Stumped - Need help on Planted Tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
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Stumped - Need help on Planted Tank

My 29g tank seems to not be doing well at all! I'm not sure why. Here's some info and pictures:
Light: 2x10W "t5" LED tubes 6000k
Substrate: EcoComplete with root tabs
Ferts: EI Dosing as per the recommended schedule. Macros MWF, CSM+b TuThSa, 50% wc Sun
Co2: Pressurized Co2 at 1bps

Plants are melting and overall not growing/deteriorating. Almost all my staurogyne repens have melted/died as well.

On top of this, I've an infuriating brown slime/algae that grows no matter what I do. I've raised lighting, lowered lighting, lowered schedule, raised co2, lowered co2, raised EI ferts, lowered EI ferts, I'm stumped.

Anyone chime in on what I'm doing wrong? I feel like I've taken all the right steps but just something is not clicking.. really disheartening after everything that was put into it when I look over at a tank I neglect (no fish in it so not an issue) where the plants just flourish..
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-31-2019, 01:44 AM
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First, can you get us some data or an estimate on the PAR and PUR values, at the substrate, for your lighting? See this post for an understanding of how important this is: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...ml#post1951160.

Although much depends upon pressure and equipment, I suspect that 1 bps is far below ideal. My 29-gal has bubbles so fast I couldn't possibly count them. Instead of using bps, focus on CO2 ppm. In a high-light tank (and we're not sure yet if that's what you have), you'll want ~30 ppm CO2 for EI setups. A roughly 1 full-point drop in pH between fully degassed water (tank water that has sat out for a few days) and your tank water a few hours after CO2 is on will approximate 30 ppm CO2. Another method is to use this calculator: Rotala Butterfly | Planted Aquarium CO2 Calculator.

If your
Quote:
I've raised lighting, lowered lighting, lowered schedule, raised co2, lowered co2, raised EI ferts, lowered EI ferts
changes were too fast, you may have destabilized the tank, including plant health. It can take two weeks, or more, to see the effect of any given change. Plants don't like inconsistent environments.

Can you provide some of this info (more is better):
- Current NO3, PO4, GH, KH, pH and TDS readings.
- What you are dosing and how often.
- Cleaning regimen (filter and water change frequency and amount).
- Circulation (all plants gently moving from top to bottom).

Root tabs aren't necessary if the water column is dosed sufficiently.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-31-2019, 01:55 AM Thread Starter
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The changes I made were over an extremely long period, I've been dealing with this for a few months and have been putting of asking until I was sure I did everything I figured would help.

Current TDS: ~270 ppm
Dosing regimen:
1/4 tsp KNO3 3x a week
1/16 tsp KH2PO4 3x a week
1/16 tsp K2SO4 3x a week

Plantex CSM+B 3x a week, on off days from above

Cleaning Regimen: I do waterchanges + vac's every Sunday (50% wc). I usually siphon out all the brown slime/algae which comes off fairly easily along with a glass cleaning and vacuuming some of the detritus from the substrate. Every once in a while I'll clean out the filter media into a bucket of water I siphoned out from the tank during a WC.

Circulation: RN, circulation is fairly light using an AC Hob. In the past I've tried a 540GPH powerhead which I felt was too much, then a 240GPH Koralia powerhead which also felt slightly high, but with no noticable differences after some time.

As far as CO2, I've had it higher, much higher before but I've been in the process of tweaking it to see how things turn out..

As for par I don't have a PAR or LUX meter or the money to afford one now after some major car repairs I needed to do. If the information is of any use, the LED tubes I use apparently have a 950 lumen rating each. (I'm using two).

At one point along with higher CO2 injection than there is currently, I was also dosing liquid carbon using API's liquid Carbon

Edit: I can add KH,GH,Ph PO4 and NO3 readings shortly.. I don't however have a form of measuring CO2 but iirc there was a method based off Ph changes? I'll look into that
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-31-2019, 02:14 AM
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By searching the forum, you may be able to estimate your PAR and, if we get lucky, another member may be able to provide an estimate here for it. We really do need to know how high the PAR is or we'll be guessing in a very wide range regarding the nutrients.

CO2 is also important, the test method and link I gave can help you estimate that.

When you post the KH,GH,Ph PO4 and NO3 readings, that will be very helpful.

I'm too lazy to estimate your ppm dosing based upon teaspoons. Perhaps you can provide this by using this calculator: Rotala Butterfly | Planted Aquarium Nutrient Dosing Calculator

I have two Koralia 240's going in my 29-gal and I get very slight movement from all of my plants from top to bottom. They are both pointed at the surface to also give good rippling for gas exchange. You do need good circulation to ensure full benefit from nutrient contact with all plant leaves. It also helps keep the substrate clean.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-31-2019, 05:56 AM
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Limited information but I'll give this a shot.

Most importantly to start, dial in your CO2 first. if you are new to this I recommend buying a cheap CO2 drop checker online to let you know if you are in the ball park of 25-30 ppm. Based on the color of the drop checker, it will give you a general idea of your CO2 level in the tank and if you need to bump up or drop down the CO2 bps count.

Then I suggest getting your lighting and CO2 on the following timing schedule: CO2 to turn on 1 hour before lights come on, turn CO2 off one hour before lights go off. Adjust as needed.

From the photos I do not see this tank as heavily planted, I see it as lightly planted. Part of the information that we need to know from you to help is what are the names of the plants currently in your tank and what specific plants are you wanting to grow? This will help us better understand if your current lighting is adequate and what general water parameters you should be aiming for. (You are in the low light range based on watts per gallon, but others may chime in here). Save your money, you don't need a par meter.

As for substrate, it is good that you are using root tabs with an inert material like Eco-Complete. Eco-Complete does not contain a significant amount of nutrients for plant growth. Root feeders may feel starved or suffocated without the tabs. Keeping up with frequent water column dosing is very important with this type of substrate in addition to the root tabs.

Because I perceive this as a lightly planted tank, look into implementing a leaner dosing regime. I suggest reducing the amounts of ferts you are dosing or add a lot more plants if you are going to stick to the recommended EI dosing schedule for a 29 gallon. In my opinion, there are not enough plants (even healthy plants) in the tank right now to be dosing this heavy. Lastly, do a water change, remove all the waste and dead plant matter from the tank to prevent algae outbreak.

Read this article and it will help: https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/ph-kh-gh-tds.html. There is also a great section on dosing to reference.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-31-2019, 12:47 PM
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That is amazing... you made a hair algae bonsai!

All joking aside: But please do post your water parameters (ammonia, nitrates, nitrates, etc) I often find that it comes down to the basics at times- especially with algae.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-31-2019, 02:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Druinz View Post
My 29g tank seems to not be doing well at all! I'm not sure why. Here's some info and pictures:
Light: 2x10W "t5" LED tubes 6000k
Substrate: EcoComplete with root tabs
Ferts: EI Dosing as per the recommended schedule. Macros MWF, CSM+b TuThSa, 50% wc Sun
Co2: Pressurized Co2 at 1bps

Anyone chime in on what I'm doing wrong? I feel like I've taken all the right steps but just something is not clicking.. really disheartening after everything that was put into it when I look over at a tank I neglect (no fish in it so not an issue) where the plants just flourish..

One thing I noted in your original post - root tabs. I mention this simply because I also am using Eco Complete in my 75g main tank and generic aquarium gravel in my low tech 20g tank.
In my 75g tank, lets just say I have insanely bright lights, a huge amount of CO2 and a lot of hungry stem plants. But, no root tabs. Something I learned early on is that, although helpful in the right situation, root tabs can also be a major issue. Once placed in the substrate they will release nutrients at basically an uncontrolled rate - usually more than you would like. This usually results in a higher than expected nutrient level in the water column. Then, insult to injury, we add more water column ferts. Your Nitrate, Phosphate testing will help greatly.


Another short story - in my 20g low tech tank I switched from EI dosing to Thrive C. Kinda followed along with dosing recommendations of 1ml (pump) per 5 gallons - twice per week. Tank started looking terrible. Hmmm. Did some testing and realized I had too much fertilizer in the water column and the algae was really happy.
Did a big water change and went 1 week without dosing anything. Things got better. Now I am dosing 2ml Thrive C once per week and the tank is happy, no algae.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-31-2019, 03:28 PM
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ammania gracialis was a bear of a plant for me.. Always hit and miss. Great one day like the above the next..

And I also have "concerns' about root tabs...
Think they release much earlier and faster than one assumes..

"A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure."
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-31-2019, 04:49 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HGHTECH1 View Post
You are in the low light range based on watts per gallon
The lights I'm using are not actually T5's, they are LED.. I thought the WPG only really applied to T5's. What I have are LED's retrofitted into a t5 tube which can be easily installed into pre-existing t5 fixtures after taking out the ballast. Though changing lighting could always be an option if it is indeed too low

Gh: ~71 ppm? (API)
Ph: ~6.4/6.5
Alk: 4 dKH
PO4: 3 ppm+
NO3: Undetectable (API)
Ammonia: Undetectable (API)
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-31-2019, 05:25 PM
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@Druinz is that fuzzy plant in the middle an ammannia species?

If so it could be dwindling away fowling your water.
Ammannia species can be a very challenging plant for even the best of us.
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Growing is not that difficult.
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-31-2019, 05:46 PM Thread Starter
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It is ammania gracialis.. It doesn't seem to be dying, it just has that brown algae/slime growing on it which comes off easily when I siphon it during waterchanges. Also I didn't test any nitrates or ammonia in the tank, but there was high phosphates (3ppm+)

The plant is ammania gracialis, it's not dying it's just the brown slime/algae growing on it. I'm not picking up any ammonia or nitrate so I don't think that is fouling the water

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Originally Posted by Maryland Guppy View Post
@Druinz is that fuzzy plant in the middle an ammannia species?
Yes it is. Though that plant is one of the few in the tank that isn't actually dying and seemingly fouling the water. Previously, I had Myrio green and Proserpinaca Palustris that were growing very well then suddenly melted.

Also I don't think anything is currently fouling the water since I measure undetectable nitrate and ammonia.
I did notice high phosphates though, so I'm going to stop dosing that with my macros for some time until it drops to 1-2ppm..

Last edited by Darkblade48; 04-01-2019 at 02:55 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-31-2019, 10:42 PM
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Hard to pinpoint exact algae problems but a few things come to mind.

Light - How many hours did you start off running your lights. This is easily the most common issue when people get algae in newer setups. In most setups you can't run a full schedule like 8-10 hrs, you should start with around 5 hours and build from there as your plant mass grows.

Nitrates - Your nitrates shouldn't be zero or almost zero if your dosing EI. Something is off with this, could just be a bad test.

Gravel Vacuum - You really shouldn't need to do alot of this in a planted tank, but if you do just a gentle surface cleaning is all that's needed. If your stirring up the substrate into the water column that could cause algae as well.

Also as others have mentioned if your dosing the water column via EI you do not need the root tabs. There's more downside then up.

Last edited by Asteroid; 03-31-2019 at 10:57 PM. Reason: .
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-01-2019, 03:21 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah I started with an 8 hour schedule and lowered it for some time to 6

I'm not even sure if the brown stuff is an algae, it seems more bacterial to me.

I gravel vac because the brown stuff completely overtakes the substrate and it just looks like I've got goo for substrate, but I have been slightly stirring it but I'll stop doing that from now on.

Tank has been up nearly a year already, it's not a new tank..

I'm starting to think my nitrate test is bad so I'll have to invest in a better one
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-01-2019, 01:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Druinz View Post
I'm not even sure if the brown stuff is an algae, it seems more bacterial to me.
I have something similar in a 10 gallon tank that I can't quite get rid of either. I can keep it in check with 2 water changes per week. Mine is lightly planted, no CO2 and inert substrate. To make sure it is algae I've setup a black out period. After work on Wednesday I'll uncover the tank and do a good cleaning and water change. I've been doing Nylocg macro and micro liquid ferts once per week each.

I need to check on this light though - Fluval ECO Bright Freshwater LED 7500K 7 Watts 600 Lumens. I normally have it scheduled at 75% for 6 hours.

Don't make things too complicated. Try to relax, enjoy every moment, get used to everything. - Angelique Kerber
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-04-2019, 12:00 PM
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I see a low light tank at best in your pic that your trying to apply high tech fert/co2 to. Your never going to grow gracilis and other high light plants in that deep a tank with that low of light. Only thing your going to grow is algae with that light to nutrient ratio.

Get you bunch of nophila stricta stalks, a apon. crispus bulb, java fern, some crypt plants. I wouldn’t even bother with CO2 probably, maybe just touch, just get you some NilocG Thrive for low tech tanks as carbon source/fert regimen.

Plants that will actually out compete the algae even in a low light environment. Even some guppy grass or even frogbit for a floater.

Floating plants can be great, they break water surface so have acces to all CO2 they need and set right under light, very high metabolism/great water cleaner/algae fighters.

Make sure back strip of tank is open a bit so there can be proper gas exchange.
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