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Re: Algae challenge

> From: "Caleb Clapp" <caleb at cushingco_net>
> Subject: Algae Challange - and beyond (a.k.a. Newbie #2)
> 6 week-old 29g, 110w CF, Carbo Plus, Fluorite w a little Latterite below,
> Boston Water, moderately well planted, a few Seachem Pond Tabs (recommended
> for economy over aquarium tabs)

	Maybe they are cheaper, but what is in them?  I wouldn't be
surprised if there is a fair bit of phosphate.

>, periodic Seachem Iron, Seachem Prime w
> water changes, 50% water per week although due to recent addition of PMDD no
> water change in 10 days.

	It seems to me that you have thrown quite an assortment of things in
there.  In general, this isn't a good idea.  (Even more gets listed below.)

> Tap water:   Ammonia 0, PH 8.4, KH 2,   GH 1.5, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0, Copper
> 0, Potassium 0, PO4 0, Iron 0
> Tank water: Ammonia 0, PH 7.0, KH 3.5, GH 3, Nitrite 0, Nitrogen 0 ppm prior
> to PMDD and 0.25 ppm (Nitrate 1.1 ppm) after 4 days of PMDD,  Copper 0,
> Potassium 25 ppm, PO4 6 ppm, Dissolved Oxygen 4-6 ppm, CO2 7-15 ppm
> (depending on volume on Carbo Plus), Iron 0.
> Test Kits:  LaMotte:  Nitrogen/Nitrate, 02, CO2; Seachem: Copper, Iron;
> Sera: PO4; Aquarium Laboratories: Potassium;  Aquarium Pharm.: PH, GH, KH,
> Ammonia, Nitrite.
> Clearly my nutrient levels need work!  As I am trying to use the
> Sears-Collins

	It's _Conlin_, by the way.  It might be a good idea to read what
we wrote.

> approach, I am somewhat upside-down, i.e. no Nitrates and lots
> of Phosphate.  I do not know where my high Phosphate has come from.  It also
> seems strange that with a Fluorite and Laterite substrate, combined with
> prior liquid Seachem Iron, I have zero iron in the water.

	If the phosphate result is good (no interferences), I'm not too
surprised there isn't much iron in solution.

> 1.  Where did all of my Phosphate likely come from.  I don't over feed, and
> none in the tap water.  Originally, I used Bulls-eye,

	If that is phosphate-based, it will take lots of water changes to
get rid of it.  It's not difficult to get hundreds of ppm of phosphate
with phosphate buffers.  Other than that, I would look at the pond tab

> but stopped several
> weeks ago and several big water changes ago.  Is that it?  Regardless of the
> source, do I just do a lot of water changes to get it down, or by building
> up Nitrate, Iron and Trace will it fall as plants increase overall nutrient
> absorption (with all other nutrients being manually replenished).
> 2.  To convert to generally used nutrient-level terminology,  is my P04 test
> result of 6ppm the "P" level?  Similarly, am I correct that I multiply my
> Nitrogen count by 4.4 to get to Nitrates (assuming zero Nitrite) and that it
> is Nitrate, not Nitrogen, that is generally referred to? 

	It varies with the test kit.  Read _all_ of the literture that came
with them.

> I have seen
> references to 02 at 112%, what does that mean vs. ppm?

	Possibly a percentage of the equilibrium concentration in air.

> 3.  With regard to C02, can I just go by my LaMotte test results, or do I
> need to factor in KH and PH?  I have read that the KH/PH charts are greatly
> effected by the accuracy of readings, and by buffers.  I have used Seachem
> Alkaline Buffer with Acid Buffer to obtain KH 4 and PH 7.0.  This manual
> manipulation must negate the C02 charts?

	If you don't know what the buffers are, or if they are not HCO3-/CO2,
throw away the chart, except as an indication of the highest CO2 you
could have in there.  You know it is _lower_ than the chart says.

>  If I can simply test for C02,

	How?  The ususal test is just a titration for a weak acid, _any_
weak acid.

> what
> level should I have, 15-25 ppm?  I don't seem to get over 16 ppm and even
> there, I get concerned with 02 being low.  Should I add liquid Carbon,
> Excel, until my plants produce more oxygen?

	Stop throwing more stuff into the mix.

> 4. What should my level be for 02, mine seem very low at 4-6 ppm.

	Don't worry about that for now.
> 5.  I have never gotten any pearling.  Is this simply due to not yet having
> the correct nutrient levels for plants to properly grow.

> 6.  I mixed my PMDD so I have individual mixes of the 4 components, so I can
> dose individually (remember I am still in the
> the-more-things-I-can-do,-the-more-fun-I-have, phase).

	I understand, but reastraint is sometimes a good thing.  I _always_
use the components individually, depending on what I think the plants need,
either from appearance or water analysis.

>  I am adding
> everything, except K2SO4 (I have 25 ppm K already), and giving extra KNO3
> (which adds K anyway?) until I reach 5 ppm Nitrate. The PMDD literature says
> to add 1/4 ml per day for my 29g (1/12 ml per 10g tank size).  I am
> averaging 2-3 ml per day for 29g (3/4 ml - 1ml per 10 gal), or about 10
> times the prescribed dose.  Should I go faster, or slower, to reach the
> basic nutrient target levels.  Is there any reason not to just hit the
> levels in one dose?

	Only that one doesn't want a big overshoot, and caution is a good idea.
> 7.  Since I have a Fluorite and Laterite substrate and no currently
> detectable Iron levels in the water, should I strive for iron limited water
> (along with, or in place of Phosphate limited) to try the Sears-Collins


> concept on high plant growth and algae control?  If one does limit iron in
> the water, how does one deal with the other trace elements (one would have
> to stop adding trace to limit iron)?
> 9.  I have not seen much discussion about salt.  Since I have 2 mollies and
> 2 swords, I added 1/2 teaspoon per 5 gal, which is low for them.  Should I
> have more, or less, for my overall tank happiness.  Does the answer change
> when I later add angels? (I will likely give away the Mollies because they
> are eating my plants).

	I really think you should make up your mind what sort of tank you
want, and go for it, rather than mixing things up.  Keep the fish types
> 10.  Given my strangely high level of P04, and my interest in limiting P04
> in my water, (not to mention interest in the health of my fish) what food
> brand is good?  Occasionally, I feed live brine shrimp, but do not add the
> shrimp water (is this where my Phosphate could have come from?).

	I don't think so.
> 11.  Does a "cleated trace mix" add Ferrous of Ferric Iron?  If Ferric,
> should I really care?

	It's probably ferric, and I don't think it matters.
> I am sure I have hit the legal limit for the number of questions in one
> post.  Thank you all in advance!

	The next time you are thinking of adding something new, sit down
and drink a beer instead.  Decide how you want to proceed and stick
with it, instead of taking ideas from all over and combining them.

	From what I can see of Carbo-Plus, if it makes CO2 it does so
from Ca++ and HCO3-, so you _must_ have adequate supplies of both.  If
you are using unknown buffers, you don't know how much KH you have 
(except that it is lower than your measurement).

	Stick to known materials - CaCO3 for GH and KH, NaHCO3 for KH.

	Do a few test analyses with the phosphate kit, including
a blank one on distilled water, and if you still believe the 6 ppm,
do quite a few more water changes to get rid of it.

	Then stick to _one_ approach for a while.

Paul Sears        Ottawa, Canada