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Old 01-22-2007, 08:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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10 gallon tank
19w florescents (almost a year old)
Fish: 5 black neons, 2 otos, 1 sparkling gourami
Plants: 2 aponogetons, a few small swords, 2 small anubias, and about 15 small vallesnaria connected together
Additives: Excel and Nutrafin Plant-Grow 2-3x per week, Flourish ferts 1-2x per week, root tabs 1-2 months
No CO2 or special plant substrate
40-50% waterchanges weekly

It seems that brush algae is taking over my tank It started with black spots on my anubias, the glass and the resin driftwood. Now I have some patches of thick black brush algae on parts of the anubias and the driftwood, right where the filter's flow hits them. I also have thinner brownish greenish black strands on the rest of the plants and gravel. I've also got some spot algae on the glass but I don't really care about that.

I don't want to add any asexual snails or other fish to eat the algae because I've already got plenty in there.

I read a couple articles that suggested removing all the leaves with the algae and dipping the equipment in a bleach solution. That seems too extreme in my case since all my plants have it, and so does the gravel and ornaments. Wouldn't there still be traces in the water and filter to bring it back after all that work?

I also heard that you can eradicate this algae by increasing CO2 or adding 2-3x the dose or excel. Maybe I'm not adding enough to the tank in the first place? I'm afraid to overdose and harm my fish so I dose on the low side and I don't have real CO2.

I think I need to make a decision soon to either buy special plant equipment or get rid of all the plants. I hate seeing ugly algae and the plants aren't doing so well in the conditions I have right now. There is a lot of waste in the tank (hence the large frequent waterchanges) and I think it might have to do with the plants. Most of them aren't growing very well because the rate of new growth and dying leaves/roots are about the same and its polluting the tank. Maybe its the ottos though, they do poop a lot with those algae wafers. I'm going to college soon so I definately need to be set with the tank by then. I'm pretty sure the water at the college is very hard with a high pH so my fish might suffer. CO2 will lower and soften the water, right? It needs to be either a pretty planted tank or one with silk plants and no algae that the ottos won't eat. Taking out the plants would be easy, but I'd be sad to toss them out and I liked the look of a planted tank.

How much would it aproximately cost to buy compact florescent lighting (where do you even buy this?? I have never seen these in store except for replacement bulbs for the marine eclipse hoods), special plant substrate, and a CO2 system? Would I need plant test kits and more specific nutrient fertilizers, and how much would those cost? I don't really have a job so it might be difficult to afford all of that and then fail.

Also, if I do upgrade the plant system, should I try to treat the algaed plants, start with new plants, or not treat them and hope the algae goes away with the CO2 system and better care?
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Old 01-22-2007, 08:51 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Don't know that I can help you with all of your questions but maybe I can help with some...

Sounds to me like you are shooting for a relatively low maintenance, attractive planted aquarium. If you are starting college you will likely be very busy and not have a lot of time for your aquarium. You also mention that you don't want to spend a lot of money.

Your situation seems tailor made for an El Natural style aquarium. The idea behind this philosophy is to try to create a balance in the aquarium between plants and fish. Using this method you should not need a new light fixture or to add CO2. If you are interested here is a step by step guide and you can browse the forum. If it sounds like it is for you, then I'd also recommend Diana Walstad's book Ecology of the Planted Aquarium.

If that does not appeal to you and you want faster plant growth and higher light you can get a good retrofit kit for a ten gallon aquarium from AH supply for less than $100. You can also do the very cheap DIY CO2.

I think you may also need to reexamine your fertilizers but am not familiar enough with the Nutrafin brand to comment further.

Good luck to you!
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Old 01-23-2007, 07:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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I spent a couple hours reading over el natural articles and it's really interesting, but I don't know if I can handle totally ditching the nitrogen cycle. Its been engrained into my mind for years!

If I did try it, I'd be worried that so many things would go wrong like green water, other algaes, too much organic waste, and out of control ammonia. I don't have anywhere to keep my cycled bio-max safe while I tried this...but maybe I could hook it to a bucket and feed it fish flakes. I'm just very scared that the plants won't soak up ammonia (or that I can find healthy fast growing plants) and the fish will get sick.

I'm thinking about maybe trying it with a small betta tank because the ammonia output would be more managable and with a smaller tank, the project would be less messy. I'd have to find some sort of light fixture since the tank is just a 3 gallon kritter keeper.

The one thing that really appeals to me is the less frequent waterchanges. In college I will have to share a community bathroom with my wing or floor, and I can't see myself dragging 3ish gallon buckets of water so far 2-3 times a week, spilling the whole way. I'm a small person lol. So an el natural tank be a great advantage there. Disadvantages: light source and vacations. I doubt the tank would get any natural sunlight since space is limited so much. During winter and summer vacations they turn off the power so fish and plants definately need to come home with me on a 1-2 hour drive/bus ride. With a traditionally cycled tank, I could bring the media home with me. With el natural...what would happen if I drained most of the water and took out the fish and plants for a month, then put everything back when school started again? Transporting the soil might be messy and then the fish wouldn't have any type of filtration while at home.

Could I keep my nitroen cycle, make the CO2, and buy some flourite to help the plants and discourage algae without investigating in expensive lighting? Or do I need to do all three or else it goes out of balance and growth is limited?

I just read somewhere that flourite doesn't actually have nutrients for the plants, and it just utilizes liquid ferts and converts them for root feeders. Is that true? What is a gravel that will directly feed the roots of my plants?

Gah. I'm starting to wish that I just had a single betta tank...it would be so much easier. I don't want to give away my other fish though
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Old 01-23-2007, 10:33 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Welcome to APC!

Here's some good reading that'll give you more of the basics:

DFW Aquatic Plant Club Articles-- Beginner Basics: Introduction

Rex's Guide to Planted Tanks

Enjoy!
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Old 01-24-2007, 07:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleHippyGirl View Post
During winter and summer vacations they turn off the power so fish and plants definately need to come home with me on a 1-2 hour drive/bus ride. With a traditionally cycled tank, I could bring the media home with me. With el natural...what would happen if I drained most of the water and took out the fish and plants for a month, then put everything back when school started again? Transporting the soil might be messy and then the fish wouldn't have any type of filtration while at home.
(
From my perspective this would outweigh all other concerns because it will make keeping a stable aquarium a real pain unless you are creative...

My suggestion is to keep the plants in flowerpots. Much more transportable that way! Not too hard or messy to uproot and in taking the flowerpots home, you take your biofilter with you!
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Old 01-25-2007, 06:59 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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I think the betta tank with plants will work in this case. The betta would be easily transported home in a bag so that would be no problem. For plants you could have some anubias on a small piece of wood. You could take the wood home with you, just seal it in a plastic bag to keep it wet. Best to drain the tank, sof you do not find it breeding mosquitoes upon your return.
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