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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is from another thread but I thought it worthy of starting a new one since it brings up an approach that is easily doable for folks and addresses Jeff's suggestions of the "just enough" approach.

You may wish to try the rich method and then back off in a controlled slow manner and try what Jeff suggested as "just enough".

Both methods have a similar approach and anyone can do it with a test kit etc if they watch closely.
I generally do things that way and then go back and test.

I tested for traces by taking care of everything else to excess, then added a little for 3 weeks, then added more etc until I had no improvement in color or health.

That was the max rate.
Try the minimum rate now.

Reverse this thinking and follow it backwards.

Add enough till you note bad or poor growth and then riase it a tad above that level.

This is often what is done with NO3 to get red color.
You should dose liquid stock solutions for accuracy and dose per 24 hrs or some consistent unit of time per ppm of dosing of whatever nutrient you are interested in.

Try each one individually first though, then try multiple set of changes.

Regards,

Tom Barr
 

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Maintaining a planted aquarium requires a daily chart, akin to the type that hospital ward nurses used to have clipped to the end of a patient's bed, which details statistics such as: Temp, photoperiod, aeration, CO2 bpm, PH test, KH test, GH test, NO3 test, PO4 test, Fe test, NO3 ml added, PO4 ml added, traces added etc. Keeping track of dosing and statistics requires a consistent approach whether you does daily or weekly, rich or poor (just-in-time).

Daily dosing or just-in-time dosing would, for most aquarists add more stress to their lives (somewhat like the job of maintaining a farm of 2 litre DIY CO2 bottles for multiple tanks at 30-45 bpm).

Having a consistent (perhaps weekly) schedule of adding chemicals to an aquarium with minor changes made after observing plant reactions and requirements possibly makes for an easier life for the aquarist and a healthier life for plants, possibly. If we take inspiration from nature, we find the fertilizing pattern is less easy to spot. Anyway, in nature aquatic plants are not often in as beautiful condition as we find them in better aquarium.

Aquariums are a far cry from natural environments. In a natural aquatic environment there would be periods of high rainfall and subsequent run-off thereby adding different types of chemicals to the water body. There would be high evaporation rates in the summer concentrating certain chemicals and driving others out of the water. Temperature variations throughout the year.... etc. Consistency is driven by seasons and associated events.

Consistency is a cardinal rule followed by many aquarists in maintaining their tanks. Consistent amounts and timing of feeding fish, of CO2 injection, of lighting periods, of adding NO3 PO4 etc. The consistent method seems to be reasonably solid providing one makes changes when needed - plants are added, removed etc.

Am I rambling? Apologies.

Andrew Cribb
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Over time, you can get good at this but most do not do this critical approach. It's not for the newbie.

It's something to play with and burn yourself a few times(and most do) till you get a good feel for it.

Adding more causes no issue for me when done correctly and is a much easier target for most to hit.


I think many folks that did the just enough approach came from the school of thought that assumed that more would cause algae.
That is clearly not true.
But.........if you are use to doing a habit that works well, changing it makes little sense.

But for a new person or if there is something you cannot put your finger on and you want to rule out something, going after the max levels can help.

More than either method, the important fact is that the algae is not dependent on NO3, PO4 Fe etc as previously assumed.

This allows far more approaches to be tried and less issues with algae and more focus on plant health and growth.

No matter what your method, it's nice not to deal with algae at all.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Indeed. Algae-free is one of the initial targets of keeping a nice planted aquarium.

Getting to know what chemical causes what to grow better or worse in what quantity is an art in itself. One day I will get part of the way there. Process of elimination and understanding the quantities and having less fear of dosing larger amounts is useful.

I think I will try and switch some of my other questions to another topic about "Maintaining a client's aquarium" or "Professional maintenance". Perhaps you can chime in there?

Andrew Cribb
 

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the important fact is that the algae is not dependent on NO3, PO4 Fe etc as previously assumed
In the short time, 8-9 months really, I have been into planted aquariums(or aquariain general fo rthat matter) I have seen the blame for algae go from to much of something (Fe causing thread algae, P causing BBA, ect), to to little of something (0 N causes BGA low CO2 cause BBA. CO2 levels usually the culprit), improper ratios esp. regarding N:p and now to this. I know that everyday we learn more, understand more...

Can you explain your statement Tom. I assume you don't mean that algae is not effected by nutrients but rather that they are not he entire cause of our problems. What is? Do we know yet? Will we ever?

To my thinking, algae spores are everywhere. They are in the air to settle on or tanks surface, they are in our tap water and onthe plants we buy, in the digestive tracks of the fish/invers.... The only way to eliminate them is through the use of something like UV steralizers.

So for most of us we have algae, the only ? is whether it is very prevelant or just in "remission". What causes it to come out of remission is really all we care about here. So what does cause this? I definately agree that we need to look more to our CO2 setups, if we have high light. We need to look there first, in high light tanks. I have almost no problems with algae in low light tanks, as long as there are fish in it. 25% WC every 3-4 weeks, no dosing, ever. Ocasionally i dump in a little Excel, maybe 5ml per 10gal a month. I am sure it does not do anything at that level, I just forget to do it.

Whenever my CO2 drops below 25ppm in high light tank (over 2.5 wpg) it all goes to hell, fast. things are bad in 1-2 days. Algae everywhere. Things get bad faster if more than one nutrient is out of balance. Low CO2 for a couple days is not to bad as long as there is enough (nothing at 0ppm) of the other main nutrents. NO3, PO4, K, Fe. Low Co2 and 0ppm N. owww. Bad. Over the weekend I was gone for 3 days. I made sure there was enough NPK, trace to last for sat and sun and my roommate dosed for me Monday. C02 levels were low but everything was still pretty clean. Glass was clean and most of the plants were clean 9nothing new at leat), all I noticed was a slight increase of weak BBA (or somehting similar but not quite the same) on the anubias. All new growth on the plants looked better and the entire tank looked a little less "grungy" This is a pretty new tank setup though. Only 2.5 weeks now (but all old plants, filter material, fisha dn hardscape. Only eco complete substrate is new) so I am sure it is style settling in still.

Now exactly sure what/why I was typing that, just wanted to share my experiences and limited... something.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Excess PO4 and NO3 are blamed for algal outbreaks, I have shown that this is NOT true in a well planted tank with good CO2, light, traces, GH, K etc.

For this tio be true, I should be able to add these and illicit a response, but I have done this for many years and still have yet to see one. Some one will always say "but in my tank........" and then we find later that they don't test for NO3, CO2 or have some kit that reads 40ppm when it's really 2 ppm.

Generally it revolves around them having issues even keeping their tank's parameters remotely close while varying the dependent variable(NO3/PO4/Fe etc), so they have two or more issues influencing the NO3/PO4/Fe etc such as low CO2 (generally the case) or something else they over looked or assumed was correct.

Most folks that can solve their parameter issues generally are not interested in seeing how far they can push things till they get algae.
I am.

I do not think ratios are that important for all the talk folks do here.
If the plant has enough for give growth rate balance, that's about all you need to fret over.

I can have a 50:1 or a 5:1 ratio and still pretty much the same darn thing.

The cause of algae is poor plant growth, when your switch your focus away from the algae and to the plant's needs, suddenly it all makes sense.

This is universal, FW, CO2, non CO2, Marine, natural ecosystems, you name it.

You are correct that there algal spores in most places.
More light means less competition for light.
Plants are better at light competition than most algae.

NH4 is a big cause of blooms. Add some to see.
Then kill the algae and start over and try it again and again.

Try less CO2 etc, repeat the same thing. I did this the hard way and it took a lot of time, but I had no choice nor anyone that made any sense about it.

Your observations are in line with many others and my own, low CO2 and no NO3, that will burn you more than anything except adding NH4.

Generally it's a lack of something, the plants are not being provided with what they need to grow well at a given light intensity.

So it comes back to growing the plants well and you will not have algae.
Generally algae are not carbon limited(they need less and can use HCO3, the KH) wereas plants become when the CO2 drops.

Most algae are misers and can live on next to nothing, plants shut down and stunt or die and become surfaces for algal growth.
Plants have a higher Carbon requirement also.

There's also 10000's of times more plant biomass than algae in most CO2 plant tanks.

Generally the main competition is for NH4 which is very tough to measure in a planted tank.

The other issues revolve around a lack of CO2, NO3 etc, which stresses plants causing them to stop taking up nutrients and deteriorating conditions, the algae seem to "know" when this occurs and CO2 variation, no NO3 etc brings out stress responses in many algae species, which they respond to by going sexual and becoming active.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Thats the best description I have heard yet:)

I wonder if this is where the "excess" theory came from.

Generally it's a lack of something, the plants are not being provided with what they need to grow well at a given light intensity.
A person says, I have lotes of BBA, 0 N and 2ppm P. P must cause this algae, when in reality it is actually the lack of N Caused the plants to stop growing so the algae went, Oh, my turn. THe higher P(or considered higher at the time) is just a result of the plants stopping nutrient uptake.

The other issues revolve around a lack of CO2, NO3 etc, which stresses plants causing them to stop taking up nutrients and deteriorating conditions, the algae seem to "know" when this occurs and CO2 variation, no NO3 etc brings out stress responses in many algae species, which they respond to by going sexual and becoming active.
THis makes a lot of sense, especially if you compare it to plants in general, especially terrestial plants. The algae are mearly responding to an ideal enviroment, at least for them, which happens to be a less than ideal enviroment for hte high plants around them. Much the way many desert plants only wil germinate when there is a certain amount of rain at he right time of year.

"The algae seem to 'know' " How? Do we know yet or is that somehting that has yet to be fully understood?
 

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It could be that the healthiest plant in an enviornment where it has all it needs met in ferts and co2, can then devote a greater portion of its energy to allelochemical release, as Diana suggested. Allelochemicals released by the plant may give them them edge over algae in an ideal enviornment where as in an unideal enviornment the plant's ability to use bio-warfare may be greatly reduced. Of course all this is completly a wash if you do daily water changes I guess. :oops:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Allopathy,

Okay then, how is it that all 300 species submersed plant species illict the same response everytime consistently?
When you have a good plant growth, you have low to no algae growth, doesn't matter what species or ecosystem or tank type you chose.
Explain that away.

What are the odds that they all produce the same stuff and that it's the same effectiveness universally?

None I'd say.

I suggest folks read Gopal and Goel, 1993 from the Botanical Review and not listen to speculation, allelopathy has never once been shown to occur in any natural environment to date.

Given these two issues, I think this allelopathy arguement holds the same amount of water as wire screening.

In large bodies of water how does a plant know how much to produce? What about lotic waters/unidirectional rivers etc?

You can add carbon to remove any organic allelopathic compunds.
The water column greatly dilutes these compounds wereas desert plants can concentrate them more effectively and this is often where we see such interactions.

I believe many desert plants "defend" their water in this manner.

Aquatic plants outcompete algae by light and canopy formation etc as rule, not other speculatory mechanisms.

When you have high plant biomass and good nutrients, the NH4 is removed and this is the only nutrient that is bad in high amounts that I am aware of. DOC, DOM, DON, DOP maybe also but these can go both ways.


Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Regarding why excess nutrients cause algae: most stuidies do not include aquatic plants in a shallow lake etc and with 50% or more substrate/surface coverage. Those lakes are typically dominated by aquatic plants, not algae.

If you add PO4, you get more plants, not algae.

Phillips 1978, is a well cited paper on this issue but failed to account for the PO4 locked up in the plants but did account for the PO4 locked up in the Phytoplankton so this was a big error. When the plant PO4 was added, suddenly there is no pattern, eg a very low R^2 value.

Canfiled and Hoyer have donme a fair amount of work on macrophytes and lakes that are like out tanks, shallow, warm and chocked full of weeds.

These are far more applicable to our tanks than some northern lakes in WI or Demark that freeze each winter, are often deeper and only have a few plants around the edges.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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I think this arguement holds the same amount of water as wire screening.
Tom, I love that line! 8) Mind if I use it?

But, seriously, very good thread. I recently upped my NO3 dosing in one of my tanks, as you had suggested, and I have noticed a spurt in all the plants. My lobelia has grown bigger leaves than ever (something I actually didn't want). But I had always been hesitant to add stuff for the 'algae fear factor'. (Do I see a new TV show?) Since I had no algae, and decent growth, I was hesitant to change what I was doing. Then come along certain plants which just don't quite make it under the circumstances you have and you realize you need to re-think your protocols, etc. The additional NO3 has pushed me into ordering a Hach NO3 test kit to see where I really am and where I was beforehand.

I assume you have found the same results with traces, namely that an excess of them will not cause algae issues, assuming you have your other nutrients in line.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Traces, PO4, NO3 mainly.

But not K, GH, KH, color temps of lights etc

Trimming harder will help keep many plants smaller with less work FYI.
Reworking a section more often seems helpful also.

This prevents anything from having a chance to grow on leaf surfaces also.You can trade some plants that are slow growing, Lobelia is pretty good and easy to work with.

You can also work in more Rock or Wood etc and stuff Java ferns etc in the darker unfilled spots.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 
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