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Thread: How much light to start?

  1. #1

    Default How much light to start?

    Hi all,

    Just got around to planting my tank, how many hours of light should I aim for starting out?

    I've read 6 with a gradual increase to 8-9. Also with co2 should I start injecting asap with timings 1 hour before lights on and 1 hour before lights out?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    ACT
    Posts
    13,735

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    5 is good. Can increase by 1 hour every 2 weeks. Co2 on 2 hours prior.

  3. #3

    Default

    Start co2 straight out of the blocks? As in, I should start injecting now or wait a few weeks?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    ACT
    Posts
    13,735

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    Inject now my man. Once plants go in you should inject.

  5. #5

    Default

    Will try and get it pumping tonight. I filled the tank but in hindsight I don't like the planting arrangement. Think I'm going to redo the layout now before the roots start getting too deep in the substrate

  6. #6

    Default

    There is no need to add carbon dioxide (CO2) unless the tank has lots of plants in and you are adding fertiliser and providing lots of light.

    There is huge amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere that gets into the tank and it is also made by the fish and bacteria in the tank. If there are only a few plants then adding CO2 is a waste. Wait until you have lots of plants before adding it.

    When you do add CO2 you should minimise surface turbulence so you don't drive the CO2 out of the water.

    Don't turn the CO2 on until the lights come on because there will be plenty of CO2 in the water from the fish, bacteria and plants producing it at night. Plants use CO2 when they get light but use oxygen (O2) and release CO2 when it is dark. Plants also spend the first 30minutes or so of each day pumping fluids and nutrients up the stem and into the leaves, and don't use lots of CO2 until they have done this.

    Turn the CO2 off an hour before lights out. This allows the plants to use most of the CO2 in the water and minimises waste. At night you should increase aeration/ surface turbulence so the fish don't suffocate.

    CO2 is very acidic so make sure you have plenty of carbonate hardness (KH) in the water to stop the CO2 dropping the pH.

    ------------------------
    What are the tank dimensions (length x width x height) and how much light do you have?
    Taller tanks will need more light (higher wattage) than shallow tanks.

    Plants can have up to 16 hours of light per day but start with 10-12 hours and either increase or decrease it every week or two until you get the right amount. Lighting times can also change depending on the water temperature and number of plants in the tank. Once the plants have grown more branches and leaves, they will use more light and you might need to leave the lights on longer, especially if they start spreading across the surface.

    If you get some green algae on the glass every few days, that indicates there is plenty of good light. If you don't get any algae on the glass, then you can increase the light a bit.

    Some plants like Ambulia and Hygrophila species (H. polysperma in particular) will tell you when they have had enough light by closing up their leaves. When they are photosynthesising they open their leaves up so they are horizontal. Once they have had enough light they start to close the leaves up against the stem. The top set of leaves will close first because they are closest to the light, then the second set and so on down the plant. You leave the light on for about 60 minutes after most of the leaves have closed up. This gives the smaller plants closest to the gravel, a chance to get sufficient light.

    If you have plants with red or pink leaves, they will require a bit more light than green plants so leave the lights on for an hour after the Ambulia and Hygrophilas have closed up.

    Plants will pearl when given sufficient light and nutrients. Pearling is where they produce little bubbles of oxygen from their leaves. You will notice a stream of tiny bubbles coming off the leaves and going up to the surface. If you see this, the plants are getting plenty of light.

    ------------------------
    All the light and CO2 is useless if there is not enough nutrients. Iron is the most commonly used element for plants but they use trace elements too. Most of the ammonia they need is produced by the fish and fish food you add to the tank.

    In heavily planted tanks the plants can use all the nutrients within a few hours of you adding them. This can prevent them growing as well and if you follow the directions on the packaging, you will probably only add the nutrients once a week. If you do this you will get erratic growth whereby the plants suck up all the nutrients as soon as they are added to the tank, and then have nothing for the rest of the week.

    The best thing to do is get an iron test kit and monitor the iron levels in the water. Feed the plants each day for the first few weeks and keep the iron levels stable. Once the levels are stables (usually after a couple of weeks of daily feedings), you can add the fertilisers every couple of days or when required.

    It's a good idea to do a huge (75-90%) water change each week to remove excess or unused nutrients. Then start dosing again after the water change. This will prevent minor trace elements building up to levels that could affect the fish.
    Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before you add it to the tank.

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    Most pet shops sell plants in pots. If you leave them in the pots you can move them around and work out the most attractive setting for them. Then once you have worked out where you want them all, you take them out of the pots and plants them in the substrate.
    Last edited by Colin_T; 12-12-18 at 11:32 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    187

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    Colin, you mention above that if you get green algae only on the glass, the aquarium is receiving plenty of good light. Recently I changed my lights and have witnessed brown filamentous type algae growing along the outer edges of some leaves. Any thoughts on eradicating this (though over time, it seems to be getting better)?

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