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Old 12-04-2006, 08:37 PM   #8 (permalink)
niko
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It's a common mistake to look at a "snapshot" of a planted tank.

For example people will suggest certain concentration of fertilizers (say 5-10 ppm N and 0.25-0.5 ppm P). But these are concentrations for a well established tank. Also when the plants grow you may need to increase the N or the P, or both.

Amano's liquid fertilizing "system" is based on the tank "phases". Simply put fertilization is not the same starting with Day 1.

Same goes for lighting. And only a couple of years ago Amano started to use daily "phases" for the light too (about 4 hours of low light, 2-4 hours of very intensive light, about 4 hours of low light).

If we want a practical and useful info on lighting we must point out at least 2 more things:

1. Duration of the lighting period (photoperiod)
2. Intensity of the light

Such pointers will save many issues in the most critical phase of the tank development - the first few weeks. Mike Senske once told us that really it's better to start a tank from scratch then to battle algae once they are developed. The first few weeks are critical in all that.

Here are my views:
Aproach 1:
I would start a tank with only 2 to 4 hours of 100% light intensity for the first 4 to 8 weeks. Preferably around the middle of the day. Of course - never have intense light when the plants have their leaves closed. 2 hours of good light is insanely small period and it needs to be adjusted quickly if some light loving plants are suffering.

The rest of the day the tank gets only ambient light or has very low to low light (0.5 - 1 wpg for a total of about 8 - 10 hours a day). After this initial period of up to 8 weeks the tank can be lit for 11 or even 12 hours with 100% intensity of the light.

Aproach 2:
For the first 4 to 8 weeks have the lights on for 8 to 10 hours a day but using only 50% of the light suggested in John's list.

To me that approach is inferior to the first one but it could be an alternative. Still - plants do prefer intense light (although for a short time) than low light for a prolonged period.

Both approaches have one goal - limiting the algae in the first few weeks of the tank life. What I've seen is that sometimes the algae seem to have an abrupt "breakdown" - they seem to "give up" trying to establish themselves in that tank.

Controlled light really messes algae up . It may not preven them 100% but it keeps them "weak". After several weeks of such weakened state I've seen them completely disappear from a tank, literally in 1 day. From that point on the tank is very, very stable and beyond clean. I have 2 such tanks here at home that have undergone that kind of development and I abuse them badly (irregular maintenance). The only problem is starved plants and slow growth but never algae.

--Nikolay
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