carlsj2012's 75 Gallon, The Comeback (56k warning?) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-08-2019, 06:07 AM Thread Starter
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carlsj2012's 75 Gallon, The Comeback (56k warning?)

Hi everyone!

Not only am I new to this forum, I am also new to planted aquariums! Back in November 2018, I decided to embark on a frustrating journey to own a planted tank which ended in disappointment. However, this early journey has not deterred me from trying again! In March I did a tank "reset" to try and get things right, and maybe even learn a thing or two about something. Before I get to where the tank is at now, I wanted to give an overview of my first attempt, with the sole purpose of identifying all the mistakes I made, resulting in an imminent failure. I also encourage you all to identify things I have missed. So here we go!

Tank Dimensions: 48"W * 21"H * 18"D
Filter: Aqueon 400 Canister Filter
Lighting: Current USA Satellite Plus PRO
Heater: Aqueon 300W submersible
Substrate: Blend of Tropica aquarium soil and Seachem Flourite
CO2: 10# cylinder with in-line Dual Venturi DIY external reactor
Other: Ehiem Skimmer (Added in March 2019)

November 7, 2018: Day one. There is nothing more exciting than flooding your aquarium and planting! I believed I had everything I needed, as the soil was already enriched, and the LFS guy told me I shouldn't need to add any ferts for at least a year. HA! Anyway, things were looking very nice. And it didn't take long for things to take off.
[IMG][/IMG]

November 29, 2018: Things are growing quickly, but still looking healthy! I decided to add 12 Cardinal Tetras to add some more colour to the tank. Water tests indicating a pH of 6.4 and still no nitrate.
[IMG][/IMG]

December 12, 2018: Oh boy....Things have really grown, but it's not so nice anymore. There's a thick, persistent layer of oil/slime on the surface of my water. I don't understand! The parameters show zero across the board! Things should be pristine in there! As you can see, I also added more fauna, 12 Emperor Tetras, just because....got to have fish, right?!
[IMG][/IMG]

February 28, 2019: It's just before this point that I realized, I've really messed up. I start scouring the web for solutions and root causes. Over the course of the month, two cardinal and one emperor have died, and I simply cannot keep up with the BGA that is now rampant in my tank. This image is 3 days after cleaning. I decide here to start from scratch. I take inventory of what fauna remain and am surprised to find a emperor fry. Apparently the sole survivor of it's kin. Bonus fish! Also, I've added more! Four blue angelfish.
[IMG][/IMG]

March 1, 2019: All the flora (with the exception of HC) is removed thrown in the garbage. Driftwood and rocks are scrubbed with a toothbrush under tap water, and the aquarium glass is scrubbed. Soil and HC are aggressively vacuumed and an 80% water change is performed (fauna are still in the tank). After a refill, I set up the surface skimmer I just picked up and allow the filter to do it's thing before cleaning it four hours later. Activated carbon is replaced. 10 mls of Excel are also added and CO2 shut down. Lights reduced to 50%

March 2, 2019: Performed a 50% water change and cleaned skimmer filter (already filthy). Added new flora (to be described below). Re-scaped

March 4, 2019: Added some more flora. EI fertilizers have arrived in the mail, performed another 50% water change.
[IMG][/IMG]

So here we are.
Current Flora:
Alternantera Rosanervig
Didiplis Diandra
Anubias Nana
Java Fern
HC
Limnophila Sessiliflora

Current Fauna:
Blue Angelfish (4)
Emperor Tetras (12)
Cardinal Tetras (10)
Silver Flying Fox (1)
Bristlenose Pleco (1)

I realize today is March 7th, but I will save the Fresh start for another journal entry. So what did I do wrong?

Here is MY list:
-I was in a hurry.
-I didn't have ferts. The plants outgrew what little nutrient was in the soil.
-I didn't have good CO2 control. Between the iffy on-off times and the surface slime, things were all over the map.
-I thought more light meant better results. Cue algae.
-I thought my canister filter could go longer between cleans.
-General upkeep was lacking. By simply not trimming the plants adequately, circulation was affected, making it easier for algae to take over.
-I didn't understand the water parameters. And when the going got tough, I basically threw in the towel and stopped testing. I was running blind.
-Did I mention I was in a hurry? I wanted that gorgeous tank yesterday. This takes time.

I'm still learning, but I think I'm way better off than I was four months ago. Let's make this a great comeback story, okay?

carlsj2012
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post #2 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-09-2019, 01:14 AM Thread Starter
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So, a quick update on the current status of this tank. Started dosing EI on March 5:

Dosage:
KNO3 - 1/2 tsp EOD
KH2PO4 - 1/8 tsp EOD
K2SO4 - 1/8 tsp EOD

CSM+B - 1/8 tsp EOD
Iron - 5ml twice/week

Flourish Excel - 5ml ED
Flourish Advance - 5ml ED (had some left over, I'll run it until it's gone)

CO2 is probably a little on the low side. Bumped up the regulator pressure to 10 psi today and targeted closer to 4 bubbles per second. I'm working at the moment, so I don't really get to monitor what the pH or drop checker are doing.

It looks like BGA is making a comeback. I suspect lack of 02/circulation and too much light. Today I angled my spray bar toward the front of the tank for some good surface ripple and better circulation (it had been angled down the back previously) and light intensity has been reduced from 100% to 75%. Tested nitrate at 20ppm.

Unfortunately, these steps are good at preventing it, and won't necessarily get rid to it. I did a little reading on fighting BGA and am deliberating on which method to use:
1) Four day blackout
2) EM Treatment
3) Hydrogen Peroxide

Anyone have experience with these? The EM may require a prescription, but I've yet to contact my LFS to check availability.

carlsj2012
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Last edited by carlsj2012; 03-09-2019 at 06:53 AM. Reason: typo
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post #3 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-09-2019, 02:32 AM
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Hello @carlsj2002 your tank is looking good. For your Bga I used Ultralife Blue Green stain remover with great success before. Got it on Amazon. You look to be on a better track. Glad you didnt give up. I would suggest looking at some members journals here and see what their doing. Co2 at 4 bubbles per minute worries me, but I think you ment to say 4 bubbles per second. Pick up some test kits so you can share your water parameters and the members here at TPT will be able to help you. Keep up on your 50% weekly water changes, along with thorough gravel cleaning, proper filter maintenance. Keeping a tank and equipment clean goes a long way. Goodluck and enjoy the ride. This is also a useful link to help with fertalizers https://rotalabutterfly.com/nutrient-calculator.php.
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post #4 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-09-2019, 06:58 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks @KZB,

I currently have the API master test kit, but I think I will pick up a gH/kH and PO4 kit. I found the template @Greggz has been using, and like it a lot. I will play around with it a little bit until I figure out what I'm doing. The journals have been fun to read through, although they mostly make me want to get another tank!
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post #5 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-09-2019, 07:55 PM Thread Starter
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Decided to do a spot vac of the BGA this afternoon when I woke up (working the night shift at the moment). I got a good chunk of it out, but I know it's still in there. I'm hoping the adjustments I made will prevent it from spreading. Ended up being ~10% WC. Didn't want to go too crazy before work! Dosed my regular macros, and doubled down on Excel at 10 ml. Going forward, I will spot treat with H2O2 until (hopefully) it is eliminated. I figure if it can no longer spread, then I will just sit there waiting to be eradicated....maybe I'm delusional.
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post #6 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-11-2019, 01:05 AM Thread Starter
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I'm beginning to wonder if something else is happening in my tank. I do see what resembles BGA on the substrate, but the didiplis appears to be getting a coat of lighter green colour on it. I thought BGA didn't "jump" up onto plants, more of a creep up? Also the rosanervig leaves are getting a dusting of brown on them. Diatoms? I'll try to get some pictures when I'm not working.

On another note, I've been working on filling out my water parameters spreadsheet. I've got most of it done now, but I'm waiting on a degassed pH value. I'll be using the API pH test kit for those values. I know they aren't as accurate, but it's all I've got for now. Tomorrow is WC day, so I'm curious to see what my NO3 readings are pre and post WC. I'll have to pick up some other test kits for PO4 and gH/kH.

I also have some concerns with regard to my PAR value. Based on the PAR data I managed to find, I suspect I am getting just under 50 PAR at the center of my tank. I feel like this isn't enough light?
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post #7 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-11-2019, 05:05 AM Thread Starter
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So I was sitting there pondering about my water clarity. I don't think I mentioned this yet, but the water is not as clear as I would like it to be. Then it hit me: I think I've got my filter set up all wrong! Not only that, but it really isn't set up to be polishing water at all!!! I have no fine polishing, only coarse sponge. And to make things worse, I think my trays are in backwards. Bio media is in the bottom, I have some carbon in the middle tray at the moment, and a coarse sponge on top.

Guess I'll be doing a filter clean tomorrow! I'll stop at some shop somewhere and pick up some polyester fill. No wonder I'm running into so many issues!
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post #8 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-11-2019, 05:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carlsj2012 View Post
So I was sitting there pondering about my water clarity. I don't think I mentioned this yet, but the water is not as clear as I would like it to be. Then it hit me: I think I've got my filter set up all wrong! Not only that, but it really isn't set up to be polishing water at all!!! I have no fine polishing, only coarse sponge. And to make things worse, I think my trays are in backwards. Bio media is in the bottom, I have some carbon in the middle tray at the moment, and a coarse sponge on top.

Guess I'll be doing a filter clean tomorrow! I'll stop at some shop somewhere and pick up some polyester fill. No wonder I'm running into so many issues!
I would suggest losing the carbon completely. It does not really help with clarity. I only use carbon if I want to clean out meds. Most canisters run bottom up on chambers. Mine have 4 chambers. Coarse foam on bottom, two chambers of bio-media, then a medium foam and polish pad in the top chamber.
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post #9 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-11-2019, 06:07 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks @AguaScape! Yeah, that carbon was put in recently during my re-start to help with odor. All that BGA smell was not pleasant in the living room! I will probably leave it in there until the following filter change, as it's relatively new. I was wondering about the placement of the polishing stage. Would having it before the bio-media be beneficial in keeping them a little cleaner? I had noticed there wasn't much in the coarse foam last time I took it apart.
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post #10 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-11-2019, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by carlsj2012 View Post
Thanks @AguaScape! Yeah, that carbon was put in recently during my re-start to help with odor. All that BGA smell was not pleasant in the living room! I will probably leave it in there until the following filter change, as it's relatively new. I was wondering about the placement of the polishing stage. Would having it before the bio-media be beneficial in keeping them a little cleaner? I had noticed there wasn't much in the coarse foam last time I took it apart.
Carbon will help with odor, but odor is usually not caused by algae so much as detritus. Algae is often the result of too much detritus as well. Proper cleaning and filtration will help with that. I prefer to put the polish pad as the last step. This may just be personal preference, but it works for me. I find that most the mulm will collect in the coarse foam and the fine stuff will flow through the bio media to get caught later in the medium foam and polish pad. The polish pad is more prone to clogging due to how fine it is and having it on top allows me to change it easily if I notice a flow reduction.
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post #11 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-12-2019, 06:17 AM Thread Starter
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Aye, I had meant today to be so much more productive! Alas, life is a roller-coaster. I managed to pick up some polyester fill to put in one of my trays (thanks walmart), and took care of that during a 50% WC. Scraped the glass, did a little vacuuming of the gravel and plants, being careful not to uproot the freshly planted flora, and gave the HC a haircut. Managed to do a couple of water tests:

Degassed pH: 7.6 (API test kit)
Nitrates Pre-WC: Between 40-80 (API test kit)

Tomorrow I hope to determine my pH drop, as well as see where my nitrates are at after the WC.

As per KZB's recommendation, I increased the RGB light to 100%, leaving the white at 75%. I did not realize just how low on the red spectrum the Satellite +Pro was.
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post #12 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-12-2019, 07:08 AM
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@carlsj2012, I used your setting of 100% rgb 75%white at your 18" to substrate. Hope this helps

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post #13 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-13-2019, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
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March 12, followed up with some water tests. Low pH at the end of the day was 7.0, NO3 after the water change is sitting at ~30ppm. Still no tests for PO4 or K, but with NO3 being in range I'm just assuming the others are as well, so I decided to skip my macro dosing today. Looks like I can also increase my CO2 injection, so I'll work on fine tuning that.

Some of the algae I've been seeing:
[IMG][/IMG]

[IMG][/IMG]

[IMG][/IMG]

Tank Mates:
[IMG]
[/IMG]

[IMG][/IMG]

FTS:
[IMG][/IMG]
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post #14 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-13-2019, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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Something I forgot to mention, I had my Anubias Nana's leaves all fall off. I had wedged it between the rocks, hoping that the roots would latch on, but I must have missed the mark and just squished the stems? I ended up planting what was left of the roots into the substrate. With any luck it will show new growth (I hope!)
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post #15 of 39 (permalink) Old 03-14-2019, 05:16 AM
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Just hunting for some new threads to follow and yours caught my eye! Growing pains seem to be the trick of the game to figuring out how to keep a great looking tank it seems! You've got a great looking tank and I can't wait to see where it grows from here!

Also that Emperor tetra picture in the 5th picture two posts up sure caught my eye. Makes me really want to get a dozen of them for my 125g tetra filled tank!
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