New tank startup and photoperiod/intensity

JoshP12

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Hi all,

Prior to reading this, I should note that I have not "flawlessly" set up a tank before ... I'd like to mitigate the hiccups on my next start in the future.

In my prep, I have been wondering about lights. In everything that I have read, most of the suggestion is to have lower intensity and shorter photoperiod for the startup of a tank and progressively increase it.

I am just wondering, why?

If you are feeding the plants with ferts (let's just use EI for example), you are daily water changing for the first week or so (watching the tank), you have good flow distribution, and you are able to dial in your CO2 relatively quickly (with no livestock in the tank for the first bit), then why is a common suggestion to use a "lower energy" system?

Thought: is it just to slow it down so you can catch something if it comes up? But if everything nutrient +delivery related are in check, then?

Note: would this be different with inert vs active substrate?

Just thinking about the next tank!

Much appreciated!

Josh
 

rebel

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I am just wondering, why?
Reduces chances of algae breakouts.

Just use a photoperiod of 4 hours initially. Eventually you can extend to 6-7 hours over 6 months or so.
 

JoshP12

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Reduces chances of algae breakouts.

I think it's due to plant mass.

Even if you plant heavily on start up, these are likely to be small immature plants that have neither the nutrient uptake or general mass for light uptake levels of a mature aquarium.

This is the part I am not "getting" . Certainly, it is sounds logical, but I can't connect the dots.

In my current tank, I tripled the light and did not change CO2 over a few weeks. No adverse effects. Plants just pearled more and grew faster. The crux is that this is a "mature" tank which I assume means bacteria complex in the filter + substrate. Recently, I hacked it out, removed lots of healthy plant matter - perhaps too much - ripped up the substrate and added new Tropica, and even had trace ammonia after continuous water changes (this was all after a rescape). The stems that were left were unhealthy compared to the ones that I ripped out. Yet, still no algae. In this example, the tops of my s. repens could be comparable "new" plants - even the rotala stems that I planted.

Something about the maturity of my system (half of my leftover substrate and my filter) has allowed this bounce back to be "safe". How is this different than a startup? And how does that connect with light energy?

The only time that I have seen algae (in an aquarium) are on unhealthy plants/on hardscape or glass after (or during) a bloom*/and all over when the tank has no plants and the tank hasn't established a bacteria colony yet.

So, I suppose my question is, "how come it reduces the chance of algae? And, what differentiates a mature system from an immature system; further, how does the latter connect to light?"
Thanks for the responses so far :).

Josh


*with it's lots of a causes, one of which is likely lack of bacteria colony.
 

ceg4048

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Hello,
I think it's really important to understand that plants are not robots. They cannot respond immediately to a change in their environment. It is necessary for them to acclimatize to any new environment as their chemistry is usually optimized for the environment that they had been growing in and they must now reconfigure.

During this time when they are re-configuring their body chemistry their ability to feed is severely hindered. If we then bully them with lots of light they are typically unable to obtain enough CO2 and nutrients to utilize the light and they are unable to protect themselves from "sunburn". As they suffer malnutrition and sunburn, their structure decays and the components of this decay are chemical signals which activate algal spores to bloom.

Most plants purchased from suppliers, are grown as terrestrial. This is a structural configuration optimized for dry sediment at the root and air surrounding the leaves. As a result of the physics of a gaseous environment the leaf has a rigid structure with hole and a network of chambers that allow CO2 to flow through the leaf in the same way that opening our windows and doors allows cross flow of fresh air to circulate in our homes.

The terrestrial leaf is thick, to resist insect attacks and is clad with organic waxes and other substances to make it water resistant and chemical resistant. As I mentioned, these physical attributes are at odds with a submerged environment. Open cavities flood the chambers. The gases such as Oxygen and CO2 which previously circulated easily in air, now become flooded and clogged. These critical gases move approximately 10,000 times slower in water than they did in air, so these chambers are rendered useless. The thick, rigid structure which served the leaf in air, now become an anchor tied around the neck Having a waterproof cladding while living in water is the worst of all worlds because what little amount of slowly circulating dissolved gases cannot penetrate through the waterproof clad.

Like a caterpillar, the leaf must undergo a "metamorphosis" to change from a rigid waterproof shell to a thin, limp, hydrophilic "contact lens" which facilitates the easy movement of oxygen and CO2 enriched water so that the plant can use the light to produce food for growth. There are a myriad of other chemical and structural changes necessary for plants to safely transition to an aquatic state.

In their native habitats the environmental transition from dry season to wet season happens gradually over a few weeks. The rains fall, the water level rises a little, covering a few leaves and this triggers the plant to begin the transformation. When the water level finally covers the plant the water is usually turbid or tea stained which blocks much of the light. By this time the plant has mostly transitioned to the aquatic state. Some plants, such as carpet plants, never actually remain completely submerged. They grow in crevices between rocks, or on the shoreline in the shallows where they are able to always keep some leaves uncovered.

Contrast this with the way in which we transition the plants. We throw them into the deep end of the pool and bombard them with high intensity radiation. They struggle to breathe and are zapped by photon torpedos (just like on Star Trek New Generation). Is it any wonder we fail miserably?

Cheers,
 

rebel

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Something about the maturity of my system
Dude the answer is in the bacteria and archea. Maturity of system can be a huge help in stabilising it. Every system is a balance between higher order plants and lower order algae. Ideal systems have heaps of algae in nature but blokes around here hate algae. ;)
 

JoshP12

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Dude the answer is in the bacteria and archea. Maturity of system can be a huge help in stabilising it. Every system is a balance between higher order plants and lower order algae. Ideal systems have heaps of algae in nature but blokes around here hate algae. ;)

So cool. Thanks Rebel.

So the billions? of different types of bacteria have several different jobs (more than just reducing stuff to ammonia) that all in tandem with each other help stabilize the system against any abrupt changes.

With those, come plants to give a higher order of stability. Then, in between, we have algaes to help buffer the system <-- hence algae bloom.

The lower intensity, shorter photoperiod helps to reduce the CO2 demand of the plant - since as it adapts to its new home it needs time to change and cannot necessarily capture the CO2 it needs, regardless of availability) - once it adapts, it can take on its proper role. In the interim, while it is adapting, the algae may buffer out the system - like you (@rebel) mentioned in your first post.

Josh

Side thought: I was going to ask if our bacteria can photosynthesize like plants ... no wonders Cyano (@jaypeecee <-- every time I mention Cyano I like to tag JPC :p) has been around since the beginning. :oops: ... mind blown.
 

rebel

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we have algaes to help buffer the system <-- hence algae bloom.
Don't know about buffer. Nature is about who wins ie fittest survives.

Algae is a dominant organism on earth so it is not a surprise it can often dominate water (which is most of earth anyways)

We can however keep it at bay by designing our own artificial eco systems and managing them within a set parameters.

There are virtually no waterways on earth without algae and most of them are dominated by it.

This is how I look at it.
 

rebel

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The lower intensity, shorter photoperiod helps to reduce the CO2 demand of the plant - since as it adapts to its new home it needs time to change and cannot necessarily capture the CO2 it needs, regardless of availability) - once it adapts, it can take on its proper role. In the interim, while it is adapting, the algae may buffer out the system
Sort of.

Lower light helps reduce chance of algae taking the upper hand. Algae will use very few nutrients and thrive on light. Most aquarists don't like this. ;)

Also lower light when starting tanks have been used for years with excellent anecdotal results.
 

ChrisD80

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So the billions? of different types of bacteria have several different jobs (more than just reducing stuff to ammonia) that all in tandem with each other help stabilize the system against any abrupt changes.

Do people think adding commercial bacteria additives on an ongoing basis to a recently set up system is therefore beneficial? On the basis that there would be some strains in those bottles that we don’t have present and these would help get to the stable mature state?

Or are they just for the very beginning to get things started?

Thanks
Chris


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