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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-13-2017, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
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I suck please help!

Hey all, I have been in the aquarium hobby and working at local fish stores for the past 15 years and for the first time i have set up a tank that i can not for the life of me get right. Majority of plants i put in here seem to just slowly die back except crypt spiralus and java fern...yay!! Any information is helpful and greatly appreciated. I have invested alot of my money into trying to do this tank the right way and am failing with it. I have it set up since january 2016, a 180 gallon aquarium, dimensions are 72"x24"x24" i have a 3 inch layer of caribsea eco complete plant substrate (180lbs) I am running a 10lb CO2 tank into a CO2 reactor and it seems to be working fine as i do not see micro-bubbles coming out of the return and my PH drop checker seems to be on track. I am running 4 Bubbles per second. As far as filtration I am running 2, Fluval 406 canister filters which are filled with biomax and sponges only. there is a hydor korallia 525 gph powerhead at each end of the tank for extra current throughout the aquarium. now for what i believe the actual issue is, the lighting. the first light i put on was a 48" finnex 24/7 planted plus. I have it set on the max setting and set up on a timer for 10 hours a day. the CO2 solenoid is set on the same timer. after 1 month i decided it was not enough light and added an additional 48" finnex 24/7 planted plus. and then another month later it still seemed that no plants i was adding were doing well so I added a 48" finnex 24/7 planted plus SE model to the overhead lighting. So now there is a total of 3 LED fixtures on this aquarium. I do a bi-weekly 50 gallon water change with treated (stress coat) tap water and add seachem flourish and seachem pottasium once a week. I have no clue what could be the flaw here other than the lighting but i have seen great results from these lights in a friends tank so i am stumped. I have tried alot of different types of plants and no luck with most, I was trying to keep mainly grammifolia and some hygropholia species and erectus but everything just melts. i have spent over $300 in plants and just watched them all slowly dissapear, please help, thank you.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-13-2017, 11:50 PM
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I often find trouble is too complex as a whole for me to start fixing it until I begin to break it down into bite size parts. One thing that I don't see is food for the plants other than CO2. So some numbers may be the easy way to go.
Plants need the big three macros. NPK are needed and two of those are pretty easy/ simple to test. Any ideas of the nitrate (N) or phosphate (P) levels? Light is often talked but I also find it to be overworked at times so I tend to think of that as being covered. N and P may be coming from unmentioned fish waste and food but P is less sure to come from that.
I might suggest looking at the levels of these as a starter and then getting some of the dry ferts that provide those three. At the same time, CMS+b is the micro ferts that we want to provide. I like to order the dry ferts and do my own as it is much more cost effective and much easier to add one without the others.
Take a quick (or slow?) look at one of the dosing methods. I like EI dosing but others are sure to work as well. I would warn against suggestions to try to change your water. Plants grow in all kinds of water so just don't get involved in that headache until you get the basics of what works for you in what you have. Changing water is a real struggle to figure if it is not needed.
Aquatic Plant Central has a great source for checking nutrient deficiencies but providing the big three is a good place to start.
Plant Deficiencies - Aquatic Plant Central
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-14-2017, 12:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Mattymofukinice View Post
Hey all, I have been in the aquarium hobby and working at local fish stores for the past 15 years and for the first time i have set up a tank that i can not for the life of me get right. Majority of plants i put in here seem to just slowly die back except crypt spiralus and java fern...yay!! Any information is helpful and greatly appreciated. I have invested alot of my money into trying to do this tank the right way and am failing with it. I have it set up since january 2016, a 180 gallon aquarium, dimensions are 72"x24"x24" i have a 3 inch layer of caribsea eco complete plant substrate (180lbs) I am running a 10lb CO2 tank into a CO2 reactor and it seems to be working fine as i do not see micro-bubbles coming out of the return and my PH drop checker seems to be on track. I am running 4 Bubbles per second. As far as filtration I am running 2, Fluval 406 canister filters which are filled with biomax and sponges only. there is a hydor korallia 525 gph powerhead at each end of the tank for extra current throughout the aquarium. now for what i believe the actual issue is, the lighting. the first light i put on was a 48" finnex 24/7 planted plus. I have it set on the max setting and set up on a timer for 10 hours a day. the CO2 solenoid is set on the same timer. after 1 month i decided it was not enough light and added an additional 48" finnex 24/7 planted plus. and then another month later it still seemed that no plants i was adding were doing well so I added a 48" finnex 24/7 planted plus SE model to the overhead lighting. So now there is a total of 3 LED fixtures on this aquarium. I do a bi-weekly 50 gallon water change with treated (stress coat) tap water and add seachem flourish and seachem pottasium once a week. I have no clue what could be the flaw here other than the lighting but i have seen great results from these lights in a friends tank so i am stumped. I have tried alot of different types of plants and no luck with most, I was trying to keep mainly grammifolia and some hygropholia species and erectus but everything just melts. i have spent over $300 in plants and just watched them all slowly dissapear, please help, thank you.

Like plantedrich said we need to know what your nitrate and phosphate levels are like on an average day. You say you add potassium and flourish once a week, how much? Right after a water change? Do you add any iron? Could you also upload some pictures so we can get a better idea at what might be happening? I can almost guarantee you with 3 LED fixtures on that tank that lighting is NOT the issue. Have your plants ever pearled in that tank or have they always done poorly?
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-14-2017, 02:53 AM
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Show us some pictures if you can. Melting is usually a terrible sign that something is way off.


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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-14-2017, 03:22 AM
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When sachem flourish was designed no one was using CO2 and very bright lights. This fertilizer was designed for tanks with low lights and no supplemental CO2. At the time it was assumed that keeping nutrient levels low was the best way to avoid algae issue. It works fairly well in low light tanks. However when you throttle up plant growth with CO2 and bright lights you quickly run out of nutrients and your plants may start die.


We know today the best way to avoid algae is to have enough nutrients in the water or to dose frequently so that the plants never run out of anything they need to grow.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-14-2017, 03:13 PM
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It would seem that as others have pointed out, NpK may be lacking. If you don't care to go the dry fert route, Easy Green or Thrive are pretty good liquids. I use Easy Green at about 1/2 the recommended dose weekly in my low tech / med light tank. I don't use CO2, but I run a bubble bar for increased O2 AND CO2.
It is common for plants to 'melt' after planting, sometimes right to nubs...but they often come back and grow well so patience is required.
I'm uncertain about your substrate (I use inert silica sand) and whether it might affect the water column. I have 'heard' here that ADA causes high ammonia in the water column and requires several high volume water changes.
As for the lights (I use the Finnex Planted+ 24/7), instead of 'Max' which is high white, you might try a custom setting of high white and high red. (With a 24" depth, I take my light out of 24/7 from 10am - 3pm and alternate between high white/red and high white/blue, then back to 24/7 for sunset/moonlight until 1am.
You might also cut back the photo period as those lights on Max for 10 hours seems like too much (and two 24/7's should be plenty)... maybe even back to six hours or so?

I envy a 180g tank (mine is a mere 60g)! Good luck and keep posting.

Tank On, Mike-
60g Marineland Community, Finnex Planted+ 24/7, Silica (pool filter) sand.
10g, 29g, & 37g fry grow out tanks, 110g stock tank.


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Last edited by AbbeysDad; 09-14-2017 at 03:17 PM. Reason: update
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