A few questions about lighting, diatoms.. ferts... I'm lost.
I think I'm getting in over my head with plants in my tank. But, I know the benefits, I love the look.. I'd like to keep a planted tank. So.. on to my questions I guess.
First, I've got brown looking algae, which from what I've seen is likely to be diatoms. My tank is only a few months old.. it has been fully cycled for a month or two now (3? I'm losing track of time! This year is going by SO fast!!). I've also read the main cause are nitrates and poor lighting. So, I've been doing my partial water changes trying to bring that down. My nitrates were ridiculously high. I've been trying to reenroll in school and that's eating up so much of my time I'd got a bit slack with my tank and I guess this is the result. How frequent is too frequent for water changes? I've been doing about 30% probably twice a week for the last week and a half. Should I bump it up to more frequent water changes, with maybe less water? More water?
Second part, still related to the diatoms but related to everything else as well.. I've been trying to look at a cheap way to increase the light in my tank. I've got just a regular t8 hood on the tank, with a 6500k bulb that's 15 watts. I don't currently have the money to buy a t5 fixture. I was at home depot trying to look at the light fixtures there to see if there were any cheap routes to try there.. I did find some under cabinet lights that's a t5 light bulb, 10 watts. The bulb that came with it is a "warm white" light, so I know it's not full spectrum. They sell a light at petsmart that should still fit in the fixture that's full spectrum, but only 8 watts. If the bulb is indeed compatible with the fixture, should I get that bulb instead even though it's lesser wattage? I also have an option of buying a slightly bigger fixture (23" instead of 14") which also has a "warm white" bulb, but is 13 watts instead of only 10 or 8 (depending on the bulb in the other fixture) - should I go with that? Are the watts per gallon more important than the spectrum, if I've got one bulb that's already putting out full spectrum? Or is this all just a bad idea. I've got some HVAC duct tape (fairly heat resistant, water resistant.. and shiny) which I was thinking of putting over the lamp to reflect the light down into the tank so it's not leaking out. I just figured I'd stick a piece from my hood down & across the the back of the t5 fixture since it has a flat back behind the bulb.. The tape won't touch the bulb this way, and the whole thing will actually be held in place somewhat like this. I've got a plexiglass hood by the way, so it's clear and I'm just placing this second light behind by hood. I might need to take a picture for this to make any sense..
Next question, I've currently got wisteria floating in my tank, and I don't really like it and I don't think the plant appreciates my tank very much either. I was thinking of something simple like duckweed or frogbit. I understand these can go crazy, but they're also supposed to be super beneficial for the water because they grow so fast and need a lot of nutrients from the water. Would these be a good idea? Or is it going to make my lack of light problem even worse?
Lastly, with the diatom problem, should I still be adding ferts? I've got some fert tabs for the substrate and then I've also got flourish. I haven't been dosing because I've been doing so many water changes and I'm conditioning with prime (it's all I have). Should I just wait until I've got the diatoms under control? Also, is there anything else I should be doing to try to kill off the diatoms?
I forgot some important factors I'm sure..
It's a 28 gallon bow front tank with pool sand substrate. Plants in the tank: crypts, marimo balls, pennywort, moneywort, wisteria, amazon swords, "compacta" (probably NOT aquatic - bought it at petco in the tube before I knew what I was doing, but it's actually been growing noticeably..whatever it is..), and some sort of red plant.. I'm thinking Red Ludwigia.
Fishies and inverts: 9 harlequin rasboras, 5 false julii corys, 2 blue rams, and 1 angelfish that will be rehome as of this weekend. It's getting aggressive with my rasboras and that's why I decided to go with rams instead. And I found em for pretty cheap! I also have 6 ghost shrimp that somehow haven't been eaten (and they're not hiding either) and 5 nerite snails.
You could get a few oto cats to eat the diatoms. I do believe that keeping clean water is probably the best to keep it away. You'll need to supplement the otos after they get rid of it, but that's not hard. They will eat sinking wafers and zucchini. Weekly water changes of 40-50% should be sufficient. I can't tell you if you should lay off the fertilizer. Your problem is probably related to that your tank is still kind of new. I'd like to hear how the otos do cleaning it up if you go that route. I had a small amount of brown algae on some plants, and put 3 otos in the tank, and they immediately were going up and down the leaves, and it was gone by morning. Good luck!
Also, I recently (as of like two weeks ago) changed filters and so I'm not trying to add anymore fish at this time (although I did get the rams, lol.. but they're still small). I just don't want to go through a mini cycle since the change, although everything's been stable thus far.
This is the additional light from home depot I'm asking about, I purchased two 14" ones thinking it was smart to somehow smoosh them in my hood as is, but that's been labelled a bad idea. I also already have two, should I stick two of the smaller lights together.. get one bigger one.. keep one smaller one and get the better bulb... lol too many questions.
And this is a recent pic of the tank. I *may* be getting java moss this weekend so I can start making my bonsai tree "real".
I guess I should've added that my grassy crypt is shedding leaves, which haven't melted.. it's imacted the most by the diatoms. I try to clean them off the leaves but it's seems pretty much useless. I don't want my crypt to die. :(
Several issues here, let's start with the light. As I may have suggested previously [so many threads, but this does sound familiar] one T8 tube over this tank is really pushing the limit. I would save up for another fixture and not waste money on the linked light. The issue with that is not so much spectrum/kelvin but intensity. It simply won't be of much value. Light should be right over the tank, by which I mean on the tank frame. The further it is from the water surface, the more light is reflected out of the tank. In the interim, stay with lower-light plants. Wisteria is not one, it needs good light, I can't grow it in my tanks so I don't try. Until you are able to buy a new fixture, in the present you could try a Power-Glo tube. I am not a fan of the purplish hue this tube gives, compared to the natural daylight of the Life-Glo, but it is more intense light and plants will thrive under it.
On floating plants, Frogbit is fussy. Duckweed is easy, but be careful--with so little light intensity any floating plant will shade it even further. And while i advocate floating plants as almost essential for the fish, this is a situation where less floating is better. Duckweed can be pulled out weekly to keep it in check. Brazilian Pennywort also works, and is more noticeable as a plant.
Diatoms. Due to the weak light, and possibly the sand; i note it is white pool filter sand--if it is silica sand, there is the diatom issue.
Nitrates are not likely to affect the diatoms directly, though they are suggestive of other issues that are connected. With live plants, nitrates should never be high, always 10ppm max. Higher means either you are adding them (via water changes or nitrate fertilizers) or the organics are too great (fish load, overfeeding, dying fish/plant matter). [Liquid ferts like Flourish will not add nitrates, so this is not what I meant.] Getting the balance between fish load and plants, and feeding the fish no more than necessary, will keep nitrates below 10ppm.
Frequent water changes won't hurt the fish (assuming the parameters are close with no sudden shifts) but that is a temporary measure. The tank's biological balance has to be restored or established so things look after themselves. We can discuss this aspect more, but I wanted to get the above out first.
I appreciate the replies. :)
If a light isn't in the near future (possibly Christmas.. sad, I know lol), would it be a good temporary measure to get the smaller bulb from home depot and replace it with a 6500k bulb? I did find one at petsmart that fits the smaller light fixture. And the light itself sits right on the glass of my tank, not touching it, but less than half an inch away from the surface. My tank was much brighter even with the "cool white" bulb.. If you think it'd be better to just get a purple bulb, I can go with that.. although the tank is in my living room so I'm sad it'll look funky, but it's better than dead plants!
Since I started paying attention to the plants light needs (I was off to a bad start!) I've been getting low light plants. The only one that really isn't is the wisteria, but I have it floating and it seems to be doing well. I do have pennywort in the tank which I added about a week ago - should I just be patient and wait for this to fill out the top a bit instead of getting something like duckweed? Should it be in the substrate, or planted and I just need to wait for it to reach the surface? I've got it in the substrate right now.
I do have pool filter sand, which I did read can be a cause of excess silicates in the tank. I saw the sea chem resin for phosphate and silicate control (removal? I forget exactly what it was..) should I add this to my filter? I've got my sponge filter, so would I just put the beads in a mesh bag in the center of the filter?
Also, a lot of it is on my big fake bonsai tree. Would it be beneficial to take that out and clean it all off? That's the two main places it's growing on, the grassy crypt and my bonsai tree.
I think the nitrates are because I'm still trying to balance not over feeding. I'm still worried about the corys not getting enough food.. They've got sinking shrimp pellets, and I start feeding flakes and move to another spot and drop the pellets, but once the other fish are done eating their flakes, they start eating the shrimp pellets! I've also had a few plants die shortly after adding them.. I also lost a crypt, but I'm pretty sure that's just because I planted it incorrectly. It didn't just melt, the whole thing turned into mush, even in the substrate. I've been working on cleaning everything out.. I've actually found myself doing more, but smaller water changes just trying to make sure I get any extra plant matter out of the tank. There's never any uneaten food though.. it the corys don't get it, then the shrimp and snails sure do!
Food may not be the nitrate issue, as long as the feeding is only once a day, and you can skip a day or two (water change daysshould be skipped, never feed fish prior to a water change unless the feeding is very early and the w/c is much later. I like to do water changes shortly after the lights come on so I don't feed them that day. This allows them to settle well before night. If you are concened about the corys, drop the pellets in after the tank is dark. Corys are semi-nocturnal, they search for food during darkness when the upper fish are mainly "asleep." I like to watch them feed though. And I doubt one feeding is going to be "excessive."
Crypts are sensitive, but they often will come back if the roots are left. When mine melt I just siphon off the mush.
My internet was kind enough to die for a few days... anyways,
Good to know. I've seen a couple new leaves already and the plant hasn't been dying off. I just was starting to doubt some claims that it takes off the like crazy. I guess I'll just be patient and wait.
:) I know that plants take patience, I just worry sometimes.
This makes sense. I wasn't sure if that was something simple to do that wouldn't mess with any other aspect of the water. I know at some point the sand is supposed to "run out" of excess silicate, but I wasn't sure if this was something to do to help the process along. This was one reason I was looking at a floating plant because I know the seem to suck up more nutrients from the water column because of their fast growth. But, that being said, I don't want to block out the light since it's already lacking.
I wasn't sure if limiting the population overall would stop it from spreading elsewhere. It's mostly on the fake plant, and I know the crypt is suffering because of the diatoms. I'll leave it be and hope it'll correct itself once I've added the light and keep the nitrates down. I keep trying to scrub the plant leaves but that doesn't really seem to lead to much progress.
I may look into some otos, although I really don't think I'd like them to take up space in the tank..
I do feed them once a day, skipping a day or two a week. There's rarely any food not eaten at the top of the tank, and what little amount does fall down is found by either the shrimp, snails, or corys.. I don't think I'm overfeeding if they're eating it all.
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