Long time reader, First time poster. My tank needs serious help - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-01-2019, 08:54 AM Thread Starter
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Long time reader, First time poster. My tank needs serious help

Ive read so much about my problem and I can't seem to come a clear conclusion as to what is making this happen. I set up the tank about 16 months ago. I used carib sea eco complete substrate that is about 5" deep due to the different levels of the kitchen counter it sits on. The tank is 24" cubed with a 7" square over flow. I am running a Rio 12hf with about 5' of head heigh giving me about 600gph of flow. The sump is a 40 gal tank running a fine partial sock, two bags of bio beads and a in sump UV filter. The lighting is Kessil A160we tuned manual to about 6500k, running two fo these lights on caddy corners of the tank.

I only use RO water to start and change the water and I do about 35% water change only ever 3 weeks. The lighting is on from noon to 8pm every day but the tank also get direct sunlight from a window about 15 feet way from 1-6pm Ish depending on the time of the year.

I am running a CO2 diffusor directly injected into the supply line from the sump to the tank using an inline diffusor. I do one bubble per second on the regulator and only diffuse CO2 on timer with Kessil lighting.

The tank has had its veteran fish in it since the beginning like a few rainbows and tetras but I cannot keep discuss longer than 4-5 months. They thrive at first, get bulky and healthy, one even laid eggs at one point but after a period of time they start pooping white parasites and die. Ive lost 3. Red tail sharks don't last either.

The most frustrating part is I get a very slow growth algae that over many weeks takes over the plants leaves and smothers the plants out eventually over many weeks or months killing everything. It stats out as a short dark brown fuzzy type algae then moves into blue-green slime. Ive tried stopping the CO2, adding more circulation, double up the frequency of water changes, lowered the temperature from 82 to 76, tried algae fix, adjusting level of lights, time of day of lights but it just seems to not adapt to anything I am doing.

From my reading I am seeing the possibility that my substrate might be too deep and is creating a nitrate trap in the deeper inches of the substrate? My Nitrates are always low and my PH stays consistent.

My local fish store Tongs in Fountain Valley CA is throwing darts in the dark trying to figure it out at my expen$e. Please give me a direction to diagnose and correct this.

Here are some recently planted and then after 3-4 weeks algae the over pictures.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-01-2019, 03:47 PM
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From what I understand of CO2 you need to increase it if you have algae issues. Decreasing it or turning it off can make it worse. If it was me I would also try and shield the tank from the natural light. Natural light can wreck havoc on an enclosed system like a fish tank.

As for the Discus... They are a very sensitive fish. Most of the people that I have seen raising Discus successfully are doing water changes two to three times a week and are very particular with their water. If you are only doing water changes every three weeks I don't think they would have a chance.


Try doing 25% water changes once a week for a while and see if that drops the algae in your tank.


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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-01-2019, 04:08 PM
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How are you measuring Co2 levels in the tank I don't see a drop checker in the tank.
Any fertilizers used?
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-01-2019, 04:32 PM
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Do you re-mineralize the RO water to a specific GH & KH?

Maybe lower the photo period from 8 to 6 hours.

Macro and micro ferts are required to keep plants growing.
They also need GH levels to provide Ca & Mg.

As @EdWiser stated CO2 levels must be determined in some manner.
pH drop from de-gassed to mid photo period could shed some light on CO2 levels.

Look for PAR data on those two Kessil lights to get an idea on light levels.

I'd recommend no more expensive phish until something is ironed out.


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Growing is not that difficult.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 03:04 AM Thread Starter
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I use Envy and Propel ferts as indicated on the bottles. What is a good CO2 checker my local store doesn't stock one.

This is my Api test strip today 2 weeks after water change.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 04:05 AM
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Test strips are only a little bit better than sticking your finger in the water, then in your mouth, and guessing what the readings are. I suggest that you get about $50 worth of test kits: Salifert Nitrate test kit, Salifert PO4, API GH/KH and a TDS meter.

For CO2: no good test kits exist at a reasonable price. Do the pH drop test: put some tank water in a glass, let it sit for a few days, then compare the pH to the tank water after CO2 has been on for a few hours. You have enough CO2 if you get a full one-point difference in pH.

I never understood how the envy provides the traces with their crazy formula, maybe it does. However, other than your fish, there is no NO3 or PO4 being dosed, both are critical macros, but we won't know how much you have until you can actually test for them. Report back when you do. Same for Mg and Ca, but given your RO and no apparent re-mineralization, you may be lacking in Ca, Mg and K ...all critical macros. Seachem Equilibrium-type products will address that.

Without sufficient CO2 and ferts, high lighting can over-drive your plants, making them unhealthy, then algae can thrive. follow @Maryland Guppy's advice on getting some PAR estimates at the substrate.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 04:47 AM
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The problem with your discus is most likely Hexamita, a very common ailment with this species, which occurs as a result of environmental stress. In your case, environmental stress from inadequate water changes.
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180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-03-2019, 01:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HB Livin View Post
I use Envy and Propel ferts as indicated on the bottles. What is a good CO2 checker my local store doesn't stock one.

This is my Api test strip today 2 weeks after water change.

CO2 Drop Checker | KH Standard - 4 dKH


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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-04-2019, 06:53 AM
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Take a turkey baster, squeeze bulb then push its tip alll way down to deepest part of your gravel and slowly let it draw up some water from down there for a sample. Squeeze it out in a cup and smell it, if it smells of rotten egg/backed up sewer stink you’ve got a sulfite problem.

Anerobic/denitrifying bacteria about 4” below gravel surface is one thing and desirable but areas to deep will be total devoid of any water circulation and basically turn into a sulfite farm. In a closed tank environment this can be very bad news.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 06:17 AM Thread Starter
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Been buried with work this week. Thank you for the directions to start. I will try some these this weekend and report back.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old Today, 08:16 AM Thread Starter
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Ok, Been at this for a bit over the past week. I tried the turkey baster and the water smelled fine. I bought the recommended test kits and come back with these results.

KH 1
GH 2
NO3 0
PO4 .03

TDS 46

I bought a seachem drop checker and it is maintaining a blue status on the fluid. I am running two bubbles per second on the counter, however my inline diffusor is facing sideways not face up so the diffused bubbles regroup in the diffuser housing after the ceramic diffusion ring and then inject into pump supply line in large co2 bubbles so I need to replumb the diffuser to allow the smaller bubbles to enter the supply line directly without finding a high spot in the inline diffusor to regroup to a larger bubble. This should solve my CO2 levels in the tank without having to increase my bubble count


I have removed every old plant as it has all died. I want to get the ferts correct before I introduce a few new trial plants. I bought equilibrium, what other ferts should I be starting out with and how often should I be testing the water for proper nutrient levels after dosing?

I rented a PAR meter, should be here this week along with a controller for the kessils. What PAR level am I looking to achieve while I have the meter rented and here to use?

Lastly what are some good plants to start out with?
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