Questions while starting a new 22 gallon aquascape

Mark2621

I'm starting a new 22 gallon long aquascape. I plan to stock it with only 2-3 German Blue Rams. This is my first time using CO2, so I have a lot of questions about this tank and cycling it.

  • I bought 18L of ADA AQUA SOIL - AMAZONIA VER. 2 -- is that enough for 22 gallon long?
  • Should I put down a layer of "ADA POWER SAND ADVANCE" under the Aqua Soil? ADA Power Sand Advance
  • Do I need root tabs from the beginning?
  • Should I start my CO2 from the beginning as soon as I put the plants in? I'm using only mini dwarf hairgrass to create a carpet.
  • I'm afraid that Aquasoil has a ton of nutrients and I want to avoid Algae spikes. Do I need to add Ammonia in a bottle to start my fishless cycle faster? Or just rely on the Ammonia created from the Aqua Soil?
  • Should I doseSeachem stability every couple of days?
  • I read with ADA Aqua Soil I should do daily water changes for first week, every other day for second week, and 2-3 times a week for the third week. Is that a good plan?
  • This is my CO2 tank for now. It's more for beginners, but if things are going well with my Scape I'll buy a real Cylinder/Regulator in a month or two. Aquario NEO CO2 - DIY CO2 Kit
  • Can I rely on the drop checker alone to make sure that CO2 levels are correct?
  • I plan to run the light only 3-5 hours a day at first while cycling. Suggestions?

My primary reason for starting over and creating a brand new tank with CO2 is to try to fix the algae issuse I've had for the last year since I started this hobby. Algae is making the hobby not so fun for me so I'm trying really hard to resolve it. Any tips on this would be appreciated.
 

IndusNoir

I'm not an expert on this, so take what I say with a grain of salt, but I did fairly recently start my 60 gallon with Tropica Aquarium Soil, so I can share what I experienced.
I know nothing about CO2 and don't use it, so I won't touch on that.
18l should be plenty, I had 3 bags (27l) for mine which was more than enough for a nice thick substrate.
Root tabs I don't think will be needed from the start, unless you plan on having a lot of really nutrient-hungry plants like amazon swords. All my plants have been doing really well with just the soil and a bit of micro-nutrient liquid fertilizer.
From my experience you don't need to dose ammonia to start the cycle, I cleared the ammonia stage in a week with just the soil.
Yes to the water changes IMO. Aquasoil tends to lower PH a lot at the start which can stall your cycle, might want to test your PH regularly to get a feel for how often and how much to change, it gets better after a few weeks.
About the lights, I always ran my tanks with 12 hours of light, which is maybe a lot, but I've never had much issue with algae. I feel there is a lot of conflicting info about algae, but I believe the gist of it is to make sure your plants can outcompete the algae for nutrients and light may not be as big a factor as one might think.
 

ruud

A bit hesitant to react to this post as the posed assumptions beg a lot of explanation.

Just a general remark: the easiest way to fight algae is to plant heavily as of day one and not sparsely-and-then-see-how-the-first-plants-go-followed-by-adding-more-plants-no-wait-the-first-plants-are-struggling-and-oh-dear-lord-how-did-algae-appear-so-soon-kind of approach.

If you plant heavily as of day one, you can skip the use of CO2 as there is no need for strong growth. Unless you are a high tech plant fanatic and have a challenging plant scape in mind.

All posts on this forum regarding algae issues, are tanks with a few plants and an aquarium light that gives off enough lumen to light the entire room.

A bit of an exception are Iwagumi scapes and your intentions seem to have in common that (almost) only carpets are used for the scape. These scapes have a lot of surface area covered but only in 2 dimensions. In which case CO2, smart dosing, and a tight light regime will help. If you stick to carpets only, I would recommend a "dry start".

Aquasoil offers sufficient macronutrients for a year or so. No need for using root tabs...
And after a year, no need for using root tabs either. Firstly, I have no idea how to get tabs in a tight carpet in the first place; secondly, liquid fertilizer works just as well.

Power sand is not required. Really. Purchase more plants instead.

Aquasoil takes care of cycling. I wouldn't rigorously follow water changing regimes. I worked with Amazonia, tons of times, and cycling is peanuts. Just raise temperature to 82F for a few weeks and ensure a decent water flow.
 

brhau

I feel there is a lot of conflicting info about algae, but I believe the gist of it is to make sure your plants can outcompete the algae for nutrients and light may not be as big a factor as one might think.
I'll offer a conflicting argument. :)

The idea that nutrients cause algae is disproven by every EI tank, where the entire premise is to dose nutrients in excess so that they're never limiting. Plenty of EI tanks with no algae whatsoever.

I'm not the first person to say this, but plants can't possibly outcompete algae, because algae can survive on almost nothing. If you lower the nutrients to starve out the algae, a majority of plants would never grow.

Light alone isn't the determining factor, but rather the balance of light, nutrients, and CO2. If you have high light and nutrients, but insufficient CO2, that condition can stress the plants so that they can be predated upon by algae. In that particular circumstance, reducing light can help.

It's difficult to guarantee the absence of algae (aside from using algicides). But a consistently good approach is to create healthy conditions for your plants.

Finally, there are also lots of examples of high tech tanks with algae blooms, so CO2 isn't a magic bullet. Finding the correct regime that favors plants and minimizing algae isn't easy.

-B
 

ruud

True.
A good starting point is: many, many plants from day one accompanied by a conservative approach towards fertilising and dim lights. Once your plants take hold, you'll get more degrees of freedom to experiment as your tank becomes more forgiving.

The typical approach, especially by those less experienced, is the other way around; few plants, standard lights settings, and too many fertilizers. Algae waiting to happen. CO2 won't save you.

Again, with just carpets it's going to be challenging anyhow and CO2 is not a bad idea....but not a magic bullet for sure.
 

IndusNoir

The idea that nutrients cause algae is disproven by every EI tank, where the entire premise is to dose nutrients in excess so that they're never limiting. Plenty of EI tanks with no algae whatsoever.

I'm not the first person to say this, but plants can't possibly outcompete algae, because algae can survive on almost nothing. If you lower the nutrients to starve out the algae, a majority of plants would never grow.

Light alone isn't the determining factor, but rather the balance of light, nutrients, and CO2. If you have high light and nutrients, but insufficient CO2, that condition can stress the plants so that they can be predated upon by algae. In that particular circumstance, reducing light can help.

It's difficult to guarantee the absence of algae (aside from using algicides). But a consistently good approach is to create healthy conditions for your plants.
Yes, this is definitely a more complete view of it, as in creating optimal conditions for the plants you want to grow for lower risk of plants (algae) you don't want to grow. Like I said I'm not an expert, my understanding isn't comprehensive, but this makes sense.
 

brhau

Yes, this is definitely a more complete view of it, as in creating optimal conditions for the plants you want to grow for lower risk of plants (algae) you don't want to grow. Like I said I'm not an expert, my understanding isn't comprehensive, but this makes sense.
Sure, I'm not trying to single you out at all. I see this type of advice given often ("let your plants outcompete the algae"-- as if the algae are politely waiting to see when the big plants are done eating, to determine whether there's any left!). It has become a kind of conventional wisdom. I can't reply to it everywhere, but occasionally I do take the opportunity to suggest that maybe this isn't the right way to think about it.

Hope this discussion is helpful, and thanks for engaging in the dialogue.

Cheers
 

Azedenkae

So... no, nutrients absolutely cause algae to grow. Algae blooms in nature is very often caused by excess of nutrients, very commonly downstream of fertilizer plants as one example. Often times a change in nutrient concentrations may allow one algae to outcompete another, thus one may see what seems like increase in nutrients killing off algae, but in fact it is just allowing another that is more effective at growing in the new conditions to grow in place.

And, plants can absolutely outcompete algae. Not if we think of the same amount of biomass - in which case absolutely plants will lose out, but when we have more biomass of (growing) plants compared to algae. With enough plants, the uptake of nutrients by them will be higher than that of algae, causing algae growth to slow down. The same thing applies to coral reefs. One issue with coral reefs bouncing back from bleaching events (in some cases) is exactly that initially the volume of corals is so much higher than that of algae that the algae is kept in check. After the bleaching event, there is so few corals left that they cannot compete for algae for nutrients.

I do agree though that lowering nutrients is not the way to go as yes, that starves the plants too. It's the same thing with how people had once said to stop taking in organic compounds as that feeds cancer cells. Unfortunately, the same organic compounds also feed non-cancerous cells, so that just ends up being more harmful.

The way to keep algae boils down ultimately in their removal and preventing them from regrowing as effectively. Just having algae eaters do not work, because so long as there is a light source available, the nutrients re-released into the water by the algae eaters will allow algae to regrow. But in combination with having plants work, as the plants will uptake at least some of those nutrients. So long as the amount of nutrients made available is low enough over time, algae will get less and less. Same with manual removal of algae + having plants. Or frequent manual removal + large immediate water changes. Ultimately, their removal and prevention from significant regrowth is key.

Personally, I've had tanks with little feeding, and those with heavy feeding - algae is present in either case, with more in the latter, i.e. yes because more nutrients do cause algae to grow more lol. But once plants are added, and with a good enough cleaning regime (which now I delegate entirely to snails), the algae slowly die off over time. They are always present now, but never able to grow to any significant level.
 

brhau

So... no, nutrients absolutely cause algae to grow. Algae blooms in nature is very often caused by excess of nutrients, very commonly downstream of fertilizer plants as one example. Often times a change in nutrient concentrations may allow one algae to outcompete another, thus one may see what seems like increase in nutrients killing off algae, but in fact it is just allowing another that is more effective at growing in the new conditions to grow in place.
Nutrients are necessary, but not sufficient for algae. I'd argue that the algae blooms you mention above are caused by an imbalance, rather than the nutrients themselves. In nature, there's often MUCH more light than we can possibly achieve in an aquarium, so I don't think those are comparable circumstances.

In EI tanks, every nutrient is always in excess. Yet it's a successful solution for many aquascapers. Why?

With enough plants, the uptake of nutrients by them will be higher than that of algae, causing algae growth to slow down.
I understand that's the argument, but the uptake can't happen when the other components (light, CO2) are out of balance. You're arguing it's scarcity that slows algae growth. I'm arguing it's the health of the plants.


The way to keep algae boils down ultimately in their removal and preventing them from regrowing as effectively. Just having algae eaters do not work, because so long as there is a light source available, the nutrients re-released into the water by the algae eaters will allow algae to regrow. But in combination with having plants work, as the plants will uptake at least some of those nutrients. So long as the amount of nutrients made available is low enough over time, algae will get less and less. Same with manual removal of algae + having plants. Or frequent manual removal + large immediate water changes. Ultimately, their removal and prevention from significant regrowth is key.
I agree with having lots of plants and changing water. But I have a different interpretation of why it works. I've found that ancistrus do a great job eating algae when they're young. As they age, I see them eating less algae and more fish food. So I don't really bother with them.

In general, I don't tend to be concerned with some algae in the tanks. I think we end up doing similar things for different reasons, and the net result is not too much algae.

Cheers
 

Azedenkae

In EI tanks, every nutrient is always in excess. Yet it's a successful solution for many aquascapers. Why?
Like I said, competition.
I understand that's the argument, but the uptake can't happen when the other components (light, CO2) are out of balance. You're arguing it's scarcity that slows algae growth. I'm arguing it's the health of the plants.
I am actually arguing it is either of both. Scarcity absolutely slows algae growth. But that's not something generally obtainable in aquariums, so it is instead plants, which can force the scarcity on algae.
In general, I don't tend to be concerned with some algae in the tanks. I think we end up doing similar things for different reasons, and the net result is not too much algae.
Same. No matter reason the actual solution seems to be the same. So I guess that's all that really matters at this point.
 

brhau

Like I said, competition.
I doubt we'll agree on this, but I still don't buy it. With EI, you're dosing up to 2X the maximum uptake limit of what your plant need. We've established that the biomass of the algae is far less than that of the plants. I assume we can agree their absolute nutrient requirements are lower? So there's up to 1X of what the plants need in the water at all times. Where is the competition for that?

-B
 

ruud

I think you are close to agreeing ;)

In a way, it is competition, but not competition for every possible nutrient. Because then every heavily planted tank would suffer algae, and this is not the case. On the contrary.

Algae indeed require much, much less, so why are there hardly any algae present in high tech, CO2-injected, EI-dosed, brightly lit tanks? And why are there no algae visible in my low tech, non-CO2 injected, dimly lit, and heavily understocked (fish) tanks?

Because algae spores require a trigger. And this trigger is hampered in tanks that are heavily planted with healthy plants (having access to all the nutrients they require). A likely trigger is NH4. Or likely better expressed, a change in NH4 causes the trigger. A heavily planted tank tends to stabilize the environment. Algae, on the other hand, are triggered by change. And some algae species are triggered by instable CO2 injection.
 

brhau

I think you are close to agreeing ;)
Maybe!

Because algae spores require a trigger.
Yes, I hypothesize a couple of potential triggers. Both of which I know can happen, but I can't verify that it's primarily what causes algae in aquariums.
  1. Plants can suppress the growth of other plants (and algae, which are basically plants) through allelopathy. When plants are compromised, they can't devote as much energy to this.
  2. Unhealthy plants will have areas of decay. The bacteria that cause this decay are predated upon by algae.
All of us agree that lots of healthy plants in the tank are good for minimizing algae. The explanation for why isn't well understood.

Cheers
 

ruud

1. Has never been established for plants and algae; doesn't mean it is out of the equation.
2. Yes, most definately; decay triggers opportunity. Microphytes are heavy r-strategy organisms. It is as if they want a place for themselves, where they don't have to compete so much with macrophytes. Evolution is blind of course; you know what I mean when I write it down like this.

The algae blooms appearing in large bodies of water are typically the result of inflow of fertilizers from agriculture (the trigger) in combination with a lack of macrophytes/plants. The latter is typical in areas at higher (colder) latititudes and that are too deep for light to penetrate.

Sorry OP for taking over your thread!

Returning to your topic. I would say, a carpet-only tank with a so-so CO2 system, is about the most challenging planted tank one can imagine. These tanks have low plant mass, but require lots of light and fertilizers (CO2). Algae can easily get triggered.

If you are not experienced with planted tanks and are still wondering how to prevent algae from appearing, I would think twice about your plans. And definately look up "dry start".

Enough said ;)

Good luck.
 

Similar Aquarium Threads

Replies
83
Views
6K
DoubleDutch
  • Question
Replies
31
Views
932
Toothy
  • Question
Replies
12
Views
2K
LightBrownPillow
  • Question
Replies
3
Views
502
chrislim
Replies
5
Views
950
junebug

New Aquascaping Threads

Latest Aquarium Threads

Top Bottom