New Timeline and more...
It's been quite a while since I've posted anything here, so lots to talk about.
First, everything is now installed in/on the aquarium. The CO2 injection is working well, I'm now learning how to get my PH stable and at the correct level, while still pumping CO2 into the water. It's a little bit of a struggle to find that balance, but I'm getting there. Having an automated way to cut off the CO2 when the PH gets too low is a great (and safe) way to help manage the process.
I had an a red algae (also known as Black hair/bush/beard/etc) that had overtaken my mopani driftwood and was also starting to take over the plants. On top of that, I had this slimy green stuff on the leaves of the plants as well as on/in the sand on the bottom. And while it looked like an algae, it wasn't an algae at all, it's Cyanobacteria, or more often called Blue-Green Algae. Mike at Aqua Imaginations in Buford gave me some medicine (probably erythromycin phosphate) which totally got rid of the problem. I also scraped almost all of the Red algae from everywhere I could find it, and now it's all but gone too. But the best algae fighter of all... I purchased 3 Otocinclus Catfish, little fish about an inch or so long, and man what a job they did. Within about 3 days, all the algae was gone from the tank. Highly recommended little fish, especially in a planted tank. They literally polished the leaves of the plants. :-)
I have everything on a schedule now so other than feeding, it's all automated. The lights and CO2 come on at 12 PM and run until 8:15 PM. The lights have a sunrise/sunset mode, so they start a 15 minute ramp up at 12 PM and are at full brightness at 12:15. Same for sunset, they begin to ramp down at 8 PM and are completely off at 8:15 PM. I turn on an aeration stone at 8:30 PM and run it until everything turns on at noon, at which time I turn the air off. Right now the lights are running at 80% of their maximum intensity. I had dropped as low as 60% when I was having the algae issues, but now that I know my CO2 levels in the water (finally got a GH//KH test kit), I've been able to bump the lights back up for now.
I'm also going to keep a running post as a log of changes. I should have been doing this all along, but I got lazy. Of course. So I'm back-tracking to about April 1 with approximate dates and I'll keep it up from now on.
I also have lots more pictures to post, the tank looks different from what you see in the pictures that are currently being displayed, so I'd like to get some of these updated.
Here's the log that I promise to keep up, I should have been doing this all along. I'll have to start with what I remember about the last few weeks of April, but I will now updated this as I make changes.