Help me understand what I may need - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 01:39 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Ohio
Posts: 9
Help me understand what I may need

I have always been in that "grey" area when it comes to understanding what plants need in order to thrive in an aquarium. My 55g tank has a hard time maintaining proper plant growth. I add beautiful plants to it and before long the leaves look wilted, start to form holes and the plants begin to look terrible. I do have luck with some but the majority don't fair well.

This is what I have going on with the 55:
Tank has been setup for about a year now
2x54W T5HO originally ran at 11 hours a day, cut down to 10 which helped, now cut down to 9
Mostly gravel with flourite mixed in
Nothing is currently being dosed(I was dosing with Flourish Excel for awhile but it really had no beneficial effect that I could notice).
Aqueon 55 for filtration

I understand my lighting is pretty high and I think between the high lighting but lack of nutrients is what is causing my plants to have a hard time. That is the reason I cut down on the lighting and it did seem to help the plants a little. I don't have tons of $$ to spend on this thing so a big C02 system is pretty much out of the question, but what else could I possibly do? I often find myself neglecting my tank because I just don't have the motivation seeing as how it never stays nice.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 03:27 AM
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Location: Contra Costa CA
Posts: 10,489
With that much light I would start dosing according to the Estimative Index method, or some other method so you are to be adding all the nutrients the plants need. Go back to adding the Excel, too. Plants need the carbon.
Dry ferts can be purchased very reasonably from and other sites.
You will most likely need:
Macros (fertilizers plants need the most of)
KNO3, a source of nitrogen
KH2PO4, a source of phosphate
K2SO4, a source of potassium. Potassium deficiency is often indicated by holes in the leaves.

If the GH is relatively low in your water (about 3 degrees or less) then I would get
Seachem Equilibrium or Barr's GH Booster. Either of these will raise the level of calcium and magnesium in the tank, and also supply some potassium, iron and manganese.

Micros (fertilizers that plants use less of, but still need to have supplied)
Iron. Get chelated iron.
All the others are in a mix like CSM+B, a blend of all the trace minerals plants use.

Here is a link to some possible ways to dose the fertilizers. Sort of long, but LOTS of information:
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 07:32 PM
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Location: Tampa, Florida
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You also need to cut your lighting at least in half (will your fixture let you run just one bulb?) AND raise it up at least 6" off the tank.

You've got way too much light for a low tech setup- you're well into "high" light.

I'm running 2x54 T5HO over my own 90gal and am down to about a 6 hour photoperiod- T5HO is very powerful lighting.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 11:01 PM
Algae Grower
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Commerce, TX
Posts: 47
I have the same exact problem my plants look worn down, my lightning is 2.5wpg over 55gal tank. After reading this I cut my lightning in half from 8 hours to 5. I also ordered the plant fertilizer package and hope the plants will do better.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 11:47 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Ohio
Posts: 9
This is very good information I am getting here. I am going to give the EI dosing a try and cut down on my lights. I tried running just one bulb on the fixture but the lighting just one bulb gave off looked bad.

EDIT. I turned off one of the bulbs in the fixture. Now I have only 54w of T5 over the tank.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-14-2010, 01:11 AM
Planted Tank Guru
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Location: Contra Costa CA
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T-5 offers much more light than t-8 or t-12, so even the 1 wpg you have is plenty for a low tech set up.
Get started on the ferts and carbon, then maybe try increasing the light by turning on the other bulb for just a couple of hours mid day.
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