Need advice and suggestions! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-21-2015, 02:11 PM Thread Starter
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Need advice and suggestions!

Hello All,

I am new to planted tank and looking for some advice on if my setup is correct. I have spent a lot of money in the past on plants from LFS and have unsuccessfully been able to keep the majority of them alive. Alot of my problem was my Severums in the tank. Those have been sold and looking to restock my plants for my new Leopard bush as of right now all I have are amazon swords and java ferns. As you can see in my pictures I have two different types of gravel in my 55g tank. I use the fluval 306 and 406 as filters and a finnex fuge ray planted plus and a beamworks led lights. I also utilize the fluval q2 air pump (is this wrong). I noticed some pictures dont have airstones ect. For plants I use just the seachem flourish. I don't reallywant to get into pumping co2 into my tank so looking for alternatives. Thanks for all your help and advice. Also, if anyone has suggestions on plants that are colorful and clean ie. not hornwort I don't like the mess. Thanks
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-21-2015, 02:46 PM
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Pics do not show up for me.

Airstones are not generally used in a planted tank because too much surface movement of the water tends to allow the CO2 to leave the tank. I think you have enough water movement with the two filters, as long as they are arranged correctly. Aim them to work together, to produce a smooth flow. Not pointed at each other to create turbulence.

Seachem Flourish line of fertilizers include half a dozen products. When you are running a low tech tank, with plenty of fish, the fish food supplies a fair amount of most nutrients, so the individual nutrients are good because you can customize the dosing. While you are getting the new set up going you can continue with the Seachem Flourish product line, but it can get expensive. Many people will switch over to dry ferts. This is essentially buying just the active ingredients, and adding your own water.

Fish food supplies reasonable amounts of N, P, and most traces. It is low in K, Ca, Mg and Fe.
Water changes with water that has a GH of at least 3 German degrees of hardness usually supplies enough Ca and Mg.
Fertilizers for a low tech tank with fish usually should be potassium, iron and carbon. (Seachem Flourish Excel).

As the tank gets closer to high tech usually a few things happen:
1) Fish load gets smaller- you end up with fewer fish, and especially smaller fish that won't damage the plants. So you feed less. So fish food does not supply all (or even most) of the fertilizers the plants need.

2) You add CO2 and higher light. Plants use these improved conditions, and demand more fertilizers- N, P, K (the macros), Ca, Mg (secondary nutrients) and trace minerals, including Fe and all the others. (micros or traces).

Net result:
Most people who get into a high tech tank end up following one of the fertilizer recipes such as Estimative Index or PPS pro or similar. The basic concept behind these is that you do not depend on fish food for much, but add all the nutrients plants need in something close to the right ratio. If you add excess (estimative index) you then do water changes to keep the levels in check.
Fine tuning it:
Once you figure out how your tank is running, you may be testing the water for several nutrients (pH as one gauge of CO2, NO3, GH as a gauge of Ca and Mg, P and Fe are common tests) and you can fine tune it to suit the way you want to take care of the tank. Once you have it figured out you do not have to keep on testing, though an occasional test to see that you are still on track is good, or testing when a problem starts to show up can help figure out what could be causing the problem.

Here is how I do this:
I started using the EI method, then reduced the dosing to keep the NO3 from climbing so high, and reduced the others in the same ratio. End result is that I am probably dosing something closer to the PPS pro method- lower doses of most things, and allowing the fish food to be some of the fertilizer. I am still using Excel for carbon.
Since fish food supplies most nutrients, I am adding just a little more of the things fish food is low in: Potassium and iron.
My tap water has a GH of about 4-5 degrees, so supplies the Ca and Mg.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-21-2015, 03:01 PM
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Unless someone else suggest it's not, the Planted+ is adequate light for that tank.
You have only a small amount of the necessary nutrients going into the tank for the
plants/w SC Flourish. I will provide a link to a thread which explains this well.

You only need to read the introduction post. Not the whole thread.
You also don't need to use the "EI" type of fert system because it is designed for a high tech tank environment and you have a low tech tank environment which uses less ferts.
Adult people just maintain, but children grow. Just like them, plants need all of the necessary food (ferts) in order to grow.
I will also give you a link to a for sale thread in which is ferts in several forms.
I would not buy any but one just yet as you need to learn a little about the whole thing first. But I will suggest that you buy some Osmocote+ capsules from him now.
The cost including shipping is minimal. You only need 5 of them for a 55g tank to
be placed in there and they will last for about 5 months.
After you learn a little about the ferts then I suggest you use this part of his list.
That one order will get you enough for almost a year, but the next time you need to refill it it will only cost $12 plus the shipping for the next years supply.

"PPS-Pro Liquid Ferts"

PPS-Pro style liquid fertilizer- $27 shipped
-2x 500ml dosing bottles
-Pre-measured micros and macros, enough to dose 5000 gallons of tank water.
-Also comes with set of refill packets
Additional refill Packets are $6 per set.
Dosing Instructions:
The ferts will come already in the dosing bottle, simply fill the bottle with 500ml of RO water and you are ready to go.
Dose 1ml per 10 gallons of water of each micro and macro ferts each day prior to lights coming on.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-21-2015, 03:18 PM Thread Starter
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Wow thank you guys that is very helpful and kind of disappointing at the same time because I have spent so much on plants in the past thinking I could just set them in there and use food and Seachem to keep them alive. Atleast I know now. I will head over to the provided link Raymond and follow the EI method that seems to be a go to source. In your opinions do I need to buy a T5 lighting system?
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-21-2015, 03:46 PM
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You are always walking a tight rope between lights, Ferts, biomass. Like anything, once you get it figured out and practice, its gets easier.
Anytime you change something you get a wobble in the tight rope. You have to make a correction somewhere.

Sticking with that analogy, if you add a t5 light you will be adding a BIG wiggle in the rope!

Here is the first thing I would do with that setup. Java fern and Swords are pretty undemanding plants. But swords are big root plants and big root feeders. The first thing I would do is REALLY increase your plant mass....I mean REALLY increase it!!

I would put in a bunch more swords and Java ferns then I would put root tabs under each of your swords and let them do their thing for a month or two and see what you get.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-21-2015, 04:08 PM
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No, you have more light than necessary already. I would just continue with what you have. More light means even more demand for fertilizer and co2 so if you do not want to go pressurized co2 then do not increase light. How long is your lighting on now?
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-21-2015, 04:24 PM
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As said in this thread by at least a couple of people already, for a tank not using injected CO2 gas, and very little plant mass -- adding more light now would cause problems.

Agree with @ichy, add more plants first if anything, root tabs under those then wait a month or so.

Like @Diana said, most low tech tanks would end up needing extra potassium and/or iron (if any) and if water is hard enough. Get your water tested for hardness (TDS is quick and simple with a meter), both water from the tap and water from the tank before and after a water change (that gives you an idea of how much the hardness creeps up due to evaporation in between water changes and whether your water change is sufficient).

Once you have more plants and decide that you do want to dose ferts, if you go for the EI mix, the recommended amount for low tech tanks is 1/3 EI dose. With low plant mass, I would use even less than that.

Last, I like the wood in your tank, interesting shapes!

Hah, missed that you wanted plant suggestions.
For a big tank, I think Hygrophila corymbosa would look nice and is a fast grower.
Brazilian pennywort for a slightly different growth habit and leaf shape

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Last edited by Daisy Mae; 11-21-2015 at 04:27 PM. Reason: Plant suggestions
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-21-2015, 05:28 PM
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Honestly I would consider running just the beamworks or just the planted plus. More light doesn't always mean better growth. Some of my easiest and most algae resistant tanks have been low light tanks. The amazons and the java fern both don't require a ton of light and can still be lush and healthy. Just my thoughts. Good luck!

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-22-2015, 01:59 AM
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You have a non-CO2 injected tank, so your air-stone bubbles will tend to maintain CO2 levels at equilibrium - this is desirable for the plants.

You wish to grow plants, so you need to feed them too. The fish food supplies nutrients indirectly to the plants - but its not balanced for plants - its balanced for the fish. The plants need for potassium is way higher than that contained in fish food. Seeing the hardness of the water you use - you may also need some iron for the plants. So you should consider supplementing by adding some potassium fertiliser and iron to balance the plant nutrition. As your present plant mass is low start with a weekly dose of 10 ppm potassium and 0.05 ppm of DTPA iron. You will need a monthly fertiliser tablet to insert into the substrate near that amazon-sword of yours.

You need more plants for that tank of yours. If you decide to plant more then go for a variety of easy plants. By planting more you will also need to take care of their carbon needs. You will have to dose either excel or metricide to fulfill the carbon need; and as the plant mass increases up your dose of fertilisers (but we could always talk about that in future).

If you have a choice, you have a problem, till you elect your choice. No choice, no problem, only consequences, learn to live with them.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-22-2015, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone! I have bought some plants from the community along with some root tabs and purchased some Seachem Excel to compliment the seachem flourish. I also cut back my light to only use my planted+ light because of the red LED's that are suppose to help plants with photosynthesis? I also have both filters aiming in the same direction as opposed to what I did have with them shooting towards each other. I will keep you all up to date with my progression with photos. My plants should be here on Tuesday so I will be anxious to hear your opinions on if I bought enough and what steps I should take next. Thanks all for your input and suggestions. This website and community has proven to be extremely helpful and I appreciate everyones time with there comments.

Bump: @keymaster right now my lights are on for about 10 to 12 hours a day.

Last edited by Cbocko20; 11-22-2015 at 05:20 PM. Reason: spelling errors
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-22-2015, 05:51 PM
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You are on the right track, but be patient, you still gotta dial things in.

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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-22-2015, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you ichy
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