Can't figure out what's going wrong trying to get off the ground - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-22-2019, 05:56 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Can't figure out what's going wrong trying to get off the ground

Hi everyone, new to the forum and hoping to get some advice on getting my tank (back) up and running.

Tank: Fluval Spec V
Substrate: Fluval Shrimp & Plant Substrate with some gray rock (lace rock perhaps?)
Tech: Pressurized CO2

So I started the tank up about a month ago. I've used this tank for a planted tank recently and had success, but am starting over. After about 2 weeks, all my levels were at 0, so I moved a Java fern into the tank and waited another week. Everything continued to look good, so I added a few other plants (DHG, Monte Carlo, Anubias, Micro Swords and rotala rotundifolia). Some bladder snails as well. I started lightly dosing with ThriveS to get some Nitrates in there.

A week later, everything looks terrible. Most of the plants are either melting or just looking shabby with only the DHG showing any signs of growth (but also a little melting) and the Java Fern looks the same. Even the bladder snails died! My water parameters seem fine though:

pH 6.0
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0

I also tested my water out of the tap and it's also all 0/0/0, but the pH is 8.2.

I've never tested TDS in my tap water or GH/KH (I just ordered a test kit though, so should have that info this weekend)

So I'm a little surprised that the Nitrate is 0 when I've been dosing it lightly. I've done a pair of 50% water changes this week, and that hasn't helped at all, maybe it's even made it worse. Is that because of the drastic difference in pH between my tap and the tank (caused by the substrate)?

I've thought maybe something in my water is causing problems and that maybe I should get a RODI kit and remineralize from there, but I really don't want to just throw money at it without understanding what problem I'm solving for.

I'm really at a loss about what to do here, any help would be appreciated!

Here's a shot of my tank and some of the plants from this morning: https://imgur.com/a/waMADnu
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-22-2019, 07:16 PM
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I'm not familiar with that substrate so I cannot comment.

However, going from pH 8.2 -->6.0 is rather drastic. How much CO2 are you injecting, i.e., how many bubbles/sec?
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-22-2019, 08:12 PM Thread Starter
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Not a lot of CO2. Less than 0.5 bps, and have been using a drop checker to keep that in the green.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-22-2019, 09:49 PM
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I suspect your snails died because their shells dissolved. Are the empty shells paper thin and easily crushed between your fingers?
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-22-2019, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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So I just saw one that still alive and moving around fine so far, but the others just stopped moving. The shells don't seem that brittle, but they're pretty small and I can definitely crush them if I squeeze.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-22-2019, 09:57 PM
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You need to let tap water set in a bucket for 24hrs to degass (equalize to atmospheric gases/ratios) to get true reading of your tap PH.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-22-2019, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
You need to let tap water set in a bucket for 24hrs to degass (equalize to atmospheric gases/ratios) to get true reading of your tap PH.
Thanks, I didn't realize that. I'll do that and test tomorrow.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-23-2019, 07:57 PM Thread Starter
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My tap pH is 7.0 - 7.4 now that I let the water sit. Maybe a pH difference isn't the problem?
I also found a few more bladder snails that are alive, they're just hanging out near the water line.

Should I try more nutrients in the tank to get the plants back to health and established in the tank?
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-23-2019, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
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I got my HG/KH test kit and here's what I'm getting from the tank right now... super low KH. The kit changed color immediately on the first drop. So 0 KH. GH was really high: 17. Considering my other parameters and experience with the tank, does anyone have a recommendation on how to get my tank properly established?
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-23-2019, 11:21 PM
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Now you can try a 20ml sample and every drop is worth .25dKH.
There amy be some alkalinity to your water.


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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-24-2019, 08:36 AM
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You snails definitely need more Calcium in the water for their shells so try to Raise your KH with an Alkaline Buffer. It's a little odd that you have such a big difference between the KH and GH.
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-24-2019, 01:49 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Maryland Guppy View Post
Now you can try a 20ml sample and every drop is worth .25dKH.
There amy be some alkalinity to your water.
Maybe not...I tried with 20ml of water and the test kit still turned yellow on the first drop!

Should I add baking soda to raise the KH or add something more permanent like crushed coral even though that would also raise the GH?
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-24-2019, 02:49 PM
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You could use baking soda and most likely be fine.
I avoid anything with sodium.

Other options are CaCO3 or KCO3.

A 1dKH would be fine there is no real need for more.


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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-24-2019, 02:53 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, thank you I will try that. Is that likely the only issue that's causing the problems in my tank right now?
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-24-2019, 08:12 PM
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Define light dosing of ThriveS? Amount and frequency? Itís already a light fert formula so no need to go less than what label calls for in most cases.

One thing youíve not hit on is photoperiod and lighting used? I could assume stock light at 6-8hrs a day but you know what they say about assuming.

Light, nutrients and carbon all need to be in balance. In a 5gal spec, running 6hr photoperiod and added co2. Iíd probably be adding at minimum 1 pump of thriveS 3 times week(every other day).
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