Advice needed! High Co2, EI dosing, and plants turning brown - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
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Advice needed! High Co2, EI dosing, and plants turning brown

Hi planted tankers,

My plants are turning brown and I haven't been able to figure out why. Any thoughts would be appreciated! I'm talking about Java ferns, dwarf sagittaria, and hygrophila here (this is everything that's in the tank).

I've had the tank for several years, and the plants always grew well enough, but I've always had big BBA issues. 6months ago I turned up the CO2 more, as well as doing a one-off overdose of excel. The excel did a great job of killing the algae, and for a while I had a beautiful, algae free, healthy looking planted tank). but perhaps after 2 weeks or so the plants began to die off. Was a slow process that spread throughout the tank over several months, but now every corner of the tank has plants with brown, mushy leaves. The sagittaria do put out new leaves, but they don't put out runners. And many of the leaves are stilll brown. The Java ferns put out new leaves, but these invariably get brown blotches on them that spread to turn the whole leaf into mush. The hygro sometimes grow ok (mainly in the parts of the tank with less water flow), but many plants eventually get the same 'turn to mush' problem on their stems, old leaves, and new leaves. The BBA is back with a vengeance.

I initially thought I'd overdone it on the excel, but the fact that the problem has persisted for so long, and that new plants get mushy too, makes me think it's something else. Like turning up the CO2 has made the plants grow faster and exposed a deficiency somewhere.

CO2 is high enough, I think - kh/ph charts suggest it's well above 30ppm, and fish begin to breathe heavily when I put it any higher.
I dose KNO3, KH2PO4, and trace elements according to the guidelines here
http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...ing-guide.html
So think these nutrients are ok. Although I'm not sure about my trace element mix - bought from a hydroponics shop, called 'aquatic chelated trace elements mix', and label says 'Contains all trace elements: Iron, Manganese, Boron, Copper, Zinc, Molbdenum,'..I've always assumed this would be sufficient for the trace elements part of EI dosing, but perhaps not...

Other parameters - KH is zero out of the tap, but I add baking soda to keep it at 2. GH is also zero, and I don't do anything about this.

I recently doubled my doses of all nutrients, in case for some reason the EI doses weren't high enough. However, I fgured that if this was the problem, upping the doses still would not help my mushy plants for some time. so, I bought some new Java ferns, put them in the tank, and hoped that they would grow beautifully and be mush free forever. No such luck! within 4 days of putting them in the tank they have started turning to mush too.

So, I'm now at a bit of a loss about what to do next. My thoughts are that either one of two things has happened:
1. Plants have caught a mush-causing disease, which is contagious. This causes my old plants to go brown regardless of anything else I do, and spreads quickly to new plants. But does this kind of thing ever happen?
2. Upping my CO2 has made my plants try to go faster and exposed some nutrient deficiency. Maybe the trace elements mix isn't good enough? Or maybe I need to do something about low KH/low GH?

And a related question - given that I'm still growing BBA like crazy, do I need to put my CO2 up even higher? (I've heard that BBA is a sign of insufficient CO2, but perhaps it takes high CO2 *and* healthy plants to get rid of BBA).

Thanks for reading right through this looong post! Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I'm at a loss here.

Cheers,

Jay
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-05-2015, 11:23 PM
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Do they have directions on your exotic brand of Trace ? Point being, how do you know
what to dose of it so it will be equal to the CSM+B ?
But before I'd change that I'd add a GH booster.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ad.php?t=21944

I'd like to know how tall the tank is and exactly what light is on there and for how
long. You left out a factor of the BBA. Not just CO2 isn't high enough...
The CO2 isn't high enough for the amount of light.
I actually wouldn't do anything/w this provided the light is close to appropriate, for
the first two months till you get better growth from the plants.
And btw plant damage does not "repair" so look for the new growth to see that it's
getting better for the plants to grow in your tank.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-06-2015, 03:13 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Raymond. Will track down some Epsom salts and CaCl to get the GH up. Any thoughts on how long it is likely to take before the plants start to respond - i.e. hopefully this fixes the problem, but if not, at what point should I conclude that I need to move onto something else? I'm interested to hear you say wait 2months for the BBA to respond, and wondering if plants will take that long too.

As for lighting, it's ~2wpg. 24 x 12 x 12 tank and two standard 18W tubes.

Cheers

Jay
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-06-2015, 04:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by souffle View Post
Thanks Raymond. Will track down some Epsom salts and CaCl to get the GH up. Any thoughts on how long it is likely to take before the plants start to respond - i.e. hopefully this fixes the problem, but if not, at what point should I conclude that I need to move onto something else? I'm interested to hear you say wait 2months for the BBA to respond, and wondering if plants will take that long too.

As for lighting, it's ~2wpg. 24 x 12 x 12 tank and two standard 18W tubes.

Cheers

Jay
I assume those two 18 watt tubes, are T8 fluorescent tubes? If so, you probably have high light, since the tank is only 12 inches high. The best way to adjust the CO2 bubble rate is first to make sure your tank water is well oxygenated so the fish can tolerate CO2 as well as possible. Then, increase the CO2 bubble rate slightly, and wait a few days, while carefully observing the fish to make sure they are not over stressed by the CO2. Look for some improvement in the plants. If you get some, repeat this. Keep repeating it until either the fish show too much sign of being over stressed by the CO2, or until you no longer see improvement in the plants. You can't measure the CO2 in the water with any accuracy, so you need to go by what the plants tell you.

Hoppy
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-06-2015, 06:25 AM
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I had 2 T8 bulbs in my 10g tank/w the same height and had 1" growth out of Pearl Weed
per week at that time without CO2 or Excel. Slower growing plants couldn't survive the GSA it gave the tank. About four days it took to see any on the glass after I'd scrape it.
But using the suggestions of people like Hoppy who have the injected CO2 will help you
to get to as high as it's needed in there. If you don't have it that way now you might consider using a split photo period. It is said to help/w algae. In that tank I mentioned
what I did was to put one of the bulbs on a separate timer and only use 3 hrs on it.
The main bulb is on for 9 hrs/w a 2 hrs break in the middle. Then 20 min after it comes back on the second bulb kicks in for 3 hrs.
Your tank may be able to use that much light after the CO2 is adjusted better. But that
level of it without the CO2 being maxed out is the main reason for the BBA along/w the
poor growth in the plants. It shouldn't take 60 days for the plants to respond, just that
they are starting over more or less and the growth will not be spectacular right off.
Between the adjustment in CO2 and adding the GH you should see multiple new sprouts coming in off the old plants though in the second week.
Normally CaSO4 is used/w MGSO4 @ 4/1 ratio for the GH booster and sites which sell
any GH booster seem to add another ingredient such as K2SO4 along/w it for some reason. In Australia they often use this for the CaSO4...http://www.chemspider.com/Chemical-Structure.23237.html
It disolves better than CaSO4 does.

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-06-2015, 10:32 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. To be honest I think my CO2 is already maxed out... Have gone through the process of incremental increases + watching fish til they start gasping several times now over the past few months, and the level I have it at is the most I can get without stressing the fish. Having said that its only ever been the cardinals that show any increase in breathing rate, so maybe some fish are just less tolerant than others. I will try hoppy's suggestion of greater oxygenation though - filter outflow is already causing a little rippling on the surface but have bought a powerhead today to get the water moving even more.

On that note, I'm still not sure if the BBA a sign of low CO2 per se, or rather a sign of suboptimal plant growth. Ie is the reason that high CO2 kills BBA simply that it allows the plants to grow fast enough to outcompete the algae? If so then the BBA in my tank is not necessarily a sign of low CO2... Because the plants will not be able to outcompete the BBA regardless of CO2 levels until I sort out my GH/trace elements (assuming that's the problem).

Will also try the split photo period if the other methods don't work, thanks Raymond. Had never considered 2wg as 'high light', but I didn't factor in that the tank is only a foot tall!
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 08-06-2015, 04:09 PM
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Don't judge the fish's ability to tolerate CO2 by their gasping. Instead watch for them forming a group at the surface, usually in a corner, seemingly gasping air. At that CO2 concentration you definitely need to reduce it a bit. And, watch for other species that tend to just lay on the bottom when the CO2 gets too high. Plus, some fish also lose their color when distressed by high CO2. When I first started with CO2 I was reacting to the fish gasping while swimming, and was afraid to increase the bubble rate any more. Later, when I started using a drop checker, I found that I had very little CO2 in the water, not nearly enough to bother the fish. The drop checker gave me the courage to increase the CO2 bubble rate enough to get a significant amount of CO2 in the water. It is true that a drop checker isn't a way to accurately measure the CO2. But, it is also true that it can help you greatly in getting in the ballpark where CO2 is at least approaching the optimum concentration. Once you find out the approximate bubble rate that works best for your tank a drop checker is useless, but it is very useful before that.

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