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Help with Dwarf Sag

Fishguy134

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First I'll start off with my Tank specs
1. 35 Gallon Long( A little over a foot and a half of water column) With several fish species
2. I keep nitrates around 20
3. Microdose Flourish excel every couple of days
4. PH is about 7.5
5. I dose Flourish Micro nutrients every couple of days
6. I have seven Anubias nana that seem to be doing just fine and growing quite well.
7. I just recently resubstrated, I took out two thirds of the old substrate (A Black and White decorative sand) and replaced most (Keeping a good chunk of it to raise the substrate depth and making sure not to crash the ecosystem) and put in Eco-complete planted substrate (Volcanic I think) a little more than a week and a half ago.
8. I did put a few fertilizer tabs underneath the substrate in the more heavily planted areas.
9. I had to plant many of the, about 2 cm into the substrate, because I have a few loaches that like to sift the gravel up and dig around a little, so I had to keep replanting the shallower plants.
10. I use RO water, because tap water is sketchy here and causes huge algae blooms. (Carbonates are absolutely out the roof)

My biggest concern so far is that the Life-glo T8 6700K bulbs I put in are only 15 watts bulbs for the two light fixtures, and I have read that a minimum of 3 watts per gallon is recommended. I didn't consider that the wattage could be insufficient because after I switched to these bulbs the old Sag plant in the old black and white sand substrate suddenly took off making chains.

Many of the Dwarf Sags I have replanted have stopped growing, and quite a few are just melting leaves (Not all leaves just one after the other) now after they were separated from their mother plant. Am I just being impatient? Is there anything I should do immediately to encourage new growth? Do Dwarf Sags just take a long time to establish themselves?
 

utahfish

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Generally one wants about 30 PAR at substrate level. Go to rotalabutterfly light calculator and you can plug in your light specs and it can calculate PAR levels
 
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Fishguy134

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According the light calculator, Im only getting 17 PAR at substrate level. Less depth in the tank than I guessed. But it still is less than sufficient. Currently using two 15 watt fluorescents, Any suggestions for lights than can fit a 48' wide tank and can get the right amount of light to the substrate without destroying my college student wallet? 12 inch depth and about 10 inches to the substrate.
 

utahfish

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According the light calculator, Im only getting 17 PAR at substrate level. Less depth in the tank than I guessed. But it still is less than sufficient. Currently using two 15 watt fluorescents, Any suggestions for lights than can fit a 48' wide tank and can get the right amount of light to the substrate without destroying my college student wallet? 12 inch depth and about 10 inches to the substrate.
GE makes a 20 watt compact fluorescent 6500 k bulb that provides around 1200 lumens. About 7$ a bulb
Get some clamp lights about 5$ each, and fix them to the back of tank or if the fixture is deep enough can lay them right on top of glass.
That should get you closer to 30 PAR at substrate
 

utahfish

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What is this and how do you use it?
PAR is a measurment that guages lights ability to travel through water. Light at the sutface or top of water column is going to be more intense than light at the bottom of a tank. The deeper the light goes the more intensity it loses. For plants at the substrate like dwaf sag and other carpeting plants its suggested they receive at least 30 PAR at substrate to effectively grow. This can be measured with a PAR meter which are pretty expensive and there are charts one can access in line that give estimatic calculations on PAR/depth. One can also go onto rotalabutterly light calculator and insert light specs and have a calculation for ones tank, lights PAR generated. A good indicator that one tank doesnt have enough PAR at substrate is when substrate carpeting plants like dwarf sag will stretch vertically upward towards the light instead of creeping horizontally as it should.
 

Byron

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According the light calculator, Im only getting 17 PAR at substrate level. Less depth in the tank than I guessed. But it still is less than sufficient. Currently using two 15 watt fluorescents, Any suggestions for lights than can fit a 48' wide tank and can get the right amount of light to the substrate without destroying my college student wallet? 12 inch depth and about 10 inches to the substrate.
If the Life-Glo T8 tubes are only 15w, they are 18-inch length tubes. Two of these will not do much over a 4-foot tank. I have two 24-inch tubes (20w each) over my 40g which is 3 feet in length, and the same over my 33g which is also 3 feet but taller and narrower. I just used the calculator utahfish linked and my 40g has 31 PAR. I consider this light to be moderate (never bothered with PAR, just grew up with T8 lighting) and my swords thrive.

The cheapest lighting alternative would be to remove the light apparatus from the housing and install a dual-tube shop fixture in the housing. I have done this for all my 4-foot and 3-foot tanks as the original ballasts gave out and the shop fixture is considerably less expense than any aquarium lighting unit. For your tank at 4-feet but narrow and not that deep I would go with a dual 3-foot shop light. A single 4-foot might not be sufficient, and a dual 4-foot would be too much (I had this over my 4-foot 70g with 18 inch width and depth and I had to really reduce the duration to avoid problem algae). A dual 3-foot T8 should be good.

Life-Glo is the best tube available of those I have tried over the last decade. With dual tubes you also have the option of different spectrum tubes, say one Life-Glo and one that is warmer for a tad more red. I can explain this in detail if asked.

LED is the other option, though good plant lights are expensive. I tried five LED un its and all went back, but they were the less expensive ones and the spectrum and intensity was insufficient.

Turning to a couple other issues here...

Be careful with those additives. Without sufficient intensity light to drive photosynthesis, all the fertilizers in the world willnot help the plants because they cannot use them. That means these are getting inside the fish.

The Eco-Complete according to most who have tried it is a waste of money. I set up my 70g with Flourite, a near-identical substrate according to the technical data, and found it useless. Plus, it is sharp (both are), and your loaches should not be over this. Sand is your overall best substrate, a darkish (= never white) smooth sand. Plants will grow as well in sand as they will in any substrate.
 

Byron

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Just noticed I missed another important issue previously...can you explain what you mean by "keeping nitrates around 20" ? Are you working to lower high nitrates down to 20ppm, or are you actually adding nitrate to increase it to 20ppm?
 

DwarfCichlidLvr

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PAR is a measurment that guages lights ability to travel through water. Light at the sutface or top of water column is going to be more intense than light at the bottom of a tank. The deeper the light goes the more intensity it loses. For plants at the substrate like dwaf sag and other carpeting plants its suggested they receive at least 30 PAR at substrate to effectively grow. This can be measured with a PAR meter which are pretty expensive and there are charts one can access in line that give estimatic calculations on PAR/depth. One can also go onto rotalabutterly light calculator and insert light specs and have a calculation for ones tank, lights PAR generated. A good indicator that one tank doesnt have enough PAR at substrate is when substrate carpeting plants like dwarf sag will stretch vertically upward towards the light instead of creeping horizontally as it should.
I know what PAR and PAR meters are. Ok. I checked out the site. But I don't get what the different LEDs are on the site.
 

utahfish

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I know what PAR and PAR meters are. Ok. I checked out the site. But I don't get what the different LEDs are on the site.
gotcha. Find the company of your light fixrure like finex or what ever or if youre using a bulb like cree or G.E and plug in the watts and lumens or whatever it asks and it should give you PAR and PAR at subatrate along with a few other measurements. Keep in mind its not perfect and is an estimate.
 

utahfish

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If that doesnt help then google PAR charts and graphs and see if that makes more sense, or just spend the money for a PAR meter;)
 

DwarfCichlidLvr

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gotcha. Find the company of your light fixrure like finex or what ever or if youre using a bulb like cree or G.E and plug in the watts and lumens or whatever it asks and it should give you PAR and PAR at subatrate along with a few other measurements. Keep in mind its not perfect and is an estimate.
Thx. I use finnex. But I dont know hat kind of LED to put in. There are like 5 LED options. :)
If that doesnt help then google PAR charts and graphs and see if that makes more sense, or just spend the money for a PAR meter;)
haha. I have a light that there isn't much info about. My PAR at 14" is 86.
 
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Fishguy134

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Just noticed I missed another important issue previously...can you explain what you mean by "keeping nitrates around 20" ? Are you working to lower high nitrates down to 20ppm, or are you actually adding nitrate to increase it to 20ppm?
Sorry! I wasn't getting notifications. Anyways, I am trying to pace the water changes to keep the nitrates at around 20ppm. Since I have an R/O filter for drinking water. I got an LED light bar (For planted aquariums) with 36 watt rating from amazon with high ratings and a ton a reviews. I know that some people have mixed opinions about them. But the light calculator said that the PAR reaching the bottom of the tank would be much higher than a fluorescent, im a poor college student and I had to pick something that have a lot of bang for its buck. It seems to have worked, within a couple of days all of my substrate level plants have new growths and the light isnt obnoxiously bright.

Unfortunately, the cycle of the tank has been thrown a bit. It looks like black beard algae in my tank has gotten really excited about the new light levels and is propagating all over my anubias nana, which are much closer to the lights than the other plants on the bottom. Im adjusting the light times, I got a bunch of Flourish root tabs to make sure they get all of their nutrients. Right now, The BBA is just taking the form of black stains that wont rub off of the leaves. Im certain that it is not a magnesium deficiency because it does not run along the veins in the leaves and only really seems to be bad on leaves that are in more direct light.

I have also read that controlling CO2 levels helps with BBA, and that the higher light levels probably threw off the CO2 cycle in the tank and the plants may actually be depleting the CO2 levels now that they have so much more light (Recent curling of the tips of my leaves too seems to be contribute to this theory). So I ordered a CO2 meter because I need to know what my CO2 levels are before I go dumping in more excel.
 

Byron

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I have also read that controlling CO2 levels helps with BBA, and that the higher light levels probably threw off the CO2 cycle in the tank and the plants may actually be depleting the CO2 levels now that they have so much more light (Recent curling of the tips of my leaves too seems to be contribute to this theory). So I ordered a CO2 meter because I need to know what my CO2 levels are before I go dumping in more excel.
Can you cancel the order for the CO2 meter? It is wasting your money.

CO2 is one of 17 nutrients, and problem algae is caused by an imbalance of light and nutrients. Here I would suspect the light first because it is new, and this has created a new "balance" in a sense. As you cannot do much about the intensity, adjusting the duration can sometimes help. Reduce the light period daily, and use a timer so it is consistent. This is better for the fish and the plants.

Do not use Excel. Even at recommended doses, it will kill some plants. Should it get overdosed it can kill plants, fish and bacteria. It contains glutaraldehyde, a highly toxic disinfectant that has no place in a fish tank.

The natural CO2 will be sufficient, it is just a matter of finding the balance with the light.
 
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Fishguy134

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Can you cancel the order for the CO2 meter? It is wasting your money.

CO2 is one of 17 nutrients, and problem algae is caused by an imbalance of light and nutrients. Here I would suspect the light first because it is new, and this has created a new "balance" in a sense. As you cannot do much about the intensity, adjusting the duration can sometimes help. Reduce the light period daily, and use a timer so it is consistent. This is better for the fish and the plants.

Do not use Excel. Even at recommended doses, it will kill some plants. Should it get overdosed it can kill plants, fish and bacteria. It contains glutaraldehyde, a highly toxic disinfectant that has no place in a fish tank.

The natural CO2 will be sufficient, it is just a matter of finding the balance with the light.
Good to know about the EXCEL.. I will certainly look into that. I will probably keep the meter though, I am an engineering guy and I love information and monitoring so im curious about the CO2 cycle in the tank. Also, I dont have enough experience with keeping live plants and having those extra kits that can tell me whats going on with my water has really helped recently. I will increase water changes though because I fell behind on them.

I already knew the light would throw the tank at least a little, Some leaves have gotten a little lighter on the anubias, so im also monitoring to make sure the new intensity isn't burning them. and reduced the light cycle to 8 hours. Are there any CO2 regulating methods that are cheaper than getting a regulator? Perhaps a guide on how to DIY rig a regulator?
 

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