Help me with tank recovery please - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-14-2017, 11:33 PM Thread Starter
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Help me with tank recovery please

Ok, so a little background. I've been doing reef aquariums for years, thought I would give a try at planted and I've had absolutely 0 success far and it's driving me crazy.

Coming from reefs, I already use RO water, so I thought I would do the same. I bought some stuff called "remineralize" for the RO water(LFS didn't have equilibrium), and I used it for my water source. It would give me:

PH: 7.4
GH: 4
KH: 1

20 gallon tall tank
eco-complete black
JUP-22 UV sterlizer
Top fin HOB 20 G filter.
2 T5H0 bulbs(1 is a plant bulb from aquasun, the other is a daylight bulb).

8 neons
5 otos
1 bottom feeding catfish thingy
1 fancy guppy.

So I bought Petsmart plants. And me being from reef, I didn't think about adding nutrients because you replenish your salt and minerals with water changes for the most part, unless you have like high calcium usage and then you dose. So I'm thinking water mix = I'm good, but nope.

So they died and that was how I learned about adding fertilizer. Or so I thought that was the reason they died. I bought a couple more Petsmart plants, started using fertilizers and got a little cartridge CO2 system. Didn't seem to help, those new plants didn't fare any better, and the algae got out of control with such small plant mass(or so I thought was a major factor).

I was using KNO3, and then fleet enema for my phosphates, along with some flourish comp and phosphate + iron.

So about 2 weeks ago I decided I would reboot my plants and I ordered some online. Got some really nice looking plants, much higher quality. Mostly stem plants, which of course don't come with roots, but a good healthy amount of plant mass. I hoped that now I would have some success.

The first few days, everything looks good. No surprise really. But at the 1-week mark, I could tell problems were forming. I started to get algae, and a couple of my stem plants in the back floated up. The stems had rotted at the soil. I trimmed the ends off, and tried to replant them. Next day, they just started doing the same thing and many of them went soft all down the stem. They didn't grow any roots at all. I have a few of those left(cambodi or something like that), but most of them died and melted away.

I should mention these plants were all grown underwater.

Algae started taking off, and I think I ran out of phosphate. The test showed almost 0, so I think maybe that spurred it, or if all the algae growth ate them up. My Co2 I was having to do manually, wake up turn it on before lights, and then hope the cartridge made it all day. So I thought maybe inconsistent Co2 levels was my problem.

Many of my leaves are turning brown/dark brown and wilting away. I've read this could be excessive phosphates or nitrates, but they have never tested over 2ppm or 20ppm. Could it be the potassium from the flourish potassium and iron doing it? I can't test that, so I've just been dosing according to instructions.

So to address the potential Co2 problem, I ordered a proper regulator and tank. I got it hooked up yesterday and it's running now. I also ordered proper dry ferts to do EI dosing, rather than just guessing at potassium and hoping it's good since my source contains no potassium outside the amount in KNO3. Ferts will arrive Friday(maybe tomorrow).

And I ditched the 100% R/O water with remineralize yesterday and did a 50/50 RO/Tap water 50% water change. This was hard for me to do because coming from reef I like knowing what's in my water. But obviously, something isn't working with me mixing my water, though I have no clue what. The 1 KH seemed low from what I heard, and when I added more mix it drove my PH up to 8.8+ on high range PH.

My tap water:
PH: 8.2
KH: 8
GH: 10

My water after the tap mix before going in the tank has the following parameters:

PH: 7.6
KH: 4
GH: 5

My tank water as of right now, after the 50% water change with that and during the day with Co2 injection:

PH: 6.4
KH: 3
GH: 6
Phos: .5-1ppm(I'd say about .75 based on color).
Nitrate: Between 5 and 10ppm(yes I know how hard these are to test and I beat the crap out of the bottle now).

I don't have a TDS meter.

The algae I have is string/hair algae. I can wipe it off bigger leaves(and the 2 plants I have with big leaves are doing best), but in some of my plants, it's impossible to wipe off. I try to get it off, but I can't actually clean the plants.

The plants that have died/melted I've removed as best I could.

Has anyone had trouble like this? I can't seem to grow a single plant really, I can make some of them die slower.

Thanks for any help, I'm clueless on what else I can do.
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post #2 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-15-2017, 07:13 AM
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Can almost promise you that the two T5 HO bulbs are major player in your issues.
Is good that you have fertz ,and CO2 albeit unstable recently.
Leaves light as that which drives the demand for the former.
Would try and raise the light or shade it possibly with a layer or two of window screen,and run light's for a total of six hours a day(no more) for next few week's (3 minimum).
Get Co2 consistent by placing it on a timer to come on one hour before light's,and off one hour before light's go off for the day.
My two cent's.

Adopt a fertilizer dosing method such as EI for first few week's month's .
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post #3 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-15-2017, 07:51 AM
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The hair algae can happen just because it's a new tank. Just remove as much of it as you can with a toothbrush or something. Dosing Excel really helps get algae under control.

When live gives you lemons make a lemon drop.
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post #4 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-15-2017, 01:12 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadmaster View Post
Can almost promise you that the two T5 HO bulbs are major player in your issues.
Is good that you have fertz ,and CO2 albeit unstable recently.
Leaves light as that which drives the demand for the former.
Would try and raise the light or shade it possibly with a layer or two of window screen,and run light's for a total of six hours a day(no more) for next few week's (3 minimum).
Get Co2 consistent by placing it on a timer to come on one hour before light's,and off one hour before light's go off for the day.
My two cent's.

Adopt a fertilizer dosing method such as EI for first few week's month's .
I can turn 1 of the T5HO bulbs off, do you think that will help?

I'm moving before July 31st, and my lights are not current hanging, so I can't raise them. I do plan on hanging them after I move, but I don't want to put a hole in the ceiling right before moving, so I've been holding off(I hate having to hold the lights up to put my hand in the tank anyway).

CO2 is on a timer now that I have a 10lb tank with regulator. So hopefully that little part of the equation is solved.

Thanks

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by JonA View Post
The hair algae can happen just because it's a new tank. Just remove as much of it as you can with a toothbrush or something. Dosing Excel really helps get algae under control.
I have been Dosing Excel since Monday, so hopefully that helps. No improvement so far, except my front glass seems to be staying free of dust algae better, so I'm hoping to see better results soon.

I'll try the toothbrush method, I've been trying to pinch and pull it off, but haven't had very good results.
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post #5 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-15-2017, 01:27 PM
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Yes,if light will work with just one bulb,this would help.
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post #6 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-15-2017, 02:20 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadmaster View Post
Yes,if light will work with just one bulb,this would help.
Thanks, I'll try that today. Each bulb has it's own switch, so it's easy.

Bump: Oh, would one bulb be better to turn off than the other?

1 bulb is a plant bulb and is kind of purple color.

The other bulb is just daylight color for looks.

Does 1 promote algae growth more than the other? I know in reef aquariums people tend to get algae towards the end of bulb life due to shifts in color range.
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post #7 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-15-2017, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by TormentedFishTank View Post
Thanks, I'll try that today. Each bulb has it's own switch, so it's easy.

Bump: Oh, would one bulb be better to turn off than the other?

1 bulb is a plant bulb and is kind of purple color.

The other bulb is just daylight color for looks.

Does 1 promote algae growth more than the other? I know in reef aquariums people tend to get algae towards the end of bulb life due to shifts in color range.
I would run the daylight bulb.
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post #8 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-16-2017, 12:21 AM Thread Starter
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Fertilizers arrived today. I went ahead and dosed the Plantex CSM+B part, as those minerals kind of worried me the most before since I was limited to flourish comp. Plus it's Thursday, so I think I'm going to pick up normally and do a water change Sunday.

Removed as much algae as I could again today. The toothbrush method worked better than I expected, but not perfect. Also removed some more dead plant mass, sigh.

I noticed some crypts growing up in the corner of the tank. These were from before, I thought I removed them all but I guess some of the roots lived.

Hopefully, things start looking up.
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post #9 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-16-2017, 02:03 PM Thread Starter
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My PH this morning is 6.4 before the lights come on. The Co2 has been on for almost an hour, so I'm guessing it's dropping it?

I guess I need to check the PH before the CO2 kicks in to get a good morning read right?

I'm a little worried because 6.4 is what the PH was yesterday during the middle of the day.

How low is too low for PH?
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post #10 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-16-2017, 02:49 PM
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Algae is taking off because your plants are struggling. This is more of a plant health issue than a light issue.


Quote:
Many of my leaves are turning brown/dark brown and wilting away. I've read this could be excessive phosphates or nitrates, but they have never tested over 2ppm or 20ppm. Could it be the potassium from the flourish potassium and iron doing it? I can't test that, so I've just been dosing according to instructions.
No, too much nutrients doesnt cause algae. Lack of something will.

Again this is all about plant health. Healthy plants dont get algae. A clean tank full of healthy plants doesnt either.

Focus on plant health rather than trying to "fight" algae. Get the plants right, maintain clean conditions, and the algae will take care of itself.

Of course in the meantime a little Excel/H2O2 may be called for, along with manually removing as much as you can. Maintain super clean conditions, remove any decaying or dead plant matter, keep filters clean, regular 50% water changes, etc etc.

Id be careful about reducing light too much. You want to continue to give the plants plenty. Having said that, 2 t5HOs sitting right on top of a 20H is probably too much. One bulb should be fine until you can raise the fixture a little bit.

The stems degrading at the substrate is a nutrient deficient issue. You said you ran out of P? Could be as simple as that.

Quote:
How low is too low for PH?
When the fish start gasping at the surface.

This is due to having too much CO2, which starts to affect respiration. It's not directly related to the pH level. We are just using PH to gauge the CO2.

Sit some tank water out in a bowl for 24 hours to let all the co2 de-gas. Check the PH.

This is your water with no co2. Compare to the tank's PH with the co2 running.

Shoot for a full 1 point drop (at least), preferably by the time lights come on, or fairly close to it.

This is where you'll have to dial in your rate of injection vs how early the co2 kicks on.

For example in my 120 gal, I can drop the PH 1 point in about 20 minutes. But then it becomes way too much after a couple of hours. So...I run a lower bubble rate and turn it on earlier, couple hours before the lights.

CO2 concentration doesnt climb indefinitely. Whatever rate you're injecting will top out at some point and stay there. So play with the bubble rate and when it kicks on.

Not sure what kind of PH test you're using, but a $20 digital PH pen is the best investment you can make (along with some calibration fluid to go with it).
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post #11 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-16-2017, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info. If it's a nutrient problem, then hopefully I have fixed all that this week with proper Co2 fertilizing and a full EI dosing starting yesterday.

My lights are on a stand, they are currently up about 2 inches from the top of the tank. I think I'm going to try them with both lights on today.

And can you explain what you mean about Co2 concentration or point me in a direction for it? I'm curious about that because last week even with the manual cartridges the drop checker would get almost yellow.

But since I've been having troubles I have not been able to get my drop checker more than a green color. I've done the KH->PH calculation and got a number of 47ppm, above the 30ppm, but I have also read such a calculation has flaws.

I've turned my Co2 up and had basically no effect.

Is it possible something is blocking out my Co2 from getting to it's needed concentration?
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post #12 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-16-2017, 05:45 PM
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First, I'm not the greatest "plant person" in the world.. that's for sure but I have noticed the more consistent I have things the better.. esp. CO2..
Jumping up and down is problematic..

also PetCo has many "not really aquatic plants"..
Good that you switched sources..

Last sometimes one must find plants that like you..

Get some Hygrophila corymbosa.. so that you can create a stable plant mass..
It's a good indicator of light conditions.. If leaves start slightly bronzing then you have high light..
If that dies you really do have problems...


Quote:
With the exception of very small aquariums and those with almost no illumination, there is no situation in which H. corymbosa 'Siamensis' cannot find a good home. Lighting and nutrient demands are moderate, as are those relating to nutrients. In addition, a wide variety of water hardness levels and temperatures are tolerated. It should be noted, however, that this plant will show symptoms of iron deficiency, such as green veins with yellowish surrounding tissue, if grown under high light but with inadequate iron levels. Likewise, problems with stunting can occur in fast growing specimens if macro nutrient levels dip too low. Fertilize as you would with most other plants and everything should be fine. To get the most out of H. corymbosa 'Siamensis', supply additional iron and light. In response, it will take on an attractive bronze hue. Otherwise, it will remain green.

H. corymbosa 'Siamensis' is an excellent plant for novice keepers of emersed aquarium plants, as it is able to withstand a wide range of conditions and everything just short of outright abuse.
and relax on the changes.. and don't Max CO2.. not at this point at least..
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post #13 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-16-2017, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
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I do have a Hygrophila corymbosa in the tank, and it's actually the plant that is doing best so far. I'm able to wipe the algae off it's leaves easiest.

It came with the tops being bronzed already, but I'll keep an eye out for new growth. A few new leaves down at the bottom that grew early were bright green.
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post #14 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-16-2017, 07:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TormentedFishTank View Post
Thanks for the info. If it's a nutrient problem, then hopefully I have fixed all that this week with proper Co2 fertilizing and a full EI dosing starting yesterday.

My lights are on a stand, they are currently up about 2 inches from the top of the tank. I think I'm going to try them with both lights on today.

And can you explain what you mean about Co2 concentration or point me in a direction for it? I'm curious about that because last week even with the manual cartridges the drop checker would get almost yellow.

But since I've been having troubles I have not been able to get my drop checker more than a green color. I've done the KH->PH calculation and got a number of 47ppm, above the 30ppm, but I have also read such a calculation has flaws.

I've turned my Co2 up and had basically no effect.

Is it possible something is blocking out my Co2 from getting to it's needed concentration?
A leak in the system is always the primary suspect. Use soapy water or a bubble solution (like they make for kids to play with) Apply it to every single joint and connection and look for bubbles.

Always need to first rule out a leak.

Drop checkers are pretty useless imo. So many variable can make them go wrong, and even under ideal circumstances they offer only a rough guess what was happening a couple hours ago.

By co2 concentration I just meant ppms in the water column.

Forget the charts and the drop checker. Go by the relative PH drop as I mentioned above.

Or you can do it the old fashioned way without testing anything. Slowly crank it up until the livestock show signs of stress, then back it a little down to where they are happy again.

Imo this is the best way to do it, because there's too much margin for error trying to pinpoint a specific number with a test.


Also fwiw Hygrophila corymbosa varieties can change color based on many different things, it's not necessarily related to light.
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post #15 of 45 (permalink) Old 06-16-2017, 09:06 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, I'll try taking out some tank water and testing it tomorrow.

Bump: Just put some water in a bowl, PH was again 6.4

Wonder where it will go.
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