanks; algae is hugely reduced, no plants were lost, plants are growing well and the tanks are both more pleasant to look at and easier to care for. I made the change in three steps First I shut off the CO2, then I stopped macro fertilizers, then I stopped trace fertilizers. I'm in the process now of returning some of the fertilizers to a level appropriate for the tank. First I found (and it didn't take long) that I needed to go back to trace fertilizers. Now it looks like I'll need to add some potassium, which I will do as KCl


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Old 06-28-2004, 10:27 AM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Edward, Carlos and Roger,

Guys, thanks for your detailed comments. I think you have changed my perspective on this tank. Yes it seems it is quite bright above the lamps due to restrike. Since the soil substrate seems to be working well and I do have a fish load I will try eliminating the co2, macros and traces. I am also not that gung-ho on the open top concept for this tank and may put the glass covers back on too, but then I'll have to lower the lamps a bit more to compensate. I would like to make this a crypt tank so maybe things will work out.

I will post progress as soon as I see it. Thanks again.

Regards,
Steve Pituch
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Old 07-01-2004, 09:57 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Here is a progress report.

I have left the lights the same on the 75 gallon tank but have stopped the co2 and nutrients. With the soil substrate and fish load I think I will try this tank ala Walstad.

My 125 gallon tank was undergoing even more serious algae problems. I had previously adjusted the light heights on this tank so the intensity at the bottom was the same as the 75 gallon tank. So it was really a lo light tank also.

What I have done on the 125 gallon tank is to radically lower the lights (2xMH 175W + 96W PC). I think it can be considered a hi light tank now. I am continuing the co2, but for the time being I've reduced the nutrients to 5 ppm no3, .2 ppm Fe, .2 ppm po4 twice per week. I've also cleaned up the bottom and bleached a lot of the plants.

Here is a comparison of the light intensities now:


Regards,
Steve Pituch
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Old 07-01-2004, 01:15 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Get some plants in these tanks!
That's some skimpy planting!

More plants=> less algae, ala Walstad or not.
Add floaters etc.

What is .2ppm of FE?

I add ml of a trace at a known concentration, I assume this is based off an estimation and not a test kit?

The 125 has soil substrate also?
These are often messy and problematic at higher lighting.

I used less than what you have, about 1/2 as much and had more sand cap, 3-4".

I think both tanks would do better with peat/mulm and a turface or Flourite etc type sub.

Get some plants in there though.
Crank the CO2, keep the KNO3 up.
Regards,
Tom Barr
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Old 07-01-2004, 01:37 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Tom,

The 125 gallon tank has an old Schultz Aquatic plant soil substrate with a lot of mulm. I was adding 10 ppm NO3 from kno3, 1 ppm po4 from KH2PO4, .2 ppm Fe from CSM+B, and .2 ppm Fe from Flourish, twice per week with 80% water changes. Co2 was high, but the light apparently was rather low and considered low light. The 175W MH pendants were about 16 inches from the water. Now they are about 6 inches from the wter. The green algae on the glass, and the brown algae and black beard algae on the lower leaves suddenly got really bad. I also had a very heavy scum on the surface. At this point in time the water temperature in the tank had risen from about 72degF during the winter to about 82degF now in the summer. I am now running a window AC unit to help lower the temps.

This tank was very heavily planted, but to try to get more light to the bottom of the tank I culled out about half the plants. I will add many more plants. I would like to run this as a higher light tank and therefore have lowered the lights. I guess I have to wait for the plants to start using the nutrients.

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Old 07-01-2004, 08:39 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Steve, for surface scum, a couple of Black Mollies will clean that up in a hurry.
I don't understand why you don't bring the lighting down to where you are using more of it than you are in the NO tank. BTW, a gloss white paint, while not as effective as polished metal, is not a bad reflector.
If you've got the light, use it.
Stuff it with plants. Build a heavy plant mass and after getting a handle on balance, you can always slowly exchange nutrient hogs for plants(Crypts.) more to your liking.
Get the CO2 back up to 30ppm. Get the N and P levels up to 15ppm and 1.0 - 1.5ppm. Dosing extra Fe, especially without the plant mass has always spelled problems for me.
I went through similar issues, scaled down a bit, in one of my 55s with 4-
40watt NOs, and after trying this and that, I just decided to load it up and build plant mass, and fertilize to spec. It's working for me.

Len
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Old 07-02-2004, 05:26 AM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Well in both tanks I had everything but the light it seems. 40 ppm CO2, 20 ppm KNo3, 2 ppm PO4 per week. I don't mind having one lo light tank and the 75 has the soil substrate. It will be harder getting a balance in the 125 with the additional lighting. Now I just have to get the plant mass back again. As I said I foolishly cut back on the plants thinking I was blocking the light with them, as the tank looked even darker with the heavy plant load. Time will tell.

Steve
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