Saving the 125g Planted tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2015, 03:18 AM Thread Starter
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Saving the 125g Planted tank

This is going to be a work in progress as I am mostly new to all this plant technology. I 'inherited' this tank so to speak. This tank is over my head and I have come here to seek help
125g planted tank with 3 LED lights, C02, potassium, iron, magnesium auto dosing pumps. 2 fluval 405's KH:2 PH: 6.8 Filled with RO water
Substrate- onyx sand, flourite
Plant species- bacopa, anubias, rotala indica, micro sword
fish- cherry barbs, bushynose pleco, flying fox, madagascar-australian-red irian-turquoise-boesemoni rainbowfish, german blue ram, cardinal-emperor-congo-rummynose tetras
It used to be a beautiful thriving tank but has gone down hill since last caretaker. Fish are thriving, plants are not and that's the problem!
I will post pictures of all the equipment that's on the tank. I honestly don't know where to start! hope to turn this tank around into a thriving tank again (posted in Algae section as well)






EQUIPMENT



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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2015, 02:24 PM
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That's some pretty decent equipment. I'm surprised you are having any trouble. I'm sure someone can chime in with advice, but you definitely came into a good set up.


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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2015, 08:03 PM Thread Starter
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That's some pretty decent equipment. I'm surprised you are having any trouble. I'm sure someone can chime in with advice, but you definitely came into a good set up.
Yes I am surprised as well, there is just something the tank is lacking and can't figure out what. Going to cull a lot of the bacopa and ordered some Aponogeton crispus and a couple other bunch plants to see how they do.
Tried putting one of the new Fluval LEDS with the 5 different colors and it made the tank look so ugly! Was disappointment, because I know the red LEDs are now popular in plant growth
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2015, 08:37 PM
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I want to say the substrate is out of nutrients, since it used to do well. Try inserting some Osmocote+ root tabs? Water column dosing alone isn't sufficient, and you're missing a lot of micronutrients.

Also get some malaysian trumpet snails to move the substrate around, there might also be some root compaction.

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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2015, 08:51 PM
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That light looks like it s meant for a reef. I suspect it is very blue.

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2015, 09:44 PM
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That light looks like it s meant for a reef. I suspect it is very blue.
The spectrum of these is not suited to freshwater plants....however, this doesn't mean the plants won't grow if everything else is in check. The plants are not stringy and appear to have some good color at the tops.

Can you detail how you are dosing? Do you reconstitute your RO? Do you get any pearling?


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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-17-2015, 10:31 PM Thread Starter
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The spectrum of these is not suited to freshwater plants....however, this doesn't mean the plants won't grow if everything else is in check. The plants are not stringy and appear to have some good color at the tops.

Can you detail how you are dosing? Do you reconstitute your RO? Do you get any pearling?
Yes I believe those lights originally were intended for SW use (i think they are 6yrs old?) So as far as lighting goes, we all know lighting has advanced far greater. So this was probably the best of its time. In the picture the blues were not on at all

I cannot detail how much the dosing is, still trying to figure out how that system works LOL
I know the tank has been taking in a lot of iron. After using RO I do use trace elements from kent , no pearling.

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Originally Posted by xenxes View Post
I want to say the substrate is out of nutrients, since it used to do well. Try inserting some Osmocote+ root tabs? Water column dosing alone isn't sufficient, and you're missing a lot of micronutrients.

Also get some malaysian trumpet snails to move the substrate around, there might also be some root compaction.
Thanks for the info.
Are you talking about the malaysian livebearing snails?
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-18-2015, 04:41 PM
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Def make the dosing a priority. EI is a pseudo-science; as long as you are close enough and you keep up on water changes you should not have problems with levels. If your dosing is way off however, plant growth will start to degrade, you can get algae/diatom outbreaks, etc. As I am not seeing typical signs of deficiencies you may be overdosing. Either way, that is going to be an important piece.

Do you know what ferts you are using?

As you mentioned there has been huge improvements in the past few years with LED lighting...it may be worthwhile to change out those fixtures for a freshwater specific fixture if you are planning on getting serious with plants. If those are the BlueLine VHO LED pendants, they should still have some good value if you decide to go that route.

If CO2/ferts/lights are in check, you should be getting some pearling on your plants during peak.


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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-19-2015, 02:52 AM
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Xenxes has a good point. See if you can push your finger through the substrate to the bottom of the tank. If not then I would remove fish, hardscape and plants and vacuum the substrate all the way to the bottom. At least that is what I did back when I wasn't switching tanks every couple years but maybe just stirring it up, removing all the filthy water then refilling part way and vacuuming the debris off the substrate surface would do it. The mulm is good stuff but there is probably more than needed right now in the substrate. Then place root tabs and redo the tank. Be sure there isn't a lot of debris floating around as your sickly plants will collect it and grow lots of algae. Dump the water to below the top of the substrate and refill again if the tank is cloudy! Been refilling the rescaped tank like that for a number of years now and continue to be amazed it works as well as it does.

Bet your eyes are accustomed to a blue look more than the color of the Fluval LED was unnatural. I am trying to tune my LED so platies look the same orange as they do in sunlight. Too much red makes them fluorescent, not interested in that look.

RO? You are adding back KH and GH boosters, right?


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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-19-2015, 05:04 AM Thread Starter
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Xenxes has a good point. See if you can push your finger through the substrate to the bottom of the tank. If not then I would remove fish, hardscape and plants and vacuum the substrate all the way to the bottom. At least that is what I did back when I wasn't switching tanks every couple years but maybe just stirring it up, removing all the filthy water then refilling part way and vacuuming the debris off the substrate surface would do it. The mulm is good stuff but there is probably more than needed right now in the substrate. Then place root tabs and redo the tank. Be sure there isn't a lot of debris floating around as your sickly plants will collect it and grow lots of algae. Dump the water to below the top of the substrate and refill again if the tank is cloudy! Been refilling the rescaped tank like that for a number of years now and continue to be amazed it works as well as it does.

Bet your eyes are accustomed to a blue look more than the color of the Fluval LED was unnatural. I am trying to tune my LED so platies look the same orange as they do in sunlight. Too much red makes them fluorescent, not interested in that look.

RO? You are adding back KH and GH boosters, right?
Totally rescaping the whole tank is not an option for me that I am willing to put the fish through, the gravel vac seems to be doing a good job, just need to keep up with it. I did notice the Orange slim on the anubias that I shook off and trimmed the bacopa. Filters will be rinsed tomorrow from todays cleaning. Sometimes RO will be a top off choice but usually fill it with tap and add acid buffer and it keeps the ph and kh right where it should be. I add KH buffer when necessary. GH is 6
I dimmed the LEDs for some new plants, got about 6 bunches of moneywart, red ludwigia, cardimine, green hedge, and some swords. The spot. Crispus came in horrible so that was taken out. The tank is already looking better. I hope these new plants do well. If not, I have a backup 65g planted tank to put them in. 're-rooted the anubias. So much junk in gravel though. Lots of water changes!

I am used to the UFO plant light that they came out with but this new fluval one is just not doin it. So it was a nice idea but sticking with these for now. I'll post some pics tomorrow of the tank w/ the New plants.
Took out half the micro swords (all have great roots) just not doing well top wise to clear the gravel for cleaning.
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-19-2015, 06:07 AM
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Yeah that's waay too much work, old substrate compost is good stuff. You don't want to have to wait for all the detrius worms to repopulate.

The snails are good diggers, Malaysian Trumpet Snails, they should be cheap/free/come as hitchhikers with plants. Shouldn't be hard to find.

Try the osmocote+ (plus) first (make sure to get the pink bottle, with silica and other micronutrients which help with root growth) , insert directly into substrate. Add a handful wherever you have a large clump of plants and push them down with your finger into the roots. After pinch off the plant tops and replant those too, stimulates growth.

If that doesn't work after a month then you can revisit the more drastic measures.

Your plants aren't that sensitive, KH/GH/pH won't really affect them that much unless they're drastically off the norm.

Spectrum also is not as important as intensity, I've grown plants in warmer (2-3k) and cooler (10k+) spectrums. If you had fluorescents I'd say it might be time to change them as T5/T8s get weaker year by year, but LEDs last 20+ years so I doubt it's that.

I also don't think you need to gravel vac much, if at all. Just plant denser. The gravel runs out of nutrients and I don't think flourite has a very high CEC (ability to hold nutrients), the sand is inert, so it's the fish waste that's binding nutrients for the plants and harboring symbiotic fungi, and you're sucking all that goodness away.

Double check your CO2 tank and bps, it's not empty is it?

Finally what's the depth of your current substrate? I'd recommend at least 3", perhaps top off with some eco-complete or whatever else you prefer, normally I'd recommend dirt but that's not possible with an established tank (unless you combine it with clay and bake it into pellets yourself).

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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-19-2015, 11:59 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah that's waay too much work, old substrate compost is good stuff.

I also don't think you need to gravel vac much, if at all. Just plant denser. The gravel runs out of nutrients and I don't think flourite has a very high CEC (ability to hold nutrients), the sand is inert, so it's the fish waste that's binding nutrients for the plants and harboring symbiotic fungi, and you're sucking all that goodness away.

Double check your CO2 tank and bps, it's not empty is it?

Finally what's the depth of your current substrate? I'd recommend at least 3", perhaps top off with some eco-complete or whatever else you prefer, normally I'd recommend dirt but that's not possible with an established tank (unless you combine it with clay and bake it into pellets yourself).
Exactly why I would never redo the whole tank. It just needs a little tlc
Those snails are pesty I think imo, they repopulate like crazy. Actually have assassin snails to kill them or they take ver the whole display tank.

So far it sounds like I'm going in the right direction, I have been only gravel vacuuming the top of the substrate, not all the way down. Another planted tank I keep is my 29g (very simple) and I have never gravel vac once.
The substrate on this tank is a good 3 1/2-4"
I'll look into the osmocote. The c02 still is full, I do see bubbles coming from the disk
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-19-2015, 06:34 PM
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One time I couldn't push my finger to the bottom of the tank, there was stringy stuff loosely cementing it solid so I went through the whole tank 1/3th at a time to remove all that stuff. I am not removing all the mulm ever but enough is enough, too many organics may encourage algae. When I transfer old substrate to the new tank I lift the dirty substrate over without rinsing then do fill/dump to rinse the top of the substrate. I was interested to see after I moved from the 100 to the 180 long that the mulm left in the 100 gallon tank was a thin sweet smelling layer of dark brown, not anything as much as I thought it might be considering the tank had been up for 8 years with only vacuumed through the substrate 3x over the years.

In the 100 gallon 2010 reboot MTS went nuts. I love snails but the substrate was heaving in the evening when they came out to feed which was a bit much. They must have been cleaning up the organics left by the nearly dead plants in the tank. All that was left in the tank after lights, heaters and pump were off for a couple months were long nearly leafless Anubias rhizomes, Pothos vines, lily bulbs and Crypt crowns. Fish were long gone as well. Alas the MTS population crashed and I lost all of them. I figure if snails are going nuts like that there is a good reason for it. Either reduce organics or let the snails do their thing. Would love to have assassin snails though, cool critters.


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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-25-2015, 03:05 AM Thread Starter
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Talking NEW pics!

Well after some work on the 125g plant tank that was on the brink and looking pretty nasty. Well after some new plants, fluval cleanings, water changes, Iron is 30ml a day.
Everything else is in its normal range. Lighting is reduced to 10hrs with the whites and blues dimmed. Might be adding a red strip led light across the tank
Look at all the new growth! It's looking good! Got rid of some of the anubias and going to add some Japoinica shrimp and ottos. Also noticed the sword and the red ludwigia producing oxygen bubbles! GREAT sign! (you can see the bubbles if you look closely at a couple of the pics)
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-25-2015, 02:50 PM
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Looking much better! Put up some more pics soon.


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