I officially need help (dropped $10k and not what I expected) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-02-2019, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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I need help getting my tank where I want it, I officially give up trying on my own.

Tank: Red Reefer 700xxl (180G)
Light: Chihiros VIVID x2
Filtration: Sump + Eheim 2217
Fertilizer: NilocG Thrive 20ml every 3 days
Substrate: Ada Amazonia
Co2: Co2 art regulator pro elite, 20lb tank
Ph: 7.6 regularly, 6.6 during co2 hours
TDS: 170
Plants: staurogyne repens, hygrophila pinatifida, pogostamon erectus, Rotala viet Híra, Rotala macrandra, Rotala bonsai, African fern, Bucephalandra
Fish: 12 ottos

Photoperiod: 6-12pm at 80% light intensity
1.0 ph drop during this time, drop checker bright green.

Hi everyone, I dropped a lot of money to get my dream project as a kid started, I thought I had all the bells and whistles but Iím not getting the results I want. Here are my issues, please try to help.

1. Small Algae or bacterial bloom, id say itís a combination of both, I used a well established eheim 2217 to get this tank started, ammonia reached 0 within a week. 12 ottos were added around the 3rd week. This bloom started approx 4th week. I know there is a imbalance in my tank somewhere, what do I adjust first to dial things in? Light Co2 or ferts? And hope much of each do I raise or lower?

2. Stem plants are generally doing well, the macrandra was so red it was almost purple when it got here, now itís green and red, what is the reason for this?

3. Some Bucephalandra is dying or melting, I have it either tied to rocks or in cracks of the driftwood. What is the reason for this?

4. African fern didnít last a week, when it got here it was huge (14inches or so) and very healthy. Now all the leaves are trimmed with only the roots and stems left. I just wedged them in cracks just like the Buce. Do they need to be tied down? Some stems turned brown and rotted. Is this normal? They grow so slow Iím not sure if theyíre bouncing back or not.

5. Weeping moss, theyíre supposed to be super hardy but some clumps are slowly turning yellow, especially the one in direct flow of my sump output.

Essentially any plant not in the Aquasoil is not doing well at all.

Any and I mean any help is appreciated. Thanks

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Last edited by Darkblade48; 02-03-2019 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-02-2019, 06:55 PM
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Anxiously waiting to see what others will say as I am new to high tech planted tanks and am looking to setup something big like yours.

That said, first thing that I thought of was you are using a liquid all-in-one fertilizer on a $10k high tech setup. Maybe not the best combo? Not to say that it won't work but since you are having problems you need to be able to adjust individual ferts.

Can you post what your nitrates are? GH?

And where are you getting your water from? Tap or ?

Just acouple of the things I have seen others talk about. Hopefully someone else will jump in here with a bunch more experience than me.

Nice tank btw, it should look awesome whenever you figure this out!
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-02-2019, 07:15 PM
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Nice looking tank. I would reccomend going with dry ferts and start of using EI dosing. Making adjustments as needed.
https://rotalabutterfly.com/nutrient-calculator.php

Check out some members journals, that have similar size tank, and plants. Looking at the picture I have a feeling you are having circulation issues as well. You will find in others journals too, how they getting proper circulation in bigger tanks. Want to prevent dead spots, to make sure everyone is getting their share of nutrients and co2.

Another thing I see, your tank is high light with not a lot of plants. Check the for sale forums and see if anyone got some plant packages for sale. Setting up a new high tech, imo it's good to start with a lot of plants.

You have a very nice setup, now comes the fine tuning.

Bucephalandra are known to melt when transitioning, as long as the rhizomes are green. The plant will bounce back.


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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-02-2019, 07:26 PM
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That tank looks familiar! First thing you want to make sure of is co2..do you know the ph of your tank water (after it sits in a glass for a few days) vs ph of tank water when co2 is at its peak? Use the ph difference as a reference to how much co2 is getting into the water. The largest tank I had co2 on was a 120 with a reactor and I struggled to get enough co2 using an eheim 2217. There is always an option of adding a needle wheel pump in your sump which is a simple way to add alot of co2.

Next are you using tap water or RO water? All the plants you got from me are used to GH of 5 and a KH of 1.5, if your using tap then I'm guessing its pretty hard and the plants will need time to adjust and some might die back a bit during the transition. I have tried a couple buce before and they lost all there leaves due to the above mentioned transition.

I will let others comment on your lights, I am a t5 guy and don't normally get to play with intensity and spread. Visually it looks like 2 fixtures might be a bare minimum for that size of tank for the spread though.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-02-2019, 08:41 PM Thread Starter
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Unfortunately my testing kit has long expired as my African cichlid tank has been established and running on autopilot for years. Iíll get a new kit ASAP.

I do not think circulation is a problem as I see the plants swaying in the current and my pump is about 1800g/hr for the sump.

The tank is actually very densely planted, mainly thanks to Hendy8888. Only very few areas left unplanted which I am waiting for my Tropica shipment, Iím worried my trident fern and nana petite will suffer the same fate as my other non stem plants.

I forgot to mention I am using a rex grigg

Hendy8888 - your plants are actually doing very well! They have all at least doubled in height, itís the non stem plants that are giving me issues. That as well as your macrandra not being red anymore.

I do not think co2 is an issue, I use the eheim 2217 to blow co2 into the sump output which effectively spreads it all around the tank. The drop checker (which I take with a grain of salt) is lime green on the far end away from the eheim output.

I use a ph pen and I have not checked the ph of the water sitting for a couple of days, I will do that ASAP.

I use tap water but my house has a water softener? Not sure if that does anything.

I will share more pics soon.

Should I dial back the lights in the meantime? Or maybe stop ferts? I used an all in one as I donít want to deal with the hassle of measuring myself... if I must, I will make the change.

I really donít get why the bolbitis all essentially died...well at least the leaves. The person who I bought it from lives literally across the street from me.

Bump: Unfortunately my testing kit has long expired as my African cichlid tank has been established and running on autopilot for years. Iíll get a new kit ASAP.

I do not think circulation is a problem as I see the plants swaying in the current and my pump is about 1800g/hr for the sump.

The tank is actually very densely planted, mainly thanks to Hendy8888. Only very few areas left unplanted which I am waiting for my Tropica shipment, Iím worried my trident fern and nana petite will suffer the same fate as my other non stem plants.

I forgot to mention I am using a rex grigg

Hendy8888 - your plants are actually doing very well! They have all at least doubled in height, itís the non stem plants that are giving me issues. That as well as your macrandra not being red anymore.

I do not think co2 is an issue, I use the eheim 2217 to blow co2 into the sump output which effectively spreads it all around the tank. The drop checker (which I take with a grain of salt) is lime green on the far end away from the eheim output.

I use a ph pen and I have not checked the ph of the water sitting for a couple of days, I will do that ASAP.

I use tap water but my house has a water softener? Not sure if that does anything.

I will share more pics soon.

Should I dial back the lights in the meantime? Or maybe stop ferts? I am currently dosing half of what I should be dosing. I used an all in one as I donít want to deal with the hassle of measuring myself... if I must, I will make the change.

I really donít get why the bolbitis all essentially died...well at least the leaves. The person who I bought it from lives literally across the street from me.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-03-2019, 01:11 AM
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What are your goals for this tank? High tech colorful stems?

If so, you need to take every aspect seriously. You need to get lights, CO2, and ferts really dialed in. And then maintenance will be equally important.

Do you have any idea of the substrate PAR value??? It would appear with two of those lights you might have a lot of PAR drop off at the edges of the tank. Macranda losing color can be from lack of light. But can also be from lack of ferts.

Dosing 20ml of Thrive every three days is almost nothing.



Have you researched dry ferts? Macros? Micros? For a tank that size, you it will be worth your time to learn more. And with ADA Amazonia, you really need to understand how it affects things in a planted tank. Have you read any journals of anyone using it? It strips KH, leaches ammonia, absorbs PO4, etc. You have to really know what are doing to make it work well.

It would help you to know the levels of everything.......KH, GH, NO3, PO4, K, Fe, and micros.

You mention that drop checker is bright green with a 1.0 point drop. You might very well find the tank does better with more. Do you know your degassed pH value? Are you calibrating that pH pen? How are you controlling CO2? Bubble counter?

Just saying a high tech 180G is a complicated adventure. And attention to detail can make the difference between long term success and failure.

And that tank really looks lightly planted to me. Have you seen really heavily planted high tech tanks? More plant mass will make everything easier.

Good luck, and looking forward to seeing now things go from here.


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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-03-2019, 01:41 AM
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I noticed that you used ADA Amazonia which has quite a bit of nutrients (To start off with) and the plants that are working well are the rooted ones. I suspect that your main problem is that you do not have enough nutrients in your water column. As @Greggz pointed out, 20 ml. of Thrive is very little ferts.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-03-2019, 02:53 AM
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I do not see ADA Amazonia in the picture. Given that and the low level of fertilization, testing your water is the next logical step. The substrate depth looks pretty shalow to me, around 2" average is a good starting point.

Water softeners are problematic (I have one). If you are using sodium then check your salinity. If you are using potassium then calculate how much K you are adding based on the GH difference of pre and post treated water.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2019, 02:27 PM
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Dont use water filtered via water softener since softener removes calcium and magnesium. I would recommend use non-softener water and see how the tank reacts.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-04-2019, 05:18 PM
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I would not worry much.
The plants do take quite some time to adapt to the submerged state.
I would recommend to slow down the dosage of nutrients as the water may contain enough nutrients and the soil is establishing and starting the bacteria colony.
Watch for new growths, trim and remove the dead plants and watch their propagation. That would be your indicator.
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-05-2019, 05:29 AM Thread Starter
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I tested the water

PH 7.6
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 10
GH 4
KH 1

Everything looks good to me? The water looks even more cloudy and green. Honestly I think itís both a algae bloom as well as a bacteria bloom.

I have some cherry shrimps in there so Iím not sure how frequent I should change the water and how much.

Not sure what to do at this point. I lowered the light intensity. Maybe Iíll stop dosing ferts for the next little while?
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-05-2019, 05:40 AM Thread Starter
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I donít know if this is heavily planted enough but I literally planted every stem around an inch or maybe even less next to each other. Some spots are lef I planted because I donít have that particular plant yet.
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-05-2019, 07:44 AM
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Hi @Amuse370z

Welcome to the forums and good on you for asking on help. But what I notice is you're not hearing what the guys are telling you so far. That, or you are probably a little too overwhelmed to properly process the advice in a planted tank fashion. You're doing a good job of emulating the hardware, but not so much on the harder part yet -- the work involved in getting your tank to where your mind has it. When you're new to this stuff, the right line of thinking might be hard to see and advice sometimes seems conflicting.

So here it is. A site to get your thoughts in order.
3 Growth Pillars - 2 Hr Aquarist

and some special focus here since you're already having algae problems
Algae Control

So, I don't have a 180G tank and I'm sure I'll encounter tons of growing pains if I ever attempt something that big, but I avidly follow journals of small AND big tanks, including your friend @Hendy8888 , and I'd like to think I've picked up a few things along the way.

Knowing what I think I know, one of the early appearing problems you have is that the plants in your tank does not have access to enough nutrients.

Did you read the site about the 3 growth pillars yet? If you do, you'll probably understand more what's being told to you.

@Greggz told you to think about what you want for this tank. What is your dream? I suspect you want something like @Hendy8888 's tank. In that case, you need to check out his journal. It looks amazing just from the pictures, but if you read a little deeper, there's a wealth of information to be had. Here, he's encountering algae struggles : https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...l#post11127955 and more https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...l#post11144249. But focus on what he does each time to get out of it. Hard work. Maintenance. Course Corrections. I'm jumping through his journal but you might want to find some time and go through a little more thoroughly. More importantly out of all this, look at his dosing schedule. https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...l#post11164575. He doses more than you do DAILY. In a 90 gallon. This is what Greggz meant when he gave you the chart showing your thrive dose. Thrive is not a bad fertilizer, but not dosing enough is 'bad' in your situation. What is enough? Heh, that's part of the hard work. Guys like Greggz and @burr740 is still trying to figure it out and they've GOT amazing tanks. But lemme not scare ya. They're "nitpicking." @AguaScape probably hit the nail. Generally, you've got not enough of the basic nutrients to begin with -- whether it's a micro or a macro. Plant issues and algae is telling you that. Especially as you've pointed out, the plants not in soil are suffering. OR, it could be like @OVT and @houstonreef said, something is off with your water to start with and you're missing those nutrients. No dosing = no nutrients = no food for those not in soil.

Also, note how Hendy8888 is pushing his CO2. There's more than one post where he's tweaking it higher (safely). These guys are really pushing and really studying everything, and if you want a high tech tank that amazing looking, this is the reality underneath the gloss.

Your six tests is not all that it takes for a high tech tank. And yes, some people can get by without testing, but it takes a real trained eye to not have to test. So if you read that, don't give yourself that out.

@KZB is right. Your tank is hardly 'fully' planted. It might be dense in sections and with enough reading, you'll soon realize maybe too dense is not good either. But 'fully planted' is a slightly different idea. Going through the 2hr aquarist's site and journals of Greggz, Burr, and those guys, you can see what is 'full'. Even Hendy's is covered majorly with a carpet.

Read the 3 pillars yet? Go read em.
So, barring the green water bloom, nutrient reduction is not something you want to do. Definitely not long term. Light reduction, yes. for now. I suspect that's the right move. More light drives plants to run out of the little food that you're providing and sort of fizz out. Thusly, reducing light creates less demand so that your plants can get healthy faster. Get your plants healthy before chasing reds from rotala macrandra. True, a non red macrandra might mean not enough light, but better have it survive and figure out other things first before chasing that one plant that will be the downfall of your entire tank.

Stick with less light,
add in regular maintenance -- probably at least weekly water changes right now as your tank is upset so water change your way out of trouble,

revisit CO2,

revisit your water as others have suggested -- realize that your water softener strips out stuff as OVT and houstonreef mentioned -- now you may have to re-add those specific nutrients,

nutrients -- figure out to increase thrive (ask the creator: nilocg) or start out with EI,

THEN just 'think' about increasing lights.
Think long and hard before you rock that boat.

When you're plants are healthy and your algae is in check, THEN, you go back and slowly increase your lights. At least the way I'd tackle it. But what do I know.. probably I just know how to write something persuasive sounding

Wait, your dream is a low tech tank? Oh, then maybe you can relax on your upkeep. If you're not ready for the hard work and like your tank to run on cruise control, then go over to the low tech forums and see what's possible there. If you're okay with that look, then by all means, you can have a successful tank that way too! Light reduction is definitely the major component of their designs so again, you've done good there.

Are you still only one month in? Are there any observable new plant growth to brighten your hopes? Perhaps a good dose of patience is needed too. Do a lot of reading, follow journals -- start with the guys who posted before me and burr740s -- they've got good ones, create your own journal, keep soliciting help, but more importantly, listening to that help! Pick up good habits and your dream is within reach!
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Last edited by ipkiss; 02-05-2019 at 08:15 AM. Reason: more info: formatting, follow journal advice, low tech blurb, water softener correction
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-05-2019, 04:27 PM
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Every planted tank hobbyist should have some frogbit and hygrophila corymbosa, I keep some in my quarantine tanks and use it in all new tanks . If you don't like them you can pull them out after other plants grow . Good luck
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 02-05-2019, 06:20 PM
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More stem plants and more Co2, that would be my next option. Light intensity is high so your need fast growing plants to balance out the nutrients whilst all the other plants get established. The brown algae (moss) will sort itself out with the above.


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