Help me pinpoint what is wrong with my tank? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-10-2016, 11:42 AM Thread Starter
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Help me pinpoint what is wrong with my tank?

Hey guys,

I have a 29 gallon freshwater tank that has been established for about two months, but I can't keep any plants alive in it - and I've lost my snails and two oto catfish. My other fish are doing fine.

The plants basically seemed to rot from the roots up. They became very brittle and rotted away. The leaves also became yellow/black - and on top of everything else I have an algae bloom. Common with new tanks I think? (brown/orange)

I used Eco-Complete for the substrate, and set up the tank using Prime, Stability and Flourish. I am using a Finnex Planted+ 24/7.

I've tested the water and can't find anything wrong. All levels are great, and there is no copper. The only thing I've thought of testing for that I haven't tested for yet (and plan to this week) is hardness.

Any ideas or suggestions that I could try that won't harm my remaining fish? (neon tetras, gold tetras and corydora mostly) My tank isn't overloaded.

Thanks so much! I'd also love any plant suggestions that might be more hardy that I could introduce after applying any fixes.

I've enclosed photos that show the algae and the condition of the few remaining plants. You can see some of the algae growing on the back wall that I missed when trying to clean it the other day.

My tank looked SO much nicer before, and I enclosed a photo of that as well. Sigh.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-10-2016, 12:08 PM
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What is your N at? 0 or so?

Eco-Complete is inert substrate (no nutrients) and you did not dose any macros (NPK). From your description, my first guess is that your plants run out of nutrients.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-10-2016, 12:28 PM
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Root rot suggests that you are burying the plants too deep. This can be seen in the second picture, the plant on the right.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-10-2016, 12:34 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by OVT View Post
What is your N at? 0 or so?

Eco-Complete is inert substrate (no nutrients) and you did not dose any macros (NPK). From your description, my first guess is that your plants run out of nutrients.
If you mean nitrates/nitrites, they were both at 0, or the lowest color shown. I did dose with Flourish, but I guess that isn't strong enough?

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Originally Posted by Smooch View Post
Root rot suggests that you are burying the plants too deep. This can be seen in the second picture, the plant on the right.
Sadly I buried that guy deeper because the roots weren't strong enough. My corydoras very quickly uprooted every plant as the bottoms/roots became so weak.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-10-2016, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by foxfiddles View Post

Sadly I buried that guy deeper because the roots weren't strong enough. My corydoras very quickly uprooted every plant as the bottoms/roots became so weak.
Cories will do that. A better alternative to burying the plants too deep is to use plant weights. I order mine plant weights, live aquarium plants since nobody sells them locally. They have been a plant saver.

Plants like anbuias or any plant with a rhizome will also rot if the rhizome is buried. These should be tied to something or a plant weight can be used to hold the plant in the place. Once the roots are established to the point where fish cannot uproot them, they can be untied or the weight can be removed.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-10-2016, 12:48 PM
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Flourish "Comprehensive" is mostly traces. As a rule, plants cannot grow roots or leaves on "spices" alone, they do need meat, and veggies, and fiber (NPK, aka macros) for that. There is a sticky in Fertilization section of this site on fertilizing the plants - a good place to start.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-11-2016, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Smooch View Post
Root rot suggests that you are burying the plants too deep. This can be seen in the second picture, the plant on the right.
Is this possible with plants that don't have rhizomes? Such as vallis or other stem type plants?

Also I've never know this to be true with swords, but don't swords have rhizomes similar to anubias? I know to not plant those deep.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-11-2016, 01:14 PM
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Vals are not stem plants.
Vals and swords have tubbers where they store nutrients. Commonly called rosette plants, with all leaves growing from a single spot.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-11-2016, 01:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Netcode View Post
Is this possible with plants that don't have rhizomes? Such as vallis or other stem type plants?

Also I've never know this to be true with swords, but don't swords have rhizomes similar to anubias? I know to not plant those deep.
I think I understand the question, but if I give the answer you're not looking for, let me know.

Amazon swords, vals, ect... all have what are called crowns. If you were to plant a val too deep regardless of the species, beyond the crown, the base of the plant and roots will rot. They need oxygen just as a rhizome does of something like a anubias.

Stem plants do not have a crown or rhizome. When I get stems in, most of them do not have roots, so I use a plant weight and let the bottom of the stems sit on the substrate until the roots develop. Depending on the plant, it usually takes a week or so. Stem plants with no roots can also have the tips slightly buried in the substrate to promote root growth. I don't go much deeper than 1/4 of a inch.

EDIT: Snagged photo from Google for 'educational' purposes.

Just above where the roots start is the crown of a Amazon sword. They should never be planted above this area. Same applies with vals and other plants that grow this way as I mentioned above.
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Last edited by Smooch; 09-16-2016 at 12:50 AM.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-11-2016, 01:47 PM
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It looks like classic nitrogen deficiency, and perhaps coupled with other macro deficiencies (K and P). Flourish is pretty good for micro dosing, but with a tank that packed with plants, it's feeble 1 ppm or less of nitrogen per dose won't cut it. If your nitrates are at 0, your plants don't have food. It's best to aim for a nitrate reading of about 10 ppm. Even 20 ppm isn't bad.

You'll need to find some way of introducing more nitrogen into the water first. You could increase feeding of you fish by alot, or buy some KNO3 and dose that with the flourish. KNO3 alone would provide enough nitrogen and potassium for good growth. Down the road you might need phosphorous too, but with good feeding of the fish it may not be an issue.
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-11-2016, 03:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smooch View Post
I think I understand the question, but if I give the answer you're not looking for, let me know.

Amazon swords, vals, ect... all have what are called crowns. If you were to plant a val too deep regardless of the species, beyond the crown, the base of the plant and roots will rot. They need oxygen just as a rhizome does of something like a anubias.

Stem plants do not have a crown or rhizome. When I get stems in, most of them do not have roots, so I use a plant weight and let the bottom of the stems sit on the substrate until the roots develop. Depending on the plant, it usually takes a week or so. Stem plants with no roots can also have the tips slightly buried in the substrate to promote root growth. I don't go much deeper than 1/4 of a inch.

EDIT: Snagged photo from Google for 'educational' purposes.

Just above where the roots start is the crown of a Amazon sword. They should never be planted above this area. Same applies with vals and other plants that grow this way as I mentioned above.
Great answer, I have most definitely been planting my stuff WAY too deep and may be the reason all my vallis melted out of no where.

Sorry to jack the thread.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-11-2016, 03:22 PM
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Great answer, I have most definitely been planting my stuff WAY too deep and may be the reason all my vallis melted out of no where.

Sorry to jack the thread.
Sometimes the plants are not the best either. I've been staring at Italian and corkscrew vals for the past 3 weeks that that I should pull and toss, but I'm going to give them another week and see if things improve. The tank is fine, everything else is green and healthy, so it's the plants, not me.

Don't be sorry.
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-11-2016, 04:22 PM
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You can't stick stem plants too deep in the substrate. The biggest thing to remember is not to plant them in big bunches. Plant them individually. The best way to plant them is to use long tweezers to shove each individual stem plant down at an angle, as far as you can. I usually hit the bottom glass with the tweezer tips when I plant stems. Rosette plants, like swords and vals, can be buried too deep, but they don't need to be planted at a precise depth. Look at runners from those plants and you will see many that start out well below the substrate surface, but still grow very well.

I agree with the others that you are most likely just starving the plants. See https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/11...-regimes_.html for some good information about how to fertilize. I have found that using Flourish Excel, or it's cheap alternative, Metricide 14 day, dosed daily at about 2 ml per 10 gallons of water, always gives you much better growth when you aren't using pressurized CO2. It provides the carbon the plants have to have in order to grow.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-27-2016, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry to take so long to reply back!

Since then, I've taken the time to grab osmocote plus and some capsules and placed those into the eco-complete. I also got Seachem Flourish Excel and have been dosing with that. I've replanted the tank with a handful of smaller plants to see if they fare a little better than the others did. (Staurogyne Repens and golden creeping jennies)

I've only had them for less than a week though, so time will tell if adding the Excel and osmocote does anything.

Besides that, is my Finnex 24/7 Planted + actually strong enough, considering that my 29 gallon tank is tall?

Thanks!
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-30-2016, 12:10 AM
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Hardness as you say may be a problem, the second may be your lightning. If you keep fish or other life stock you do not need,to fertilize the plants. Substrate may be a problem if it is lime stone or similar that hardens the water and the substrate, but otherwise, you should not worry too much.

Looking from your pictures it looks like you are using a led light. And here may very well be the source of the problem. Leds are great no question about it, but they are tricky. Wrong leds and the plants basically are in total darkness. While to the human it looks normal. Plants like specific wave lenghts to grow well. But if you put in leds in that specific spectrum, it will look like an ugly x-mas tree. So one has to mix different leds to make it look nice and to have plants growing well.

From personal experience i can tell, that two similar setups, with only difference was type of led light made all the difference. In the first one all plants died, in the second I cant remove them fast enough they grow super fast. That is a 1200 litres aquarium totally overgrown with plants.

When selecting led light for an aquarium it's not enough to with certain kelvin values, you need to look at the spectrum and make sure you have enough light in the area that plants grow, without making it look all purple. Unless you like that for some weird reason.

Here is a link to an article explaining this. Selecting led's according to the chlorophyl graph probably will make all the difference for you. If your handy you could build your own. Adding green led's and different white led's will make it look beautiful to human eye too. Understand also that humans sees green colors the best, so you do not require same amount of all types if you build it yourself.

Lighting Spectrum and Photosythesis - Lighting - Aquatic Plant Central
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