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time to tweak the tank

> Broken Tiger wrote:
> I think I have the CO2 thing nearly undercontrol in the new 40 gal plant
> tank. I added the DIY CO2 and have a small air stone gassing out under
> the foam box pre filter on the rio 200.  I am getting an almost constant
> stream of tiny bubbles, but most are wasted and the few that do get
> picked up and sent thru the system seem to be keeping the CO2 going. 
> The pH is falling a bit further than I want, but someone suggested
> putting an air stone to disturb the surface on a timer set to come on in
> the middle of hte night if the pH falls too much.  That is my next
> ecperiment.

With 4.0dKH and pH between 6.6pH and 7.0pH you've got a range of between 12
and 30ppm CO2.  Don't mess with this - it's working fine.  Your KH is high
enough that your water is buffered.  At night when the lights are off the
plants aren't drawing carbon from the CO2 so your pH returns from 7.0 to
6.6.  Adding an airstone at night will drive the CO2 off and your pH will
rise, perhaps dangerously fast.  It sounds like you've got what you need.

> Right now, I have the CO2, no air stone for the tank (and no fish), no
> waterfall--I removed the the Aquaclear along with the fish.

Plants benefit from the presense of fish - in fact it's a symbiotic
relationship.  If your tank has been cycling for over a month it's a good
time to add fish.  They provide ammonia (plants love ammonia) and a nice
amount of phosphate.

> The pH is between 6.6 and 7.0, 7 dGH, 4 dKH, temp 74, light is HOme
> Depot shop lights, two four foot 40 watters on a three foot $0 gal
> tank.  Food is Kents Freshwater micro nutrients, stump remover, laterite
> in substrate, epsomsalts and the Jobs Fern sticks I just added near the
> roots of the Swords last night. The tank is lightly plnated by plant
> tank standards.

Karen Randall's advice for new plant tanks is to plant heavily with
fast-growers from the very beginninng, and keep the fish load down to just a
skeleton maintanence crew for the first month.  Then give it time.  You'll
probably see diatoms (brown slime) somewhere in the first month - Otocinclus
love the stuff.  There are other phases as well.

It's difficult to analyze your light level but you know it's less than 2w/g.
As Claus pointed out, adding CO2 in this situation was more beneficial than
adding more light.  The thing is, you've thrown in a very potent fertilizer
cocktail without quantifying what you already had.  For instance, Bay Area
water is fairly soft - 3dGH and 2.5dKH on a good day.  You've raised your
GH, which is a measurment that reflects Calcium AND Magnesium, with Epsom
Salts.  This means that, short of testing for Calcium you have no idea what
your Calcium level is - you might even be developing a deficiency without
realizing it.  Calcium deficiency in moderate to high light conditions often
manifests as deformed leaves.

I notice you're adding KNO3 (the stump remover) as well.  This is something
you should be careful with.  As you don't have a fishload it's likely that
your risk is lower, but it's easy to add too much nitrate.  I'm gong to go
out on a limb here and suggest you test your nitrate level.  the only way
one can get a feel for what the plants' appearance tells one is to build a
base-level of understanding.

Lastly, though many have had excellent results with them (myself included)
Jobes sticks are not a cure-all.  The substrate binds macro-nutients such as
K, Fe, NO3 and PO4.  Adding Jobes sticks, which provide all of the above
(except the Fe) may be dangerous if they're not needed.  Roger would
probably be able to tell you more, but I've learned to fear leakage from the
substrate.  Jeff Kropp, a talented and observant aquarist here in the SF Bay
Area, has reported real trouble from using this product.

> THe plants are growing but things are not as smooth as they were in the
> 15 gal natural light tank.  

You've probably got less light in this tank than you had in the other.

> I will pick up some TMG tomarrow when I am in the big city.

Are you replacing your "Kents Freshwater Micro-nutrients" with TMG, or do
you intend to use both?

>I noticed ALOT of powdery ditritus or gunk settled on
>the driftwood and gravel last night.  I understand that the plants will
>use some of it for food, but should I up my filtration?  I have two Rio
>200's in the rear corners as my only filtration.  I am thinking about
>going to a canister filter; would the Fluval 204 or 304 be sufficient
>for a 40 gal plant tank with cories, otos, SAE's, a bushynosed, a few
>baby clown loaches 9slated for the big tank later) and three S.

I have a freind who would tell you the AquaClear you just removed would be
sufficient by itself!  You don't need more than 4 water changes per hour.
Usually the kind of detritus you describe comes from disturbing the
substrate during a replanting - or removal.  You won't hurt anything by
vacuuming it up.

> How often do I need ot feed the tank liquid fertilizer?
> It looks like several times a week to daily from reading the list.  With
> the TMG, so I need to keep adding epsom salts (mostly for hardness,
> really) and or the stump rot stuff?  How often do I need to stick in
> Job's sticks?

You need to understand what your plants require, and you won't do this by
throwing stuff into it willy-nilly.  Save the money you're about to spend on
a new timer, filter, airpump and airstone and join the local aquatic plant
group instead.  You'll benefit in the short run as well as in the long run!

michael rubin
michael at rubinworld_com