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Re The small planted tank in Japan

Sound like you have a nice tank going right now. I would like to point out a
few things that might help you.

>A in Japan very common wet open filter box on top of the tank.

These filter are very common on 'kit' type aquarium sold in Japan. I never
had much luck with when trying to grow plants. Later in your post you
mentioned you switched over to hang-on-the-back filter. Much better than the
filter box wet/dry types I think.

>60 liter ( 16 G) , bottom: plain gravel with some clay balls
>in the lower part( but since the tank has been in operation
>for more than 2 years I would suspect it contains a lot of
>organic waste by now)

The tank you mentioned is the most common size in Japan. Since you are in
Japan you might want to switch over to one of ADA substrates. I have used
Aqua Soil for years in my planted tank and I am happy to report that it
works as advertised. It lowers pH and TH to a level that most plants thrive
in. This way you don't have to blow a lot of CO2 into the water to lower the
pH. One 9 liter bag should cover the bottom of the tank with about a 2 inch
layer. Not bad for only 1500 yen (~$14USD).

>an additional light strip of which I use only one bulb
>(2 available)was added, so total input is now 3X18 =54 Watt
>for 16 gallon ( must be the limit , it it? ).

Actually, for a tank of this size Takashi Amano uses 4 bulbs. I have used up
to 4 bulbs on a tank this size and the plants grow like weeds. Of course CO2
is added daily along with liquid fertilizer. The hardest thing in Japan is
finding a good, cheap florescent bulb. Most aquarium/pet store bulbs sell 18
watt bulbs from 1300~1800 yen (~$12-$17USD). Once again, ADA is the most
prevalent in most stores. For around 1400~1500 yen can pick up ADA's NA
Lamp. I have used these too with good results. This lamp puts out around
8000K and has a CRI of 93. I forget what the lumen count was on these bulbs.

>STEP1:  I added a ADA CO2 system with the ceramic CO2 diffuser.
><snip> Tossed the ADA ceramic plate thing after 2 months.
>It gets dirty so easily and the bubbles are reaching the surface.

I hope you went with the Advance System Kit instead of the Standard System.
The Advanced System comes with a better easier to manage regulator for a
little bit more money. As for the ADA diffuser, Pollen Glass, what is
reaching the surface is oxygen not CO2. The bubbles coming out of the Pollen
Glass are so small that the CO2 is dissolved before it hits the surface of
the water. For a tank this big and a moderate plant load a bubble count of
1.5~2 should be enough. Of course you will burn through those little
cartridges in a month or so. As for the ceramic plate getting dirty on trick
is to soak it in a mild chlorine solution. ADA sells a product called
Superge which smells to me like just chlorine, but cost a lot more. Superge
is meant to clean all glass accessories of algae and crud.

>STEP2: Started using Brighty K and Green Brighty STEP2.
>Fe chelated addition from Dennerle(tablets) and trace
>element mix (liquid, Dennerle).

When you run out of Step 2 you might want to buy a bottle of Step 3. This
contains more iron than Step 1 and 2. You might want to ease up on the trace
element mix since Step 2 already contains these.

>Question: Does anybody has tips to cool tanks? The moesson
>has started and the temperature of my tank has reached
>31 degrees C.( Don't want to see my efforts cooked)
>I don't want to use a blower on the water surface(outgassing).

Oh, and it is just starting to get hot there. Since you have 3 bulbs over
the tank I bet the water heats up really quick. Most American might say,
"Just put it in a room with air conditioning.". If you ran you AC all day
and night in Japan you electric bill will go through the roof. What I did
was have a fan blow over the top of the tank near the light. It helped, but
temps still were kind of high. If your tank is covered with glass, or
something, it should be OK. Besides, having the tank coved cuts down on
evaporation. You can go to any aquarium/pet store in Japan and pick up some
glass strips for around 700 yen or so. You probably have one that came with
the tank, but you need another one for where the filter box use to be.

Good luck with everything, and get ready for all the O-bon festivals.

Ryan Stover