Down to 1.5 wpg
I started the aquarium off with a 2 x 55 watt compact fluorescent fixture resulting in a total of 110 watts of lighting over 37 gallons of water. This equates to roughly 3 watts per gallon (wpg) of lighting. However, last week I began hearing a weird clicking sound from one of the lights. In fear, I decided to unplug one of the bulbs.
Now, I only have about 1.5 wpg, which is really not too bad. After a bit of further reading, my 3 wpg lighting really required additional carbon dioxide (CO2) to keep the plants healthy. With too much lighting, the plants are limited by the amount of CO2 in the tank. If there is not enough CO2 to keep the plants going, they stop doing their thing and algae begins to bloom taking the excess nutrients the plants are unable to absorb.
So to try and keep thing in check, I have began dosing the tank with some organic carbon via Seachem Flourish Excel. This seems to help as my crypts are doing well. The only thing I am concerned with is the longevity of the Cabomba I recently purchased. A couple of the stems have already broken from the substrate and I have some bits of leaves floating around, definitely not good for my canister filter. I have decided to let the stems float as they be, as the dwarf gouramis I recently got, really enjoy frolicking about amongst them.
I am planning to stick to the low light stuff for the time being, but will experiment a bit with some DIY CO2. I have placed an order for Hagen Nutrafin CO2 Natural Plant System. Nothing too fancy, it’s just a nice looking hang on the back canister unit that houses the CO2 ingredients attached to a CO2 diffuser. The CO2 ladder (aka diffuser) that comes with the system is rather interesting and I’m curious to see how well it works. Basically, the goal is to disperse or mix some of the CO2 gas created by the canister into the water. This is done by extending the travel distance of the CO2 bubble in hopes that a majority of it mixes with the water before going straight to the surface to release the gas. Ideally, the more CO2 gas in the water, the more the plants will take it up and grow like no other.
Since too much CO2 can lower the pH of water, I did a hardness or buffer capacity test and I’m all good in the hood. My water is moderately hard at 7 degrees of carbonite hardness. With this, I should not see too much of a drop in pH between photo periods (lights on and off). I am pretty excited as this will be my first foray into the CO2 world. Hopefully the 1.5 wpg will be enough, if not, I was considering adding an additional 20 watts of lighting via a basic strip light which would put me at about 2 wpg. We’ll just have to wait and see what’s up. So far, the fish and the plants are doing pretty well.