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Old 03-25-2004, 11:45 AM   #1 (permalink)
Sue
 
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Default Got my lights!!! Now what?

I'm new to planted tanks but I've had fish tanks since I was 6 years old. A tank was the first thing I can remember asking Santa Claus for.

I've always been bothered by why I couldn't grow aquatic plants real well. Nothing LPS every told me ever turned out true and usually they knew less than I did. After years and years(I'm 45 years old) of trying different plants I gave up but the thought still bugged me. Stumbled on these boards and poof! found a whole new world of information. I could always see light was my big limiting factor but had no idea high intensity lights exsisted. Knew about the big mh lights like professional green houses use but they were way out of my price range and seemed like overkill on a smallish tank and most are ugly to boot.

Ordered some plants, hooked up a DIY CO2 bottle and talked my husband into buying me a power compact light to fit my 29 gallon tank. The plants came, the light didn't. After a over month of diddling around with the light seller he did finally send a similar item. Had to contact ebay and paypal and complain first. He did send what is probably a better item than what was paid for.
Sent the orbit light. Guess it's taking over Custom Sealifes lighting.
http://www.current-usa.com/
I had him take the actinic lights out and put 2 daylights in. I now have a kazonking 130 watts over my little 29g. I had just done a 1/2 tank water change that morning. Light just arrived and has been on the tank about 2 hrs now. Plants are starting to pearl now like crazy. They only pearled before when the sun was streaming in on the tank from the window.

I know I need deeper substrate but I'm going to be moving about 3 miles down the road from here in a few weeks. Figured they can last for a bit in my plain old gravel. I plan on having some eco-complete ready for moving day.

I have very soft, acidic water. Out of the tap it runs about 6. The Kh and GH won't read unless I add 2 heaping tablespoons of baking soda and crushed oyster shell. Haven't tested it yet today, like I said I had barely finished a major water change. Now that I've added the lights I thought I should wait a few hours. Plants are sure happy and the guppies are doing what guppies do best. I try to adjust it up to a tad above nuetral when I change water. It slowly drops back down as the co2 and whatever is in my well get working again.
I also add Kent Freshwater Plant K + FE formula at about 1/2 the recommended dose. Same with the old standby Planttabbs, 1/2 the recommended dosage. The tank only had 40 watts and whatever came in the west window (good light window for houseplants). Should I just play it by ear with fert. increases?
Is green water inevitable?
The tank itself has been set up for many years. The plants have been growing for over a month. My sunset hygro was even pink with only 40 watts. Oddly enough I didn't have much of an algae problem before. Had some bba which I kind of tolerated because at least it was a plant of sorts and alive and some brown algae along the bottom and in corners. I have 2 ttos and 2 SAE's in the tank, Several ghost shrimp, pond snails, ramshorn snails, MTS and 2 big mystery snails. They have always seemed to be able to keep things at bay without bothering plants much.
I have had watersprite and salvinia in this tank for 15 years. Only tank plants I could grow until recently.
The new plants I put in there were mostly crypts, java fern, rotala indica, some sort of apongeton that is making lots of new plants. Had a bunch of hornwort but I've slowly thinned it out as I got a little more confident. Just have a glob of it hiding some equipment in a corner now. There are some lotus bulbs too. One has some big green leaves on it. The other 3 are just barely sprouting. One with leaves was closest to the window. The others I can pretty safely say weren't getting enough light. Had them in the front so I could watch them.

Guess I'm relieved and worried all at the same time. When the new plants came the tank instantly became heavily planted. Did change my water a bit. I had to start adding things and testing once again.
The guppies are all fish that have lived and bred in my water for many generations. You have no idea how hard it is to find a healthy fancy guppy here! I hadn't had to bother testing for ages because I don't mind frequent, large water changes and could keep the tank pretty clean. Been testing since the plants arrived now.

Right now I have the light set up on it's legs. Am I better off setting it on the glass top? Do I leave the legs on and take the glass top off?
I'm not adverse to letting the lotus climb out and try to bloom but I suppose I might loose a few shrimp that way.

Is there anything I should be on the lookout for?

Kind of strange having a nearly 40 year old question I've had answered but it's brought a few others. At least a don't think they'll irk me for a lifetime.

Can't find a nitrate test locally. Have to get one online I guess.

Ran out of epsom salts, on tommorrows grocery list. Have chickens so I always have chicken grit. My kh and gh have been running about 2 with what I've been adding. Do I take it a bit higher? Do I jeapordize the fish changing those abrubtly? I brought it to 2 over a full month. Was being cautious. You can't read it out of the tap.

Just a guess but I suspect the iron in the water is ok. Even in low light the sunset hygro was pink. I have to regularly clean the bathroom fixtures with acid to remove rust stain. Don't have iron plumbing. But is that in a form the plants can readily use[/b]? I grow a ton of land plants inside and outside the house and they do improve with a little epsom salts, never look iron starved. Are the aquatic plants really that different?

What am I forgetting?
overlooking?

Am I just being a worry wart? I can tell a sick houseplant from a healthy one. People drive for miles to gawk at my gardens. Do I just deal with it like my land plants?
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Old 03-25-2004, 12:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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There is a similar discussion going on here https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...opic.php?t=689

You will probably find a lot of useful info for what you are planning.
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Old 03-25-2004, 04:17 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I've been reading it.

Got the moonlight on now. That's neat! Will have to put the tank in my bedroom when I move to the farm. Gives me a reason to bug hubby for a bigger tank for the living room.

I do have a CO2 tank and regulator. Got a deal on ebay. Seems to be nearly new. Same as the ehiem that Drs. Foster and Smith sells. No place to fill it around here. Friends with the local Coca Cola repair/setup man and he says even the distributor here sends their tanks someplace else to get filled. No idea where but it isn't nearby. I live in a very remote area. No welding shops and the soda dealers take it someplace else. I'm cringing thinking I may have to go to Boston for gas. The coke place was my best shot and that's 50 miles away.
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Old 03-25-2004, 04:33 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Wow thats a bummer......Good luck on your co2 search!
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Old 03-26-2004, 03:04 AM   #5 (permalink)
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DIY will work on a 29 fine. I'll get it figured out.

Will take me a bit to get a big tank. Too much to do with the impending move.
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Old 03-26-2004, 03:40 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Default Got my lights!!! Now what?

Sue, you doing good girl!

Kick KH/GH up to 4-5 if you maintain CO2. Raise it slowly and your Guppies, the ancestors of which lived in hard, brackish water, will be just fine.

CO2 is available in 100lb tanks (when you finally find it) and that would last you at least a year. Maybe much more.

Think of Light and CO2 as the accelerator on a car -- the harder you push the faster things happen whether it's growth or green water. Easier to grow -- but easier to crash. You can, however, grow plants with CO2 that are very difficult to impossible without -- like Lagarosiphon m. and the beautiful but fickle Ludwigia inclinata.

Also, maintaining your pH below 7 allows for a more desirable tank chemistry all around. Certain nutrients are more available and ammonia less toxic, for instance.

In any case, there is always a limiting factor. Plenty of light? CO2 is the limiting factor. Add CO2 -- now it's macros N K and P. Provide those in abundance -- now it the minors Fe, Mg, Ca, etc.. Liepzig's law provides a good picture of this with a barrel, the staves of which are the above ingredients. Only have half as much Mg as is needed and that stave is half the length of the rest. Water (potential growth) runs out halfway up the barrel.

Green water is not inevitable, esp. in a more northern climate such as yours. I had a terrible problem here in Florida. I finally got a UV sterilizer, killed the stuff a couple times and it never came back. Now that I have fry and raise Daphnia, I actively court green water and can't get enough!

I vote you leave the glass off. Enjoy emergent growth, flowers maybe and I think the glass cuts down on light.

Get your lights from A and H supply from now on. Much cheaper and great instructions and support.

Test kits are nice but once you figure the amount of N to add -- it almost never changes. All my kits sit unused once I figure out the amount of N and P to add after water changes. Chuck Gadd has a great nutrient calculator where you just put in the tanks size in gal. type in the desired % and it gives you the amount of N or P to add. Start with this amount, check with test kit for a couple of weeks and you can put that kit away until you set up your next tank.

That's right sue, next tank, 'cause it's a disease and it's hopeless...

Give us a shout if you need help or just to let us know how it's going.

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Old 03-26-2004, 05:32 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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100 lb tank of co2? That would be nice.....
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Old 03-26-2004, 07:17 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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<<100 lb tank of co2? That would be nice..... >>

Yeah, and they deliver it and pick up empties for no extra charge, $25.00 total. They're a local beverage company.

Just run 1/2 inch schedule 40 PVC pipe throughout the house by way of the attic and drop/fish a line down and tap into it where ever there is a tank(s).

Pretty darn convenient I'd say!

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Old 03-27-2004, 02:34 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I've got a little 10g in storage in the attic right now and I've had to sit on my hands not to set it up again.

Getting hardness of 4 or 5 I'm beginning to think is impossible. If I take it beyond a "maybe" 2 my ph is getting way up there.
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Old 03-28-2004, 03:41 AM   #10 (permalink)
 
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<< I've got a little 10g in storage in the attic right now and I've had to sit on my hands not to set it up again.

Getting hardness of 4 or 5 I'm beginning to think is impossible. If I take it beyond a "maybe" 2 my ph is getting way up there.>>

That's not a bad thing and I bet your Guppies will love you for it. I'm surprized they are not showing calcium deficiencies bigtime.

You're apparently not understanding the relationship between pH, alk. and hardness and, believe me, you're not alone in this. Rather than paraphrase it yet again, go read that section once more on The Krib. George Booth has a good primer on his site as well.

You're not really affecting the amount of carbon in your water, which is what the plants need, by adding baking soda, lime, chicken grit or whatever it is one wishes to use to increase hardness. Adding those only really affects the pH test due to the way we have separated alk from "hardness". For growing plants, they still have whatever carbon was in the water, plus now they have Ca, Mg, etc. -- some of the important building blocks of life. Plants and most livebearers do better in water with some hardness -- pH be danged.

Now, it would be nice to be able to kick it back to under 7 as better tank chemistry occurs in this range (slightly acid). Plus, then the plants would also have even more carbon. Consider a DIY CO2 unit or two. Not really that big a deal if you only have one tank.

You have some interesting water there, Sue. I bet it's loaded with CO2 to have a pH like that. I say kick the hardness up to 4-5 slowly and don't worry about the pH. Chicken grit should bring it up slowly (I think). They don't add any medications or such to grit, do they? Baking soda or lime is a quick way to add hardness.... hey wait, if you have any lime, and what farm wouldn't, try adding that to a bucket of your well water and see if it completely dissolves and how fast. That should give us an idea of how much CO2 is in your water. If, the lime kicks out of solution immediatley as a precipitate we'll know otherwise.

CO2 may also be inffered from chart

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