Low tech planted tank having issues - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 08:13 PM Thread Starter
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Low tech planted tank having issues

Hello all,

I am having some problems with various plants in my aquarium. It is a 55g low tech. 8.0/0/0/30-40 (pH/Ammonia/Nitrites/Nitrates). The Nitrates have been consistently high since I started the tank 7 months ago. I do weekly 25% water changes. The lighting is a standard LED split light bar that came with a 38g I purchased last year. I think some of my problem could be light, but anyway... I dose NutraQuatics all-in-one fertilizer (see photo for specs on that), and just started dosing SeaChem Excel yesterday as I read that CO2 could also be an issue here.

Some of my plants are over a year old and have not done much. The Amazon Sword for example has been rather dormant. It is currently slowly melting away. It gave me 4 babies about 5 months ago, but even before that it hasnt really grown height wise. About 6 months ago I migrated everything from a 38g into this 55g and on a new water source as well. I expected for there to be some stunted growth as well as some leaves dying off, but this seems more than that now. I have a bunch of Java Fern that I have propagated consistently that also seems to have stunted growth and any leaves that do get to any good length seem to just go yellow/brown and die off. My Anubias is infected with hair algae as well which I am not sure came from that plant which is a year old or from some other new plants I purchased a few months ago (some Val, Ludwigia, Giant Hygro, and Sag). The Amazon has some hair algae on it as well but I trim it off. I have some Val that is in the back not doing much and also had some hair algae on old growth. The Giant Hygro almost died off completely and new leaves come in and then next day appear torn and then melt and fall off. I purchased an unknown smaller Hygro from LFS a month ago and now it is going yellow and has pin holes in it as well as brown patches on the leaves and appears to be declining pretty fast this last week. Also the hair algae is spreading slowly and extremely frustrating.

Any thoughts and advice is greatly appreciated. I have been reading up on plant deficiencies on various sites including here, and I think that it is perhaps a lack of lighting although it looks pretty bright in there when the lights are on (I run them for 9 hours per day - decreased from 10 to try and control the hair algae). Also maybe low on Phosphates?
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 10:05 PM
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GH and KH? Looking at curled edges of Giant hygro leaves leads me to calcium deficiency.

PH is also bit high.

What are amount and frequency your dosing?
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 10:12 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
GH and KH? Looking at curled edges of Giant hygro leaves leads me to calcium deficiency.

PH is also bit high.

What are amount and frequency your dosing?
I am dosing 15ml of Feed the Green weekly. I don't know my GH and KH as the API test kit doesn't come with that. I am looking at getting the NutraFin kit to replace though. I need GH and KH before I can look at lowering PH right?
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-14-2019, 02:24 AM
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In order to lower pH, it'd be helpful to have a better understanding of kH, yep.

You can get a KH & GH kit from API for under US$10. Should be about the same price in CA via Amazon or Big Al's.


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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-16-2019, 08:28 PM
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As for the slow growth my first thought is your lights. From your description it sounds like they are just LED lights that came with a basic aquarium kit which is not really sufficient to grow much of anything. Even replacing the light with a couple desk lamps and daylight CFL bulbs would be a significant step up.

Having said that have you tested your tap water? As the other person said your pH is pretty high and likely so is your hardness. Many plants and tropical fish are best adapted to slightly acidic, soft water. You might consider gradually switching over to using R/O water from the grocery store for water changes to better control the tank conditions or investing in a home R/o system
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-16-2019, 09:24 PM
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Lighting going by appearance of photo is low light. The instructions on fert for your type of tank call for 2ml per 10gal. Figure 50gal of actual water in tank allowing for displacement of gravel/ornaments so 10ml needed per week. I would dose that as 5ml twice a week. The slight dusting of algae you see around tank is from you slightly overdosing more than the light levels and plant uptake requires. Light level/plant uptake and nutrient dosing need to be in balance. Instructions on bottle for dosing are just rough guidelines.

At that light level in a tank that tall the sword is going to struggle to get enough light at bottom. Crypts, Anubias and marimo ball should be fine. Sag is probably also going to struggle down there at bottom.

The stem plants once they get half tank height should get by if you fix the calcium (spitballing on that one) and high PH.

Me, I’d get a Aquaclear 20 filter bag, put 3/8” crushed coral in it and 3/4” of sera super peat and set it in top of your hob filter. Over coarse of couple weeks it will slowly increase calcium/magnesium levels and also help bring PH down. Might take a bit more peat but start with a little and add bit more every week. Acids release by peat will also help with plants nutrient uptake.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-16-2019, 09:42 PM
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Having said that have you tested your tap water? As the other person said your pH is pretty high and likely so is your hardness.
You can have hard water and a low PH or you can have a high PH and soft water. There is no consistent PH / GH / KH relationship. IF you are on TAP water then your water could be like Seattles water which is Very soft. If you are on well water you might have hard or soft water . So right now there is no reason to consider RO water.

Your fertilizer l doesn't have calcium or magnesium which plants do need. GH is a measure of calcium and magnesium so if it is low you will need to supplement the with a GH booster.

Plants also need sulfur, chlorine, and nickel. Tap water is chlorinates which generally creates chloride salts in the water which plants prefer. Sulfur is generally not a problem is tap water. Nickel requirements by plants is very low and that plants can get enough from the fish food added to the tank.

While you fertilizer has and copper the amount in the fertilizer is very low and you might be deficient in one of them. Most fertilizers are very low in these nutrients because galvanized or copper water pipes will typically leach some zinc and copper into the water. But with even very soft water you still could run out of it.

Your nitrates are high because your plants cannot grow enough to consume the amount in the water. The nutrient deficiency you have is stopping your plant growth. With your slow to no plant growth you light is enough so I wouldn't worry about it right now. However once plant growth has been restored it might be an issue.

Beyond that it is impossible to say with any certainty what your problem is. If you is not very soft or hard based on GH then you might have to do a lab tast on the tank water to determine the issue. I have used this mail order test and it helped me identify the the deficiency in my tank and I was able to resolve the issue in my tank.

https://www.icp-analysis.com

For each element in your fertilizer or mentioned in the replies to your post verify the levels are not zero. A zero level means you are deficient in that element / nutrient. You can sometimes find a single nutrient bottle fertilizer in the stores or you might have to make your own supplement People on this site can guide you on this if needed.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-19-2019, 04:03 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for your responses. It was suggested to me to start using SeaChem Equilibrium which I have started as of yesterday. I am also saving up for a better light, because it is just the basic type that came with aquarium. My only problem with that is that the lid on my tank is not glass, so I would need to get a piece cut or some other solution to allow for a new light that I see most models sit overtop of the tank.

Cheers
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