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Dave,

Don't worry too much about the clouding. If you can - add some activated carbon to your filter. It will remove a lot of this cloudiness and in 2-3 weeks it will stop working and become a great place for bacteria to colonize.

The Ammonia from the AquaSoil may persist longer than you want it. Be patient and keep up with your water changes. It's better to do smaller water changes but more often (as opposed to 75% every week or something like that). I'd change 10-15% of the water every other day. Make sure you dechlinate well too.

Do not add any fertilizers. Nada, zero. What you have at this point is stressed plants that have been recently moved and they are not going to need much more than what's in the water and in the AquaSoil. Also your plants come from Mike and they are fat and healthy so they have stored nutrients for several days.

Keeping the iron at 0.1 is a funny suggestions because the Iron is hard to detect with the test kits we have. You can dump a whole teaspoon of dry chelated iron in your tank and the test will show zero. Basically don't worry about numbers - it's simple - do your small water changes every other day and watch things happening right. This tank received no ferts whatsoever for more than 4 months after starting. Look at the thing!
http://picasaweb.google.com/ddasega/DaveS#

The lights must go above the tank with no glass under them. As I told you - if you put a glass in front you are filtering part of the spectrum that the Germans designed specifically to grow plants. Your plants will grow even with the glass under the bulbs because these "measly" 48 watts of light you got over your tank are putting much more light than we think. But you probably prefer to get the maximum benefit from the specificaly engineered spectrum of these amazing bulbs.

The light fixture fits very well over the tank. Could you take pictures of the fixure itself, I'm curioUs to see it!

--Nikolay
 

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I agree with TexGal, you can try to run the lights for more than 3 hours. But PLEASE watch the tank very carefully. At the first, I mean very first, a hint, of algae immediately cut back to 3 hours.

At this early stage of the tank development if you see even a 1/8 inch long strand of algae you are risking being taken for a long and quite enjoayble ride.

...or should I say "swim"?



--Nikolay
 

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Dave,

This looks VERY clean for 72 hours. Keep up with the small water changes.

So how do you run the light now?

For the CO2 - it's best to not to try to test it, but to provide a consistent flow of it. With your DIY yeast setup you can't control the flow but you can certainly make sure it's consistent. Just make sure it doesn't go up and down. If you really get to a point where the CO2 is too much do as I told you - increase the surface turbulence (agitation) of the water. This gets rid of CO2 as if there is no tomorrow.

The sword plant in the front is a mistake. It will make big nice roots and it will grow way tall. You will end up pulling it making a big mess. Move it now while it's still small.

If you want HC I will give you some. Best HC you can buy in the entire world (actually this is true). Once again - don't listen to people's examples that you need 4 wpg to grow HC. Your lights are light years ahead of what most people use. Still, HC does love light. It also prefers to grow out of the water. It's more hassle than enjoyment really.

--Nikolay
 

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Dave,

Are you adding any Potassium to the tank?

If not it maybe a good thing to do it. If you don't have any I can give you some on Saturday. Let me know.

At this stage of the tank Potassium is the only fertilizer that you should add. It's not absolutely necessary, but it can only help. It can't be overdosed so you are safe with it.

--Nikolay
 

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Just watched the video!

Mike has given you tons of plants! If all of this starts to grow as we all hope it will you will be throwing away about 2-3 lbs. of cuttings every week.

It seems to me that on the video somewhere after minute 2 you can hear the CO2 bubbles hitting the impeller of the pump. If I'm not mistaken and this is really the rate with which your CO2 comes out then you have A LOT of CO2.

--Nikolay
 

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No ferts!

Maybe some Potassium but nothing else.

2 bubbles per second should be more than enough. I'm not sure you need that second jug just yet.

--Nikolay
 

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2 things could mess up your DIY CO2:

1. For whatever reason when the yeast is making CO2 full speed if you open the bottle and the pressure in the bottle drops you often loose production. Don't ask me why. It happens.

2. Room temperature. It got pretty cool around here the last few days. Maybe your A/C is running as before but cooling the house better now. The best CO2 production happens at 75 and above degrees I think.

Do not use tap water. Would you put untreated tap water in your aquarium? The yeast is a living creature too so help it help you.

This CO2 fluctuation is probably the cause for these algae. I say get an air tubing and get the tank water running in a bucket. Put the tubing close to the algae and scrape them with your fingernail. Make sure you suck all of the algae that way. Hand cleaning is effective but only when you have very little algae.

Well, you are probably starting to understand why eventually you will get a pressurized CO2 system.

--Nikolay
 

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So it appears that you have 48 watts of light over a 40 gallon tank. A little more than 1 wpg that is, haha! And the stems are growing well.

I'm anxious to see the future of this tank. You had the best start you can think of with Mike's super healthy plants, Aquasoil, and these Giesemann bulbs.

How is the CO2 holding? Is the CO2-flow consistent?

--Nikolay
 

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Dave,

I see that you are starting to see how careful planting pays off. Also how fast growing plants can become a headache. Still it's funny to me to read that under 1 wpg of light you experience growth that is too fast. I warned you about these bulbs!

I'd say let the bacteria bloom be. Do smaller water changes than you usually do. Basically let the bacteria go their way, don't try to fight them. If you fight them they will last longer. But beaware that when they start to die off by themselves the ammonia will spike a little.

I got me a purse for $10K last night so tell your girfriend to not worry too much. Mine has a Mickey Mouse on the front... I put it there as a theft prevention measure, but I think it hurts my style...

Don't worry about the fertilizers for now. Just forget them. It's too early. Dose the Potassium only as you have been.

I will make it to Keller Farms this Saturday before the meeting.

The film on top of the water is a completely normal thing in new tanks. Do not try to fight it by manual removal. It's impossible to remove completely. The best approach is to agitate the surface of the water (by pointing the outflow of the filter up) so the film gets under water and gets processed by the filter. The film may last several weeks, don't worry too much about it. But don't let it develop too much and block light and gas exchange.

The anubias will get spot algae for sure. It's a normal thing unless you are experienced aquarist... and own a Mikey Mouse purse (like me!).

--Nikolay
 

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It comes from the AquaSoil so it maybe a long time - several weeks.

Forget the Ammonia - tell us how well the plants grow and do you see any algae.

Also it is possible that your test kit is not correct. I just got an Ammonia test kit and it shows Ammonia in every water sample I test.

--Nikolay
 

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I see that you have tasted the joys of having a lot of stem plants AND having them grow well, haha. You will have the same problems over and over again - someone gets too tall, shades the rest, you cut it but another one takes over. This is the world of stem plants so don't try to fight it. Enjoy it for as long as you want.

The chainsword is Echinodorus latifolius. It spreads quickly. Also it seems to sell well here on APC and on PT.

The plant that is making you mad with its fast growth is Hygrophila polysperma. Same as the variegated form that you probably love.

The CO2 thing is a huge problem. If you have CO2 going up and down like that prepare for an algae takeover one sunny day. Either use brand new packets of yeast every time you mix a batch or figure something else.

Overall - great growth and a very clean tank. Good start!

--Nikolay
 

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The small stem plant on the first 2 pictures is Rotala. It is a very typical stem plant. Look at this 2 ft. tall tank. The red plant that has filled the top left and the green plant under it are both Rotalas:
http://www.aquatic-plants.org/gallery/180galJan04

The Bacopa that Mike gave you already had huge leaves. The biggest ones I've ever seen. If it makes even bigger leaves in your tank then you must have some kind of a mutant or something. Or the AquaSoil and those lights work wonders.

Next time you trim the Bacopa smell it - you will definitely smell the minty smell that Mike is talking about.

For your information - a pressurized CO2 system with a 5 lb. bottle + regulator + needle valve + an in-tank reactor will cost about $120. If you have to have the controller then it will be more. You can try without the controller at first and if you can't live without it then spend the money for it.

If you can grow this Prosepinaca (the plant with the "spikes" on the leaves) then I will admit that the water in Arlington is indeed superior. I can't do anything with that plant - I love it and it always dwindles away in my tanks.

If you have some Hygrophila polysperma to give away I will gladly take it.

For now make sure that your CO2 is staying stable. Or you will be showing us very different pictures here in a short while...

--Nikolay
 

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*** Regulator:
$40 + shipping.
http://www.beveragefactory.com/draf...mercial_double_gauge_beer_co2_regulator.shtml

*** Needle valve:
From me. Free.
Or from the internet for about $20 + shipping.

*** 5 lb. CO2 bottle:
Find a local welding supply shop. 5 lbs should cost about $60. 10 lbs. about $80.

*** In-tank reactor:
Any small powerhead with a sponge over the outflow.
Best is to buy the "Elite Mini Underwater Filter" from Petco for $10.

*** Air tubing:
From any pet store.

Done.

--Nikolay
 

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Dave,

The needle valves come in different flavors. Just like people in this hobby - some love to tinker with gadgets that you don't really need. An example is a crazy precise needle valve that you will set once and never even look at it again. The simplest needle valve does just fine and that's what I will give you.

No need for a bubble counter. Remember - the Elite filter will make a minute noise with every bubble going in it. That is your bubble counter - listen and count.

No need for a liquid showing you how much CO2 you have. Better save your money for a controller if you really really want one.

The CO2 exploding/releasing is a very small risk. I've had only one bottle releasing the extra pressure that the dummies at the welding supply place severely overfilled with gas. Even then the bottle doesn't get airborne. It has 4 holes in the safety valve that make 4 jets that shoot in different directions. So the bottle doesn't fly. But it freezes over and freezes the surrounding area about 2 ft. around the bottle. Don't leave your cup of hot cocoa close to the bottle - it may get too cold in the unlikely event that the bottle is overfilled and releases the gas.

That's about it - you are $100 away from never mixing another yeast concoction.

Coming to my house - any time, just let me know and save money for gas a couple of weeks in advance.

--Nikolay
 

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How are all the other plants doing?

The hygro is exibiting some kind of slight nutrient deficiency. I personally would put a 1/4 teaspoon of Calcium once a week in the tank.

If that doesn't fix it then the next week 1/4 teaspoon of Magnesium (Epsom Salt from the drug store).

If that doesn't fix it then next week 1-2 pinches of Fe/Traces (I consider CSM+B the best).

If that doesn' fix it then next week 2-3 pinches of Nitrate.

If that doesn't fix it then next week 1-2 pinches of Phosphate.

If that doesn't fix it give up on that plant. No matter what you do some plants just wouldn't grow in your tank, always remember that.

Also note how I give a whole week for every fertilizer to do its magic. Like all of us you will tend to get impatient and dump all sorts of stuff in the tank at the same time. Big mistake, don't fall for it. Be patient

--Nikolay
 

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You get it for free from me cause I have 50 lbs and I don't want to have this bag all my life...

--Nikolay
 

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Dave,

This is a very healthy tank with extremely well growing plants. Look what you accomplished in less than what? 4 weeks?

It is time for you to start some pruning exercises and try to shape the plants so they don't look like long strings of something with leaves on them.

What I mean is the stem plants need to form tight groups. That makes them look extremely nice. Cram as many stems together as you have. This will make them look very bushy and full. Look at this tank to get an idea:
http://i140.photobucket.com/albums/r10/rogerio_05/OliverKnott2004-01.jpg

As you now understand it will take only a few days for these nice looking clumps of stem plants to extend to the surface. Please accept that as part of the game. There is no way around that. But you can make your life easier with a few simple things:

1. Every time you trim you are cutting off the top of the plants and giving them away or something. This leaves ugly stems in your tank. They make new tops in a few days but still. One way around that is to cut the BOTTOM part of the stems and always leave the tops in your tank. It is best if you do not plant the stems in the substrate. Basically you weight them down with a rock and let them stay suspended in the water. When they grow and reach the surface you pull the entire bunch out of the tank and cut off the bottom section. Re-attach the rock and drop back in the tank. Instant results!

OR:

2. Time the trimming of the plants in such a way that you never have to trim all of them in the same day. This requires more care but you now know what I'm talking about.

AND/OR:

3. Keep the nutrients and the light to a minimum so the plants don't grow 3 inches in 3 days and force you to trim like crazy.

ALWAYS:

4. Make DAMN SURE that you do not let plants like that grassy looking thing in front mingle with the others. You will have hell removing the plants that you want to. You will end up uprooting much more than you mean to, mess up your tank, and generally miss the fun. If you see a new plantlet popping up where you don't want him/her remove them right away.

After a few months of fun with stem plants you will get tired and switch to slower growing rooted plants. It's a natural thing to get sick of having to take care of the tank every other day so expect that.

--Nikolay
 

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Dave,

This Bacopa you gave me has leaves almost the size of the Basil leaves in my yard! The Bacopa leaves are easily 3/4" long! This is a mutant Bacopa or the Arlington water is magical or I don't know...

--Nikolay
 

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Oh, pygmy cories are ultra cool fish. I never realized that before seeing them school mid-water. It also seems that they like bigger schools, that's why I suggested as many as you can get.

The Hygro is due for normal planting, right now it's floating in some tank along with a million other plants. Today I'll do something about that.

--Nikolay
 
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