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Neglect of the planted tank<g>

A Ling wrote:

> Subject: High light vs vacation? (was Re:Augh)
> For Tom & those with lots of light, for how long can you leave your tanks
> unattended, that is, lights on timers, CO2 left running, but no PMDD, no
> additional fish food, no water changes, before your plants think of you as
> "lazy"?  Do you reduce your light intensity while away?  Pay someone else
> to do maintenance?  I had the idea from earlier discussions that most
> automatic feeders/dosers aren't very reliable despite being expensive.

I have left my tanks without any attention for a week to 10 days of vacation
many times without any problem at all.  Then I severed the tendons in my
right hand after Christmas, and couldn't do ANYTHING on the tanks other than
feed and fertilize for 12 weeks.  About 4 weeks in,  I cut the light down by
about 1/3, and turned the CO2 off.  I fed _very_ lightly every other day,
and fertilized only once a week with micronutrients only.  Because the light
and CO2 were then the growth limiting factors, nothing got seriously out of

There was some development of filamentous algae, both green and red,
particularly in areas of little water movement. (the filters and power heads
got pretty clogged, and there were mats of plants blocking the surface) A
FEW of the plants got really spindly, most notably the Rotala macrandra and
Didiplis diandra.

About 6 weeks in, friends came and did massive (50%) water changes and
cleaned the filters for me.  Under my direction, they also removed at least
1/3, maybe 1/2 of the (way overgrown) plant mass.  The algae in ALL the
tanks cleared up with that one water change, and didn't come back, so I
suspect that if I'd thought to cut the light and CO2 in the beginning, I
wouldn't have had an algae problem at all.

When I could finally use my hand again, and resumed normal maintenance, I
turned the rest of the lights and the CO2 back on.  Within a week,
everything was looking pretty good, and within a couple more weeks, even the
R. macrandra and Didiplis had recovered.  I have known for a long time that
planted tanks were very forgiving and resilient, but this experience has
shown me that they are really REMARKABLY resilient.