Time for a much-needed update and a request for some advice on some algae and plant growth issues. I'll warn y'all in advice this post is quite hefty.
First thing first is a current full tank shot.
If you look closely you'll notice a few new plants that I haven't mentioned before. These include:
Crypt. Wendtii 'Bronze
Some sort of dwarf lily/lotus
I got all of them except the lilly these from another hobbyist about two months ago. So far they've all been doing pretty well for except the Süsswassertang which hasn't really grown much. Currently, the Lagarosiphon is looking a little shabby as I almost killed off with hydrogen peroxide and excel dosing.
Looking closely you might also notice that I finally, after six months, have fish! There is now a school of White Clouds calling my tank home. Supposedly I bought 13 from the store this Tuesday, however, I've only managed to count 12 so far. They are very quick so I'm not particularly confident in my count. So far I've managed to avoid a mini cycle and testing has not shown any ammonia or nitrite spike. I was worried since previously the tank's only inhabitants were neo shrimp and snails. I think the lack of mining cycle is due to a combination of the large plant mass, extra water volume from the sump, and adding a bottle of Tetra Safe Start to give the bacteria a boost.
I had a surprisingly difficult time finding these regular, wild-type White Clouds. All of the stores local to me stock only the gold and longfin variety so I had to special order these. I am a little suspicious that some of the fish might be one of the other related species or color morphs as there is a number of different fin colorations. Some of the fish have red fins with white tips, red fins with yellow tips, or mostly yellow fins. Nonetheless, I am loving having them and starting to think ahead about either increasing their numbers or adding another species that can handle room temperature water.
I've made some other changes since my last detailed update. I don't remember when I made them so I will just list them:
- The sponge over the central tube in the cerges has been removed due to constant clogging
- To get a better flow in the tank, the cerges was retuned, the outflow was modified with spray bar-like holes, and the pump power was adjusted.
- I made some modifications to the 3D printed shrimp/leaf guard and started using it full time. The leaf guard is less prone to clogging than the screen I previously used so there is less variation in the water level. This made it much easier to dial in the amount of surface ripple.
- I've been slowly working the CO2 up to higher levels, currently running with a drop checker just shy of yellow.
- I switched to front-loading all of my macros a few weeks ago with a good response in plant growth rate. However, I have been having some health and algae issues recently, not sure if it is related.
- Reduced my FE-DTPA dosing by a third last week.
Now the issues. In the past few weeks, I've seen an increase in algae of almost variety, green spot/dust, BBA, staghorn, and brown algae. It's been mostly minor, and I think I managed to kill off most of the staghorn and BBA with excel and peroxide spot treatments. The green spot/dust and brown algae on older leaves of the anubias, crypts, and hydrocoytle are my main concern now. I've also seen a significant amount of twisting in the leaves of my ludwigia this week. I've always had some twisting, but this is much more than usual. I also have some general concerns about plant health since some still don't look great.
The ludwigia is probably the worst-looking plant. Aside from the heavy twisting it just doesn't look quite right to me. I've always seen ludwigia with nice compact growth, and dark green leaves with red undersides. When I first got this plant (~six months ago) it looked how I would expect. Pretty quickly it started stretching into leggier growth with these massive thumb-sized leaves. The leaves always have this yellowy-orange color with essentially no red on the underside. Once it gets close to the surface it does start to get more distinct orange coloration.
Buce Green Wavy is another problem plant. I got this one from tissue culture a few months ago. It consistently doesn't look as healthy as the other buce I got from a local hobbyist. The leaves come in very pale then darken somewhat in uneven patches. The leaves all look much paler than the pictures I see online.
This Buce also seems to have some issues. The new leaves look pretty healthy to me. However, the older leaves will occasionally start turning a bleached whitish color. The central leave on the bottom of the picture is currently affected. The central right-pointing leave is also showing some early signs. Its hard to see in the picture with the glare
Here are some pictures of the green spot algae that starting to cover some leaves. I also see dark black algae (probably BBA) edging older leaves of some of the slow growers. It's hairy or fluffy, just a dark black coloration on the leaf edges.
Other none algae issues. A few weeks ago I started seeing both planaria and hydra. This was before I had the fish so it was only shrimp in the tank. From what I see online, these usually seem to be tied to overfeeding. Before I had the fish, I feed the shrimp some veggie once a week at most. Sometimes I would skip a week or two since the shrimp never seemed very interested in the veggies.
Relevant tank parameters:
Temp: Unheated, 67-72
Light duration: 8 hours, on at 3 pm, off at 11 pm
Water changes: 60% weekly with surface vacuuming of carpet and accessible substrate. 2 out 3 filter sponges rinsed in tank water, filter fleece replaced.
CO2: on at 10 am, off at 10:30 pm, drop checker is light green edging to yellow.
I do have pH monitor that I've been trying to use to track the pH drop due to CO2. At light on the tank pH is around 6.08 and it stays stable within 0.1 through the photoperiod. The problem is I am having a heck of time figuring out my degassed pH. In the morning before CO2 on, the tank pH is usually around 7.2 so I have at least a 1.1 pH drop. However, I don't think my tank fully degasses overnight so I usually pull out a water sample early in the week and let it sit for a few days. The issue is, the pH reading for that sample is all over the place depending on long I leave the probe in. For example, today I recorded readings at various time intervals from a sample I have degassing since Tuesday.
5 min: 7.44
10 min: 7.44
15 min: 7.49
20 min: 7.53
25 min: 7.55
45 min: 7.45
1 hr 35 min: 7.68
2 hr 20 min: 7.53
Even more confusing is that if I leave the probe in the sample overnight the pH reading usually drops to 7.1 ish. If I stir it around the readings jump back up. Using the API liquid tests I usually get around 7.6 as best as I can tell.
Currently, I am thinking about reducing my Nitrate and Potassium levels and increasing Phosphate to see if it has any effect. Possibly 20-10-20? Let me know any thoughts and suggestions, they are always much appreciated!
P.S. Let me know if you have any criticism of my writing style. I starting to study for the GRE and I haven't done much non-technical writing in the past few years.