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Re: My first mistake

John Pflum asked:

> I went out and got 5 otos to attack the algae and did a > water change to try and dilute the fertilizer and 
> siphon out the excess.

Otos aren't particularly good at eating hair algae;  They're great for
small attached algae.  For larger algae you need larger fish and
probably fish without sucker mouths.  Try American-flag fish, mollies,
SAE's or rosey barbs.

> Is there a rule of thumb to use when putting those 
> fertilizer spikes in?  I put in what I
> thought was a reasonable amount but apparently that was > too much.

Not that I know of.  I advise people to use plant spikes to feed
individual plants that need additional nutrients, and not to use them as
a general fertilizer regime for an entire tank (the fish food should
provide most of the macronutrients).  Certainly you should not use them
until after your plants are well-established.  I think the same could
probably be said for any sort of substrate fertilizer that provides
readily soluble nutrients.

I normally cut Jobes spikes in halves or quarters, and feed according to
the size of the plant and the plants feeding habits -- for which you
need to understand your plants.  I use spikes on heavy-feeding plants
like big sword plants when they start dropping too many older leaves. I
have used as much as two whole spikes around a single large plant, but
normally use one.  I'll use a half spike at a time for medium-sized
plants, and a quarter or a spike for small plants like individuals of E.
tenellus or Lobelia cardinalis.  Plants that aren't heavy feeders only
rarely need anything.

Avoid feeding all the plants at once.  I don't think I've ever placed
more than 4 spikes at a time in my 55 gallon tank, and never more than 2
in any of the others.

> The plants are looking good -- several of them are 
> sending off shootings including the
> bananas.  The amazon sword is looking a little stressed > though.

I hope you realize that "amazon swords" (which could be any of three or
four species) are commercially grown emersed.  When you submerge them
they *are* stressed and it takes them a while to adapt.

Roger Miller