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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2011, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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New Tank Disaster

I'm attempting my first planted tank and have committed some serious amateur mistakes. Now my plants are dying and I'm not sure how to react.

First, I put the plants in the tank before letting it cycle (day 3).
Then, I forgot to turn the water heater back on the first night.
Next, I broke my light and the plants got only ambient light for 2 (almost 3) days
Finally, I misunderstood the soil directions I was using from the internet. I mixed pottery clay (It was a light reddish grey purchased at hobby lobby) with play sand (about 50/50 but could be 60/40 or 40/60) for the base layer. The recipe recommended clay mixed with soil or vermiculite or gravel (I thought it listed play sand as a 4th option). The top layer is just play sand.

-40 gallon tank (NO FISH)
-DIY filter based on 265 gph pump and tons of poly felt
-I used Tetra BRAND Goldfish water conditioner (accident, thought it was water conditioner for Tetra's), with Jungle brand Plant conditioner and a small pouch (for 10 gallon tank) of each Stress zyme and stress coat.
-Plants: Jungle Val, 3 Sword varieties (one is Sagittaria) and Ceratopteris. All of them are buried so that a 1/2 cm of the root ball is above the sand.
-Ammonia (2 ppm)
-nitrate (10 ppm)
-nitrite (10 ppm)
-Ph 6.5
-clorine 0
-GH 4-5 degrees
-KH 20 ppm
-Temp 75 degrees

It took a couple days for the cloudiness to go away. Everything looked fine for another few days, then it started going downhill. I did a 50% water change and but things continue downhill maybe even faster.

NOW
-The sagittaria still look fine.
-1/2 of the flame sword has gotten redder and the other/outer half has turned completely translucent yellow brown.
-The other sword ( a small unknown green variety) looks pretty good but has a couple brown leaf tips and a couple translucent yellow leaves
-The Jungle Vallisneria are dying fast. First they yellowed and browned randomly. Then they got yellow brown tips and random holes. Now they are disintegrating from the tips, edges and anywhere the leaves were damaged.
-Ceratopteris leaves are browning from the bottoms up, and the roots have all turned brown.


My thoughts.
Based on the Nitrogen readings, the tank is obviously not cycling properly yet (2 weeks in). I have no idea how this effects plants or if it is being caused by the rapid decay of my Vals.

I also have no idea if my base layer of clay/sand is anything close to acceptable due to my mistake. And, when I planted the plants NONE of the roots made it down to the clay. They are buried in the sand pretty close to it but not in it. I thought they would grow down to it but i don't know why I assumed that. Between the bad clay soil and the roots in the sand I feel like they could be over feed, underfeed, or just going trough transplant shock.

I've decided I should either start over or just cross my fingers.
What do you think?
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2011, 08:47 PM
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Are you using Co2?

Did you put root tabs by the swords at all?

Are you dosing any ferts into the tank?

From my experience, I jumped the gun as well when I was cycling my tank. I put the plants in the 2nd week it was cycling. They all survived as plants like the ammonia and will absorb it (which could cause your ammonia readings to be off). I wouldn't worry about the nitrogen cycle really hurting them

Welcome to the forums by the way!

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2011, 09:26 PM Thread Starter
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no co2
no fert tabs
I did add a teaspoon of ammonia 2 days ago to see if bacteria or plants would remove it. Today's ammonia level is same/maybe lower than before i added it.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2011, 09:26 PM Thread Starter
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any thoughts on the substrate
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2011, 09:55 PM
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What light are you using?
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2011, 10:31 PM Thread Starter
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17 watt plant bulb. I know its not much but I have plant bulbs in all the lamps in the room and the tank gets a fair amount of light through the window and I'm getting another bulb this week. My house plants are all happy. Also the vals get almost all this light and are doing the worst.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2011, 10:40 PM
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Can't really help you on the substrate, sorry. I'm still relatively new to planted tanks myself

Get some root tabs for the swords. They will thank you, lots! They are root feeders and need the root tabs to grow.

Good on getting another light, you will notice a difference in plant growth. Maybe look into getting some T8s or T5NOs if you want some better growth. You can find these light strips at Lowes/Home Depot/Menards for relatively cheap as well.

Don't add anymore ammonia. Let the bacteria get to work and do their thing. I'd also bump the temp up to around 80º+, bacteria multiply faster and your cycle will be shorter

Maybe look into dosing macros and micros... the plant leaves wont be turning colors on you then. Nitrates and Phosphates help with yellowing/brown leaves. Potassium for holes in the leaves.

What's your ammonia/nitrite readings at?

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2011, 10:46 PM
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How long total has the tank been set up?
How many days have the plants been in the tank?
Where did you get the plants? Were they in a tank or in a tube/pot? Were the leaves submerged or emerged when you purchased them?
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2011, 11:00 PM Thread Starter
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Tanks about two weeks in.

Plants have been in it for 10 days.

The light is a 24" t8 17 watt 7300k (I am returning it for 2 5000ish).

I got the plants from a guy on craigslist. He had 2 tanks with shrimp and snails (40 and 10 gallon) and appeared to know his stuff. Said he'd been doing planted tanks on/off for 30 years. Just didn't want the Jungle Vals anymore and threw in the rest as an incentive. The tank the Vals came out of looked very healthy.

I have noticed lots of tiny worms (with a x17 loop while trying to identify a daphnia looking creature) on my glass, could they be doing it. Perhaps the shrimp were keeping them in check in his tank.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2011, 11:02 PM Thread Starter
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I thought the clay substrate would prevent the need for root tabs. Is this not true?
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2011, 11:18 PM Thread Starter
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Any thoughts on using organic hydroponic nutrients (npk 3-2-4 or 2-3-5) ion an aquarium WITHOUT fish. If its ok how long would you wait to add fish or shrimp. I've read some forum posts about hydro nutrients and the warnigs all related to fish but I don't have any yet. I just want the plants health first.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-16-2011, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
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replanted the tank with some washed potting soil mixed to the substrate and gave each plants a piece of a root tab. Everything still dying fast. All water quality parameters are good except for nitrite is through the roof. I got an extra light (now have 2 17 watt t8's). Any thoughts
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-16-2011, 10:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bioguy View Post
I thought the clay substrate would prevent the need for root tabs. Is this not true?

clay is only rich in iron, there are no NPK, NPK stand for nitrogen, phosphate and Potassium. if you really want your plant to grow, i will give you simple method which will bring those NPK into your substrate, simply go to home depot and buy Osmocote from garden section. simply put osmocote balls into the ice tray and add some water and freeze them. then add them into the substrate, put them deep into the substrate near the rooted plants and watch the results in week or so.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-16-2011, 10:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bioguy View Post
replanted the tank with some washed potting soil mixed to the substrate and gave each plants a piece of a root tab. Everything still dying fast. All water quality parameters are good except for nitrite is through the roof. I got an extra light (now have 2 17 watt t8's). Any thoughts
i have a feeling you are going to get some hair algae in your tank soon, you will experience some ammonia spike when you see that algae. this normally happen when you use potting soil, but it will go away after while. your plants are dying because you have to wait for them to settle down and once root tabs kicks in they will start to grow.

i wouldnt worry too much about the co2 for your setup, but it will help the plants if you decide to use it, instead you can use excel. i would recommend using excel starting now on till your plants settle down and you could reduce down the excel from that point.
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