You won’t be the first and certainly not the last. Foreground plants are the trickiest – not because they are harder than other plants, but just that they need a little more attention than others. The main factor to consider is their location – right at the bottom of the tank where there is the least amount of light, water movement and CO2.
If your foreground plants are struggling, think about their location and then ask yourself this question:
are you giving them what they want?
They want decent light, good fertilisers and CO2. If you don’t give them this, growth will be slow and odds are the plants will die off and algae grows. Point your circulation pump at them – they need to sway in the current and make sure CO2 is physically being pushed over them and getting trapped in the leaves.
Make sure you’re providing good ferts like Neutro+ because when the CO2 is being pushed over them, the ferts will be too (double whammy :))
Are you struggling with foreground plants? Let me know and reply to this post and I can help
What’s your favourite one – mine if HC
Definitely not – unless you want some trouble in the form of algae. Once in a while I hear of hobbyists who leave their lighting on for this long and it always surprises me. I hasten to add, they’re normally the one’s with problems in their tank too.
Lighting duration should be approximately 8 hours per day with no siesta (these don’t work). So lets say 1pm to 9pm is a popular time to have the lights on for. If you are suffering from algae problems my first suggestion is to drop the lighting down to 6 hours per day. Similarly for start up tanks, keep your lighting limited to 6 hours as the plants are yet to root and therefore not much growing is happening.
12 hours of light is just excessive. Not only will it cost you more but your lights will need replacing more often and your electricity costs will be higher. Not only that but you will need to clean your tank more often, particularly the glass.
How long do you leave your lighting on for?
Some of you are like this, and some are not but the bottom line is that you need to perform water changes when you keep a planted aquarium. Sounds simple right? Well I know a lot of folk who don’t perform many water changes, because…
I did a 20% water change the other week – that’s enough right?…
That’s not enough I’m afraid. If I’ve kept you attention, read on.
Water changes are needed to remove pollutants that plants produce – you can’t see them, but they sure are there. When plants grow, they like everything else that grows they produce waste. These waste products (organics) need to be removed, otherwise they build up, become more concentrated and then cause you problems and normally show up in algae form. In many CO2 infused aquariums, your turbo charged tank is really motoring and plants are growing like weeds, so it’s important to stress that the quicker your plants grow, the more waste they produce and this is why it is essential to:
perform 40-50% water changes every week.
It’s a bit like flushing the toilet if you catch my drift. Imagine not flushing the toilet…YUK!!
How often do you perform water changes?
It’s a good idea to start your CO2 roughly an hour or so before your lights come on. The reason for this is simple.
When your lights come on, you want your plants to hit for floor running. What I mean by that is you want your plants to begin growing instantly. As the CO2 build up over the 60 minutes before the lights are on your levels begin to rise (remembering the carbon dioxide has been off for maybe 16 hours) and your plants take complete advantage of this. Good levels of CO2 and lighting (don’t forget your fertilisers) = happy planted aquarium.
By contrast, having your CO2 come on when your lights start up, you delay the growing process as it takes roughly 1 hour for CO2 levels to hit that perfect 30ppm level.
In addition, turn your CO2 off 1 hour before your lights go off. There will be sufficient CO2 in your tank for that time for your plants to continue growing.
When do you turn your CO2 on and off?
You need 2 bar pressure in your regulator for this to work as it should. Otherwise, there’s simply not enough pressure to push the CO2 out of the tightly compacted atomiser plate. Check out the YouTube clip on our website – that’s at least 2 bar pressure being run and look how fine the CO2 mist is.
Few other points to consider:
- Some regs won’t allow you 2 bar pressure, so another thing to bare in mind (most do though).
- You need to ensure decent connections on your CO2 tubing because the 2 bar pressure can pop off (try the Easy Aqua Double Check Valve as this has screw fittings).
- Sometimes it takes a few minutes for the CO2 to pass from the regulator to the atomiser – don’t expect immediate results (like from glass diffusers). This is because pressure needs to build up along the CO2 tubing and then pass into the atomiser.
Lastly, use proper CO2 tubing! Air line tubing is not suitable and will definitely pop off.
Are you using the atomiser? If so tell me what you think. Maybe you haven’t decided which diffuser to choose yet so any questions, please ask
I hear this all the time and I know it’s a big issue for you guys. The good thing is you don’t need to sweat about it as it’s easily solved. Here are my top tips:
- Make sure you are using a decent fertiliser which provides what your plants need. If you have demanding plants that means they need CO2 and lots of ferts (both trace and macros). Dose the ferts on a daily basis (not weekly) as you’ll get better results this way.
- Algae is caused due to fluctuating levels in your aquarium so keep things stable – add ferts every day, perform large water changes every week (yes every week) and keep on top of maintenance. When you slack off, algae rears it’s ugly head.
- Limit your lighting. The longer your lighting is on for, the more problems you may have. I suggest no more than 8 hours a day and if you’re having problems with algae, drop it down to 6 hours until it levels off.
- Use a liquid carbon which helps to get rid of algae. Super popular (for that reason) and if you dose according to the bottle instructions you’ll be pleased with the results.
- Ensure you have enough plants in your tank. Having a tank 30% planted is just not enough and creates instability (then algae…). Look to have a tank about 80% full of plants and you’ll find everything a lot easier.
What problems do you have with your planted aquarium?
It’s sometimes tough with a planted aquarium and if you let it, demoralising. Your desired planted tank just doesn’t seem to get to where you want it to and you don’t know why. You try this, you follow that, you participate on forums and still you can’t get it right. Algae grows on your plants and to top it all off, you’ve spent a fortune!! So you feel like throwing the towel in but
DON’T, you’re nearly there…
I deal with a lot of customers who feel just like this and I know how hard it can be. I was there once too and only through perseverance did I make it. Don’t get me wrong, I felt like I wanted to chuck it all in and this was before the days of the internet too. Can you imagine trying to learn about planted aquariums before there were any books that were specialising on the subject? Believe me it was tough and the advice was very old fashioned, suggesting very lean dosing (no macros) lighting needed a siesta (what a load of rubbish!) and that if you didn’t have an under gravel heater your plants would fail. To top it all off, filters apparently needed a very slow turnover of water (hmmmmm). Fortunately things have changed. The internet was created and now in some ways hobbyists have information overload. But I digress a little as the subject of this post is Don’t give up… and there’s a simple reason for this. When you’re up against it and everything is going wrong, this is the time when you are learning the most. You probably don’t realise it but your mind is taking in so much information. Sadly, because it’s a very frustrating time (and hard on the brain), combined with the fact that you have spent a lot on the hobby, and you may be moaning to your other half about all the problems, it would be easier just to pack it all in wouldn’t it? But when is easier best?
Just around the corner is the answer, the trigger that will make the difference. You may only need to alter one aspect of your tank set up and the tide will turn. Plants will flourish and grow in front of your very eyes and you’ll look back at the time you had when your tank would never go right and then all of a sudden, BINGO. This invaluable knowledge is what you can then pass onto other hobbysist, because it feels good to share and help those in need.
It’s all about the experience, all about how you deal with the ‘problems’ that are confronting you. And don’t forget I can always help too, just drop me a line, call me or email me and we can sort your planted aquarium problem out together
Now I’ve written about this before but it’s a subject that I think hobbyists need reminding of as it’s easy to forget. When diffusing your planted aquarium with CO2, don’t make things hard work for yourself – well at least not unnecessarily hard work. This starts by getting the right advice and using the right products, or as my builder would say:
It’s a case of having the right tools for the job
So what are the right tools then? Hydor Koralia’s are the best to perform this job. Not only are they powerful but they allow you to push all important CO2 in the right location. Failure to do this means your plants do not receive the CO2 they need, but also if CO2 isn’t getting to the right location then you can bet fertilisers aren’t either. This can only mean
So for all of you wondering why you have got algae in your tank, ask yourself this question. Do you have sufficient fertilisers and water distribution in your aquarium and is CO2 being pushed around the entire tank…? Are your foreground plants struggling? If they are, I suspect it’s because CO2 and fertilisers are not being directed onto them – point your Koralia at them so that the plants sway, then watch them grow
Check out our range of Hydor Pumps here.