Light Levels

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by Colin, 13 Jul 2008.

  1. Colin

    Colin Member

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    Tank Spec’s Water Paramaters
    6’ x 2’ x2’ GH 4
    Gallons 180 US KH 2
    Filter AquaEl External uni Max 700 CO2 30ppm (drop checker)
    Lights Giesemann Infinity : 3 x 250 Watt + 4 x 80 Watt T5
    Fert Regime
    Potassium Nitrate 33g per 500ml (75ml dosed per day)
    Potassium Sulphate 29g per 500ml (75ml dosed per day)
    Trace Elements mix Boron 1.06% Copper 0.23% Iron 8.2%
    Manganese 1.82% Molybdenum 0.15% Zinc 1.16%. 40g per 500 ml (75ml dosed per day).
    Mono Potassium Phosphate 3g per 500ml (75ml dosed every day).

    Hi
    I have been thinking lately that my lighting level may be to high, I was think of turning off my Halides and just using the T5’s. I would then lower my light unit to about six inches from the surface (currently 18” above the tank) and leaving them on for 12 hours per day with a 2 hour break in the afternoon. Currently my lighting schedule is my T5’s are on for 10 hours a day and my Halides for 6 hours per day, total light duration is 10 hours with a rest period in the afternoon.
    The reason for the change is that I don’t have good growth from some of my plants. My swords do well but the Glossostigma Elatinoids is growing very slowly and has developed white veins. My Rotala rotundifolia is red which is the colour I prefer but again very slow growing.
    I have had several algae issue’s recently which I now seem to be winning, but growth is still slow which is why I will be getting algae. I was thinking that if I lower my lighting level I may have more room for error.


    Regards
    Col
     
  2. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

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    I'm no expert on fertilising, but it sounds like you may have an issue with a lack of nutrients. I agree with you about the lighting being high so you could either dose more so the plants don't run out in that high light, or cut the lighting levels.

    I know quite a few American planted tank enthusiasts have very high light levels but run for much shorter periods. For instance they might have the T5s on for 8 hours then have a 2 hour burst of the Halides too. A number of people think this encourages better colours in the plants from what I've read. Personally I run my main tank with just 2 T5s with good reflectors and grow Glosso, HC and Hairgrass well under these levels so wouldn't go further than that!

    The other thing I would say is why have a gap in the lighting? This has no benefit at all and may actually cause some issues with your swords which like longer day lengths. Just set your photoperiod to be the time when you're at home!
     
  3. spaldingaquatics

    spaldingaquatics Member

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    This may not be the reason colin does it but I was told by lfs that a gap in lighting during the day is hated by algae and stops it getting worse, I know that's not a cure and the cause needs to be sorted but it just helps in the process of initial control. Aparently. I've never done it because I've not had an algae problem so I don't know if it actualy does help or not?
     
  4. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    No, it does not help plants. If anything it might be detrimental.

    Cheers,
     
  5. aaronnorth

    aaronnorth Member

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    I tried it, i run one of my tanks 10hours straight, my other 5on 2off 5 on, still got algae in both, but plant growth not as good in the siesta period.
     
  6. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

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    The reason for the break (siesta) in the lighting was that when loads of people used DIY/Yeast setups the CO2 was poor and the break let it build up again before the second stint.

    Then it seems Dennerle started quoting their own advice on their websites saying it was to replicate tropical thunderstorms which helped the plants grow???

    It is debatable wether it does any good regarding the yeast setups and the thunderstorms story is pure garbage. lol

    I would knock the Halides on the head and get some money for them. Just with the T5s you are at high light levels. Consider that you have a large tank which means less WPG is needed. The height is not too tall. Remember T5s are much better than theT12s the WPG rule was calculated on. I would put the T5s on for 8-10 hours straight with no break!!!

    With your CO2 you say 30ppm but not how you inject it. Is it pressurised? Reactor or diffusor etc? I think your algae problems are to do with too much light driving the plants which then means CO2 and ferts are running out.

    Andy
     
  7. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

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    Further to what Clive has said above; I believe one of the ideas behind the seista theory is that it allows ambient CO2 levels to increase during a period of darkness then allowing better growth when the lights come back on. It is absolutely no substitute for good CO2 levels and I have tried it a good number of years ago before I injected CO2 and it did nothing to help with algae. Some plants simply will not thrive under too short a day length and I wouldn't go much lower than an 8 hour photoperiod for long term timings.
     
  8. George Farmer

    George Farmer Founder Staff Member

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    If anything, more light during the mid-photoperiod should be used. That is more natural and gives you enough light for more demanding species, with less algae risk.

    Siestas seem to benefit tanks with poor CO2/other nutrients. Better to sort CO2/nutrients...
     
  9. Colin

    Colin Member

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    Hi all,
    Thanks for the replies more food for thought, just to answer some of the points raised. I do use a pressurised C02 system, it’s from JBL. It’s at the opposite end of the tank to the reactor and in the opposite corner so I should have good water flow but will probably put in another external filter in when I redo the whole tank.
    The reason for the siesta is that Dennerle did recommend this as helping to prevent algae so I have always done this but I can just as easily stop.
    I don’t really want o get rid of the MH they look great and if my T5’s are good enough then I can live with the MH being there unused, I haven’t given up on the idea of having a 30” tall tank so they could still come in handy.
    I also like the sound of a 2 hour burst with the MH. I will stop the siesta and see how things go.

    Cheers
    Col
     
  10. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, but remember that Dennerle also recommended that you to buy their fertilizer which sells for $120 per liter, when you are now making the same thing with your powders for probably about $0.12 per liter.

    Yes, there is no need to get rid of your MH, but you do have high lighting and as a result you suffer algal blooms as a result of inefficient nutrient/CO2 distribution within the tank. To resolve these problems you should shut down the MH for the moment utill you have solved the riddle. Lowering the light will also lower the nutrient uptake demand and will give you room to breathe. I'm not familiar with the AquaEl External uni Max 700 but I see where it is rated at 1700 LPH which is about 5500 LHP too low in terms of water throughput. You may wish to consider adding a couple more of these, or if this is impractical then you can add various powerheads to get better circulation within the tank. The more light you have to more stringent are the requirements for flow.

    Additionally, there are no CO2 diffusers/reactors made by JBL which can handle your tank size, so whatever model you have you probably need at least two of them. If you have either hair and/or staghorn algae it's a safe bet that your CO2 distribution is sub-par. It's also not clear whether you are using 4dkh distilled water in your drop checker. If not then you could easily be lower on CO2 than you think.

    Regarding your list of nutrients, you can safely drop the K2SO4 as you will receive enough K assuming you are dosing KNO3 and KH2PO4. A review of your dry weights reveals that you are dosing about 7X the amount of trace elements you need yet you are under-dosing KH2PO4 by at least a factor of 3 :wideyed: I would suggest you make an adjustment there. I find it incredible that so many people have the tendency to overdose the products they least need while under-dosing the products they need quite desperately. ;)

    If you can identify the algae you are experiencing we can give you a better idea of the cause/effect, or check JamesC's algae guide=> http://theplantedtank.co.uk/algae.htm

    Cheers,
     
  11. Colin

    Colin Member

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    I do use the drop checker method with 4dh solution, and my diffuser is the ceramic plat type which replaced the JBL one that came with the C02 set. I clean it about every two weeks to keep the bubbles as fine as possible, I actually have two of these one at each end of the tank one works fine the other less so but does work better as the other one gets slowly less efficient.
    I will add another filter, I have a large ehiem in the shed which works fine so I can use that, space is a bit limited under the tank so I will use a large power head as well, I have one somewhere.
    I am using KNO3 did not know I could drop the K2SO4 I thought it was needed it seems to be in every recipe.
    What ratio of fert to 500ml of water would you recommend as a starting point for my tank size, I will turn off my MH for the time being. With the exception of Easy Carb I only dose P04, K2SO4, KN03 and Trace, I will drop the K2SO4. I am currently using the Pps Pro method for dosing my tank, the levels are high as I thought I was under dosing hence my algae blooms more than willing to try the E.I. method as I am doing weekly water changes at the moment.
    The algae is not so bad at the moment I did a water change yesterday and after blasting a bit of algae with H202 from some bogwood and a little on the Hair grass it was looking quite good, I have been doing weekly water changes for about six weeks so that’s helped. The algae issue’s I have had are Hair algae, BGA this was particularly bad but got rid of it with an anti biotic, GSA not a bad case but had to be removed weekly from the glass and on some slow growing plants. The main algae concerning me at the moment is BBA, this is also on the decline but is proving to be stubborn, I have read that this is down to poor flow and low C02 levels so that fits in very well with the advice given.
    Just one last point since I will only be using my T5’s for now should I stay with them currently suspended 18” over the tank or lower them to 12”?



    Many thanks for the advice

    Cheers
    Col
     
  12. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Colin,
    One thing to recognize with algae is that it never goes away. Most forms of algae are in our tanks in one form or another, usually as spores. When plant health deteriorates algae are able to sense this and they change their form to take advantage of the deteriorated condition. A so-called "algae free" tank merely has environmental conditions that most species of algae find disadvantageous for blooming so they remain asleep until awoken. In the majority of cases high light combined with poor plant health triggers the bloom. Our objective therefore is to strike poor plant health from the list in order to keep the giant sleeping. So if we focus as much as possible on optimizing plant health then the battle is more or less won. The use of bleach, peroxide, antibiotics and algaecides do nothing for plant health although they might kill the algae present, if we do not fix plant health the algae simply mounts a counter-offensive and returns in full force.

    Ideally, if you review the dosing article ( viewtopic.php?f=34&t=1211 ) you'll see that a 180 USG tank should get the following dosages:

    3X per week 2.5 teaspoons (12 grams) KNO3
    3X per week 5/8 teaspoons (6 grams) KH2PO4
    2X per week 3/4 teaspoon (2 grams) Trace mix

    This assumes you have excellent flow and distribution, i.e. an actual water circulation of at least 540 USG per hour, and that you have flawless CO2 injection.

    In real world conditions filters never deliver this kind of flow, so nutrient and CO2 distribution to the plants' leaves is massively inefficient. As a result, the plants suffer since under high lighting they cannot gather the amount of nutrients they require at a fast enough pace to produce the food they need.

    Large tanks are so inefficient in terms of flow that I have found it necessary to double the EI values just to make up for a loss of efficiency. That means under high lighting you need to inject more CO2 and dose at least the following:

    3X per week 24 grams KNO3
    3X per week 12 grams KH2PO4
    2X per week 4 grams Trace mix

    Some people have high nitrates in their tap water, therefore they don't need to dose KNO3. That is why K2SO4 is in every recipe, just in case you delete the KNO3 dosing. This ensures that you dose enough K, however if you dose KNO3 there is no need for K2SO4.

    Reducing the light intensity reduces the nutrient uptake demand and therefore reduces the stress on the plants. As you increase the light intensity then everything else must be increased to keep pace. Light energy is the throttle by which your tank is driven. For the moment, since the plants are severely stressed it would be better to lower the intensity until they can be nursed back to health. Once they are back to health you can then add MH slowly while increasing the dosing/CO2.

    I find it much easier to just dump 5 teaspoons of KNO3 and a couple teaspoons of KH2PO4 in the tank on 3X a week so I never bother with a solution, but if you did want to produce a solution with the powders then you can make up a one month supply of macros (12 doses) by just multiplying the dosage by 12 and adding those values to 600 ml of water. Then you can dose 50ml 3X per week.

    Macro solution: 288 grams KNO3 + 144 grams KH2PO4 to 600 ml.
    Trace solution: 32 grams Trace to 200 ml (dose 25 ml 2X per week)

    Some people like to dose every day so you would just divide the 600 ml by 28 (7 doses per week X 4 weeks) so that you would dose 20 ml of the macro per day. Again, I find daily dosing tedious so I only dose macros immediately following the water change and then every other day. If water change day is Sunday then macros are dosed on Tuesdays and Thursdays while micros are dosed on Mondays and Wednesdays. Fridays and Saturdays are free. This is such an easy routine that I am more likely to follow it consistently than the tedium of daily dosing, but again, do the routine you feel most comfortable with. Just be aware that you don't "have" to dose daily. This gives you maximum flexibility.

    For a large tank you might find it more effective to use an external CO2 reactor, one mounted on each filter outlet. That way the CO2 is premixed and enters the tank with better distribution than an internally mounted diffuser which is much more highly dependent on flow patterns to be effective in such a large volume. In any case, if you prefer to use the internal diffusers then you need to increase the injection rate. This is the only way you will rid the tank of BBA. Also ensure that you turn the gas on 2 hours or so before the lights come on. This will ensure that you have good gas saturation when the photosynthesis demand starts.

    Hope this helps. :D

    Cheers,
     
  13. Colin

    Colin Member

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    That’s a very informative response thank you very much, as soon as my current mix has ran out I will change over to EI I only have about a weeks left of my current batch and I will have to get some more pipe work for the filter before I can install the second one anyway.
    I have an external reactor just not got round to fitting it yet it a Jaqno, I have heard mixed reviews about them, I will install it and see how I get on with it and then remove the internal one and fit a second external.
    Once again thank you for the advice it was very clear and as a bonus with the MH off for a while it will save me money




    Cheers
    Col
     
  14. sanj

    sanj Member

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    Wow how much light! lol

    I will be using 432W (8x54w) on an 8x2x2 and that would be moderate lighting.
     
  15. Colin

    Colin Member

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    That’s the problem with reading books you don't get any other opinion other than the authors, I got my lights before joining a forum. At least the T5s are good

    Cheers

    Col
     
  16. spaldingaquatics

    spaldingaquatics Member

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    That's true, everyone has a different opinion based on their experience, good to get a overview from lots of people
     

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