Troubleshooting plants and nutrient balance - The Planted Tank Forum

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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-16-2016, 11:38 PM Thread Starter
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Troubleshooting plants and nutrient balance

Hello everyone!

I am new to The Planted Tank and I did not see any specific place to post asking for help on figuring out a planted tank so please excuse me if this is in the wrong place.

I've had my tank up an running over for a little over a year now and I have pretty much been struggling with my plants from day one and I can't figure out if I'm missing something, if my lighting is wrong, or what the deal is.

I'm going to start from May of this year when I decided to change my substrate from Eco Complete to Caribsea Tahitian Moon Sand. I bought a couple new plants (the Amazon swords and Jungle Val) to go with my new set up.

As of now I have Java Fern, Anubias, Echinodorus Vesuvius, Bacopa, Ludwigia Repens, Amazon Sword, and Jungle Val in my tank.

As you can see from the pictures the amazon sword has a lot of browning and transparency on it's leaves, the jungle val keeps turning brown at it's edges and I can't determine if it's from a deficiency or the Seachem Excel. My Vesuvius has suffered since I changed the substrate (It's not a vibrant as it once was and it's not growing anymore). There was even yellowing of a couple leaves on my anubias which never happened before. While most of my plants have stopped turning brown/transparent they are now doing nothing, they're not dying, they're not growing, they're not rooting, they're kind of just there. I did have an outbreak of brown algae so I did a Hydrogen Peroxide treatment (without the fish in the tank) and then did a 75% water change almost a week ago.

I have a 10 gallon divided tank.
The temperature of my tank is around 75F
The pH of my tank is 8.4
Ammonia is 0ppm
Nitrite is 0ppm
Nitrate is 10ppm
I don't have a test kit for GH or KH but we have serious calcium and lime buildup on our faucets so I'm assuming I have pretty hard water.
I have a Finnex planted plus 24/7 that is on 8am-12 and 5-8pm.
I have two sponge filters on either side of my divided tank.

For fertilizers I have Seachem Prime, Excel, Potassium, Trace, Flourish, Nitrogen, and Iron
I dose excel everyday, and follow the directions for the other chemicals. I usually alternate Potassium and Trace on opposite days of Iron, and I haven't really used the Nitrogen since the Nitrate is a little high, nor have I used Flourish since it would be redundant. The only macro I don't have is Phosphate, nor do I have a way to test my phosphate levels.
I do have osmocote root tabs for the root feeding plants, but I haven't noticed a difference.
The only time I ever see oxygen bubbles on the plants is right after a water change.

I have been doing a water change once a week due to high nitrates, but once the Nitrates are back to 0ppm then I could go weeks without a change and still have everything be 0ppm. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing.

I'm not sure what to do to get my plants healthy. Are the two filters too much for the plants to compete with? Should I change when my lights are on? Is my light strong enough or too strong? Should I get GH, KH, and Phosphorus test kits? Other test kits for things like co2?
I'm so lost, how can I figure out what I'm missing?

I'll probably have to throw out the amazon swords or see if I can salvage it with new growth. I'm hoping to get new growth on all of the plants so I can toss the older plants and start over with the new ones.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 03:12 AM
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I would recommend getting the test kits. If you don't know where your starting from, it's tough to figure out where you want to go.

Plants like amazon swords are very heave root feeders. You almost need root tabs of some sort to have a lot of success. A lot of people make their own using Oxmocote plus and empty gelatin capsules. Here are the products as sold on amazom, but you can get them at many other places -
https://www.amazon.com/Osmocote-Outd.../dp/B00GTDGMHC
https://www.amazon.com/Capsule-Conne.../dp/B00428B6X6

For a total of about $5 you can have an almost lifetime supply of root tabs.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 03:19 AM
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My .06 cents
stop dosing entirely, especially the excel, do a giant water change once a week.

How many osmocotes you put in there?

I'm going to say your co2 deficient here. The co2 is higher, the higher you go up the water column to my understanding. This shows strong light too, the way your plants are growing in that way. Don't tell me that you are with the excel, cause you need more co2, and if you dose even more excel (which I'm telling you DON"T) you can see what happens.

Keep on observing, i never understood the double photoperiod thing except for viewing. Can you raise your lighting?
Phosporous you can easily get from feeding your bettas.

Can you raise your light?

Pretty much ditch all the dosing for a little time being. Observe and update.

Most of us are just blasting light anyways, so we'll never get it right ;/ :/ >l/


I can grow YOUR PLANTS with stoplights

I am a co2 nut, i wouldn't be, but i am a syn. nut too so.....<<<-------->>>

It is time...time to do something in the hobby...do something..i feel so useless...
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 03:58 AM
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I'm not an expert, but my first thought is you should dose Nitrate. I try to keep my tanks at 20-30ppm nitrates, if it's getting over 40 that's what I consider high. 0 is nothing= hungry plants. You took out the Eco Complete which had some nutrients for plants, sand doesn't have anything. Root tabs help. You do need Phosphate. If you're using Trace or Flourish for micros those should already have iron in them?

So my idea is dose the N, get some P, keep using the K and micros you have. Might not need the iron. BUT my tanks are low tech I'm not using excel or injecting C02 so maybe your situation is kinda different- somebody else will chime in I'm sure.

10 gal planted- plakat betta and snails 38 gal planted- cherry barbs, kuhli loaches, otocinclus catfish, snails (nerites and mts)
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 12:43 PM
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Welcome to TPT!

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/11...s/21944?page=1

Start with about 1/4 of the dosage recommend for 20-40g tanks. Figuring out how much to dose from the Seachem bottles to achieve that recommended dosage can get complicated. If you cannot figure it out, ask.

Nitrate at 0 is not good for your plants - they need nutrients (aka macros aka NPK) in certain proportions to grow. Somewhere around 3 N to 1 P to 1 K is a good start.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 09:07 PM Thread Starter
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Strung out: I put in about 5 or 6 tabs for each side of the tank, all focused around the rooted plants. I don't have a way of raising my light but I could turn on the 24 hour function of the light so it would only be on full blast around 3pm instead of the whole time the light is on. I'm not sure I understand the rest of your post. If I'm co2 deficient, then shouldn't I be dosing more Excel since it is liquid carbon?

JJ09: My Nitrates were at 80ppm before I did my water change so it was definitely needed but I'll try to keep it in the 20-30 range and see how things do. The rooted plants weren't doing any better with the Eco Complete, and I had a suspicion the eco complete was raising my pH even higher than it already is, so that's why I changed it. I don't notice the root tabs doing any good. How many should I have around the plants?

OVT: So, if 1/4 tsp of dry fertilizer is 20ml, and I am doing 1/4 of that, then that means I would be dosing 5ml of KNO3 3x a week? That seems like a lot. Could you help me figure out how much I should be dosing? Please and thank you.

Last edited by Galilea; 07-18-2016 at 12:10 AM. Reason: Added blurb about 24 hour function
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-18-2016, 04:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galilea View Post
Strung out: I put in about 5 or 6 tabs for each side of the tank, all focused around the rooted plants. I don't have a way of raising my light but I could turn on the 24 hour function of the light so it would only be on full blast around 3pm instead of the whole time the light is on. I'm not sure I understand the rest of your post. If I'm co2 deficient, then shouldn't I be dosing more Excel since it is liquid carbon?
You needn't dose all that for this type size tank with so little plants. Especially if you have root tabs. I suggest you reduce photoperiod to 5 hrs a day if you cannot raise lighting. I don't believe plants can absorb excel as well in carbon form of injection easily so the sterilizer takes over and melts off your plants if you dose too much.

Most of us are just blasting light anyways, so we'll never get it right ;/ :/ >l/


I can grow YOUR PLANTS with stoplights

I am a co2 nut, i wouldn't be, but i am a syn. nut too so.....<<<-------->>>

It is time...time to do something in the hobby...do something..i feel so useless...
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-18-2016, 02:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galilea View Post
I don't notice the root tabs doing any good. How many should I have around the plants?
Sorry, I don't know exactly, I use API tabs and I think the osmocote ones are smaller? I usually put one on each side of my biggest root feeders- crypt wendtii and swords, a few inches out, and one near each cluster of stem plants. I put them in about once a month. It takes time to see the response- my swords send out new leaves the next day or so, my crypts are slower to show new growth but their color always looks better after tabs go in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Galilea View Post
I put in about 5 or 6 tabs for each side of the tank, all focused around the rooted plants.
That sounds good, I think.

10 gal planted- plakat betta and snails 38 gal planted- cherry barbs, kuhli loaches, otocinclus catfish, snails (nerites and mts)
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-18-2016, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StrungOut View Post
You needn't dose all that for this type size tank with so little plants. Especially if you have root tabs. I suggest you reduce photoperiod to 5 hrs a day if you cannot raise lighting. I don't believe plants can absorb excel as well in carbon form of injection easily so the sterilizer takes over and melts off your plants if you dose too much.
The root tabs will take care of my planted plants, but what about the Java Fern and Anubias? The brown spot on the Java Fern (third picture down) has gotten much larger and has taken over half of the leaf; I'm going to cut that leaf off. The anubias also had a couple of the leaves turn yellow which has never happened before.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-18-2016, 02:58 PM
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Java fern and anubias both have root hairs/roots that go down into the substrate off the rhizome. I am not sure if those are feeder roots, but I've always assumed they are. They get most of their nutrients from the water column, though. They are slow growers so I don't think they need a lot? I've had them in betta tanks w/just ambient light no ferts before, and they did fine.

10 gal planted- plakat betta and snails 38 gal planted- cherry barbs, kuhli loaches, otocinclus catfish, snails (nerites and mts)
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-19-2016, 05:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galilea View Post


I'm so lost, how can I figure out what I'm missing?

Find some time, grab a beverage, and give this a read:

Darkblade's Primer to Planted Tanks
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old Yesterday, 01:52 AM Thread Starter
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So here's an update.

I just received my test kits and here's what I found:

In the tank:
KH is 15 degrees
GH is 19 degrees
Phosphate: 2.0 ppm

My tap water:
KH is 17 degrees
GH is 22 degrees
Phosphate:

I did a 50% water change on Wednesday and haven't added anything to the water other than Seachem Prime.
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