Super High Phosphates - is this killing my plants? - Page 2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #16 of 41 (permalink) Old 01-01-2020, 05:40 AM
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Originally Posted by MD500_Pilot View Post
So the Thrive stuff is a super simple single dose solution that would pretty much cure my fertilizer issues (like not enough nitrates)? Or would I still need to add other things to my tank to deal with PO4 and low nitrates?

Also, someone pointed me to this as a possible solution, what do you (or other) this of this solution?

Perpetual Preservation System
PPS would work fine, really the idea is that you need to get some form of nutrients to the plants that isn't currently being added.

The main reason why I typically recommend an AIO for those new to planted tanks is because it's largely hassle free with the 1 pump per 10 gallons x times a week depending on the setup and it provides a lot of the nutrients that the plants need to grow.

In the mean time while the tank is growing using the simple solution, the hobbyist can be learning more about their tank and the hobby and they can be learning about how to mix the different dry fertilizers to fit their needs.
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post #17 of 41 (permalink) Old 01-01-2020, 05:44 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Maryland Guppy View Post
So @MD500_Pilot back to your title "Super High Phosphates - is this killing my plants?"

The answer would be no!
Phosphates are high and should be lowered by at least half if not more.
Killing feature most likely not.

Starving your plants seem to be the root cause.
May want to add GH Booster @ Colin's site if you are really going to order.

Happy New Year by the way!

I would recommend starting a journal here on this site.
Post your new water parameters after dosing corrections are made.
Keep it all in one place and post issues there.
Many of us follow each others tanks here and chime in as seen fit.
Plus you will be keeping a record of what goes on.

PPM (parts per million) in dosing is the norm for many.
Zorfox or Rotala planted tank calculator can be your friend too.
Single compound or pre-mixed liquids are listed in menus.

Enjoy!!!
Thank you, I already put an order in for the PPS Pro stuff.

I am curious you say to get a GH booster when my GH appears to be through the roof at 16. I thought it was supposed to be around 3 to 4?

Is there a special section for starting a journal and is that the best place to post questions about problems that I am having with my tank?

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Originally Posted by Quesenek View Post
PPS would work fine, really the idea is that you need to get some form of nutrients to the plants that isn't currently being added.

The main reason why I typically recommend an AIO for those new to planted tanks is because it's largely hassle free with the 1 pump per 10 gallons x times a week depending on the setup and it provides a lot of the nutrients that the plants need to grow.

In the mean time while the tank is growing using the simple solution, the hobbyist can be learning more about their tank and the hobby and they can be learning about how to mix the different dry fertilizers to fit their needs.
My goal is to make it simple as I learn more about it, so I invested in the PPS and one of these:

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post #18 of 41 (permalink) Old 01-01-2020, 05:55 AM
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Under Forums there is a sub class labeled Journals or maybe tank journals.
Just nice to keep everything in one place!

There was something in Equilibrium I didn't like in the past.
I'm not sure what it contains right now and am ready for sleep!
Maybe Equilibrium contained some form of low level micro nutrients too?
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Growing is not that difficult.
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post #19 of 41 (permalink) Old 01-01-2020, 03:26 PM
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Just ran across this thread.

The first thing I would do is stop listening to anything they tell you at your LFS. It sounds to me like they don't have a clue about keeping a planted aquarium.

Next I would slow down, take a deep breath, and spend some time researching and learning more about planted tanks.

Here's a good place to start.

https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/

Next I would start looking through the journal section here and find tanks that have demonstrated success with goals similar to your own. Many here do a great job of documenting how they manage their tank, and you can learn from them. And when you find tanks you would like to emulate, I would reach out to those folks. Most here are very generous with their time and are happy to help new folks coming into the hobby.

Good luck and looking forward to seeing where you go from here.


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post #20 of 41 (permalink) Old 01-01-2020, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Greggz View Post
Just ran across this thread.

The first thing I would do is stop listening to anything they tell you at your LFS. It sounds to me like they don't have a clue about keeping a planted aquarium.
I second this. They have steered you wrong from the get-go.

I use PPS and it certainly works. You are on the right track.

You should be doing 20-25% weekly water changes at a minimum. Also, there is nothing wrong with your tap water. It does have high GH, but there's nothing wrong with that. You can switch back to using tap water instead of the RO/DI route, just treat your tap water with a dechlorinator that can handle chloramines. Seachem Prime, for example.
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post #21 of 41 (permalink) Old 01-01-2020, 05:31 PM
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This is unlikely but if I recall correctly there were past issues with corrupted Eco Complete that sent phosphates off the charts. Just to eliminate the Eco, I would put some in a cup with tap water and test for po4.
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post #22 of 41 (permalink) Old 01-01-2020, 05:48 PM
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My "regular" water changes range from 5 to 10 gallons every few weeks. Not really sure if that is enough of a water change, I am thinking that I need to do more in the way of water changes.
That's a very low rate of water change, less than 3% per week. I think it's pretty clear why your phosphate is high. Typical practice is at least 10% a week in a conventional tank. Planted aquarists and aquarists keeping more delicate fish tend to change more often, typically 20% a week and up to 50% a week if they're using the system I use. (It has a name -- I didnt' invent it -- but I can't recall what it is off-hand) I'd say you would be wise to change out at least 7 gallons every week, for about 10%.

But it depends on your tank and what you are trying to accomplish. The reason we change out water is to prevent certain substances from accumulating in the tank water. In conventional aquariums, that's usually nitrate, and when you have no plants, keeping it as low as reasonable is not a bad idea. A planted tank needs some nitrate, as you have painfully discovered, but we monitor it regularly to keep the level in the "sweet zone" of at least 5 but not too much more than 20 ppm.

But nitrate is not the only substance that can accumulate, and some substances we don't even have good tests for. Hence the practice of changing out 10% or more of the tank water weekly, to be sure we aren't accumulating something harmful we may not even know is there.

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I do not currently do CO2 but I just ordered a CO2Art system and a reactor. We have a full-blown soda system at our house (7 kids) so I have extra 20# CO2 tanks so this was an easy thing for me to justify.
Congratulations on the numerous progeny. It does make a full-up CO2 system easier to justify. I haven't made the leap just yet, at least in part because I'm in a rural enough area that refilling CO2 bottles could well mean a 45-minute drive to the nearest town where I could refill them. I do citrate and soda instead, which is crude but effective.

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I have been reading up on the CO2 injection. If I am currently running at a pH of 7, with CO2 I understand that I should be looking for a pH of 6, is that correct?
The usual target is around 20 ppm CO2. Although CO2, pH, and dKH are related (see my ultra-geeky writeup here), the usual low-tech way to monitor is a drop checker. This is a little glass bulb that has a drop of pH indicator solution that sits with its mouth down in your tank, so there is a little bubble of air separating the tank water from the indicator. The indicator solution should ideally have a carbonate hardness of about 4 dKH. You can get that mixing 40% of your RODI with 60% of your tank water, based on the measurements you posted. When it's blue, you need to inject CO2. Emerald green is ideal. When it becomes yellow-green, pull back on the CO2. Don't let it ever go pure yellow; that's a low enough pH to stress your fish.

50/50 RODI and tap should be just fine for your tank. As long as you're not living in Flint, Michigan, or anywhere else with a benighted utility system, the main concern with tap water is the chlorine and chloramine added to keep you from getting cholera. (This is a good thing, so far as it goes, but hard on fish.) Any decent water conditioner will neutralize these compounds. I mix up my own conditioner from potassium metabisulfite, but see: geek. You've already posted parameters that show slightly hard but otherwise clean and usable tap water.

I was surprised by the light thing, too. I wanted to be able to keep some light-loving plants, but my assumption that too much light was less of a concern than too little turned out to be wrong. It's going to depend on what plants you keep. I would not try to keep both Java fern (a low-light plant) and Madagascar lace leaf (a very high-light plant) in the same tank.

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Thank you so much for all the great information, I feel like in this one thread I have glimmer of actually understanding what I need to do to get things back under control.
My pleasure.
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post #23 of 41 (permalink) Old 01-01-2020, 05:58 PM
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You got a lot of good advice so far I made the same mistake as you when I started with water buffers.
My tap water has a really high GH also, and I used to have a RO unit that I made my own water and put the buffers and everything in then I realized I was spending a lot of time, effort and money to achieve what was free in my tap water.
All you really need is a dechlorinater and all in one fertilizer.
If you need softer water for the more demanding plants and fish you can mix tap with RO to achieve what water perimeters are needed.
Even after all the advice you receive here you will still have a learning curve of learning to balance your system some of that can be done with a test kit some of that is watching plants grow and watching for algae to pop up.
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post #24 of 41 (permalink) Old 01-01-2020, 07:05 PM
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When operating a aquarium it is best to do a water change once week. The amount of water changed in the tank varies some do 20% others do 100% . Many do 50%. The reason for this is every time you add something to the water you are adding minerals. This includes fertilizer and fish food. With insufficient water changes the water will get increasingly hard and can eventually become toxic to many fish and animals.

I would strongly recommend doing a water change once a week starting now. However you don't want to do a full water change right away since the change in mineral levels would stress and possibly kill your fish. SO it is best to gradually work up larger water change. I would recommend with starting out at say 10% of the water in the tank but do that several times a week and after one week increase the amount of water changed. The goal is to gradually bring the mineral levels down. I would strongly recommend a goal of 50% water change once per week if you can manage it. If not s 20% to 30% change once a week is good.

The gpal of the water change is to keep the water chemistry close to that of the water you are adding. So if you were using tap water only you would want your aquarium test to be close to the values in tap water. For RO water you need to remineralize thewater to a target GH Level. A target GH of 4 would be good for now. The GH test you have only measures the total amount ofCalcium and magnesium in the water. A GH booster such as Seachem equilibrium increases (a good one many people on this forum use) Ca and Mg levels. Some potassium and sulfur is also added with the GH booster. All of the elements in the GH booster are needed by your plants and in addition to the nitrogen deficiency others have pointed out you also have a Magnesium deficiency (your plants are loosing the lower leaves of the stems which is a common symptom of a Mg deficiency.

Inaddition to light water and CO2 plants also need minerals to grow. There are 14 minerals necessary for plant growth. If you are deficient in just one nutrient plants will not do well and could eventually die. There are two categories of nutrients Macros (nitrogen (N), Potasssium (K), Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Phosphate (P), Sulfur (S), and Chlorine (Cl). One note on Cl pure chlorine is bad to fish and plants. However chloride salts such a Magnesium chloride or sodium chloride are safe and plants o use them. Tap water is typically serialize with Chlorine and this free chlorine much to neutralized to make it safe for an aquarium. Water conditioners are typically used to do this. You do not need to use a water conditioner with RO water Chlorine is filtered out by the RO system.)

The other category of plant nutrient is micros (sometimes called trace nutrients) They are Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Boron (B), Zinc (Zn), Copper (Cu), Molybdenum (Mo), and Nickel (Ni).

So overall the poor condition of your plants is understandable based on what you have told us. Flourish Trace has most of the micros but doesn't have iron. The only macro nutrients you currently have are from fish food and Seachem fresh trace (it has a small amount of calcium, magnesium, and chlorine. You basically have no macro nutrients in the water and you are missing one micro nutrient Iron.

My advise right now it so concentrate on water changes right now and then start adding your GH booster as needed to maintain your GH at 4 for now. Continue using Seachem Trace, and Seachem Fresh trace. Seachem products are fine but they are expensive and you need to use multiple Seachem product to get all the nutrients need. When you run out I would recommend switching to a better fertilizer. Nitormax is not needed and can be discontinued if desired. Your high phosphate level is a consequence of the nutrient deficiencies you currently have.

You have not mentioned anything about your RO system but I suspect it is probably limited in how much water it can produce per day. If it cannot produce enough for regular water changes a mix of RO and tap will work. Just be sure to treat the tap water for free chlorine.
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post #25 of 41 (permalink) Old 01-01-2020, 07:14 PM
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Yea, with no nitrate your plants uptake of all the traces your dosing are probably almost nonexistent, with your low, low water change routine all those elements in trace have probably accumulated to excess levels as well. Go to 20% weekly water changes.

Nitromax is not needed, your substrate and bio media in canister are well established by now. No idea how itís screwing with your tanks equilibrium but at this point a completely unneeded product. I would also start feeding fish more often, daily what they can consume in a couple minutes, in a non co2 tank fish food/poop can often supply good balance of nitrate and phosphate that will be enough for most plants to get by.

Neutral Regulator, absolutely not, itís just a phosphate bomb for your tank. With your RO water your ph is fine coming out of it. I would only add fresh fish Trace only to the volume of change water your doing, measure GH and then add just enough Equilibrium to hit GH of 4+-.

Also what kind of bio media did they sell you for canister? Some of them will become a denitrifying filter once established but depends on media type. Really with your fish load IMHO extra bio media not needed really and in some instances actually becomes detrimental to plant growth by robbing tank of ammonium which is most plants preferred nitrogen source, not nitrates.
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post #26 of 41 (permalink) Old 01-01-2020, 10:06 PM Thread Starter
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First of all, thank you all so very much for all of your great advice. As @Greggz pointed out, I need to learn and that is why I am here. I sincerely appreciate all of the great input and advice.

I still have several questions but I think I am starting to getting a handle on things.

First, most on this thread seem to agree that I need to do more aggressive water changes while others on this forum say they never make water changes. I guess I am going to have to do more research on it as that seems like a hot topic for sure with a lot of different thoughts, even just here on TPT there is a huge variation on what people think about water changes. Everything from never to 50% twice a week!. [HERE], [HERE], [HERE], [HERE], [HERE], and [HERE].

I think overall there is good advice here to start to make water changes more regularly. I did a 10-gallon water change yesterday, 100% RODI, and I am getting ready to do another 20 gallons today, 100% RODI. Nothing is really open today so I can't get the dechlorinater several have mentioned for my tap water. Once I get a handle on things and more fully understand what is happening with my tank I can make a more personally informed decision.

One of my biggest questions has to do with using Tap water for changes. My gH is already off the charts (16 dGH) in my tank and my tap water is the same. So every time I do a water change, my gH is going to go off the high end, yet several here are telling me to use a GH booster. Is the idea to use RODI until my gH gets back down and then switch to tap? Will the high levels of gH in my tap water cause me issues over time or would I need to cut my tap with RODI to get my gH to 4? Or do I simply continue to make RODI water changes until my gH gets down to 4 and then do mixed tap/RODI water changes that match a 4gH?

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Originally Posted by Matt69 View Post
My tap water has a really high GH also, and I used to have a RO unit that I made my own water and put the buffers and everything in then I realized I was spending a lot of time, effort and money to achieve what was free in my tap water.
All you really need is a dechlorinater and all in one fertilizer.
@Matt69 - How do you deal with your high GH if you are using tap water for your water changes? Do you have to add something to bring the GH down or do you just not worry about it at all?

Several have said that there is nothing wrong with high GH, I just want to make absolutely certain that I am understanding that correctly. Others have said to shoot for something around 4 GH. I guess I am still confused on this topic. Trying to do more research took me to this page where they seemed to think that 3 - 8 dGH was where i wanted to be for a planted tank, which echos what several of you have said here. If that is the case and my tap is 16 dGH, I assume that I need to cut it with RODI water to the 4 dGH mark before doing the water change, is that correct? Or do I just not worry about it at all?

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Also what kind of bio media did they sell you for canister? Some of them will become a denitrifying filter once established but depends on media type. Really with your fish load IMHO extra bio media not needed really and in some instances actually becomes detrimental to plant growth by robbing tank of ammonium which is most plants preferred nitrogen source, not nitrates.
@DaveKS - I am using Seachem Matrix Bio Media in both of my filters. My 406 is nothing but the Seachem Matrix Bio Media and after cycling my tank initially, I have never seen any traces of ammonia in my tank. My Senseye shows between 0.009 and 0.010 which matches the 0 I am getting from my API test results. I do really want to end up with a lot of fish and a lot of plants in my tank, I just didn't want to add too many fish too soon for fear of losing them if I screwed something up. I was more worried about my fish and less about my plants and I have had no issues with my fish and all kinds of issues with my plants!!



Here are some things I am still unclear about:

1) Is it really OK to use just dechlorinated tap water for water changes given that my GH is so high in my tap water?
2) How often (or at all) should I vacuum my substrate?
3) Is there a good spot to learn about the best types of plants that I can put in my tank? I want a LOT of plants and a LOT of fish (within reason for my tank size) but it seems like my LFS is totally offbase on what they are telling me so I no longer trust their advice, which is what I have done to date on plants and fish. Where can I read up on the best types of plants for my tank?
4) I have another Fluval filter (306) that I was thinking of adding in addition to my FX6 and 406. I have read over and over again that the more filtering the better for your tank. What do you guys think? I have the filter already, should I go ahead and add it?
5) What static, pre-co2 pH should I target for my tank? I have heard anywhere from 6 to 8.5, with API's testing guide saying that 7 is ideal. I assume that this 7 ph is before I starting with my CO2 and that I should target about a 1 PH drop utilizing CO2 and cross-check it utilizing pH and KH based on this chart. I ordered a drop checker as well with my CO2 kit.




Here is what I am going to do going forward to try and get control of my tank:

1) Increase the frequency of my water changes. Right now I am going to do frequent RODI water changes until my GH is down to about 4 dGH. It seems like all other water parameters are OK for now with the exception of Nitrates which I address below. Once I have control of my GH I guess I will go to doing mixed water changes with TAP/RODI mixed to keep my GH at a 4. I have a 100GPD RODI system so increasing the frequency and amount of water I change will not be an issue either way.
2) I am going to start on the PPS-Pro method of dosing my tanks. I have ordered all the necessary nutrients from Colin at Nilocg for the PPS-Pro method. I also ordered an automatic dosing pump to manage the dosing. This should (hopefully) address my issue with Nitrates being at 0! I'm pretty sure that I need to get my water parameters inline (GH) before starting this dosing.
3) Install a CO2 system. After reading Rex's Planted Tank Guide, I ordered a CO2ART dual regulator setup and I am going to order the Advanced CO2 Reactor from Colin as soon as I can determine if my Flugal 406 has enough water flow to support that type of reactor. I have an email into him asking about that. I would rather not put it on my FX6, but I can if I need to do so. I know I can build a reactor on my own, but frankly, my time is better spent elsewhere.
4) Spend time on the advancedplantedtank.com website (thanks @Greggz)
5) Start a tank journal here.

Did I miss anything?
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post #27 of 41 (permalink) Old 01-01-2020, 10:18 PM
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If I wanted to lower GH I would use distilled or RO water and mix with tap. I have been using tap water for water changes and distilled water for top off so not to raise my hardness. Right now my TDS is about 350 mostly GH I am thinking about using 2 parts tap water to 1 part distilled to see if that changes how any plants act.
Remember consistency is very important in aquarium maybe the answer for you is 50% tap mixed with RO to give you water parameters you are comfortable with.
Plants will use some GH also so thy will lower a little over time that way also.
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post #28 of 41 (permalink) Old 01-01-2020, 10:35 PM
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Did I miss anything?
A planted tank is a balance between light, CO2, ferts, and maintenance.

Each one is a detailed discussion, and needs to be taken in context of the tanks goals. Some prefer a low maintenance low light tank with slow growing easy plants like crypts, swords, anubias, ferns, etc. Others prefer to create a colorful display of fast growing flowery stems with high light and more difficult plants.

The path you choose should dictate everything else. And until you decide, much of this discussion is premature.

Right now you are focused on ferts and GH. At some point you will need to focus on everything else. Getting light, CO2, and maintenance dialed in is equally if not more important. If you get all those right, you can be reasonably successful with many different dosing strategies.

And when you run across discussions about things like water changes, you will read all kinds of opinions. If I were you, I would pay close attention to the source of those statements. Let's just say I would want to see examples of how successful their tanks are. Just saying many of those who advocate little to no water changes rarely post pics of their tank (there are exceptions!), or when they do it is underwhelming. It's easy to throw out statements like water changes are a waste of time, it's another to back it up with pics or videos.

This all goes back to finding tanks that have similar goals and have demonstrated success. There are loads of them here. And while each is a unique eco system, the more research you do the more you will find common themes.

My own 2 cents is that large regular water changes are the single best thing you can do for the health of both plants and fish. Keeping dissolved organics low will make every single thing easier. At least that has been my experience, and the experience of many of the great tanks here on this site.

Looking forward to seeing that journal get started. Remember everyone starts somewhere, and we all experience growing pains. At first some of the jargon will seem overwhelming, but over time it will all begin to make good sense.

And if I can ever be of any help, don't hesitate to reach out.


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post #29 of 41 (permalink) Old 01-01-2020, 11:28 PM
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Seachem matrix is a anaerobic denitrifying media. It’s doing what it’s designed for, removing nitrate from your tank. No need for it in a planted tank unless your seriously over stocked (which your not) and nitrates keep climbing.

On GH just use your RO water, adjust it’s GH to 4-5 using fish trace and equilibrium and do your 20-25% water changes weekly. Over coarse of couple weeks you’ll slowly see your GH and PH coming down. Don’t change GH to quickly or you can induce osmotic shock in your livestock. At most a 25% water change every 2 days should work.
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post #30 of 41 (permalink) Old 01-01-2020, 11:58 PM Thread Starter
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A planted tank is a balance between light, CO2, ferts, and maintenance.
Looking forward to seeing that journal get started. Remember everyone starts somewhere, and we all experience growing pains.
And here it is: 75 Gallon Planted!
Or at least a good start. I still need to figure out what plants and fish my local store sold me so I can add that information to the Journal, but I will be adding to it on a regular basis and continuing to read and learn.

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Seachem matrix is a anaerobic denitrifying media. Itís doing what itís designed for, removing nitrate from your tank. No need for it in a planted tank unless your seriously over stocked (which your not) and nitrates keep climbing.

On GH just use your RO water, adjust itís GH to 4-5 using fish trace and equilibrium and do your 20-25% water changes weekly. Over coarse of couple weeks youíll slowly see your GH and PH coming down. Donít change GH to quickly or you can induce osmotic shock in your livestock. At most a 25% water change every 2 days should work.
So, my plan is to really add a lot more fish and plants. When I told my local store that they were the ones that suggested the Seachem Matrix, but I thought that they had said it was for ammonia control. I think I only have like ~20 smaller fish. Should I add more fish or maybe shut down that filter until I do add more fish? I am not sure when I can start adding more fish, the local fish store seemed to think I needed to wait until the tank was fully established before adding any more.

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt69 View Post
If I wanted to lower GH I would use distilled or RO water and mix with tap. I have been using tap water for water changes and distilled water for top off so not to raise my hardness. Right now my TDS is about 350 mostly GH I am thinking about using 2 parts tap water to 1 part distilled to see if that changes how any plants act.
Remember consistency is very important in aquarium maybe the answer for you is 50% tap mixed with RO to give you water parameters you are comfortable with.
Plants will use some GH also so thy will lower a little over time that way also.
Thanks Matt - I just ordered a good TDS meter to go along with the PPS-Pro dosing that I am going to be doing. I think I understand. I am going to do 100% RODI water changes over the next few days while I am off work to get my gH and PO4 down to manageable levels, then I will look at using a mix of tap and RODI. I guess no matter what I have to add something each water change, either to dechlorinate the tap or to add minerals back to the RODI! All part of the learning curve.
Greggz likes this.

75 Gallon Planted Fresh Water Tank
Fluval FX6 & 406 Filters / 2 x Fluval Plant 3.0 LED Lights
CO2Art CO2 Regulator w/DIY Grigg Reactor
Seneye+ Tank Monitoring System / Atlas Scientific Hydroponic Monitoring System
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