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I only buy cheap API nitrate and phosphate kits. I looked for vendors page on this forum and you can find those for decent price. Their color charts are not easy to read, but I have a trick. My tanks are heavily planted, so I must always keep pure KNO3 and KHPO4 solid powders (cheap from Amazon) to add them, because fish feeding often do not produce enough of those. I try to keep 10ppm nitrates and 1.3ppm Phosphates. So I have a bottle in which I keep the solution of 20ppm nitrates and 2.6 ppm Phosphates which I prepared by weigh using scales (it takes several dilutions to prepare, but you make a lot at the same time and it lasts over a year). When I test the 5 ml of aquarium water, I also "test" 5 ml of these solutions. If needed I dilute a part of them twice. Side-by-side on a piece of white paper they are very easy to compare.

I never claimed that my recipe for starting a planted tank is the best, it is just the best way I personally found over many years and, therefore, the best advice I am capable of giving :)
Same with Nitrates/Phosphates ratios and concentrations... just what works best for my heavily planted tanks with CO2 supply.

A small CO2 gas-tank can be swiped to a new one for $25 once a year in a local airgas store (in aquatic stores they charge too much). The big investment is just to buy the first gas-tank and reductor, which I did so many years ago I do not remember the pricing. Probably $150-200?
 

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Forgot to mention: I use distilled water ($0.8/gallon in Walmart or $1 in Safeway) to prepare my Nitrate and Phosphate "standard" solutions, NOT tap water.
And, yes, wisteria route was tried many times in my CO2 tanks, but it may not work for non-CO2, never tried, do not know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
I only buy cheap API nitrate and phosphate kits. I looked for vendors page on this forum and you can find those for decent price. Their color charts are not easy to read, but I have a trick. My tanks are heavily planted, so I must always keep pure KNO3 and KHPO4 solid powders (cheap from Amazon) to add them, because fish feeding often do not produce enough of those. I try to keep 10ppm nitrates and 1.3ppm Phosphates. So I have a bottle in which I keep the solution of 20ppm nitrates and 2.6 ppm Phosphates which I prepared by weigh using scales (it takes several dilutions to prepare, but you make a lot at the same time and it lasts over a year). When I test the 5 ml of aquarium water, I also "test" 5 ml of these solutions. If needed I dilute a part of them twice. Side-by-side on a piece of white paper they are very easy to compare.

I never claimed that my recipe for starting a planted tank is the best, it is just the best way I personally found over many years and, therefore, the best advice I am capable of giving :)
Same with Nitrates/Phosphates ratios and concentrations... just what works best for my heavily planted tanks with CO2 supply.

A small CO2 gas-tank can be swiped to a new one for $25 once a year in a local airgas store (in aquatic stores they charge too much). The big investment is just to buy the first gas-tank and reductor, which I did so many years ago I do not remember the pricing. Probably $150-200?
I use seachem phosphate test kit, I have every kit plus tds to test my water, I do however need a new nitrate kit as api is very innacurate and hard for me to read (30-60 looks exactly the same color to me), I've heard reports where people said their api kit read 40 but when they tested with nutrafin or salifert it was 10-20,i think my main issue is lack of plants it's sparsely planted with low nutrient consuming plants, my plants actually pearled for the first time today, I don't know if that's a good thing or bad in a low tech tank because pearling is a plant that's saturated in oxygen.

I've also priced co2 systems with a 5 gallon tank and they are well Over 200, tank, solenoid, drop checker, timer, diffuser, tubing, etc etc, not to mention I actually need a new tank as Mines 25 years old with the silicone not in to great of condition, I need to switch over to a canister filter for flow and flow pattern, there's a lot of things I have to do before I even think about adding co2.
This is my tank, and as you can see I simply need more plants

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Algae in the tank explained.
I've read dennis wong's articles 100x over , he's the guy I've talked to in depth with his answer being stock more plants and stop fighting mother nature, but I get so many different people saying its my phosphates, my light, my tank , not having co2, not having dirt substrate, having to much nitrates, having to little nitrates, not having enough flow,dennis is a genius when it comes to this I've just been afraid to add more plants cause of the bga as I'm afraid it will spread to everything else killing them and costing me money, yes I could buy chemiclean but if i have an imbalance won't it just come back?

Here's another article I've tried to follow to the t but my tanks been set up 8 years almost so changing it over to dirt would not only be very expensive but a nightmare to do.

https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/101-lowtech.html

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Off topic, Have any of you all ordered plants from hans I can't find any plant I'm searching for, do I have to put in the scientific name?

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Follow Dennis'. Don't listen to the noise.

If you don't want to spend money on more plants, I'd reduce the light intensity.
Placing an Order for plants as I type this just trying to figure out if I want to go with wisteria or myriophyllum mattogrossense, so far I have pearl weed, rotala rotundifolia, water sprite, s, repens, tiger lotus for centerpiece and a few ferns

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Gonna have to Order from someone else hans trying to charge me $1.50 for 1 stem rediculous

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lol try putting a WTB on forums, youll get 1 stem 25c lmao
I know people who would sell like 1 handful for 5$ lol
 
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