Balance Still Not Right - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-02-2016, 02:57 PM Thread Starter
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Balance Still Not Right

I'm 4 months into a new planted tank and overall things are going well. I'm now trying to stamp out the last of the issues I'm having.
  • I use pressurized CO2 and dose EI using a pre-made mix (I add water) from theplantguy.org. I dose macro 3 times and micro 3 times a week. There's a "rest" day when I do water changes.
  • I keep pH close to 6.7 which keeps my drop checker light green. Using more CO2 seems to reduce shrimp activity.
  • I've got a low to medium fish load.
  • I run 2 LED strips for 10 hours a day.
  • I've measured no ammonia or nitrite. Nitrate is generally close to 0 although I'm not 100% comfortable with my testing (I've tried drops and strips).
  • I use crushed coral in my canister to bump my GH/KH.
  • I've been using the recommended daily dose of Excel to keep algae in check while I figure out the right balance.

Growth rates are good with my vals needing at least weekly trimming. My Hygro Difformis would take over the tank if I didn't cut it regularly too. I'm able to grow foreground plants like Glossostigma Elatinoides and midground like Rotala sp. Green.

I'm trying to diagnose the following issues. The photos of plants are out of water so I could get a crisp shot.
  1. The top few inches of my val leaves which are close to the lights have some algae on the edges. It looks like staghorn, but that's me comparing to photos on the web.
  2. Some hygro leaves also have algae, but also seem to melt/get holes. New growth looks great, but older growth particularly what's well-lit can look like what's in the photos.

This isn't my first stop. I've tried to find explanations with a number of searches. Alas, it seems like the answer is either too little calcium, not enough nitrogen, too much light, too little CO2, not enough potassium, not enough iron, etc.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-02-2016, 03:12 PM
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Would reduce lighting to eight hours total for the day(for couple week's), and add a bit more KNO3 if levels at end of week are less than 10ppm.
Adding a bit more KNO3 will not hurt, and also give you a little more potassium which holes in leaves indicate you might need unless snail's are eating holes in the leaves.
My two cent's.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-02-2016, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
[*]I use pressurized CO2 and dose EI using a pre-made mix (I add water) from theplantguy.org. I dose macro 3 times and micro 3 times a week. There's a "rest" day when I do water changes.

I run 2 LED strips for 10 hours a day.
I use crushed coral in my canister to bump my GH/KH.
I've been using the recommended daily dose of Excel to keep algae in check while I figure out the right balance.

This isn't my first stop. I've tried to find explanations with a number of searches. Alas, it seems like the answer is either too little calcium, not enough nitrogen, too much light, too little CO2, not enough potassium, not enough iron, etc.
Hi infolific,

First of all I agree with roadmaster, that is a lot of light and cutting back the photoperiod will definitely help the algae issue. If you want to enjoy your tank in both the morning and evening then I suggest a split photoperiod.

I checked out theplantguy.org website and I think I know what fert package you purchased....two bottles that you fill with macros or micros and add water correct?

I have good news and bad news, the good news is one of the suggested answers is probably correct. The bad news is the problem will be difficult to correct with the liquid fertilizers. Do you by any chance have potassium sulfate separately in any of the packages you received?

I am guessing those are older leaves in th pictures? The necrosis along the edges of the leaves with green toward the center of the leaves in combination with the necrosis that caused the holes in the leaves indicates a potassium deficiency.

We don't know what the ppm dosing levels of the various nutrients in the kit are but it seems that the potassium (K) level is deficient. Typically if you were dosing dry fertilizers you could just add potassium sulfate (K2SO4) put if you dose extra macros from your kit you are likely to have algae issues.

Also, excess calcium can slow down or prevent the uptake of potassium. Since the crushed coral only add calcium and you cannot control the amount that dissolves, I would suggest removing the crushed coral using Seachem Equilibrium instead to boost your calcium and magnesium...it also contains generous amounts of potassium along with some manganese and iron.


Quote:
Necrotic spots develop on older leaves

a. Margins of older leaves become chlorotic and then burn, or small chlorotic spots progressing to necrosis appear scattered on old leaf blades. Calcium excess impedes uptake of potassium cations.... potassium deficiency

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-13-2016, 01:35 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice roadmaster. I thought posting a message here automatically subscribed me to responses. I only thought to check back now so I just saw your note. Reducing the photoperiod is easy enough. As for KNO3, I have some leftover Seachem Flourish Potassium, but I don't quite get the label's description of "K2O derived from KNO3". Hopefully it's equivalent...

The holes aren't from snails. I've got nerites that don't climb this plant.

Hi Seattle_Aquarist. As with roadmaster's reply, I didn't see yours until today. I should've checked that I had been subscribed to this thread.

Anyway, I appreciate you looking at the ferts I bought. You are right that they are the 2 bottles you add the macro and micro to. When I got them I thought there'd be a chance I'd need to supplement somehow, but it still seemed like a reasonable place for me to start.

I have some leftover Seachem Flourish Potassium which I can add to the mix. It isn't potassium sulfate based on what I see in the ingredients, but it's what I've got at the moment.

The bit about calcium inhibiting potassium uptake isn't something I've heard before. An interesting and unexpected side-effect of something that I thought was otherwise working well for me. While I agree that I can't control the amount that dissolves, my KH and GH have been steady for at least a couple of months. Even after water changes the values gravitate back to where they were and stay there.

Can the reduced potassium uptake be countered by making more potassium available or is the only way to reduce the calcium?

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Last edited by Darkblade48; 08-13-2016 at 07:51 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-10-2016, 11:09 AM Thread Starter
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For anyone that is interested in how things turned out...

1. I removed the crushed coral from by filter.
2. I did a big trim to remove leaves with algae.
3. I decreased my EI macros and micros dose to 50%.
4. I started adding Seachem Advance (leftover from some previous testing). I noticed that it had Calcium and Magnesium so I thought it'd be a decent, temporary way to get those into my tank although the amounts are small.
5. I started supplementing the EI dose with Seachem Potassium (again some leftover).
6. I bumped up the Excel to twice the dose.
7. Set lights to 8 hours.

After the above...

1. I'm pretty much algae free. Really. After 4 weeks there's just a tiny amount along the rim of some old leaves. And the front glass needs some cleaning every 2 weeks for that crisp look. No staghorn anymore.
2. Plant growth has slowed, but not stopped. My val needed trimming every few days and now I can go a week easily.
3. All plants look healthy. No melting.
4. Fish and shrimp are all good.

My next steps will be to back off some of the changes to see what's actually needed since I've clearly adjusted multiple variables at the same time. In particular, I'd love to be able to at least reduce the Excel and switch to a permanent solution to replace the extra Seachem Potassium and Advance I'm using (assuming either are actually helping).
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-11-2016, 11:13 PM
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Looks like another case solved roadmaster and Seattle_Aquarist. Good query infolific. The information and pictures really help.
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