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MinaMinaMina 11-10-2011 09:30 PM

Lighting trouble? You tell me!
Hi everybody! I have a planted 55g that I'm STILL having trouble with. My 25g plants are WEEDS, going crazy, but the 55g has been a headache. I think its a lighting problem, but I'm looking for some opinions. Please and thank you!

Its a 55g blackwater setup. I have play sand as a substrate, and leaf litter. I have pretty hefty amount of driftwood. Its kept at about 77 degrees F, and I run an Emperor 400 with a prefilter sponge. The pH is 7.4. It has Limnobium laevigatum (frogbit), Pistia stratiotes (water lettuce), and about 18 Vallisneria americana gigantea (jungle val) presently. It has a single bulb fixture. Originally it was on for 12 hours/day. It is lightly stocked and has MTS.

On 9.8 I started adding plants. The water lettuce and a few vals went in at this time. (I have slowly added more vals along the way. Most of the vals have looked a little rough to begin with.) The bulb was a 40w T10, unknown K, and it was old. On 9.26, the water lettuce was sending daughters and looking good. The vals looked the same as when I planted them. On 9.29, I started dosing 4.6mL of Flourish Comprehensive weekly. On 10.12 I had a quite sudden die back on the water lettuce. The largest heads started losing leaves, and the roots totally fell off. Only the small heads were left. It was at this time that I had a nitrate reading of about 15ppm. Other than this, my trates have never been over 5ppm in this tank. On 10.13 I removed the first of three dead vals. I also started adding some frogbit from another tank to help with the trates. I've never had more than a 10"x10" patch of floaters, combined, so I don't think they are blocking too much light. On 10.12 I installed a T8 6500K bulb and added the last of the vals, but this batch was VERY healthy. On 10.27, I upped the photoperiod to 14 hours. This is when I saw an increase in diatoms and hair algae. Today, almost a month after the new bulb, I expected to see that everything has bounced back. It hasn't. In fact, those healthy vals I added a month ago, even with the new light, are starting to look just as pitiful as the rest of the vals.

So, I've ruled out certain things as culprits: substrate, snails, pH, hardness, ferts. Things I have not ruled out: light, blackwater. I mean, my water isn't dark, its just a nice amber glow. (Well, it was until I installed the new bulb that has a much greater spike in the blue spectrum. Remember those old Ziplock commercials? Yellow and blue makes green? Yeah, well now my tank looks LIME GREEN. Its very unpleasant looking. But that's a whole 'nother rant. :roll:)

I'm thinking the solution is a 48" fixture with two bulbs. Well, that's my guess. I can't really afford that right now, and even when I can afford it, I don't want to waste my money if that's not the problem. But I also don't want to waste the money I've already spent on plants, either. So does anyone have any ideas? I'd be very, VERY grateful!

And thanks for reading my long-winded post. You're all awesome!

Boredomb 11-10-2011 10:09 PM

On the vals do you have root tablets near them. They can be heavy root feeders and will benefit from the root tablets. On the lighting what is the size of the bulb length wise?

MinaMinaMina 11-10-2011 10:12 PM

No, I don't have root tabs. I didn't think of that!
Its a 48" bulb.

Boredomb 11-10-2011 10:16 PM

Oh and I would cut back the time back to something like 8 hrs a day. At 14 hours you are going to see an increase of algae. The plants won't be able to benefit from that much lighting. Plants will only photosynthesize if all the nutrients are there. Once one is missing they will slow down or stop altogether. In a naturally planted tank C02 is your limiting factor and will be used up way before 14 hours and then algae will take hold of the remainder of the nutrients and light.

Boredomb 11-10-2011 10:23 PM


Originally Posted by MinaMinaMina (Post 890321)
No, I don't have root tabs. I didn't think of that!
Its a 48" bulb.

Your light is fine IMO. I think you just have a balance issue between nutrients and hours of light. I would add some root tablets continue to use the liquid fertilizer and cut back on your hours of light.

MinaMinaMina 11-10-2011 10:25 PM

I totally get what you're saying about nutrients, that aligns with my understanding. And I can add root tabs that may help, but that's not CO2. So saying that CO2 is the limiting factor, and iif I'm not willing to do pressurized CO2, and if Excel melts vals... what else can I do?

Boredomb 11-10-2011 10:30 PM

Cut back on the hours the lights are on. This serves two purposes. First when the lights are on say 8 hours they will benefit from the nutrients. 2nd when the lights are off it gives the plants downtime or a rest period giving the bacteria time to replenish the C02 levels in the tank.

Boredomb 11-10-2011 10:32 PM

It goes back to having a balance which is what I think the problem is. If Byron see this thread he can explain much better then I can on the matter (or correct me if I am wrong)

MinaMinaMina 11-11-2011 10:42 AM

Okay, I see what you're saying.
So I reset my timer to 2:30p to 12:30a, which is 10 hours, maybe I should reset it for 4:30p.

I swear, this 55g has been the type of tank to run a person out of the hobby. My 25g is the golden child, couldn't be easier. But sometimes I want to drain the 55g and set it out on the curb! My sanity-saving mantra lately has been "At least the fish are healthy. At least the fish are healthy. At least the fish are healthy." :lol:

Boredomb 11-11-2011 11:19 AM

I have a 29 gallon similar to that but it has a fungus problem I can't figure out but my 55 gallon is doing great lol. Anyways you can try 10 hrs and see what happens from there. If you are still getting algae problems then I would cut back some more.

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