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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-27-2006, 10:33 PM Thread Starter
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Help!!!

Okay, I've had a planted tank (125 gal) for a little while that a very knowledgeable person set up. We started it with a few guppies and darters and snails and some grasses and other plants. Everything went great for months. Then a couple of months ago, I got a brown algae slime (similiar to what we get on our rocks on our koi pond). I manually got rid of it by siphoning it out with a gravel cleaner. Ever since then I can't get rid of algae. I scrape it off and clean it and now I have the type that is like a carpet.

I also added 3 angelfish, 2 blue paradise gourami's, some algae eaters(ottocinchlis sp?), and 3 red tetras, a sword plant that had huge leaves on it and a banana plant. All of this was last August and from local breeders that put on the aquarium show in Indy.

I do water changes faithfully (25%) every week. I have 0 nitrites, ammonia, and high ph of 8.8. My kH and gH tests don't do it in degrees, it does it in ppm. Will need to retest, but know that both are high (in 300 range).

In the past couple of months (gradually) I have lost a couple of darters, a couple of guppies, am losing a gourami (he looks to have blisters on his head and face), have lost all of my snails. I now have a mauvish colored film on the inside of the tank on the back. My plants aren't growing and the little leaved ones are losing the leaves. All the rest of my fish are fine.

I've read Rex's guide, but am not that great with Chemistry. I can water test koi ponds with the best of them and know what to do, but I guess I'm not testing the right stuff with the aquarium.

So now the questions,

Any idea what is causing my tank to go downhill? (only 14 fish in 125 gal)

What exactly do I need to test for in the aquarium that is different in the pond?

I know I need CO2 but am not sure how to use them and can't afford the $225 price tag I was quoted from around here. Sure I can't it cheaper but not sure what I need. don't have the time to mess with DIY stuff (I teach, have 3 young kids, a koi pond, and am working on my master's)

Any advice would be helpful because I sure haven't been able to figure out what is going on.

Thanks
Tamara
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-27-2006, 11:07 PM
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What lighting does the tank get? What, if any, fertilizing does it get? About what percent of the tank substrate surface is covered with plants?

Knowing all of that will help a lot in trying to offer some suggestions.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-28-2006, 01:44 AM Thread Starter
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It's just the standard two flourescent light bulbs that came with the tank a couple of years ago. I know I need to change them (now after doing more research) but don't know what I need to get. The lights are on from 6:30 am to about 10:00 at night.

I would say only about 10% of the substrate is covered. Every time I've tried to add new plants they wind up going downhill. At one time, when I had the grasses, about 50% of the substrate was covered, but the angel fish and the gourami's ate them so much they were pulling them from the substrate. I feed them the way they need to be fed also. Also the brown algae got all over the plants and they've never been the same since.

I fertilize with an Aquarium Pharmaceutical fertilizer once a week. It seems like any more than that and I wind up with even worse brown and carpet algae.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 02:19 AM
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Hey Koicrazy,

Since I'm a local, I know what it is like to deal with our liquid ROCK water. I'm thinking that what you need right now is a reset. Clean the tank out nice and good, change a good percentage of water, and start from the beginning. Get a good fert schedule going (not saying yours isn't good, but it may be helpful to double check that you're not missing anything), and put in a LOT of plants. There is no quick and easy solution to algae troubles, and sometimes by "trying too hard" we end up making it worse. Be patient.

First and formost, buy an appliance timer (<$10) at Walmart and plug your lights into it. Set the timer for 8 hours a day until you get that algae in check and then bump it up to 10-12. Replace your bulbs when you can - get a good full spectrum light (you don't necessarily have to splurge on those expensive plant lights - I've grown plants just fine on good old full spectrum standard flourescents, but I prefer power compacts). If you can afford the upgrade, www.ahsupply.com has great retro-fit kits for PC lights.

The 125 gallon is a bit big for DIY CO2 - though even a little might help. If you're close (I live on the N. side of Indy) I'd be more than happy to make you a DIY reactor, get it bubbling, and show you how to change it. A good alternative to compressed CO2 is Seachem's Flourish Excel. If you do order it online, try for the BIG jugs of it, much more economical (http://www.bigalsonline.com/catalog/...egory_id=3141).

I'd also be more than happy to hook you up with a handful of clippings to get you started. Again, if you're close, you may look into coming to the CCAC where there's always lots of clippings available. We're also having a big public auction at the end of April which will be loaded with good stuff. Packing the tank as full as you can with plants tends to really help get rid of algae because they compete for the same nutrients.



Where is Camby, IN? I live in on the north side of Indy.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 02:22 AM
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I meant to post a link for you, Circle City Aquarium Club: http://www.circlecityaqclub.org/
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 03:57 AM
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Flourish excel is what I'm using right now in my 80 gallon and two capfuls a day (twice the recommended dose) barely keeps up with my few plants. So I would buy a big bottle of the stuff. However if your not running 3 wpg like I am your situation will probably be different. Get a good fert program going on. Adequate lighting and steady ferts will probably be your solution. A good sized say 50% water change will save you too it saved me about a month ago.

Read this it'll help you out a lot! Rex's Plant Guide It will explain a fert program that you might like. It requires a little more time but a lot less money. It will require a little more time but once you get the hang of it you will only spend about 10 minutes a week adding ferts to your tank.

Please read the website I posted it will do you wonders! It did for me!
Rex's Plant Guide

----------------Current Equipment-------------------
80 Gallons
Fluval FX5
4x 65w Power Compact by Odyssea
2x 200 Watt Submersible Heaters
900w UPS
Greg Watson Ferts
15 ml. Flourish Excel daily (keeps BBA away)
25 lb. Pressurized CO2
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 05:58 AM
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Is a PH of nearly 9 actually safe by the way?!?

Seriously, i dont think any plant or fish can survive for long periods of time in a PH so high. Im nearly 100% sure that is your problem. Lower it down to 7.5
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 06:13 AM
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Lowering pH is easier said than done. Really, it's near impossible to do and keep stable, unless you want to spend the money on RO water or get an RO unit, which isn't practical for everyone.

Your pH test kit may be off by a point or two. I've lived in Lafayette, Terre Haute, and Indy and the pH from a digital reader out of tap is around 8.4. The good news is, you'll never have to add anything to raise your kH! I've been growing live plants in it successfully for about 8 years. I've even gotten several species of fish to spawn too! With injected CO2, the pH will come down to about 7 and combined with 180 or so ppm kH, you get a CO2 level of about 30, which is perfect. You get some scale on your tank if you're not dilligent about keeping it topped off, but that's about the only downside (and MAN is it great for keeping cichlids, so I hear!). The problem could come from any combination of reasons, but I doubt pH alone is one of them.

Now, this doesn't work for EVERY species - I have a heck of a time keeping Rotala wallichi in anything other than soft soft water - for that I splurge on the bottled stuff. You should SEE how Valisneria does in it though - growing out my ears! :P
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 03:17 PM
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I disagree though you have some good points. PH is defnitley his problem here as its way above the recommended for most plants and fish. However, lowering it is fairly easy - there's a special formula for PH up and PH down.

http://www.petsmart.com/global/produ...ousText=Ph&N=2
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 03:40 PM
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Ack! I wouldn't use this stuff

Because our kH (buffering capacity) here in Indiana is so very high, you could pour straight up acid into the tank and the pH wouldn't swing at all. If this stuff IS actually strong enough to work, there are other downsides as well. It's expensive, and really really REALLY hard to keep stable. You may add it on Monday, and the pH will slowly creep up on you over the week. By Saturday you're back where you started. The pH swing is stressful to the fish, and if you miss a dose, BOOM, trouble. pH is easy to raise, but a real pain to lower.

Dilluting tap water with RO water will lower the pH and the kH, (again, an expensive option) or adding CO2 will lower it, but chemicals are a nightmare waiting to happen. Don't fight the water, work with it. It'll save you stress and heartache.

(Trust me, I've wasted hundreds of dollars fighting with our water.)

A quote from Rex's page, linked earlier:
Quote:
Don't start chasing the dragon by using chemicals to lower your pH. This is hard on your fish. You might be able to lower the pH to a certain level and hold it there but by doing so you are raising the TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) to levels that can be harmful to the fish.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 03:52 PM
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Just as an example, this tank is filled with water that is kH 180 ppm and pH 8.4 (before CO2 injection takes it down to 7.0). SEP is the company that I work for - I set up this tank in our lobby.

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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 04:15 PM
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I still stand by my view that it is at least .6 too high and that this sort of stuff (which can be bought from any good LFS really..) will do the job. I reckon one bottle will last a good 3 months if you use it weekly and keep having to use it. I doubt you will though.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-29-2006, 09:20 PM
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I'm strtuggling with ph and KH problems with my water here in Salt Lake City. I've given up now and am waiting til my CO2 system comes. If your going to chase the dragon with PH up and down chemicles at least add DO water to some extent to bring your KH down some. An RO unit that simply hooks up to any sink's faucet is only like 75 dollars on ebay which is something to consider too.

----------------Current Equipment-------------------
80 Gallons
Fluval FX5
4x 65w Power Compact by Odyssea
2x 200 Watt Submersible Heaters
900w UPS
Greg Watson Ferts
15 ml. Flourish Excel daily (keeps BBA away)
25 lb. Pressurized CO2
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