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Old 09-04-2013, 11:39 PM   #1
SlammedDC2
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Trouble growing...


Okay so I have a 125g that has been up for almost two years. I have 70lbs of mineralized top soil capped with 120lbs of pool filter sand. T5HO 6500k/10000k lights on timer.

When I first planted the tank it grew like crazy. But over the last year it has really declined. I'm not real familiar with most plant names but went with most of the easier plants. I know I have dwarf sag amongst a few variety of swords. I also have crypts and Anubis amongst others I don't know. Anyway, the swords have really declined. At one point the amazons were 30-40+ leaves and almost growing out of the tank, then they started turning brown and dying off. I cut off all the death and saw some good new green growth, for a few days. Now those leaves are turning yellow and filled with holes. I use root tabs and was using co2 along with daily EI.

I stopped using the EI and co2 as I seemed to be wasting money on something that was not working.

I am now planning on tearing the whole tank down and redoing everything. I plan to use fluorite and floramax for substrate this time. I'm hoping the new substrate will help better feed the plants as most are all root feeders.

What thoughts or insight can you all give me? Any more information needed just let me know and I will do my best to supply.
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Old 09-05-2013, 05:10 AM   #2
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I'm not the most qualified to answer, but since no one else seems to be rushing to your aid, I will try my best

First thing that jumps out at me is how much t5ho? I use 65k and 10k on 55g, that's 2x54w. I've not dealt with a tank that large, but maybe you need more light assuming there was co2.

Photoperiod?

Yellow leaves filled with holes you say? If I encountered that, I would turn up the co2 and start dosing extra potassium.

I've read that dosing the water column also enriches the substrate and vice versa, so I've stopped worrying about root tabs as much as I used to, but having substrate enrichment can't hurt and gives some leeway if you forget to dose

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Originally Posted by SlammedDC2 View Post
I stopped using the EI and co2 as I seemed to be wasting money on something that was not working.
hmmm.....can't think of anything good that could come of that.....my opinion of course

EI w/ dry ferts and pressurized (after the initial cost) are the cheapest parts of the equation and, imo you shouldn't skimp on either.

What type of fertilizers were you using?

One thing I learned the hard way, is that you can't just "set it and forget it" when it comes to co2. You say the plants put out 30-40+ new leaves, well that means they are going to need more co2 to sustain the additional plant mass, possibly more ferts too

If you were dosing true ei style and had adequate co2 and still saw no benefit from using them I would suspect that something else was amiss .......flow or lighting maybe?

It helps to seriously pack the tank with plant mass from the get-go.

Still, starting over is fun, it's often easier to achieve a better scape the more experience you have.

If you do start over and plan on adding driftwood, consider using some eggcrate for the foundation to keep the driftwood from floating....you must do this before the substrate goes in so that's why I mention it.

I've done three tanks capped with floramax, I used dirt in two of those. I've no issue with floramax, it's cheap and looks nice imo, but you might consider paying the piper for some aquasoil, doubt you'd regret it.

Well that's about all I can easily think of. Best of luck to you!
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Old 09-05-2013, 06:27 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norbot View Post
I'm not the most qualified to answer, but since no one else seems to be rushing to your aid, I will try my best

First thing that jumps out at me is how much t5ho? I use 65k and 10k on 55g, that's 2x54w. I've not dealt with a tank that large, but maybe you need more light assuming there was co2.
I have 2x54w 65k &2x54w 10k Lights are about 4" from the water surface

Quote:
Photoperiod?
12 hours

Quote:
Yellow leaves filled with holes you say? If I encountered that, I would turn up the co2 and start dosing extra potassium.
co2 was up pretty good/high
ferts: kn03, kh2p04, k2s04, csm+b, iron chelate 13%

Quote:
I've read that dosing the water column also enriches the substrate and vice versa, so I've stopped worrying about root tabs as much as I used to, but having substrate enrichment can't hurt and gives some leeway if you forget to dose
I thought with the MTS under the sand it would help (and did in the beginning.


Quote:
(Originally Posted by SlammedDC2 View Post
I stopped using the EI and co2 as I seemed to be wasting money on something that was not working.)
hmmm.....can't think of anything good that could come of that.....my opinion of course
After 5 months of turning the co2 up and daily dosing wasn't doing anything as the plants continued to die off and show more holes/yellow so I got tired of having to refill the co2 tanks.

Quote:
EI w/ dry ferts and pressurized (after the initial cost) are the cheapest parts of the equation and, imo you shouldn't skimp on either.
I'm not worried about the cost because they aren't that bad, the biggest headache is getting time to get the tank refilled but it's not impossible.

Quote:
What type of fertilizers were you using?
see above

Quote:
One thing I learned the hard way, is that you can't just "set it and forget it" when it comes to co2. You say the plants put out 30-40+ new leaves, well that means they are going to need more co2 to sustain the additional plant mass, possibly more ferts too
When I first started the tank I had no co2 or ferts and had more growth from the lower tech plants then. When I added the co2/ferts they did so much better for a few months and then started to die off.

Quote:
If you were dosing true ei style and had adequate co2 and still saw no benefit from using them I would suspect that something else was amiss .......flow or lighting maybe?
I mentioned about the lights above, as for flow there is a cpr cs 1200 overflow (full siphon) with a 29g sump 1200gph return (griggs reactor). return and drains are all 1" pvc. return is run the length of the tank with three dumps 1-2.5" below the surface evenly spaced.

Quote:
It helps to seriously pack the tank with plant mass from the get-go.
A few days after initial planting


Here is one of the original pictures from about 4-5 months old


Here you can see where the swords took off







Quote:
Still, starting over is fun, it's often easier to achieve a better scape the more experience you have.
I'm hoping that will work better, I'm also ready for a new scape so that will be nice too.

Quote:
If you do start over and plan on adding driftwood, consider using some eggcrate for the foundation to keep the driftwood from floating....you must do this before the substrate goes in so that's why I mention it.
I've got a decent amount of mantazita and DW in there and might go with a little more.

Quote:
I've done three tanks capped with floramax, I used dirt in two of those. I've no issue with floramax, it's cheap and looks nice imo, but you might consider paying the piper for some aquasoil, doubt you'd regret it.

Well that's about all I can easily think of. Best of luck to you!
I don't think I am going with dirt this time, just the gravels mentioned in the OP. But time will tell. I haven't completely decided to keep this tank.
I have been toying with the idea of tearing it down and moving my turtles in for a bigger place (they are still very small 1.5") But then there goes any chance of having any below water plants.

I guess this thread is my way of trying to keep it a full planted/fish tank and leave the turtles in the 55g for the next year until I get them into a pond.

I'll do my best to get some recent pics in tomorrow.
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Old 09-05-2013, 07:04 AM   #4
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Hehe, just looked at your avatar and it occurred to me, I am not ready!

I assume you've looked at the par chart, 12 hours seems long to me, but if you look at the dr. seuss thread you'll see them using 24/day 6xt5ho (if I remember correctly) so I can't comment any further on the light except to say you could always experiment with adding more or less light. Without a par meter, it's the hardest thing to get right imo

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Originally Posted by SlammedDC2 View Post
co2 was up pretty good/high
I'm assuming you did try to confirm that via dc or chart? Did the fish ever act up? Some consider it mean, but it's the most telling imo. 10x leak check is the minimum I do anymore hehe

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Originally Posted by SlammedDC2 View Post
I'm not worried about the cost because they aren't that bad, the biggest headache is getting time to get the tank refilled but it's not impossible.
I agree completely, that's why I went with 20#er, but I noticed a 100# on cl the with reg/filler for $200 and started thinking.......
bps is meaningless and all that, but I ran for about 6 months or so at 8-10 and am at 15 bps reg w/ 35 psi and I had to play with the surface agitation to get it there. 55g, I read that co2 makes up like 48% or something of what plants want and I try to repeat this to myself daily

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Originally Posted by SlammedDC2 View Post
I don't think I am going with dirt this time, just the gravels mentioned in the OP. But time will tell. I haven't completely decided to keep this tank.
Right on. Some consideration of what type of fish you keep could affect your decision, for example, aquasoil buffers kh and acidifies the water, so for soft water fish, it has benefits in addition to plant nutrients.

I think you may have exhausted all I think I know about planted tanks! haha
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Old 09-06-2013, 07:50 AM   #5
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Hehe, just looked at your avatar and it occurred to me, I am not ready!
Sir you need to be prepared.

Quote:
I assume you've looked at the par chart, 12 hours seems long to me, but if you look at the dr. seuss thread you'll see them using 24/day 6xt5ho (if I remember correctly) so I can't comment any further on the light except to say you could always experiment with adding more or less light. Without a par meter, it's the hardest thing to get right imo
so far 12 hours seems to keep the algae at bay and was doing great until everything decided it would rather not live in my tank. I'll have to try again here soon and see everything works when I redo everything.


Quote:
I'm assuming you did try to confirm that via dc or chart? Did the fish ever act up? Some consider it mean, but it's the most telling imo. 10x leak check is the minimum I do anymore hehe
Yes, the DC was yellow but no the fish didn't really act up, but then again I have very few fish in a large tank (maybe 25, largest being to bosemani rainbows in 140ish gallons of volume) so I don't know if that matters.


Quote:
I agree completely, that's why I went with 20#er, but I noticed a 100# on cl the with reg/filler for $200 and started thinking.......
bps is meaningless and all that, but I ran for about 6 months or so at 8-10 and am at 15 bps reg w/ 35 psi and I had to play with the surface agitation to get it there. 55g, I read that co2 makes up like 48% or something of what plants want and I try to repeat this to myself daily
I don't know what I would do with a 100lb tank but that would be awesome.
I have a 10# main tank and a 5# back up for when the big one goes down the tank doesn't have to go without for a week.
I don't pay any attention to the bps, I just use the DC for a reference.

Quote:
Right on. Some consideration of what type of fish you keep could affect your decision, for example, aquasoil buffers kh and acidifies the water, so for soft water fish, it has benefits in addition to plant nutrients.
I'm not real sure of what I will stock it with yet, I'll probably put a couple more bosemanis in along with lots of tetras (rummy nose, lemons, etc.)

Quote:
I think you may have exhausted all I think I know about planted tanks! haha
Thank you very much for all your help. I have also been looking in the journal area to get motivation and inspiration for the up coming redo.
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Old 09-06-2013, 02:08 PM   #6
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I would think, and I could be entirely wrong, that the supply of nutrients in the substrate has been exhausted. That combined with no water column dosing or CO2 is the problem. Replacing the substrate and/or going with richer water column dosing will probably perk your plants right up.
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Old 09-06-2013, 05:41 PM   #7
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I would think, and I could be entirely wrong, that the supply of nutrients in the substrate has been exhausted. That combined with no water column dosing or CO2 is the problem. Replacing the substrate and/or going with richer water column dosing will probably perk your plants right up.
I couldn't agree more. I had the same exact issue earlier this year. I got rid of all poor health plants (I got rid of a 6 gal trasdh can full); mainly pin holes & tore up leaves (that cannot be fixed). I didn't want to wait on new growth so I redid my tank (135gal). I went from low tech to high tech w/ high lighting, learned a ton on this forum (never stop learning). Indeed if you have the means / funds then do a complete overhaul. I did everything except the substrate & filter. If you can, get a good nutrient based substrate such as the ADA Aqua Soil...if only I would've know / could afford it back then. I have fluorite / laterite / eco-complete and it was depleted of supporting my plants in about 3 yrs. Now it's just like nothing but small rocks doing nothing but holding plants. So, I have to keep dumping money into root tabs / pellets / capsules (whatever). So, in the long run Aqua Soil is cheaper & better for the plants w/ less maintenance (no need for root tabs)

Get on the CO2 & EI as well. get them dialed in & balanced. You likely didn't see the plant effects if your lighting is lower and you stop ferts. Cutting back on one makes the other usless to the plants as your limiting things they need. Your car isn't as good on a doughnut spare tire as four good tires. It takes time....
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Old 09-08-2013, 05:15 PM   #8
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If you can, get a good nutrient based substrate such as the ADA Aqua Soil...if only I would've know / could afford it back then. I have fluorite / laterite / eco-complete and it was depleted of supporting my plants in about 3 yrs. Now it's just like nothing but small rocks doing nothing but holding plants. So, I have to keep dumping money into root tabs / pellets / capsules (whatever). So, in the long run Aqua Soil is cheaper & better for the plants w/ less maintenance (no need for root tabs)
I would like to do aquasoil but I am having a little trouble figuring out how much I would need for 2.5-3" for the 125.
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Old 09-08-2013, 07:53 PM   #9
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I would like to do aquasoil but I am having a little trouble figuring out how much I would need for 2.5-3" for the 125.
I'm sure if you call ADG or AFA they would know how much you'll need.
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