Crashing and Burning - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-24-2018, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Crashing and Burning

Hi guys,

I have been in the aquarium hobby for 8+ years and in the planted tank hobby for about 1.5 years. I have tried so many different things and I feel like I am still coming up short. I find that no matter what I do:
1. I can't keep groundcover/carpeting plants alive for more than a month (cuba, montecarlo, hairgrass, you name it). It always stalls then promptly dies off.
2. I can't keep everything in my tank from becoming covered in algae. I have tried lowering my photoperiod, introducing competitive plants, blackouts, introducing algae eaters, consistent water changes, manual removal, excel, hydrogen peroxide, increase biological filtration, etc.
I don't understand what I am doing wrong, I feel like I have tried everything. If you have ANY advice please say.

Specs:
-3.4 gallon
-Finnex Fugeray Planted + clip light
-2" of miracle grow infused with root tabs capped with 2" of fluval stratum and sand mixture
-okho stones
-1 bps injected co2 when lights are on
-6-8 hour photoperiod
-biological and mechanical filtration
-78 Degrees +/- 1 degree
-3 amano shrimp and 5 Dream velvet blue shrimp
-hornwort, rotala macrandra, Christmas moss, bucephilandra 'copi susu', salvinia minima, and remnants of some mini dwarf hairgrass
-Dosing nilocg all in one, once every 2 days (in an attempt to discourage the algae growth)
-20% water changes twice a week
-Water parameters: ph 6.7 Ammonia 0ppm Nitrite 0-.25ppm Phosphate 1ppm KH 3 GH 17

I feel like I should be having more success, but I feel like it all is just going up in flames. This is not my first attempt and hoped to avoid my previous downfalls. I really appreciate this community and any help is beyond welcome.

Thank you!

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Christmas moss and other plants being attacked by algae.
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post #2 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-24-2018, 10:36 PM
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You need to stop dosing the nilocg! It has nitrogen (and probably P as well...) it will help your plants to grow but also your algae


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post #3 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 01:05 AM
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Try keeping photo period consistent and 6hr for now I'd say. I don't know the concentration of Thrive. I dose my water daily in my Dirted 10gallon without CO2 and I do have algae but I'm not concerned yet. The plants are growing well and pearling daily. I use a DIY Liquid Fertilizer (PPS-PRO).

Could try dosing even less Thrive, once every three days. Obviously nutrients in the water doesn't mean algae will benefit always. You don't want to starve your plants of nutrients because algae will be able to take advantage of the struggling plants.
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post #4 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 02:07 AM
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one thing I have done that helped against algae was to reduce the light intensity. You can try raising the light off the top of the tank some (on one tank I put it on some narrow building blocks from my kid's room), putting a piece of window screen between the light and the glass, or diffusing the light with plastic sheeting - I have two or three sheets cut to fit and taped over the LEDs. For my tanks it made a huge difference.


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post #5 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 03:10 AM
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You need to stop dosing the nilocg! It has nitrogen (and probably P as well...) it will help your plants to grow but also your algae


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Thatís bad advice

Just a noob


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post #6 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 03:47 AM Thread Starter
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That’s bad advice
What would you suggest? Do I need to balance my nutrients more? I have the individual macros that I used before thrive, so I could boost one if you think there is a deficiency.
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post #7 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 03:50 AM Thread Starter
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one thing I have done that helped against algae was to reduce the light intensity. You can try raising the light off the top of the tank some (on one tank I put it on some narrow building blocks from my kid's room), putting a piece of window screen between the light and the glass, or diffusing the light with plastic sheeting - I have two or three sheets cut to fit and taped over the LEDs. For my tanks it made a huge difference.
Won't that starve some of the plants of their much needed light? Or will they be okay? Thanks for the advice.
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post #8 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 03:52 AM Thread Starter
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Could try dosing even less Thrive, once every three days. Obviously nutrients in the water doesn't mean algae will benefit always. You don't want to starve your plants of nutrients because algae will be able to take advantage of the struggling plants.
My trouble is I can't ever seem to find that sweet spot between starving algae and saving my plants. The hornwort should pick up some of the slack but idk.
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post #9 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 03:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vigilanterepoman View Post
Hi guys,

I have been in the aquarium hobby for 8+ years and in the planted tank hobby for about 1.5 years. I have tried so many different things and I feel like I am still coming up short. I find that no matter what I do:
1. I can't keep groundcover/carpeting plants alive for more than a month (cuba, montecarlo, hairgrass, you name it). It always stalls then promptly dies off.
2. I can't keep everything in my tank from becoming covered in algae. I have tried lowering my photoperiod, introducing competitive plants, blackouts, introducing algae eaters, consistent water changes, manual removal, excel, hydrogen peroxide, increase biological filtration, etc.
I don't understand what I am doing wrong, I feel like I have tried everything. If you have ANY advice please say.

Specs:
-3.4 gallon
-Finnex Fugeray Planted + clip light
-2" of miracle grow infused with root tabs capped with 2" of fluval stratum and sand mixture
-okho stones
-1 bps injected co2 when lights are on
-6-8 hour photoperiod
-biological and mechanical filtration
-78 Degrees +/- 1 degree
-3 amano shrimp and 5 Dream velvet blue shrimp
-hornwort, rotala macrandra, Christmas moss, bucephilandra 'copi susu', salvinia minima, and remnants of some mini dwarf hairgrass
-Dosing nilocg all in one, once every 2 days (in an attempt to discourage the algae growth)
-20% water changes twice a week
-Water parameters: ph 6.7 Ammonia 0ppm Nitrite 0-.25ppm Phosphate 1ppm KH 3 GH 17
So I honestly see a few issues here that might help, albeit not by tomorrow. It looks like you are not testing for nitrates in your tank from the numbers you have above. That is one of, if not THE, most important thing you should be testing for. Also, you really should have 0 nitrites and be shooting for around 10 to 20 ppm Nitrates as much as possible. How much are you dosing of the Thrive? The dosage on the bottle is for a 10 gallon tank so you need to adjust accordingly but most importantly you have to know what nitrates you are starting with. My guess is that it will be very high as you don't have a huge number of plants and they are probably not doing well enough to take up what you are putting in.

The Thrive in and of itself is NOT a deterrent to algae but a more of a way to make sure that your plants have everything they need to be healthy and out compete the algae. If you are over dosing the Thrive to a point that the balance is completely off and your plants don't have the other nutrients that they need then algae can take over. Flourish Excel or other glutaraldehyde solutions are very good at killing off algae but the balance still needs to be right.

Also, are you using a drop checker to ensure that you are getting enough CO2 into the water column and ensuring good circulation? You may also want to try to up your KH to 5 or 6 but that is just nitpicky.

Now, about your substrate. Is there a reason that you decided on miracle grow dirt with Fluval Stratum, which is a buffering substrate, for your combination? Usually if you are doing a dirted substrate with a cap you would use a an inert cap like Ecocomplete or Fluval black. The Stratum will buffer your parameters which may be why your KH is so low and may be a overkill in your set up. Also, 2 inches of dirt and 2 inches of Stratum is a bit deeper than I would have gone as I would have gone with 2 inches of miracle grow with one inch of an inert cap at the high end. Usually Stratum is used for more acidic type environments for special shrimp (Taiwan bees, CRS and the like) or for Toninas, eriocaulons or other acidic loving plants.

IMHO you may want to restart (which in a 3 gallon system is not a huge undertaking) with a setup that is more like what you would need for the shrimp that you have in there. In fact, the shrimp would probably also prefer a bit lower temperature too, like 73 to 74F. I would take a good look at what you really want to keep and make some changes to your set up. If neocaridina and amanos are your goal then you could use the substrates above and, most probably, straight tap with a good dechlorinator like Prime and have a more simple/easy set up. If you choose the right plants you wouldn't even need to add CO2 and could also decrease the amount of ferts you are adding (which I think needs to happen anyway). I don't know very much about your light but in a such a small tank and with your current plant list you could probably get a way with a shorter light period, like the 5 to six hour mark. FYI, Rotala macrandra is not a simple plant to keep and does have some specific requirements for it to really do well.

Here is my disclaimer: All of the above is purely opinion and may or may not work in the end! Good luck and keep us posted!

Last edited by jmontee; 05-25-2018 at 04:01 AM. Reason: Spelling
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post #10 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 04:51 AM
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The short of it is that you have 2 gallons of chemical soup.

In a water volume this small you want to start really simple: < 2" of innert substrate, low light, basic plants, and lean water column fertilization. Once your plants stay green with no algae for a couple of months then you can rev things up bit by bit, starting with co2 and then moving to stronger light and then more demanding plants.
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post #11 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 10:15 AM
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My trouble is I can't ever seem to find that sweet spot between starving algae and saving my plants. The hornwort should pick up some of the slack but idk.
something you can try is making a small internal upflow algae scrubber. the idea being that you encourage algae to grow in a small spot where you can regularly remove it, while discouraging it from growing in the rest of your tank. you could then cut your lights back to just enough to keep the plants alive while growing the algae in the scrubber to deplete the rest of the tank of nutrients that the algae needs.

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post #12 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 10:45 AM
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What would you suggest? Do I need to balance my nutrients more? I have the individual macros that I used before thrive, so I could boost one if you think there is a deficiency.


Itís not really bad advice, of course you should use fertelizers but this brand is glorified. Buy a fertelizer with less N,P, the plants will get enough nutrients from the water and the algae will die off.


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post #13 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 10:54 AM
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You need to stop dosing the nilocg! It has nitrogen (and probably P as well...) it will help your plants to grow but also your algae


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This is poor advice, by limiting nutrients, plants will grow even slower and will have deficiencies, leading to more and more algae. Algae can survive with very limited nutrients, plants cannot.
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post #14 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 11:06 AM
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This is poor advice, by limiting nutrients, plants will grow even slower and will have deficiencies, leading to more and more algae. Algae can survive with very limited nutrients, plants cannot.


Not really, it is basic biology knowledge that nitrogen and phosphorous will help algae grow. The algae itself is an indication of enough nutrients, one should still dose micros. There is only one fast growing plant that would consume all those nutrients from the water column, the hornwort. Sure the other floating plants will help but not much. Increasing fast growing plants would help, the fact that Ēthe plants do not have enough nutrientsĒ is not really true - the deficiencies are probably due to other factors.

Another piece of advice is to use RO/RODI water, I donít but a lot of people that have problems with algae and start using RO water gets rid of their algae.


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post #15 of 50 (permalink) Old 05-25-2018, 12:50 PM
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You need to stop dosing the nilocg! It has nitrogen (and probably P as well...) it will help your plants to grow but also your algae


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Plenty of folks with no algae here that add nitrogen,phosphates and trace minerals daily to once or twice a week.
Myself included.
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