Balancing a Planted tank

Discussion in 'Planted Tanks' started by Nirvashen, Jan 24, 2021.

  1. Nirvashen

    Nirvashen

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    Hi all

    I found some awesome videos shedding some light on balancing a planted tank, some really good tips





    maybe we can start a discussion on how everyone balances their tanks it would be great to hear others experience with SA water, two of my tanks have been battling hair algae, and every time when searching for a answer on combating the algae, i find that tons of people suggest balancing your tank but not really a lot on how to go about balancing, Also how do the more experienced planted tank guys measure their nutrient levels and what methods of measurements have you found that works well for you.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2021
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  3. A new day

    A new day Moderator

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    Great thread idea @Nirvashen ! I’ll watch those 2 vids
     
  4. Clappies

    Clappies

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    Heres my take on it...i just give the plants what they like and what they want(nutrients ,co2 and some light) if the plants grow well then they should out compete the algea...also i try to always plant my tank 80% with plants from the start.

    To much light will get you into trouble with algae...so from the start maybe 6h lights and then later ill turn it up to 7 or 8h light cycle.

    Nutrient measurements...its hard to say... there's alot that contribute to nutrients in the tank , like fish load , decaying organics and what not. I like inert substrates coz you know what you put in comes from what you put in lol nutrients is just numbers anyway. Look at the plants they will tell you if something is missing or to much.

    Just a side note, ill mix my fertilizer to dose at EI levels macros and micros but i never dose accurately. Sometimes ill dose more ,other time ill dose less.

    Tank maintenance is also part of the equation.

    Sent from my ELE-L09 using Tapatalk
     
  5. OP
    Nirvashen

    Nirvashen

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    @Clappies great input, this is a very subjective topic, I have found that there isnt very many affordable tests for planted tanks to test the various nutrient levels, so it makes it hard to suggest nutrient levels to try to other hobiest. i like your idea of inert substrate for controlling nutrient levels in a tank by eliminating the substrate variable.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
  6. A new day

    A new day Moderator

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    @Nirvashen i think you might enjoy Diana Walstad’s book “The ecology of the planted aquarium “ as you’re into details (she takes a very scientific approach and was way ahead of her time i think).

    Yes think it’s a very subjective thing (and each tank has its quirks) so some personal ramblings (most of it is pretty obvious I suppose but perhaps it helps someone):

    - Achieving and maintaining a balanced tank requires us to continuously observe and adjust. There’s this analogy of a pilot who makes small adjustments frequently to stay on the right course (as opposed to having to change course drastically). It’s also much easier and cheaper to make small tweaks than to have to do a major intervention eg rip the tank apart.

    - So the way I approach it is to try and be clear from the beginning what I’m aiming for ito energy levels in the tank, and try to match the different inputs. Eg low energy system (lowest of low tech) vs high energy system (high tech) or something in the middle. And choose plants accordingly!!! Otherwise it can become a slippery slope with a lot of backpedaling.

    - a moderately to densely stocked tank is going to need less (or no) additional macronutrients, especially in low tech. The only nutrient I track is Nitrogen (nitrate test kit, ammonia and nitrites are also nitrogen compounds). Nitrates of 5 is more than enough nitrogen for plants to grow (and for deep reds you want low nitrates). I don’t dose macros into the water column at all but most root tabs (except for Seachem Flourish) contain macros. Active substrates also contain macros. The nutrient deficiency in plants diagram should help guide us here but extra Nitrogen is probably the last thing I’ll dose in a tank with enough livestock. In fact, I want my plants to absorb the nitrates from fish poop. A bit controversial but I’m in the deep substrates camp (denitrification by anaerobic bacteria, it’s the principle bcb filters work upon).

    - For micronutrients I really like Seachem Flourish Advance (micros and phytohormones to stimulate new growth. But haven’t dosed it in a long time, thinking I should resume it. Edit: specifically on the jungle tank and 65L.

    - I use Seachem Exel for algae spot treatment when needed. Apart from that, shrimp and snails in all my tanks. SAEs in large tanks (3 foot plus), ottos are also great. I don’t aim for 0 algae, just under control

    - The most critical lever in my 180L (jungle tank) is the light. It is pretty intense and if I leave it on for too long I get green spot algae. If I reign in the photo period it’s gone, as simple as that. But it annoys me endlessly that I can’t look at this specific tank the whole day long :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
  7. fux940510

    fux940510

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    I've found I had best results in 2 very different situations. Same tank, same light, but different perspectives.

    Situation 1 had a strong filter packed with biomedia, daily dosing, 50% weekly water changes, light running at 100% for 6 hours a day. Plant growth was good, algae didn't really arrive as i kept the hardscape, glass and aquasoil very clean. I fed the lone betta relatively lean, 4 pellets once every 2 days. The success here i think was down to the maintenance - it kept dissolved organics and waste very low, and the tank was sufficiently planted with a mix of fast and slow growing plants, with enough nutrients in the water column and soil, to out-compete the algae. Only thing i would say is not a success was the java fern - it did hardly any growing, probably due to the lack of stability and lighting being too strong.

    Situation 2 is a no filter, no dosing, 25% once a month water change, light running at 70% for 12 hours a day. Plant growth is definitely slower, but no signs of deficiency yet. I feed the lone betta more than needed, and there is a flourishing population of copepods and pond snails to get the leftovers. There was some hair algae on the anubias and bolbitis in the beginning, but once the copepod population increased sufficiently it was gone within a week. The success here i think is down to stability and very low/almost no nutrients in the water with plenty of nutrients available at the root level. Only thing i would say is not a success here is the anubias, as a lot of the older leaves are starting to slowly melt and are prone to green spot algae. New leaves are still sprouting, but they don't last particularly long.

    I'm reasonably sure that balance could be reached in a hybrid approach, especially with the addition of CO2. A lean dosing schedule in conjunction with detailed maintenance and small water changes to remove organic waste. But that's an experiment i'll need to run at a later stage, as proper CO2 injection is a bit rich for my blood right now.

    To answer the question - being more thorough about cleaning usually helped me, meaning bigger/more frequent water changes, keeping the substrate cleaner by gravel vaccing, scrubbing hardscape. That and possibly lowering either the photoperiod or intensity of lighting
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
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  8. Cale24

    Cale24

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    Lot can be unpacked on this topic, but one thing people often do is change things up too soon after experiencing issues. I've certainly made that mistake, especially with immature setups.
    With some research and experience, one tends to estimate pretty well how much of everything a given setup requires - but from there patience is needed, without adjusting too much and instead just observing.
    Only real issues I face lately are a bit of green spot algae on my anubias, and a few small holes forming on pennywort leaves, likely a potassium or phosphate deficiency (even though I dose Scape K + trace, which I have upped a little).
    I wish I knew the specific mineral content of my tap water source - would make life a little easier I suppose. Little bit of staghorn or blackbeard algae on some anubias leaves forming but that might be down to the warm temperatures (26/27C on average during the day).
    I've reduced feeding to hopefully compensate.

    Plus, as someone who never really had shrimp or otos previously (besides 2 x false Amanos and Siamese algae eaters a while back), I'm amazed at just how effective they are as a clean up crew. Halved general maintenance for me.
    Plus nerites (horned variety apparently the hungriest of all).
     
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  9. A new day

    A new day Moderator

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    Got BBA in the 65L on the only spot the nerite can’t reach :thumbup:

    92D90333-7BF3-4DC3-BFAA-D5C46C12198D.jpeg

    C5ED5399-BD08-4050-9B05-EAB76057684F.jpeg
     
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  10. sub-lime

    sub-lime Somethings Fishy...

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    That snail needs a hair cut.
     
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  11. A new day

    A new day Moderator

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    :lol::thumbup:
     
  12. HugBug

    HugBug

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    :lol::lol:
     
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  13. Cale24

    Cale24

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    :lol: One of my ramshorns has a hair algae covered shell, love watching the shrimplets riding along on it as they eat.
     
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  14. OP
    Nirvashen

    Nirvashen

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    Hi thanks yes, i have read her book and even spoken to her for a little bit, if you want speak to her she is a mod on Aquatic plants central that's the place to find her easily.

    Thank you guys for the great input, so far the themes for tank balancing after reading, is boiling down to to these concepts

    • Regular tank maintainece
    • stable / consistent lighting periods
    • Keeping low dissolved organics in water column (ties up with tank maintainece)
    • initial plant mass needs to be high (possibly mixing slow and fast growers)
    • Choosing a main plant fertilizer method and refining it to your aquarium plants needs (dosing nutrients at the root (aqua soil/root tabs)/ or water column dosing (inert substrate/ water column dosing))
      • Please note above point is simplified (i know someone will say that i am wrong stating this because you will still dose water column , if you see deficiencies or add root tabs etc.) i say this because some have nutrient rich substrates and dosed limited nutrients in the water column, while others have inert substrate and dosed nutrients only in the water column both work and or hybrid methods.
    • Fish load the higher the load on the system (lots of fish or over feeding of fish) can cause the tank to go out of balance even though if you have all other aspects in check so this point is a good starting block
    • Clean up crew , try to keep animals the eat algae to help with your maintainece of the tank think of them as your tank cleaning employees (shrimp, snails, algae eating fish)

    its great that everyone is sharing their experience in tank balancing :thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:
     
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  15. OP
    Nirvashen

    Nirvashen

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    :lol::lol::lol: give that snail employee of the month working so hard he doesn't have time to clean his own shell :lol::lol::lol::lol:
     
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  16. Clappies

    Clappies

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  17. A new day

    A new day Moderator

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    @Nirvashen great summary and very important to keep track of the high level things. I’ve seen some people go down a rabbit hole and forget the basics.

    @Clappies thanks, a lot to process there!
     
  18. OP
    Nirvashen

    Nirvashen

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  19. A new day

    A new day Moderator

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  20. rsa

    rsa

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    My 4ft has been running for 2,5 years now . The algae issue I picked up is BBA on my substrate [ flourite red ],hardscape . I spot dosed hydrogen peroxide up to now but it always returned . I auto dosed scape P,N and k + trace and Co2 is injected via cerges reactor .

    My Co2 comes on at 4am till 11-30 . My lighting starts at 6 till 12. I read up many articles on how to eradicate BBA , I have done the H20 bomb many times . Tom Barr puts it down to C02 and I am at the limit of this since anymore will gas my fish . I eventually resided my self to the fact that there would always be BBA. I paid a visit to Aqua-Empire about 4 weeks ago, they had a tank with a piece of driftwood full off BBA previously . On this occasion there was none .

    The solution was excel . I am now dosing 5ml everyday for the last month and only dosing half the suggested amount of ferts . The BBA seems to be gone ,I will however continue dosing for 2 more months to ensure its erradicated .

    Anyway this what I have done, is it a permanent solution ? Not sure yet . Will have to gauge the success once I have stopped the excel . All I know is that I can now put hardscape back in my tank without the fear of constantly killing off BBA...
     
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  21. fux940510

    fux940510

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    Do you do a gravel vac, or just changing the water? I read somewhere that BBA can be caused by excess organic matter buildup in the substrate, and doing a vigorous gravel vac semi-regularly can help stave it off
     
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