Help me start dosing please - staghorn beginning! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-07-2018, 01:22 AM Thread Starter
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Help me start dosing please - staghorn beginning!

Hello all!

I am getting into my 6th month of this dirt-planted 25g tank. I started it with a base of organic potting soil. Up until now, I have never dosed anything besides Flourish Excel to combat algae and provide carbon. I had presumed that the nutrients needed would be in the water. Water changes of 25% or so done every 2 weeks on average, sometimes more often.

Reading that staghorn could be attributed to low water flow and or low CO2, I added a Koralia nano 425gph powerhead, and pressurized CO2 at 2ish bubbles/second (paintball tank with GLA Gro regulator on a timer. On at 8 am, off at 8 pm). I have seen great plant growth as well as pearling for the first time after these additions, but the algae is still growing as well.

Current tank shot - just after the CO2 turned off for a clearer picture:


Shots of the algae:




I got the liquid test kit back out too.
  • ph - 7.0-7.2
  • Ammonia - 0ppm
  • Nitrite - 0ppm
  • Nitrate - 0ppm

I don't have general hardness tests or potassium or anything. My drop checker is green for most of the day. I feed about every other day, and not too much. Seeing 0 on the nitrates make me assume that I need to start dosing additional fertilizers. Can I get away with adding Flourish (not excel, the regular one) and nothing else? I am trying to keep the tank relatively low-maintenance. I am open to any suggestions however.

Oh! The other part of the triangle is lighting. I have the new Fluval Plant 3.0 light on the following cycle. The tank is in a spot to minimize natural daylight.


Thank you in advance. I am so close to the great looking planted tank I have always wanted!

Last edited by jprime84; 09-07-2018 at 01:40 AM. Reason: details
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-10-2018, 01:59 PM Thread Starter
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Anyone? I have purchased most of the rest of Seachem's Flourish line including Iron, Nitrogen, Phosphate, and Trace. I was considering trying half dosage of the macros along with half dosage of the base Flourish. Advice would be much appreciated.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-10-2018, 02:21 PM
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I think you identified the correct problem being a lack of ferts, especially now that you added CO2. The plants also look yellow, so they need more nutrients. It seems like you have all the other pieces in place. You didn't mention if you bought potassium, but you will definitely need it (macros = nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium). Flourish has some macros, but not enough as a sole source. It's really a micro fert, as is Trace. I think the directions on the bottles say not to dose Flourish and Trace on the same day, just FYI.

I would dose macros and micros on alternate days. Once you run out of those expensive liquid ferts, I recommend switching to dry. You'll save tons of money. This is what I use to dose using the Estimative Index method: Estimative Index | Aquarium Fertilizer | Green Leaf Aquariums. I can explain that approach in more detail if you're interested.

Also, anubias in direct light do tend to get algae growth. They're stiff plants and can't sway much in the current. I'd cut off the worst leaves and then try to shield them from direct light.

Last edited by 64D-1701; 09-10-2018 at 02:23 PM. Reason: Added more info
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-10-2018, 02:24 PM
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I hate to see folks ignored, sorry! I look in often but often find lots of subjects that I feel better qualified on than algae prevention!
My first thought ( if reading the chart correctly) is that the light is on from 10 AM to 10 PM. Sounds way too much for my tanks. Perhaps try resetting that to times when you are there to want to see the tank but not such a total amount? Plants do not need light in a constant way but the algae does tend to be worse if given too long. Cut it down to under 8 hours total, often as little as 6 hours but those hours when you will want to see it.
Then for more control of the ferts we do add, I like to go with dry ferts. They sound difficult but are really a way to get what you want bumped up without adding too much of something else which may be built into the mix we buy. Some make it terribly difficult by obsessing over getting the measurement exact but I tend to think of it as an ESTIMATE and estimates are never meant to be exact! At some point, you will need to replace the fert you are using, so I would suggest going with what you have now but reading and getting some different ferts on hand as a way to gain better control/flexibility as well as saving a fair amount of money. Don't pay premium for the water the ferts are mixed in but use your own? Do EI dosing but modified to fit what you want to do by simply adding less than the "book" says for EI dosing. I keep the dry ferts in small bags or boxes, use kitchen spoons for measuring and mix it in a cup before pouring it in!
My plan? Cut and adjust light. ferts from here at some point:
NPK + microplex Package - NilocG Aquatics
And use this guide as a start on how much of each. Dose NPK one time and the micros on another day to avoid conflicts between them:
Rotala Butterfly | Planted Aquarium Nutrient Dosing Calculator
Don't add so much and it doesn't require nearly as much water changing to get the excess out?

I'm lazy as well as cheap,so simple is my plan! and then I watch the plant growth to see how I might want to change the ferts or plan.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-10-2018, 02:47 PM
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You defiantly need to start dosing something, nitrates should never be at zero. You mentioned you purchased all the Seachem products, in the future I'd consider an all-in-one product. For the simple reason, its simple and easy.

Since you have the Seachem products you can mess around using them according to their dosing chart. Starting with half dosing is not a bad idea. Watch the tank to see how things respond, once you start a routine go with it for at least 3 weeks so you can actually see what the effects of thoses change are, less you are seeing a quick negative responce then back off a little. Most people change too many things too quickly and can't pin down what change was for the good or what change was for the bad.

According to your light schedule you have some form of light on the tank for 12h+? Of that 12 hours 6 of it is at daylight setting and the rest if ramp up and ramp down? I'm not seeing any high light demand plants in that tank, I'd be cutting that whole process down to a max of 8 hours, 4 hours could be at full strength and the other 2 on either end could be ramp up, ramp down. Again watch to see how things respond, you may need to make changes to this based on what you see. Its all about finding the sweet spot for your tank.

I'd also have a good look at your Co2, there is no need for it to be running for 12 hours. Ideally you want it to come on about an hour before your lights come on and off hour before lights out. You'd like the drop checker to be greenish before the lights come on, but a drop checker is not the best indicator of Co2 levels because of its delay. I'd up your Co2 a little, but make sure to do it slowly over time, keep an eye on your live stock, if you see any indication of them struggling because of lack of o2 lower the Co2 back down to the level you had just before they started to struggle. Another thing to try is aiming the circulation pump towards the surface to create better o2 exchange, this way you can run higher co2 concentrations without effecting your live stock.

As I mentioned above, you need to find what works in your tank. Be it nutrients, light, co2 there is no one solution or ideal set of numbers that someone can give you. Best advice, start slow and see how things change, if you see positive results, add a little more, if you see negative results take a little away. Keep doing this until you get everything running in harmony and balance, not the easiest thing to accomplish. But keep at it and over time you will win the battle and you'll have gained a ton of experience along the way.

I hope that helps a little.


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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-10-2018, 03:48 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 64D-1701 View Post
You didn't mention if you bought potassium, but you will definitely need it ... This is what I use to dose using the Estimative Index method: Estimative Index | Aquarium Fertilizer | Green Leaf Aquariums.
I did also get the potassium, but forgot to list it. I had come across EI but honestly it felt like a trip back to chemistry in college and it didnt go well back then so it scared me to dive into EI. I figured the premixed was more expensive, but I do like the convenience of simply dosing with the pipette and not mixing or measuring anything. I don't have a ton of time for tank maintenance as is! I will try and do a bit of reading on it though. It seems like everyone is using it in this forum.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
... the light is on from 10 AM to 10 PM. Sounds way too much for my tanks.

My plan? Cut and adjust light. ferts from here at some point:
NPK + microplex Package - NilocG Aquatics
And use this guide as a start on how much of each. Dose NPK one time and the micros on another day to avoid conflicts between them:
Rotala Butterfly | Planted Aquarium Nutrient Dosing Calculator
Don't add so much and it doesn't require nearly as much water changing to get the excess out?
The graph indicates the power of the LEDs, so while its 12 hours total of "light" the first 3 hour period is a slow "sunrise" that linearly ramps up power, and a similar sunset in the evening. Max power is 1pm - 7pm so 6 hours. I could always try to reduce the photoperiod and see what happens. I mainly just want to have the light still on later in the evening when I am home to enjoy it!

Thank you for the links I will do some reading!

Quote:
Originally Posted by slipfinger View Post
Since you have the Seachem products you can mess around using them according to their dosing chart. Starting with half dosing is not a bad idea. Watch the tank to see how things respond, once you start a routine go with it for at least 3 weeks so you can actually see what the effects of thoses change are, less you are seeing a quick negative responce then back off a little.

I'd also have a good look at your Co2, there is no need for it to be running for 12 hours. Ideally you want it to come on about an hour before your lights come on and off hour before lights out.
Regarding the CO2, yeah its just on that much so that it does what you say for the photoperiod. I will keep this true if I reduce the photoperiod for sure. Thanks for the link to their dosing chart I had not seen that.
----


To all, thanks for the replies. I think I will need to just force myself to set a schedule to follow. I am so busy with work and family that the tank sometimes gets missed. Some kind of a schedule app to fill in the gaps could be extremely helpful.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-10-2018, 04:54 PM
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I know apps are the new way to go but they are not something that lets me lay the info out and look at trends, so I like a simple logbook. As I get older, I am seeing far more faults with the medical system where everything is in the record but not where a person can look and see what they did last month! The info is there but it takes extra effort to find it and they don't look or use their head. Too easy to find the record showing I'm using the eye drops prescribed when I had surgery 9 months ago!
My fish records are on a page for each tank and it is easy to spot when I last did the macros, even when I skip out for a week. Record keeping seems to be a lost art! Too easy to have the computer log things as done on a schedule, even if nobody actually did it.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-10-2018, 05:01 PM Thread Starter
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Fair point for sure, although the digital poke to remind me to even do it is helpful. I found an app that I will try and see how it goes. I still have to check the boxes to mark things as done, but fair point on making sure the history stays intact.

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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-11-2018, 01:36 AM
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Originally Posted by jprime84 View Post
I did also get the potassium, but forgot to list it. I had come across EI but honestly it felt like a trip back to chemistry in college and it didnt go well back then so it scared me to dive into EI. I figured the premixed was more expensive, but I do like the convenience of simply dosing with the pipette and not mixing or measuring anything. I don't have a ton of time for tank maintenance as is! I will try and do a bit of reading on it though. It seems like everyone is using it in this forum.
EI is actually pretty easy with dry ferts, but I totally understand it's overwhelming when starting the research. Some people make it more complicated by mixing big bottles of macros & micros ahead of time, but it's really not necessary. You can just use measuring spoons and dump the ferts right into the tank. I did that in the beginning, but then started doing a daily mix so it dissolves better in the water. Each morning, I just dunk a plastic bottle in the tank, fill it about halfway, scoop my daily macros or micros into the bottle, shake it up, and dump it back in the tank. No solution calculations required. Just be sure to rinse out the bottle if you use the same one for macros and micros. All you need is the cheap dry ferts, which should last well over a year, and some small measuring spoons like these: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

For your 25g, I'd start with this dosing schedule and adjust as necessary (as an example, I made Sunday your water change day):

Sun: 50% water change, then macros (1/4 tsp KNO3, 1/16 tsp KH2PO4, 1/16 tsp K2SO4)
Mon: micros (1/16 tsp CSM+B)
Tue: macros (1/4 tsp KNO3, 1/16 tsp KH2PO4, 1/16 tsp K2SO4)
Wed: micros (1/16 tsp CSM+B)
Thu: macros (1/4 tsp KNO3, 1/16 tsp KH2PO4, 1/16 tsp K2SO4)
Fri: micros (1/16 tsp CSM+B)
Sat: nothing

KNO3 is your nitrogen source and KH2PO4 is your phosphorous source. They both also have potassium (K), but K2SO4 is what you add if you just need more K. CSM+B is your micro source. The only fert I really worry about testing for is NO3 (nitrate), because it can harm livestock in excess. So for the first few weeks, I would test nitrate every day and try to keep it below 40ppm. I don't think the fert NO3 we add is as bad for the fish as NO3 generated by waste, but there's no way to differentiate the two when testing, so just keep the level below 40. Since your nitrate is zero right now, your tank is probably clean and not over populated. But if you need to decrease the dose of KNO3 to keep the nitrates in check after you start dosing, you should then increase the amount of K2SO4 you dose so you don't deplete your potassium (the K you decreased dosing with KNO3 needs to be replaced with more K2SO4).

Also, I see you listed Excel on your dosing app. If you're running CO2, you don't need excel, except maybe to spot treat algae with an eye dropper. So you can stop spending money on Excel.

Last edited by 64D-1701; 09-11-2018 at 01:40 AM. Reason: more comments
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-11-2018, 01:14 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by 64D-1701 View Post
For your 25g, I'd start with this dosing schedule and adjust as necessary (as an example, I made Sunday your water change day):

Sun: 50% water change, then macros (1/4 tsp KNO3, 1/16 tsp KH2PO4, 1/16 tsp K2SO4)
Mon: micros (1/16 tsp CSM+B)
Tue: macros (1/4 tsp KNO3, 1/16 tsp KH2PO4, 1/16 tsp K2SO4)
Wed: micros (1/16 tsp CSM+B)
Thu: macros (1/4 tsp KNO3, 1/16 tsp KH2PO4, 1/16 tsp K2SO4)
Fri: micros (1/16 tsp CSM+B)
Sat: nothing

...

Also, I see you listed Excel on your dosing app. If you're running CO2, you don't need excel, except maybe to spot treat algae with an eye dropper. So you can stop spending money on Excel.
Fantastic info. I will give this a shot when I start running low on the premixed stuff I already have. THANK YOU!

Regarding the Excel, I am aware that the CO2 covers the carbon need. I am dosing the excel at like 1/4 regular dosage every other day or so as spot treatments on the existing algae and I will drop it off afterwards.

------

I have also made changes to my lighting schedule by reducing the whole photoperiod down to 8 hours (2 hour ramp up, 4 hour max, 2 hour ramp down). I also readjusted the CO2 to the new light start time (coming on an hour before).
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-11-2018, 02:26 PM
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Fantastic info. I will give this a shot when I start running low on the premixed stuff I already have. THANK YOU!

Regarding the Excel, I am aware that the CO2 covers the carbon need. I am dosing the excel at like 1/4 regular dosage every other day or so as spot treatments on the existing algae and I will drop it off afterwards.

------

I have also made changes to my lighting schedule by reducing the whole photoperiod down to 8 hours (2 hour ramp up, 4 hour max, 2 hour ramp down). I also readjusted the CO2 to the new light start time (coming on an hour before).
Nice, I think you'll see some big improvement. I also use Excel to spot-treat algae once in a while using an eye dropper to target any specific areas. Thankfully, I'm at a point where algae is never a big issue. I get some green-spot algae on my rocks, but I'm still tinkering with the lighting schedule/intensity. It's never perfect. I guess that's part of the fun.

I read your original post and noticed your PH is 7ish. I'd recommend getting some of this to supplement the iron that's in CSM+B: Iron Chelate | Planted Aquarium Fertilizer | GLA Ferts. Without getting into a huge explanation, CSM+B has one type of iron that works best at a PH around 6. If the PH gets up to 7, not much is available to the plants. The chelated DTPA iron in the link will feed your plants with your higher PH. Keep the CSM+B dose the same, and just add 1/32 tsp of the other iron on your micro days.
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-16-2018, 11:48 PM Thread Starter
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One week update after dosing nutrients this past week. The CO2 bubbles are still going so it makes the water look cloudier in the iPhone photos.

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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-25-2018, 12:27 AM Thread Starter
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Two weeks dosing Seachem ferts
Untitled by Jeff Bailey, on Flickr
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-25-2018, 02:39 AM
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Looks like good growth. Is the algae getting better?
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-26-2018, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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Looks like good growth. Is the algae getting better?
I see less algae on the plants, but still traces of staghorn and a bit of BBA on the driftwood. The water column is filled with tiny CO2 bubbles and the drop checker light green so I can't imagine its a carbon issue. I still dose a low level dosage of Excel to try to combat it too.

I am okay with it if it appears in traces on the driftwood as long as it doesnt start to take over the tank.
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