New Lights, Start up Problems and Vermiculite

Subject: RE: New Light Setup

I realise that I am going to have other problems (algae
> bloom's) at first but I would think that after I get past the inital stag
> every thing will be cool and then I can think about adding maybe a DIY CO
> system and work out the other bugs that may come along. 

As I said, it's unlikely that you can balance that much light without CO2 
supplementation, and if the tank is not in balance, nothing will ever be 
"cool".  But it is easy enough to test whether or not you have a sufficient 
amount of CO2 to balance your lighting by testing your pH morning and 
evening.  If you find substantial pH swings, you know you need supplemental 

Right now I have
> some red hygro, C. wendi, 3 swords a clump of java moss 1 A. nana and som
> weird vine type plant that was reported to me as a creeping charlie but I
> know it is not and another tall growing plant that I care not to look up a
> this point and they are all growing but not "thriving" and all the light
> they get is a coral life 50/50 and a power-glo plant light both at 48" lon
> this is not enough light for them to really "thrive" but it does allow fo
> growth and as you notice most of my plant's are high light plants. 

You don't say how long you've had these plants, but please bear in mind that 
plants will put on growth for a while even under abysmal conditions using 
stored reserves.  What normally happens to high light plants under marginal 
conditions is that they grow quite quickly in the beginning, trying to get 
to the surface, and closer to the light.  Eventually they exhaust their 
reserves, get weaker and weaker and you end up with a few anemic pieces 
floating on the surface, right near the lights.  How long this takes to 
happen depends on the specific plant and how bad the conditions are.


> Subject: Startup Problems

> My Plant tank is 6 weeks old.  And my plants are not dieing , but not real
> growing that well either.
> How 'bout some advice you experts.  Any Tips are GREATLY appreciated.
> Given :
> 90g plant tank (24" tall)
> Tetra C02
> latetrite in lower 2/3 of substrate
> liquid fertilizer @ day
> 4 40w full spectrum bulbs (in homemade shop Home Depot hoods)
> NO Substrate heating :(
> 2 black mollies
> Ph 7.2, 78degrees, hard water
> My plants are very green on top, but all the leaves rot off on the lower 2
> of my plants.
> Roots seem to sprout out all up and down the stems.
> Water is still very cloudy, no vigirous algae growth.
> My tank doesn't seem very bright, but then it is cloudy, and all the tanks
> see on the Internet don't look very bright to me either.

You have a deep tank with marginal lighting. I use 6 tubes over a 75G tank 
with the same foot print as a 90.  OTOH, the Tetra CO2 system (if your using 
their diffusion bells) is not capable of keeping good steady concentrations 
of CO2 in the tank, so you might be better off without very bright light.  
But in this case, you need to stick to more shade tolerant plants.  While 
you do not show your KH reading, it is unlikely with a pH of 7.5 that you 
have enough CO2 in your water for fast growing plants either.

You do not say what types of plants you are using, or how heavily the tank 
is planted, but your description of what is happening to the plants leads me 
to believe that they are probably high-light stem plants.  At your current 
lighting levels, you'd probably do better with Java Ferns, Anubias, perhaps 
some hardier Swords, Aponogetons, and later, when the tank has stabilized 

It is unclear why your water is cloudy... it shouldn't be.  If it is cloudy 
from material stirred up from the substrate initially, this should fall out 
of suspension before too long.  Otherwise, you can remove it with a diatom 
filter.  If the tank _was_ clear then became cloudy, it is probably a 
bacterial bloom of some sort, and you'll just have to wait it out.  As long 
as ammonia and nitrite levels remain down, it isn't dangerous.

As far as the tanks on Internet not seeming bright is concerned, keep in 
mind that it's hard to take good photos of a planted tank!  Below the very 
top of the plants there's a lot of shade!<g>  A _very_ general rule of thumb 
for lighting is a minimum of 2-3W per gallon. At 160W, you are outside the 
low end of that range.  Again, it _is_ possible to balance the tank at that 
lighting level,(and have a very pretty tank to boot!) but you have to use 
low light plants to do it.

Subject: Re: nutrient diffusion into vermiculite


> So far I have good results with vermiculite, humus & gravel for about
> two months.
> Anybody who has not had good results using vermiculite? Sometimes failure
> is far more interesting to learn from than success so if you can always
> look on the bright side if sharing your results helps someone else! :-)
> Unfortunately, success is hard to quantify when almost anything seems
> to work to one degree or another.

I have been following this discussion with interest.  While all my tanks are 
set up with laterite, (one with substrate heating and the others without) I 
can't say that I'de be adverse to a cheaper solution as long as I was 
convinced it worked!<g>

Have other people had success with vermiculite long term?  I'm glad your 
tank is doing well, and hope it continues to, but a two months, it's hardly 
even settled in yet!<g>  I know it's not the same situation, but I've had 
people raving about the results of using peat as a substrate at the two 
month mark, only to here that they've given up with disgust and torn the 
tank down a year later.