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Cape Clear

paul.in.kendal

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That's interesting, Alto.

Once I'd replaced the lamp I raised the luminaire from about 200mm to about 300mm above the aquarium for that very reason. It's noticeably brighter than the old one - unsurprisingly, looking at the state of it.

And reverting to inline reactor was definitely the right move. Good to know it aligns with the advice from Green Aqua!
 

alto

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Advanced Aquarist had some excellent articles on MH deterioration - both spectrum and power shift with use - these would be in the archives now, Sanjay Joshi is one author who has done a lot of lighting analysis over the years (and has the technical equipment)
He focuses on reef versions, but has also done some freshwater lighting (also some light manufacturers recommend same light for both, with some spectral adjustment)
MH is old enough that, along with fluorescent tubes, planted tank gurus from mid 90’s - early 2000’s were running similar experiments ... but I think most of those websites are gone now
 

paul.in.kendal

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Aquarium doing fine with the last wisps of hair algae now gone. Just a little bit of staghorn algae on the Crinum calamistratum, which I've removed manually.

I've just had some choice replacement plants for the few I lost to the algae from those lovely people at @Horizon Aquatics - Bucephalandra Kedagang, Echinodorus cordifolius Marble Queen, Microsorum pteropus Windeløv and Hygrophila tripartita, all planted in just this minute. (I'll do a full current plant list shortly).

I also got some rather nice Aquavitro spring scissors from them too. If you've only got long scissors, a short pair of these is a useful addition I'd say.

The Phyllanthus fluitans had to go, unfortunately. It couldn't cope with the very high flow in my tank and it kept on getting forced beneath the surface. A low flow plant I think.

Learned a new term from a @George Farmer Tropica video yesterday - rheophilic: something that is happy living in fast moving water. Hygrophila pinnatifida is rheophilic, while Phyllanthus fluitans is definitely rheophobic!

Doing lots of research at the moment on which fish to purchase and how to introduce them safely; and on how to culture live foods at home.

Current thinking on stocking is: a big shoal of either black phantom tetra or wadai tetra (again, @Horizon Aquatics have had the wadai tetras in, and they do look absolutely spectacular), plus a group of pygmy corydoras (preferably salt and pepper corys, Corydoras habrosus, as they apparently keep to the bottom more than other pygmy corys), and some red cherry shrimp.

Still a bit concerned about my super soft water (hardness Clarke 1.61) and whether it will adversely affect the shrimps' ability to moult. I'm considering adding a piece of cuttlefish bone either to the aquarium or in the filter. Any thoughts, folks?

With live foods I'll probably start by buying a variety to see what my fish enjoy, then move to home cultivation after.

Water change immediately after the new plants went in:
20210127_101649.jpg
 

paul.in.kendal

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OK, current plants:
Foreground
Micranthemum tweediei Monte Carlo
Hygrophila lancea Araguaia
Staurogyne repens
Rotala bonsai
Pogostemon helferi
Hydrocotyle tripartita
Midground
Lagenandra meeboldii red
Crinum calamistratum
Background
Hygrophila Siamensis 53b
Hygrophila polysperma rosanervig
Echinodorus cordifolius Marble Queen
Epiphytes and floaters
Hygrophila pinnatifida
Anubias barteri nana Pinto
Bucephalandra wavy green
Bucephalandra Kedagang
Microsorum pteropus Windeløv
Weeping moss
Taiwan moss
Limnobium laevigatum
 

paul.in.kendal

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After reading an article about flipping photos of aquascapes to identify design shortcomings (in the latest issue of PFK), I thought I'd try it on my aquarium.
Original:
20210128_225104.jpg

and reversed :
20210128_225144.jpg

I think (modestly!) it looks pretty good both ways around. The major shortcoming is the big rock on the left (or right, reversed!). That's keeping the bogwood cantilevered up and over the central stone, but it's a blooming eyesore. You can see I've planted Bucephalandra Kedagang on its front face, and microsorum pteropus Windeløv on top, to try and soften/mask it.
 

paul.in.kendal

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Since the new plants went in I've had a few minor issues. A greasy film appeared on the surface. Not very much at all, but as @ceg4048 tells us, it's a sure sign plants are in distress.

There are a couple of possible causes. I had much reduced filter flow for a couple of days, down from 75% to 25% of maximum flow (the Eheim 2180 has a flow indicator built in). I think I had an airlock in one of the two inlets. Also, the rubbery outlet connector inside the filter was over ten years old, and not in good shape. I replaced that with a new one (better design) and the seal to the impeller housing now seems much better, which can only help with flow capacity.

20210206_115021.jpg


But also, the plants I introduced had a certain amount of damaged growth, and I think I was a bit overcautious cutting them back - I left some leaves on that were dying, that I should have removed. Most likely, a combination of these two factors (reduced flow and damaged plants) caused the oily film.

The frogbit promptly showed signs of distress including some dieback and green hair algae in the roots of some of the most mature clumps (which I binned, of course).

I found a few strands of GHA elsewhere, and the odd bit of black staghorn algae, all removed by hand.

Despite all this, once corrections were made, the new plants started growing strongly, especially echinodorus Marble Queen, which had had the most damaged foliage to begin with. I'm still removing damaged frogbit, but I'm sure that's just damage already done and only now becoming apparent. It'll bounce back I'm sure. Here it is right now. You can see it's still quite a mess.
20210210_175003.jpg


I'm doing a 50% waterchange every other day, to keep the scum to a minimum. Right now, I reckon it's the damaged frogbit causing the film.

The Micranthemum Tweediei Monte Carlo has had another trim. I read somewhere you should be bold, and trim it as soon as it's looking perfect, to stop it becoming too thick and getting dieback at the base, so that's what I'm doing. Really impressed with what a compact, dense carpet it is forming, with just a gentle press down after the trim to keep it tight. Great little plant!

And I've been surprised by Anubias barteri nana 'Pinto' which, despite having to compete with an aggressive clump of Hygrophila pinnatifida (and enduring that first major algae attack), seems to be doing really well and producing some very pale new leaves. Be interesting to see how it progresses with so little chlorophyll in those new, near-white leaves. The H. pinnatifida is being kept at bay, rest assured.
20210210_181227.jpg


I've also put in new inlets and spraybar, the Eheim installation sets 1 & 2, which are great quality, and should make cleaning tubes and repriming the filter even easier. Coarse sponges are now on the inlets, in preparation for the addition of cherry shrimp.

And (controversially) I've added a decorative feature - a terracotta urn from Amtra. I'm not at all sure about this, but we'll see how I like it over time.
20210210_171412.jpg


I also have an Amtra Jaguar skull. That will ONLY be going in the tank when we have small people visiting, just for fun!

Here's the tank as it is right now.
20210210_180629.jpg
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I'm still removing damaged frogbit, but I'm sure that's just damage already done and only now becoming apparent. It'll bounce back I'm sure. Here it is right now. You can see it's still quite a mess.
A greasy film appeared on the surface. Not very much at all, but as @ceg4048 tells us, it's a sure sign plants are in distress.
I left some leaves on that were dying, that I should have removed. Most likely, a combination of these two factors (reduced flow and damaged plants) caused the oily film.
I think you are right they may well be related, I'd definitely pick all the damaged leaves from the Frogbit.

cheers Darrel
 

ceg4048

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And (controversially) I've added a decorative feature - a terracotta urn from Amtra. I'm not at all sure about this, but we'll see how I like it over time.
Hi Paul,
Yeah, well, I'll have to admit to not being a rabid fan of ancient Roman artifacts in hardscape - maybe throw some moss on there? But hey, at least it's not a pirates sunken chest, or first born's baby shoes (which might have precipitated a mandatory 3 week ban). Who knows, maybe some day a hobbit comes along, sticks his hand in there and finds the long lost one-ring-to-rule-them-all...

In any case, that hair algae and what seems to be GSA on the anubias, along with the greasy film is a signal that the reduced flow affected CO2 first and foremost. Photo 3 doesn't have enough resolution but it looks like there some GSA on the lower leaves of the H. pinnatifida. If so then might want to jettison those leaves as well. Additionally, things look a bit pale, especially p. helferi. Is that just a photo issue or does that represent the real life color in photo 4? If so, may want to review NO3 dosing.

Cheers mate,
 

paul.in.kendal

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In any case, that hair algae and what seems to be GSA on the anubias, along with the greasy film is a signal that the reduced flow affected CO2 first and foremost. Photo 3 doesn't have enough resolution but it looks like there some GSA on the lower leaves of the H. pinnatifida. If so then might want to jettison those leaves as well. Additionally, things look a bit pale, especially p. helferi. Is that just a photo issue or does that represent the real life color in photo 4? If so, may want to review NO3 dosing.
Um, yes, I do seem to have a bit of GSA too, don't I? I'll get onto it.
I have tweaked up the CO2 just a fraction already, but I'm sure lack of flow was the primary issue, not the CO2 level itself.
I'm reasonably happy with my dosing levels (full EI) and I think the pale colouration is just in the photo, not in fact. But I'll keep an eye on it.
Thanks Clive.
 

paul.in.kendal

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I make up my own EI all-in-one, using the excellent IFC Calculator. After Clive suggested I review my NO3 dosing, I went back to the calculator to check. And found I have been guilty of "garbage in, garbage out".

NO3 was fine - but MGSO4 wasn't. I've been dosing twice as much as I should. Turns out I had the calculator set for MGSO4.7H2O when I'm actually using MGSO4 - of which I should be using half as much! Any thoughts on whether this overdosing is damaging would be appreciated (@dw1305 ?)

I also put my tapwater parameters in this time, even though I know it doesn't contain very much of anything.

I noticed that the calculator, when set to match Full EI All-In-One, has a target for calcium of 30ppm, while my tapwater is just 7.8ppm, and I'm not adding any additional calcium {apart from the Seiryu stone I'm using).

So I'm now wondering what source of calcium I should be using? Calcium Chloride? Calcium Chloride hexahydrate? Can I add it to my all-in-one mix? Or should I be using Seachem Equilibrium or somesuch? Or just add a piece of Cuttlefish bone? Any suggestions, folks?
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Turns out I had the calculator set for MGSO4.7H2O when I'm actually using MGSO4 - of which I should be using half as much! Any thoughts on whether this overdosing is damaging would be appreciated (@dw1305 ?)
No, you are good, you have been dosing the right amount. What ever yours says on the packet it will be the heptahydrate (MgSO4.7H2O), and ~10% Mg, when you use it.
Yes it will be. You can actually <"use it as a desiccant">.

It is quite difficult to stop it picking up atmospheric moisture and requires you to put it in a desiccator (while it is still very hot) to keep it in anhydrous.
Have a look at <"Quick question about MgSO4">.

cheers Darrel
 

paul.in.kendal

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I've been removing staghorn algae from the aquarium for a couple of weeks now. I was hoping it would start to subside, but it's proving persistent. It does seem to have migrated from being mainly on the plants to being mainly on the hardscape, which I hope means the plants are getting stronger.
I have adjusted the spraybar to increase surface agitation, hoping to increase oxygenation for when I introduce fish. I'm wondering whether doing this has increased gassing off of co2, thereby requiring a reduction in lighting to maintain balance. Today I've moved the luminaire up an inch, and might move it up an inch or two more over the coming days.
I added some cherry shrimp (and a piece of cuttlefish bone) a week ago - they seem to be fine.
 

ceg4048

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Full EI All-In-One, has a target for calcium of 30ppm
Paul, Is that a typo? There is no way plants require 30ppm of Calcium. I'm not sure from where the source of this data originates. Calcium is a micronutrient, which means you only need microscopic amounts. It just has to be present, so there is no need to add any more than what is in your tap.
I have adjusted the spraybar to increase surface agitation, hoping to increase oxygenation for when I introduce fish. I'm wondering whether doing this has increased gassing off of co2,
You need to determine the behavior of the gas. This isn't something that should be guessed at. What does your DC say? How does the pH track from gas on to lights out?
I've been removing staghorn algae from the aquarium for a couple of weeks now. I was hoping it would start to subside, but it's proving persistent.
This is primarily CO2 related (but can be due to other issues ). You can add daily Excel dosing (or you can spot dose) until you've sorted out the CO2/flow/distribution.

Cheers,
 

paul.in.kendal

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Hi Clive, I have misrepresented what the calculator says about 30ppm calcium. It's not a target, but a limit:

"Here you increase the upper (maximum) limit the calculator should use when designing your fertilizer. Beyond these values the calculators will refuse to calculate. Note that the default limits are already beyond what anyone would need so it is advisable not to change them other than for testing purposes."

I'm concerned about how my tapwater's modest calcium levels might adversely affect the ability of shrimp to moult. So I've put in a piece of cuttlefish bone.

Hmmm, co2 levels. When you ask how PH tracks through the photoperiod, I suppose you mean solely as measured by the drop checker? I'm not measuring it any other way.

My DC shows lime green from about half an hour after lights on. As there's a lag (roughly an hour?) in the DC reacting to the changed PH, I'm assuming that co2 is at an appropriate level when lights go on. Co2 injection starts two hours before lights on. After about four hours of the photoperiod (lights are on for six hours in total) the colour becomes a bit yellower - but it's still green!

But as I don't want fish gasping for oxygen I thought that, if I increased surface agitation it would increase oxygen levels. Since doing this, I've continued to monitor the DC and it continues to show lime green, getting a little brighter, a little more yellow-green, towards the end of lights-on. (Having said that, have you ever looked at the wild range of colours that get called lime green? Being colour blind doesn't help either. And this is supposed NOT to be guesswork?!)

You say that the staghorn is primarily co2 related. As I understand it, this could be a result of poor distribution of co2 due to poor flow. I'm sure it's not that as I have a big filter (nominally rated at 1700lph in a c. 200 litre tank) working efficiently, a spraybar all along the back, an inlet in each rear corner and all plants moving very gently.

Or it could be an ammonia spike. I put in some new plants a month ago and didn't trim off all damaged material. As these parts decayed could they have caused such a spike? That's been my best guess so far. I've of course now removed all damaged plant material, and the introduced plants are showing some good growth. I'm removing all badly affected plant material to encourage strong new young growth.

Or it could be inadequate co2 injection for the lighting being used. I'm reluctant to up the injection rate (for fear of gassing yet-to-be introduced livestock), so I'm attempting to marginally reduce co2 demand by raising the luminaire a little instead. It's metal halide so no adjustability apart from height (or altering the length of the photoperiod itself).

I think I'm probably getting closer to the solution to the staghorn problem (without knowing precisely what the cause is) but, as I get nearer to that solution, the alterations have to be finer and the result will likewise be tiny changes to the growing conditions I'm providing for the plants. All this is difficult to assess, especially as this is only the second time I've ever set up a planted aquarium of any description. My judgement is inevitably going to be relatively poor until my experience grows.

Oh, and I don't want to start spot-dosing because, as you say, that only deals with the symptoms.

Thanks for your help as always, Clive.

20210301_184436.jpg
 
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paul.in.kendal

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I've now introduced a shoal of red phantom tetra. They seem absolutely fine - no sign of distress while co2 levels are elevated.

And thinking about what @ceg4048 said about staghorn and co2, it occurs to me that, while I had sufficient co2 in the tank in the early stages of healthy growth, it may not be enough now that the plant mass has increased so much. As the plants incrementally grow it's easy to not notice just how much more plant mass there is in there. And as the bigger plants take more co2, its easy to miss any subtle colour change in the drop checker.

Taking a step back (figuratively as well as literally), it's evident that there's now probably four times as much plant mass in there as in those healthy, early weeks. Maybe more. And more plant mass will need more co2.

So I've tweaked up the co2 injection rate.
 
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