What am I doing wrong? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-29-2008, 07:49 PM Thread Starter
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What am I doing wrong?

I've been running my planted tank for a little more than a year now and I have not gotten the results that I was hoping for. Therefore, I turn to you folks for some advice.

I have a number of sword plants, crypts, and stem plants. Everything in the tank gets covered with brown spot algae (diatoms?), including the leaves of all the plants. The stems grow quickly, but the lower leaves tend to die off, and the tops are clearly the healthy part of the growth. Every foreground plant that I've tried (downoi, blyxa) has just melted or otherwise failed to take hold. I have some dwarf hairgrass that seems to be just barely hanging in there, is not spreading, and is slowly turning brown.

Here are my stats:
• 90 gallon tank
• Eco-Complete substrate
• 4x65 watts compact fluorescent running 8 hours a day
• 2x Filstar XP3
• Pressurized CO2
• Dosing EI:
(S-T-Th) 3/4 tsp. KNO3, 1/4 tsp. K2SO4, 1/4 tsp. KH2PO4
(M-W-F) 1/2 tsp Plantex CSM+B,
(Sat) 50% water change

Test results at the end of the EI dosing week (just before water change):
• pH = 6.5
• KH = 3.5
• GH = 6.5
• Drop Checker = dark green
• Nitrate = off chart
• Phosphate = off chart
• Iron = barely registering

So, what am I doing wrong?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-29-2008, 08:02 PM
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It must be your lighting, a 90G is deep. What brand light fixture do you have? What kind of reflectors?
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-29-2008, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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I have a Coralife Aqualight power compact with 4 65 watt bulbs. It's funny you say the lighting is the problem... the last time I posted about my issues (nearly a year ago) and suggested that lighting seemed like the problem, I got laughed at for suggesting I would need more than 260w for 90 gallons.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-29-2008, 09:10 PM
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More CO2 and more current. Are you relying on just the XP3s to move water?

edit: What are you using to diffuse your CO2?
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-29-2008, 09:56 PM
Many plants...little time
 
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I'd also suggest getting your phosphates under control. "off the Charts" is too high in my book. I keep mine around 3 ppm
And I'd also try to keep your Nitrates around 10ppm...
at least that is what I do...


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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-30-2008, 01:14 AM
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Sounds like your macros are totally out of wack. Also, are you getting any indirect lighting (especially sunlight) on this tank?





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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-30-2008, 01:14 PM Thread Starter
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t0p_sh0tta: CO2 is diffused via an inline reactor. Yes, I'm relying on the XP3s to create current. Do you think that's not enough?

Coltonorr & lauraleellbp: I agree the macros seem out of whack, but that just may be the time of the week that I tested (right before water change). With EI, your ferts are supposed to build up, right? Anyway, I will definitely test again in the middle of the week and see what's going on there.

And no, there is no sunlight on this tank since it's away from any windows and I keep mine covered most of the time anyway. So unless room lighting counts, then no.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-30-2008, 02:16 PM
Many plants...little time
 
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jgolieb,
I think you want your ferts to build up but not to such "off the chart" amounts. I would want to know how much ferts my plants are taking up.
For example...I mix in dry KNO3 in a 400ml bottle. I dose 8 ml every other day. Before I dose my Nitrates are at about 5ppm (a little low in my book)...after I dose they go up to about 10-12ppm. I try to keep them around 10ppm. I know my plants are taking up nitrates...but with such high levels...you don't really have any idea.
basically what I am saying is the more you have a handle on what your plants are doing...the easier it is to fine tune your dosing to meet the needs of your plants instead of just dumping ferts in your tank.


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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-01-2008, 03:31 PM Thread Starter
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Good advice for sure. I tested again after water change and before adding any ferts and my levels of nitrate and phosphate were still very high. I tested some tap water as a control and found more reasonable levels, so it seems that my plants are just not taking up what I am putting in the tank. I'm going to hold off on any more dosing until I change enough water to get the levels back down to something measurable.

That being said, why would my plants not be taking up much ferts? If there's enough CO2, as there seems to be, then the limiting factors would seem to be lighting even though I would think that my lighting would be sufficient. Anyone have a different take on this?
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-01-2008, 04:49 PM
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Perhaps you don't have much plant mass, or fast enough growth for the plants to need all the nutrients you're feeding them. You said the lower leaves on the stem plants die; that's usually an indication that they're not getting enough light. How much plant mass do you have in there? A lot of us have our tanks more or less stuffed.


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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-01-2008, 05:42 PM
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I think you are over dosing phosphates, and the nitrates need to be reduced a lot nearer the 15 - 40 PPM range at least. Lots of water changes to reduce the Nitrate level, and time to try less lighting especially if there is a window nearby.

Get a UV set up to kill the algae spores, and make sure the current in the tank has no dead spots. It doesn't have to be fast current, just all over the tank evenly. Gentle cleaning algae off of plants before each water change helps
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