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  • Too Many Fish?

    Do you think the following is too high of a bioload for a 58 gallon planted tank?

    (4) 5-7" Discus
    (10) Rummy Nose Tetras
    (4) Ottos
    (3) Corydoras
    (4) German Rams
    (4) Amano Shrimp
    (20+) Cherry Red Shrimp (They breed like crazy)

    I am running (2) Eheim filters a 2215 and a 2028.

    I am seeing a bit of BBA on Anubius and a little green algae here and there.

  • #2
    That's a pretty heavily load and 90% is discus.
    That's a 2x a week 30-60% water change tank.
    Also, use 1/3 - 1/2 KNO3 dosing, eg, 1/4 teaspoon KNO3 say 2-3x a week at most along with 2x a week water changes.

    Tom Barr


    • #3
      Right now, I do not dose any nitrates. Bad idea?

      I do a weekly 50-60% water change currently. I will do (2) 50% water changes as you recommend.

      Any way to get away with a single water change per week without reducing bioload?


      • #4
        I just did a nitrate test with my Lamotte nitrate test kit.

        Today is the day before I make water changes (Saturday), the nitrate is showing about 26ppm. A bit over the recommended 20ppm.

        I also did a rescape about 6 weeks ago. Lost some plant biomass. That is probably part of the reason as well for the algae.


        • #5
          Originally posted by shane View Post
          I just did a nitrate test with my Lamotte nitrate test kit.

          Today is the day before I make water changes (Saturday), the nitrate is showing about 26ppm. A bit over the recommended 20ppm.

          I also did a rescape about 6 weeks ago. Lost some plant biomass. That is probably part of the reason as well for the algae.
          I'm afraid this is not an accurate assessment. Nitrate can't cause algae. Neither can Phosphate, Iron nor Molybdenum. Your algae was due to higher NH4 in the presence of the lights, which perhaps the lower biomass was less able to deal with.



          • #6

            Having NH4 is a possibility. I have been adding small quatities of AquaSoil into my tank since the rescape. This can cause NH4 I suppose. I have tested the water for NH4 with a cheap test kit and it claims 0 NH4.

            The (2) filter I have have been running for about 1.5 years.

            Probably the best solution is more water changes for a month or so.

            Even before the scape change I had some BBA on anubius. I think this may have been a water flow problem. Some anubius were BBA free and some were not. I have recently changed my spry bar angles.


            • #7
              NH4 is constantly being produced in a tank and this production never ceases. It is independent of aquasoil, although this could exacerbate the problem. Uneaten food, fish urine and feces as well as detritus from the bits and pieces of the plants all decay and produce ammonia, every minute of every day. In a running aquarium NH4 never "=0"...ever.

              The job of the filter bacteria that live on the bio-media, the bacteria that live in the water, in the sediment and on the surface of the plants and on any other submerged surface is to consume NH4. When more NH4 is produce than can be consumed by the bacteria then algae have a chance to consume the remaining NH4 and proliferate.

              Healthy plants do consume some NH4 as well but if your dosing is suspect or if your CO2 is sub-par then the plants become unhealthy and lose their ability to remove NH4, thus they actually contribute to the problem by leeching NH4 and nutrients into the water.

              This is a fundamental principle of algal proliferation and is one that you need to understand if you want to minimize the problem. The levels of NH4 that can result in algal blooms cannot be measured by your ammonia test kit as these kits have only enough sensitivity to determine the level of ammonia that is toxic to fauna.

              Algal blooms can be triggered with NH4 levels far below what can be measured by hobby grade test kits. The higher the light, the greater the susceptibility to triggering the blooms.

              Now, this is not to say that algae will not feed on any available nutrients once they form. If nitrates and phosphates are in the water algae will then feed on whatever resources are available, but the presence of NO3/PO4 cannot by themselves cause the algal blooms to occur. This is another crucially important principle. If you change your mindset to the following formula-> "Light+NH4=Algae" you'll be on the right path. If you follow this path then the next path will be "how do I eliminate NH4 as much as possible?" One way is to make your plants as healthy as possible. Another is to directly reduce NH4 concentration levels by water changes.

              Your high stocking level means that there is a large ammonia production via urine/feces and other organic waste. Doing frequent water changes removes large quantities of NH4 and organic waste. However if you don't feed the plants properly by providing large, stable quantities of CO2 and by dosing the proper quantities of nutrients such as NO3 and PO4 then your plants fail and actually contribute to the problem of NH4 buildup.

              There is absolutely no point in blaming any algae problems on nitrate or anything else. If you have BBA this is telling you to fix your CO2 (or the distribution of CO2.) If you have BGA this is telling you to add more nitrate. No test kits can solve this problem for you. Algae is never confused, but we are often confused by all the myths, legends and optical illusions.

              Fix your CO2 by either increasing the injection rate and/or improving the flow patterns in the tank (via additional powerheads or filter upgrades) and dose the appropriate levels of NO3/PO4/Traces. See the EI sticky thread for further dosing instructions.

              Physical removal of the BGA and BBA is important - no doubt about that at all, but once removed it will only recur if you continue the same pattern that caused them to appear in the first place.

              If you want to maintain such high stocking levels then it might be advisable to significantly upgrade your filtration.



              • #8

                Thanks for the lengthy informative post!

                The "light + NH4 = algae" is something that I have not been really thinking about. Thanks for pointing this out. This really points out the root cause or core of the problem.

                The rescape I did lost some bio filtration: plant biomass and I removed some AquaSoil and replaced it with some new sand.

                When you talk about upgrading filtration, I am assuming you are referring to the volume of biological filtration available and not so much flow rate correct? Can a part of my problem be old biological filter media? My bio media has been in the filter for 1.5 years. I am unsure how often this needs to be changed out if ever.

                For my particular situation, do you have any filter upgrade suggestions? Run (2) Eheim 2028's instead of (1) 2028 and (1) 2215? Stock one 2028 with all bio-media?

                I have been adjusting my water circulation recently and feel that is it better than it used to be. If it is good enough remains to be seen.

                Once again, thanks for guiding me in the right direction.
                Last edited by shane; 05-17-2008, 03:37 PM.


                • #9
                  A simple "test" for water circulation is to use what is in the tank - the plant leaves. Look at leaves all over the tank. Are they all moving in the water current? If not, you could improve the circulation, and that usually means adding more water flow rate, but it could be just improving the direction of existing flow.

                  Never forget that water circulation is greatly inhibited by stuff in the way - plant leaves again. If your tank, like mine at the moment, is overgrown with plants, there just isn't room for the water to freely circulate. When it doesn't circulate, the stagnant water around the leaves runs out of CO2 as it is consumed, and probably runs short on other nutrients too. So, water circulation is very important, and heavy plant growth is the major problem for water circulation.

                  Now, perhaps I will listen to myself and go prune my tank!


                  • #10

                    Thanks for the tip. I will look closely at the leaves throughout my tank to diagnose the circulation in my tank..

                    I am like you and need to prune more often. Circulation sounds like a simple problem to fix but for me seems to be tricky to solve.

                    I am also trying to better my pruning skills which are suspect at best. I guess it is better to prune more than you need and let the plant grow into shape?


                    • #11
                      My pruning skills are primitive. I use long scissors to lop off plants about half way down, either plant the cut offs, offer them for sale, give them away or scrap them. Today I just finished "pruning" by violently pulling my willow leaf Hygrophila out. I love the plant, but it is like having a gorilla for a pet - a bit too big. My tank is slowly refilling with water right now.


                      • #12

                        Excellent explanation and reply.

                        IMO it shoud be put with either Dusko's Algae id thread or in a sticky.


                        If the plants are growing well, cutting them shorter will not hurt them. Top cuttings look better for stem plants so cut the BEST 4-6" from the tops and replant these. They will grow new roots. Or if the stem has roots around a node, cut at that point and replant........

                        You don't have to trim every plant in a bunch..... esp as you prune more, it becomes more selective.

                        Also, pruning induces branching, so more bio-mass, so include in your dosing calculations....

                        Good luck.


                        'When something's not right, it's wrong'. Bob Dylan

                        Current 220 scape



                        • #13
                          Thanks Gerry. I firmly believe if we stick with the priciples that brought us EI we'll be able to diagnose whatever problems we encounter.

                          Shane, when I mention upgrade of filtration I refer to the whole enchilada. Filter size, quality media and flow rate turnover. George Farmer and I have started using the 10X tank volume filter rating as a filtration recommendation. Naturally this is not set in stone, just another "rule of thumb" that we find useful. Filters have a very optimistic rating because the vendors often rate the turnover based on empty media trays as well as placing the pump head very near the waterline so that the resistance is minimized. A fully loaded filter placed a meter or so below the water line normally only delivers 50%-60% of it's rating. When you add other factors such as backpressure due to adding CO2 diffusers, mulm and detritus in the trays the throughput is reduced even further.

                          So a 60 gallon high tech tank would get filter(s) which have a total rating of around 600 gallons per hour, which sounds exorbitant until you realize the actual delivered flow may only be 300 gallons per hour or so.

                          Extra filter capacity also means volume for filter media. The more filter media volume the more surface area there is for bacteria to colonize the media. This means a higher population of bacteria for NH4 removal. Quality of filter media is also important. I don't have any hard data to prove it so I have to say that I believe that the sintered glass media such as the Eheim Effisubstrat, or Fluvals equivalent have a higher surface are than say, sponge and definitely has higher surface area than plastic bioballs.

                          As the filter gets dirtier there is a likelihood that detritus clogs the pores of the sintered glass balls reducing the effective surface area and lowering the bacterial population. Theoretically a third or so of the media should be replaced every few months or so but I'm a cheapskate so I rarely do this.

                          As VaughnH says, you can tell if your distribution is OK by observing the plants to see what percentage of the leaves "sway in the breeze". If you have a much lower percentage of leaves behaving this way then this tells you that you need to rework the circulation in the tank and that would be one of your goals - to maximize the number of leaves that are affected by water flow. Consider using spraybars mounted on the back wall pointing forwards (depending on your sense of aesthetics). This is an especially good technique of delivering nutrients/CO2 to the carpet plants which are at a distinct disadvantage way down at the substrate level. If you are unable to add more filter flow then adding powerhead(s) in strategic locations would be the next best thing.

                          So lots to think about. I think you'll find that paying attention to flow/circulation is effective in helping to ease the negative effects of mistakes/weaknesses in the dosing/CO2.



                          • #14

                            I agree, ceg4048's explanation should be a sticky for all newbie's like myself to read. That post I think tied it all together for me.

                            In terms of circulation hardware, I really like the black Eheim spray bar set that you put together(it doesn't come with the filter; it is an accessory). The kit basically allows you to make your own spray bar from small spray bar pieces that fit together via O-rings. In my case, I take (4) small spray bar pieces to make one large spray bar. Then I can adjust each of the (4) small spray bars and direct the flow as I want.
                            Last edited by shane; 05-18-2008, 04:10 AM.


                            • #15

                              Okay, so I currently have 277gph + 164gph. About 150gph short of 600gph.

                              I understand when talk about over specifying filters, the 2215 I have is pretty wimpy right now. I have it connected to a CO2 reactor. Flow is fairly minimal. A 2217 would be much better for this application.

                              It sounds like I am WAY overdureto swap out the biological media. Is the recommendation to change out some EHFISubstrate every few months?? Can EHFISubstrate be regenerated by soaking in bleach, etc?

                              All my filters use Eheim EhfiSubstrate, Eheim also has something called Eheim Substrate Pro. Have any experience with it?