HELP! Tank "reset" and advice needed! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-18-2019, 04:20 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy HELP! Tank "reset" and advice needed!

Hi all,

I've had a rough year or so with my tank and feel like I'm at a crossroads. Hoping to get some advice here as I'm still a relative newbie to planted tanks.

I have a 40g breeder that's been running about 3 years. Its a community tank with cardinal and rummy nose tetras, corys, otos and 2 small plecos. The tank has a lot of driftwood in it and has gone from heavily(ish) to lightly planted.

I had to treat the entire aquarium for a disease about a year ago that killed off most of my plants and has never really recovered. I've had algae outbreaks (including black hair) and just haven't found a balance since.

Current setup:
Finnex planted+ 24/7, high setting on a timer 7 hours/day
Seachem root tabs
Eheim 2217
Black diamond blasting sand substrate

I also have a GLA pressurized CO2 setup which I began using briefly until the previously mentioned incident, but which isn't currentlty running. I was also using liquid ferts (seachem brand) but haven't been using these recently.

Current plant situ:
2 x amazon sword plants, both of which aren't too healthy and have been struggling recently
2x dwarf lily, both not doing great and havent sent up leaves for some time
CRYPTOCORYNE WENDTII RED, not doing great and have some algae - tempted to pull all of these out.
Java fern - a couple of survivors, removed most due to algae

A number of questions here:
1) Is the finnex planted+ sufficient lighting? I currently have it approx 4 inches above tank, no hood
2) Can I re-introduce the CO2 slowly even with a small number of plants?
3) Should I add lots of plants immediately or slowly being introducing plants?
4) Is there an "all in one" liquid fert I can use?
5) Is it ok to use "low tech" plants only with CO2 and this lighting? I previously had italian vals, bacopa, etc.

Lots of questions. Any advice would be welcomed at this stage!!!

Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-18-2019, 10:34 AM
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Yes to all your questions. There are no fast/slow way of adding co2 to a planted tank. I prefer lominie asta brand over any light, any day though. https://medium.com/@plantedtanksourc...k-121363182a99
This website should help. Honestly I would redo the whole plant scape re add substrate. Keep your filter. No need to wash that out. All in all, the more plants (especially fast growing rooted plants), the better - keeping algae under control when using ferts (liquid/dry).
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-18-2019, 11:22 AM
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My ph controller died about half a year ago so no co2.
I backed the lights down, figured I would try low tech.

The plant growth slowed down, and things were doing ok.
I was good for a few months, and then the algae showed up. I cut the lights back some more.

I picked up a new co2 controller, so co2 is back in the tank, and I bumped the lights up a bit.
The next leaf that a red rubin sword, (that was just hanging in there) that came out was nice and red, and taller then the rest.
New algae growth is almost non existent, and the old algae stopped growing.

If you have a co2 setup I defiantly get it going again, co2 helped me out.

With an algae problem 7 hours might be too much light.

The CRYPTOCORYNE WENDTII RED I have a 3 foot long 1 foot deep triangular patch of that.
I never use root tabs on them, and they grow like weeds. But I dose the water regularly.

Start to manually remove the algae.

Stem plants will help, go nuts. When you add stems start dosing fertilizer.
I don't know where you live, but place an order for some stem plants before it gets too cold outside and shipping gets expensive.

If you can post some pics?

What are your water parameters?

Water changes will help get the nitrates down, there isn't much in your tank to consume them.

What is your water change schedule? How much and how often.

Next water change break out the gravel vac.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-18-2019, 01:53 PM
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It does sound like a case of 'old tank syndrome'. Been there myself once or twice. Tank is doing great, so people sometimes back off on the maintenance routine, and things creep up on them until everything seems bleak. Usually something has been missed during the care routine that is out of whack and needs to be brought back into compliance. Recovery is very possible, just not fast, but should be able to have some visible progress in short order. Often times in a tank with a lot of deep rooted plants it can be an issue deep in the substrate. Whatever you do, don't do anything drastic and fast. Minimize how many things you change at once, and don't just start adding chemicals or fertilizers without identifying the root cause problem. Maybe start a 'tank journal' thread too, start with a few whole-tank photos, and we can guide you on the way as things progress.

I'm still a bit rusty after a break from freshwater, but I can at least ask the next questions the more experienced guys will ask...
What are your current numbers for PH/GH/KH and Nitrates? May also want to add a phosphate test as well. Temperature as well

What's your water change routine? How often and how much? What kind of water are you adding in? Run a softener, filter block, RO/DI?

How deep is the substrate? With all the plant die-off, have you vacuumed it out to get all the decayed matter? If not, at this point, do NOT aggressively clean it! Could release a lot of anaerobic bacteria and really screw things up. Do a deep vacuuming on small patches with each water change, but go slowly to avoid releasing too much into the water column. If it smells strongly of rotten eggs, you're probably digging it up too fast.

Java Moss is another aggressive grower that works good for nutrient export. I know some people don't necessarily like it, though I personally really enjoy the look. Pretty similar to the stuff you use in a saltwater refugium, and actually can be used in a freshwater refugium as well if you're running a sump style setup. Hardy plant, fast grower, consumes a lot of nutrients in a hurry.

-hans
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-18-2019, 02:27 PM
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Without adding too much advice at this point, what was it that you used to medicate,? For example; if it contained copper, you might have a deeper problem.

Planted+ should be fine.

CO2 will help any and all plants provided that it is consistent. Use a drop checker to monitor this. There is also a pH drop test that can help guide you on your level (search this forum for how to do it). Add CO2 slowly until fish start to struggle, then back down. Repeat this process every day until they can no longer adapt.

Ferts: many members like Nilocg's Thrive all-in-one.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-18-2019, 02:53 PM
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1. It could be sufficient. Which specific Planted+ fixture do you have?

2. Yes. Check out the CO2 section here on the forum. You'll find it's easier and less complicated than it sounds. Deanna pointed you in the right direction.

3. Whatever your budget supports. If you can do it all at once? Do it all at once. If you can't? Taking your time is fine. Algae, as you've figured out, is an imbalance of lighting and nutrients.

4. There are all-in-one fertilizers you can use but keep in mind when you're spending $30 on a bottle of liquid, it likely contains just a dollar or so (if that) worth of fertilizer salts. You could buy your own for about $10-$15 and have enough to last you several years. It's *NOT* complicated to use dry ferts. You can even easily mix your own into water for use if you'd prefer. There are lots of calculators out there (like this one) and tons of threads that will make dry ferts make sense. Highly encourage you to consider dry ferts instead of liquid, as it seems you're someone who isn't treating the hobby as merely a fad or something and are dedicated enough to visit a forum like this.

5. You can use any plants you want. Some may not thrive in strong lighting and may require some shade. But even Anubias and Ferns do well in high light, ferts, CO2 and all that.

How old is the Black Diamond? I've seen it break down a bit over time depending upon conditions and grit size. It's tough to have a lot of quality control with a product like that. (Doesn't mean it's not okay to use, just something to keep in mind since you're experiencing issues)

.....

Something else I'd like to point out so newcomers to the hobby aren't confused: Lominie is just a company that brings in OEM equipment from China and slaps their name on it. There are several companies that sell the same thing - just like Beamswork, Nicrew, Finnex, Aquatop, Sunsun. That's not a bad thing, just means there's no real set standard when it comes to branding for lighting like that. (I have some Lominie products and think they're fine)
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-21-2019, 02:01 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the responses!! Here's some answers...

Water Parameters:
Ammonia - 0ppm
Nitrite - 0ppm
Nitrate - 40ppm
pH - 7.6
GH - 11 (test is slightly past expiration)
KH - 7
Temperature - 80-81 degrees F.

I use tap water to do water changes, matching the temperature and using a python, adding Prime while refilling. I vacuum every water change.
I live in Houston and the water is pretty hard as well as the pH coming out the tap around 7.6.

My water change schedule has got lazy and surely contributing to the problem. I was doing a 20-30% water change every 7 days, it's more like 30-50% every 10-14 days now. As of the last two weeks I'm back to ~30-40% every week to get this situation under control.

I run an eheim 2217. This is probably due a clean which I try to do every 4 months but is more realistically every 6-9 months at the moment.

Any algae has been largely removed. Glass has been cleaned. The majority of dead plant matter removed.

Subsrate is blasting sand and around 3-4" thick. I've begun doing a "deep" clean of the sand the last few water changes, being careful not to do too much. I'll aim to systematically clean the sand throughout the tank.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jbubba001 View Post
My ph controller died about half a year ago so no co2.
I backed the lights down, figured I would try low tech.

The plant growth slowed down, and things were doing ok.
I was good for a few months, and then the algae showed up. I cut the lights back some more.

I picked up a new co2 controller, so co2 is back in the tank, and I bumped the lights up a bit.
The next leaf that a red rubin sword, (that was just hanging in there) that came out was nice and red, and taller then the rest.
New algae growth is almost non existent, and the old algae stopped growing.

If you have a co2 setup I defiantly get it going again, co2 helped me out.

With an algae problem 7 hours might be too much light.

The CRYPTOCORYNE WENDTII RED I have a 3 foot long 1 foot deep triangular patch of that.
I never use root tabs on them, and they grow like weeds. But I dose the water regularly.

Start to manually remove the algae.

Stem plants will help, go nuts. When you add stems start dosing fertilizer.
I don't know where you live, but place an order for some stem plants before it gets too cold outside and shipping gets expensive.

If you can post some pics?

What are your water parameters?

Water changes will help get the nitrates down, there isn't much in your tank to consume them.

What is your water change schedule? How much and how often.

Next water change break out the gravel vac.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HHaase View Post
It does sound like a case of 'old tank syndrome'. Been there myself once or twice. Tank is doing great, so people sometimes back off on the maintenance routine, and things creep up on them until everything seems bleak. Usually something has been missed during the care routine that is out of whack and needs to be brought back into compliance. Recovery is very possible, just not fast, but should be able to have some visible progress in short order. Often times in a tank with a lot of deep rooted plants it can be an issue deep in the substrate. Whatever you do, don't do anything drastic and fast. Minimize how many things you change at once, and don't just start adding chemicals or fertilizers without identifying the root cause problem. Maybe start a 'tank journal' thread too, start with a few whole-tank photos, and we can guide you on the way as things progress.

I'm still a bit rusty after a break from freshwater, but I can at least ask the next questions the more experienced guys will ask...
What are your current numbers for PH/GH/KH and Nitrates? May also want to add a phosphate test as well. Temperature as well

What's your water change routine? How often and how much? What kind of water are you adding in? Run a softener, filter block, RO/DI?

How deep is the substrate? With all the plant die-off, have you vacuumed it out to get all the decayed matter? If not, at this point, do NOT aggressively clean it! Could release a lot of anaerobic bacteria and really screw things up. Do a deep vacuuming on small patches with each water change, but go slowly to avoid releasing too much into the water column. If it smells strongly of rotten eggs, you're probably digging it up too fast.

Java Moss is another aggressive grower that works good for nutrient export. I know some people don't necessarily like it, though I personally really enjoy the look. Pretty similar to the stuff you use in a saltwater refugium, and actually can be used in a freshwater refugium as well if you're running a sump style setup. Hardy plant, fast grower, consumes a lot of nutrients in a hurry.

-hans
I medicated with Bifuran and KanaPlex.

Appreciate the CO2 advice. I have a GLA system with an inline diffuser and I have a drop checker. I'll be going out to get my CO2 tank filled this week and will begin introducing the CO2 as you suggested!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Deanna View Post
Without adding too much advice at this point, what was it that you used to medicate,? For example; if it contained copper, you might have a deeper problem.

Planted+ should be fine.

CO2 will help any and all plants provided that it is consistent. Use a drop checker to monitor this. There is also a pH drop test that can help guide you on your level (search this forum for how to do it). Add CO2 slowly until fish start to struggle, then back down. Repeat this process every day until they can no longer adapt.

Ferts: many members like Nilocg's Thrive all-in-one.
Bump: 1) Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Fully Automated Aquarium LED, Controller, 36 Inch. I have this positioned

2) Thanks, I'll read up on the CO2 forum and get my CO2 running again in the next few days (need a fill up).

3) I already have all the kit so just need ferts and new plants. Shouldn't be too bad on the budget

4) Thanks I'll look into this - although will probably get an all-in-one liquid fert for now.

5) Black diamond is approx 3 years old now. It doesn't seem to have changed in appearance. I would be very open minded to changing the substrate... however, I imagine this would be a big (and messy) job.




Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhatshocked View Post
1. It could be sufficient. Which specific Planted+ fixture do you have?

2. Yes. Check out the CO2 section here on the forum. You'll find it's easier and less complicated than it sounds. Deanna pointed you in the right direction.

3. Whatever your budget supports. If you can do it all at once? Do it all at once. If you can't? Taking your time is fine. Algae, as you've figured out, is an imbalance of lighting and nutrients.

4. There are all-in-one fertilizers you can use but keep in mind when you're spending $30 on a bottle of liquid, it likely contains just a dollar or so (if that) worth of fertilizer salts. You could buy your own for about $10-$15 and have enough to last you several years. It's *NOT* complicated to use dry ferts. You can even easily mix your own into water for use if you'd prefer. There are lots of calculators out there (like this one) and tons of threads that will make dry ferts make sense. Highly encourage you to consider dry ferts instead of liquid, as it seems you're someone who isn't treating the hobby as merely a fad or something and are dedicated enough to visit a forum like this.

5. You can use any plants you want. Some may not thrive in strong lighting and may require some shade. But even Anubias and Ferns do well in high light, ferts, CO2 and all that.

How old is the Black Diamond? I've seen it break down a bit over time depending upon conditions and grit size. It's tough to have a lot of quality control with a product like that. (Doesn't mean it's not okay to use, just something to keep in mind since you're experiencing issues)

.....

Something else I'd like to point out so newcomers to the hobby aren't confused: Lominie is just a company that brings in OEM equipment from China and slaps their name on it. There are several companies that sell the same thing - just like Beamswork, Nicrew, Finnex, Aquatop, Sunsun. That's not a bad thing, just means there's no real set standard when it comes to branding for lighting like that. (I have some Lominie products and think they're fine)
Looks like my last post regarding paramenters didn't post...

Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - ~40
pH - ~7.6
GH - 11 (test kit expired a few months ago)
KH - 7

Temp - 80-81

Water change schedule is NOW ~30-40% every 7 days. However the last few months it has been more like 40-50% every 10-14 days.

I use tap water via a python when doing water changes and dose with Prime as it's going in. Vacuuming every Water change.
Living in Houston the water is hard with a pH of around 7.6


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jbubba001 View Post
My ph controller died about half a year ago so no co2.
I backed the lights down, figured I would try low tech.

The plant growth slowed down, and things were doing ok.
I was good for a few months, and then the algae showed up. I cut the lights back some more.

I picked up a new co2 controller, so co2 is back in the tank, and I bumped the lights up a bit.
The next leaf that a red rubin sword, (that was just hanging in there) that came out was nice and red, and taller then the rest.
New algae growth is almost non existent, and the old algae stopped growing.

If you have a co2 setup I defiantly get it going again, co2 helped me out.

With an algae problem 7 hours might be too much light.

The CRYPTOCORYNE WENDTII RED I have a 3 foot long 1 foot deep triangular patch of that.
I never use root tabs on them, and they grow like weeds. But I dose the water regularly.

Start to manually remove the algae.

Stem plants will help, go nuts. When you add stems start dosing fertilizer.
I don't know where you live, but place an order for some stem plants before it gets too cold outside and shipping gets expensive.

If you can post some pics?

What are your water parameters?

Water changes will help get the nitrates down, there isn't much in your tank to consume them.

What is your water change schedule? How much and how often.

Next water change break out the gravel vac.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 10-21-2019 at 03:42 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-21-2019, 02:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcronix View Post
I medicated with Bifuran and KanaPlex.
It was likely the Bifuran, which is known to be very hard on plants. Should be ok by now, though.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-22-2019, 11:29 PM Thread Starter
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OK good.

Am I good to go and start introducing CO2 again with the minimal plants in there?

I was planning on bringing up CO2 levels gradually, continuing to control/remove algae, bring in some Java ferns and then start planting a lot more in a few weeks time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Deanna View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcronix View Post
I medicated with Bifuran and KanaPlex.
It was likely the Bifuran, which is known to be very hard on plants. Should be ok by now, though.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-22-2019, 11:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deanna View Post
It was likely the Bifuran, which is known to be very hard on plants. Should be ok by now, though.
Yep.


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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-23-2019, 01:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcronix View Post
OK good.

Am I good to go and start introducing CO2 again with the minimal plants in there?

I was planning on bringing up CO2 levels gradually, continuing to control/remove algae, bring in some Java ferns and then start planting a lot more in a few weeks time.
Yes. There should be no residual medications at this point.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-24-2019, 03:49 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jbubba001 View Post
My ph controller died about half a year ago so no co2.
I backed the lights down, figured I would try low tech.

The plant growth slowed down, and things were doing ok.
I was good for a few months, and then the algae showed up. I cut the lights back some more.

I picked up a new co2 controller, so co2 is back in the tank, and I bumped the lights up a bit.
The next leaf that a red rubin sword, (that was just hanging in there) that came out was nice and red, and taller then the rest.
New algae growth is almost non existent, and the old algae stopped growing.

If you have a co2 setup I defiantly get it going again, co2 helped me out.

With an algae problem 7 hours might be too much light.

The CRYPTOCORYNE WENDTII RED I have a 3 foot long 1 foot deep triangular patch of that.
I never use root tabs on them, and they grow like weeds. But I dose the water regularly.

Start to manually remove the algae.

Stem plants will help, go nuts. When you add stems start dosing fertilizer.
I don't know where you live, but place an order for some stem plants before it gets too cold outside and shipping gets expensive.

If you can post some pics?

What are your water parameters?

Water changes will help get the nitrates down, there isn't much in your tank to consume them.

What is your water change schedule? How much and how often.

Next water change break out the gravel vac.
Here's some pics of the situation at hand:

https://ibb.co/YPc8XrM
https://ibb.co/T8N4hxW
https://ibb.co/cbp3B2k
https://ibb.co/kJyb2HD
https://ibb.co/XpzC0W6
https://ibb.co/CKMcZS5



Quote:
Originally Posted by HHaase View Post
It does sound like a case of 'old tank syndrome'. Been there myself once or twice. Tank is doing great, so people sometimes back off on the maintenance routine, and things creep up on them until everything seems bleak. Usually something has been missed during the care routine that is out of whack and needs to be brought back into compliance. Recovery is very possible, just not fast, but should be able to have some visible progress in short order. Often times in a tank with a lot of deep rooted plants it can be an issue deep in the substrate. Whatever you do, don't do anything drastic and fast. Minimize how many things you change at once, and don't just start adding chemicals or fertilizers without identifying the root cause problem. Maybe start a 'tank journal' thread too, start with a few whole-tank photos, and we can guide you on the way as things progress.

I'm still a bit rusty after a break from freshwater, but I can at least ask the next questions the more experienced guys will ask...
What are your current numbers for PH/GH/KH and Nitrates? May also want to add a phosphate test as well. Temperature as well

What's your water change routine? How often and how much? What kind of water are you adding in? Run a softener, filter block, RO/DI?

How deep is the substrate? With all the plant die-off, have you vacuumed it out to get all the decayed matter? If not, at this point, do NOT aggressively clean it! Could release a lot of anaerobic bacteria and really screw things up. Do a deep vacuuming on small patches with each water change, but go slowly to avoid releasing too much into the water column. If it smells strongly of rotten eggs, you're probably digging it up too fast.

Java Moss is another aggressive grower that works good for nutrient export. I know some people don't necessarily like it, though I personally really enjoy the look. Pretty similar to the stuff you use in a saltwater refugium, and actually can be used in a freshwater refugium as well if you're running a sump style setup. Hardy plant, fast grower, consumes a lot of nutrients in a hurry.

-hans

I added a tank journal post which is apparently under mod review! Thanks for the idea.
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