Lack of ferts at fault? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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Lack of ferts at fault?

Good day,


I have a pretty well establish 260L(120x50x40) tank that has been going for two years now. I've rescaped it a couple times but the same issue always comes back. A bit of algae and holes in the leaves.


It's a pretty heavily stocked tank but the parameters and discus are quite healthy. I used to have a LOT of star grass which was apparently hard to grow according to my LFS. I could not get rid of it fast enough.

9 Discus 2-4"
3 yoyo's loaches (keep my sump full of dirt dust lol)
2 reticulated loaches
M/F bristle nose pair
4 oto
9 rasboras
10 rummy nose
6 cardinal tetras
20-30 killi's of various sizes. 1-3"
4 black mollies
6 Siamese algae
3 Chinese algae

As you can see I've stayed with hearty or soft water fish.


Sumped with floating plastic media churned by a lot of air.
28.5*C
pH 6.5 (CO2 controlled)
Very low GH and KH (100% RO water 50% changes weekly)
0 N02
20-40 N03 depending on day of the week.
Lighting I would say is strong. Custom cree setup controlled by a bluefish. 12 3W NW 1A, 6 3W CW 1A & 6 3W RB 700mA. It's matched to the area of Fiji and averages about 10-12hrs of light. 8 hrs 100%.


I usually dose 30ml weekly of everything in the attached pic. Only 15ml of the nitro though as it drops my pH and I have to add 2 TSP of soda to counteract it.


My Mollies, Discus, Bristle Nose and Killi's are all spawning so at least they are happy. I'm thinking I'm a bit low on the CO2. With my KH being <1 and pH of 6.5 I'd bet I'm at about 50% the saturation I should be. I get a lot of air bubbles coming out of the holes in the anubias leave though. 500L Bazooza diffuser with a small power head blowing on it directly.

Circulation is with a 3000l/h eheim compact plus.


Any input would be greatly appreciated.


Thanks,


Patrick
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Last edited by Exidous; 02-08-2017 at 01:36 PM. Reason: Minor update
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-11-2017, 02:46 PM
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KH and gH very low , need to add Ca Mg etc.

Sump and churning with a lot of air will blow off your Co2.
With low kh and all the addition of ro water your pH is probably
Low to start with. Having the co2 monitored by pH may not be getting enough
Co2 in this case.

Maybe! Change these two things for a while see what happens.

I understand that discus like low conductivity water, but most plants don't.

Hope this helps!

DougN
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-11-2017, 03:03 PM
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Those holes probably started out as Potassium deficiency and got exacerbated by the bristlenose rasping on them.

I kept a KH of 3 and pH of 6.5 in my old discus tank. Didn't measure GH, instead I kept Calcium at 20ppm and Mg at 5ppm. You may end up blowing through a boatload of CO2 with that sump design. That being said, if you feel more comfortable doing that for the benefit of your discus go for it. Just realize the cost of CO2 replacement is going to be higher than average.

Could you please post detailed pictures of your filter system? That should help us troubleshoot potential problems and find areas where it can be improved/optimized for CO2.

Cheers,
Phil
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-11-2017, 04:29 PM
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Hello @Exidous and welcome to the forum.

I understand that the focus of this aquarium are Discus fish and not plants. The plant selection ais in accordance with this objective.

Therefore, I would suggest not to increase the CO2. However as others have said plants, and fish need some small amount of GH. 20ppm Ca and 3-5ppm Mg would not increase your TDS or GH so much (aprox 4 °dGH). I think this is tolerable for Discus fish. MgSO4*7H2O (epsom salt ) and CaSO4 are commonly used sources. If you do not like to tinker with doses yourself, you can look for SaltyShrimp GH+ or similar products. These also have the advantage of keeping a slightly lower TDS.

Looking at your doses , you are adding
0,58ppm PO4; 4,62ppm K ; 5,77 NO3; 1,15ppm Fe; +micro

Some damage and algae might also be caused by low PO4, low K levels. I would suggest doubling the dose of PO4 and see what happens. a 1ppm PO4 should not be detrimental for fish health.


Regards,
duky

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-11-2017, 05:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the input. I'm certainly not opposed to playing with the chemistry a little. I'm only a little apprehensive about adding too much of anything. Using my RO filter has made life drastically easier. I was having issues with sick discus chronically. My water had more minerals in it that did not show up in the 70Euro test kits. Once I swapped to 100% RO water everything was fixed, for the fish. What I didn't really do was add anything back in for the plants. I'll heed your advise and slowly up the ferts for both the fish and the plants.

I'll get a picture shortly of the sump setup.

The air pump is not running. The flow of water keeps the media rotating. I know the sump is far from ideal for co2. I had a sera 400 and a eheim classic 600 and neither was enough or worked out well. Aside from gassing off co2 the sump has worked very well and is a great catch for fry.

Thanks again all,

Patrick

P.S. Instead of continuing what I have for ferts (they are almost gone) what's a good alternative available to Europe. Hopefully without too many bottles.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-11-2017, 10:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exidous View Post
My water had more minerals in it that did not show up in the 70Euro test kits.

P.S. Instead of continuing what I have for ferts (they are almost gone) what's a good alternative available to Europe. Hopefully without too many bottles.
Eh test kits...

All ingredients (dry powders) for EI are available here as well and in the Niederlande. If you want ready made I recommend Aqua-rebell ... perhaps the Basic line is enough.

At the moment I am reviewing the All in one - macro micro mix from co2supermarket.co.uk . I have the powder which just needs to mix with RO water. It is a British company but delivers to EU (still). The customer service is excellent. It came to mind because the mix has low NO3. So low that I actually have to add it otherwise my heavily planted tank goes into N deficiency. Otherwise the plants grow great. Perhaps in your setup extra NO3 is not needed. TNC also offers their mix.

There is also the Tropica line and the JBL Scaper line which provide their own diluted fertilizers at extreme costs for such a large tank.

On hiatus till later this year
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-12-2017, 12:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dukydaf View Post
Eh test kits...

All ingredients (dry powders) for EI are available here as well and in the Niederlande. If you want ready made I recommend Aqua-rebell ... perhaps the Basic line is enough.

At the moment I am reviewing the All in one - macro micro mix from co2supermarket.co.uk . I have the powder which just needs to mix with RO water. It is a British company but delivers to EU (still). The customer service is excellent. It came to mind because the mix has low NO3. So low that I actually have to add it otherwise my heavily planted tank goes into N deficiency. Otherwise the plants grow great. Perhaps in your setup extra NO3 is not needed. TNC also offers their mix.

There is also the Tropica line and the JBL Scaper line which provide their own diluted fertilizers at extreme costs for such a large tank.


Duky, I too have bought the same ferts can you let me know how you get on? Are you dosing per guidelines or overdosing slightly?


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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-12-2017, 08:56 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dukydaf View Post
Eh test kits...

All ingredients (dry powders) for EI are available here as well and in the Niederlande. If you want ready made I recommend Aqua-rebell ... perhaps the Basic line is enough.

At the moment I am reviewing the All in one - macro micro mix from co2supermarket.co.uk . I have the powder which just needs to mix with RO water. It is a British company but delivers to EU (still). The customer service is excellent. It came to mind because the mix has low NO3. So low that I actually have to add it otherwise my heavily planted tank goes into N deficiency. Otherwise the plants grow great. Perhaps in your setup extra NO3 is not needed. TNC also offers their mix.

There is also the Tropica line and the JBL Scaper line which provide their own diluted fertilizers at extreme costs for such a large tank.
I figure with it being rather heavily stocked extra NO3 should be necessary. I usually hang around 30-40ppm.

I'd like to give the dry ferts a go. Mixing some RO water saves on shipping and you probably get more for your money using dry and mixing your own anyway.

DIY PPS-PRO Liquid Fertilizer - NilocG Aquatics

DIY EI Liquid Fertilizer| Premium Aquarium Fertilizer | NilocG Aquatics

They will ship to my address so seems like a good option.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-12-2017, 12:11 PM
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Duky, I too have bought the same ferts can you let me know how you get on? Are you dosing per guidelines or overdosing slightly?
I'll send you a personal message with details a little bit later to keep Exidous thread on topic. At the moment I slightly overdose.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Exidous View Post

If it 'naturally' stays at 30ppm or above than no need to add extra NO3. I would suggest EI, since you are already doing large water changes for the Discus fish.

Usually when you buy from the US you also have to pay tax so account for that.

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-12-2017, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by dukydaf View Post
I'll send you a personal message with details a little bit later to keep Exidous thread on topic. At the moment I slightly overdose.









If it 'naturally' stays at 30ppm or above than no need to add extra NO3. I would suggest EI, since you are already doing large water changes for the Discus fish.



Usually when you buy from the US you also have to pay tax so account for that.


Thanks Duky I would be keen to know also how long you have been using these ferts. I will await your message. Thanks.


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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-12-2017, 03:39 PM
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Yes, in my opinion it's overstocked for a 70 gallon. It's entirley likely your phosphate and nitrate levels will be adequate for the plants in the tank without adding these fertilizers. Also, it appears you primarily have low light and undemanding plants (anubias and java fern). A list of plants would be helpful.

Below is what you actually dose compared to EI doses (the list assumes you are dosing nitro at 15ml per dose). I used EI regime because you change 50% of the water weekly. Any other method will leave you seriously deficient with these water changes.

Code:
		YOU	EI
(N) Nitrates	5.8	22.5 
(P) Phosphate	0.6	3.9
(K) Potassium	8.46	22.5
(Fe) Iron	1.78	1.5
(Mg) Magnesium	0.1	12.5
(Ca) Calcium	0	37.5
Clearly, you have several issues with fertilizers. Increasing doses AND frequency to three times a week would be wise. Also, your choice to switch to dry fertilizers will be much cheaper and easier to tailor a fertilizers regime for this tank. I would suggest you read a post I made a while back, The EI Concept explained.

Your sump with media and air should be sealed if you want to continue CO2 injection using this method. You are most likely losing most of the CO2 injected. In addition and more importantly, your CO2 levels will not remain constant. Fluctuating CO2 levels are very difficult for plants to resond to unlike algae. I'm surprised you aren't over run with BBA and staghorn with high organics and unstable CO2 levels. Personally, I would change your floating media to a wet/dry setup and seal the wet/dry chamber.

Lastly, if the plants are indeed low light plants, it would be beneficial to lower the lighting level. That would reduce algae, lower the nutrient demands of plants and most likely provide a better environment for you fish. We really do not need as much light as most hobbyists think.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-12-2017, 06:03 PM Thread Starter
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I've known going in that the tank was overstocked. I just made sure to stay diligent with water changes and watch the NH3, NO2 and NO3. I used to have a wet/dry setup but I had NH3 and NO2 issues. With the floating media it pretty much fixed itself. I'll be moving very far away in about 6 months so most of this is academic for me to learn and test. I plan on a couple bigger more focused tanks in the new place. One solely for discus and the other for plants. I'll probably go back to a good canister or two for the planted tank.

Question on sealing the wet dry area, how would you go about maintaining good oxygenation for the bacteria if you seal it off? Is the oxygen in the water enough to be efficient?

I honestly thought what I had was at the least medium light. It's about 75w in LED's. 48V @ 1.6A. The whites are about 54W total.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 02-12-2017, 07:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exidous View Post
I've known going in that the tank was overstocked. I just made sure to stay diligent with water changes and watch the NH3, NO2 and NO3. I used to have a wet/dry setup but I had NH3 and NO2 issues. With the floating media it pretty much fixed itself. I'll be moving very far away in about 6 months so most of this is academic for me to learn and test. I plan on a couple bigger more focused tanks in the new place. One solely for discus and the other for plants. I'll probably go back to a good canister or two for the planted tank.

Question on sealing the wet dry area, how would you go about maintaining good oxygenation for the bacteria if you seal it off? Is the oxygen in the water enough to be efficient?

I honestly thought what I had was at the least medium light. It's about 75w in LED's. 48V @ 1.6A. The whites are about 54W total.
It's interesting you've had that much difference between the w/d and sump filter. In that case, I wouldn't change a thing except sealing it IF you still want CO2.

Personally, if the plants are mostly anubias and ferns I wouldn't bother with CO2. They are both slow growers with and without CO2. Sure, they do better and grow faster with CO2 but honestly, not that much in my experience. On the other hand, poorly delivered CO2 can cause all plants to do poorly as well as killing inhabitants.

Sealed wet/dry filters have plenty of oxygen. In fact, it's the same amount that your water has. So yes, plenty of oxygen. Let's not forget the O2 the plants are producing.

Sealing the sump will trap all CO2 from escaping. That's pretty straightforward right?

Well, if you think about it you'll have a problem. You're pumping air into a now sealed chamber. That would clearly cause an issue. Instead, I would replace your air hose with a water hose. The tank water should have more than enough oxygen for the bacterial colony. Again, lets not forget our friends, the plants. So a strong power head churning the water will provide the bacteria with a constant supply of nutrients and oxygen.

As far as the lights, I think you may have misunderstood. I was saying you could probably do with LESS light. I have no idea how much PAR your lights produce. Typically, we don't need as much light as we use for good growth. If growth is what we want, CO2 packs a bigger punch. A great article about this is, CO2, light, and growth of aquatic plants.
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