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PMDD Advice Request

Hi everyone,

My previous message did not seem to get to the list for some reason.  So I
going to post it again. (I hope I am not creating a duplicate message in a
issue of the digest.)

I am contemplating a switch to PMDD. It is becoming rather costly to use
commercial premixed liquid fertilizers. I have been using a liquid
fertilizer by Kent.

More importantly, judging from the looks of the plants and the algae
that I have had to fight from time to time over the last several months, I
feel that there may be a nutrient imbalance in my tanks.

According to the annual drinking water quality report that the city send me
every year, my tap water seem to have some nutrients already but I do not
know if their levels are adequate or too high/low for my aquarium. I have
read the recommendation on PMDD ingredients in various articles in Krib and
APD mail list archives. But I am not sure whether I should use KNO3 or KCL.
I don't know if I should use Epson salt or not, either.  I hate to overdose
on the nutrients that exist in abundance already. I hope some of you could
help me decipher what ingredients I need to gather to strike a good balance
in my tanks. The basic tank and tap water parameters are as follows:

Tank size and light level:                  75G: 4-55W AH supply PC bulbs
                                                      10G: 2-20W fluorescent
tubes (shop light variety)
Duration of the light:                        75G: 10.5 hours
                                                      10G: Close to 15 hours
(Virtually no problem here with algae except for the
                                                               spot algae
that my Pleco loves to eat.)
CO2 (DIY yeast type):                    75G: 2 bottles (I am going to add
another bottle soon.)
                                                       10G: 1 bottle
Water quality report data: Nitrate:        1.6 mg/l
                                        Phosphate:   n/a (Other parts of the
city report 0.8 to 0.9.)
                                        Hardness:    130 mg/l
                                        pH:              8.4 (7.2)
                                        Calcium:      38 mg/l
                                        Magnesium: 7.8 mg/l
                                        Chloride:     3.6 mg/l
                                        Iron:            0.1 mg/l (0.01)
                                        Sodium:       2.3 mg/l
                                        Zinc:            0.01 mg/l
                                        Manganese: 0.01 mg/l (0.001)
                                        Sulfate:        28 mg/l

            Note:   These figures are maximum level for 1999. The city water
                        authority measures only three parameters daily and
the daily
                        averages for these are listed in the parenthesis.

I change approximately 25 to 50% of water every week.

I suppose my fish loads in these tanks are moderately high: 45 inches of
fish in 75G and a pair of young butterfly cichlids, a 4" pleco and two otos
in 10 G.   I tend to feed them heavy handed at times.

pH values in these tanks are stable but different from one to the other. I
suppose it is because of the different CO2 concentrations (I have not
measured their levels) and effect of the driftwood size in proportion to the
amount of water in these tanks. Both of my tanks have large partially
hollow driftwood in them but proportionately the one in the 10 gallon tank
is significantly larger since it stretches one end of the tank to another
and occupies a large portion of the tank.

My plants are growing equally well in both tanks. (Those in 75G tank were
acquired only two months ago. Ambulia has been growing fast and amazingly
bushy from the start, but the rest seems to be catching up.) Old leaves of
Rotala Indica and Amazon sward in 75G look paler and some have holes in
them. Others including Anubias, Crypts, Ambulia, Lysimachia, Micranthemum,
Didiplis diantra, Bacopa, etc. are all looking good. But lately, the
Champaign bottle like appearance in the 75G is starting to subside a bit.
The plants have grown a lot and maybe consuming more CO2 than I can provide
with the two CO2 generator bottles.

I have some staghorn algae growing in 75G tank (and getting worse
lately). I know black brush algae are still hiding in the dark corners on
old leaves and stray roots. But my trusty algae busting crew (a few SAE,
oto, FFF, pleco, platies) plus occasional hand removal are generally keeping
them in check. There is an over abundance (too many now) of ram's-horn
snails to help out as well in 75G.  But I really would like to get to the
point that I don't have to do hand removal.  Being very petite (5 feet and
100 lbs.),
every time I try to reach those algae, I feel like I am falling into the
tank.  Sooner
or later I need to invest into a snorkels...