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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hello,
this is my first post on this forum, though i have been lurking and reading for awhile. i'm having trouble with various algae types and need some advice. I have a 125g with a few (5) discus, 2 swords, some wendtii's & other crypts, 3 tiger lotus, some anubias barteri nana & coffeelia. I use DIY CO2 & excel. My substrate is a layer of laterite, then ecocomplete, then capped off with inert gravel. 320watts of T5HO lighting. I use RO water with Seachem Equilibrium, about 30 gallons every 2 weeks give or take a few days.
I have alot of driftwood, a large stump, 2 large pieces, and lots of branches for roots. (the branches i collected on vacation in the vermont mountains, along with some rock pieces i probably shouldnt have in there). the stump & large pieces are store bought. is there such a thing as too much driftwood? how do you tell if they are rotting? is this affecting my water quality? they are completely covered in green fuzz, hair, and everspreading cyanobacteria (excel seems to have no effect on the fuzz). the tank has been running for a little over a year & every few months i have to take all the wood and anubias out and scrub them. The swords started off as tiny little things and are now touching the surface, the wendtiis have gone through a melt or 2 (i guess from changing too much water at once?)

I have tried adding Octos and farowella a few times and they eventually die after a week or so, i cant find any SAE's locally, so the only algae eaters i have are MTS and pond snails.

what is a fertilizing regime that works? i have the seachem line, and all it seems to do is produce more algae. would adding alot more plants help? what about removing the driftwood permanently? my original goal was for it to look like a section of the amazon or something (yea i know the swords are the only south americans in there) but now i just want a stable tank. should i reduce the lighting?
i guess what i want to know is what would you do? (short of getting pressureized co2)

sorry for jumping around alot, but im completely frustrated.

thank you for any help! i dont want to go back to plastics! (my wife has been pressuring for saltwater)

Damon
 

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My first thought would be to reduce the lighting as you said a few hours a day and
see what that does. It sounds like the algae is out producing your plants so starve
them a little. Adding more plants especially the C02 loving fast growers would
probably help as well.

~

All wood rots in water so nothing your going to get outside of plastic sticks is going to
not rot. Do you have brown water? If the wood is leaching tannins you will know so
I wouldn't worry to much about that yet and that shouldn't hurt your fish and plants
anyway. And as long as your rocks are hard (non-porous and brittle) you'll be fine as
long as you boil them first to get rid of any nasty stuff on them.

~

I'd imagine Seachem fertz gets a bit expensive for a tank that big, I'd take a look at
the Fertilizing forum here and study up on the PPS or EI methods.

- Brad
 

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First off, welcome to apc!

Several points jump out here. First off, 320W on 125 gal is high light. DIY CO2 won't cut it here, and if you're uxing Excel according to instructions, you're spending a fortune! Pressurized, pressurized, pressurized! :) Or lose a couple hundred watts of lighting and stick to very low light plants and an 'el natural' style tank.

You don't seem to be adding any ferts. Again, you have high lights, you need to provide the plants with all they need to grow healthily - along with CO2 this includes nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and micro nutrients. Check out the stickies here for PPS or for EI. If you have soft water (which I assume you do since you're using RO), both will work, if hard water EI tends to be better. The re-curring cyano is an easy indicator of low to no nitrates.

Personally, I would not worry about your driftwood unless it's soft and mushy to the touch. If it is, lose it, because it is rotten and you don't want that in the tank.

Lastly, here's some reading I would suggest to you, if you haven't already done so:
http://www.aquatic-plants.org/articles/basics/pages/index.html
http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/...ums/14684-new-tank-setup-guide-parts-1-a.html

Hope that helps, and again, welcome to apc!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
My first thought would be to reduce the lighting as you said a few hours a day and
see what that does.
They are on for 12 hours now, so i should reduce it to say 10? I have 2 pink "plant bulbs" 4 10,000k and 2 5600k. Should i remove some of these?

All wood rots in water so nothing your going to get outside of plastic sticks is going to
not rot. Do you have brown water?
no the tannins have longed leached out. though i do use peat granuals in one of my filters, so my water does look a little tea like occasionally. i guess what i was asking was, is having too much decaying wood a major concern?

And as long as your rocks are hard (non-porous and brittle) you'll be fine as
long as you boil them first to get rid of any nasty stuff on them.
These rocks failed the "acid test". could they be effecting my PH? The RO water that goes in has a 6.0 PH, but my tank water has a PH of around 7.2if i dont use peat. and yes Seachem has become a whole in my wallet. i will reasearch PPS & EI.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
thank you for the welcome! i'm sure i'll be annoying the heck out of you guys in the time to come!

You don't seem to be adding any ferts.
I use the Seachem line according to that chart (sort of). Iron, Potassium, Flourish, Trace, Excel, Nitrogen, root tabs, equilibrium, i have the phosphorous but havent used it. This is killing my wallet, thats why i was asking if someone could recommend some other options.

I should state that this started off as a discus only tank. it had pristine water quality. a year ago i stripped it down, added the substrate, driftwood, plants etc. and about 3 months after that, my woes began. the plants are growing (most) but so is everything else.
 

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Two things would bring your tank into balance......

The best option, BY FAR, would be to leave your light alone and add pressurized CO2. Doing it isn't as hard as you might think. Getting started requires an initial investment, but the results will be nothing short of astonishing.

The second option is to cut down on the quantity of light. Shortening the photoperiod might help some, but your plants currently aren't able to make use of all of the available light energy. They're probably carbon and nutrient starved. Excel works fine, but it really can't keep up with "high light" tanks, IME.

Seachem ferts are wonderful products, but for larger tanks, the expense is not trivial. Bulk, dry fertilizers (powdered KNO3, KH2PO4, K2SO4, CaSO4, MgSO4, etc.) are cheap as dirt. A few kilos will last years.

If you're using RO, rocks with CaCO3 (those that fail the acid test) are working against you. The easiest way to use RO is to add a small quantitiy of regular tapwater to it. The exact amount depends on the GH/KH that you're aiming for and the particular hardness of your tapwater.
 

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Back to basics: Light is what determines everything else you do with an aquarium to grow plants and not algae. With a 125 gallon tank, no pressurized CO2, you have no choice but to go with low light and the plants which can do well with low light. Low light, using T5HO bulbs is far less than you now have. I would use half of the light you now have, and that might still be too much, even though some people have had good luck with even more light and no CO2 - those people are very much a rarity.

Plants don't need more than 10 hours of light a day, and 8 hours is really plenty, so I would reduce the lights on period to 8 hours.

Your plants should all do fine with that much light and that light duration, if they get enough nutrients. Enough nutrients means nitrates, phosphates, potassium, trace elements and a source of carbon. I would buy some potassium nitrate, mono potassium phosphate, and either CSM+B trace mix or use Flourish as the trace mix. Those I would dose per the EI method, only because it is very easy to do, but I would only dose about half the amount recommended for that size tank. For carbon, it has to be either pressurized CO2 or Excel. Excel might be adequate if the light level is low enough - very expensive, but adequate. You can buy those fertilizers from http://www.aquariumfertilizer.com/ or http://www.greenleafaquariums.com/aquarium-fertilizer.html and a few other online stores. Excel tends to be cheapest from either BigAls or Drs. Foster & Smith, during their sales, and in 2 liter or bigger jugs.

Last, why are you using RO water? Doing so makes it very hard to do weekly 50% water changes, which you need to do if you use the EI fertilizing method. If you feel you must use RO water, you probably will be happier using the PPS Pro method of fertilizing, both of which are described in the fertilizing forum stickies. If you use RO water you do need to add back the calcium and magnesium you removed - plants need both. You can buy calcium chloride and epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) to do that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
i just ordered everything for the PPS Pro method from http://www.aquariumfertilizer.com
why are you using RO water?
Our tap water is EXTREMELY hard, i can not adjust the PH. and i have soft water fish.

i am also really considering pressurized
c02. i have been buying the 2 liter juggs of excel and they last about a month. i'm also getting sick of buying 5lbs of sugar every week.

so if i cut back my lighting to half, what bulb combination should i use? the 2 5600 and 2 10,000? or 5600 and pink? i just reset the timer to 8 hours

also, i feed my fish beefheart & bloodworms once or twice a day. it all disappears in about 5 - 10 minutes. is this another problem?
 

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i just ordered everything for the PPS Pro method from http://www.aquariumfertilizer.com
Our tap water is EXTREMELY hard, i can not adjust the PH. and i have soft water fish.

i am also really considering pressurized
c02. i have been buying the 2 liter juggs of excel and they last about a month. i'm also getting sick of buying 5lbs of sugar every week.

so if i cut back my lighting to half, what bulb combination should i use? the 2 5600 and 2 10,000? or 5600 and pink? i just reset the timer to 8 hours

also, i feed my fish beefheart & bloodworms once or twice a day. it all disappears in about 5 - 10 minutes. is this another problem?
You shouldn't be concerned with pH, only with KH. If you have high GH, that is good for the plants and invertibrates. In a fish only aquarium, you can use pH as a marker for most of the other potential problems with the water, but in a planted tank that isn't nearly as good.

You can chose the bulbs that make the aquarium look the most pleasing to you. The plants will grow with any combination.

One problem with discus, from everything I read, is when you try to grow them big by feeding heavily with protein rich foods. The leftovers can foul the water very easily. I have no experience with discus though, so others will have to recommend something for that.

What is the KH and GH of your tap water?
 

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Your keeping Discus in that tank correct? The beefheart & bloodworms are fine
but you should ween them off of meat a bit. I would feed them a good quality
vegey flake food four to five days a week and then the beefheart & bloodworms
two days a week for a better diet. I was feeding 100% meat to mine when I
started out as well and they did OK until I started listening to what Jack Wattley
writes and now they are much happier/healthier.

Second don't worry about your high'ish PH unless your trying to breed those Discus
as they will adapt fine. I keep my tanks at PH7.0 just so they won't breed that's
what my breeder tanks are for. Worry more about your KH buffer levels if that
gets out of wack your PH will spike and dip and kill fish not that that's happening.

- Brad
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Your keeping Discus in that tank correct? The beefheart & bloodworms are fine
but you should ween them off of meat a bit.
yes, i have adult (almost)discus that are 2 years old & about as big as my hand. i attempted to pair some off and try to breed them... i had 10 in the beginning and lost half of them due to hexamita. after extreme heartache and much trial and error im left with 5 fat, happy discus. ive tried feeding them other things than frozen, but i cant get them to eat flake or pellated food. they do get some veggies from a twice a week feeding of emerald entree. I'm not trying to grow them into monsters or anything.
What is the KH and GH of your tap water?
i only have a kh test (api) i dont know where i put the little chart thing, but it take 16 drops to turn from blue to yellow. i know 0-50ppm is good for discus but what is good for plants? is there a way i can know the GH from the KH reading?
You can chose the bulbs that make the aquarium look the most pleasing to you. The plants will grow with any combination.
but does algae prefer a different type? someone told me that 10,000k causes algae problems.

i have been working on the dang tank all day, i took all the wood out to clean it, took all the anubias out and put them in a quarantine tank that houses some plants that keep dying in my main tank but do fine in these, some guppies, a billion snails, 2 rubbermouth plecos, and some SA bumbleebee cats. these smaller tanks never have any problems and i rarely ever do anything besides top them off or medicate them when quaantining new fish.

i have been pricing pressurized c02 systems.. do i really need all the stuff that comes in a kit? i want a 10lb tank but its too tall to fit in the cabinet. how long would a 5lb last?
i have a homemade inline reactor i made from a gravel vac with a cap on each end, would this work with pressurized?

another question.... gravel vac or no gravel vac? i just vaccumed all of the BGA off the bottom, and the large deposits of mulm that were hiding under the wood & rocks
 

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yes, i have adult (almost)discus that are 2 years old & about as big as my hand. i attempted to pair some off and try to breed them... i had 10 in the beginning and lost half of them due to hexamita. after extreme heartache and much trial and error im left with 5 fat, happy discus. ive tried feeding them other things than frozen, but i cant get them to eat flake or pellated food. they do get some veggies from a twice a week feeding of emerald entree. I'm not trying to grow them into monsters or anything.
I'd give them some tough love and let them starve a few days if they won't take the flake food.
They will come around there just extremely spoiled ;) The veggies are a good thing as well.

~

Your bulbs should be in the 5k to 10k range especially if your using C02 but I'll let Hoppy talk about
that he's much more knowledgeable than me on most subjects.

- Brad
 

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The API KH test kit reads in degrees of KH, one degree for each drop it takes to get the color change. You seem to have 16 dKH tap water! Now that is very, very hard, and you probably do need to reduce it a lot for discus, or most any other fish. Most plants will do better with a lower KH, too, in my opinion.

I think you can do best using the PPS Pro method of fertilizing, so you won't need a lot of big water changes.

The time a tank of CO2 will last depends on the bubble rate. If you use the PPS Pro method, it seems that a low bubble rate, around 2 bubbles per second is all you would need. If that is the case, a 5 pound tank would last 3 to 6 months. The reactor you describe should work fine with pressurized CO2.

I didn't see anything about what filter you use. That is pretty important, especially with those meat eating monster fish. But, it should be something that doesn't create any splashing on the water surface, to avoid losing CO2 that way.

Your rocks that fail the acid test are why the KH in the tank rises, causing the pH to rise. They aren't suitable if you want soft water, unless you do big weekly water changes, like 50% or more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
You seem to have 16 dKH tap water! Now that is very, very hard,
The man that installed our RO & softener system was like Wow! when he tested our hardness. i once filled a bare bottom tank with our tap and the next morning there was a thick layer of white mineral deposits on the bottom. that was the end of me using tap water. the tap ruined all of our drinking glasses etc, it just would not come off.
I didn't see anything about what filter you use.
i use 2 canisters, a rena xp4 with a layer of foam, a layer of ceramic rings & lava rock, a layer of peat granules, and top layer is micro filtration pads. the other is a magnum 350 that runs a micron cartridge with a sleeve over it. (a micron cartridge clogged within a day when i used it on said tap water tank) i clean these once or twice a month when i notice reduced flow. the rena is connected to a spray bar that points down. i turn the knob on the bar a little to let air in when the lights are off. both make minimal surface agitation. i have a 24w UV sterilizer that i was contemplating hooking up to the output of one, but i read this will oxidize some nutrients and make them unavailable to plants, is this true?
Your rocks that fail the acid test are why the KH in the tank rises, causing the pH to rise. They aren't suitable if you want soft water, unless you do big weekly water changes, like 50% or more.
I removed them yestarday, it was about 10 flat rocks smaller than my hand. i didnt think they would make that much of a difference since there was so few. but wrong again!
 

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Are you using RO water, or water that goes through a softener? If the softener uses salt in it, it replaces calcium in the water with sodium, and that isn't good for plants or fish.

The Rena XP4 may not be big enough for a 125 gallon tank, especially one with discus in it. I hope someone with that size tank will comment on that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Are you using RO water, or water that goes through a softener? If the softener uses salt in it, it replaces calcium in the water with sodium, and that isn't good for plants or fish.
i purchase RO water from an aquarium shop, for water changes. and top off from my own RO system (it only makes 10gallons a day)

The Rena XP4 may not be big enough for a 125 gallon tank, especially one with discus in it
its rated for 450gph.
 

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its rated for 450gph.
Yes but that's only your un-impeded flow rate which isn't the same as tank size
*but* it is rated for a 265gal tank so it should be OK. I only use Eheim's which
have a better impeded flow rate (water moving though tubing and media) than
the X4 but still 190gph should be plenty.

- Brad
 
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