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New Tank Set up

Henry Hatch wrote:

>I'm planning to set up a 75 gallon planted tank a la Karen Randall. I
>like the approach since it seems simple enough, even for me, and it's
>been used successfully in a number of different water supplies. Karen,
>if you're out there, I live in a town near where you have set up some
>tanks (Milford). I was curious if you've had any experience with our
>water supply. 

No, I haven't, but if, like many of the towns in our area, you have town
well water, it is probably similar to ours.  Millis water is similiar to
ours, but does not contain the copper I sometimes have to deal with.  In
any case, every municipality will treat their water a little differently.
There are water differences even here within our town, depending on where
you are on the system.

>I have a couple of questions on your system. I'm going to run 220 watts
>and pressurized CO2 in the 75 gallon with a gravel and laterite
>substrate. Thanks to this list, I found a source for Tropica Master
>Grow. Would you suggest that I use the Jobe's 16-2-6 given the lighting
>and CO2 or should I start with Master Grow and see how the plants do
>first ? 

I don't recommend adding major nutrients (nitrogen and phosphate in
particular) until there is a clear need for them.  It is very individual
how much of these nutrients a particular tank will need,  based on set up,
plants used, stocking/feeding levels etc.  

>Will substances in the substrate such as iron show up in water

George Booth has mentioned that he has seen a rise in iron levels right
after installing a laterite substrate.  I don't bother to do any testing at
that point, so I'd have to take his word for it.  

Remember that that the "system" I recommend for school tanks takes a
minimalist view.  We don't have the money to equip each class room with
test kits, even if the teachers/volunteers felt comfortable with a lot of
testing.  We depend heavily on visual observation to catch and remediate

That said, we also run most of our tanks at closer to 2w/g than 3, so the
whole process moves more slowly.  I _do_ use 3w/g on my own tanks, but I've
had the experience to be able to catch things going off track pretty
quickly, before a major problem develops.

>I also have some other questions for anyone regarding my other tank
>which has been running for 3 weeks. The basic setup is a 30 gallon tank
>with 90 watts on for 12 hours/day, laterite and gravel substrate, yeast
>reactor, and fertilization with Kent in the water column and Sera
>tablets in the substrate. Both products contain iron. The tank was
>heavily planted with Hygrophilia Polysperma, Hygrophilia Difformis, and
>Sagittaria Subulata.
>Plant growth has been rapid. There has been some yellowing of the blades
>of the Sagittaria, and some blades, but no whole plants have died. I'm
>still getting new growth on the Sag. I have some thread type algae which
>not serious at the moment. 
>My tap water and tank tested at .5 mg/l for phosphate and iron. I
>noticed the iron level remained constant even immediately after
>fertilizing with iron fortified nutrients. I ran Chemi Pure for 4 days
>in an attempt to reduce the iron level with no success. I stopped
>because I was concerned about pulling other elements out of the water.
>Does anyone have any suggestions on what I should do ? 

I would take out the Chemi-pure, as in my experience it pulls all kinds of
things out of the water.  I would do some water changes and stop
fertilizing completely for a while, and I would check my iron test kit.
This is a problem when you mix and match fertilizer products.  

>I tested for nitrates and got no reading as I expected in a new tank.
>Are the Sagittaria  possibly nitrogen limited ?

The algae is almost certainly a result of the high phosphate level.  The
yellow leaves are _probably_ not a sign of deficiency at this point, but a
sign that the plants are adapting to their new conditions in your tank.  As
long as the new growth is good color and size, and shows no sign of
deformity, the plants should be fine.

>Also, I was interested getting opinions on the advisability of
>fertilizing both my substrate and water column ? Am I overdoing it ? 

There are plants that definitely do better with substrate fertilization,
and others that do better with fertilizer in the water column.  But tanks
rarely need supplemental fertilization of any type in the first few weeks.
The plants are using their own reserves during this period as they settle
in, and excess fertilizer just becomes algae food.

BTW, if you're interested in going to any of the BAS meetings (3rd Mon. of
each month) let me know.  There are usually lots of plants on the auction

Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association