Newbie is in Over Her Head! - The Planted Tank Forum

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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-04-2016, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Revelstoke, BC
Posts: 3
Wink Newbie is in Over Her Head!

Hello! I'm a long time fish keeper, who has always drooled over planted tanks. I recently decided to take the plunge and convert my 15g tall to a low tech planted tank! ... And I think I'm failing. I will try to include as much info as possible below and I am open to suggestions and gentle criticism.

Tank: 15g Tall. Has been up and running for over a year with current inhabitants, gravel substrate and plastic plants. Switched up lighting, and added Fluval sub and plants two weeks ago.

Substrate: 50% standard gravel, 50% Fluval Plant and Shrimp Substrate. Unfortunately in a small town this is all I could get. If the plants are a lost cause I will tear down and do 100% Fluval in the future.

Light: Aqueon 20" LED fixture with 1 day white tube and 1 colourmax tube. (Question #1 - Is this too much light?).

Plants include:
- Vallisneria. Arrived slightly melted and currently melted away to nothing.
- Bacopa "compact" and regular. Arrived nice. Melted within 5 days, and now very dead. Mostly stuck to the filter. (now removed).
- Cryptocoryne wendtii. Melted as expected. Leaves totally gone, no regrowth yet.
- Micro Sword. Some melt, but already showing new growth and looks good.
- "Growers Choice" grass. I can't quite ID this one, but it is looking good.
- Marimo moss ball. This has been around for a while living in a glass jar in my window. Move it to the tank. Looks ok.
- Taxiphyllum 'Spiky'. Seems to be losing it's colour.
- Algae. I have been neglecting scrubbing it so as not to disturb the sad melting plants.

Fish: Pair of angelfish and 3 columbian tetras.

Tank Chemistry: See photo. NO3 has increased since the last test and I suspect it is due to decaying plant matter. Ammonia is close to 0.

Photos: First photo is the tank this morning (*cue sad music*). Second photo is about 48h after planting. Last photo is chemistry from this morning.

Plan: My vision was to have a curtain of Vals in the background, with a few bacopa and crypts in the mid ground and nice "lawn" in the front right corner. I am a great terrestrial gardener, so I know it might require patience, but I feel like this is WAY MORE melt than I expected. I am not opposed to CO2 supplementation, but I was hoping to avoid it. I have Seachem Flourish and root tabs, they just arrived today, and I will give those a shot if anyone thinks the current plants have a chance at regrowth.

So, experts, please let me know what you think. Am I just impatient? Did I miss something? Totally crazy? I'm still totally new at this and between work, small business ownership, a screaming toddler, and a husband who thinks "fish are for eating," I am not finding the time to research as much as I would like!

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-04-2016, 05:45 PM
Planted Tank Obsessed
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: South Florida
Posts: 335
Unfortunately I'd say your plants are beyond repair.
Does your small town have a Walmart or lowes? Some where you can get some organic garden(not potting) soil?
I would start with that.
Soil with a sand cap. A nutrient rich substrate makes a world of difference.
I'm Not familiar with your lighting. How big are each individual led chips?

A DIY kinda GUY
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-04-2016, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Revelstoke, BC
Posts: 3
Do you think the plants arrived that way (I ordered from He had pretty good reviews and it's slim pickings in Canada) or did I kill them with the substrate issues?

Definitely no Wal-Mart or Lowes here. It's very small town. I do my own soil mixes for plants, so I should be able to come up with something!

Thank you for your reply
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-04-2016, 11:36 PM
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Location: NJ
Posts: 571
Don't give up on the plants yet. They don't look that bad to me. Some melting is too be expected with new plants. How long ago did you plant?

I'm not familiar with your light but it seems like it should be sufficient for what you want to do.

Whats your ammonia reading? Nitrites are high so i'd do a water change for the sake of the fish. Neither will hurt the plants.

Add the root tabs once your water parameters are stable. You probably want to cover the filter intake with a prefilter to keep the plant bits from get into it.

I think it will look nice once it grows in. Not crazy about the gravel on top of the fluval substrate. I also think it will look better with a black background.

Last edited by ThinkTank; 08-04-2016 at 11:47 PM. Reason: added stuff
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-05-2016, 06:57 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Canada
Posts: 139
Hello StokedFish!

There could be some reasons why your plants melted!

First of all are you dosing anything beside the tabs roots?
Water temp? if too high some plant won’t tolerate!
Be careful with the light, i feel that your plants got burned out by the light
Are you dosing excel? I had some cases after adding excel some of my plants didn’t like it they turned yellow the next days.

Also here is a list of very hardy plants that you could try out!

Eleocharis parvula
Bacopa 'Compact'
java ferns
java Mosse

BTW i also order plants from the same place as you
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-05-2016, 10:16 PM
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Location: Buford, GA
Posts: 198
Nitrites actually look's the Nitrates that are high.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-06-2016, 02:19 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Diatom Alley, Lakeside, OR
Posts: 570
Your GH is pretty high according to your test strips, is the Buddha statue made of concrete or some other water soluble mineral? I would try removing it first.

Starting small, keeping it simple..(?)
85 gallon stock tank, "pond"
5g low-tech Java Fern jungle.
2.5g +1.2g satellite stream-clay crypt and Fern tank.
20 GallonH Streamsoil dirt tank
Pendant-hooded, LED A19 bulb lighting.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-06-2016, 07:55 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Revelstoke, BC
Posts: 3
Originally Posted by GrampsGrunge View Post
Your GH is pretty high according to your test strips, is the Buddha statue made of concrete or some other water soluble mineral? I would try removing it first.
The statue is actually plastic/resin. I just did a test on our tap water and it has equally high GH. Unfortunately, I'm in the rockies and our water comes from a glacier (our city water is treated with RO and a hint of chlorine, and nothing else). Might that explain it? Is there a way to buffer this easily?

To answer the other questions:

Temp is 78, the fish love it, but I did not consider the plants! Doh! I'm open to suggestions as to what to lower it to.

I have not dosed with Excel. I have added root tabs since my original post.

I have a sneaking suspicion that my light is too high. This might explain why the grass is doing ok and everything else was nuked. Right? There aren't a lot of specs available for the lights, I went based on online reviews (bad idea, in hinds sight). There are 9 LEDs per tube. Two tubes installed. One tube is all white, the other is 4 red, 5 white.

Yes, I definitely did a water change after the high Nitrate reading to help the fish. Ammonia was close to 0.

Thank you SO much everyone for your kind replies! It's been very helpful!
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-06-2016, 09:20 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 19
salts are a common problem for water in the rockies, and would certainly do a number on a planted tank. though normally i'd say that was almost exclusively a ground water issue. it might be something worth checking?

also, i'm wondering if you aren't experiencing the same problem i was. your test strip is bottomed out on its pH range. water here comes out of the tap at pH 6, and my pH test strips were not accurately reading that. i ended up taking water samples to work with me so i could test them with a pH meter there. discovered that what the pH test strip was telling me was 6.5, was really 4.2-5.2 in my tanks! if you have a local fish store in your town they will usually do water tests for you for free.

my luck with mail order plants is terrible. i usually order 4x more than i actually want, and if i'm lucky 1 strand will survive to proliferate. i've reduced that some what by having a nursery planter. all new plants get put in there, they're not submerged, but it's kept sealed and very humid. once they're healthy and growing well i separate out plantings.

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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-07-2016, 02:13 AM
Join Date: Jul 2016
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I agree with Nakeeta, your PH is low. Your KH as well. I would raise the KH with baking soda and your PH should reflect that or atleast I'd did in my experience.

I have to raise the KH in my water before adding to my tanks to keep the PH fluctuations as slow as possible.
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melt, newbie

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