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Old 06-12-2013, 12:44 AM   #1
SuperScro
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Help identifying what is wrong with my plants


I've been looking to fix up my family's freshwater tank since I moved back home. I want to be able to add more plants, some more livestock, and driftwood. But a lot of work needs to be done, and since the plants now aren't doing so well, I need to figure out what is wrong. Here is info on my tank and the parameters.

36 gallon bowfront
79 F
0 Ammonia
0 Nitrite
30-50 Nitrate. It's difficult to read the liquid tests but it is somewhere in this range.
Ph level is high too at about 7.4
I don't know kH, the liquid tests didn't include so I have to go out and buy one.

Inhabitants include 2 Blue Gouramis. 1 Pictus Cat. 1 Oto. 1 Blackskirt Tetra
No plants or livestock have been added in quite some time.

Lighting is a T5HO fixture. 36" 156 watts. Only 1 ballast is being used, since the other was burned out during a storm a while ago (the replacement ballast the sent me wasn't right but that is another story). The two bulbs are a 6700k and a I believe a 420nm Actinic (the pink colored one, colormax i believe). The bulbs are from coralife right now. The fixture also has a reflectors built into it.

The thing about the lights is I am unsure if it is too much or not enough. From my understanding the intensity is high, with the tank being about 18-20 inches in height and the fixture is about 2 inches from the top.

I also have no been dosing C02 yet. I believe this could be the main cause. I also don't think algae is too bad. For the lack of maintenance on the tank since it has been cycled, it feel like it would be worse.

I haven't been dosing anything either. The substrate is supposed to be some type of plant fertilizing substrate, but I don't think my family is sure what the name is, it was just recommended by the LFS.

So I'm attaching pictures (pre water change and other cleaning). If anyone can identify the problem and advise me on what steps to take, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

http://imgur.com/a/P4H4n
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Old 06-12-2013, 01:11 AM   #2
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It looks like dreaded BBA
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Old 06-12-2013, 01:13 AM   #3
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I would start with a big trim, remove every leaf infected, remove the rocks and scrub them with a brush and peroxide. Then a 50% water change. Don't worry about the ph unless it was stable at like 7.1 for months then started to climb or dip.

Some DIY co2 brew should help keep the plants growing well along with healthy fish feedings maybe twice a day.
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Old 06-12-2013, 01:16 AM   #4
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decrease the time on your light take your plants out and soak it in 1/2 peroxyde 1/2 tank water for 30 min the algae should turn pink in a couple days and fall off
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Old 06-12-2013, 01:16 AM   #5
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Reduce you temp to about 75, it will help the water hold more dissolved gasses. All your stock will be fine at this temp.
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Old 06-12-2013, 02:07 AM   #6
James M
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3 Day black out and treat with Excel (as per Tom Barr) - see where that gets you before you start tearing things apart maybe?
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Old 06-12-2013, 03:27 AM   #7
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Hmmm so it does seem to look like BBA. I don't know much about it, but from a quick browse it sounds kind of awful. The thing is at least I'm not deeply invested in a planted tank yet, it's just a few plants that aren't doing so well. If the problem showed up when the tank was much more developed, it would quite a mess.

I'm going to reduce the temp and lighting period for now. The rocks are all pretty covered so I'm going to have to scrub them down.

I feel like the larger sword might be beyond saving, it has decayed a lot. But I well attempt to save the Anubias and the other plant with a soak in the peroxide and tank water.
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Old 06-13-2013, 01:08 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James M View Post
3 Day black out and treat with Excel (as per Tom Barr) - see where that gets you before you start tearing things apart maybe?
What exactly is Excel? I can't seem to find anything on it.
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Old 06-15-2013, 01:03 PM   #9
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Excel is a glutaraeldehyde or something similarly spelled... Solution that acts as a bio available carbon supply for some plants.
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Old 06-15-2013, 02:12 PM   #10
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As well as cleaning the plants, reducing the light and the other excellent suggestions start feeding the plants! That special substrate doesn't have all plants need to grow.

With all the light your tank has you really need CO2, either use only one light bulb or put some on the tank. If you use one bulb then you might get away with dosing a potassium and micro nutrient liquid, the kind found in most pet stores. If you decide to use CO2 then you will need the full range and it is cheaper to use dry fertilizer powders you usually have to buy online. See the stickied thread in the fertilizer and water parameter forum here.
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Old 06-15-2013, 08:04 PM   #11
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I would find a way to raise your dissolved CO2 levels. BBA will disappear over time if you do. BBA will out compete your plants in low light conditions, so I am doubtful of blackouts. Excel might make the difference and Tom Barr is plenty smart. I have found that CO2 is really the key, plus lots of water movement. Ferts go without saying too.
Good luck,
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Old 06-19-2013, 04:06 AM   #12
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So I misread the directions on excel and was only adding 1mL per 10 gallons. So I will follow with 5mL per 10 gallons instead.

Now how will I know when the C02 levels are at a better level? If I continue to add 5mL per 10 gallons past the point of a good C02 level, it will do some damage.

My kH levels are very low. In the tank it has been at 2dH, and hasn't changed for the 5 days i've been adding excel. (note in these 5 days i was only doing the 1mL per 10 gallons)

Now according to this chart http://www.americanaquariumproducts....s/co2chart.jpg
my C02 is still very low.
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Old 06-19-2013, 10:15 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperScro View Post
So I misread the directions on excel and was only adding 1mL per 10 gallons. So I will follow with 5mL per 10 gallons instead.
The 5 mL per 10 gallons is only for the initial dose.

Taken from the Seachem website:
Quote:
On initial use or after a major (> 40%) water change, use 1 capful (5 mL) for every 40 L (10 gallons*). Thereafter use 1 capful for every 200 L (50 gallons*) daily or every other day.
And actually, most people ignore the instructions and just dose the regular dose (5 mL per 50 gallons).

You can spot treat to get rid of the BBA more quickly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperScro View Post
Now how will I know when the C02 levels are at a better level? If I continue to add 5mL per 10 gallons past the point of a good C02 level, it will do some damage.

My kH levels are very low. In the tank it has been at 2dH, and hasn't changed for the 5 days i've been adding excel. (note in these 5 days i was only doing the 1mL per 10 gallons)

Now according to this chart http://www.americanaquariumproducts....s/co2chart.jpg
my C02 is still very low.
As you are not injecting CO2, you cannot use that chart. Addition of Excel will not change your CO2 levels.
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Old 06-19-2013, 01:37 PM   #14
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excel does not add co2 to your aquarium. while it helps when someone has no co2 injection, it is not co2. I highly suggest you invest in a pressurized co2 system. especially with the lighting. I had a slight algae outbreak after a rescape two weeks ago and cut back my co2 a bit to introduce some new rcs. I cranked the co2 back up and the algae is almost completely gone.
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Old 06-23-2013, 07:13 PM   #15
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It doesn't seem as if the algae is growing much anymore. After cleaning the plants and rocks in the tank, after a week or so I haven't seen any more BBA growth within the tank.

So I assume I have it under control as of right now. My next step is a DIY C02 project. Should I continue to keep the light on for only a few hours a day, or can I increase the lighting time?
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