Seeking advice to fix a planted tank that has many issues - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-29-2017, 08:15 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 5
Seeking advice to fix a planted tank that has many issues

Hello all,

I love the community here. You all have proven to be an invaluable source of information and advice to a great many people who enjoy this hobby, and itís as good a time as any to say thank you to all who participate. I always enjoyed reading this community's discussions, but have never had much cause or inspiration to post until now. Now however, I would be immensely grateful for any and all input regarding a project I am now taking on.

In essence, I have volunteered to make changes or reset a large planted aquarium tank in the lobby of a small shipping company that is not faring well. This tank has proven to be a mixed blessing for its owners and the person managing it previously. It has experienced a slew of problems over the years, not the least of which is that it was re-purposed from being a tropical reef tank about a decade ago. Because this tank was managed by a professional company, I have access to a good record of work done on the tank and have been able to piece together a lot of the historical data for this tank. It has been re-planted/scaped many times over the years to greater or lesser degrees of success. It was last re-planted and aqua-scaped about 4 months ago, and the system in general has failed to thrive, and I've been asked to help. I have a couple of questions for you all on particulars I have not been able to secure myself.

Just a quick note about the pictures and algae: this was about 2 days after the initially requested thorough cleaning of the tank where I attempted to manually remove all I could, so it looks less severe than it really is.







The tank's setup is large, complicated and convoluted and it would take some time and space to explain it all. However, I can answer any questions, and I will try to explain further if you think it would help you answer a question. In short, it's a 160 gallon tank with a 120 gallons of sump water. It has two external mag-drive pumps returning water from the sump, one directly to the tank, one to a series of in-line equipment. In order, a 20 micron pleated cartridge filter, a chemical filtration chamber containing activated carbon and Seachem Phosguard, and a large UV sterilizer. Water leaves the tank from two weir boxes before returning to the sump. Co2 injection is sent to a ceramic diffuser disc wedged under the intake for the filtration loop. Light is OK, its a 250W metal halide and some HO fluorescents that have about 50 PAR at substrate on the edges, with about 100 in the center. It also has a diatomaceous earth filter runnning in the sump.

The dosing regimen for a long time has been set at the following
  • 50 mLs flourish potassium added 3 times a week.
  • 15 mLs API algaefix added twice a week.
  • 10 mLs Flourish iron added once a month.
  • In-substrate fertilizer sticks added every 6-8 months.

I've made some obvious changes like a reduction in photoperiod, more water changes, more filtration cleaning and otherwise giving attention to the system. But there are a few major points I'm not positive about that I'm soliciting advice on. Like I said, if you think you can answer any of these questions I would most appreciate it!

A: dosing advice? I've never managed a planted tank with this many gallons before, so I'm rapidly trying to get up to speech on fertilizing regimes.

B: Are the above pictures cyanobacteria/BGA like I suspect? What is spreading on the leaves, especially at the edges of the tank in pics 2 and 3, looks very BGA-esque to me. If this is cyano, it has a pretty good foothold in the tank and substrate and I may be researching treatment options, such as dosing erythromycin to try to catch up for such a long time of neglect. Any input regarding battling BGA is welcome if true.

C: Stop the algaefix? I've never dosed this chemical in a tank with such regularity, and I cannot find a firm answer in my research about the interaction with carbon. I suspect the carbon is absorbing it just because the tank gets 4 doses between water changes and it would probably have killed fish if not, but I'm not positive.

D: Kibosh the phosguard? Water quality data shows a long history of phosphate numbers < 1 ppm, so Iím concerned that the phosguard is stripping all of the phosphates from the system and contributing to an environmental parameter favoring algae growth.

Any other advice or discussion is welcome of course. Thanks for reading!
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-29-2017, 09:08 PM
Algae Grower
 
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 21
I just fought a battle with cyanno this past week myself. I dosed API EM exactly as the directions stated (for fish) and by the end of the treatment the cyanno was mostly gone and what was left was falling off the leaves of my plants. I highly recommend a round of treatment for your cyanno problem.

You do not say anything about dosing N or P, so that may be a large part of your problem. Since you have high light, I would recommend ditching seachem ferts (mostly water anyway) and switching to dry ferts and use the EI method. Also, with that much light, you should be blasting the CO2. A pH drop of 1 to 1.25 throughout the day from CO2 injection is good...you'll want it well on its way before lights on, maybe 0.5 to 0.75 lower from the time the CO2 comes on. You may consider a cerges or other dwell type reactor that is very efficient.

Also, what spectrum and temperature are your lights?
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-29-2017, 10:19 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 5
Thanks for the response! I had begun to look down the EM treatment this afternoon, and that's a good idea about the co2 timing. The lights are currently one 250W double ended HQI metal halide fixture @10k, and two 30" HO fluorescent fixtures. I pulled the bulbs out to read the ratings and one is a 6700k, and the other just says colormax. I believe it is this light https://www.amazon.com/Coralife-Aqua.../dp/B0009YD8VU
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-29-2017, 10:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SimplyJah View Post

A: dosing advice? I've never managed a planted tank with this many gallons before, so I'm rapidly trying to get up to speech on fertilizing regimes.

B: Are the above pictures cyanobacteria/BGA like I suspect? What is spreading on the leaves, especially at the edges of the tank in pics 2 and 3, looks very BGA-esque to me. If this is cyano, it has a pretty good foothold in the tank and substrate and I may be researching treatment options, such as dosing erythromycin to try to catch up for such a long time of neglect. Any input regarding battling BGA is welcome if true.

C: Stop the algaefix? I've never dosed this chemical in a tank with such regularity, and I cannot find a firm answer in my research about the interaction with carbon. I suspect the carbon is absorbing it just because the tank gets 4 doses between water changes and it would probably have killed fish if not, but I'm not positive.

D: Kibosh the phosguard? Water quality data shows a long history of phosphate numbers < 1 ppm, so Iím concerned that the phosguard is stripping all of the phosphates from the system and contributing to an environmental parameter favoring algae growth.

Any other advice or discussion is welcome of course. Thanks for reading!
A. What are NO3 levels?
Ferts you could mix a bottle of EI or PPS macros and dose to keep tank @ 1ppm of PO4.
Just flourish iron is not all of the micros needed. CSM+B with additional iron would be better.

B. What are your NO3 levels again?
Chemi-clean could be another treatment option.
A better fert regime and @ least 10ppm of NO3 may improve the BGA issue without special treatment.

C. Ditch the Algaefix and the activated carbon.
Replace it with Purigen to absorb organics etc...
Purigen could eliminate the need for diatom filter if needed at all.
Diatom filter is not usually a full time filter but could be???

D. Keeping the Phosguard will not allow you to reach 1ppm of PO4, ditch it.

IMHO a better fert schedule may turn this right around.
Lighting seems fine & you have PAR data.
CO2 aim for 30ppm = 1.0 drop in pH during photoperiod.
6.5 to 7 hour photoperiod would be a good starting point.

Hope this helps and hoping others agree with me.

Swimming is not that difficult.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-30-2017, 02:44 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 5
Thanks as well. I did not take the records home with me, so I will reply with more accurate N03 numbers this week when I return to the tank and its records, but I believe they've been low, in the 2-4 range. I will definitely investigate chemi-clean as an option as well for the cyano.

I spent a little time comparing fert regimes. I'll discuss the costs to the owners this week, we'll see if they want to give out a credit card to purchase enough ferts to implement an EI regime. Should be fun! I have no idea yet how i'll pull off the 50% water change every week, but that's my problem.
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