Need some guidance... I'm stumped. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-13-2020, 08:46 PM Thread Starter
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Need some guidance... I'm stumped.

Hey all,
I am hoping you can provide some guidance or suggestions. I am having trouble getting good growth on most of my plants. I have a 240g planted tank. I run 3 50w daylight LED floodlights (6000k). I haven't used a par meter, but likely it qualifies as high light, as the tank is two feet deep.
Tank parameters :
Temp:78F
Ammonia: 0, Nitrates 5-15 ppm, nitrites 0. TDS currently around 250. The tank gets CO2 (pH is around 6.5 at its peak).
Fertilization was irregular (likely a cause of some of my problems) until about two weeks ago, when I started dosing dry ferts in a manner suggestive of PPS pro dosing levels (i.e. relatively conservative.) I currently dose 7 X a week with a mix of macros and 7X a week with Plantex CSM+B. I used the rotalabutterfly calculator to find an amount that would give me appropriate PPM by day 7. Water changes are typically ~30-50% biweekly. I also have root tabs.

My main issues are twofold : persistent brown algae that coats nearly everything (I think diatoms) as well as strange holes in my Amazon swords and odd growth patterns in my crypts and other plants. Initially I suspected it was a two-fold phosphorus / potassium deficiency along with a photo period that was too high (was 10, lowered it to 7.) But, after trimming damaged leaves away, I am a bit stumped as to why I am seeing the growth I'm seeing still. The amazon swords, for example, seem to melt away down to the veins in a skeleton like pattern, and the crypts seemed to transform to a bizarre hybrid of squat leaves with spindly tops.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something extremely basic, so I'm hoping an expert can whip me into shape. I'll attach photos. Lastly, my soil is Aquariumplants.coms' own brand.

My main goals are :
1. Reduce the stubborn diatoms (the tank is 4 months old) and
2. Get normal looking growth.

Thanks for looking!
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-14-2020, 05:44 AM
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A few notes that can hopefully help u.

1. Brown algae is usually related to ammonia issues or silicates (typically found in sand substrate). As a bandaid, oto catfish ( keep them in schools of 3-4 minimum) but that won't solve the true source of your issue. Are you over feeding? Are animals dieing? Does your fertilizer or root tab or water supply contain ammonia? During your water changes are you removing detritus from the substrate? Is your filtration sufficient for the tank?

I know you showed 0 ammonia in your test, but was that done after an extended period of time without a water change or right after a water change?


Keep thinking along those lines and ull figure out the problem.

2. What is the temperature you keep your tank at?

Plants will melt if in the wrong settings

3. When were the plants introduced into the tank? Invitro and other emmersed plants will melt before coming back. Most plants that are newly added to a system will slow growth or die back a bit until they adapt.

4. Make sure you know what you are doing for fertilization. Too much can burn plants or lock nutrients, too little can make them starved and deficient. Might be better to use a pre made all in one as it is advanced to diy liquid fert

5. From my own floodlights, I know that light from them is extremely concentrated in the center and diffuses very quickly away from the center. Idk what lights you have specifically but if the plant is directly under the light it could be too strong.

Plants are complex and finicky but once you figure it out, things get easier. Hope this helps!
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-14-2020, 06:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasabiroot View Post
Hey all,
I am hoping you can provide some guidance or suggestions. I am having trouble getting good growth on most of my plants. I have a 240g planted tank. I run 3 50w daylight LED floodlights (6000k). I haven't used a par meter, but likely it qualifies as high light, as the tank is two feet deep.
Tank parameters :
Temp:78F
Ammonia: 0, Nitrates 5-15 ppm, nitrites 0. TDS currently around 250. The tank gets CO2 (pH is around 6.5 at its peak).
Fertilization was irregular (likely a cause of some of my problems) until about two weeks ago, when I started dosing dry ferts in a manner suggestive of PPS pro dosing levels (i.e. relatively conservative.) I currently dose 7 X a week with a mix of macros and 7X a week with Plantex CSM+B. I used the rotalabutterfly calculator to find an amount that would give me appropriate PPM by day 7. Water changes are typically ~30-50% biweekly. I also have root tabs.

My main issues are twofold : persistent brown algae that coats nearly everything (I think diatoms) as well as strange holes in my Amazon swords and odd growth patterns in my crypts and other plants. Initially I suspected it was a two-fold phosphorus / potassium deficiency along with a photo period that was too high (was 10, lowered it to 7.) But, after trimming damaged leaves away, I am a bit stumped as to why I am seeing the growth I'm seeing still. The amazon swords, for example, seem to melt away down to the veins in a skeleton like pattern, and the crypts seemed to transform to a bizarre hybrid of squat leaves with spindly tops.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something extremely basic, so I'm hoping an expert can whip me into shape. I'll attach photos. Lastly, my soil is Aquariumplants.coms' own brand.

My main goals are :
1. Reduce the stubborn diatoms (the tank is 4 months old) and
2. Get normal looking growth.

Thanks for looking!
Things I see from the images and your description.
First with the questions:
How do you diffuse co2 and what is the flow around the tank, do you get a 1 point PH drop from this CO2 by lights on?
When you say that you translated the rotalabutterfly calculations into PPS pro, why didn't you just use the PPS pro calculation option? Why aren't you dosing standard EI?
Why the biweekly water changes? Assuming once every 2 weeks.

The blackened stem tells me that it's at least in part a CO2 deficiency as that's one of the indicators that I had happen in my aquarium and stopped when I optimized flow.

Judging by the PPS pro you might not be adding enough ferts into the system and if you're dosing phosphates at the same time you're dosing csm+b these nutrients aren't getting to the plants as the phosphates and iron in the csm+b react together when dosed close together. Typical schedule is alternating days for dosage of phosphates and micros.

Assuming you mean you're doing a water change every 2 weeks, this could be one of the reasons why you're having issues. Regular maintenance is required to keep up a healthy tank with high lighting, Co2 and added ferts to keep stuff from building up. Indicators that more frequent maintenance is required in my tanks are when I start to see algae that isn't just caused by high lighting (green algae on the substrate right under the light for example).

I would recommend you tune the CO2 so that there's a 1 point ph drop before lights on. Start dosing a higher dosage of ferts using the standard EI method. Start doing at least a 50% water change every week. Until the tank becomes clean and the plants start responding to the other changes, it might be worth it to do twice a week 50% water changes to reset everything.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-14-2020, 06:41 PM Thread Starter
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Hey, thanks for your replies. I should say my suggested doses are directly from the PPS pro website linked from NilocG's links. I will check pH before the CO2 comes on to see what the actual difference is.
As for the water changes, well, I work retail. Heh.
I did get a silicate test kit as my research led me in the same direction, but the results didn't show anything excessively high, though it's possible that some nutrient is limiting growth and allowing the algae to maintain its foothold. My co2 is dispensed from a fine mist diffuser near the bottom of the tank. Near it is a Hydor Koralia powerhead blowing towards the opposite end. My drop checker is located on the opposite end of the tank and is green once the lights are on. I have the CO2 come on an hour before the lights. It's been pretty consistent in its application and amount for at least a month.
The tank is filtered by a 40g sump and has 2 overflows with an approximate turnover of 1000g/hour. The pump has 3 return nozzles pointed in various directions.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-14-2020, 06:44 PM Thread Starter
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I will add that the tank did start with some sand, and I think if I had to do it over I'd remove it. I am hesitant to go super heavy on water changes because I feel as though I only really started adding a baseline amount of ferts when I began dry fert mixing and I also have shrimp, which I have read can be sensitive to huge changes. But undoubtedly the tank may need more filtration or detritus removal. I was considering adding a Fluval (306? I think?) to supplement the sump. I will also try alternating my fert schedule.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-14-2020, 07:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasabiroot View Post
I will add that the tank did start with some sand, and I think if I had to do it over I'd remove it. I am hesitant to go super heavy on water changes because I feel as though I only really started adding a baseline amount of ferts when I began dry fert mixing and I also have shrimp, which I have read can be sensitive to huge changes. But undoubtedly the tank may need more filtration or detritus removal. I was considering adding a Fluval (306? I think?) to supplement the sump. I will also try alternating my fert schedule.
Sorry if you said it somewhere, but how long has the aquasoil been in the tank?
In aquasoil tanks the setup procedure is to do daily 50% water changes for a week, every other day 50% water changes for a week, two 50% water changes for a week, and then you get on the schedule of a 50% water change a week.

The reason for this is that the aquasoil has very high levels of ammonia, among other nutrients that leech out of the substrate for the first few months, and the water changes speed that process up very quickly to stop issues.

I know you don't have aquasoil specifically, but if the substrate has any nutrients at all, this is the procedure. Same would be true for a dirted tank.

If you didn't do the setup procedure I would place that on the reason for the dead/dying plants and the unstable conditions.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-14-2020, 08:50 PM Thread Starter
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Hi, the soil I used was Aquariumplants.coms' Gro-Pro soil, which appears to be recommended for use with root pellets as per their website. Not sure if linking is allowed, but it appears to be a traditional clay based milled inert soil and not one with heavy organics like Aquasoil Amazonia. When I was first cycling the tank, I tested ammonia for 2 months and did not see any spikes other than the expected ones from cycling.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-15-2020, 05:57 AM
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Changing a bunch of things at once will stress the plants further, they are slow adapters. My 2 cents. Change 1 variable per month and see the results.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-15-2020, 07:19 AM
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^^^^ Plants acclimatize to their enviroment. When the enviroment changes they have to reclimatize to the new parameters. This causes stress, melting and die off.

In my experience a 4 months is not enough time for a planted tank to achieve a balance. The tank chemistry is evolving as different bacterial colonies become established and reach an equilibrium. This in it self will cause the plants stress as they adapt to these changes. Any changes you make on top of these natural changes just exasperates the problem.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-15-2020, 04:35 PM Thread Starter
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Ok. Thanks for your replies everyone. I think because I had great success with a 75g planted in the past (then took a 6yr hiatus) I assumed I'd be able to scale it up to a 240g easily. I will try to make slow changes in the manner suggested. For what it's worth, the most recent additions seem to be adapting well.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-15-2020, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasabiroot View Post
Ok. Thanks for your replies everyone. I think because I had great success with a 75g planted in the past (then took a 6yr hiatus) I assumed I'd be able to scale it up to a 240g easily. I will try to make slow changes in the manner suggested. For what it's worth, the most recent additions seem to be adapting well.
I feel this, I thought I could handle a large planted tank as well because I've had bigger tanks than 55 gallons in the past, but there are days that I really wish I hadn't up sized from the 10 gallon I started with. More for the maintenance and the time of doing things on the 55 gallon versus the 10 gallon. Where it might take 20 minutes to vacuum out the 10 gallon, prune up the plants and clean the glass/filter/top, it takes a about an hour on the 55 gallon to do it properly if I'm fast.

At least I've learned where I want to be in the hobby from this experience, smaller tanks
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