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Algae, Lighting, Discus and Nitrate

Subject: algae on plant control

>I had an interesting idea that I thought about kicking around here.  The
>idea is to take something like a paint brush (very small and delicate)
>and 'brush' the leaves of plants to keep the algae growth off of them.
>>From doing this by hand with out a brush seems to help them out alot.
>Does anyone use a brush and what type of brush is used?

It is far more efficient, and better for the plants to adjust your nutrient
load / lighting to limit algae growth ahead of time than to try to brush it
off once it starts to grow.  In any case, there are only a few types of
algae that could be brushed off with a soft brush.  


Subject: Lights on a 75G

Kelly Beard wrote:

>I'm thinking of taking my 20 gallon down and replacing it with a 75 gallon.
>The Angels are growing too big (so are the plants) and they don't have
>enough territory for each other.  This tank is my CO2 project, so the 20
>gallon with probably become a plantless tank with some African cichlids,
>which I've never kept before.

A 20G tank is less suitable for most Rift Lake fish than it is for angels.
Make sure you stick to dwarf species if you do this.  BTW, most of the
dwarf Tanganyikan shell dwellers are fine in a planted tank as long as the
pH stays above 7.6 or so and moderately hard.

>What kind of lighting would you recommend for a tank this size?  I guess the
>standard dimensions for a 74 gallon are 48 x 18 x 21.  Does the gallon vs
>watt rule apply here or are there different considerations?  If the
>watts/gallons rule applies, I guess I would have to shoot for 225-300 watts
>of lighting.

I don't know what watt to gallon rule you're using, but 3w/g will grow just
about anything.  If you want a higher electrical bill, you can add more,
but it's unlikely you'll be able to grow more plants as a result.  You can
also grow _LOTS_ of species at 2w/g.  The choice is yours.  

>Some of you have tanks at least this large.  I'd like some descriptions of
>your lighting, high-tech or not, if it is working well for you.  Include as
>much trivial info that you can (bulb lengths, color, VHO or MH, suspended
>hood, shop lights, pendant, etc, etc, etc).

I use 6 4' T-8 tubes over my 70G (same size as your 75, but they used to
call them 70's ;-) I happen to use half 5000K bulbs and half 6500K bulbs
just because I like the color mix.


Subject: Water Changes in Discus Tank

Anthony wrote:

>Even after the water change, my NO4 reads 40-60 ppm.  The main reason I
>live plants was to minimize the frequency of water changes, while still
>the discus happy.   Granted, they seem much happier, but I'm not --
although the 
>tank IS much prettier.
>One reader has already responded that he thought I was overfeeeding, so
>you have any other ideas, I'm going to give that a try for a few weeks.

The fact of the matter is _whenever_ you have rising nitrate levels in a
planted tank (any tank for that matter) you have more waste going in than
you are taking out.  There are three possible solutions:

1. Reduce animal population (the best answer)
2. Increase water changes
3. Reduce feeding (can only be carried so far)

Until the amount removed can keep up with the amount added, you will
_always_ have excess nutrients and probably algae problems.

BTW, when I kept 4 discus in a 55G tank, I was doing 50% water changes
twice a week to keep up, and even then, had to run a phosphate removing
resin in the filter as well.  The tank looked great with this high level of
maintenance, but the work load was more than I was willing to invest in a
single tank.  So pretty or no, I gave the discus to a breeder friend.  They
now happily spawn regularly in their bare tanks.  It's not as pretty, but
they're sure easier to care for!<g>

Subject: Plenum tank consumes KNO3 (Or - Can't keep it up!)

>Just passing on an observation, not making any recommendations here.  My 60
>gallon planted has one 175W MH light and pressurized CO2 with a reef-style
>plenum under laterite/clay enhanced gravel.  20% water changes every 1-2
>and enough CO2 to keep the pH below 7.  KH is about 4, hardness is about 120
>ppm.  I am using the PMDD regime but have to dose the KNO3 separately because
>the tank demands so much more of this component to keep any measurable
>in solution.  I mix 1 tablespoon of KNO3 per 500 ml of water.  I've been
>adding 12 ml per day for the past two weeks and when I measured it today -
>zero, zip, nada.  I added 40 ml to get the level up to about 8 ppm.  I'll
>the daily dose to 20 ml.  Meanwhile I'm adding 6 DROPS of the remaining PMDD
>components.  The plenum is working too well, it's making it harder to keep
>things in balance.  Plants do great, then stall, depending on the nutrients.
>When they stop growing, I measure, and sure enough, nitrates are gone.  Algae
>is in there, but responds more to fish feeding than anything else.  

Are you sure it's the plenum?  Have you run a similar set up without a
plenum for comparison?  I find that my high light CO2 injected tanks
routinely need nitrate and potassium supplementation.

Karen Randall
Aquatic Gardeners Association