Advice on my planted 75 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 06-21-2014, 07:06 PM Thread Starter
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Advice on my planted 75

Okay so, i'm one of those guys that tries to do everything on my own to fix an issue before crying for help so, i've done everything I can think of to improve the overal health and conditions within my planted 75 community and i'm still not sure i'm getting the right readings on some of the tests. Here goes with the crying!

Tank was started back in Oct, cycled with a few comets for over a month, thought it was looking pretty good with the parameters and started adding fish here and there. Not a bunch at a time but, a couple here and there, I think I added 7 of the 10 neons all at one time but, thought they were so small it wouldn't really harm anything.

Temp stays around 76-78 deg

My parameters are as follows: (API strips)
Before Water change today
PH - 7.5
NO2 - 0.5
NO3 - 40
KH - 180
GH - 180

PH - is between 7-7.5
N02 - 0,5ppm
NO3 - 20ppm
KH - reads 180
GH - is up at 180

Now with that in mind, I stopped at the LFS and picked up a set of API test strips (5 pack) yesterday. Today, I tested before, after and then a couple hours after my weekly 50% water change to see what the difference was as opposed to my master test kit that I've had for the last few years. Lot #'s indicate that the chem's are from 2010-11 time frame. From some accidental research I see that they only last a couple to few years at best (news to me).

This was my readings from last weeks water changes with the Master kit.

PH - 7.6
Am - <0.25ppm
NO2 - < 5.0ppm
NO3 - )<0.25ppm

Here is after water change today with the master kit

PH - PH - 7.6
AM - <25ppm
NO2 - <5.0ppm
NO3 - <0.25ppm

I'm concerned that my chem bottles from the master kit have expired and are no longer giving reliable results since my No2/NO3 are both saying 0ppm and have been for a while, that's why I started questioning the validity. I see people talking about parameters going up and down from time to time and I wasn't seeing that at all. Just flat readings on the NO2/3 and the ph never really changes at all and ammonia levels are pretty flat too

I have never really tested the KH and GH until today so, not sure if those numbers are high or what? I know I have hard water, I have tested the tap water just with my master kit in the past and the ph always seemed to stay the same no matter from the tap to tank so i'm wondering if i'm missing something or Just way off base with what i'm doing here. I have been meaning to take a sample of my tap and tank waters down to my lfs to see if they can get a good base reading to go by but, just haven't remembered to take a sample with me since I normally stop by while i'm on my way home from work.

Flora/fauna and equipment:

I have a bunch of am swords that aren't terribly green. I haven't pruned but once since they were purchase from wherever I got them from. they are continually growing (albeit slow) new stems but, the larger/taller leaves do have some algae on them that the mollies are coninually munching on. Some moss that seems to grow no matter the water conditions, I have algae but, it's more of the diatom's and green spot algae (that shows up on the glass from time to time) and some purple colored algae on the few rocks that are in the tank, a small piece of driftwood and that's about it.

Lighting is a single 48" T8 6500k daylight bulb in one hood and another hood that has 2 32w and a 13 w cfl also @ 6500k all directly on top of the tank. I have the option to add another 36" T8 bulb too. I feel, this is a big part of my sticking point, i'm running low-medium lighting and not running the right C02 setup so the balance is off.

Subsrtate is sand only.

Dose twice a week with flourish, and excel using prime for conditioning during water changes (excel is for trying to get rid of the purple algae on the rocks and black algae on the swords (along with the mollies help).

Currently running a diy co2 set-up 2 2liter bottles and a powerhead reactor to get more water contact time (reactor is a diy bottle with an air stone at the end inserted into the bottle with the bottle mouth over the end of a powerhead and filter media at the bottom of the bottle. This is what I have until I can afford to pick up a good system. Probably sometime later this year.

10 neons
3 black skirt tetras
3 rasbora het's
3 austrailian rainbows
3 mollies
4 ghost shrimp
few tiny snails

a few of the fish are from a previous tank but, most have been added between Oct and a month or so ago...

Filtration has been recently swapped from a SunSun canister filter to a Aquaclear 110 that I picked up for 10 bucks a month ago. I added some used media from the can filter from before to help get the new filter up and running.

300w heater

A aquaclear 402 powerhead with a pre-filter to keep the water moving around the tank.

The fauna seem to be happy and always ready to eat, teaming at the front of the tank during thier am feeding, some of the skirts even play keep away (looks like they're carrying a plate in their mouth and another grabs it and swims off) with the algae wafers I throw in here and there. I do a random fast day once a week at least to help with the waste but, i'm still struggling with the parameters and the health of the plants. I also notice that the fish are all breathing pretty hard after a water change too, not like they normally should be.

okay, deep breath...

Some guidance would be appreciated...


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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 06-27-2014, 12:44 AM Thread Starter
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Wow, out of 73 views, not one bit of advice, wisdom, or anything?!? Guess i'm on my own...

Thanks for the help people...
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 06-27-2014, 01:25 AM
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I'll see if I can help. First bit of advice keep the post short and simple, people get overwhelmed with the amount of reading/info, you'll get more answers with short and simple. As far as the strip test, they are garbage, the chemicals bleed on each other, I don't trust them. The master kit how is more accurate but not perfect, I suggest calibrating the nitrate test The master testing result suggest you are going through a cycle, ammonia and nitrite should be zero at all times. I see your dosing micro fert's but not macro's that could be a problem for your plants and would explain the .25ppm nitrate, your plants are sucking up the no3 faster then your fish can make it. Also diy co2 on a big 75 gallon tank is probably very inconsistent leading to algae take over.

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 06-27-2014, 02:28 AM
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Breathe in, breathe out

I know that things can be frustrating but no need to criticize the forum community for not responding. Plenty of people could have read your thread and not known what to say. For one thing you haven't clearly defined what the problem is you are trying to fix. Also photos of your plants significantly help diagnose problems. Otherwise people are just speculating.

Some observations...
-Ammonia is way too high for an established aquarium. Your Nitrite is too high as well. Both these numbers should be reading zero. Possible causes could be overfeeding, overstocking, or poor water quality. Based on your stock list though it isn't overstocking. Maybe overfeeding and not doing enough water changes?
-Swords rely heavily on root feeding and you said yourself that you have inert sand. I would suggest root tabs for the swords. Comprehensive is only good for providing micronutrients. Green spot algae often appears when there is a lack of phosphates. Your Nitrates however are bottoming out and should be in the 20ppm range.
-It is difficult to get enough CO2 from DIY on small aquariums, but especially difficult on a tank your size. Ive heard of people doing DIY on a 75 but they were using 4+ 2L bottles. DIY CO2 is also renowned for causing fluctuating levels of CO2, which is a likely source of your algae troubles.
-Your light levels are hard to determine based on the mixed types of bulbs you are using, but it seems like you could be low to low-medium

Honestly outside of the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate, it seems like you are on the right track for maintaining a low light set up. The lack of nutrients and unbalanced CO2 seems to be the likely cause of your algae troubles. I'd suggest going with daily excel in addition to rigging up additional DIY bottles.

side note: as for you gh/kh, I'm assuming those values are ppm. They don't seem unreasonable with your ph being 7.6. While it is hard, you're fish can acclimate.

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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 06-27-2014, 04:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Vincebus View Post

PH - 7.6
Am - <0.25ppm
NO2 - < 5.0ppm
NO3 - )<0.25ppm

Here is after water change today with the master kit

PH - PH - 7.6
AM - <25ppm
NO2 - <5.0ppm
NO3 - <0.25ppm
I'm with everyone else, you just provide too much writing without specifics. I will however note that in these two examples you have your values incorrrect. It is very unlikely that your NITRITE (NO2) is ~5ppm, I think you have your symbols reversed. NITRATE is NO3.

Anyway, the parameter that tends to shift is NITRATES and pH. Nitrates will fluctuate based upon how much food and fish load you have versus how much nitrate is being consumed by the plants. If the tank is heavily planted, you will need to add nitrates so the levels do not bottom out. If the plants cannot consume the amount of nitrates produced, then they will steadily climb until you do water changes (assuming your water has low levels of nitrates).

PH can fluctuate based upon the time of day due to varying levels of CO2 in the water. The more CO2, the lower the pH. Inversely, the less CO2, the higher the pH.

Your levels of ammonia and NITRITE should always read zero. That's what it means to have a cycled tank. Your beneficial bacteria should be able to handle all the ammonia and NITRITE.

Do yourself a favor and throw out your old API tests, return the dip sticks if you can (or else, sorry to say, you wasted your money and you should throw them out). Buy a new test kit for ammonia and NITRITE. I don't know why people sweat testing NITRATE so much. If you want to test, then you need to calibrate your test kit or else assume its only giving you a ball park range. pH is nice to know roughly as it provides an understanding for what species of fish to keep, but I would argue you don't need to worry about your exact pH so much. Again, get a ball park range of your water and then call it good.

Overall, start enjoying the hobby and stop stressing so much. I fear you may over complicate things for yourself.

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