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Hello, 

I started my second tank (20 long) after running a 10 gal for 6 months and having a scud infestation. I started this tank off right by alum dipping all my new plants and ordering them all from the co-op. I have a mixture of postegemon stelattus octopus, Java fern, Amazon sword, and crypt Lucens

I started the cycle with plants from day one in eco complete and with every other day dosing of easy green (5 pumps) and did not add live bacteria. I am experiencing an explosion of stag horn and hair algae and am in my 5th week with no live fish/shrimp yet and my tests are showing ammonia, nitrites and nitrates all at zero. I am following the video Cory put up about cycling with fertilizer remember him mentioning to only change one variable at a time and I have wanted to keep fertilizer constant while I dial the lighting in but the tank seems to be consuming the easy green within 2 days because I am not showing any nitrates despite testing every 3 days. 
 

with all that said, my primary question is, do I keep my fertilizer dosing the same or is that causing my algae to explode while my plants are trying to keep up? Their growth is awesome but I have to clean them regularly because of all the hair algae

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It sounds like you are using way too much fertilizer.  The recommended dose is to start at 1 pump per 10 gallons every week (for low light) and then adjust from there. What kind of light do you have? Most lights on a 20 long will be med to high light. So maybe dose 2 pumps twice a week. Many of the plants you have are root feeders so are mostly using the eco complete.

 I would set up your light on a timer and keep the duration constant, and adjust fertilizer as need.  Remember that you will need to give the tank time to adjust after making a change to see if things are getting better.

Are you testing with strips or liquid tests?  I know that sometimes you need to shake the nitrate solutions really hard to get an accurate test.  Honestly, with that much fertilizer I would think you would see some nitrates.  Maybe you could bring a water sample to your LFS and have them double check?

If I remember correctly, i believe in that video Cory was saying that if you have plant growth, then your tank has some ability to process waste while waiting for the beneficial bacteria to catch up.  So it sounds like you may be at the point where you can start to add fish, but I would double check or get a second opinion on those test results.

Edited by Rob E.
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@Rob E. thanks for the response. I have a fluval 3.0 and have it on for 8.5 hrs a day maxing at ~60%. I am using the API liquid test kit and shake the hell out of number 2 before and when I mix the tube. I have a pretty solid LFS near me and they also tested zero nitrates and recommended that I hold off on adding fish but they seemed to be making that basis off of normal bacteria cycling rather than the fertilizer method. 
 

I had put in 5 pumps before I posted this yesterday and tested 10 mins ago and my nitrates are zero again. So I am assuming that the algae is consuming it so quickly because there is nothing in the tank eating it. I’m worried that if I lower my dosing that my plants will starve but if I don’t lower it I’ll continue to see rampaging algae growth. Considering maybe time to invest in some algae eaters despite being in early stages?

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Posted (edited)

It sounds like we have 2 problems to solve. How to control the algae and when to add fish.

I would consider trying to solve the algae at a later time for a couple of reasons. Often when setting up a new tank you will get algae that goes away on its own.  In my case its usually diatom algae, but you may be getting an initial surge of minerals from things like your substrate or driftwood.  Overtime, this will start to settle out.  Once you add fish, the nutrients in your water will change again as you feed and do water changes.  So trying to balance everything now is not really going to help in the long run.

I don't know that I would add an algae eater at this time.  They typically do better in an established tank and most wont eat hair algae anyway.  

In order to figure out when to add fish. I would start feeding the tank small amounts of food every day and see if your testing indicates any ammonia or nitrites.  if after a week or so, if they are still both 0 then I would say your tank can handle the amount of fish that would survive off the amount of food you were feeding the tank. 

edit: I wanted to add that I've had good results using floating plants in 20 longs.  they eat up nutrients and block light, so they can keep algae of slow growth, low light plants like java fern and anubias.  I like frog bit and red root floaters.

Edited by Rob E.
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