Sudden Onset Dwarf Hairgrass Die-off - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-07-2012, 10:32 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Sudden Onset Dwarf Hairgrass Die-off

Hey guys, I went out of town Fri-Mon. When I left, my tank looked perfect. Everything was growing nicely, and all plants were deep green. While I was away, I asked my son to dose the tank and left him instructions. He's very responsible, so I know he dosed correctly. When I returned Monday morning, the dwarf hairgrass in the center of my tank was brown and some of the other hairgrass around the corners and front of the tank didn't look as vibrant. I was shocked that things could go south so quickly. About a week before I left, I added CO2. Everything seemed to be doing great with the CO2. The only thing different I did the day before leaving was install a ceramic disk nano diffuser that finally arrived. Before that, I was getting by with a piece of bamboo as an emergency diffuser. The nano ceramic disc may diffuse slightly more CO2 into the water, but I am still running it at the same 1 BPS.

I have a theory about what happened. Please let me know your thoughts. I did a water change just before leaving to reset the fertz in the water. When I did the water change, I turned down the filter flow to low to create less disturbance as the water level fell during the water change. I forgot to turn the flow back up before leaving. Do you think the lack of flow could have caused the die-off? Could it also be that the fertz that were added were concentrated toward the center, and with very little flow, they covered that area and burned the grass?

Here is everything I can think of to tell you:

Tank 6.6 Gallons (Petco)
Light: 1 T8 (medium to medium-high light in center due to shallow tank and substrate height). On 8 hrs per day with a mid-day siesta of a few hours
Fertilization: NPK even days, Flourish odd days, Osmocote under substrate
CO2: Pressurized, 1 BPS, on before lights-on, off before lights-off.
Water Params: Ammonia: 0 to .25 PPM, Nitrite: .5 PPM, Nitrate: 20 PPM, pH 6.6 while CO2 on, GH 30, KH 40, source is excellent well water
Substrate: Seachem Flourite supplemented with Osmocote underneath

No fauna.

Normally have mild surface agitation from HOB filter flow. This was greatly reduced while away due to lowering flow rate.

I also have some anubias nana 'petite' that appear to be yellowing at the tips.

Microswords and crypts appear to be unaffected. Look healthy.

Baby tears (not dwarf) appear to be basking in the CO2 glow. The tops are 50% larger than the bottoms. Look healthy.

Corrective measures up to this point:
50% water change
Dose NPK (1.2mL of each (Pfertz)
Cut dead and dying DHG down to substrate and remove trimmings.

Is there anything else I should do? Please help!

Salty


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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-08-2012, 03:52 AM Thread Starter
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Here are some before and after pics. The center area where the DHG died looks worse in person, as more bare substrate can be seen from above.

Before:


After:


Anyone? Opinions of what could have gone wrong? Can lack of flow cause this?

Salty


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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-08-2012, 05:40 PM
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I can't imagine that a lack of flow would cause that, and I haven't heard of fertilizers burning aquarium plants (other than when we squirt Excel directly onto a sensitive plant).

Yellowing tips on the anubias would usually indicate a nutrient deficiency. I don't think you'd see it appear so quickly. Is it possible that it had already begun, but it wasn't as noticeable until you really started looking for problems?

I've been hoping someone would reply to your thread because I've been curious as to what may have happened. In the meantime, maybe you can update us on whether the hairgrass has improved in the brown area or whether more of it has turned brown?

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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-09-2012, 03:31 AM Thread Starter
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Complexity,

Thank you for your input. When I saw the yellow tips on the anubias, the first thing I thought of was nitrogen deficiency, but I just don't see how that can be possible. I'm dosing 1.2mL of Nitrogen (Pfertz) every other day and that's the recommendation for a 10 gal tank, and mine is only 6 gallons with a light plant mass. The brown, dead hairgrass is even more of a mystery, because even if I dosed no fertz in the water column, they are planted in Flourite that has Osmocote buried underneath, so nutrients should be available to their roots.

The die-off literally seems to have happened overnight. It looked beautiful before I left. Just like the before pic. That was taken two Saturdays ago.

It appears to me more hairgrass is dying now on the left and right sides of the aquarium where the light is lowest. I keep a daily log of water parameters, and nothing is out of the ordinary. No more DHG appears to be dying in the center since trimming out the dead blades.

The only thing that has changed is the introduction of CO2 and the very low flow rate I forgot to turn back up. I wonder if the low flow rate caused a surface film that reduced oxygen levels too much.

Salty


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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-09-2012, 12:44 PM
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Parts per million or degrees hardness?

One is unbelievably hard, one is super-soft.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SaltyNC View Post
GH 30, KH 40


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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-09-2012, 06:48 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by somewhatshocked View Post
Parts per million or degrees hardness?

One is unbelievably hard, one is super-soft.
Somewhatshocked,

It's PPM. My plan is to stock Borarus brigittae and their natural habitat is acidic, tannin-stained, soft water. I'm not adding tannins, but thought I would try to match the rest as best I could. I have a small amount of peat (very tiny amount) under my substrate, and the rest just worked out naturally from my well water. Actually, I'm somewhat surprised, because I never thought of our water as being soft. I would have assumed it had more hardness just from the feel of it...squeaky clean after showers, etc. instead of that slick feeling one gets in soft water.

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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-09-2012, 09:36 PM
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Your GH is roughly 1.67 and your KH is 2.23.

Boraras brigittae can live in a hardness of 10 in complete comfort.

You're also going to have to up that GH a bit (to at least 5, in my opinion) in order to have better success with your plants, I think.


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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-09-2012, 10:00 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhatshocked View Post
Your GH is roughly 1.67 and your KH is 2.23.

Boraras brigittae can live in a hardness of 10 in complete comfort.

You're also going to have to up that GH a bit (to at least 5, in my opinion) in order to have better success with your plants, I think.
Would you recommend raising KH as well, or leave it where it is since my pH is 6.6 with CO2 running?

Is epson salt the preferred method to raise GH only?

Thanks!

Salty


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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-10-2012, 01:19 PM
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As long as you aren't keeping sensitive shrimp, your KH looks perfect to me. pH sounds great, too.

There are several products you can use to raise your GH. Using Epsom Salt and Baking Soda can increase TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) like crazy, though. Any idea what your TDS is?

Three great products for consideration, in no particular order:

Kent R/O Right
Mosura Mineral Plus Ultra
Shirakura CA+

Sure, they're all for remineralizing RO/DI water, but you'd just use a small amount of them to get your water where you want it.


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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-10-2012, 02:59 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhatshocked View Post
There are several products you can use to raise your GH. Using Epsom Salt and Baking Soda can increase TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) like crazy, though. Any idea what your TDS is?

Three great products for consideration, in no particular order:

Kent R/O Right
Mosura Mineral Plus Ultra
Shirakura CA+
I don't have a TDS tester, so I have no idea. There is a full service LFS near my office. I'll pick up one of the products, above.

Thank you for your help, Somewhatshocked!

Salty


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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-10-2012, 05:15 PM
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Sure thing. And keep in mind there are several remineralization products on the market. And it may be cheaper for you to order them.

If you end up buying a TDS meter, you can pick them up on eBay for about $10 shipped.


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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-10-2012, 06:56 PM
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Maybe reduce the ferts either by schedule or reduction in pumps. I had a plant that melted a majority of its leaves but once I stopped fertilizing it bounced back!
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-11-2012, 05:15 AM Thread Starter
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If you end up buying a TDS meter, you can pick them up on eBay for about $10 shipped.
Funny you should mention that. I found one this morning for ~$8 shipped. I also picked up a .1 gram scale for less than $20. I tried making up some 4 dKH water for a drop checker, but my camping scale couldn't accurately nail a single gram of baking soda. I was trying to make a 40 dKH solution and dilute it 10:1.

You know, it wouldn't surprise me if aquarium keepers are on watch lists. We're ordering grow lights, potassium nitrate, regulators, needle valves, gram scales, etc. We probably look like drug dealers or bomb builders from our online buying activity.


Quote:
Originally Posted by djdan724 View Post
Maybe reduce the ferts either by schedule or reduction in pumps. I had a plant that melted a majority of its leaves but once I stopped fertilizing it bounced back!
I've been measuring my nitrates, and they have been OK, but I might try reducing the fertz. It all seems to coincide with the intro of CO2 and low flow, though. I had been dosing fertz before adding CO2 and everything looked healthy.

I just added an oto to clean up some algae, and I'll soon be adding more fish, so I will definitely cut back then. Thanks for your input.

Salty


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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-11-2012, 01:34 PM
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You probably shouldn't be adding any sort of live critter until you have the ammonia and nitrites tackled. Otos are especially sensitive.

Adding livestock is also a bad idea since you plan to adjust your water parameters significantly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SaltyNC View Post
I just added an oto to clean up some algae, and I'll soon be adding more fish, so I will definitely cut back then. Thanks for your input.


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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 08-12-2012, 02:25 AM Thread Starter
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Things are already starting to improve in the tank since the flow was returned to normal in the tank. The hairgrass is recovering and growing quickly, now. The ammonia and nitrites are always zeroing out within 12 hours of adding excess ammonia or fertz. I've performed a 50% water change, and I'm cutting my dosage of fertz to half to keep my nitrates lower now that I have fish in the tank.

I'll increase the GH very slowly since the otos are in the tank. They appear to be doing great and have a much improved appearance than when they were living in the pet store aquarium They were pale. Now they are rich brown with dark black banding and eating well.

Here is a shot of the tank from earlier today. The mid-ground hairgrass is looking better and you can see one oto happily eating algae in the bottom right corner. The HG appears smaller, but it actually grew nearly to the surface, so I trimmed it and replanted more behind the rocks where it can't be seen, yet.

Thanks for all of the suggestions. I think I'm out of the woods and back to normal...fairly quickly, too. Woohoo!

This image looks a little more yellow than the images first posted, but it's actually just exposed more than the first images.The hairgrass hasn't yellowed up significantly.

Salty


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Last edited by SaltyNC; 08-12-2012 at 02:27 AM. Reason: Additional info
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