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It’s all about chemistry

There’s a good reason that I haven’t updated on the fish tank in a while. There hasn’t been much progress to speak of, only setbacks. We got the lighting attached to a temporary hood so that the plants wouldn’t die from lack of light. I works perfectly and my AHSupply lighting puts out a ton of light. I wasn’t quite sure hat bulbs to get, so I ended up with a mix of 6700 and 10Ks. From a color perspective, I think the 10Ks are too blue and won’t be getting them again. 6700s are designed to be more along the lines of natural lighting and the color spectrum definitely shows that.

But after this minor victory, the tank went sideways on me. It started a minor algae bloom which turned into a major bloom with hair algae. That stuff is nasty and nearly impossible to get rid of. The best advice I could find was to starve it out by feeding the plants (which require more complex nutrients than algae) and turning off the light. Also, pull it out manually.

Well, the whole point of a giant tank is that I don’t have to do this manual labor stuff. The bigger they are, the better they tolerate adverse conditions. So I started looking for little critters and other conditions that would help. I found a place that said that ghost shrimp eat hair algae, which turns out to be true. The best part is that some of them are even smart enough to avoid the goldfish and have been munching on algae like crazy and helping keep the tank clean. The other thing I found was chemistry.

Turns out that I live an an area with super-soft water. As in it’s a miracle that plants grow here because the water is so soft. It doesn’t have enough mineral content to properly buffer the tank and keep the pH or the carbon content in line. I found some suggestions for getting the pH under control, but the low hardness and buffering capacity was going to continue to cause this hair algae explosion. So I added some baking soda and poof, problem goes away. There are little strings of algae in there now, but nothing like the jungle before.

Following other aquarists advise, I bought some cuttlebone for a long term solution. That’s supposed to help with the hardness and buffering issues. I’m aslo planning to buy a CO2 system at some point, but those suckers are expesive.

Originally published at my blog. You can comment here or there.