Newbie - Please help!!!! (lighting and ferts) - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-11-2018, 03:11 AM Thread Starter
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Newbie - Please help!!!! (lighting and ferts)

Hi folks.

Looking for some help here - struggling because I've seen a tremendous amount of conflicting info on the internet regarding many things (what a surprise, eh?). About 6 weeks ago I set up my first real crack at a planted tank. I didn't want anything fancy, I just wanted live plants. The details:

Size: 55 gallon
Plant load: Three amazon swords and two jungle vals
Fish load: 6 Columbian tetras, one angelfish, three denison barbs, two otos
Light: Current LED plus 48 inch, run 10-12 hours a day
Substrate: Eco-complete

I planted the swords and vals about a month ago. They definitely rooted relatively quickly. One of the vals sent out a runner within the first week, and the swords all kicked out new leaves within two weeks. Great, right? Well, the new growth is all quite pale and seems to have slowed, particularly the swords. The sword leaves are narrower and much paler than the established leaves, and somewhat ruffled on the edges. They also seem to have slowed down somewhat in terms of any more new leaves. Now, the vals....I swear the vals are growing an inch a day, but the color is just horrible...very, very pale and somewhat translucent.

So it's weird, because all the plants are indeed GROWING (especially the val), but they look...meh.

Just 3 days ago I got some Seachem flourish root tabs and stuck at least one tab near every plant. We will see if that improves things.

Questions:

1) Is my lighting enough? I worry. The guy at the store said this light would be fine for a low tech set-up, and from everything I've read about swords and val, they aren't very demanding. The tank seems nice and bright, but the tech specs on this light say it's only 30 watts. That's well under one watt per gallon. Again, it LOOKS nice and bright, but is it enough?

2) It would be a waste of time to dose a basic fertilizer in the water column, right? Since these are both root feeders? Like I said, I just put about 8 tabs down in there.

2) What else could I be missing? DO I OR DO I NOT NEED CO2? I could bang my head against the wall based on all the conflicting info I've read. Since it's low light, is CO2 needed? I could try some Excel...

THANKS SO MUCH in advance. I will try to post some pics tomorrow.

Last edited by FishArt123; 06-11-2018 at 04:04 AM. Reason: Inaccurate
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-11-2018, 03:47 AM
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Dosing the water isn't a waste of time. A tank isn't like a plant in the ground. The roots are in the same water and will extract nutrients from the water. The root tabs are doing the same thing, just slowly releasing into the water in the same way but at a slower rate and nearer the roots. The Seachem tabs are very weak as far as macros. Get something more complete like Thrive which provides stronger concentrations (also have tabs too). Nutrients likely are your primary issue. Try that first before looking at your light or CO2. More light/nutrients/CO2 will make them grow faster/better but you can grow HUGE swords with kinda pitiful light and no CO2.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-11-2018, 09:44 AM
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Agree with Mike.. root tabs may just make the cut. Dosing some macros will probably help. And from the looks of ur description I am guessing iron def may be the problem.. new pale leaves. So this is what I can do.. instead of going all gung ho with macros u can start with seachem flourish liquid fert and alternate that with seachem iron and potassium so that u dose each on two days of the week. Sunday u can skip. Do that and we will how they do. In the mean time if u can increase the height of ur lights a bit it will provide ur plants some relief until they recover from this deficiency. Pics would help too. Co2 may not be necessary for ur setup. Excel will definitely help low tech setups but vals r known to melt with that. So better to avoid that.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-12-2018, 01:59 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Rusticdr View Post
Agree with Mike.. root tabs may just make the cut. Dosing some macros will probably help. And from the looks of ur description I am guessing iron def may be the problem.. new pale leaves. So this is what I can do.. instead of going all gung ho with macros u can start with seachem flourish liquid fert and alternate that with seachem iron and potassium so that u dose each on two days of the week. Sunday u can skip. Do that and we will how they do. In the mean time if u can increase the height of ur lights a bit it will provide ur plants some relief until they recover from this deficiency. Pics would help too. Co2 may not be necessary for ur setup. Excel will definitely help low tech setups but vals r known to melt with that. So better to avoid that.

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You are saying I might have too much light considering the deficiencies?

I am pretty surprised I would have any deficiencies at all. I have about 2.5-3 inches of eco-complete and a relatively good amount of fish waste down there (I deliberately don't vaccuum near the plants).

I thought these were supposed to be two relatively easy plants!!!!!
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-13-2018, 04:43 AM
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I think your lighting and fertilizer balance are off. The lights are a stimulus for growth but if there aren't sufficient nutrients, plant growth will suffer. The Eco Complete may not be enough and you might want to consider dosing the water with macro/micro nutrients. Checking some basic water parameter like nitrate would be helpful.

I would definitely cut down on the lighting duration and/or intensity at the very least. You're going to get a large algae bloom if your plants can't outcompete the algae. I would start with a photo period of 6-7 hours and then increase it once you figure out any deficiencies.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-13-2018, 05:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FishArt123 View Post
You are saying I might have too much light considering the deficiencies?

I am pretty surprised I would have any deficiencies at all. I have about 2.5-3 inches of eco-complete and a relatively good amount of fish waste down there (I deliberately don't vaccuum near the plants).

I thought these were supposed to be two relatively easy plants!!!!!
It may not be too much light but it may be that there s not enough nutrients in the water to match the requirements of the plants. It's like stepping on the pedal with no lubricant.. ur engine will get damaged. Light is the pedal.. ferts r ur lubricants and plant the engine. So increasing the height or reducing the duration of lights s giving a bit of breathing space by not putting undue pressure to photosynthesize. Why I am saying deficiency s bcos u have plants which look meh... there s a reason they look meh.. its cos they don't sufficient nutrients to make starch. And ecocomplete s a not as strong a leacher of ammonia as amazonia. What it will do s hold on to the nutrients in the water and release them slowly. It will also provide a breeding ground for ur bacteria to break down fish waste and food into usable nitrates. All this still won't contribute iron which u r gonna have to put in yourself. Try dosing iron first. Then we will take it from there.

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-15-2018, 06:48 PM Thread Starter
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I am just surprised that this could be too much lighting. Going off the specs I am at about 0.75 watts per gallon / 9 lumens per liter, which is LOW. So I assumed the light wasn't strong enough. I did order a second light bar and planned to install...

I bought Seachem Flourish and Seachem Flourish Iron and will see how it goes.

I am confused as to how the swords grew like MAD when I put them in (many new leaves within first 10-15 days) then slowed down. Seems if my parameters were off there would be no new growth at all.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-15-2018, 07:03 PM
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Seachem Flourish is not what you need, that only covers micros and potassium. You need to dose nitrogen and phosphates as well.
Eco-Complete is an inert substrate, it does not provide ANY nutrients to the plants. The claims on their bag are dubious at best. If you didn't rinse it, then the plants were growing off of the "soup" that's in the bag that they use to "pre-cycle" this stuff.
If you want something super simple, pick yourself up some Thrive from nilocg.com. This is an all-in-one that will provide the micro and macro nutrients for your plants.
If you want something a littler more involved, get yourself an EI pack and learn dosing for low-tech tanks.

Keep your tank clean too. Organic buildup is just asking for trouble in an aquarium, especially if you're going to add more light. A great recipe for a whole lot of algae.
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