Problem with new tank set up and plants not doing well. Please help? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-22-2017, 01:07 AM Thread Starter
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Problem with new tank set up and plants not doing well. Please help?

Hello, everyone. It's been a very long time since I've posted here. I made a huge transition and moved nearly 2,000 miles away from my hometown. A few years later I am now feeling quite settled and I am getting back into aquarium keeping. But I am running into some problems. Bear with me as I try to explain. I know it's long and tedious but I'm hoping to provide all the details so that you guys have as much info as possible to help me figure this one out.

I have an ongoing issue with my new Marineland half-moon 20 gallon tank. I can't seem to keep plants healthy at all.



The picture above is of an Anubias that I have had for about a month. As you can see it is doing terribly.



Here is another anubias that isn't as old. But it's turning yellow along the edges. I have only had this one for about a week and a half but it turned yellow in approximately two days after purchasing it.



Sorry for the bad pic above. The one I am focusing on is the foreground anubias (not the nano anubias in the back). I have had that one for about a week. I think I got it the same time I got the one that has the yellow leaves. But as you can see, this one is doing a lot worse. The leaves are almost disintegrating.


The nano anubias above is as old as the heavily disintegrating anubias in the first pic above in this post. It gets algae but I take it out weekly and spray it down with hydrogen peroxide, let it sit for a while and then rub it off.



I forget what this plant is called. I believe it's related to the Madagascar lace plant but doesn't need as much light. In fact, I bought a Madagascar lace plant and it went completely brown and died in about four days. I took it back and got this one. It sort of looked fine but as you can see it looks like the flash from my smartphone caught what looks like a darkening of the edges of the leaves. It almost looks like it's going to be on the verge of disintegrating or get "mushy." I bought this one about two weeks ago and now it's not looking so great.


This is a Crypt I bought at Petco about a week ago. It's looking quite good but now that I see the photo that was taken with a flash I wonder if those are pinholes forming on the leaves. I hope that's not a sign of something forming due to some imbalance.

And lastly:


I bought this anubias at the same time and place as I did with the Crypt above. It is the best looking anubias I have and is still very green. Here's the thing. I don't have any glue to attach it to the driftwood in my tank. So I left it to float in the tank. It's not hovering directly under the LED lights. It's near a corner but for the most part they are away from the LED lighting.





Here is the LED light I bought from amazon:

NICREW Deluxe LED Aquarium Light, Full Spectrum LED Light for Planted Tanks, 20 to 24-inch, 18-Watt, 1200 LM, 7500K
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071LJKNWS...513907700&sr=1

I decided on the light above after doing quite a bit of researching online. I thought about buying a Finnex light fixture for plants but according to too many negative reviews on amazon, a lot of people gave Finnex a poor rating because in many cases the light broke down shortly after the warranty expired.

All I can say is that to the naked eye it is pretty bright. But since I don't have a light meter I have no way of knowing. But I will say that when I first had the lights on for fifteen hours a day I had a HUGE problem with algae. I reduced the light timer "on" period to eleven hours and now the algae problem has improved by 95%. I am not sure what is going on. As you can see, the leaves look like they are disintegrating and there is a combination of dull brown and yellow over the leaves. It was gorgeous and perfect when I bought it.

I also had two other plants that basically disintegrated but I can't remember the names of those plants. I can try to look them up if that will help diagnose what I'm doing wrong here.

Some more details:

This half moon tank is pretty tall. It's 23" tall so I'm not sure if the light is not reaching the plant or if it's "melting" the plants because they're getting too much light.

I have been using "Easy Green" by Aquarium Co-op all in one fertilizer. And have been dosing once a week initially. But have now increased it to two times weekly.

I use Easy Strips 6 in 1 aquarium testing strips to test the parameters and they are:

Nitrate: seems to be between the 0 and 20. It's hard to read but is almost all white.

Nitrite: .5 to 1.0 which is caution to stress. I am going to do a partial water change

Total Hardness: 75 SOFT

Total Chlorine: 0

Total Alkalinity: 40 LOW

pH Fresh Water: 6.8 NEUTRAL


I don't mean to ramble but I am trying to provide as many details as possible in the hopes that someone can provide me with some worthwhile tips.

I hope to get some input and am more than willing to provide any other info if I forgot something.

Thank you.
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-22-2017, 01:18 AM Thread Starter
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I also wanted to add that in the beginning when the algae was so out of control I did 75% water changes. I know that was too much. But now since I have reduced the time that the lights are on the algae problem is almost completely gone and I have been doing a 30-40% water change weekly.
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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-22-2017, 01:54 AM
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All of your plants appear to be low light plants and since your algae is mostly under control I'm assuming your lighting is also low.

That said, I think you either have a nutrient deficiency or you are over dosing something. I can't quit say what it is, but in a low light tank, especially with soft water, you need N, K, P for macro nutrients and something like Flourish Comprehensive for micro nutrients. In my low light tank, I dose all of these, but in very small quantities:

For NO3, I aim for 10-20 ppm.
For PO4, 1-2 ppm.
For K, no idea, but I dose KNO3 and KH2PO4, so there's K in there.

For micros, I ballpark it. I dose less than what the bottle says. Again, low light. Since you are seeing rapid changes in your anubias, maybe you are over doing the micros?

Just another thought, if your lighting is medium or even high, lowering the intensity and/or photoperiod will help out a bunch. At least it will slow your issues down.

Also, don't use test strips. Buy an API test kit.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 12-23-2017 at 02:46 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-22-2017, 05:37 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulbert View Post
Just another thought, if your lighting is medium or even high, lowering the intensity and/or photoperiod will help out a bunch. At least it will slow your issues down.

Also, don't use test strips. Buy an API test kit.

Thanks for the responses. What do I gain by using an API testing kit versus the testing strips? Just curious. I just looked it up online and can't see what more it tests for.
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-22-2017, 07:43 AM
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paper test strips are not all that accurate. Most people will not trust them. API liquid test kit is probably the most affordable liquid test kit. As a newbie in the hobby I have found the sera test kit to be a bit better and more comprehensive than the api liquid test kit. The other test kit that people use from time to time is nutrafin I have no knowledge of that kit.

BTW the api test kit is less than $20 at amazon which seems like a good deal.

https://www.amazon.com/API-FRESHWATE...dp/B000255NCI/


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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-22-2017, 09:04 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by negen View Post
paper test strips are not all that accurate. Most people will not trust them. API liquid test kit is probably the most affordable liquid test kit. As a newbie in the hobby I have found the sera test kit to be a bit better and more comprehensive than the api liquid test kit. The other test kit that people use from time to time is nutrafin I have no knowledge of that kit.

BTW the api test kit is less than $20 at amazon which seems like a good deal.

https://www.amazon.com/API-FRESHWATE...dp/B000255NCI/
Thanks for the link. I just purchased it.
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-22-2017, 12:53 PM
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Maybe I missed it, but are you adding any ferts of any kind?

I am FAR and away anything close to being an expert but within the last 6 months started my first serious attempt at a planted tank, and now it is like a small jungle.

For starters I was using way to little Thrive 500ml | Premium Liquid Fertilizer | NilocG Aquatics but due to the advice of the folks on here and Colin from Aquarium Fertilizer | NilocG Aquatics I have slowly increased the dosage to what it should be, I had a little algae at first but after making a couple of changes now there is none at all..

One thing I did find out that Anubias definitely prefer lower light, and the one I did lose was too high in the tank and the light was too much for it.

All of the ones I have closer to the substrate or at least in mid water are doing just grand.

Hope things improve for you!

Keep us posted

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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-22-2017, 01:28 PM Thread Starter
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Maybe I missed it, but are you adding any ferts of any kind?



Hope things improve for you!

Keep us posted
Hey there. Yes, I am using Easy Green that I bought at a place called Co-Op Aquarium in my area. It's their own brand. I was not using enough. I increased the dose just this week from one to two doses a week. I also bought Flourish Micro Fertilizer and am experimenting with that one to see if a lack of micronutrients is the culprit.
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-22-2017, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by AdrienDeLaChicago View Post
Hey there. Yes, I am using Easy Green that I bought at a place called Co-Op Aquarium in my area. It's their own brand. I was not using enough. I increased the dose just this week from one to two doses a week. I also bought Flourish Micro Fertilizer and am experimenting with that one to see if a lack of micronutrients is the culprit.

An easy mistake to make I was dosing once a week and five drops from an eye dropper, I found out that it should be dosed from a pump bottle and daily, oops! I was dosing about one twelfth of the correct dosage. I increased the dosage slowly so as not to give algae a foothold, and everything has gone better than I could have ever imagined.

Keep your eye open for RAOK's (random acts of kindness) where all you pay is the shipping, I have been fortunate to have been chosen for two of these, and have also done a trade for fish food for a really nice package of plants.

I am not saying that if you are in your local fish store and that a plant goes all shiny on you, that you should not buy it, but certainly there are some exceptional deals to be made through our colleagues on here.

Click on Forums top left, then on Members Forums which brings up For Sale/Trade, WTB/RAOK.

My next shiny button is in the shape of a CO2 cylinder, but I am kinda wanting it but leery about making the leap due to the finances involved, and DAMN it my tank looks pretty good right now. It is not only the cylinder of course, one has to purchase a regulator, then of course there is the necessity of additional or replacement lighting etc etc etc.

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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-23-2017, 01:02 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, StevieD. I will look into the forum section you recommend for plants.

But dang, my anubias are still slowly giving me problems. I don't know what the heck is going on. I ordered the API test kit so I will know better as to what's going on.

The other thing I didn't mention was that my tank is on the floor and we designed it to be housed in the center of an old time fireplace which no longer works. It's really cool looking. But I think what might have been part of the problem was that I wasn't siphoning the water from the tank. I was using a large bowl to scoop it out from the top. But what I think might have been happening was that since I wasn't siphoning the bottom the fish's excrement started to pile up. A bit frustrated I thought I would try and do some siphoning. I got a half inch clear hose and cut it to the size for me to work in this specific area. And to my surprise and relief I am able to siphon out a 50% water change. The siphoning gets a bit weak once I reach the 40% mark. But I was able to get rid of a lot of feces that was building up.

Isn't a buildup of nitrites not only bad for fish but also bad for plants too? I don't think this will completely solve my problem but I sure hope it will help. The test strips also said I was reaching stress levels so I hope that it will go back down since I will now only do water changes via water siphoning.
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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-23-2017, 01:29 PM
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Hi Adrien

You know, by 'most' measures the plants you have should be fairly easy to keep. I get it, it's frustrating to hear that and then realize you're struggling with it, but on the bright side, it means there probably is something simple that we're not seeing.

Let's get back to basics. Here's a good reference read to get an understanding of how plants behave: Darkblade's Primer to Planted Tanks. The guide is old, so ignore the part about watts per gallon (WPG) on lighting requirements. The main take away is that your plants need CO2, nutrients, light. I personally tend to think in that order based on my long years of struggle with algae.

You've mentioned that you use easy green, and upon my initial glance, it does seem to be an all in one fertilizer with both the macro nutrients of N,P,K and a bunch of micros. IS this the one? https://www.aquariumcoop.com/product...nt=34010876040 . You mentioned that you have a nicrew light. Whilst probably not strong, it should be enough to at least grow anubias. May even be too strong. These low light plants need way less than we think. This leaves one glaring omission. Either you forgot to mention or you don't have it. A source of CO2.

Are you dosing anything like Flourish Excel or some variant of glutaraldehyde? The other question I have is what kind of filter are you running in this tank? Fish waste buildup at the bottom suggests to me that you may have bad circulation. In tanks where people do not add any source of CO2, I suspect it at least needs good circulation and good surface agitation to get some of that atmospheric CO2 into the water and thus, to the plants. Without that, your plants are essentially, umm, drowning? for lack of better words. I've drowned plants by just leaving them in a bucket before. They just melted away. Even if you dosed, it's still necessary to have decent circulation to get everything mixed thoroughly and to get whatever you're dosing delivered evenly to all the plants in the tank, so don't underestimate the need for water movement -- whether through a filter, a circulator, hand... (but you're not going to stand there for hours, are you?)

Some other thoughts to debunk possibly old ideas that may be in your head...

too much water changes probably doesn't apply too much to plants other than that you may have washed away the fertilizers you put in. So don't worry about the 75% from the standpoint of plants. It's a fauna thing. If your fauna can handle it, then it's not a big mistake.

nitrites are fixed to nitrates by the proper bacteria in the nitrogen cycle -- which interestingly enough, need a little bit of oxygen --- which gets into the tank via good surface agitation and circulation! So you see, not having good water movement hinders a lot of things. nitrites may not be so good for fauna, but shouldn't be a big deal for plants. At the same time, if you have dead or decaying leaves, it may be causing these levels to spike so trim off the bad leaves and take it out of the tank.

that peroxide bath for your anubias? what's a little while? Undiluted peroxide + too much contact time may be too much for the plant to handle. peroxide kills organic stuff. That's why it's working for the algae. too much and it'll start killing plant tissue

finally, too much light is also a possibility. As you have aptly discovered, reducing the photoperiod helped your algae situation immensely. Dare to reduce it further. Like @paulbert mentioned, it'll slow your issues down. Having a lot of light forces your plants to grow faster, all the while consuming more co2 and nutrients to grow. If you lack either, then they sort of fizzle out, crash, and burn -- er melt maybe.

So yea, anyway, to reiterate. good flow, good co2, good nutrients, some light. Whatever you do, remember thats what you're trying to achieve.


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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-24-2017, 03:47 AM Thread Starter
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Hi, ipkiss.

Thanks for chiming in. You mention a lot of great points in your post. I do not have C02 but I am wanting to go in this direction. I find it overwhelming to go in that direction. Is there a post or a link where there are step by step instructions to get that set up? The main reason why I haven't started it yet is because I can't find a source that provides a step by step instructions on what to specifically use and how to use it. Even when I go to fish pet stores I seem to get vague responses. If anyone can provide a link or direct me to a thread here to get it going I will get on it immediately.

And yes, I am using the fertilizer you linked to in your post. I have also periodically added Flourish micro nutrients to the water. And when I do frequent water changes I add some fertilizer back to the aquarium.

I will say that my Crypts are still going strong. They look the best so far. I even wound up picking up three more at PetSmart yesterday since the older first one I got a while ago is holding on strong. And I planted them toward the front on the bottom so the light that reaches them has to travel nearly 2ft since the tank is so tall. I also thought that if any of you knew that my crypts were doing well (yet not my anubias) that this would help diagnose my problem.

Here is my filter:
https://smile.amazon.com/Aqueon-Quie...s%2A=0&ie=UTF8

It's for the 30 gallon model but I thought it would help keep the tank extra clean. The previous model I had was the AquaClear:
https://www.amazon.com/AquaClear-50-...s=aquaclear+50

It was HORRIBLE! I bought two of them and had to return both of them all in less than a month's time. After about two weeks, the first one rattled horribly. I could hear it in the other room. And the replacement rattled immediately after unboxing. Not to mention, the water seemed a bit hazy after about two days of a water change.

I was very disappointed because I tried to do my research and that one was one of the top recommended models for my size tank.


Back to the new Aqueon filter that I now have:

It has a VERY strong flow setting. At first when I set it up and put it in the tank within about a minute debris from the ground (which I didn't even notice) started to lift and get siphoned into the intake. It looked liked like a little blizzard in there with these slow moving particles getting siphoned up. Upon seeing that I said to myslef, "I better clean the filter out in a few hours." And I was right, I back shorty thereafter and the intake was full of gunk. What was the AquaClear even doing? Apparently not much at all.

I also took out the cartridge which contains carbon bits and replaced it all with lots of pond filter floss instead. I read that activated carbon can absorb fertilizer nutrients so I wanted to avoid this by not using it at all in the tank.

Getting back to my new Aqueon filter. I will say that there is still excrement that doesn't seem to get siphoned up into the filter intake. Is a filter designed to do that? If so I didn't know that. I thought the purpose of doing water changes was to use a siphon to vacuum up this debris. I've had tanks for years and thought that this was how it was supposed to be done.

But the filter definitely has a very strong current. On its highest setting my fish now have to swim in place by flicking their fins and the plant leaves are swaying so you can tell there is movement. I sometimes put the filter on high just for a few hours and then turn it down so as not to wear my fish out and over stress them. I kinda thought it wouldn't hurt because in nature water currents change and are not always the same for most fish.

If the filter is expected to pull in the excrement from the tank bottom then maybe in my case it is not happening because the filter is placed toward the top of the tank and as I said, the tank itself is nearly two feet tall. Since it is a fully submersible filter I could place it lower. In fact I thought about doing so and then hide them with some tall plants. But since I can't seem to keep bigger plants alive that may not happen.

Oh, and the Co-Op where I bought the filter from (their house brand that they make) had an employee that told me that I could spray the plants with hydrogen peroxide directly and leave it on for a few minutes. I will double check just to be certain but I know he did say that I could do that with my driftwood. But I did explain to him that I had anubias plants glued to the driftwood. So I don't think he would have said it was only okay for the wood but then to be sure to avoid getting any on the plants. But I'll double check. But for now I leave the hydrogen peroxide on my nano anubias for about five minutes. The guy even said that I didn't even have to rinse it off and that it will gas off once it hits the aquarium water. That's what I've been doing and so far my fish are still very happy and healthy. He also said that the hydrogen peroxide that we buy in stores is already diluted and that pure hydrogen peroxide would literally be caustic.

So for those of you who took the time to read my long TL;DR post I just wanted to reiterate one last time. If you know of a step by step easy guide to setting up C02 I'd love to get my hands on it. I did the yeast and brown sugar in the past and even posted about it years ago. It worked exceptionally well but I'd like to upgrade to the regulator and C02 cartridge tanks and whatever else I need.

Thanks, everyone for contributing so far.

A
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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-24-2017, 04:18 AM
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Co2 tanks are simple parts needed are a regulator , tank , tubing , and a co2 reactor or diffuser.

Confused on your location are you still in Chicago? or do you now live in Seattle? there is Aquarium co-op here as well but online cannot find one in Chicago.

Here are some co2 videos that may or may not be of interest.

https://youtu.be/006wcn51U7U
https://youtu.be/eskNUAK22GY
https://www.youtube.com/user/AquariumCoop


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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-24-2017, 08:13 AM
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Hey Adrien,

Well, it seems like you're not doing too many things wrong. Perhaps the depth of the tank is hindering your attempts.

From your detailed description of your filter situation, I'm glad to see that you have given it much thought. I suppose I may have misinterpreted chunks of fish waste vs fine mulm buildup. So keep doing what you're doing. Perhaps the problem you're encountering is either the intake is too high or the outflow is too low. With the Aquaclear, the current never gets to the bottom? With the Aqueon, I can't tell if the current gets to the top? Both cases are important if you're to get the limited atmospheric CO2 delivered to the bottom plants. A canister may resolve this problem, or a cheaper alternative, a water circulator added at the top while you move your aqueon to the bottom perhaps? I speculate further that the situation is exacerbated by having less surface area than you have depth so it's reducing even more the ability for the surface agitation to do proper gas exchange.

I appreciate the hardship of not jumping into CO2 yet. With proper flow, it may still work out for you. There's definitely low tech tanks on this site that don't need pressurized CO2. Go check out that whole section again if you haven't already. Pick someone's tank that's similar to yours and follow the thread for ideas. I run one too that's full of java fern and some anubias. As I mentioned earlier, dosing Flourish Excel, if you can keep up with the daily tedium, can help with the CO2 situation. Flourish Excel delivers a carbon source in liquid form while killing algae as a side benefit. Some plants and animals may be sensitive to it, however, so research accordingly. It also essentially is a cleaning chemical ... but then so is hydrogen peroxide

As for the light, like you said, the depth is indeed a challenge. I know someone who has elevated all his plants with driftwood. It's not a bad look. You seem to have some plants on that already. Do you notice if those plants are doing slightly better when they're closer to the light too? Like you've probably realized, the duration of your photoperiod is pointless if you can't get it far enough down. It's just wasted on algae on the upper levels of the tank?


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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-24-2017, 06:51 PM
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So you mention that you are adding ferts back in when you do water changes. Are you doing this on the same day, or are you giving it at least 24 hours after the water change? The reason i ask is because i made this same mistake years ago when i first started out. I found that the water conditioner neutralizes the chemicals that plants need. A lot of the micronutrients that plants need are metals like copper or iron, so if the water conditioner is removing these through chemical reactions, they wont be available for the plants. That yellowing could be something simple like an iron deficiency. I was having huge problems with my plants, but now i dose the day after a water change and all of my problems have gone away. In my nano tank, i dont even do water changes or use fertilizer. I leave a gallon of water out over night to allow the chlorine to dissipate, than pour it in when i need to add more water because of evaporation. My plants love all of the stuff in my hard tap water and they do very well with it. This tank has been set up for years and only has some corys, a few shrimp and a couple of snails, so the tank is always spotless and the plants keep the water clean. I would suggest that if your tank is cycled, dont change the water so offten and so much at once, and make sure you add your ferts the day after you change the water. Remember, it doesnt matter how many nutrients you add, if you are using chemicals that remove them.
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