Upgraded lighting, CO2-When will plants improve? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-12-2012, 12:36 AM Thread Starter
Meg
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Upgraded lighting, CO2-When will plants improve?

I recently decided to get serious about planting my 29 gallon. I can only set up one aquarium so decided to put all my energy (money...) in to this one. I have had it set up since October 2011 and it is fully cycled. A couple months ago I added some live plants, a crypt and some other easy low light plants that I can't recall the names of. I had a basic plastic hood with one T8 bulb (probably around 15w?). The plants either didn't grow or slowy died off. Did some research and visited a few aquarium stores, got some advice, ended up getting the Nutrafin CO2 unit (has been running 3 weeks) and Dual T5 lighting (1 week). So far I haven't seen much of any new growth on the plants that are left, and the crypt is still yellowing a bit. I know that crypts don't like their roots disturbed so could it still be recovering from being transplanted (from the store)? I guess I just have to be more patient, I just thought I would be able to notice a bit of difference by now.
Also I would like to know how to monitor the CO2, like what I need to test for? So far I test for Nitrate, Nitrite, Ammonia and pH (which are all in check). I was hoping to add more plants this week but I don't want to add them if my tank isn't ready for some reason.
P.S. I also add liquid fertilizer, and have eco-complete gravel. Here is an attached picture, as pathetic as it looks

Edit: the large plants in both back corners are fake, as well as the higher up plants attached to the glass, I needed fake ones to fill it in a bit for now
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Last edited by Meg; 02-12-2012 at 12:37 AM. Reason: ..
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-12-2012, 12:45 AM
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Give it another 2-3 weeks, then reassess. You could get a drop checker and 4dKH solution to check on your CO2 level. Since the tank is cycled, there's no need to test for much of anything unless you want to watch nitrates.

One suggestion I have is to do a bit more with ferts. You say you use liquid ferts, but what type? With higher lighting and some CO2, you'll need to dose nitrates, phosphates, and possibly potassium sulfate (depending on your tapwater parameters), and definitely trace. If you're using Flourish Comprehensive, you're dosing trace, but not doing much for N, P, or K.

If what I'm talking about regarding fertilizers doesn't make much sense, there are a bunch of links for fertilizers. But, basically, it will probably be necessary to dose KNO3, KH2PO4, and possibly KSO4, as well as Trace.

On a down note, I'm not sure if the Nutrafin system will be enough for CO2. You might want to add Excel to the mix. Still, wait a few weeks and then decide.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-12-2012, 01:28 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the quick reply. I use Seachem Flourish, I add a capful once a week. I'm not too sure what a drop checker is or 4dKH so I'll do some research on that. As far as my water, I live in Edmonton and I've been told our tap water is hard but I have never tested it myself. I know Seachem has a packaged liquid fert deal that includes potassium, iron, and I think just flourish. Would that be something I should try in a couple weeks if I see no improvement? And do you think I should hold off on adding new plants for now?
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-12-2012, 02:13 AM
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Hi Meg from Calgary. You should consider adding Seachem iron into your tank every 2-3 days. Recommend to get an iron test kit to ensure you are not overdoing it. I use the Flourish product, Iron, Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus products (all made by Seachem) concurrently.. Fluval makes a C02 test device that you can put into your aquarium which is helpful for monitoring C02. I have an established aquarium that had very vigorous plant growth "initially" after just using iron and Flourish - but then my plant growth became stagnant. Like Kevmo stated, I began trialling the macro nutrients and things came around for me. I have yet to find a good "macronutrient" in Alberta petstores and have been buying the Seachem bottles of potassium, nitrogen and phosphate (unfortunately, they do not make a combo product that I am aware of except for the root tabs). Once you get the right combination - you should see signs of improvement within 7-10 days
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-22-2012, 02:19 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by GeminiRX View Post
Hi Meg from Calgary. You should consider adding Seachem iron into your tank every 2-3 days. Recommend to get an iron test kit to ensure you are not overdoing it. I use the Flourish product, Iron, Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus products (all made by Seachem) concurrently.. Fluval makes a C02 test device that you can put into your aquarium which is helpful for monitoring C02. I have an established aquarium that had very vigorous plant growth "initially" after just using iron and Flourish - but then my plant growth became stagnant. Like Kevmo stated, I began trialling the macro nutrients and things came around for me. I have yet to find a good "macronutrient" in Alberta petstores and have been buying the Seachem bottles of potassium, nitrogen and phosphate (unfortunately, they do not make a combo product that I am aware of except for the root tabs). Once you get the right combination - you should see signs of improvement within 7-10 days
Thanks for the reply, though I'm a bit late at replying, oops! By the way I'm from Edmonton, not Calgary, but close lol! So I'm going to be getting the seachem iron and an iron test kit this week for sure. I'll look for the CO2 test device by Fluval too. I need some help with the CO2 though, as the bubbles have stopped completely and the airline tubing is a milky white color. So could it just be clogged, or maybe its time for a new mixture of sugar/yeast/baking soda? While it was producing bubbles, it was only at the most 1 bubble every 10/15 seconds, how do I increase this?
Here are a couple pictures of the plants, I think the 2nd one is wisteria (?) and as you can see the leaves are kind of curled over and not healthy lookng. The 1st is of the Crypt and it looks alright except for a few leaves that are yellowing, and sometimes the leaves just fall off completely.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-22-2012, 05:15 AM
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You'll need some more in the way of nutrients. Plants can't make more cells if they don't have all the components they need. The curling leaves are a sign of deficiency.

You currently dose flourish, which is just micro nutrients. Plants need this is only very small quantities. (and they can't use it without macro nutrients, sooo..) You'll need some basic NPKs (aka macros). The cheapest way to do this is buy dry ferts from aquariumfertilizer.com or green leaf aquariums. Mix them in water (pmdd+P ratios on theplantedtank.co.uk are decent) and use that as a basic macro mix. Go from there.

You def. don't NEED the iron. I don't dose iron and my tanks are fine. Iron is another thing that plants need, but in even less quantities than micros. Usually people use a clay substrate, which tends to have sufficient levels of iron already. Besides, your plants can't really use it w/o adequate balance of actual necessary nutrients.

Once you have adequate nutrients in your water column, you'll start seeing growth within the week. (or at least I did)

A drop checker measures co2 in the water constantly. basically you put it in your tank, put an indicator solution (4dhk w/ bromo blue) and when enough co2 (really carbonic acid) is in your water, it'll turn from blue to green (or yellow if you have 'too' much)

good luck and sorry if i sound harsh!

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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-22-2012, 08:00 AM
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The plant is Water Wisteria aka Hygrophila difformis.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-23-2012, 04:00 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by aweeby View Post
You'll need some more in the way of nutrients. Plants can't make more cells if they don't have all the components they need. The curling leaves are a sign of deficiency.

You currently dose flourish, which is just micro nutrients. Plants need this is only very small quantities. (and they can't use it without macro nutrients, sooo..) You'll need some basic NPKs (aka macros). The cheapest way to do this is buy dry ferts from aquariumfertilizer.com or green leaf aquariums. Mix them in water (pmdd+P ratios on theplantedtank.co.uk are decent) and use that as a basic macro mix. Go from there.

You def. don't NEED the iron. I don't dose iron and my tanks are fine. Iron is another thing that plants need, but in even less quantities than micros. Usually people use a clay substrate, which tends to have sufficient levels of iron already. Besides, your plants can't really use it w/o adequate balance of actual necessary nutrients.

Once you have adequate nutrients in your water column, you'll start seeing growth within the week. (or at least I did)

A drop checker measures co2 in the water constantly. basically you put it in your tank, put an indicator solution (4dhk w/ bromo blue) and when enough co2 (really carbonic acid) is in your water, it'll turn from blue to green (or yellow if you have 'too' much)

good luck and sorry if i sound harsh!
Ha no no not too harsh, no worries. I do have a few questions if you don't mind answering them Is ordering dry ferts online the only way to go? I do live in Canada so I would have to look in to shipping (assuming webiste is US) and see how expensive that is going to be. I would prefer to support my local aquarium store, I don't believe they have dry ferts but I did see liquid fertilizers, do macro fertizliers come in liquid form? Are drop checkers sold in aquarium stores or do they have another purpose, and are there any that come with the indicator solution (I have no clue what 4dhk w/bromo blue means)? I've been reading articles about dosing ferts and stuff but my knowledge of chemistry is very very minimal, so I'm becoming pretty confused.
Also if anyone can answer my question about the Co2 stopping and how to get it to produce more bubbles that would be great too. Thanks OVT on the clarification of my plants.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-23-2012, 09:30 PM
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Spend less on the fancy test kits (most are garbage), and more on the macro nutients. You can successfully grow lower light plants with what you have, but will need to get the nutients and good CO2 souce to grow higher light/demand plants.

Go with dry ferts. A bag of each macro will last a year plus in you tank, and will be way cheaper than the liquid stuff in the store.

Keep doing research here. It will all come together as your trial and error piece together with all the information.

Good luck.

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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-24-2012, 03:28 AM Thread Starter
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Spend less on the fancy test kits (most are garbage), and more on the macro nutients. You can successfully grow lower light plants with what you have, but will need to get the nutients and good CO2 souce to grow higher light/demand plants.

Go with dry ferts. A bag of each macro will last a year plus in you tank, and will be way cheaper than the liquid stuff in the store.

Keep doing research here. It will all come together as your trial and error piece together with all the information.

Good luck.
Thanks for the reply. I was under the impression that what plants I have are low light plants and considering they aren't even doing well I'll be ordering the dry ferts and hopefully figuring out the CO2 setup I have, I'm planning on going back to the store I've been dealing with and asking them about the Co2 unit I bought, I need it explained better. Though if someone could help me with what ferts to order, do I have to buy a bag of each? Or can I go with the Macro Micro Nutrient Mix?
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-24-2012, 05:48 AM
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I've never used that particular mix, but I dose the same stuff individually. I get my ferts from that source as well. Good stuff. Research dosing styles based on what your set up is.

I have pressurized CO2, higher light and dose Estimative index. Works for me on my 90gal.

Continue your research and ask lots of questions.

Visit Barr Report http://www.barrreport.com/ for more Estimative index info.

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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-24-2012, 06:02 AM
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I can't comment on a lot of the CO2 equipment for smaller tanks. I've always used a sump and had reactors plumbed into my pump return line.

FYI- a drop checker is a little inverted glass bulb. It has a premixed water solution that is 4 degrees hardness (Carbonate-??? someone help me here). You add a few drops of pH checker solution to this water turning it blue. There is an air pocket separating the control solution and your tank water. Adding CO2 to the tank water wants to drop the pH of tank water, but buffers in the water can delay or alter it. The air pocket saturates with CO2 and the control solution, with blue pH solution, changes color as the saturation increases (which is dropping the pH). Knowing the exact hardness (4 degrees)of the solution allows a more approximate measure of CO2 in the tank water. Clear as mud????

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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-24-2012, 08:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevmo911 View Post
Give it another 2-3 weeks, then reassess. You could get a drop checker and 4dKH solution to check on your CO2 level. Since the tank is cycled, there's no need to test for much of anything unless you want to watch nitrates.

One suggestion I have is to do a bit more with ferts. You say you use liquid ferts, but what type? With higher lighting and some CO2, you'll need to dose nitrates, phosphates, and possibly potassium sulfate (depending on your tapwater parameters), and definitely trace. If you're using Flourish Comprehensive, you're dosing trace, but not doing much for N, P, or K.

If what I'm talking about regarding fertilizers doesn't make much sense, there are a bunch of links for fertilizers. But, basically, it will probably be necessary to dose KNO3, KH2PO4, and possibly KSO4, as well as Trace.

On a down note, I'm not sure if the Nutrafin system will be enough for CO2. You might want to add Excel to the mix. Still, wait a few weeks and then decide.

What Kevmo said is spot on. Your lacking in nutrients. If youd like to save some money and make it easy switch to dry ferts. There are several places to get your dry ferts. I bought mine from Bobs Tropical Plants. Get the startup kit. Its $20 bucks basically and has everything your going to need. Its the Plantx CSM+b and NPK. For what you have the CSM+B might have enough Iron in it. I would try dosing your tank according to EI dosing. ALSO get some good root tabs. I like to use the Osmocote plus root tabs. They are cheap and very complete. Also can be bought at Bobs plants or here in our Swap and shop. Your Crypts and any root feeder will like those below them in the substrate.

One of the other things I would agree with Kevmo is the Co2 kit you have may not be enough to make a impact. If your going to do a "DIY" type of Co2 and not true pressurized I would do it on a larger level that will make a difference on your tank. OR just bite the bullet and do Pressurized and it makes it even easier.

What is the light you have? you mentioned T5, But is it T5NO or HO or what? What is the bulbs in the fixture? are they plant rated spectrum's?

Having test kits isnt a bad thing. I would test for PH, Nitrates, Phos, and iron. You could test for Ammonia and Nitrite. But not normally a worry if your tank is cycled. As far as knowing water hardness and DKH you could easily call your local water and find out.

One last tip. Get more REAL plants and get the fake stuff out. Most people find that when they load the tank with more plants it does much better then if its got just a couple.

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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-24-2012, 06:53 PM
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Meg- I agree with 90% of what Aquaticfan said about CO2 and light, and the dry ferts. Still have to disagree on some of those test kits. Most of the ones people buy are garbage, and the accurate ones are too expensive. Been there; they are collecting dust.

If you dose EI, you don't need them.

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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 02-24-2012, 07:15 PM
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For all the test kits I use API liquid test kits. No they aren't high dollar kits but if you calibrate them you would be a lot more accurate with your water parms using them. But again calibration is the key thing.

And your correct. Dosing EI should make it so its not needed to test your water. At least so much.

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