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Re: Algae problems

> As for the RO water over tap...Silicates, and we have hard water.  I use the
> RO for my salt water tank anyways, seems to make more sense to start with a
> controled state and make it what you want, not rely on extra things you
> don't need from the water company.  Just my opinion anyways.

Sure, you've been sold by the sellers that don't know any better(Many LFS's)
and makers of RO systems. They simply are _not_ needed for a plant tank.
This is a myth that's some how entered into how to keep a planted tank.

There are seldom ever any "unknowns" unless you have real crappy private
well water with copper in high concentrations(enough to kill a number of
inverts), and generally something you would not even consider drinking
yourself. If it's safe to drink, it's safe for the plants.
Folks that say you need to buy a RO for a plant tank prey on ignorance and
paranoia of new folks. Pisses me off.

Are SW reef are like plant tanks? No. Si plays little role in FW plant
tanks, diatoms are never any issue except during the first one two weeks and
are easily taken care by herbivores.

Hardness has little to do with success of planted tanks unless there's
simply not enough. Plants don't care about that, all they care about is
having enough CO2. GH, the Mg and Ca are plant nutrients and the Kgh is HCO3
which you need around 50ppm or 3 dKH or high to have a good buffering system
for adding the CO2 gas. Look at the pH/KH/CO2 table. See what happens when
you move the KH around?
You add CO2 to adjust for whatever new pH you need to get the same CO2 ppm.
So it doesn't matter to plants as long as they have enough CO2 what the KH

You cannot associated Si with any of your present algae problems since none
of the algae you presently have are diatoms. They are the only ones that
will use Si. Some higher plants also use Si(Grasses and others).

If you want the extra work and all that's your choice, but it's not required
in anyway. With algae, DIY CO2 , I think you have enough to worry about.
Why take something out(GH/KH) only to add it back again? I don't like to do
extra work.

I had no issues growing plants in GH of 25 and KH's of 10+.
>> Why would anyone have a plenum in a plant tank? Plants
>> remove the NO3.
> Because theres about 30 fish in the tank, and its fully planted etc...Theres
> no reason not to have it is there?

So you have a plenum for the large fish load fish? Algae is caused by the
excess NH4 from fish waste not so much as the excess NO3 unless you get
above 20ppm or so. 5-10ppm is the best range for NO3. It adds another source
of uptake so it's more difficult to know if the plants are taking it in or
the bacteria. I don't really care to grow bacteria.

Most everyone has to top off the NO3 using KNO3 since the fish cannot
produce enough NO3 __without first__ producing NH4. If the tank exceeds the
NH4=> NO2=>NO3 capacity then you get algae.

In a well run plant tank NH4 should always be immeasurable.
Generally it's impossible to supply enough NO3 via fish waste alone for the
plants in a 2w+/gal CO2 enriched tank fully planted without getting algae
issues. So we add inorganic KNO3.

The other simpler method is to reduce an excessive large fish load or do
more frequent water changes.

Plenums don't deal with NH4 which causes algae, healthy plant's on the other
hand remove PO4, NO3 and NH4.
Takes up extra space and it's not the excess NO3 from the fish load that
causes Staghorn algae but rather all the NH4 produced by the fish waste.

You can do a simple experiment (without fish) to prove this to yourself by
adding everything except NH4 to a tank with plants and vary the amount of
NO3. Next try the same thing but add NH4 this time. You'll get a massive
algae bloom and either green water and staghorn and then some other green
algae. So the plenum is a bit like the RO issue, why remove only to have to
add it back again? 0.0ppm or immeasurable NO3 is not a goal here.

So high fish loads are not the problem concerning NO3 (unless you don't do
water changes, have very high NO2 in the tap water) but rather the NH4 from
too many fish in too small a tank.

Be kind to your fish and give them a nice good sized home.

> My iron level is down to .10 or less finnaly, it hardly shows color on the
> chart now.   Nitrate seems to be around 5-10ppm, its hard to tell on a salt
> water test that has colors for 10-50 I think, possibly upto 100 anyways...

Using this test kit you have no idea what your NO3 level is. I've been
around the block many times with NO3 test kits. You even are having a hard
time figuring out what the NO3 is. A good test kit is a Lamott. These are
reliable. They cost a good bit also.

But there an alternative.
Call your local water company. Ask for the N-NO3 levels. They will gladly
tell you. Also ask for the PO4 levels.

From their measurements you can assume that the tapo water has whatever they
say(for example 2 ppm of N= 2x 4.4NO3= 8.8 ppm of NO3. If you do a 50% water
change weekly, You add an extra 4.4 ppm of NO3 from the tap water.
If you have enough NO3, PO4, K, traces and CO2, then you will use up about
1-4ppm of NO3 a day. So about midweek with a good fish load adding another
1/2 teaspoon of KNO3 will likely supply you with all the Nitrogen along with
the NH4 trace amounts from the fish.

The idea is to use large water changes to re set the tank each week.

This way you add enough nutrients right after the water change and then
again once or twice during the week and estimate how much the maximum amount
of plant nutrient uptake would be and add that amount.

It's fine if the tank doesn't use all the nutrients since you will do
another 50% weekly water change in 2-4 of days after dosing.

This keeps enough nutrients in the tank and keeps any nutrient from building
up and this method only requires a good CO2 level so pH measurements are
needed to keep things going well.

Gas tank CO2 systems are extremely low maintenance, I touch mine about once
every 3 months for a few seconds to adjust the amount of gas going in. I
spend 10$ a year on gas and refill once every 1 or two.

All I do are water changes and add nutrients back in afterwards.

You can get to within 1ppm of NO3 using the above method.
For example, adding 1/2teaspoon of KNO3 to a 75 gallon tank, taking about 5
gallons of water for displacement from sand etc will yield and extra 6.3ppm
of NO3.

I assure you the NO3 test you have cannot even come close.

You have 3.5w/gal of light on a 75 gallon tank and DIY CO2.

Generally , CO2 is going to be the cause of any future algae problems for
you. NO3 next or too much fish waste from NH4 production.

You can do weekly water changes and add KNO3 and I'd certainly add K2SO4,
traces and perhaps PO4. Get some KNO3, K2SO4, KH2PO4 and plan on a gas CO2
later, maybe a different substrate. Keep up on CO2 brew changes, do 50%
weekly water changes. Add nutrients back thereafter and at least once(or
twice if things are growing well) more during the mid week.
> I picked up a plant at petco...that was a tall spiked leaf, rigid, about 1cm
> wide maybe?  Dark green with a white stripe up the middle.  Its a nice
> looking plant, and would look great where it is in the tank, but its done
> nothing but decay since I got it.  It, and even its roots look like a
> terestial plant.  Anyone know what this is?  Should I just take it out now
> before it decays fully?

Yes, sounds like Dracaena or Liriope, terrestrial plants.

My advice is simple and doesn't cost much except for the Gas CO2 which will
save you the brew changes and make things much easier on you in the long
run. It revolves around a simple water change and essentially making a
reference solution each week and estimating midweek in between. In the long
run you do far less maintenance and it has stunning results. It's just basic
routine maintenance and feeding the plants.

It's easy to do even without test kits, except for the pH/CO2/KH.

Tom Barr
> Thanks again!
> Mark