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Hot climates and aquascaping

kschyff

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29 Jun 2020
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60
Location
South Africa
I live in South Africa, which is incredibly hot in summer (even in winter). Often the temperature is over 32 degrees and of course that makes the tank water hot as well. My question is simply: Are warmer climate aquarist doomed to fail based on these high temperatures? For example, I can't get my water lower than 26 even with aircon going the entire day (set to 17). My reason for asking this is I simply don't understand why my plants don't grow. I have tried everything to get them to grow and have bought really expensive equipment in the process. An yes, I have posting on this forum about ferts and co2, which are all at the req levels (DC is green when lights on, pH is right etc etc etc.). Tried many ferts as well with 3 week gaps in between to give it time to "work". Even paid for consultations on this issue and every time I was told that all my problems is temp related. I just don't believe it to be honest. After all these plants and fish are from hotter and more humid parts of the world. Any thoughts?
 

Nick potts

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25 Sep 2014
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Torbay
Can't help much with the temps, but many plants will be fine at 27-29c with occasional spikes (even here in the rainy UK tanks can get over 30c in the summer), 26c if stable would be fine

If you really want a stable temperature you could look at installing an aquarium chiller
 

Wookii

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13 Nov 2019
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Nottingham
You could focus on species of plants more suited to higher temperatures, such as those commonly grown in discus tanks, but if I was in your position, a chiller as @Nick potts suggests, would definitely on my list for serious consideration.
 

kschyff

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29 Jun 2020
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South Africa
My wife will be most unpleased with me if I tell het I need to buy another piece of equipment :oops:. Let me focus on plants for discuss tanks. Are we talking about java ferns, Buce, anubias etc.?
 

Courtneybst

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5 Sep 2016
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407
Location
London
Also consider that in the wild these bodies of water are much larger than an aquarium. Even in hot climates the water will be considerably cooler than an aquarium where the temperature can build quickly.

I live in the UK but have the same problem, my tank sometimes gets to 30c+ during heatwaves. I think unless you get a cooler or a fan for open top tanks the only other option is cool water changes.
 
Joined
30 Aug 2020
Messages
281
Location
Bristol
You can get tank chillers, more commonly used here when halide style lights were the only bright lights available.

I'm sure a stainless filter in front of a cool are source or in a fridge would also help, but then why buy a expensive shiny thing unless your fridge is glass fronted 😂
 

MWood

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22 Aug 2017
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88
Location
London
It would be interesting to hear the perspective of any aquascapers in SE Asia, the hobby is definitely strong in a number of countries with a more similar climate than the UK.
 

Magoo

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20 Oct 2020
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25
Location
Manila
I'm from the Philippines and summer temperatures reach 36-37C. Some people use chillers, I don't. I use cooling fans and plants struggle a bit but most do fine. I must add that I've never been successful in growing lush Bolbitis and certain mosses.
 

ceg4048

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11 Jul 2007
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Chicago, USA
I live in South Africa, which is incredibly hot in summer (even in winter). Often the temperature is over 32 degrees and of course that makes the tank water hot as well. My question is simply: Are warmer climate aquarist doomed to fail based on these high temperatures? For example, I can't get my water lower than 26 even with aircon going the entire day (set to 17). My reason for asking this is I simply don't understand why my plants don't grow. I have tried everything to get them to grow and have bought really expensive equipment in the process. An yes, I have posting on this forum about ferts and co2, which are all at the req levels (DC is green when lights on, pH is right etc etc etc.). Tried many ferts as well with 3 week gaps in between to give it time to "work". Even paid for consultations on this issue and every time I was told that all my problems is temp related. I just don't believe it to be honest. After all these plants and fish are from hotter and more humid parts of the world. Any thoughts?
Hello,
Everyone thinks that their CO2 is good and so they look elsewhere for a solution that most likely doesn't exist. Were you aware, for example that at 32 deg.C the it's solubility in water is about 50% less than it's solubility at 20 deg.C? The same goes for oxygen, which causes problems at night, when the plants cannot generate any and so suffer hypoxia.

Were you also aware that about 90% of the gas you inject goes straight out the window and never makes it to the plant leaves?
People are always bragging that their dropchecker indicates 30ppm of dissolved CO2, to which I immediately say; "nice, but your plant only gets 3ppm - if you're lucky".

Certainly, plants do not like 32 deg.C so you're at an extreme disadvantage and it is therefore necessary to have epic CO2 and flow/distribution in order to compensate.

Here is a tank where the daytime temperature regularly exceeded 32 deg.C
It was a large tank, near 700l and the CO2 consumption was about 4 Kilos per week. It was fully covered to help delay evaporation. So yes it is possible, but not by glossing over CO2, that's for sure.
9641762672_c71e59ac9a_b.jpg


You haven't described exactly what the symptoms are or how your CO2 and filtration system is configured, so it's difficult to analyze in the dark. Is the water from a softener or just regular municipal tap? Water change schedule?

Tanks fail even when they have normal temperatures so I never take anything for granted. Can you describe your expensive equipment? Sketches and photos always help.

Cheers,
 

kschyff

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Thread starter
Joined
29 Jun 2020
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60
Location
South Africa
Appreciate the feedback @ceg4048 and apologies for only replying now. I will be honest and say that I am very inexperienced (only been doing this for a year) and scrapped the tank that was suffering the most and started anew but have got an air-condition now so the temp of the water is pretty much always between 22 and 24 C. I fully understand and was aware of the solubility of CO2 at high temps, hence me asking this question. Let me explain my setup to you:

1) ADA 60P with Amazonia v2 soil (incl Powersand base layer).
2) A canister filter with good flow around a central submerged "mountain" scape. It's a Fluval 407 filled with Seachem matrix and two pouches of Seachem purigen.
3) Daily fertilisation using the estimative index. Monday (macro), Tuesday (micro), Wednesday (macro) etc... rest day on Sunday. I actually do two water changes of at least 50% per week (one on Wednesday and another on Sunday. I used the website rotala butterfly to create my own ferts (KNO3, KH2PO4, MgSO4 - the macros); (Plantex traces mix - the micros).
4) Pressurised CO2. A CO2 Art regulator/solenoid, Sodastream bottle (I can't get bigger bottles in my area). This is all on a timer - on at 13:45 and off at 22:00 (hour before lights out). I use the bubble counter on the regulator and it is 3 bubble per second currently. Even though it is only a 60p I use an inline diffuser.
5) Lighting is x2 AquaEL Leddy Slim (1200 combined). I can't set the intensity on these. Lights go on at 16:00 and off at 23:00. The LEDs are 33cm from the substrate in the tank.
6) I use only RO water, but to be honest after water changes my TDS is often sitting at 200 - 250 a day or so after my water change so I am not sure if I should remineralise? Maybe some advice there? I use a product called Dennerle GH/KH+ and add about 3g of that which says that it adjusts the GH and KH by 1 degree.
7) After a water change I add potassium carbonate to raise the KH by 2 degrees. I am trying to prevent large swings in pH?

I always vacuum as much of the substrate as possible and rinse the filter once a month in tank water that I changed out. Despite this, I am experiencing a lot of green spot algae, which I read is either a dirty tank or low phosphates. I can't think how much more to clean so I am going with low phosphates?

I have attached some pics.
 

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ceg4048

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Hi kschyff,
Lighting is x2 AquaEL Leddy Slim (1200 combined). I can't set the intensity on these.
Well, I can see that there is algae on the hardscape which is an indication that there is too much light. I wouuld try turning of one of the lamps for a while in order to arrest the spread. If it is not possible then you can always obscure the light by placing something between the lamp and the water, wax paper or even thin strips of cheesecloth will do the trick. Floating plants are also an option to block some of the light penetration.
I use only RO water, but to be honest after water changes my TDS is often sitting at 200 - 250 a day or so after my water change so I am not sure if I should remineralise?
TDS means Total Dissolve Solids, and of course, when you dissolve EI levels of nutrients into the water column there will be a significant rise in TDS. This is not the source of TDS rise that you should worry about. When we monitor TDS trends we are looking for TDS rise due to organic waste, because that is the toxic component of TDS. It isn't really possible to separate the sources of TDS. I suppose you could take a sample of RO water and dose it with a proportional amount of nutrients just to see what the nutrient component of TDS is. Then you can subtract that value from the reading and that might give you an indication of what component of TDS is due to pollution. In any case, unless you have some compelling reason to keep TDS low, such as breeding dwarfs, I really wouldn't worry too much about it. As long as you are doing large and frequent water changes as well as regular maintenance there is nothing more to fret about. Generally, we want the GH to be around 3-4 units when using RO water and that gives us a goodly amount of Calcium and Magnesium.
After a water change I add potassium carbonate to raise the KH by 2 degrees. I am trying to prevent large swings in pH
This is really unnecessary. Nothing in your tank cares about pH swing. This is yet one more thing to NOT worry about. The carbonate component helps raise the KH (and the salt raises TDS as well) which is good because pH probes don't work well with low KH. Again a minimum target of 3-4 KH is good enough and we can forget about everything else.
I always vacuum as much of the substrate as possible and rinse the filter once a month in tank water that I changed out. Despite this, I am experiencing a lot of green spot algae, which I read is either a dirty tank or low phosphates. I can't think how much more to clean so I am going with low phosphates?
GSA is caused by any combination of low PO4 and low CO2. Dirty tank has nothing to do with this algae. Since you are adding EI levels of PO4 then the cause is either low CO2 and/or poor distribution. Again, having too much light causes an excessive demand for CO2 and PO4, so if flow/distribution is weak in any way then there will be problems. You've an inline diffuser, which is good. I'm not sure about your filter output configuration or the timing of your CO2. It's always good to do a pH profile to make sure the CO2 is good when the demand is high.

Cheers,
 

kschyff

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29 Jun 2020
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South Africa
Thank you @ceg4048. I will stick to your advice and was not aware that I should pump up the CO2 even more, but it makes sense that if the drop checker is green the plants may still not get enough given the high temps. I will thus up the CO2 and unplug the one light.
 

Mortis

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Joined
17 Jun 2009
Messages
360
Since I live in a Sub Tropical SE Asian country, my advice to you is :
Option 1 (The best IMO) : Move the tank to your bedroom and use an Air Conditioner at night. It will keep you cool and comfortable and also drop the tank temperature enough to keep it within the optimal limits. Mine doesnt go above 26*C before the AC is switched on again the next night.
Option 2 : Use a chiller. They have some disadvantages, namely they make noise, heat up the rest of the room unless you keep the main unit outside and have a pipe running indoors and mainly they consume almost 60-70% the electricity as an Air conditioner, so you might as well use an AC and both you and the tank will be comfortable.
Option 3 : Cooling fans. Only effective if you live in a hot DRY climate. Doesn't drop the temps by more than 1-2* in peak summer where I live because of the high humidity. High humidity means less evaporation and cooling. This can work decently if you select plants and livestock appropriately.
 

kschyff

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South Africa
Thank you @Mortis. I have installed an zircon and have been running it for three weeks now. Unfortunately, my black beard algae and green spot algae problems are not going away despite me cleaning the tank well wet nI change the water. I even change the water twice a week. I have reduced the flow of the filter and disconnected the one light so this entire scape now only get 10w. Still having problems after a few days of that. I have watched and read so much about this now that I can't think what else it could be. The filter is not older than 3 months and so is the media. When this happens is it time for a clean start?
 

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