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post #16 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-27-2020, 09:37 PM
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In looking at your journal I am 100% convinced that you built a anoxic/anaerobic time bomb and it’s now causing all or at least some of your problems. Even timeline fits where these problems reared up about 2-3 mo after flooding tank.

1. Bad circulation, you have absolutely zero high->low circulation in tank that will push micro-currents/oxygen into substrate. You need a spray bar on back wall blowing down back glass pushing about 100gph directly at that deepest soil area. Only thing that canister nozzle is doing is moving water around top 1/3 of the tank, you need both in there.

2. Soil way to deep at back. There is a reason why 2” is max recommend depth for soil, 1.5” being the norm. Then you put big rocks on top of it which further blocked surface area of and circulation into substrate. Also, unless you built inert piles of rock under rocks to support their weight the rocks have also compacted the soil underneath them, further impeding circulation thought those areas.

You should have built lighting louvre racks up to build up stones to specific height and position, covered them with a couple layers of fiberglass window screen then poured the recommended amounts of soil and sand in between rocks to avoid deep/hard anaerobic pockets. Symptoms of detrimental anaerobic activity (high levels of organics and no circulation, not all anaerobic activity is bad) are plants rotting at stems, misshapen leaves/lower leaves falling off and uncontrollable algae growth.

3. Your carpet did great for a while till time bomb went off. Dry start, things do great because whole substrate layer is in aerobic conditions, but once you flooded tank and didn’t supply adequate high->low circulation in tank you lit the fuse. When carpet plants fill in as a dense mat they also block circulation into substrate, their little short roots will provide some oxygenation into very top layers but even those will soon succumb to anoxic poisonings coming up from below. Even the stem plants roots couldn’t overcome the festering sewer that was brewing beneath them. You also further blocked circulation into substrate with dense planting you added as a afterthought.

You saw this happen in your tank, nice carpet then boom, big die off about 2-3months in. Once parts of carpet died off and areas of substrate became open to water the die off slowed and those patches are hanging in there but they still are not doing well because of toxic nature of your substrate/soil.

If you do try to fix this with spraybar or nozzle pointed at deep area at back you can expect a big purge of noxious substances once you setup that flow. Be ready with 50% water changes a couple hours after you set it up and then everyday for next 5days and then probably twice a week for next couple weeks. I takes a while for proper aerobic/anaerobic balance to be restored and soil to purge itself. Algae will go nuts if you don’t and shrimp will go into distress and die. If you want I can tell you how to build a vent into that deep layer.

Also your mixing of EI full strength dosing and use of a fertile soil substrate layer are at odds to me, if you have fertile substrate with high CEC value you should only need 1/3 EI, PPS Pro or ADA style dosing.
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post #17 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-28-2020, 04:06 AM Thread Starter
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In my experience any essential plant nutrient that is not in your fertilizer is very likely deficient in your aquarium.

There is no sulfur in your fertilizer recipe. Plants need almost as much S and P. Also Planted CSM doesn't have B (Boron) many aquarium fertilizer manufactures add Boron to it and often call it CSM+B. If you punched it from GLA I would it does have boro. Can you confirm that? Also CSM has FeEDTA which degrade at a PH greater than 6.5. Fe DTPA is good up to a PH of 7.5 and maybe 8. Fe Gluconate is not sensitive to PH but it it has to be dosed more frequently because bacteria can degrade it quickly before plants get to it. However at this time I see no indications of a iron issue so I would continue to use CSM for now.

You could add a little magnesium sulfate to boost sulfur as well as magnesium levels. Another option is to add potassium sulfate. it would add potassium and sulfur. i don't see any reason to add more potassium but adding more magnesium or potassium would not hurt either. And if it works you wouldn't need the equilibrium. you could start out targeting 5ppm Mg or if you decide to use potassium sulfate 5ppm K . You could easily go higher if needed.
You and @Seattle_Aquarist both kind of brought up something. I wonder it I either have a magnesium deficiency, or an excess, presumably from the Equalibrium, that may prevent the uptake of magnesium (I feel like a read something while researching like that).

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post #18 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-28-2020, 05:10 AM
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Hi @talontsiawd,

And how much Equilibrium do you add after each water change?

Determining magnesium levels in my tanks involves me do a dGH reading and a calcium ppm reading (I use API for dGH and Salifert for calcium) and then calculating the magnesium ppm from there.
Hi @talontsiawd,

So, did your retest your dGH of the tank and tap water?

How much Equilibrium do you add after every water change?

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post #19 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-28-2020, 05:58 PM Thread Starter
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Hi @talontsiawd,

So, did your retest your dGH of the tank and tap water?

How much Equilibrium do you add after every water change?
One tablespoon of Equilibrium after water change. I may add another towards the end of the week if I see curling, and definitely when I see a stem turning black (if it gets really bad, many will turn black and separate).



GH is 12 in tank, 0 out the tap.

And KH is 4 in tank, 0-1 out the tap if it matters.

Also note, Equilibrium may not be the only thing involved here, I also have about 20 lbs if not more of stone as well in the tank.

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post #20 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-28-2020, 06:45 PM
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Hi @talontsiawd,

If your dKH=0 out of the tap, and your dGH=0 out of the tap, then I have to assume your water supply is coming through a water softener......is that correct?

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post #21 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-28-2020, 06:52 PM Thread Starter
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Hi @talontsiawd,

If your dKH=0 out of the tap, and your dGH=0 out of the tap, then I have to assume your water supply is coming through a water softener......is that correct?
Honestly, I have no idea. I live in a condo so I don't really know what my water goes through. I can ask but that doesn't mean people know, any signs that would be obvious?

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post #22 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-28-2020, 07:30 PM
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Honestly, I have no idea. I live in a condo so I don't really know what my water goes through. I can ask but that doesn't mean people know, any signs that would be obvious?
Hi talontsiawd,

The 0 dKH and 0dGH is a very, very strong indicator that your building is on a water softener. Water softeners typically use sodium chloride (salt) or potassium chloride (much less likely) to remove the calcium and magnesium ions from the water and replace those ions with either sodium or potassium ions. This is great for washing clothes or taking a shower however not for plants.

I'm sorry, I have no experience with planted tanks on a water softener system but I'm sure there are plenty of threads here on TPT that can provide guidance. Or, maybe one of the other posters on this thread has some experience they can share. The blackened / rotting stems are typically caused by insufficient available magnesium (Mg) however I don't know if adding additional will resolve the issue because of the high levels of sodium (or potassium) ions in the water.
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post #23 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-28-2020, 07:36 PM Thread Starter
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Hi talontsiawd,

The 0 dKH and 0dGH is a very, very strong indicator that your building is on a water softener. Water softeners typically use sodium chloride (salt) or potassium chloride (much less likely) to remove the calcium and magnesium ions from the water and replace those ions with either sodium or potassium ions. This is great for washing clothes or taking a shower however not for plants.

I'm sorry, I have no experience with planted tanks on a water softener system but I'm sure there are plenty of threads here on TPT that can provide guidance. Or, maybe one of the other posters on this thread has some experience they can share. The blackened / rotting stems are typically caused by insufficient available magnesium (Mg) however I don't know if adding additional will resolve the issue because of the high levels of sodium (or potassium) ions in the water.
I thank you for this, and some past help. We got somewhere it looks, and a further place to research. I will look into it further. Though I don't have room for a RODI setup, I do have a new aquarium store a few blocks away I can get it from if I decide to go that route, I just have a small place so storing 5-10 gallons of water is unfortunately a challenge, or I would probably just do that. Thanks again.
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post #24 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-28-2020, 09:04 PM
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I’m getting a little confused here. In your first post, you stated that you have 8 dGH from your tap and now you have zero? Is it that variable all the time? If you are at zero now, it would indicate a water softener that is malfunctioning. You may want to talk to the owner/manager to find out what is going on. If a softener is involved, there should be virtually no sodium coming through. Most of it is washed down the drain following the ion exchange process.

Another point of confusion: you have about 17 gallons of water and are adding 6-12 ppm (1-2 tablespoons of Equilibrium) of Mg a week (plus any from your variable tap) …and that is not enough magnesium!? It is certainly enough potassium. With 40% w/c’s, that would accumulate to 15-30 ppm Mg (with no plant uptake) in about a month. There is no way your plant mass is uptaking more than about 3-5 ppm Mg a week and that is being generous.

To satisfy yourself, you should determine your Mg levels. Buy API’s Ca test kit and, with your GH numbers, you can then calculate Mg levels. We can tell you how to do this if you need help with it. I have a suspicion that your ferts are out of whack after adding so much equilibrium.

I am still more inclined to think that the substrate is heavily involved in your issue and would suggest at least trying @DaveKS suggestions, in the meantime.

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If you want I can tell you how to build a vent into that deep layer.
I’d be interested in your substrate venting technique, if you wouldn’t mind detailing it.
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post #25 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-28-2020, 09:40 PM Thread Starter
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Iím getting a little confused here. In your first post, you stated that you have 8 dGH from your tap and now you have zero? Is it that variable all the time? If you are at zero now, it would indicate a water softener that is malfunctioning. You may want to talk to the owner/manager to find out what is going on. If a softener is involved, there should be virtually no sodium coming through. Most of it is washed down the drain following the ion exchange process.

Another point of confusion: you have about 17 gallons of water and are adding 6-12 ppm (1-2 tablespoons of Equilibrium) of Mg a week (plus any from your variable tap) Öand that is not enough magnesium!? It is certainly enough potassium. With 40% w/cís, that would accumulate to 15-30 ppm Mg (with no plant uptake) in about a month. There is no way your plant mass is uptaking more than about 3-5 ppm Mg a week and that is being generous.

To satisfy yourself, you should determine your Mg levels. Buy APIís Ca test kit and, with your GH numbers, you can then calculate Mg levels. We can tell you how to do this if you need help with it. I have a suspicion that your ferts are out of whack after adding so much equilibrium.

I am still more inclined to think that the substrate is heavily involved in your issue and would suggest at least trying @DaveKS suggestions, in the meantime.



Iíd be interested in your substrate venting technique, if you wouldnít mind detailing it.
I don't know anything about my water. We don't have individual meters so the building pays our water and we pay it back through our HOA. We have water shut offs to deal with plumbing (without detail) about once or twice a month. Sometimes, I get black stuff coming out for a second or two, often I do not. I get no bill, nor do I have an account with the water company. It would not surprise me if my water varies. We have maintenance issues elsewhere, and with plumbing, so if there is a water softener, my guess is that it isn't maintained the same way it would be if it was owned by me, or anyone else with an aquarium.

I cannot answer your questions as I don't know enough. I could go out and buy every test kit but usually the only way something is figured out is when someone else had the same issue. I don't mind buying them but the last time I had a weird issue, I just switched to RO water. I had a garage back then though.

I don't necessarily believe I have a deficiency of anything. If I had to guess, I imagine I have excess something.

I don't dose Equalibrium just because, I do it because it is the only thing I have found that keeps my stems from turning black and separating. If I don't do it, my tank essentially continues to have plants separate over and over. Then I have stems that are constantly trimming themselves, never making any progress, and then I quit.

I really never used test kits because quite frankly, I would just EI dose and everything was fine. I am not really up on water chemistry because it has either been fine, or I test a bunch, read a bunch, and again, just can't figure it out so I change the water source.


I will buy a CA test kit ASAP and come back. I also realized they shut the water off today, either before or after I tested it out the tap, so I may need to test this over a few days and see what is going on, then weekly to see what is going on with my tests. I would be far from shocked if my water out the tap is changing, the building was build in 1974, has issues, is worked on all the time, and we have 200 units in the building so it is quite a large place. We also replaced the sewer and have consistently had clogs, even flooding in some units so who knows if they are dumping things in the water. I certainly don't drink out the tap here.

-Matt

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post #26 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-28-2020, 10:06 PM Thread Starter
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In looking at your journal I am 100% convinced that you built a anoxic/anaerobic time bomb and itís now causing all or at least some of your problems. Even timeline fits where these problems reared up about 2-3 mo after flooding tank.

1. Bad circulation, you have absolutely zero high->low circulation in tank that will push micro-currents/oxygen into substrate. You need a spray bar on back wall blowing down back glass pushing about 100gph directly at that deepest soil area. Only thing that canister nozzle is doing is moving water around top 1/3 of the tank, you need both in there.

2. Soil way to deep at back. There is a reason why 2Ē is max recommend depth for soil, 1.5Ē being the norm. Then you put big rocks on top of it which further blocked surface area of and circulation into substrate. Also, unless you built inert piles of rock under rocks to support their weight the rocks have also compacted the soil underneath them, further impeding circulation thought those areas.

You should have built lighting louvre racks up to build up stones to specific height and position, covered them with a couple layers of fiberglass window screen then poured the recommended amounts of soil and sand in between rocks to avoid deep/hard anaerobic pockets. Symptoms of detrimental anaerobic activity (high levels of organics and no circulation, not all anaerobic activity is bad) are plants rotting at stems, misshapen leaves/lower leaves falling off and uncontrollable algae growth.

3. Your carpet did great for a while till time bomb went off. Dry start, things do great because whole substrate layer is in aerobic conditions, but once you flooded tank and didnít supply adequate high->low circulation in tank you lit the fuse. When carpet plants fill in as a dense mat they also block circulation into substrate, their little short roots will provide some oxygenation into very top layers but even those will soon succumb to anoxic poisonings coming up from below. Even the stem plants roots couldnít overcome the festering sewer that was brewing beneath them. You also further blocked circulation into substrate with dense planting you added as a afterthought.

You saw this happen in your tank, nice carpet then boom, big die off about 2-3months in. Once parts of carpet died off and areas of substrate became open to water the die off slowed and those patches are hanging in there but they still are not doing well because of toxic nature of your substrate/soil.

If you do try to fix this with spraybar or nozzle pointed at deep area at back you can expect a big purge of noxious substances once you setup that flow. Be ready with 50% water changes a couple hours after you set it up and then everyday for next 5days and then probably twice a week for next couple weeks. I takes a while for proper aerobic/anaerobic balance to be restored and soil to purge itself. Algae will go nuts if you donít and shrimp will go into distress and die. If you want I can tell you how to build a vent into that deep layer.

Also your mixing of EI full strength dosing and use of a fertile soil substrate layer are at odds to me, if you have fertile substrate with high CEC value you should only need 1/3 EI, PPS Pro or ADA style dosing.
Sorry, I completely missed this. I started this tank knowing that substrate could become an issue. In fact, I personally only recommend .5 inches of dirt due to past experiences. However, I have not had the same issues I have had with this much soil and cap I have had with other tanks. No excessive bubbling, and no spots where things simply won't grow. My carpet did die off hard but it is now coming back. All stems are having issue at the top of the tank, not the bottom, which I have had in other tanks.

I will try the spraybar. Luckily, the green pipe you see in my journal can easily be moved and it is for a spray bar connection. I will see how that changes things.

What is odd though is that this tank is improving, rather than a slow decline, followed by it just failing miserably. I am not saying that couldn't happen in the future, but I have done many dirt tanks and I start to get minor issues, then major, then it never recovers. This isn't going that same direction, but I am not saying that doesn't mean what your saying is wrong, it just hasn't been my experience in failed dirt tanks. I have experimented with dirt tanks for many years, but many years ago, and I wouldn't recommend what I did to anyone, my reason for it was as simple as when playing with my rocks, in a tank that had dirt in it for entirely different reasons (for house plants and it was empty so easy storage), I feel in love with the scape and risked it failing so I have prepared for it not working out, I am just not seeing the same signs I have seen in other tanks I have had.

-Matt

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post #27 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-28-2020, 11:40 PM
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Since you are now dependent upon your tap (no more RO), before making a water change you may want to test the tap for GH and TDS to make sure it is consistent with the tap water of the previous water change. Stabilizing your source water may help. Sounds like you have a nightmare going on with that water and since you don't trust it to drink, it may not be good to put it in your fish tank. Since you only change ~6 gals a week, you might benefit from a simple water filter (that you could also use for drinking water). Something like the BWT Premium Water Filter, which adds Mg. For ~$6 a week, you could also buy 6 gals of distiiled water. Also, you may want to to test your tap to see if there are any bad actors in it such as toxic levels of heavy metals. As @Surf would recommend, this test is cheap and good enough: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I'm wondering if your tap has a toxic level of something and the heavy dosing of K, Mg and Ca, from the Equilibrium, is helping to block it from being consumed by the plants. If you decide/determine that the tap is bad, I'd do a reset of the tank with whatever solution you pick with several 80% w/c's.
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post #28 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-28-2020, 11:51 PM Thread Starter
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Since you are now dependent upon your tap (no more RO), before making a water change you may want to test the tap for GH and TDS to make sure it is consistent with the tap water of the previous water change. Stabilizing your source water may help. Sounds like you have a nightmare going on with that water and since you don't trust it to drink, it may not be good to put it in your fish tank. Since you only change ~6 gals a week, you might benefit from a simple water filter (that you could also use for drinking water). Something like the BWT Premium Water Filter, which adds Mg. For ~$6 a week, you could also buy 6 gals of distiiled water. Also, you may want to to test your tap to see if there are any bad actors in it such as toxic levels of heavy metals. As @Surf would recommend, this test is cheap and good enough: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I'm wondering if your tap has a toxic level of something and the heavy dosing of K, Mg and Ca, from the Equilibrium, is helping to block it from being consumed by the plants. If you decide/determine that the tap is bad, I'd do a reset of the tank with whatever solution you pick with several 80% w/c's.
I am not saying my water is terrible, I just get red stains in the tub and on my shower curtain (over a long period of time). I drink the water, just after it has been filtered by my refrigerator. I have planned on putting something inline before my facet in the kitchen (which would prefilter my drinking water before the other filter) which may do something for the tank, who knows.

RO isn't out of the question, an RO unit is not going to happen but I can get it from LFS. Just lugging 10 gallons of water up through many doors and having very little storage, it has to be a must before I can commit to it.

I will look into that test, and try to get a CA test by the weekend.

-Matt

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post #29 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-29-2020, 05:42 AM
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Hi @talontsiawd,



If your dKH=0 out of the tap, and your dGH=0 out of the tap, then I have to assume your water supply is coming through a water softener......is that correct?


If his location is up to date, then he lives merely 15-20 miles away from me and our water comes from the same source.

I also recently had a significant problem with twisted leaves. Kinda happened all of a sudden after a water change. My soft water loving plants were happy though.

What I found was a change in my tap water. KH is usually 3-5 and GH usually 4-5. Likely because of the usual summer drought then sudden surge of rain in winter, our water got really soft.

I measured 0-1 KH, and 1-2 GH. Actually last week GH was 0-1. API Ca turned on 1 drop.

To fix this I dosed Ca and Mg about 3:1 ratio getting Ca up to 35 (modified API test kit to read out in 5 PPMs) and MG to about 13 (calculated). Most plants responded well, new leaves growing in straight. I think Iím also dealing with another deficiency in just a few plants, possibly K, maybe from the influx of Mg or Iím still deficient of Mg.

I try to stay away from equilibrium due to the excess K or at least adjust your other macro dosing so you are not overdoing K.


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post #30 of 35 (permalink) Old 01-29-2020, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by talontsiawd View Post
I am not saying my water is terrible, I just get red stains in the tub and on my shower curtain (over a long period of time). I drink the water, just after it has been filtered by my refrigerator. I have planned on putting something inline before my facet in the kitchen (which would prefilter my drinking water before the other filter) which may do something for the tank, who knows.

RO isn't out of the question, an RO unit is not going to happen but I can get it from LFS. Just lugging 10 gallons of water up through many doors and having very little storage, it has to be a must before I can commit to it.

I will look into that test, and try to get a CA test by the weekend.
I would definitely have it tested as red stains mean high amounts of iron/rust in the water.
You could look into something like this under sink water filter, admittedly I'm no expert on these types of things however it seems like the best solution if you don't feel like lugging the water to your living quarters.
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