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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-18-2012, 11:42 AM Thread Starter
ony
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What am I missing?

I have a capped soil tank, dosing excel and a trace liquid. I know my nitrates in the tank are quite low but I think that weekly 30% water changes keep them above 0 as my tap nitrates are stupidly high.

My java moss and java ferns have stopped thriving. My temple plants have suddenly shed all their lower leaves and some of the higher ones have slightly yellow spots and then disintegrate from the tip. The h. polypserma is still lush and thick but isn't growing as fast as it used to and a few leaves have pinholes. I recently added crypts and all have new healthy looking leaves.

The plants are trying to tell me something, but what is it?
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-18-2012, 03:45 PM
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Feed me, Seymour? Pinholes are a potassium deficiency I believe. The yellowing and reabsorbing may be nitrogen or phosphate. Have you tested your nitrate levels shortly after doing a water change, and then immediately before the next one?
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-18-2012, 04:44 PM Thread Starter
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I always test before a water change figuring that will be the lowest point. I measurd nitrates at 5ppm pre-water-change but I'm not all that confidant that my tests are accurate. My local shop usually measures them slightly higher than me, nitrate tests are a tricky beast so we may both be totally wrong.

My tap water nitrates are approx 40-50ppm according to the water company. My reading was 40-80ppm because you cant really tell the difference between 40 and 80 on the API master test kit. I don't actually own a phosphate test but the shop has always tested them higher than the nitrates.

I was really hoping it would be something not nitrate/phosphate related because dosing them always sounds a bit scary. Particularly EI with its massive water changes.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-18-2012, 05:15 PM
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Since it is the amount of light you have that drives the plant's demand for nutrients, what are the tank dimensions and what lighting are you using? If you were dosing nitrates instead of relying on the water changes to provide them, you would dose every other day, so it isn't reasonable to expect to maintain enough nitrates in the water by "dosing" water only once a week, and certainly not at less than 15 ppm nitrate per dose.

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-18-2012, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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The tank is 330l 47.2" (4ft)length x 18.8"width x 29.3"height

Lighting is 3 T5H0's 2x daylight 1x red

I don't use co2 but I have a fair few stems and I'm growing a forest of peace lilies and assorted bog plants out of the overhead filter. I added the terrestrial plants to lower my nitrates to more fish friendly levels. Obviously I've gone too far the other way.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-18-2012, 07:10 PM
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I've found there's a trick at measuring lower nitrate levels with that API kit. Do the usual test and let it sit 5 minutes, then start up another tube and compare the two immediately after adding the bottle 2 drops. It'll help you see the contrast between a 0 reading and whatever your actual reading is. Comparing a single, low-nitrate reading to the color on the card can be a real pain. Is it 0? is it 5? who knows.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-18-2012, 08:41 PM
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Don't think of nitrates as a problem, but as a valuable nutrient. Adding something to lower the nitrate level is not good for a planted tank, only a fish-only tank. With the light you have you could have very high light, if you have good reflectors for each bulb, or only low medium light if you don't use reflectors. With the former you definitely need to supply CO2 to the plants or you will usually run into serious algae problems. Since you didn't mention algae I assume you don't have reflectors.

Why not increase your water change percentage to 50%, and get more nitrates that way? Your problems sure seem like a shortage of basic macro nutrients - nitrogen, phosphate and potassium.

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-18-2012, 09:48 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not disputing its usefulness to plants, only that very high nitrate readings have been shown to harm fish. 50ppm is already seen as unacceptable by many fishkeepers. With those levels in the tap water its difficult to keep the nitrates under 100, in my last tank, the nitrates eventually went off the scale despite religious weekly water changes. I want to avoid that situation in future. The peace lilies were a very cheap and easy solution but I had no idea they would work quite so well as they have. I will be informing all goldy owners in my area, I know many of them use lots of expensive water treatments.

Honestly my main reason for not wanting to increase my water change an extra 50 litres is that the box I use to store the fresh water only holds 100 litres and I have a good system going. Would it be better to do twice weekly water changes instead?

Thanks for identifying the problem, now I know whats wrong I can do something about it. My plant whispering skills are clearly not up to it yet.

edit: oh the reflector is just the stock one that came with the tank, its spread doesn't seem to be very good. I did have a diatom problem when I first set up the tank but it passed. The tanks been clear for a couple of months, this only started happening about a week ago.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-19-2012, 05:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ony View Post
My tap water nitrates are approx 40-50ppm according to the water company. My reading was 40-80ppm because you cant really tell the difference between 40 and 80 on the API master test kit. I don't actually own a phosphate test but the shop has always tested them higher than the nitrates.
Have you tested Nitrate/phosphate just before the weekly water change? If they are to low at that point you have to do something. (add ferts, remove/trim plants, lower lights/photoperiod, change more water etc.)

Please ignore any spelling/grammatical errors. I'm swedish and sometimes I'm also drunk.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-22-2012, 08:49 PM Thread Starter
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Added an all in one macro/micro mix a couple of days ago and the polysperma has shot up even faster than usual so I guess its done the job. Thanks for the help
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