Tank Slow Growth After 1 Month - Using Ferts and CO2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-07-2018, 08:10 AM Thread Starter
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Tank Slow Growth After 1 Month - Using Ferts and CO2

Hi everyone,

I've been having an issue with my tank and its slow plant growth. Is there something as using too much light in a tank? I've been trying to figure out what the problem is for a bit (Almost a month and a month and a half)

PH - 6.2
GH - 120
KH - 0
Ammonia - 0
Nitrates - 20
Nitrites - 0

Temp around 26 - 29C

I'm currently dosing Green Brighty Neutral K, Green Brighty Mineral and occasionally Green Brighty Iron. I also will sometimes dose Seachem Flourish and Flourish Excel. There are also some Flourish Root tabs inside the tank as well. I've been slowly switching products and adding more products because the growth has been so anaemic.

Initially I started with the Flourish and the Root Tabs though the growth wasn't there and it was melting. I then switched to the ADA Ferts.

Substrate is ADA Aquasoil Amazonia

Lights are on around 7 hours a day. I dose CO2 around 1-2 bubbles per second using DIY Co2 generator (Citric Acid + Baking Soda). Doing about 20-25% water changes a week.

Lights: 120 White LEDs @ 7.2 Watts, 12 White LEDs @ 12 Watts, 1 Cree White LED @ 9 Watts. Total of 28.2 Watts of Lighting.

However my growth seems to very slow. I'm getting some hair algae growth. Some of the initial Dwarf hairgrass came from a tissue culture and thus they melted. There are some new hairs growing up though it is very slow. There are some Narrow Chain swords in the back. Initially some of the Hornworts turned brown right away. Though they've been growing more now that I am dosing ADA. However the dwarf hairgrass at the front is still really slow to grow. There are pygmy chain swords and microswords in the back as well. However overall everything still seems very slow to grow.

Would appreciate any ideas and help. Thank you ahead. Attached pictures below.

(Apologies for the Bacter 100 and saran wrap mess - one of the guppies made a run for the carpet and managed to save it.)










Last edited by Crimsonarrow; 05-07-2018 at 09:52 AM. Reason: Added Lighting
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-07-2018, 08:35 AM
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KH = 0?

That just does not look right. Please re-test. If it is indeed 0 then it would explain the lack of plant growth and that would be the very first thing to fix (look up kH booster). You ideally want your kH @ 3 - 5.

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-07-2018, 09:20 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for that. Appreciate it.

I've tested with strips and also the API KH kit and it doesn't even turn blue. It just stays yellow and thus I assumed it was 0. When I do the tap water, it is 3 drops and thus 3 dKH-ish. However my tank water just stays yellow.

Edit: So I double checked and it appears ADA Aquasoil will lower the dKH/PH and GH. I checked the dKH on my other tank and it was also "0" and appears yellow right away. It also has ADA Aquasoil.

Last edited by Crimsonarrow; 05-07-2018 at 09:41 AM. Reason: More Information
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-07-2018, 10:48 AM
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Right, Aqua Soil strips kH to lower pH, but your water is already soft. The end result is that you have 2 immidiate problems:
- no kH buffer, your pH can drop to a dangerous level
- plants lack basic minerals they need to grow

You can add backing soda or, better yet, get something like https://www.amazon.com/Seachem-11604...rds=gh+booster

Introduction to kH, gH, and pH: https://users.cs.duke.edu/~narten/faq/chemistry.html
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-07-2018, 11:14 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks OVT, appreciate that. Would the second scenario still be the case if i am dosing ferts? I am dosing a lot of ferts though didnt want to do too much to the Kh as I have some pregnant fish and shrimp and am afraid it’ll lead to big swings.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-07-2018, 08:25 PM
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Regular Brighty K is designed to increase your pH and KH when using AS. Brighty Neutral K is for use if you have alkaline water since the addition of KH wouldn't be needed. Changing to regular Brighty K would probably help in that regard.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-07-2018, 09:23 PM
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Water can have a KH close to 0 with no problems for the vast majority of plants. Indeed more plants are likely to have problems at high KH. A KH of 0 has nothing to do with the presence or absence of plant required minerals. That being said, your guppy and RCS will likely do better in water with higher KH.

How old is this setup with aquasoil, one month ? If so we can say that the macros are unlikely to be a large problem, maybe most micros as well. I would look into CO2 first as it is only briefly mentioned. Injection rates are good, but you need to figure out what the conc. of CO2 is actually in the aquarium. The easiest way to do this is by using a pH pen, not a liquid test. Take a cup of water and run an airstone in it for 30 min or longer and test the pH. Then test the pH when the lights come on and when the lights turn off. Lets see how the profile looks... in many well fertilized aquariums CO2 is the limiting fuel.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-08-2018, 03:27 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies. That is what I was reading as well about the dKh not being such as important for the plants.

The setup is about 1.5 months old. Let me give that a try with the Co2 and circle back. Thanks for that. Was just surprised at the growth rates of some lowtech setups and mine seems sluggish even compared to those.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-08-2018, 06:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dukydaf View Post
Water can have a KH close to 0 with no problems for the vast majority of plants. Indeed more plants are likely to have problems at high KH. A KH of 0 has nothing to do with the presence or absence of plant required minerals. That being said, your guppy and RCS will likely do better in water with higher KH.
Did I put my foot in my mouth again?
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-08-2018, 07:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OVT View Post
Did I put my foot in my mouth again?
As I said, I agree with you that a bit of KH helps bring the pH up and makes the water system more stable. Also for fauna, especially RCS it would be a benefit. They can survive in low KH water but will look much better and breed in harder (KH+ GH) water. CRS and the like will do much better in this type of water

However, as aquasoil is still new you will fight the acid buffering of the substrate and KH is unlikely to be the problem on its own.

Some plants, mostly truly aquatic plants (think Vallisneria, Egeria, Anubias...) can use HCO3 (KH) to extract CO2, so it's not totally useless to plants. But they do so under sever CO2 limitation, preferring the gas part when available. The true plant minerals are in the GH (Ca, Mg), which seems to be enough.

Just bringing another perspective on the problem I see based on how I was able to grow plants and the problems I've seen. I start with plugged and working as expected, age of the aquarium, routine, CO2, fertilization, other stuff added, GH, KH and tested values then fish load, environment... This troubleshooting layers worked for me and in helping others.

Other members may of course have been impacted by different problems or experienced different random observations so of course they tackle the problem from another end. If I have a Zn problem in my aquarium I'm likely to see Zn deficiency everywhere, kind of thing.

As I keep saying, knowing there is a problem leads to more engagement with the aquarium, better cleaning and pruning which makes the actual improvement most often.

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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-08-2018, 08:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dukydaf View Post
As I keep saying, knowing there is a problem leads to more engagement with the aquarium, better cleaning and pruning which makes the actual improvement most often.
Fair enough and I am too trying to figure what is going on. We got AS, some co2, decent surface agitation, reasonable fish load, apperently decent light, and water parameters look ok. Then we have a bit of BBA on driftwood and some diatoms at the bottom of the glass, nothing catastrophic. But apperently the plants are not growing and we have a couple of fast growers in the tank, including floaters with decent roots.

I could say change water more ofthen and trim the hairgrass and add more plants but that would be a shot in the dark. Is there anything else that catches your eye?
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-08-2018, 02:37 PM
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Hi
It looks like you are adding this today and that tomorrow without a plan, too many products too little understanding.

When you say I dose CO2 around 1-2 bubbles per second using DIY Co2 generator (Citric Acid + Baking Soda).. How consistent is it? Does it produce 12 bubbles 24/7? Do the bubbles dissolve completely?

Worrying about KH? Plants dont need KH to grow. Fighting pH? Dont worry, the substrate will buffer the pH.

Green Brighty Mineral supplies Fe, Green Brighty Iron supplies Fe and Seachem Flourish also supplies Fe. Where are the other micronutrients Mn, B, Zn, Mo and Cu? Plants need balanced nutrients. Mixing fertilizer brands and not following directions will not grow healthy plants.

https://www.wsd.gov.hk/filemanager/e..._Quality-e.pdf
You tested GH 120, assuming mg/L as CaCO3. Hong Kong water analysis says <5 to 59.
Ca 0.9 to 19 ppm, Mg 0.37 to 2.3 ppm, TDS 40 to 212 S. This is very soft water. Plants need about 0.4 ppm Ca and 0.2 ppm Mg daily. No PO4 in your source water, you need to dose at least 0.1 to 0.2 ppm PO4 a day.

You have the best ideal tap water to grow excellent plants, the only thing is to follow one fertilizer brand (ADA) and do massive water changes to clean it up.


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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-11-2018, 07:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crimsonarrow View Post
The setup is about 1.5 months old. Let me give that a try with the Co2 and circle back. Thanks for that. Was just surprised at the growth rates of some lowtech setups and mine seems sluggish even compared to those.
Yes the growth rate does look slow compared to what you would expect at 1.5 months of optimal growth. As Edward mentioned, try an dose the complete range of fertilizers at sufficient amounts. A little excess is better than underdosing, especially if you keep up with the water changes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OVT View Post
and water parameters look ok. Then we have a bit of BBA on driftwood and some diatoms at the bottom of the glass, nothing catastrophic. But apperently the plants are not growing and we have a couple of fast growers in the tank, including floaters with decent roots.

I could say change water more ofthen and trim the hairgrass and add more plants but that would be a shot in the dark. Is there anything else that catches your eye?
I also see some fuzz algae on the c. demersum, other plants and soil, little old growth on the C. demersum, yellow leaf margins on old leaves and the hairgrass with a lot of yellow leaves.

But with new aquarium, especially with store bought plants, you expect them to take some time to adapt. Eleocharis grows great once it adapts to water and establishes a modicum of roots. At this point I am not willing to go into a chase for the missing mineral. First "fix" the CO2 for the light level present. Good CO2 is harder to dose than using a scale or a volumetric vessel for fertilizer, that is why we should start here. It will increase growth until the plants run out of a nutrient, at this point good CO2 will exacerbate the symptoms for the missing nutrient making things easier to see. Good CO2 will also make the transition easier for emersed plants.

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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-12-2018, 01:02 AM
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Quote:
I'm currently dosing Green Brighty Neutral K, Green Brighty Mineral and occasionally Green Brighty Iron.
There is one basic problem with these fertilizers. Other than iron, we have no idea what is in them. The manufactures doesn't list the ingredients on the WEB or on the bottle. If your fertilizers don't include just one nutrient you can easily get very slow growth. And often with very slow plant growth you may not see deficiency symptoms. This makes it very difficult to impossible to determine what the problem is. If is is not listed on the fertilizer bottle and you cannot test for it, assume it is not in your aquarium.

Flourish comprehensive based on the ingredients list look good but it has very low levels of the N, P,Ca, Mg, Zn, and Cu so again it might not work for you.

Most tap water has calcium sulfur and chlorine. As a result most fertilizer don't include these ingredients. Typically this works well. However most doesn't mean everyone. You water might be soft enough that you are not getting enough of something that is not in the fertilizer.

Quote:
https://www.wsd.gov.hk/filemanager/e..._Quality-e.pdf
You tested GH 120, assuming mg/L as CaCO3. Hong Kong water analysis says <5 to 59.
Ca 0.9 to 19 ppm, Mg 0.37 to 2.3 ppm, TDS 40 to 212 S. This is very soft water.
If your water is this soft the first thing I would do is to add a sulfate GH booster to the water. Seachem Equilibrium is a good choice and the ingredients and concentration of the elements it contrains are available. If you add enough of this to increase your GH by 2 degrees you should satisfy the Calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sulfur needs of the plants. You can then add 10ppm of nitrate (KNO3 is commonly used ) and 1pppm of phosphate (KH2PO4 is frequently used) you have now satisfied all the macro nutrients N, K, Ca, Mg, P, S.

With your test kits showing 20ppm Nitrate your can probably avoid the nitrate fertilizer. But if it drops to 5ppm or less add nitrate.

As to the micro nutrients plants Need (Cl, Fe, B, Mn, Zn, Cu, Mo,) the easiest way to add this is with a good micro fertilizer. Many fertilizers don't contain Cl. This can easily be addressed by adding table salt (NaCl) 5 to 10 ppm in the tank should be enough to provide the needed Cl. Some fertilizers claim they are safe for invertebrates (shrimp and snails) because they don't include copper in the fertilizer This is OK as long as you have copper in your tap water. But if your home doesn't have copper pipes or you have very soft, RO or Distilled water your plants will grow very slowly. I would avoid any fertilizer that say it doesn't have copper. I have looked at a lot of aquarium fertilizers and have not found any with dangerous levels of copper in it.

I don't know what is available in Hong Kong but if you can get a bottle of thrive and Seachem Equilibrium you have a very good chance of getting better plant growth.

Also you might find Rotalabutterfly.com a useful web site. It has fertilizer calculators and other useful information.
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-12-2018, 03:50 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you guys for all of these very thoughtful and very detailed replies. Learning a lot and really appreciate the help.

Been trying to figure out the CO2 situation still, though my DIY system is running into some hardware problems. (Was also frustrated trying to make my own Dkh4 water for the drop checker) Was trying to see if I could get a pressurised tank system instead. Starting to think that my DIY system had some sort of problem. The pressure on the gauge was high enough and it produced bubbles though gradually it would slow down after many hours even though there weren't leaks. Maybe this is the problem with some of the growth? Though I see some settings where people managed to grow the dwarf grass without CO2 quite well. I was expecting it to grow a lot faster. My other no Co2 tank with lower light seems to be growing a lot more than the main tank.

I too am frustrated about the whole ADA situation and how they don't break down what is exactly in their products. Waiting for the NilocG shrimp safe fert. At times this can be a frustrating hobby though at the same time it is very rewarding.
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