Advice for Planted Tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-27-2019, 06:11 AM Thread Starter
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Advice for Planted Tank

I currently have a fairly new planted 75g tank and everything seems to be fine except that my plants are basically neither growing or dying. I'm looking for any suggestions as to what might improve their growth and propagation. Here are as many details of the tank as I can think of:
Filter - Emperor 400 with added biological media
Light - 48" Fluval Aquasky ~9hr per day

Plants - Vallisneria x4, Java Fern, Cryptocoryne x2, Dwarf Four Leaf Clover (fist sized bunch altogether), 3 small Marimo
Plant fertilizer - Flourish once per week, Root tabs x10

Decor, etc. - 50lb Ryuoh Stone, 10lb wood, very coarse sand, airstone

Water Params - pH 7.4, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0, GH 3, KH 3
Tap Water Params - pH 7.2, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0, GH 3, KH 3
Fish - Cardinal Tetra x10, Dwarf Rasbora x10, Dainty Cory x12, Endlers x12, Chocolate Gourami x2, Female Betta x2
Fish food - varied (flake, freeze dried, pellet, frozen) once per day

The tank is cycled and my nitrates weren't raising at all even after weeks without a water change. I found that a little odd and attributed it to excessive algae growth. I added a background to cut out most of the sun that's able to reach the tank, but haven't had it long enough to see if it has any effect. I feel like I should also try to lower pH and raise hardness, but I'm not sure of the best way to do that. Again, all the fish are doing well and the plants seem to be fine, but are quite lethargic in their growth. If anyone has any advice on where to go from here or anything that I'm doing wrong it would be much appreciated. Thanks!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-27-2019, 07:46 AM
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Welcome to TPT.

You are bottoming out on plant nutrients. Flourish is mostly micros and your plants need macros also (NPK). 0 ppm of Nitrate in a planted tank is the first sign of trouble - you want to be in 10 - 20 ppm range to start. That is the primary reason the plants are not growing and excessive algae.

Check out Aquarium Fertilizer | NilocG Aquatics for plant fertilizers.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-27-2019, 04:29 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you!

I will get some fertilizer with macros and try that out
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-28-2019, 01:35 AM
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Originally Posted by spur View Post
I currently have a fairly new planted 75g tank and everything seems to be fine except that my plants are basically neither growing or dying. I'm looking for any suggestions as to what might improve their growth and propagation.
@OVT is right about the macros, but I’d expand the view to consider light and what you might not think of as fertilizer as you go about the process. As a beginner, you might want to invest in the planted tank guide offered on this forum.

You are not injecting CO2, which makes your tank what is called a ‘low-tech’ setup. This means that you should keep an eye on your light. Learn about PAR and PUR values. Start with this link:

Without CO2 injection, you should limit your PAR to no more than about 50 at the substrate and I would also dial the photoperiod down to about 6 hours. Too much light, without high CO2, can cause your plants to stall and weaken. Then algae can flourish. Products such as Flourish Excel or Nilocg Enhance are particularly good for low-tech setups to help supplement carbon. However, they can damage a few plants and Vals are among those so, avoid these for now.

Regarding fertilizer: in addition to the standard macros (N, P and K), think about calcium and magnesium. These are reflected in your GH readings. Common recommendations are between 4:1 and 2:1 Ca:Mg. A GH number, however, doesn’t tell you how much of each you have. For example, although unlikely, your 3 dGH might be all Ca. To be on the safe side, I would add about 2 dGH worth of GH booster-type products, such as Seachem’s Equilibrium.

There are two basic camps on fertilizing: PPS and EI (both can be studied on this forum and, I think, are explained in the guide). I am inclining more and more toward PPS, but EI is also good, particularly for beginners in high-tech setups. For low-tech, PPS is better for beginners …IMO.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 03:26 AM
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Before putting a ton of fertilizers and increasing water hardness consider moving chocolate gouramis into a different tank - they may not like such changes. Also, they have radically different water hardness requirements compared to endlers, they really don't belong to the same tank.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 06:47 PM
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Simple. Study then inject with CO2.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 04:02 PM
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Add the fertilizer slowly
Don't use the full amount
AIO LIQUID has alot of phosphate

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-04-2019, 01:08 AM
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Also get rid of air stone. That will drive off any CO2 you do have in your tank. One of the worst things you can do to your plants.

PS: also if you quit driving off all you co2 with air stone youll probably see your PH naturally come down on its own after a few days.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 04-05-2019 at 05:11 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-16-2019, 04:05 AM Thread Starter
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Just an update since the original post. I have gotten an AIO liquid fertilizer, reduced my tank's photoperiod to ~6hrs, removed my airstone, added more cardinals and chilis, doubled the number of plants, and added some snails.

Since making these changes my water parameters are the same as before but my GH & KH are now ~5 or so, and my nitrates are consistently between 10-20ppm. The algae growth in my tank has slowed to a crawl and the snails seem to be able to eat it a little faster than it can grow. My plants have started to grow at a steady clip and the new growth looks healthy. All of the fish look healthy and seem pretty outgoing, including the chocolate gouramis. The endlers have been breeding and a good number of the fry have survived, although I suspect that should be expected.

Overall the tank is currently better than I could have hoped for so I'm quite happy with it. A big thank you for all the suggestions, they've been really helpful.
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