High tech with poor growth? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-14-2013, 03:26 PM Thread Starter
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High tech with poor growth?

Here is the run down,

-40 breeder
-paintball co2 with ceramic diffuser into a powerhead (does a great job)
-2X39w T5HO- one 6500 and 5000
-EI dosing, although on the lighter side of dosing
-Substrate is Floramax
-Medium fish load
-Plants are basic swords-crypts-wendti red-water sprite-java fern/moss-micro sword-and a few I don't know what they are.


The tank has bee up for about 6 months an I just added the new lights and co2 recently so I figured growth would almost double but I havent noticed an improvement. I'm scared of going nuts with the ferts in fear of algae and I don't have NPK testing equipment. Just looking for advice as what to do/try.

Last edited by mike-guy; 01-18-2014 at 11:39 PM. Reason: Inaccurate information
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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-14-2013, 05:41 PM
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How recently? Many plants will take a few weeks to respond to major changes. Some of the ones you listed can be particularly slow about it.

Do you have an idea how much CO2 is actually in the tank? I always recommend using a drop checker, with a 4dKH solution. Other methods of estimation are less accurate, especially bubble count. You probably have high light or near it, so try to maintain 30ppm. Increasing it a bit more may help if you start having problems with algae. But don't go overboard. Some try to cure any algae problem with CO2 alone, resulting in ridiculously high CO2 levels. It's a brute force approach, that when necessary usually indicates other problems that should be addressed instead.

As for your concerns about too much ferts causing algae, it's not as straightforward as that. In general, they do not. If you go waaay overboard, it can actually slow plant growth, and algae results. In some uncommon cases, trimming back some particular fert that wasn't at excessive levels may reduce algae, but that's so highly dependent on the particulars of the tank as a whole that there are no hard rules; and what works for one will not work for another.

You can get a pretty good idea what's going on, and soothe your fears, with just a nitrate test.

Shoot for 20ppm, though anywhere from 10-40ppm is acceptable. If you go outside that range, scale the entire EI recipe up or down as needed.

If at any point you find yourself about to scale it down past what (ignoring the nitrate test) you think should be normal for your tank setup, then you may have a large N/P contribution from fish food. Do not further reduce micros (CSM+B). Continue reducing N/P, but replace that (and any future) reduction in KNO3/KH2PO4 with an equal addition of K2SO4, so that the total measurement no longer drops.

If at any time you start seeing more green spot algae on the glass, but plant growth is otherwise good, bump up P gradually until it's under control. GSA is the natural phosphate test. If it doesn't respond well to extra P, then reduce lighting intensity and/or photoperiod.

Pretty easy, and requires a minimum of gizmos.
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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-15-2013, 09:36 PM Thread Starter
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About two weeks it has had the lights and co2. I realized that my photo period was only around 6hrs. Going to bump that to eight hours and also start dosing full EI amounts. My nitrates did look good around 20-30ppm.
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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-16-2013, 04:51 AM
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When in doubt, more water changes. Then look at CO2, adjust it VERY slowly and watch carefully.

Never rush on CO2 adjustments, this leads to dead fish for many folks who do not give it the respect.

2-3x a week till things improve for water changes.

Focus strongly on CO2, light/ferts are easy to be sure of.




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Tom Barr
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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-16-2013, 05:26 AM
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Can you post a few close up photos of your plants so we can see what you are talking about?
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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-16-2013, 02:29 PM Thread Starter
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If I do those frequent water changes what about fert schedule, any change? Also I have tried to bump the co2 enough to see the fish getting upset and I couldn't get it high enough so maybe its not as much as I thought. Going to order a cheapo ebay drop checker. Pictures are in the works. Thanks guys
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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-16-2013, 04:18 PM
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It takes several hours for fish to show CO2 effects (4-6 hours sometimes), so take it slow.

Every time you do a water change nutrients are removed, so try to maintain the same level of nutrients by adding them back.

Please post photos of your plants as well, general advice can only get you so far, but seeing photos of the plants (close up focused one) allows us to give you personalized advice which will help you a lot more.
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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-17-2013, 01:53 AM Thread Starter
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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-17-2013, 01:54 AM Thread Starter
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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-17-2013, 01:56 AM Thread Starter
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post #11 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-17-2013, 01:58 AM Thread Starter
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post #12 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-17-2013, 01:59 AM Thread Starter
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german ram photo bombing!
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post #13 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-17-2013, 03:28 AM
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Hmm. Definitely something going on here. Unfortunately crypts, java fern and moss aren't very good indicator plants at all. The sword however is.

Can you post another picture or two of the sword? Try get as good a focus as you can and be sure to get the picture with the discolored leaves in it.
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post #14 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-17-2013, 03:39 AM Thread Starter
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post #15 of 32 (permalink) Old 12-17-2013, 03:40 AM Thread Starter
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