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Need advice on balancing my tank to remove GSA & Staghorn Algae!

meyscapes

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Hey everyone!

Thanks for your replies and advice so far, I really appreciate it.

So I had a go at doing the PH profiling today. First off, here’s some general info of my co2 and light schedule…

My BPS is 1.

Co2 turns on at 08.00.

Lights turn on at 10.00 and are at full power (40% intensity) by 10:30. I’m using a Chihiros WRGB2.

Co2 turns off at 16:00.

Lights start to ramp down at 17:30 and are completely off by 18:00.

Here are the PH readings from today:

08.00 7.2
10:30 6.9
11:30 6.9
12:30 6.8
13:30 6.8
14:40 6.8
15:45 6.7
17.00 6.8
18:00 6.9

From this, my understanding is that I need to increase my co2 amount (upping the bps?) to make the PH drop lower faster? Or perhaps I need to make the co2 turn on even earlier?

I may have to redo this test again at the weekend as it’s a bit hard to periodically do the tests on the hour in between work meetings, but I was curious to get a rough idea of what my co2 today and it was interesting to see!
 

meyscapes

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I realised I should have taken photos of the drop checker earlier this morning too, but I’ve attached a couple of photos how they looked this afternoon.

This first photo is the colour of the drop checker at 1:30pm and the second photo is of it at 15:45pm!

The position of the drop checker is in an area where I think there is the least flow and I put it here last night (with fresh ph solution) on purpose as a test. I’m thinking to buy a second drop checker to test different areas of the tank.
 

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Hufsa

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Good to know! I’m quite new to testing phosphates and only tested them as I read about GSA appearing due to high level.
Could it be the other way around? I have always seen it advised as "GSA means you should -increase- your phosphate dosing".

I’m not really sure what range is beneficial for plant growth vs too high or low. Same goes for nitrates! On the kits 40ppm comes at towards the high end, but I’ve read mixed info online, some saying this is fine, some saying this is too high.
Its a bit of a contested subject, the plant experts dont always agree with each other, and if you ask a fishkeeper vs a planted tank keeper about nitrates, you will get very differing answers. Since no one seems to have the answers for this yet, I have personally decided to stay somewhere in the mid zones, but you have to decide for yourself.
 

John q

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my understanding is that I need to increase my co2 amount (upping the bps?) to make the PH drop lower faster? Or perhaps I need to make the co2 turn on even earlier?
A lot depends on what your degassed starting ph is. Eg: if it's 7.8 then you'd probably want to start the gas an hour or so earlier to reach the 6.8 drop by lights on. If the degassed water is say 7.3 then you need to up the bubble rate a little bit to get that drop to go down quicker.

Looking at the drop checker and considering it's taking 2.5hrs to drop .3, I would think the bubble rate probably needs upping.

Yes, you are correct, it's best to make any changes when you are there to monitor it.

Edit: I should also add not to get overly fixated on the 1 point drop, if you manage to achieve a .9 drop and its stable from lights on to lights off then be happy with that for now.
 
Last edited:

dw1305

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Hi all,
I don't know if it is a possibility for you, but <"using rainwater"> gets around a lot of the issues with tap water.
....... for nitrates! On the kits 40ppm comes at towards the high end, but I’ve read mixed info online, some saying this is fine, some saying this is too high.
The problem with nitrate (NO3) is that <"you need to differentiate"> between the nitrate that has always been nitrate (in drinking water and added as potassium nitrate (KNO3) etc.) and the nitrate that results (<"is the smoking gun of">) from the oxidation of ammonia. We don't know at what level the the NO3- ion becomes toxic to most fish, but it is <"certainly a lot higher"> than 40 ppm NO3.

Because nitrate <"isn't easy to test for"> I use the the <"leaf colour and growth"> of a <"floating plant"> as a proxy for nitrate level.
I’m not really sure what range is beneficial for plant growth vs too high or low.
I don't tend to worry too much, that is one of the great advantages of plants, they reduce the levels of all nutrients. Phosphorus (P) is one of the macro nutrients and plants convert phosphate (PO4---) in the water into plant tissue. When you harvest that plant matter you remove those nutrients from the tank.

Plants are much <"more efficient at nutrient removal"> than most aquarium based literature acknowledges.

cheers Darrel
 

meyscapes

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Could it be the other way around? I have always seen it advised as "GSA means you should -increase- your phosphate dosing".

Just had a look online and it seems that’s the case, I think. I did a test using the API Phosphate kit yesterday and it came out as 2-3ppm, so I don’t feel that that’s low anyway? Especially if the JBL kit only measures up to 1.8ppm.

Its a bit of a contested subject, the plant experts dont always agree with each other, and if you ask a fishkeeper vs a planted tank keeper about nitrates, you will get very differing answers. Since no one seems to have the answers for this yet, I have personally decided to stay somewhere in the mid zones, but you have to decide for yourself.

That’s what I have trouble with 😅 I come from a fish keeping background to aquascaping and have always heard having 40ppm of nitrate to be bad, but obviously I understand having nitrates for plant growth is necessary. It’s just about finding the right amount/mid zone as you say. I might have to keep testing nitrates to see how they’re being used in the tanks.

A lot depends on what your degassed starting ph is. Eg: if it's 7.8 then you'd probably want to start the gas an hour or so earlier to reach the drop by lights on. If the degassed water is say 7.3 then you need to up the bubble rate a little bit to get that drop to go down quicker.
Just to check, when you say degassed do you mean the PH level before the co2 is turned on? If so then it was 7.2. Thanks for giving those examples btw, it really helps me to understand the different contexts and solutions per one. I feel that you’re right in terms of probably needing to up the bps. Is it better to start by increasing it to 2 bps and just see how it does like that, incrementing again if necessary afterwards?

Also just to double check, the green in the second photo is the exact type of green I’m after? I use the co2 art droper checker and the photos online of drop checkers often show it looking more opaque/dark green, so it’s hard to for me to tell exactly 😅
 

meyscapes

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Hi all,
I don't know if it is a possibility for you, but <"using rainwater"> gets around a lot of the issues with tap water.

The problem with nitrate (NO3) is that <"you need to differentiate"> between the nitrate that has always been nitrate (in drinking water and added as potassium nitrate (KNO3) etc.) and the nitrate that results (<"is the smoking gun of">) from the oxidation of ammonia. We don't know at what level the the NO3- ion becomes toxic to most fish, but it is <"certainly a lot higher"> than 40 ppm NO3.

Because nitrate <"isn't easy to test for"> I use the the <"leaf colour and growth"> of a <"floating plant"> as a proxy for nitrate level.

I don't tend to worry too much, that is one of the great advantages of plants, they reduce the levels of all nutrients. Phosphorus (P) is one of the macro nutrients and plants convert phosphate (PO4---) in the water into plant tissue. When you harvest that plant matter you remove those nutrients from the tank.

Plants are much <"more efficient at nutrient removal"> than most aquarium based literature acknowledges.

cheers Darrel
I haven’t used rainwater, but I’ll look what you shared. I just assumed I probably shouldn’t as I live in London and because of all of the pollution etc 😅

That’s really interesting to know, thank you for sharing those links! I hadn’t heard of using the leaf colour to compare before, but I do use floating plants and they grow very quickly! To be honest all of the plants were growing very quickly until recently and it’s since then that the algae has grown and I’m needing to find out the cause in order to balance my tank.

As I mentioned in my last reply I initially came from more of the fish keeping side (mostly Bettas) and so I’m not used to the higher nitrates as this is always stressed as being really bad for the fish. Thank you for breaking it down and explaining the difference, it definitely helps be to get a better perspective on how I should interpret the test readings.
 

KirstyF

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Hi There

To get your de-gassed level, take a sample from your tank and then let it sit for 24hrs in an open topped container and then take the PH. That’s your starting level.

You can speed this up by putting the sample in a bottle and just keep shaking it and then taking readings periodically until the reading stops changing. Potentially quicker but a bit of a faff (not to mention the arm ache 😊
 

arcturus

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Good to know! I’m quite new to testing phosphates and only tested them as I read about GSA appearing due to high level.
There are several discussions about phosphates and algae here <at ukaps> and on plantedtank forum . Also read this <Barr report> . There are tanks using high concentrations of phosphates, which have no GSA or other algae. It is more likely to trigger algae with a phosphate deficiency than with an excess of phosphates.
 

John q

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No your degassed ph means what the ph of the tank water is when there's no extra co2 in it. To find out what this is you can either put some tank water in a glass and leave it sitting for 24hrs, then test the ph, or you can put some tank water in a lidded jar/tub and shake the living daylights out of it for 15 mins (I open it and re shake a few times)then test the ph of that water.

Yes that 2nd picture looks good to me.

Edit: Just like @KirstyF says lol.
 

meyscapes

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To get your de-gassed level, take a sample from your tank and then let it sit for 24hrs in an open topped container and then take the PH. That’s your starting level.

put some tank water in a glass and leave it sitting for 24hrs, then test the ph, or you can put some tank water in a lidded jar/tub and shake the living daylights out of it

Ohh I see! I think I’ll take a sample and leave it out for 24 hours. I plan to do the profile again over the weekend when I can be more accurate for the time - plus the amount of shaking needed to test the nitrates on the API test kit is already enough for me 😂

Yes that 2nd picture looks good to me.

Great, I’ll keep an eye to match that level then. Thank you!
 

meyscapes

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There are several discussions about phosphates and algae here <at ukaps> and on plantedtank forum . Also read this <Barr report> . There are tanks using high concentrations of phosphates, which have no GSA or other algae. It is more likely to trigger algae with a phosphate deficiency than with an excess of phosphates.
Good to know and thanks for sharing! I have a lot of reading to do 😄
 

jaypeecee

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Especially if the JBL kit only measures up to 1.8ppm.
Hi @meyscapes

Please take a look at:


I've also just discovered that JBL have another higher range phosphate test kit (for Koi/ponds) as shown here:

ProAquaTest Phosphate PO4 Koi Test Kit and here:


Hope that helps.

JPC
 
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