*Update October 5, 2016 – I have decided that precharging the coir was really a good idea to make it ‘hardened’ by the concrete properties of dolomite. It is staying together very well. But I think I would like to just add it to the tank without precharging in the future, and simply add dolomite to the tank and see if this more simple method will work as well. Dolomite does raise the pH significantly, but it hasn’t had any observable negative effect on the fish with the overnight pH rise. So I don’t see why I can’t just add it directly to the tank in the future when I replace the coir, and continue to add it monthly as a supplement with my other fertilizers.*
With all the changes I have made in my methods, CFL to LED’s, Dry Fertilizer Dosing, as well as adding the precharged coir, the tank has been imbalanced. Black algae and hair algae has begun to be a problem. So I’ve pulled the coir out of the tank, rinsed it off, and sprayed it down with hydrogen peroxide. I pulled the plants out of the coir and put them in a bucket with some hydrogen peroxide. Then I changed 50% of the water in the tank, added the diatom filter, and a UV light. The tank was very dirty, mulm hiding up under the coir in mounds. YUC! After the coir has been out of the tank for a couple of days while I spray it down with H2O2, I will cut it in half and use just one section of the coir in the tank so it is easier to get under during cleaning. I simply had too much coir in the tank.
While all of this is going on, I have added a bunch of floating plants to the 55g to soak up any nutrients, since the nitrifying bacteria in the coir is gone. As always, I do not use filters on my tanks, so the plants must do the work to filter ammonias, etc.
Below is a video of the algae issue, and some pictures of the process. You can see the black algae on the plants and in spots on the coir.