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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All.

I'm pretty new to plants. Just set up a 20 long and planted 5 crytps (Crypt wendtii "Green Wendtii") and 10 Sagittaria subulata (both dwarf and regualr sizes). I have one bulb, a 24" Zoo Med Ultra Sun bulb, which is a 6500k bulb. The tank has been set up for about a month, and I kick started the bacteria with API's Stress Zyme and a healthy amount of squeezins from one of my other tank's cannister filters. I planted the plants about 10 days ago, and I pretty much kept them in the middle of the tank, right under the light because I observed in another of my tanks, a 10 gallon, that the plants under the light did much better than those off in the corners.

The tank currently has two small cories and 4 serpae tetras in it. I will introduce some juvenile firemouths soon (to be paired down - eventually - to a mated pair). The light is on a timer for 12 hours per day. The substrate is crushed coral.

The plants, especially the crytps, seem to be doing really well. After a few days of being planted some of the poorer-looking leaves fell off, and lots of new leaves are coming up from the base. There is no sign of yellowing or any sign that the plants aren't thriving. The grass doesn't look as great, but doesn't look like it is dying, either.

This tank that I'm writing about is at my job, so I don't see it over the weekend. When I came in this morning, everything looks fine with the plants except there was a brown algae bloom over the weekend. This is the first sign of algae in the tank, and lots of the algae is on the leaves of the crypts.

Is there any concern about the algae? Will it hurt the plants? Should I reduce my light to less than 12 hours per day? Any other advice?

Thanks for reading.
 

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12hrs is a long time for the light to be on, I'd drop it to 8 and work your way up from there if necessary. You might actually need more light intensity in the long run, usually the target is 1.5-2watts per gallon for a low mantinance, slow growing tank. Less light for longer periods doesn't always work out as well, you might be lucky though. Brown algae is usually pretty harmless, it occurs in new tanks but as silicates get consumed the algae dies off, after that it's pretty rare that it will come back. I'd give it a few weeks to a month, just scrub the algae off as best you can every few days and see if it goes away on its own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the feedback. I cut back on the light. So far, especially on the crytps the algae doesn't seem to be hurting them a bit.

Any advice on how to boost light wattage with only one fixture? I can't afford to buy a new lamp/hood/bulb(s) right now. I'd toyed with the idea of sticking some of those new, white LED Christmas lights (like traditional Xmas tree lights but LED instead of incandescent) in the fixture away from the fluorescent bulb to push more light into the tank for general viewing (as I doubt the LED's help plants grow).I didn't see any other 24" bulbs with a higher wattage either.
 

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Your brown algae is completely normal for a new set up. Maybe you could try some otos for algae control- they LOVE brown algae! If not, simply wipe the brown stuff off with your fingers- it is easy to remove.

As far as lighting- I have had great success with my 24" Life Glo 2 bulb, a mere 20 watts, over my 29G planted. I too have the lights on for 12 hours and I wouldn't reduce this light period. No problems with algae as the tank is not newly set up like yours.
 

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A few otos will take care of the brown algae with no problem. So will a bristlenose pleco, but I don't think you really have room for that. BTW, firemouths can get to be 6" so I doubt your tank will be a good match for them in the long run. Not sure if you have plans to upgrade as they get bigger (or move them to your other tanks) . . . Have you considered apistos or rams instead? They don't get as large and should do just fine in a 20.

I'm a bit confused about your choice of substrate. I use crushed coral in my African tanks to keep the pH up. In your South American tank, you're really not wanting to do that, as those fish (and plants) would prefer soft water. Just a thought . . .

Two other thoughts:

I have my lights on for 9 hours a day. I have 3 WPG and pressurized CO2 (for what that's worth.)
You might want to consider putting fertlizer tabs (Flourish makes some) into the substrate underneath the plants to help them.

Good luck! I killed a lot of plants before I got the hang of them!
 
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