unhappy dirted tank - add nitrates?
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Old 07-09-2014, 03:01 PM   #1
CDNSimpson
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unhappy dirted tank - add nitrates?


I've had a 55 gallon dirted tank running for about 2.5 months. Currently stocked with some cardinals, angels, corys, a raphael catfish, and a couple of golden rabbit snails. I have a big piece of driftwood as a centrepiece. Plants are swords, anubias, java fern, a few varieties of aponogeton, and a banana plant. HOB filter, lighting is just the LED strips that came with the tank. There's definitely some methane coming out of the substrate which I've been squeezing out when I do my weekly water changes. This is my first dirted tank, and I'm trying to keep it low tech.

Parameters as of yesterday (using a Nutrafin test kit):
NH3/NH4+: 0 mg/L
NO2-: 0 mg/L
NO3-: 0 mg/L
pH: 7.0
GH: 100 mg/L
KH: 60 mg/L

The plants have not been doing very well. The banana plant was looking happy for a while putting up lily pads and leaves, but now it's decaying. The aponogetons lost all their leaves after a couple of weeks in the tank. The swords and anubias have been holding steady, but no new growth to speak of. What's the best thing I can do for my plants? I'm not sure if I should be considering adding nitrates (which are consistently at 0 mg/L) - I'm afraid that might exacerbate the denitrifying bacteria/methane problem.

Thoughts?
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Old 07-09-2014, 03:17 PM   #2
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What are you using for a cap and what is kind of dirt did you use?
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Old 07-09-2014, 03:19 PM   #3
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Most soils can maybe provide nutrients for a few months but I believe that adding some dry fertilizers NPK (Nitrogen,phosphates,pottasium) will benefit the plants in the long run.
Nitrates at zero will not help plants thrive and the plants use a lot of this particular macro nutrient.
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Old 07-09-2014, 06:31 PM   #4
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The soil is just Miracle Grow Organic Choice, sieved to remove the big organic stuff, plus some red clay, capped with ~1" generic aquarium gravel.
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Old 07-09-2014, 07:21 PM   #5
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I would start dosing ferts 2 months ago.
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Old 07-09-2014, 07:29 PM   #6
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ha okay - I will have gotten right on that.

You don't think that adding nitrates is going to cause a denitrifying bacteria population explosion?
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Old 07-09-2014, 08:06 PM   #7
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I am using the same substrate and haven't had to dose anything so far and it has been about 7 months. Still getting amazing growth from crypts, downoi, anubias, java ferns, staurogyne repens and ludwigia repens. I have been throwing around the idea of using root tabs though but haven't decided. I don't think it should be a problem adding nitrates. If you are planted heavy enough your plants SHOULD just gobble it up. Last time I tested my water I think I had a little less than 10ppm of nitrates but haven't tested my water in a few months. Oops.
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Old 07-09-2014, 08:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CDNSimpson View Post
ha okay - I will have gotten right on that.

You don't think that adding nitrates is going to cause a denitrifying bacteria population explosion?
No.


Pick up the Seachem fundamental enhancer packs for planted tanks, those and some Seachem Flourish and Flourish Excel. Actually one of the enhancer packs comes with Flourish, Flourish Excel and Flourish Iron.

You will be fine.
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CDNSimpson View Post
I've had a 55 gallon dirted tank running for about 2.5 months. Currently stocked with some cardinals, angels, corys, a raphael catfish, and a couple of golden rabbit snails. I have a big piece of driftwood as a centrepiece. Plants are swords, anubias, java fern, a few varieties of aponogeton, and a banana plant. HOB filter, lighting is just the LED strips that came with the tank. There's definitely some methane coming out of the substrate which I've been squeezing out when I do my weekly water changes. This is my first dirted tank, and I'm trying to keep it low tech.

Parameters as of yesterday (using a Nutrafin test kit):
NH3/NH4+: 0 mg/L
NO2-: 0 mg/L
NO3-: 0 mg/L
pH: 7.0
GH: 100 mg/L
KH: 60 mg/L

The plants have not been doing very well. The banana plant was looking happy for a while putting up lily pads and leaves, but now it's decaying. The aponogetons lost all their leaves after a couple of weeks in the tank. The swords and anubias have been holding steady, but no new growth to speak of. What's the best thing I can do for my plants? I'm not sure if I should be considering adding nitrates (which are consistently at 0 mg/L) - I'm afraid that might exacerbate the denitrifying bacteria/methane problem.

Thoughts?
You should provide information about the LED light, like what the output is.

I think it might do some good to look at your methods, in addition to the paramaters. Like make a list of everything you do in the tank and post it here. I think you still have plenty of ferts in the soil and I don't think adding Nitrates is necessary.
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Old 07-09-2014, 10:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Django View Post
You should provide information about the LED light, like what the output is.
+1 to this. If it is one of the led hoods that come with the aquarium kits, that could be part of the problem. I had a 10 gallon kit that was housing some Rasboras that I moved from a bigger tank, and the led light is so low, my anubis wouldn't even grow.
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Old 07-09-2014, 10:17 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone for your input so far. The setup is primarily the Fluval 55 gallon premium kit, which includes a C4 HOB filter and an LED light which is 1890 Lumens at 8,000K.

As far as what I do... I do around 40% water changes once a week with Prime. The critters get some flake food (weekdays), some sinking wafers for the raphael (weekdays), algae tablets for the snails (a couple times a week). I removed the carbon from the filter and replaced it with crushed coral (the KH and pH were crashing during the initial fishless cycle, I reckon because of the driftwood which was and still is leeching tanins). Temperature is around 78F. Lights are on for about 9 hours/day. I have a bit of brown algae/diatoms on the glass, so I've been cleaning every couple of weeks. As I said in the original post, I've also been squeezing out the accumulated gas in the substrate when I do my water changes. That's about it... anything I left out?
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Old 07-09-2014, 11:14 PM   #12
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I have pretty much the same setup except the lighting...but I'm able to grow Madagascar lace, Blyxa japonica Apoton crispus,water wisteria,2 different types of crypts. star grass, ludguigia. rotella mondo grass, giant hairgrass,
The only difference is I have a Odessa 48" dual t5 light fixture with a 10k & a 6700k florescent bulbs. Both are 54w.
I will pm you about where I purchased them.
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Old 07-10-2014, 02:08 AM   #13
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MGO has chicken manure as it's major source of nutrients. Organic fertilizers decompose and then release the nutrients. During the decomposition stage it is common for there to be very little available nutrients for the plants. The bacteria that are decomposing the manure etc. are using the nutrients to build more bacteria. Once the food runs out and the bacteria die the nutrients will be available for the plants.

The nice thing about using potting soil the CEC is recharged when you add in dry ferts. i.e. it the positive charged nutrients are loosely attached in the substrate. You can also add in a small amount of dry ferts now to create available nutrients for the plants to grow. You might not have to add in more for several months.
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