Unintended experiment-did I poison my water?? Fish/Algae live, Inverts Die...
This post might be long, but hopefully you’ll see it’s not just the usual “not-enough-CO2” type problem…
Here’s the deal – I dry-started this 50g with HC and hair grass. With the carpet established, I filled the tank (6 or 7 months ago), but made some big mistakes with fertilizers (see my previous post). Basically I SCORCHED the carpet to death through a combination of uncycled Miracle Gro and an accidental MEGA dose of micros. That was about 4 months ago, and I had all kinds of algae blooms and crashes, from that mistake, so…
Then, in a misguided effort to create algae-Armageddon, I cranked the CO2 up to insane levels for a couple months (I had no fauna yet). At that time I didn’t have a drop checker, but was probably doing something like 20 BPS (a solid CO2 stream), and I’m guessing my CO2 PPM was like several hundred! I am here to say emphatically that YES, you CAN harm your plants with too much CO2!! It seemed like the rhetoric online was that plants can’t be killed by too much CO2, just the fauna… I guess I did a science experiment for everyone, and found that no matter how high the CO2 was cranked (and ferts/light), algae (hair and surface and green spot) just laughed in my face, while my plants got stunted and frail.
So, that debacle was a couple months ago. I’ve since done several water changes, got a drop checker, and a few healthy fish, and I REALLY feel like I have things dialed in.
Here are the CURRENT specs:
50 gal tank.
CO2: pressurized CO2, 2.5 bps with inline reactor, on while light is on (drop checker is a lime-yellow green)
LIGHT: 7 hrs/day, not sure what the wattage/liter is, but it’s about medium intensity, I built the light myself, and used it (and the CO2 setup) for 2 years on another tank that functioned beautifully, so I think the CO2 and light should be OK…
FERTS: Dry macros, and Seachem micros, both dosed according to EI, (also, one week ago I started dosing Excel Equilibrium and Alkaline Buffer)
Water is ¾ RO, and ¼ Tap,
2 powerheads, so circulation is excellent, and an O2 airstone that blows up and into a powerhead so water is very oxygenated
Several kinds of plants, 3 black mollies, 2 Siamensis, Big piece of Manzanita, 1 inch Eco Complete substrate with 1 inch layer of Miracle Gro underneath.
BUT BUT BUT! The plants are still stunted, small, with weak new growth that gets overtaken with algae (see pics). And I’ve tried buying snails and shrimp, and they die within 24 hours… what gives? I feel like the stunted pale growth, and dying inverts are related, but not sure how. I thought maybe it was from toxic acid-water, with no GH and REALLY low pH, but when I test, I get KH of 5 and GH of 5 with pH at 7-ish. (and it's been at those measurements for a while, not just because i started adding the Seachem Equilibrium and Alk Buffer, which coincidentally dont seem to be doing much)
Also, Nitrates are consistently at 10-20 ppm, with 0.5-1.5 ppm phosphates (according to API test kits), and quite a bit of potassium from the KNO3 and K2SO4, and Seachem Equilibrium and Alkaline Buffer. It’s been at the above parameters for like a month now, but yesterday I just bought some Nerite snails, and same thing, they died within a day…
I really hope there’s something that I’m missing, because I feel like everything is right where it should be, but something weird is killing inverts and growing algae… What would it be?
Thanks thanks thanks!!!! And more thanks!