Can't Grow a Carpet - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-12-2019, 03:13 AM Thread Starter
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Can't Grow a Carpet

Hello,
My tank has been running for over two years and I have overcome many issues regarding plant growth and have finally got my stem plants growing at a satisfying rate. I have a 10 gallon tank with a Stingray fixture, EcoComplete substrate, and a paintball CO2 setup at around 30ppm. I am dosing Thrive ferts (one pump after water changes). Most of my plants seem to grow decently, as my purple cabomba grows like mad, my rotala grows at a steady pace, and my amazon sword is producing flowers and many plantlets. I have always had trouble with java moss, java fern, and dwarf sag. I have had the dwarf sag for over a year with no real visible growth. I am not sure if this is due to lighting.

My ph sits around 7.0 and as aformentioned, CO2 is around 30ppm (checked with drop checker and ppm chart). My GH and KH both are around 3. I do not know if this is related, but I have always had trouble keeping any shrimp species, though I doubt it is due to copper sensitivity as I use distilled water conditioned with Equilibrium and baking soda to achieve the desired KH and GH.

Thank you.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-12-2019, 01:50 PM
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By carpet do you mean something like Dwarf hairgrass? if so, for me it was always about lighting.
But the inability to keep shrimp is concerning, GH/KH at around 3 is low in my opinion. I shoot for 5 otherwise I get heavy fluctuations at night.

Is there a reason you use distilled water?

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-12-2019, 04:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the reply, yes but I have heard dwarf hairgrass requires intense lighting in order to thrive. Many people say dwarf sag is supposed to carpet well in lower light scenarios. But I will increase my KH and GH. I use distilled water because my house is supplied by well water, which I am not sure of it's contents. I would rather be on the safe side.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-12-2019, 11:18 PM
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Chances are pretty good your well water is fine. However, you can simply test it to know for certain regarding the various levels. As far as pollutants are concerned, it is even more unlikely there is any issue. If you are located in the United States, every mortgage company I have heard of requires well water to be tested to make sure its safe to drink before they will allow a home to be sold. So your water has likely been tested in the not so distant past. But again, you could easily have it tested to find out.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-12-2019, 11:59 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply, I am not too sure how it is possible, but my API kit indicated ammonia in the water at a pretty low level. I suppose it could have been an accuracy issue but I do not want to take my chances.

Bump: The well water oddly also tested at a GH and KH of 0, which I would not think to be possible due to mineral content
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 12:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Hamby View Post
Hello,
My tank has been running for over two years and I have overcome many issues regarding plant growth and have finally got my stem plants growing at a satisfying rate. I have a 10 gallon tank with a Stingray fixture, EcoComplete substrate, and a paintball CO2 setup at around 30ppm. I am dosing Thrive ferts (one pump after water changes). Most of my plants seem to grow decently, as my purple cabomba grows like mad, my rotala grows at a steady pace, and my amazon sword is producing flowers and many plantlets. I have always had trouble with java moss, java fern, and dwarf sag. I have had the dwarf sag for over a year with no real visible growth. I am not sure if this is due to lighting.

My ph sits around 7.0 and as aformentioned, CO2 is around 30ppm (checked with drop checker and ppm chart). My GH and KH both are around 3. I do not know if this is related, but I have always had trouble keeping any shrimp species, though I doubt it is due to copper sensitivity as I use distilled water conditioned with Equilibrium and baking soda to achieve the desired KH and GH.

Thank you.
Hrm that is strange about the dwarf sag. Dwarf sag, java fern and java moss have all been the easiest of plants for me to grow. I have it in a 20g long, pool filter sand, a 13w cfl 5600k bulb and dose thrive at one squirt(2ml) once a week. It grows with no trouble at all. No clue what kh GH are but if its similar to my other tanks then its 6-8. 3 kh is said to be on the low side for dwarf sag so maybe that's your issue? Does your light have a dimming option and if so what what setting is it on now? Do you happen to have pictures of the tank or at least pictures of the dwarf sag?
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 01:54 AM Thread Starter
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The stingray has no dimming options though I have had a dense canopy of frogbit shading the tank which I thinned out in hopes of encouraging growth. Here are some photographs. By the way, has thrive worked pretty well for you?
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 02:26 AM
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Well water can be off. Mine is ph 6.5 out of tap but goes to 8.2 after degassing. Kh is 4 gh 1. I use equilibrium to bring it to 4 also. Everything was happier after raising the gh. That's my experience.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 02:31 AM Thread Starter
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I have noticed great improvement since switching to distilled with equilibrium. My well water just wasn't suited for plants I guess.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 12:14 PM
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Ethan,

It looks and sounds like you're doing everything right given your hardware and water. All the plants look healthy, barring the algae, which should go away as the tank matures even more. From appearances, it looks like the Sag will eventually start spreading out, just give it some time. If I could make a suggestion, trim off all the old algaefied leaves and the runners from the sword, even if that leaves you with just a few leaves. It looks like it's getting a bit big for its britches and could benefit from a hack job. Other than that, it looks to me like it's just a "give it time" situation. Keep it up!

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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 01:39 PM
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I have had few problems with Dwarf Sag and my KH is <1 dKH and GH is <3 dGH. However, I recently had a problem where my Dwarf Sag started to thin out (was a thick carpet), beginning with leaves becoming transparent. I thought it was nitrogen, since it didn’t turn yellow. At the same time, I had also embarked upon a nutrient reduction program. In doing this, I had forgotten that Dwarf Sag is an iron hog. I began adding, now, about .5 ppm daily (I have a high-tech setup) and have had full recovery with it filling-in again after about three weeks.

You might want to try adding an iron supplement for a month or so to see if it helps. I’d start with .2 ppm 3-4 times a week.

It would also be interesting to know what your NO3 and PO4 readings are. There may be a clue in those.

Do you have good circulation?

I wouldn’t worry about dimming the Stingray. It is already a low-PAR light.

Incidentally, if your pH is 7 and your KH is 3 dKH, then your CO2 is about 10 ppm. It might be better to do the 1-point pH drop test:
Let some tank water sit out for a day or two to de-gas. Then measure the pH of your tank after CO2 peaks and compare it to the water sitting out. If you get a 1-point pH difference, then you have about 30 ppm CO2.

Last edited by Deanna; 05-13-2019 at 02:21 PM. Reason: Add
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 01:52 PM
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I have well water too. It's on the very hard side, lol! Other than that, I haven't had any trouble with it though. It actually provides a lot of the nutrients my plants need, so I rarely have to dose anything (except the occasional Excel). Our water has been fine for the Bloody Mary shrimp we keep, as well as dwarf cories and a betta. One thing that really helped was increasing circulation in the tank.

You can get your well water tested too, for free. There are kits you cans send in, or visit www.epa.gov/safewater/labs for more info.
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses everyone, I will try adding some seachem iron I have to the tank periodically. My flow should be sufficient as I have an aquaclear 20 and a power head which I use to diffuse my co2. I will also trim back the sword. There is a lot of remnant algae where I was once battling BBA. It likes to stick around. I do not have a PO4 test kit but my Nitrates normally test around 40 ppm due to a pretty heavy stocking and ferts. I once tried growing plants low-tech with my well water (same light, no CO2, no ferts except the occasional root tab), but nothing grew and my tank got wiped out by BGA.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 05:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Hamby View Post
The stingray has no dimming options though I have had a dense canopy of frogbit shading the tank which I thinned out in hopes of encouraging growth. Here are some photographs. By the way, has thrive worked pretty well for you?
So far it is. Not the fastest growth but still healthy plants. Yours are looking very nice and healthy so maybe its not low kh. Maybe they do just need a bit more light to push that extra growth.
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for the responses everyone. I'm going to change some things around and maybe see some better results. I planted some S. Repens yesterday, so hopefully is the sag doesn't carpet, the S. Repens will.
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