Help Perk up my plants... TLDR... 56K.... - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2011, 04:42 AM Thread Starter
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Help Perk up my plants... TLDR... 56K....

Alright so I am not completely thrilled with the health of my plants in my 75 gallon currently. I have experienced issues with diatoms in this tank since shortly after day 1. The tank is about a year and a half old at this point. The Diatoms have slowed a bit but they don't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Mostly I am concerned with the look of the plants and their overall health. Some of the plants exhibit browning of edges and slower growth than I would like. I am getting really sick of wiping diatoms off of everything I can live with green algae as it really doesn't bother me that much. Although I would prefer not to have green water.

This is a Planted Mbuna tank so some of the traditional methods of diatom control through selective stocking are not available to me. The reason I decided to go with a planted Mbuna tank is that I kept seeing people say it wasn't viable so I wanted to see if it could be done. This is my second planted Mbuna tank the first was much lower light with mostly low light plants. This time I have a wider variety of low to higher light plants.

Here are the specs to hopefully assist with the problems I am experiencing

PH currently 6.8 (which is lower than normal. Usually its 7.4-7.6 not sure whats caused the recent drop not too worried about it.)
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrates (haven't tested these in a few months my kit went bad probably ought to buy a new one at some point. They were around 15 ppm a a few months ago.)

Fauna: 12 Various Mbuna Species, 2 Synodontus Eupterus.

Flora: Amazon Swords, Hygrophilia Difformis, Hygrophilia Corymbosa Stricta, Hornwort, Crypt Wendtii Green, Various Anubias, Eleocharis parvula, Christmas Moss, Java fern, Red Cabomba, Amazon Frogbit, E. tennellus, onion plant, red tiger lotus, dwarf Sag, Apongeton and Bacopa. I think I probably forgot something I have a bit of collectoritis.

Water changes: Approximately 30 gallons per week.

Filtration: 1 x AC 110 and 1 sun-sun 302

Lighting: Aquaticlife 2x54 T5HO fixture suspended 27 inches above the substrate 1 10k bulb and 1 450NM bulb (considering changing out this bulb for something else). The fixture was previously suspended approximately 32 inches above the substrate however I was experiencing more diatoms and lots of light spillage so I lowered the lighting a bit as I have heard that increasing lighting can have an impact on diatoms.

Substrate: Play sand.

Dosing: EI light for tanks without CO2 (reduced dosing schedule of 1-2 times per week max to accommodate the fact that there is no CO2 supplementation.

Here are some pics of the tank sorry for the ugly rubber bands (trying to attach some Xmas moss at the moment) and the bad photography. The colors are also skewed as the walls are a yellowish green and the colors on the camera were set to a yellow I didn't bother fixing it before taking these pictures. In reality the tank water looks much clearer and much less yellow/green.

Overall as you can see there is a clear diatom issue, my Dwarf Sag and Red Cabomba are really not doing well and my Anubias have brown edges around the leaves as well.

Are brown leaf edges likely being caused by the diatoms or is it possible there is a deficiency somewhere? Does anyone have any suggestions around some of the variables I might be able to work on to try to fix some of the problems I am having. Am I cooking my plants?

Thanks for any help everyone can provide.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2011, 02:34 PM
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Water changes and ferts are your problem, low tech tanks are free of C02 being gassed out the day after your water change, your plants start to adapt to no C02 and boom, you add more with a water change. Although it's a very small amount of C02 the plants don't like this on - off adjusting. Water changes on a low tech tank should be every other month. Now with no C02 you should not be dosing twice a week, this is just feeding your algae, the plants are going to grow slowly and your plant mass is small. I would suggest you try and stop dosing this modified EI and try root tabs, one under each plant and see how it goes, you can find them here at the swap & shop.

BTW How long is your photo period???


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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2011, 02:36 PM
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Oh, if leaves are getting brown edges and are pale a little Fe may help, and yellow spots or pin holes try a little K. To my eye it looks as if the diatoms are creating the brown edges and the plants look green so I would just try the K because I do see some holes.


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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2011, 02:41 PM
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on non injected CO2 tanks if you do EI dosing you need to combined it with Excel


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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2011, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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doh

So all that text and I still forgot to include information. I have been dosing excel weekly as per the dosing instructions on the bottle. My photoperiod is approximately 8 hours per day.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2011, 07:17 PM
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Seeing as your Nitrate levels were 15ppm a year into the tanks lifespan, I suspect that your filter pad may be a culprit. Have you ever changed it? I usually don't change my filter unless I am having an issue with nitrates. What I would do is get a new filter pad but don't replace the one you have in there if you can. Instead, put it in with it. This will allow for hasty bacterial growth and will help establish a similar bio filter to the one you had before. After 2-4 weeks you can take the old pad out and wallah! Good as new. Nitrates should be at 0ppm at all times unless there is an increase in the bioload or something. I mean you only have 4 fish XD. P.S. I assume your filter has some sort of pad in it lol.

Also do you use RO/DI water? If not, check your phosphate levels. Tap water is high in phosphates which algae, in general love. If they're high I suggest getting a Fluval phosphate remover or better yet, use RO/DI water :P. Also, I suggest using Trace Elements ferts instead of pure ferts. It is easy to overdose on pure ferts, plus Trace Elements ferts cover pretty much everything necessary. Florin has some pretty good ferts. But you need to dose some sort of co2 let it be seachem excel or pressurized. For that big of a tank you need some sort of CO2 or your plants really wont grow much lol. I have some green thread algae on my rocks in one of my tanks and I think it looks cool and natural-looking so I'm not really fighting it. Plus, fish can eat it.

Also if you do not have them already, I recommend pink bulbs. Plants with red leaves need the spectrum or else they'll lose their color. Also plants with red leaves need lotsa CO2 or they might rot lol. I learned that lesson the hard way.
Also do you have a cleanup crew?

Your tank looks nice...
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2011, 10:54 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by hello_there View Post
Seeing as your Nitrate levels were 15ppm a year into the tanks lifespan, I suspect that your filter pad may be a culprit. Have you ever changed it? I usually don't change my filter unless I am having an issue with nitrates. What I would do is get a new filter pad but don't replace the one you have in there if you can. Instead, put it in with it. This will allow for hasty bacterial growth and will help establish a similar bio filter to the one you had before. After 2-4 weeks you can take the old pad out and wallah! Good as new. Nitrates should be at 0ppm at all times unless there is an increase in the bioload or something. I mean you only have 4 fish XD. P.S. I assume your filter has some sort of pad in it lol.

Also do you use RO/DI water? If not, check your phosphate levels. Tap water is high in phosphates which algae, in general love. If they're high I suggest getting a Fluval phosphate remover or better yet, use RO/DI water :P. Also, I suggest using Trace Elements ferts instead of pure ferts. It is easy to overdose on pure ferts, plus Trace Elements ferts cover pretty much everything necessary. Florin has some pretty good ferts. But you need to dose some sort of co2 let it be seachem excel or pressurized. For that big of a tank you need some sort of CO2 or your plants really wont grow much lol. I have some green thread algae on my rocks in one of my tanks and I think it looks cool and natural-looking so I'm not really fighting it. Plus, fish can eat it.

Also if you do not have them already, I recommend pink bulbs. Plants with red leaves need the spectrum or else they'll lose their color. Also plants with red leaves need lotsa CO2 or they might rot lol. I learned that lesson the hard way.
Also do you have a cleanup crew?

Your tank looks nice...
Thanks for the compliment I appreciate it a lot. I like the way my tank looks too but at the same time I am striving to make it look even better.

Just to give you a bit more info. I have been in fact dosing both nitrates and phosphates in the form of KNO3 and KH2PO4 as part of my dosing regime. I also have been dosing flourish trace weekly. I rinse out my filter sponges and housing in my aquaclear 110 using tank water once every 2 months or so. The sponges themselves are still basically like new once rinsed out so I have not really thought about replacing them. In my Sun-sun filter I find I don't need to clean it as often but I do periodically rinse it out.

I suspect that my nitrates levels stem mostly from the fact that I have been intentionally dosing them.

I have thought about RO/DI water in the past but I would prefer not to pay for an RO/DI unit and I think it would be prudent to do more thorough tap water testing before throwing dollars at an RO/DI unit.

The 450 NM bulb is a roseate bulb ("pink") The other bulb is a 10k bulb.

Can you make any suggestions on the cleanup crew? The featherfins get alot of what gets left behind but they aren't exactly an all star cleanup crew. Because of the Mbuna snails and fish like oto's really aren't a possibility.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2011, 10:55 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you everyone for taking the time to respond I appreciate it.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2011, 11:05 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by 150EH View Post
Oh, if leaves are getting brown edges and are pale a little Fe may help, and yellow spots or pin holes try a little K. To my eye it looks as if the diatoms are creating the brown edges and the plants look green so I would just try the K because I do see some holes.
I would think that the Potassium in the KNO3 and KH2PO4 would be covering this but maybe not. I know KH2PO4 is not a great source of potassium but I thought KNO3 was a pretty good source. Do you think I should stop dosing the KNO3 and KH2PO4 and instead just dose K with root tabs?

If so any ideas on how much and how often to dose the K?
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2011, 11:32 PM
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I would stop dosing the phosphates and nitrates yes. Those ferts are mainly used by people with ro water which lacks them originally. Tap water usually is abundant in phosphates. Your bioload is itty bitty though. Increase it a bit and you will be fine with Nitrates produced by your biofilter.
Root tabs and trace elements are all you need if you arent using RO. Using pure ferts, its easy to overdose. Potassium is good to dose separately as a pure solution. As for the dosage just follow the instructions

You need to have some sort of CO2 supplement or else they wont be able to process anything though. Seachem excel is good as a liquid supplement. (i cant tell if you are dosing or not-this is only for if you aren't)
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2011, 11:44 PM Thread Starter
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I think you might have misread my stocking I actually have 14 fish. 12 Mbuna and 2 Featherfin Synos. I am definitely not overstocked but I wouldn't say my bioload is itty bitty.
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-29-2011, 05:58 AM
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Oh damn I must have read it wrong lol. I was under the impression that you only had four fish XD
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-29-2011, 01:22 PM
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If youre using seachem trace for micros I'm assuming you're doing it by the dosing recommendations on te bottle? If so, double it and keep dosing kno3/kh2po4 like you have been and see what that does for you. I'd also slow down a week or so on the wc if you've been doing it weekly. I still think you're lights are fairly close to the substrate though, I have 2x24w about 24" from the substrate and I still need pressurized co2 @2-3bps in my 29gallon to keep the plants growing and the algea at bay.. So you may need to raise them a bit more or put a screen on the tank if you really want that low light tank, then you could definitely cut down on the ferts, but that's what i would do for now, double your trace dose. Also I would look at filling out the rest of your dry ferts with csm+b, iron, and magnesium and use that for your micros instead. I've definitely noticed a difference switching to those.. Hope that helps a bit

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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-29-2011, 02:44 PM
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I don't see where anyone has mentioned that play sand. Is it possible your diatoms are being fed by the silicon in the sand? You say this has been a persistent problem since the inception of the tank, so I would suspect it.

GL - tank looks great!
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-30-2011, 05:12 PM Thread Starter
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If youre using seachem trace for micros I'm assuming you're doing it by the dosing recommendations on te bottle? If so, double it and keep dosing kno3/kh2po4 like you have been and see what that does for you. I'd also slow down a week or so on the wc if you've been doing it weekly. I still think you're lights are fairly close to the substrate though, I have 2x24w about 24" from the substrate and I still need pressurized co2 @2-3bps in my 29gallon to keep the plants growing and the algea at bay.. So you may need to raise them a bit more or put a screen on the tank if you really want that low light tank, then you could definitely cut down on the ferts, but that's what i would do for now, double your trace dose. Also I would look at filling out the rest of your dry ferts with csm+b, iron, and magnesium and use that for your micros instead. I've definitely noticed a difference switching to those.. Hope that helps a bit
Thanks for the feedback I may raise my lights back up a bit. I actually have been planning on picking up some CSM+B plantex once i'm done with this bottle of trace as the trace is getting to be a bit expensive, maybe I can add some Iron and magnesium to the order as well.

As far as my current trace dosing I was doing a bit more than the recommended dosing but far from double so maybe I will bump up that dosing as well.

Thanks again.
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