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Re: [AGA-Member] Low-light tanks & CO2

Don Smolev wrote:

From my experience keeping discus for many years (I don't anymore -they
just get too large for my 90 gallon tanks and look out of proportion to
my eye as well as wrecking havoc on the substrate  while they forage
when they become adults) you should change the water at least twice a
week- 40% or so each time. Vacuum the tank well when you do so. I don't
know how often or how much you feed your discus but they produce mulm at
a prodigious rate. I've never read a satisfactorty explanation of what
conditions contribute to an outbreak of the blue-green algae. I've only
had a few outbreaks of the putrid stuff (not really algae but a form of
cyanbacteria) all within a few months time. But once I started to keep
the tank as clean as possible with frequent water changes it never
recurred. Plus I also discovered a mention of a product in one of the
plant treatises that reccomended Seachem's Healthguard for treating
blue-green. The author states that it does not affect plants at all.
Healthguard is a product that is used to treat ponds to rid them of
certain bacteria.

That would make sense, when BGA is a bacteria that can photosynthesize. Thanks! Lots of great suggestions!

I bought it and tried it (about a capful to every 15
gallons). It dissapates after a day and you need to treat the tank about
3 or 4 days in a row and lo and behold the stuff dissappears. The tank
smells sweet again (which it should always do). Healthguard, I can
happily report, has no effect on plants negative or otherwise. The
author also stated that Healthguard inhibits certain other algaes. I
have since been in the habit of adding a few capfuls to my tanks when I
do a water change. I can't tell you that it is the reason that I have no
algae problems of any kind (I do have the usual algae eaters) but I
suspect that it at least contributes. I know that many purists will
frown on the practise of adding chemicals to control algae but my tanks
have lush growth, my fish live long beyond their expected life spans and
my panda cats are breeding in one tank.

-----Original Message-----
From: aga-member-bounces@thekrib.com
[mailto:aga-member-bounces@thekrib.com] On Behalf Of Adam Michels
Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2005 7:15 PM
To: Aquatic Gardeners Association Member Chat
Subject: RE: [AGA-Member] Low-light tanks & CO2

Heather, how does one get blue-green algae? Is it from too much light
and not enough CO2? or too many phosphates in the water (because we feed
our discus too much) and not enough plants that absorb nutrients
I've heard that bunched plants absorb nutrients faster than most
others. But it seems no one keeps bunched plants in low-light,
discus-style tanks; mostly Anubias, Java Ferns, Mosses, Grasses and
Swords. My planted discus tank seems to get dirty and overwhelmed with
dissolved organics quickly. Because of this I clean my canister more
often, every two weeks or so. I even considered doing it every
week...discus, ugh.
Also, if your substrate is real deep, like more than 3 or 4
inches, I think adding more Sword plants might improve conditions. Their
roots spread out fast, and I bet they do a great job, comparatively, of
keeping the substrate free of anaerobic conditions. I'm speculating,
though, and really have no evidence of such. If you're serious about wanting to learn more about keeping
discus in planted tanks, I can offer a few tips I've learned from
painful experiences.

1. Preferably, buy your discus all at once. That way you don't have to
worry about territorial issues, which can prove disastrous. After
quarantining your new discus, you put it with the others. They have a
pecking order. Either the new one get picked on until it turns black,
hides, gets sick and infects the rest of your fish potentially, or it
fights with the others until one of them gets sick. Juveniles are
considerably less hardy than the adults and even sub-adults.
2. Keeping discus in a planted tank poses some problems: their
temperature requirements and the FACT that they are very temperamental
and can easily contract diseases from other organisms in the aquarium.
In a bare-bottom tank you can boost your temperature to 90+ degrees F or
drop your pH under 5 to kill off most diseases, but you can't do either
in a plant tank. No one wants to ever medicate their planted tank, but
discus have the potential for getting sick any and every time you add
anything new to the tank: new fish, new plants, etc. Depends on the
discus, some are curious, while others are fearful.
3. I hate to say it, but you may have to medicate your planted tank.
With discus, it's hard to avoid. Discus carry so many latent diseases:
internal worms (tapeworms and Hexamita), gill flukes and bacterial
infections are the three I feel I'm at constant war with. I will only
treat my planted tank with PraziPro for flukes and tapeworms or Kordon's
RidIck for an occasional white spot. Medicating for internal worms or
bacterial infections definitely requires a hospital tank, because of the
damage the medications can do to the biological filter or the high
temperatures required to help the medicines work. Plants don't like salt
either. To fight Hexamita, Epsom salt makes the fish drink more water,
and the idea is that they will drink up some of the metronidazole
medication, which doesn't dissolve in water very well, if the discus are
refusing food. 4. Some of your discus will eventually refuse to eat. In the wild they
can go for quite some time without food. You will learn this and wait
for them to start eating again. Then you notice the white, diaphanous
feces trailing from them. Internal worms. Luckily you can remove the
single fish and treat in a hospital tank. They all probably have some
internal worms, but any minor changes, however slight, can cause the
worms to overpopulate and affect one discus more than another.
5. Bacterial infections are the scariest, for me, because I once watched
five of my ten discus rot away to nothing over a period of two months
(it takes a long time for them to die) and seemingly could do nothing to
stop it. Frequent water changes are the best way to prevent bacterial
infections from taking hold, but if you have to treat using
tetracycline, nitrofurazone or erythromycin, use a hospital tank. Note:
this disease is contagious, and all your discus have the potential of
developing a bad bacterial infection, especially once one of them gets
it bad.
6. If you keep them clean, fat and happy, some of your discus should
eventually start pairing up. You'll get some runts too. Wait until a
pair lays eggs and you see them hatch (or at least develop) before you
move them to a bare 30-gallon tank for breeding. Some discus can be
sterile (very few); more likely, if they're laying eggs but the eggs
aren't developing, you have two females. Breeding discus takes a lot of
leg work, but you'll never see anything else like it.

Sorry about writing so much; there's so much to say, and I only got to
touch on the potential of discus getting sick in a planted tank before I
became apprehensive about the length of this e-mail.


-----Original Message-----
From: aga-member-bounces@thekrib.com
[mailto:aga-member-bounces@thekrib.com] On Behalf Of Heather J Gladney
Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2005 6:34 PM
To: Aquatic Gardeners Association Member Chat
Subject: Re: [AGA-Member] Low-light tanks & CO2

Adam Michels wrote:

Medium light? That's good too. I'm sure the swords and some of the Aponogetons appreciate the stronger light (not the laces). As for the Aponogetons liking cooler water, I've had the two Madagascar Lace


for more than eight months, even through what I figured was a dormant period. They're in the background, behind one of the bogwood stumps and

get less light. Now they send out shoots every few days. I heard the Lace plants like cool temps like you've said, but the A. crispus and A.
boivinarius (spelling?) are not supposed to mind the higher temps, right?. And they're big; taller than my 75-gallon. One of my smaller Aponogetons has produced six flowers consecutively.
As for the discus, I don't know why people keep them in


species tanks, other than for breeding, because they look absolutely beautiful in planted tanks, and the larger ones don't seem


sensitive as the juveniles (and they don't get sick as much!).

I'd like to hear more about how to keep them, too.  Currently got BGA in

my tank (bleahh!) and yet fairly high N going, so I suspect that I let
my tank's TDS get too high, not enough water changes, for discus.

I guess there aren't any major problems with my tank, but my C02

levels are pretty low. Maybe when such plants are grown in less strong lighting, compared with my 4WPG tank where I keep all my bunch plants and glosso, they don't need as much CO2. Plus, of course, the discus


a lot of frozen foods, and the additional build up of dissolved


may help my CO2 levels. However, I do 33% water changes at least 2-3 times a week.
For a couple days no members were chatting, so I thought I'd

bring up

a subject I've had trouble finding information about. And I regard highly all of your experience and expertise and figured you


offer some tips to optimize light levels, temp, CO2 and water chemistry

in what I consider my low-light tank.
I still have one question regarding DIY CO2 yeast reactors: more


= more CO2?

Nope.  They reproduce so rapidly they fill to capacity, as I understand
it, within a few hours.  Also, they can only ferment so long before they

poison themselves to death with their own wastes; there's discussion
whether the wine yeasts make much difference, being resistant to higher
alcohol content--can't help you on that one, I only used baker's yeast. There was a rather nice article on it some months back in the AGA
magazine which mentioned using protein powder to supply traces and using

baking soda to counter the increased acidity, so your final (and
unavoidable) limit was that alcohol content.  Also, don't bother raising

the sugar content way high, about 1 cup in a 2-liter bottle or so as
best I recall--the yeast can't survive the alcohol it would produce in
any more.  I *did* find both the protein and soda very helpful tips to
extend useful bottle life.
I found it extremely helpful to run a whole gang of bottles into
auirline check valves, then into several reasonably good airline gang
valves (not great) and fron there to single airstones, or up to those
CO2 yeast ladders (your yeast bubble counters!).  I used to swap out a
quarter - third of the bottles every week, to keep a more stable level
of CO2 going, because it does ramp up and down (mostly down!).  I used
the big 3-liter bottles, I think I had about 15 to 19 of them (varied,
depending on what cap was leaking that week or not...) going for a
nominally 90 gallon tank.  For a 3 liter pop bottle, I used about 1 1/2
cups of sugar.

Thank you,

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