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Old 06-22-2007, 01:37 PM   #1
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options for slowing down plant growth...

I am sooo busy at the moment that I don't have the time I need to devote to the tanks, and it's not going to get any better for a while. I don't want to take any of the tanks down, but I need to get my 55 to be a little less maintenance, ie I don't want to be trimming every couple of weeks! I guess my best option is to reduce light, I know a few people around here have done that recently.

I have 2x96 watts over the tank, each bulb has its own ballast so I can operate them separately. Currently both bulbs are on 11 hrs a day, split into 2 periods (9AM-2PM, 5PM-11PM). Some options that I have thought of are to reduce the photoperiod (say to 8 hours), stagger the bulbs so as to only have a few hours where both are on, or replace one or both with a 50:50 to cut down on the useable wattage. I don't have the $$ for a new light fixture. Any suggestions?

I'm a little hesitant to just use one bulb exclusively as the bulbs are offset, one to each side of the tank. I realize that I may not be able to grow some of the plants I have now but that is OK.
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Old 06-22-2007, 02:33 PM   #2
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I think you are on the right track in reducing the photo period. You can do this and NOT "unbalance" your lighting. You may want to also consider reducing the fertilizer dosing if that is happening. Taking an hour or and hour and half off of the two photo period cycles will go a long way toward slowing the growth.
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Old 06-22-2007, 04:35 PM   #3
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I think I will try shortening the morning photoperiod and moving it later until I end up with one, shorter photoperiod. I am up late so i like having the tank on at night. Definitely will have to keep an eye on the ferts but hopefully that won't be too bad, at least I won't have to worry about anything bottoming out! I'll keep everyone informed about how the plants do.
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Old 06-22-2007, 08:45 PM   #4
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I assume you are not willing to go low-light eh? I doubt that you will ever be in a position where you will not need to trim bi-weekly, it kinda goes with the territory with healthy plants.

Reducing the photoperiod too quickly just may cause an imbalance, so I would suggest doing it slowly...watch out for any signs of deficiencies and/or algae taking a foothold until you get to your desired level.

Afterward, while you are still trying to figure out why you are still trimming pounds of additional growth, simply smile.
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Old 06-22-2007, 10:17 PM   #5
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I don't really want to go totally low light, just something less than the almost-insanity light I have now (my tank is up in the top 3 or 4 on Wizzard-of-Ozz's spreadsheet). I just took two hours off the morning photoperiod, so the lights will now be on 11AM-2PM, 5PM-11PM. We'll see how that goes and I'll keep an eye out for any deficiencies. My tank gets most of its NO3 from the fish (I add very little) so as long as I stay up on the PO4, K and traces it should be fine. I think I am also going to switch out some of my consistently fast growing plants for some slower ones....so the Rotala and H salicifolia are probably out! Might try to get some small swords and more crypts, especially some larger species that might make a good background. I just found some C retrospiralis unlabeled at the LFS, the clerks had no idea what it was so I got three plants for $2!

The tank just looks like a jungle right now, and the fish don't like it, and I'm toooo busy with work, thesis proposal (my advisor didn't like my first draft at all) and then i go out sailing every afternoon....so the poor fishies are getting neglected a little.

Of course, if I happened to find a cheap 75 gallon on Craigslist, my 192 watts would make for a nice medium-light tank.....
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Old 06-22-2007, 11:24 PM   #6
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The ideal WPG IMO is 2 WPG. You can grow almost all the aquatic plants there are with that much light. CO2 and ferts are keys to doing it correctly.

Having such a short photo period in the morning (11am to 2pm) concerns me. Algae adapts to changes much faster then plants do, so turning the lights on and off so soon really helps the algae. There is no reason to have a period of no light in the middle of the photo period unless it's to be able to see the tank in the morning and at night.
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Old 06-23-2007, 12:12 AM   #7
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Quote:
unless it's to be able to see the tank in the morning and at night
you got it....I am planning on running it this way for a week or so and then shifting the morning light period 3 hours later so that it is one continuous period. CO2 is still cranking away so hopefully no problems with algae....

here are some pics of the tank now: I guess it doesn't look too horrible but it's messy in person and is driving me nuts....






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Old 06-26-2007, 10:37 AM   #8
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Incredible tank! I used to have the double photo period with the siesta so I could see the tank in the morning and late at night but after algae issues and the frequent trimming from 10hr of light I changed the routine. Now I have the lights come on around 2pm and off around 10:45pm. This lowered the overall light level and eliminated the change for algae from the transition period mid-day. And since I work from 6am-3pm, only the weekend cuts into my viewing. This along with feeding my heavy meal shortly before lights out has curtailed a good bit of my algae (still fighting staghorn but its most likely due to my DIY CO2).

I think your best bet is to cut down to 8hr or so a day. Since your lights are staggered I'd recommend 50/50's to cut the lighting but not the spread of light. Just so happens I posted a deal in this forum about a great sale I just got in on from hellolights.com. They have most of their CF's on sale for $10 a piece. You could get 2 50/50's for $27 shipped.

It's funny you brought up this topic since the reason I got in on the sale was to lower my work as well. I currently have a 20gallon high tank with a single 65w 6700k bulb in it. This equates to ~4wpg and requires weekly trimmings of most of my plants (I'm a sucker for stargrass and its a very fast grower). Along with the trimming is the constant depletion of an unknown macronutrient I'm still trying to figure out (its either calcium or magnesium). I'm hoping that the switch (the bulbs just shipped today) to lower lighting will alleviate both the work and the algae issues. Plus I prefer the look of the 50/50 over the 6700k.

P.S. Let me know if you are ever interested in shipping me a clipping of your pinkish-colored plant. I would love to try to grow it (I have all shades of green).

HTH and Thanks in advance!
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Old 06-26-2007, 10:59 AM   #9
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My lights are due for a bulb change in July so I may try the 50/50s...of course I have 2 more new 10000Ks already, but I guess it's good to have them for backup! I am going away for a week in early July so when I get back the tank is going to get a makeover, I think I am going to get rid of a lot of the current plants and try some new types.

Which pink plant? I have several....I'm guessing you mean the Rotala macrandra....I'd be happy to send you some, although it is supposed to like very high light and CO2....
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Old 06-26-2007, 11:20 AM   #10
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The one in the second to last pic. That's not Rotala correct?
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Old 06-26-2007, 04:39 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 7Enigma
The one in the second to last pic. That's not Rotala correct?
That is Rotala macrandra. According to quite a few people, R. mac does great in 2 WPG with good CO2 and ferts.
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Old 06-26-2007, 10:24 PM   #12
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I can't get Rotala Mac to grow in any conditions and believe me, I've tried just about everything. I love this plant but have tried and removed it many times in frustration. Conrats Newfound on growing some beautiful Rotala Mac! Good luck with it 7Enigma if you get your hands on some
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Old 06-27-2007, 09:02 PM   #13
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Try adding CO2 mist to the plant.

It grows fine.

At lower light, you do not need some much CO2 to keep good growth rates going.
I'm not sure you folks are aware of this, but most of Europe's and Asia's tanks are relatively low light, 1.5-2.5w/gal. And most any tank pre 10-15 years ago was 2w/gal or less.

Somehow they manged.
More is not better.


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Old 06-28-2007, 07:54 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkilling1
Quote:
Originally Posted by 7Enigma
The one in the second to last pic. That's not Rotala correct?
That is Rotala macrandra. According to quite a few people, R. mac does great in 2 WPG with good CO2 and ferts.
Very odd. I supposedly have Rotala mac. in my tank and have never had the leaves so broad and curled. Here's an old pick from mine:



The red ones were near the surface, cut, and placed back in the substrate. Do you have ferts in the substrate (I just have PFS)? I wonder if mine aren't getting enough nutrients and are instead growing with very short leaves? Even when they reach the surface and turn red the leaves rarely get larger than a small paperclip.

And Glen, for some reason I can't kill these things. They randomly seem to get infested with staghorn starting from the base quickly traveling up the stem, but I just simply cut them above the infestation and replant. They stay green until they get within 2-3" of the surface, then I'm assuming the extreme lighting allows them to artificially induce a low-nitrAte situation (certainly no shortage of that nutrient in my tank!), and they get nice and pink/red. Same thing with my sunset hygro. Green with white veins until they get very close to the surface and then they start to redden.

I'm starting a new thread on my deficiency problems.
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Old 06-28-2007, 11:04 AM   #15
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That almost looks more like Rotala rotundifolia (see my last pic) which can get quite pinkish/reddish near the light and is pretty hardy stuff....the leaves can get big but aren't as wide and don't get the wavy edges that macrandra gets.
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Old 06-28-2007, 11:14 AM   #16
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I concur with Newfound77951, it looks like Rotala rotundifolia to me as well. Possibly 'Colorata' or one of the more colorful strains.
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Old 06-28-2007, 01:35 PM   #17
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AHA! I had the genus right but was incorrect on the species. I received all of these plants from a forum member (GlitcH). I remembered it was a Rotala but must have just assumed it was of the mac. variety.

I see most of your rotundifolia is green/yellow while your mac is very colorful. Is that species specific color or something you are doing? I would prefer to et a red/pink/purple plant that develops the color regardless of nitrAte levels!
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Old 06-28-2007, 03:23 PM   #18
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My rotundifolia always stays at that bronzy yellow color, occasionally it gets a little pink when it gets close to the surface but never really bright. My best red plants are the macrandra and Limnophila aromatica, which is a really nice purply red on the undersides of the leaves. The macrandra will lose the color on the lower leaves but as soon as it gets anywhere above 1/2 way up the tank it turns fluorescent pink.
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Old 06-28-2007, 03:44 PM   #19
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I'm sorry to interrupt the flow of conversation here but I have a questions towards lighting, why have 2 photo periods? Isnít it natural to have just one straight period to replicate nature and how the sun works?
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Old 06-29-2007, 08:07 AM   #20
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I'm sorry to interrupt the flow of conversation here but I have a questions towards lighting, why have 2 photo periods? Isnít it natural to have just one straight period to replicate nature and how the sun works?
2 possible reasons. The first and simplest is to actually have the lights on when we are home. For most of us in the higher light range 8 hours is about the sweet spot and 10 hours is about the max. If you have your lights come on at 7am but don't get home until 6pm you never get to see the tank at all! Many of us had the lights come on early in the morning for a couple hours (while we are at home and before work), off for several hours mid-day, and then on again at night. A rarely mentioned feature of this is relevant to this thread in that your tank temps would stay more consistent since the lights would be off for a couple hours!

Another reason (which I thought held some promise, but now no longer am sure) is so the plant could rest. By rest I mean transport/replenish nutrients to other parts of the plant to prevent temporary deficiency. In a perfect tank every nutrient is in ample supply, but in reality things are sometimes in excess and on the verge of deficiency. That "downtime" *might* allow for a deficient scenerio to work itself out with a short rest period.

For instance:

-You are at work and forgot to feed your fish in the morning. To bring out the vibrant reds of your Rotala and Hygro you keep a very low nitrAte level in your tank which you supply in the form of fish waste from the ammonia production. By forgetting to feed the fish in the morning your nitrAtes bottom out mid-morning and for the next 7 hours your tank is in deficiency. Algae takes over! With the siesta period your fish continue to produce low levels of ammonia which keep the nitrogen level from bottoming out for a significant period of time.

-Or you don't inject CO2 and have higher lighting then you should (relatively common on this forum where people have not yet made the transition to DIY or pressurized after getting a new light fixture). Having that siesta period would allow the atmospheric level of CO2 to equilibrate back possibly preventing (or more likely lessening) algae.

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