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Best CO2 for your buck

1676 Views 13 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  MMAfish35
Hi everyone, im new around here. Im looking to plant my 10 gallon, learn how to do it and then move on to bigger tanks. What would be the best, and cheapest CO2 kit to get? Thanks for any info.

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My first suggestion is not to bother with CO2 in such a small tank (10g). The low-tech or "natural" method works better here. I won't go further into that for now. Jeff mentioned members' photos, and mine [as are most other members'] are under the "Aquariums" tab below my name on the left; I have no CO2 in any of these tanks, and they have been running this way for over 15 years.

What you do need is to balance the light with the available nutrients, so that light is always the limiting factor to plant growth. It is light that causes algae, when the light intensity or duration is beyond the nutrient balance for the plants. And this balance varies depending upon the plant species and numbers, fish load, fish foods, water minerals, etc.

Picking up for a moment on an earlier comment about CO2 and phosphates and algae. Phosphates in most aquaria will be more than sufficient for algae. Diana Walstad who is one of the prime advocates of soil-based natural planted tanks has written that in her tanks phosphates are between 1 and 5 mg/liter, which is more than sufficient for any algal species. She does not use CO2, yet has no algae problems. If one is adding CO2, and then discontinues it, the light must be reduced accordingly or algae will likely increase. So here again, it is the light that is causing algae.

Now to the questions in your [MMAfish35] last post. Algae is natural in any aquarium; a tank containing fish that does not have algae is most likely not "healthy" and it is not natural. The aim is to keep the algae under control. An explosion of algae is also indicative that the tank is not balanced. And in new tanks, algae has the advantage because the unstable conditions favour algae over plants; this state usually can last for 2-3 months, but not after if the tank is properly setup to balance light and nutrients.

As for critters that eat algae, this is hit and miss. The common "algae eater" fish tend to deal with common green algae and diatoms. But the true problem algae are the red and green varieties like brush, beard, etc. I've not bothered with shrimps but I understand they can help. But the easier remedy is to not let these algae get the upper hand. And specialist fish often bring very specific requirements and may have side effects that are worse than the algae. [You mention Hillstream loaches, in these tanks you must do all you can to encourage algae as this is a prime staple of their diet. Plus, their need for cool water and fast currents means most of our tropical fish cannot be included in that tank anyway.]

Snails are an advantage for algae and everything else; they contribute to a healthy environment more than many realize. They are not going to rid any tank of problem algae, but when the tank is balanced to start with, they will help to keep it so. Talking here of the common snails like Malaysian Livebearing and acute bladder (pond) snails.

Another fact is that plants do inhibit algae growth on their own, by which I mean aside from the balance aspect. Allelopathy is not something we all understand fully, but there is evidence that some plants can release chemicals that do inhibit certain types of algae (and other plants too). Similarly, algae have allomones of their own.

If you want a summary of the setup of a natural planted tank, have a look at the series "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" stickied at the head of this section of the forum.

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In case you didn't kow about them, we have fish profiles, second heading from the left in the blue bar across the top, and each profile contains what you need to know about the requirements for that species. Those should help.
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