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Old 01-09-2013, 07:00 PM   #1
bkraz
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Need some help


Hi everyone. New around these parts. I came to find some information to help me recover my planted tank, which has really been suffering after we moved from the Cleveland area to the Toledo area.

I have a 55 gal tank that, at one time, I could barely contain the growth of some of my plants. I had been cutting them back and giving away plants to friends and family because I had so much growth. After we moved, I was able to keep plants but new growth was spotty, at best. For the past 6 months I have been watching most of my plants retract back to their pots or root systems. Right now I have only one plant that I can call a success, and really that's pushing it. It's nice and big but it doesn't have the color it used to and the new growth shoots that I am used to finding in the gravel are at a minimum.

I started my live plant tank about 9 years ago and, honestly, was completely ignorant and lucky at first. We were in an apartment at the time and with only a T8 grow bulb in a 26 gallon tank I was producing Anacharis and Cabomba so fast I couldn't give it away fast enough. We then moved into a house and upgraded to the 55 gal tank. At first we struggled with really any plants. After research, I decided it was a lighting problem as I couldn't get enough light into the water with T8 bulbs. I ended up getting a 130W Coralife aqualight and that was indeed the magic that allowed me to start growing again. I couldn't keep the Anacharis and Cabomba for some reason, but switched up to Kleiner Bar Sword and Red Rubin and had a lot of success - again, had to give a lot of growth away.

Now we move again... and I really have zero growth, in fact I've lost all of my Kleiner Bars and only have one decent Red Rubin left. I'm using the same 10,000K Coralife CF lamps, although I want to change to their 6700K lamps which seem to have a better balance of outputs in red and blue (and less green). But my pH, gH and kH are all different, now, and I'm wondering if these are really the problem that I am having.

My Tap results:
pH 8.4
GH 6
kH 4

My Tank results:
pH 7.2
GH 8
kH 2

My heater is really old and I am replacing it, but it's only fluctuating between 73 and 76 - so it's not like I'm a disaster on heating.

I know I've let my bulbs run a little long, which is why I am replacing them.

I run two whisper 60 filters that really seem to do a great job.

I use a mix of gravel and fluorite substrate (and admittedly have not added fluorite in some time.

I have never had to use fertilizer in the past (though I came close before, when I ended up going with more light in the tank after upgrading to the 55).

I admittedly have never tested for, or used, or learned much about CO2.

I have approximately the same number and biomass of fish (many are even the same individual fish) in the tank and the fish leave the plants alone (they're not eating them, anyway).

One other item... I have very little green algae growth (just a little on the glass, but overall it's very low) but I am collecting reddish algae growth on the glass at or beneath the gravel/fluorite line that I cannot get rid of. I have never had this before moving here, and so I wonder if this is a clue that helps diagnose at least part of my situation.

I need some help here. My tank used to be pretty impressive and with mostly little effort. Now, I'm really struggling.

I can try to provide more info if needed. Thanks for any help, guys. My wife and I would really appreciate it.
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:07 PM   #2
somewhatshocked
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Light drives the need for CO2 and ferts. When you upped your lighting, you increased the plants' need for both. That can lead to problems with your plants and with algae.

Have you read the sticky in the Lighting sub-forum? That's a good place to start. Then check out the Fert & Water Parameter sub-forum.
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:20 PM   #3
bkraz
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That certainly makes sense. However, I increased my lighting 6 years ago after having some difficulty when we first upgraded to the 55 gal tank. And I had a lot of success after getting that light into the tank - for years I was rolling along smoothly - and without any fert or CO2 efforts at all.

Thinking about the situation, though, the location of the tank is quite different, now. Before, I had it in our living room which had a window but was otherwise pretty controlled in the way of natural light. After we moved, I have this in a family room and it's sitting within 6 feet of large patio sliders so there definitely could be a significant increase in natural light making it's way into the tank.

Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhatshocked View Post
Light drives the need for CO2 and ferts. When you upped your lighting, you increased the plants' need for both. That can lead to problems with your plants and with algae.

Have you read the sticky in the Lighting sub-forum? That's a good place to start. Then check out the Fert & Water Parameter sub-forum.
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Old 01-10-2013, 02:41 PM   #4
bkraz
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Okay... so thank you for the links which, wow, tons of information in those. I'm now certainly convinced about using PAR as the means for lighting a tank, rather than wattage. And I'm after the PAR data from Coralife on these lamps.

Here's the thing, though: the light on the tank hasn't changed, and so unless the natural light making its way into the tank has affected things, the CO2 requirements should also be the same (qualifications below).

Values that remain the same from when I was growing nicely:
1. fish
2. substrate
3. plants
4. light fixture
5. plant food used (none)
6. fish food type and amount
7. filters and media

Values that have changed in the move
1. water
2. age of lamps used in light fixture (these are now quite old... say, a year and a half... ish).
3. placement of tank and natural light exposure

Anyone got some thoughts, here?

{edit} BAH! I just smacked my forehead on this one... this tank is also positioned next to our eat-in kitchen which features a ceiling fan/light that uses 4 big 18W 1250 lumen CFL bulbs. This fixture is a mere 5 feet away from the top of the tank. And, of course, since we could see the tank from the kitchen, the wife convinced me to take the background off the tank so we could see into it from all sides.

So it sounds like I'm over-lighting the tank, now.

Last edited by bkraz; 01-10-2013 at 03:15 PM.. Reason: edited because I forgot about the light fixture nearby
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Old 01-10-2013, 03:05 PM   #5
bikinibottom
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If you haven't changed your bulbs or substrate in 6 years, then both have certainly "changed" in the sense that you're probably getting a different spectrum of light, and may have exhausted whatever micro nutrients you had in the substrate (and/or the substrate could be broken down and giving something off). Combined with the change in water parameters, you almost have a new tank than what you had 6 years ago. I'd change the bulb and substrate and then see where you're at.
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Old 01-11-2013, 02:58 AM   #6
bkraz
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Well this just keeps gettin' better and better...

Thank you for your thought on the substrate. I think that is indeed a good idea to maintain that a bit better.

Now I'm at square one with lighting. My ballast in my Coralife aqualight just went on me... AGAIN That marks the 3rd time (along with 3 sets of wires). So together with bulbs I'd be 3/4 of the way to a new light and I think it's time to toss this Coralife CF system to the dumpster side of life.
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