New to plants and need a lot of help - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 82 (permalink) Old 12-05-2018, 02:15 PM Thread Starter
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New to plants and need a lot of help

Good Morning Planted Tank!

I'm brand new here and brand new to keeping aquarium plants. I have been keeping fish for a few years so I am not brand new in that aspect. I have done a ton of reading but please be kind if I am a bit lacking in aquarium plant experience.

Not sure where to start.
Tank in need of help;
55 gallon
2 Aquaclear 110's with pre-filters
1 Beamsworks 120 6500k
Substrate is a combination of blue gravel from wallmart and about 40 lbs of eco-complete. (I am swapping it out slowly to all eco-complete in hopes to make my plants happier...waste of time or good move?)
I use prime as my dechlorinator
I use Seachem Flourish @ 5ml once or twice a week...usually once. I just recently tried a second dose midweek.
I use Seachem Excel @ 5ml a day and 5ml per 10 gal with water changes. (I very recently started using fertilizer and excel the day after a water change. Thought it may be ineffective having ferts and a dechlorinator together?)

Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 30ish
Tested with API Freshwater kit

I do weekly gravel siphoning and water changes. I change 20 gallons a week with prime. Then I dose flourish and excel the next day.

I am probably a bit over stocked and I don't know the exact numbers of fish but I have guppies, molly's, platys and oto's. I have 1 pleco in there that is maybe 6 inches. I know (and so does the wife ) that the pleco is a common (called high fin at the store) and will get huge and require a big tank at some point. I got rid of a lot of fish 2 weeks ago which I have to do fairly often with so many live-bearers. There are also about 10-15 assassin snails in there. They wiped out my pest snail invasion (got that from trying out live plants) and have been busy multiplying. Even moved a few assassins to other tanks.

I have 2 main issues.
One is terrible plant growth with plants covered in algae.
Two is what appears to be green beard algae...possibly hair or staghorn? It is green, appears in tufts, spread very fast, I have seen a Molly eating a mini bush of this but they don't really control it.

I tried a few different plants and had little to no success.
I tried red flame sword, Cabomba, ludwigia, moneywort and hornwort...and lost pretty much everything. I have a few dying pieces of red ludwigia and moneywort left.
I have been successful keeping 3 different anubias plants and java moss. I added 2 large amazon sword plants two weeks ago (into the eco-complete with root tabs) and it is growing new leaves. I also now have a bunch of duckweed floating that hitched a ride on another plant many months ago...along with those mentioned snails AND leeches. Damn leaches took out a lot of shrimp...but that's a different tank and another story for another day.

The only course of action I have taken is to manually remove the tufts that I can get to without ripping what remains of my plants apart, and I started dosing excel at 2x the normal daily...so 10ml every morning.

Currently in tank...3 anubias, 2 amazon swords, a bunch of java moss and a bunch of duckweed. There are 2 pretty much completely melted red flame swords, 2 not really growing moneywort, 2 or 3 not really growing red ludwigia.

Any advice, questions, comments are welcomed. My troubles started after adding the new light, (in March), plants, ferts, liquid carbon.
Thanks,
Ed
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post #2 of 82 (permalink) Old 12-05-2018, 02:23 PM
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Any advice, questions, comments are welcomed. My troubles started after adding the new light, (in March), plants, ferts, liquid carbon.
Thanks,
Ed
Max lighting 8 hours per day.
Ferts: You are only supplying micro nutrients (plants need only trace amounts of micro nutrients) to the tank with Flourish. No macro or secondary nutrients. But, given you fish load, plant selection and light choice you can probably get away with a simple liquid fertilizer. Maybe try out Thrive instead, as it is a true all-in-one fertilizer that supplies macro, micro and secondary nutrients.

No such thing as liquid carbon, Excel is an algaecide that allows better use of atmospheric CO2 in the water, and slightly inhibits algae growth under stronger lighting. Continue to dose this daily.

Eco-complete is a waste of money (sorry to be the bearer of bad news). It's nothing but crushed lava rock that offers nothing to benefit plant growth. Continue to use root tabs, they are a good solution for low tech tanks. I would suggest going the DIY route with root tabs. Much cheaper this way.

Don't be afraid of going up to 25-30 gallon during each water change.

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post #3 of 82 (permalink) Old 12-05-2018, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Quagulator.

Ah yes, photo-period. It is set to 8 hours currently...turned back from 10 hours 2 months ago.

I am happy to try out a different fertilizer solution...well, apparently a full fertilizer solution since mine is so lacking currently. Thanks...Thrive added to my amazon cart.

I will continue to dose excel daily. Do you recommend I stick with 2X or go back to recommended dosage?

No, that's fine! I only bought 2 bags so I won't bother doing the pita gravel swapping. You just saved me money and time...and a back ache.
Tabs, I just got a big package of those so once I'm running low I will look into DIY version.

Ok, I'm down for more water change. I had read doing over %50 change threw C02 levels off and can cause algae issue with planted tanks. Hence why I am here and trying to learn.

Wondering if you can speak to this part? Is it ok to add prime, fertilizer, excel all at one time? I had been doing all at once and recently changed to adding ferts and excel the day after water change/prime.
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post #4 of 82 (permalink) Old 12-05-2018, 03:07 PM
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Thanks Quagulator.

No problem, we are here to help!

Ah yes, photo-period. It is set to 8 hours currently...turned back from 10 hours 2 months ago.

Go down to 6 hours if need be. Algae won't like 6 hours.

I am happy to try out a different fertilizer solution...well, apparently a full fertilizer solution since mine is so lacking currently. Thanks...Thrive added to my amazon cart.

Thrive is good. You may find that down the road you can run into issues running "someone else's" fertilizer mix. Not to mention it if more $$ to do so. Dry fert's are the easiest / cheapest. But Thrive should do you well for now / for low tech.

I will continue to dose excel daily. Do you recommend I stick with 2X or go back to recommended dosage?

2x dose is fine / safe. Continue the higher dose if algae is an issue.

No, that's fine! I only bought 2 bags so I won't bother doing the pita gravel swapping. You just saved me money and time...and a back ache.

If you don't want to blue gravel, but want a nice looking substrate, mix the darker eco-complete with some very well rinsed Black Diamond brand medium grit blasting sand. Super cheap and works very nice. I have a mix of Flourite Black and Black Blasting sand in my winter-pond fish holding tank, it looks really nice and is super cheap.

Tabs, I just got a big package of those so once I'm running low I will look into DIY version.

I build my own with fertilizers I have access to through work, but Osmocote + into some size double 0 gel capsules are an easy win.

Ok, I'm down for more water change. I had read doing over %50 change threw C02 levels off and can cause algae issue with planted tanks. Hence why I am here and trying to learn.

Planted tanks love water changes... No idea where you would have heard that. This is not the place nor the time to get into the water change "debate" (AKA water change war on this forum haha)

Wondering if you can speak to this part? Is it ok to add prime, fertilizer, excel all at one time? I had been doing all at once and recently changed to adding ferts and excel the day after water change/prime.

I have heard the Prime can bind to certain fertilizers, just skip dosing ferts on WC day. Excel is NOT a fertilizer, so it can be dosed with your WC.

See bold

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post #5 of 82 (permalink) Old 12-05-2018, 03:33 PM Thread Starter
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That makes sense...the need to customize ferts for your specific setup. I will try Thrive in hopes of getting the plants back in a growing/happy state.

Blasting sand eh!? Thanks for that tip! I do like the look of eco compared to the blue so I will probably pick that up this weekend.

I don't recall where I read that bit about planted tanks and water changes. Again, I'm here to learn...not trying to stir up controversy.

I had read the same about prime binding to fertilizers, hence my recent change in routine. Good to know prime and excel are happy together at WC time.

I really appreciate the rapid replies Quagulator
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post #6 of 82 (permalink) Old 12-05-2018, 07:18 PM Thread Starter
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Adding a pic of the green algae in hopes to identify type.
http://51c54e40fd1795841a30-aed1b662...-optimized.jpg
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post #7 of 82 (permalink) Old 12-06-2018, 01:24 PM Thread Starter
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Thrive arrives tomorrow. I had dosed flourish yesterday, Wed Dec. 6. Should I dose Thrive asap or wait until I do my normal water change over the weekend/wait a day then dose? Seems an elementary question but I have made nothing but mistakes since trying my hand at aquarium plants and want to end that pattern.
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post #8 of 82 (permalink) Old 12-06-2018, 01:26 PM
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Adding a pic of the green algae in hopes to identify type.
http://51c54e40fd1795841a30-aed1b662...-optimized.jpg
I would manually remove all algae and ALL AFFECTED plant tissue. It will rarely recover, if at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Biggles View Post
Thrive arrives tomorrow. I had dosed flourish yesterday, Wed Dec. 6. Should I dose Thrive asap or wait until I do my normal water change over the weekend/wait a day then dose? Seems an elementary question but I have made nothing but mistakes since trying my hand at aquarium plants and want to end that pattern.
You can wait until a regular WC. Use this time to remove all excess organics / algae / poor plant tissue. Think of the water change as "reset"

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post #9 of 82 (permalink) Old 12-06-2018, 01:31 PM Thread Starter
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Morning Q.

Great, I have a plan of action now. Do you by chance know what algae that is?
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post #10 of 82 (permalink) Old 12-06-2018, 01:35 PM
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Looks like some BBA and some Hair Algae to me. Not 100% sure though.

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post #11 of 82 (permalink) Old 12-06-2018, 06:44 PM Thread Starter
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Tell me if I am thinking right here...knowing the exact algae type may not be important because my nutrients are so out of wack that once I start with a complete fertilizer and get the water parameters more in balance, my plants will take off and out compete any algae that I could not manually remove?

While I am here, are there any other tests you recommend I get? I have API fresh water master...so PH, PH high, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate is all I can currently test.
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post #12 of 82 (permalink) Old 12-06-2018, 06:58 PM
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Tell me if I am thinking right here...knowing the exact algae type may not be important because my nutrients are so out of wack that once I start with a complete fertilizer and get the water parameters more in balance, my plants will take off and out compete any algae that I could not manually remove?

While I am here, are there any other tests you recommend I get? I have API fresh water master...so PH, PH high, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate is all I can currently test.
Unhealthy plants promote algae growth. Algae will feed off the ammonia / sugars / nutrients that unhealthy plants give off / release. Healthier plants = less change for algae to germinate / take hold.

Remember, any old, affected plant tissue will not recover by switching up fertilizers. It's best to trim away any and all visibly "bad" plant tissue.

Useful things to have access too / knowledge on:

NO3 (API works)
PO4 (API works) - Although I never test for PO4.... Some people do though.
kH - Carbonate hardness (API works)
gH - General hardness or total combination of Ca + Mg (API works)
Ca (API saltwater works) - helps understand what your gH is made up of.
Calibrated pH pen (any $20 one off Amazon) - The API liquid tests will work, just not as accurate as a calibrated pen
TDS meter - optional

rotalabutterfly.com / nutrient calculator - learn to use (it's easy, ask for help if need be )
Your city / town water report. You can usually pick up some good info on what's in your water from these.

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post #13 of 82 (permalink) Old 12-06-2018, 07:21 PM Thread Starter
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I hear you loud and clear...I will manually remove all algae I can along with dead or dying plant matter. (Place order for more plants...my evasive snail killing team is impressive. I always get snails with plants...maybe you also know a more reputable/less snail infested place I should be buying plants from?)

Thanks.
So I have NO3 from API kit, and I just remembered I have a bluelab PH pen. I will soak the bulb and get new calibration liquid.

kH, gH, Ca...I will pick those up.
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post #14 of 82 (permalink) Old 12-06-2018, 07:26 PM
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I hear you loud and clear...I will manually remove all algae I can along with dead or dying plant matter. (Place order for more plants...my evasive snail killing team is impressive. I always get snails with plants...maybe you also know a more reputable/less snail infested place I should be buying plants from?)

Thanks.
So I have NO3 from API kit, and I just remembered I have a bluelab PH pen. I will soak the bulb and get new calibration liquid.

kH, gH, Ca...I will pick those up.
Yep that pH probe should work well once re-calibrated.

Don't bother with the Ca test unless you don't care about spending a few extra dollars. gH as a whole is good enough for us. If need be just bump gH up a few degrees with some gH booster and call it good.

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post #15 of 82 (permalink) Old 12-06-2018, 07:50 PM Thread Starter
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Ok...gH/kH test kit and calibration solution are on the list...gH booster too...what gH value should I be targeting? I also don't test pH often only because I don't attempt to make any adjustments...should I be testing and tracking pH more often?
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