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Re: Algae challenge

Caleb Clapp wrote:

> 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, but stopped several
> weeks ago and several big water changes ago.  Is that it?

If Bulls-eye is a phosphate buffer then yes, that's probably it. 
Phosphate buffers create staggeringly high concentrations of phosphate
and levels that high don't go away easily, even with big water changes.

> 2.  To convert to generally used nutrient-level terminology,  is my P04 test
> result of 6ppm the "P" level?

I think the vernacular on the list usually refers to phosphorus levels
as PO4.  Laboratories and at least some kits report the results os
phosphorus.  To convert from phosphorus to phosphate, multiply the
concentration by 3.  To convert from phosphate to phosphorus, divide the
concentration by 3.

> 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?

Yes, most hobby kits produce results as nitrate concentrations, so those
are the values we're accustomed to hearing.  Most laboratories and some
kits report the values as N.  To convert from nitrogen to nitrate
multiply by 4.4.  To convert from nitrate to nitrogen, divide by 4.4.

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

Can't say for sure, but this is probably % of saturation with
atmospheric oxygen, which varies a lot with temperature and altitude. 
Usually saturation is in the range of 8.5-9 ppm.

> 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.

You can just use the CO2 test results.  You might want to use other
methods to check those results.

>  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?

According to it's label the alkaline buffer is a mixture of
bicarbonates, so it won't mess with the CO2 charts or calculations.  The
acid buffer will have some effect.  Generally I can't advise you to use
the acid buffer.  Use the alkaline buffer (or baking soda works just
fine as long as you can stand the added sodium) and CO2 to adjust pH. 

> If I can simply test for C02, 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?

Reasonable CO2 levels should not lower your O2.  I don't subscribe to a
need for high CO2 and find that 10 ppm works fine.  If you add CO2 then
you should probably avoid using liquid carbon sources.

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

The O2 level should never drop below 4.5.  Most of the time you should
be able to keep it up to 8-9 in a healthy tank, and tanks with bright
light and a lot of plants will get values over 10.

Your low oxygen levels are the sign of a sick aquarium.  You may have
too many fish or not enough circulation, or too much rotting material in
the tank.

> 5.  I have never gotten any pearling.  Is this simply due to not yet having
> the correct nutrient levels for plants to properly grow.

The plants won't bubble when the oxygen level is low.  Fix that problem
first, then worry about the plants.
> 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).

You need to get out of that phase fast and get back to the
"do-a-good-aquarium" phase.  Forget about PMDD until you get the basics
worked out.

> 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)?

That's your choice.  Trace elements are probably less of a problem then
some discussion on this list would make them appear to be.
> 8.  Why doesn't LaMotte nor Hatch sell a Potassium test, but a few of the
> cheaper brands do?  Are the other brands' tests ok?

I thought LaMotte did sell a potassium kit.  Did they stop?   You
shouldn't need a potassium kit anyway.

> 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).

Salt (at least in moderate levels, with reasonably hard water) is fine
for the plants.  Angels may not care for it.

> 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 use mostly prepared flake foods.  Your PO4 probably didn't come from

> 11.  Does a "cleated trace mix" add Ferrous of Ferric Iron?  If Ferric,
> should I really care?

That depends on the mix.  I believe most use ferric iron.  Seachem's
flourish iron and other flourish products use ferrous gluconate. 
Supposedly either will work.  But yet I wonder... 

Roger Miller