Stunted plant grown in a low-tech tank -- troubleshooting needed. (pics) - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-13-2008, 12:40 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Stunted plant grown in a low-tech tank -- troubleshooting needed. (pics)

The plants in my 48-gallon suck.

This is a 48-gallon tank with no CO2. Overhead are two 10,000 K compact fluorescent bulbs with 110 watts total, and the lights are on for about 13 hours a day. I have a Filstar XP2 filter with charcoal and foam and a bubbler going.

The plants were thriving when we first set up the tank a year and a half ago, but now they're hardly growing at all -- not even the water sprite.

I've tried dosing Flourish Excel and Flourish Potassium to no avail. I tried turning down the bubbler to reduce surface agitation but that simply made my plecos gulp air from the surface.

I've spend some time searching the forums, but I'm doubtful that the answer is to add CO2.

Any ideas?

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-13-2008, 12:48 AM
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it's a bit too much light. Cut back to 8 hours.
Well, since you need to perk up the plants, add NPK, micros, and CO2/excel CONSISTENTLY until they look better.

You might want to cut off the brown and dying leaves for new growth.


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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-13-2008, 05:22 AM Thread Starter
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Dosing? With a low-tech tank? Reeeally?
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-13-2008, 07:12 AM
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It sounds like your plants have used up their nutrient reserves. You are going to have to figure out a schedule for dosing NPK and traces that provides enough for the plants, but not so much as to build up over time to become detrimental.

I'm honestly surprised you don't have an algae farm burning that much light for that long.


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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-13-2008, 07:26 AM
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I agree, the lights have been on too long, and possibly a bit too much wattage for no co2 or Excel, your nutrients have probably been depleted. If you bump the nutrients and cut the light way back, you should be able to find a balance at some point where uptake won't be so fast to require constant ferts. I personally would dose Excel daily with that much light.

Your carbon is probably exhausted by now and only serving as bio-media at this point, but in the future I would avoid adding carbon to a low tech tank since you'd possibly be robbing the plants of nutrients.

You don't have to worry about surface agitation if you're not injecting CO2, you have nothing to lose and could even improve conditions by increasing circulation with an airstone or whatever else.

Don't doubt the CO2, there is a balance where light should be limited by your CO2 ppm, your light seems to be limited by nothing but an overworked timer (or would it be 'under'worked? ). That doesn't mean adding CO2 is your only solution, you can just cut light to meet the balance.

Put a root tab under that sword, if you haven't already.


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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-23-2010, 06:16 PM Thread Starter
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Followup: On a whim I bought a phosphate test kit and learned that the phosphate levels were through the roof -- so far above 10.0 ppm that the test tube color was black. I added some PhosZorb to my canister filter and behold! Plants are blooming again.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-23-2010, 10:29 PM
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That's odd, popular opinion would have me saying you're mistaken and that excess PO4 does not cause algae blooms let alone stunt plant growth. But I honestly don't know what a PO4 level over 10ppm would do to a tank. I guess if it's working. Just watch out now for a PO4 deficiency, because that can outright kill your plants for sure being that it's one of their basic necessities for photosynthesis to occur.


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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-23-2010, 10:32 PM Thread Starter
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There was no algae bloom, just a long year of plants doing poorly.

Yeah, I made sure that there's still a *little* phosphorous in the tank, and I still bury SeaChem root tabs every few months.
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