a mess of a tank... - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-31-2008, 03:28 AM Thread Starter
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a mess of a tank...

ug nothing is going right with this set up but here's what is is...can someone please tell me what's wrong??

55 gal acylic aquarium
fluval 305 with ceramic rings and filter floss
eco-complete
co2 - running for a few weeks then co2 tank mysteriously leaked dry and the $85 diffuser i had shattered
no ferts currently
192 watts 6 hours/day - few more watts than i'd like but i reduced the number of hours it's on to hopefully fix that

ph = 7.0
ammonia = 0.00 ppm
nitrate = 0.00 ppm
nitrite = 0.05 ppm
i do 50% water changes weekly

my tank is just not doing well and i've spend a fortune on it. the entire tank is covered in brown algae despite my cleaning it off everything i can weekly. i try to add more plants to out-compete the algae but as the weeks go by i keep pruning off the dead leaves and it's looking pretty thin again. the plants i do have have holes in their leaves and are not growing at all. please help...i'm ready to drain it.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-31-2008, 03:39 AM
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I have read that interrupting the light during the day for like an hour or so will stunt the algae growth. The plants can start and stop photosynthesis pretty quickly according my my Planted Encyclopedia book, but I am by far an expert.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-31-2008, 03:40 AM
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I'm far from an expert, but it sounds like too much lighting, to have no fertilization. I run only 130 watts on my 55 for 8 hours with co2 and I do half EI dosing. More than that and I get algae and less than that and my plants suffer and turn yellow. I would try ferts or cut the lighting. If the tank is newly set-up I think the brown algae might be diatoms which are seem to be normal on new tanks and go away eventually. Took a few months for me to achieve the right balance in my tank to get rid of the algae.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-31-2008, 04:08 AM
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I'm just a baby in all of this, but when I asked elsewhere about the holes in the leaves in my plants, I was told this was due to a deficiency of potassium. Seachem makes a bottle of just potassium for this very reason. Supposedly, potassium and iron are the two elements that are missing the most. An iron deficiency is pretty easy to spot as you'd have yellow (or lighter green) leaves with dark green veins. I'm familiar with that in regular gardening, but haven't seen it yet in aquatic gardening.

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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-31-2008, 04:55 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coley24 View Post
ug nothing is going right with this set up but here's what is is...can someone please tell me what's wrong??

55 gal acylic aquarium
fluval 305 with ceramic rings and filter floss
eco-complete
co2 - running for a few weeks then co2 tank mysteriously leaked dry and the $85 diffuser i had shattered
no ferts currently
192 watts 6 hours/day - few more watts than i'd like but i reduced the number of hours it's on to hopefully fix that

ph = 7.0
ammonia = 0.00 ppm
nitrate = 0.00 ppm
nitrite = 0.05 ppm
i do 50% water changes weekly

my tank is just not doing well and i've spend a fortune on it. the entire tank is covered in brown algae despite my cleaning it off everything i can weekly. i try to add more plants to out-compete the algae but as the weeks go by i keep pruning off the dead leaves and it's looking pretty thin again. the plants i do have have holes in their leaves and are not growing at all. please help...i'm ready to drain it.
Well there are so many issues here I dont know what you expect... so I’ll try to point out what I can:

You say your co2 leaked and then your diffuser shattered. Did you have an EOTD? You didnt mention if its fixed? With your lighting you need good CO2 at 30PPM. And you need to make sure your measuring the CO2 reliably... you didnt say anything about that... do you use a drop checker with 4*KH fluid?

Next would be ferts. Even a heavily stocked tank needs ferts typically if its high light. Plants need NPK + micros and traces. Unless your going low-tech dont rely on fish waste or substrate for ferts. You've indicated you have 0 nitrate. This shows you have insufficient ferts, nitrate is one of the macro nutrients. Most try to keep them around 10-20ppm typically.

Next is light. 192W is going to be in the high light range. Light drives everything. If you can't maintain everything with the current light level you may want to reduce it. Take bulbs out if possible or else raise them and perhaps add some scratched up plexiglass to cover the tank to reduce the light. Some have mentioned the split photo-period but until I see some better evidence this actually works I call it BS. If anything algae is more opportunistic than plants are when it comes to light.
So you need to decide were you want to go... low tech or high tech. Your lights and co2 would allow you to go high tech but it will be more difficult and you need to get your fertilizers in order to do so. There is a lot less margin for error with high tech.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-31-2008, 11:37 AM
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Sounds like your tank has not fully cycled. You have nitrite, but not nitrate? Nitrite is toxic to fish. You want both ammonia and nitrite to be at 0. If things are all cycled and ready, these won't rise again. Ammonia and nitrite should not be a maintenance issue in a planted tank, once they reach 0, they should not come up again unless you have a mini cycle, or you're overstocking.

Please describe your CO2 setup. Since your diffuser just shattered, you are not getting CO2 into your tank at this point. Might I suggest that you try running a reactor in-line? Try here for DIY instructions or to buy one: http://rexgrigg.com/diy-reactor.htm

It is important that you get CO2 back up soon. As mentioned above, 192 watts is a lot of light not to have CO2. You should also begin a fertilizing regimen. Algae is not caused by fertilizers being present, it occurs when there are nutrients that cannot be used. Plants require light, CO2, macronutrients, and micronutrients. Light drives everything, as stated above. The next most commonly lacked thing is CO2. If you don't have enough CO2, plants cannot use the other nutrients. Once you have enough CO2, you must have enough of each macronutrient (NPK, nitrogen, phosphates, and potassium). Think of these as plant food. Finally, there are micronutrients. Think of these as plant vitamins. All are necessary for healthy plants. If you run out of, say, nitrates (nitrogen), your plants will not be able to use the other nutrients. However, algae CAN use those nutrients, hence the problems occuring.

Finally, how long have you had this setup? If you have brown algae, it sounds like you have diatoms. This is common in newer tanks. You might want to get some otocinclus catfish. What other fish do you have in the tank right now?

I recommend taking a minute to read these 2 excellent guides:
http://rexgrigg.com/index.html
http://www.barrreport.com/you-new-aq...ts-start-here/

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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-31-2008, 02:38 PM Thread Starter
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thanks, i appreciate all the replies. the tank has been set up for about a year now and fully cycled; i'd say at this point is isn't diatoms but i could be mistaken. i do have a drop checker in the tank to check co2 levels but i'm afraid i didn't get he most accurate one.
i did try an in-line co2 reactor and even built one about 2 months ago. i had A LOT of trouble running it in-line with my filter and the tubing so i decided to just scrap it and get a least a diffuser running in there. i still have to replace it and get the tank re-filled so i will work on that.
it seems like most of the problem is just ferts. i have some but i just haven't been dosing. will adding more plants help with the algae? i would say my tank could be considered underplanted...mostly because all growth has stopped and pruning the dead leaves has left it kind of bare.

thanks again for the replies
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-31-2008, 03:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coley24 View Post
will adding more plants help with the algae? i would say my tank could be considered underplanted...mostly because all growth has stopped and pruning the dead leaves has left it kind of bare.

thanks again for the replies

It isn't as simple as adding plants to "out compete" algae. It sounds like there are a lot of different things that you need to tweak to get things right.

Your CO2 injection would be one thing that will probably have the biggest impact on algae growth. You need to determine if your CO2 levels are at optimal levels.

What is your photoperiod? 192W sounds like a high amount. With this much light, you will definately need good CO2 levels and regular fertilization such as the EI (Estimative Index) method. You will also need to keep the tank clean and perform weekly 50% water changes. You are running a high tech setup and it requires more maintenance to keep things looking good and clean.

If you are truely at 0 ppm nitrates on a planted tank, this is not a good thing. Your plants require nitrate for fertilization. Once again, this falls back on a fertilization routine such as EI.

High tech is a matter of acheiving balance. It is more difficult, but the outcome can be very rewarding.

I love my DIY PVC reactor and the results I have acheived with it. It sounds to me that you didn't have it totally setup properly. Might want to review this item as it could make a bigger difference if done properly.

If this were my setup, this is probably what I would do:
  • Give the tank a good vacuuming and clean up as much algae as possible.
  • If the filter hasn't been cleaned out, clean it. Make sure not to disturb the media that is used for your biological filter too much. I generally leave this completely alone if possible.
  • Look into the EI method of fertilization.
  • Drop the photoperiod down to 7 or 8 hours.
  • Verify CO2 levels, and adjust accordingly.
  • Add more plants. (Not so much to outcompete as much as to absorb the ferts that you would add.)
  • Tweak things here and there to compensate growth and algae issues.

One thing I forgot to mention: I don't like to suggest livestock to help with algae problems. If you do have diatoms though, Ottos love it. Ottos would make short work of diatoms and they are one of my favorite fishes. I am not suggesting this as a fix as I think your issues are a little bit bigger than just buying more fish. They would lend a helping hand to the alagae problems though. Might want to get things under control first and then give them some consideration.

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Last edited by BiscuitSlayer; 01-31-2008 at 03:04 PM. Reason: Left one thing out...
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-01-2008, 10:24 PM Thread Starter
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thanks for the reply. i currently do 50% water changes weekly and i cleaned out the filter last week to add some filter floss. my photoperiod is only 6 hours a day to compensate a little for the high wattage. i built the reactor correctly, but the rigid hosing of my filter makes it very difficult to attach it to a hose barb at the top of the reactor. replacing the rigid tubing with another hose didn't work either as the filter return and intake did not fit on the same hose. seems like i just need to get the co2 system up and running again and dose some ferts.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-02-2008, 04:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coley24 View Post
thanks for the reply. i currently do 50% water changes weekly and i cleaned out the filter last week to add some filter floss. my photoperiod is only 6 hours a day to compensate a little for the high wattage. i built the reactor correctly, but the rigid hosing of my filter makes it very difficult to attach it to a hose barb at the top of the reactor. replacing the rigid tubing with another hose didn't work either as the filter return and intake did not fit on the same hose. seems like i just need to get the co2 system up and running again and dose some ferts.
i agree i think dosing your ferts, and getting c02 running would be a good idea. drop checkers nice too :-) got mine last week from Blacksunshine on here $10 shipped and comes with solution might want to check him out see if hes got any for sale

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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-02-2008, 04:12 AM
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How do you have 0.05 Nitrite and 0.0 Nitrate? Is the tank not cycled?

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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-04-2008, 08:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coley24 View Post
thanks for the reply. i currently do 50% water changes weekly and i cleaned out the filter last week to add some filter floss. my photoperiod is only 6 hours a day to compensate a little for the high wattage. i built the reactor correctly, but the rigid hosing of my filter makes it very difficult to attach it to a hose barb at the top of the reactor. replacing the rigid tubing with another hose didn't work either as the filter return and intake did not fit on the same hose. seems like i just need to get the co2 system up and running again and dose some ferts.
Did you use 90 degree hose barbs or the streight hose barbs? The 90 degree barbs make a world of difference. I couldn't find them at the big home improvement stores, but I did find them at Ace Hardware.

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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-04-2008, 02:51 PM
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I had brown algae in my 90G cichlid tank. I cut the lighting down and added 3 bristlenose plecos and it was gone in 2 days. That tank is not planted. My suggestion would be a pleco and reduced lighting. Also, get your CO2 running again, that will help your plants out perform the algae.

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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-04-2008, 04:57 PM
 
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Hiya


Theres not much i can add ontop of whats been said here...

A couple of thoughts though....

More light = More margin for error. Yes it means fast growth when things are right, but when things go wrong they also go wrong fast.

can you cut back on your light a little while you stabilize things?

Given your situation with regards to CO2 I would consider using Excel. Plants need the carbon, but theres the added bonus with Excel that dosing at higher levels (2 to 3 times recommended dose) may help clear up your algae problems.

Id also consider adding a nice broad range fertilizer. I use flourish and have had reasonable results with it so far.

Do you have any livestock in there? you don't mention any... At the very least you need something to put some load on the tank, keep the bacteria and the nitrogen cycle running and produce a supply of nitrates for the plants.

I agree that Otto's would be good to clear up the algae, BUT Otto's can be tricky to get "established" in a tank with unexplained deaths not uncommon. i would suggest maybe something hardly like some common plecs and some SAE's initially.

If not then definitely you should be adding some "food" for the bacteria and some nitrates for the plants.

Don't tear it down.

My 75G was in as bad a state as you describe. It took me looking after all the parameters one by one to get things right. Patience and attention to detail will pay off.

good luck

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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-04-2008, 05:21 PM
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way too much light...i only have 30 watts over my 55 and my plants are thriving...

G-mont all the way!

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