Gravel substrate causing my problems? I need help - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-13-2015, 06:56 PM Thread Starter
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Gravel substrate causing my problems? I need help

Hello everyone,

(I am reposting to this section of the forum. I think I posted originally in the wrong area.)

I need help. I am trying to get to the bottom of my planted tank ills. I have a horrible problem with GSA and diatoms and my plants are surviving not flourishing. I have several different posts asking about how to face this issue and feel I have tried to fix the possible underlying causes. Now I am wondering if it is the gravel causing my plants not to receive enough nutrients and therefore can not out compete the algae.

What I have:
Currently I have a 72 gallon bowfront low tech tank.
I have it fairly heavily planted.
I use a HOB and UGF (I know old school) for filtration
My water is fairly hard GH 11 and KH 8
Nitrates hover between 15-20, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0

What I dose:
(I switched from dry ferts to seachem products. I thought it would be easier to make sure I was dosing the correct amount.)
Flourish Excel - daily 1 1/2 capfuls
Potassium 3x a week - 2 1/2 capfuls
Flourish - 2x a week - 1 1/4 capfuls

Some things I have tried:
- I've dosed phosphates trying to keep the 1 phosphate per 10 nitrate ratio
- At one point awhile ago I took the phosphates out (bad advice) - I thought this would help with the diatoms.
- Turned down my lighting ( I have a Build My LED dutch planted tank light w dimmer)

What do I do? I really don't want to give up on this. I truly enjoy it.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-14-2015, 02:18 AM
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Do you have any photos of the set up? Diatoms are a symptom of a new tank and should disappear with time. New tanks have not stabilized and often have a wide variety of algae issues. GSA can be solved with lowered light or additional phosphates.

What kind of plants do you have? Are you certain your plants are low light plants?

I think it is unlikely that gravel is your problem. There are some plants that rely heavily on root feeding, but there are plenty that absorb nutrients through the water column. If substrate nutrients was an issue only the root feeding plants would be having problems. If you are still worried about this try some root tabs.

Also, manually remove algae whenever possible. This will help keep it from spreading and the plants will stop wasting energy trying to save those algae infested parts.


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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-14-2015, 02:59 AM
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What kind of substrate and plants do you have?
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-14-2015, 01:12 PM
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Thinking that a UGF with root tabs is not a good combination.

Are you letting phosphates drop off to nothing?
UV can perform miracles with algae problems.

We need a good picture.


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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-14-2015, 02:25 PM Thread Starter
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To answer above questions...

I have gravel substrate.
I will try and post some pictures as soon as I can.
My phosphates as of late are around 1ppm
Why is an UGF and root tabs a bad combination?
As far as types of plants... mostly swords, anubias and stem plants of which I am unsure of their names.
This is probably a dumb question but how do I know whether the plant uptakes it's nutrients from the water column or the substrate? Can you give me some examples?
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-14-2015, 02:51 PM
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UFG circulates water through the substrate.

Root tablets dissolve in water. If the water is moving slowly (normal plant substrate, or fine gravel without UGF) the tablets dissolve slowly. This is good. This is how they are meant to be used.
If the tablets are in coarse gravel, or UGF, then too much water flows past the tablets and they dissolve too fast. The water that flows past the tablets is enriched with fertilizer, and this is circulated throughout the tank. Not the way the tablets were meant to be used, but might not be bad, if you did not add too many tablets. It would be a sort of long term way to add nutrients to the water column.

-----------------------------------------------------------

With UGF, and water circulating through the substrate more than average, it does not matter whether your plants prefer root uptake, or leaf uptake. They will do both, in whatever ratios suit them.
Some plants prefer to take up certain nutrients from the substrate, and certain ones from the water. It varies with the plant, and with the nutrient.

I do not know of any large studies of which plants prefer what source of which minerals. It should not matter- if all the nutrients are there, the plants will get them.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-14-2015, 02:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freude88 View Post
Why is an UGF and root tabs a bad combination?
Most tabs and osmocote are designed as slow release.
Extra flow will dissolve these too quickly.
I believe the first chemical listed on the ferts is ammonium nitrate.


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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-14-2015, 04:43 PM Thread Starter
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So I imagine there are plants that are better in a UGF situation? So if I am already dosing my water column in my situation should I not use root tabs? I haven't been up to this point. In your honest opinion should I take the UGF out if I want to have a very healthy planted tank?

Can you only dose the water column or do you need to do that as well as root tabs?

With the GSA if my nitrates are between 15-20 should my phosphates be 1.5 to 2 to get rid of it?

I will wait out the diatoms or get some oto's.

My swords especially look deficient of potassium. Here are some pictures. It's hard to see the GSA and I just wiped off a bit of the diatoms but you can see the plants are not looking lush and dark green. Should I up the amount of potassium?




http://i1370.photobucket.com/albums/...psag0becpg.jpg
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-15-2015, 04:30 AM
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oops, my bad. I missed the UGF part. I agree with the other posters that root tabs and the UGF is not a good combination. Personally, I am not a fan of UGFs with planted tanks because the roots will grow into the bottom panels. Maybe someone on the forum has had some experience with UGFs and planted tanks?


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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-15-2015, 03:22 PM
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I would remove the UGF. It is generally not recommended to combine UG filtration with planted tanks for the reasons mentioned already. You have a combination of root feeding plants and stem(leaf feeding) plants. Using a combination of root tabs and the liquid ferts you have would probably a good place to start. Also, you mentioned you have a BML light set-up. Are you injecting CO2? This could be a cause for your algae - high ish light w/o CO2. I don't use Seachem fertilizers so I don't know what the suggested daily/weekly dose is. I know API leafzone suggests a whole cap(5ml) once a week per 20g.. I reduce it to a daily volume .75ml daily... just saying... maybe the amount of nutrients in the water is a cause of your algae as well...

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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-15-2015, 04:17 PM Thread Starter
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Well it sounds like the UGF needs to go...
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-16-2015, 01:50 AM
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I just read this and I use all Seachem ferts, both root tabs and liquids. Flourish and Flourish Excel are basically the same thing with Excel having the addition of carbon (liquid CO2), the micronutrient mix is almost identical. The recommended dosage for each individual product is 5ml/60gal 1-2x per week as a baseline. I would suspect that by dosing such high amounts of the liquid (Excel) ferts on a daily basis in combination with the medium intensity lighting you are helping the algae grow much faster.
I wouldn't worry about root tabs unless you ditch the UGF. I have found root tabs work best with injected CO2 but that is my opinion only.
post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-16-2015, 01:23 PM
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I think you mean Flourish Comprehensive and Flourish Trace are almost the same thing. These products are practically identical except that Comprehensive has a very small amount of NO3 and PO4. Excel is glutaraldehyde. I don't think there are any micros added to Excel.

As long as it is not overdosed, Excel actually reduces algae rather than helping it grow. That is why people spot dose their plants to kill small patches of algae.


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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-16-2015, 07:56 PM
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It is the same, but in different ratios (micronutrients). In this case the Excel is still being overdosed by a considerable amount. And with the combo of high light and over-fert, algae will continue to grow.
post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-17-2015, 02:34 AM
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He is not overdosing Excel. According to Seachem's webpage on Excel (http://www.seachem.com/Products/prod...rishExcel.html) the dosing instructions say to put in one capful (5mL) for every 50 gallons either daily or every other day. Since he has a 72 gallon tank that is roughly 1.5 capfuls.

I have never heard of micronutrients in Excel before and I can't seem to any evidence of it. There is no mention of it on the webpage for Excel (in contrast to Flourish Trace and Comprehensive where the nutrients are listed) and it does not seem to be on the label. If I am wrong please direct me to a source - this would factor into my own dosing schedule and I would have to make some modifications of my own.


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Last edited by c9bug; 06-17-2015 at 02:59 AM. Reason: Corrected some typos
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