New tank...fertilizer questions and problems - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-22-2003, 04:33 PM Thread Starter
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Hello all,

My tank has been up and running for about 4 weeks now and I've encountered some problems with the plants and fertilization.

============

Some specs:

Tank specs: 20 gallon paludarium w/ ~10-12 gallons of water. Eco-complete substrate, PC lighting (65 watts), plenty of water circulation (estimate around 200 gph), filtration in sump (just some cotton batting). The tank is unheated (temp ~65-70 F).

Inhabitants: 4 white cloud minnows, 1 butterfly loach, 3 red cherry shrimp, 2 amano shrimp

Plants: hygro siamensis, hygro rosenvarg, hygro polysperma, bacoba carolinian, glosso, xmas moss, and ludwigia repens.

============

Currently, I have flourish potassium, flourish phosphosus, flourish excel, and flourish trace. I have been unable to find a suitable nitrate source locally, but I ordered flourish nitrogen online several days ago. I have attempted a yeast CO2 system, but it has failed due to a waterfall in the tank. I am currently modifying the system...so it might contribute a little bit once completed.

Most plants are healthy (except the glosso), but some sort of brown hair algae has smothered the moss and glosso. I pick it off with tweezers nearly every day, but it comes back quickly. A good amount of the moss is dead (from travel) and rotting--does this promote the algae growth around the dead plant material? I've tried to clean off the areas as best as possible, but I'm afraid of disturbing the new moss growth. Spot and brown algae have also flourished. The loach has kept the brown algae under control for the most part and the spot algae isn't much of a bother.

Anyway, my main question is this: how heavily should I fertilize this tank? As far as I know, most of the plants I have are fast growers. I haven't put any fertilizers in the substrate--should I? I have some Jobe's plant sticks on hand for my terrestrial plants. The glosso in particular isn't doing very well (I guess this should be expected considering the lack of proper fertilization and CO2 injection).

^iMp^
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-22-2003, 08:51 PM
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the only comment I can make is that I had an issue with black beard algae, but ONLY on my dwarf sag, and ONLY on the leaves that weren't healthy. All the new growth is BBA free...so you could be on the right track as far as damaged or dying areas of the moss being easily infested with the algae.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-22-2003, 08:59 PM
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If CO2 is the limiting factor, blindly adding fertilizer will worsen algae problems. First you should measure current levels of NO3, and perhaps PO4. Having those two in the correct range helps a lot. I read some good things about Flourish Excel, I hope this will assist you in getting rid of the algae. All in all, I would fertilize lightly, based on your measurements for NO3 and PO4, and be careful with Jobes. With exception of the Glosso, the plants you listed aren't heavy root feeders, so I don't think fertilizing the substrate would make it better, but due to the PO4 and Urea those sticks contain it could make it worse.
Oto's are excellent brown algae eaters, but I don't know how well they would do with temps below 70.


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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-23-2003, 12:01 AM
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IMO the only reason you are having this problem is that you rushed the fertilizing for such a new tank, especially with the cooler water temp's. Everyone seems to think that as soon as the plants hit the substrate and the lights come on that you need to start fert's.
Thats untrue.
This is the reason most "new tanks" see algae growth where as a tank that has been up and running for 6-8 months is "normally" algae free and "balanced". Its because in a new tank we are feeding plants that are just not ready to eat, but our nasty algae friends are always ready, willing and able too. :twisted:
All tanks start with some minimal algae growth, but how much and how long it stays is up to us and our fertilizing habits. If you think that more ferts makes the plants grow faster and stronger then you will have algae forever, if you regard fertilizers as a "treat" for your plants rather then necessity then you will get it balanced in no time.

In the first week or two of a new setup I do not add anything in the way of ferts, in the 3rd week IF I add anything its minimal (1/2 dose) and I normally wont start adding full doses until the plants look like they are begging for food which can take upwards of 4 weeks ! :shock:
I think that your cooler water temp's can effect that process even more.

Excess fertilizers in the water column grow algae and new tanks normally have lots of excess fertilizers in the water column because the plants havent settled in yet...

If I were you I would back way off on whatever you are dosing , do some testing and watch the plants to see what they need. Start dosing lightly again when the plants look hungry and the algae will disappear on its own in due time, most of it normally does when the tank becomes "balanced" and "mature"...
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-23-2003, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
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I haven't been fertilizing very heavily (about half to a quarter of the recommended dosages) because I don't yet have a nitrate source (besides the fish waste). The tank always measures around 0-5ppm nitrate (hard to tell with the color chart). The hygros are growing quite well, as is the moss (aside from the hair algae)...its just the glosso thats doing poorly.

So..think I should risk placing a single root tab near the glosso, or should I wait it out?
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-23-2003, 05:55 PM
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Since you are using Eco-complete which does have nutrients I would blame the insufficient CO2 supply for the Glosso failure. But you could try it... a single root tab (maybe you want to crack it into pieces, since Glosso spreads out so much... theoretically) shouldn't harm, and it will tell you if it is indeed lack of nutrients or not...
I have a fairly inert substrate in my 10 gal tank, and the Glosso turned white... so I cut up 4 F&P jobes sticks into 6 parts each, and stuck those 24 into the substrate in the Glosso area. Made a big difference! But there are no algae problems in that tank, so I wouldn't recommend that to you.


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