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Old 01-29-2007, 02:44 PM   #1
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Planted Tank Anomalies

OK so, there have been a few things on my mind about my first planted tank, a 20gal long. I'll try and organize my thoughts as best I can, so bare with me folks

Background Info:
20Gal Long, DIY CO2
~2wpg (?? I'll get to that)
Eco-Complete
Flora: Wisteria, Java Moss & Fern, lace fern too, hygro stargrass, pygmy chain, bacopa (carolina?), apomogeton gayi.
Fauna: 3 corys; one peppered, two julii, 1 bumblebee catfish, 1 betta, 1 dwarf BN pleco, 1 banjo cat, 2 ghost shrimp

- First of all, theres a strange film on the top layer of my water. I've heard people suggest a paper towel on the top, which I have done before, but it reappears. I'd really like to get to the root of this one.

- I have a DIY Hagen kit, with the bubble ladder. Would it just be better to diffuse the CO2 through my HOB, and ditch the bubble ladder all together?

- Theres been small outbreaks of algae. I saw a large bunch of green, wispy hairy algae. It wasn't frail looking, infact I had mistaken it for java moss until I looked closer and saw the strands were much much thinner. There is also strange clearish greenish slime looking stuff covering my Wisteria. It appeared while I was on vacation. It has little... whitish yellowish spot things on top of the clear.. Gosh, it's hard to explain.

- I was sick of stock lighting, so I baught two 20W plant lights (terrestrial plants). They are meant as undercabinet lights, so they are mounted on small fixtures. I managed to fit them both into the old plastic stock-light hood (after removing stock light & ballast), but after I placed it back on my tank, expecting a bright, 40Watts, they hardly seem any brighter then the stock lights! It is resting probably half a cm higher, since part of the fixture sticks out, but I don't get it! Am I really losing that much light, or do my eyes deceive me?

- This one's about my 2.5. I have 10W over it, is that overkill? Has anyone heard of plants dying from too much light? Right now there is only java moss cultivating in it, could the java moss die from too much light?

Gosh I've been experimenting with so many different lightings... Supplementing stock lighting with full spectrum lamps, etc... Sort of discouraging, heh, maybe I should just save for a Coralife...

Anyways, any advice?? I'll probably add more questions as I think of them, TIA, I really appreciate it!
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Old 01-29-2007, 03:05 PM   #2
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There are a lot of variables when it comes to lighting. If you're using a different type of bulb (ie compact flourescent vs flourescent, or T12 vs T8) this can make quite a bit of difference. The reflector will make a big difference as well. A poor bulb with an excellant reflector can out perform an extra good bulb with a poor reflector. If the fixtures you installed are meant to light a room instead of a small work area, a lot of that light is going to be reflected out instead of down into the tank where the plants can use it.

When it comes to small tanks, the WPG "rule" means nothing. 4WPG over a 2.5 gallon isn't that much light, perhaps medium low light. I've got over 10WPG over my 2.5 gallon and it might be high light.

If your filter can handle having the CO2 fed through it, then that would definately be a better method of diffusion. Not all models can handle this, as some are prone to airlock.

The film on the surface of your water is dissolved organics. I suspect that you have little to no surface agitation since you are injecting CO2. In this situation you are more likely to get the film on the water surface like you described. If possible adjusting the filter output so that you get a slight ripple on the surface but not so much that it's choppy, will help to get rid of it. Depending on what your current waterchange schedule is, upping the frequency or size of the waterchanges could help. You could even run some activated carbon on the tank for a little while.

To get to the bottom of your algae problem we'll need some numbers from test results: NO3, PO4, pH, KH. In addition we'll need information about your fertilization and waterchange schedule.
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Old 01-29-2007, 07:13 PM   #3
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Ah I knew a reflector would make a difference! Could I just use foil? BTW the new lights I have are T8. Can anyone explain the difference in T#s? I know theyve probably been explained many a time, so my apologies...

Also the lights advertise a "UV Stabilized Diffuser for improved light quality and durability"... Whussat?
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Old 01-29-2007, 08:27 PM   #4
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Live bearers are great for eating the "organic skim" whether they be guppies, platys, mollies etc.
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Old 01-29-2007, 08:34 PM   #5
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The T# refer to the diameter of the bulb. The smaller the diameter the more efficient the bulbs are.

T12 - 1 1/2"
T8 - 1"
T5 - 5/8"

If you're talking about alluminum foil, then no it won't work. While it's really shiny, it's also extremely hard to get smooth and tends to scatter the light instead of reflecting it. You'd be better off using some mylar. The effectiveness of a reflector is two parts, a good reflective surface and a shape that directs the light in the correct direction.
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