A newbie gardener thanks the contributors

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 1996 13:06:00 -0600
From: "Denney, Richard" <rdenney at MSPO1_MED.UTMB.EDU>
Subject: A new gardener thanks the contributors
To: "'aquatic plants'" <aquatic-plants at actwin_com>

To list contributors:

I am a molecular biologist/geneticist and have been keeping tropical aquaria 
off and on for nearly 35 years. I always preferred to keep live plants with 
the fish.  I had never bothered to research how to satisfy plant needs, so 
not surprisingly, my plants never grew well or lasted long. After finding 
the superb information available in FAQ's and in discussions on your mailing 
list, I have over past three months  heavily planted a pre-existing 29 
gallon aquarium (containing a breeding angelfish pair), and established new 
10 and 75 gallon, heavily planted aquaria. All have 2.5 to 3.5 watts per 
gallon good quality fluorescent lighting (4hr on, 4 hr off, 8 hr on), DIY 
CO2 (yeast), terralit substrate, and trace element supplementation (Kent 
freshwater supplements and Tetra crypto tablets for the roots), etc. Tank 
temperatures run 79-82 degrees F. (I built a 6 x 40 watt fluorescent hood 
for the 75 gallon housed in custom natural oak enclosure. Added a cooling 
fan after I found that the tank temperature rose to 84 F during our warm 
summer days. )

Generally the tanks are doing well.  The 75 gallon, in particular, is 
stunning. This tank has an Eheim wet/dry filter. The fish obviously love 
their new conditions. The 75 gallon currently contains two small batches of 
angel fish offspring (7 fish of one to one-half inches, 14 fish of about one 
half-one inch, 20 cardinal tetras, 10 Oto's, four siamensis, two sailfin 
mollies, and five 1 inch "checkered ciclids, which I was told on good 
authority will remain fairly small and non-aggressive (I hope). I also have 
25 two week old "angelfishlets" in the 29 gallon with the parents. The only 
problem I have had with the 75 gal is filamenuous algae (thread, hair and 
"staghorn"; Cladophora?). The infestations were heavy enough that I was 
concerned they were going to take over the tank. I believe I am getting the 
algae problem under control since I took steps to eliminate addition of 
phosphate I discovered in our tap water (1 ppm phosphate by SeaTest kit, 
added by the local water authority to deal with iron staining.) The tanks 
never showed significant ammonia/nitrites or nitrates, and all continue to 
show trace or undetectable nitrate (Tetra kits).  Besides containing 
phosphate, our water is extremely hard (about 20 GH, 7 KH) and is softened 
by a home water conditioner unit (which adds sodium).  I am now using 
RO/deionizer/activated charcoal unit on the "conditioned" water and 
reconstituting the pure product with synthetic sea salt (1 tsp/10 gal: gives 
GH 2) and sodium bicarbonate to give KH 4.5. CO2 addition to the aquaria 
brings the pH to about 6.8-7.0. The combination of eliminating excess 
phosphate and removing algae and infested leaves manually has greatly 
reduced the algae problem. Meanwhile, the Amazon swords (bleheri and osiris) 
are putting on beautiful, long leaves every two days or so, and all other 
plants (Hygrophila stricta, water sprite, Cryptocorne walkeri, Cabomba, 
myriophilum, Rotala rondifolia, had to be extensively trimmed to keep them 
from growing out the top of the aquaria. A week ago I added some Rotala 
macranda and it too is growing and rich in color. Yesterday I added two 
Anubia nana and two Cryptocorne balansi (sp?). I am having so much fun!


Last week I discovered another possible contributor to my remaining thread 
algae situation. Iron testing (SeaChem kit: I agree the reagent turns yellow 
in a humid climate!) suggests that I have probably been adding too much of 
the Kent freshwater supplements. My iron levels were .3 ppm or perhaps a 
little more. (I have been adding about 1.5 tsp per 30 gallons with water 
changes, while Kent says add 1 to 3 tsp depending on the number of plants, 
whatever that means).  Taking George Booth's advice, I plan to try to lower 
this concentration to the 0.1 to 0.15 ppm range by continuing twice-weekly 
water changes (30% or so) without addition of further iron supplement. I 
will keep you posted.

Thanks again for a terrific bulletin board.

Richard M. Denney
rdenney at mspo1_med.utmb.edu