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Introductory Letter, Ca Deficiency? (at end)

Hi all,	

	I've been lurking for a while and didn't want to join in until I
had at least a little tidbit or two to contribute.  Warning: LONG intro
letter with tidbits of newbie wisdom follows...skip to the end if you're
not into reading...

Brief intro:  I'm a grad student at UC San Diego.  Econ department.  My
	tank was put together mostly on the cheap--with lots of
	(unbeknownst) net help. I've kept lots of fish before, since I was
	younger, but this is my first attempt at the whole plant deal.  
	So far I'm lovin' it.

Setup:	50 gal, 36in wide.  Bought before reading list.
	100 watts of 3' and 2' flourescent: 3 daylight, 1 actinic
	DIY CO2, brings pH 8.2 down to 7.8 w/ KH 6.  
	Some pseudo-PMDD.  But not much lately.  
	San Diego water--hard, lots of Ca, Mg, and Na. 
	3mm Gravel/#16 silica Sand bottom.  Thinking about clay/Profile.

Plants:	5 x Sword Plants (Blehri), mother and (for now) 4 adolescents.  
	3 x Crypt Wendtii 
	1 x Aponogeton Ulvaceus, flowering repeatedly + surface leaves.
	MUCH Sag. Subulata (Dwarf Sag); some big Sag--slow growers.
	stem plants: Vals, Ludwigia repens, Bacopa Monnieri, H. Difformis
	A little barely growing Crypt Parva 
	Java moss on some rocks, constantly trimmed by me and SAE's.
Fish:	Rainbows: 6 x Bosemani, 3 x Red (Glossolepis Incisus)	  
	2 x SAE, 2 x (lonely) Otos, 8 x asian glass catfish 

General condition is good now, set up about 5 months.  Fish get along
mostly well, though I may separate/sell the red rainbows--getting upitty.  
Plants growing fairly well also, with exceptions, some covered in green
algae.  Can't complain too much.  But see below...

Promised tidbits:

Had a bout with GREEN WATER after overfeeding for 3-4 days in a row (and
possibly overdosing KNO3), and then leaving town.  It got progressively
greener for about 4 days, then distressingly so.  I changed 50% water
three times, but it would just come back in two days.  Despite extensive
net.research, and due to my extreme laziness, I decided to just wait it
out.  The good news is that 10 extra days of patience, plus 1/4 tsp of
K2SO4 and it all went away.  Don't know whether it was the fert. or the
patience that worked. I'm inclined to think the latter.  Might work for

Beginning plant people: keep a journal!  I read it as a tip on some web
site, and it's well worth the time/effort.  Hell, it's even fun. I keep
water maintenance info, fish temperment, and plant reports.  Makes for a
good read, and helped me diagnose.  No more "When did I last scrub algae?"  
Helps me get the long view; compensate for my bad mid-term memory.

Again beginners: If you're not doing at least a little CO2, do so.  It
makes so much difference.  DIY's easy enough.  Everyone's got their own,
but here's a nice reactor design (if I do say so myself):  powerhead feeds
3' long PVC pipe angled diagonally downward hanging over back of tank.  
Injection 1/3 of way down tube.  Small bubbles get pushed down, fight
upward against current. Very little escapes.  Quiet, efficient,
unobtrusive.  Get's the water from one side of the tank to the other.  
I'll draw it if anyone cares...

Now (at long last) my question:  I have what appears to be Calcium
deficiency in the swords.  Brown streaks on diagonal veins, raised/thick
center vein, thinner leaves, sometimes slightly gnarled/cupped.  H.
Difformis has been growing bent and horizontally about 1in above
ground--looks like weak stems?  The trick is that I should have plenty of
calcium.  I have added at least 3 tsp of Oyster Shell lime (CaCO3) and 10
mg of CaCl2 over the past month.  Plus 75 ppm Ca in the water, weekly 1/5
changes.  Don't (yet) have Ca test; wouldn't think I needed one with the
hard water. Perhaps a clue, as suggested elsewhere by Roger Miller, is
sodium.  We have (per water co.) 100 ppm here.

I have read and read, but can't find concensus on this issue.  What do
other SD people do?  What do we know about high (is this high?) sodium
levels in the water?  Should I mega-dose Mg/Ca to compensate?  Should I
stop/slow water changes to limit Na?  Switch to RO?  Give up on
swords/difformis? Are these even deficiency symptoms?  What experiments
have people done?  What experiments do y'all want me to do over the long

OK, back to studying for qualifer exams.  I'll never post this long again,
I promise.  Got it all out of my system.

					Elliot Williams
					ewilliams at ucsd_edu