Help with high tech planted tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-17-2015, 10:28 PM Thread Starter
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Help with high tech planted tank

Ive recently started a high tech planted aquarium and decided to go all in on it.

My stats are:
  • 29 gallon tank
  • Eco complete substrate
  • 4 T5HO 36" bulbs (Two white, One red, and One aquablue plus my LFS recommended)
  • 5lb CO2 tank
  • Apex controlled with lab grade ph probe
  • Neptune DOS for my fertilizer
  • Fluval 206 canister filter (only using sponges and ceramic rings for media)

I am using the SeaChem line of fertilizer for my tank, I mixed a stock solution of NPK for one of the dosing channels and my Micros + Iron for the other. My current mix is 3.8ml N, 7.6ml P and 10ml K for my Macro a week dosed evenly spread out with the dos and 5ml flourish, 21ml iron and 15 ml trace a week also dosed evenly through out the week by the dos thanks to the apex controller.

The lights run for 8 hours a day, and my ph indicator is almost always green (however my Milwaukee solenoid is having an issue where it keeps sticking open, I have it under 20lbs and it still sticks open, solenoid is only 3 months old) My PH floats between 6.6-7.0 and my temperature is steady around 78-80 (sometimes up to 82 when we have a real hot day).

However my dwarf baby tears are barely growing at all, some of the leaves are yellowing and my dwarf hair grass (has been in the tank about a month now) is showing almost no signs of development) I'm getting brown algae in my uptake tube for my canister filter and on some of the rocks.

I'm performing weekly 25% water changes and clean my canister of decaying plant material every 2-4 weeks.

At this point I have no idea what I'm doing wrong but any advice from the community would be great. I tried to be as thorough with my setup as possible but if I missed anything that would help let me know.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-18-2015, 01:01 PM
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Hi, what is your KH and do you use a drop checker? How are you diffusing CO2?


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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-18-2015, 04:41 PM Thread Starter
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Yes I have a drop checker. Its currently in the green. My PH is 6.6-6.8 and my kh is 4
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-18-2015, 07:29 PM
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How long has the tank been up and running?

The ph readings you listed are taken when? (is the co2 on or off; and if on how long after turning on?)

You talk about the color of the bulbs you're using. There is a lot more to plant growth than picking a nice colored bulb. You need the right wavelength (which is typically associated with red-pinkish hues). Chances are that blue light recommended by your LFS is doing absolutely nothing to help plant growth.

A drop checker being green doesnt really tell too much. What color is it when the co2 is off? Then how long after the co2 coming on does the color change?

dwarf baby tears can be tough. Especially in a tall tank like yours.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-19-2015, 01:19 AM
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I'm getting the impression that you are controlling CO2 via a pH probe? Please confirm.

You mentioned some leaves are turning yellow. Is it the new leaves or the older? Is the whole leaf yellowing or are the veins staying green?

The "brown algae" is probably diatoms and it's normal for a new tank.


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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-19-2015, 03:07 AM
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More info on the blue bulb might help to see if it's in a good spectrum.
Contrary to popular opinion on light color blue is a plant spectrum(410-455nm) and
from what I have read on here it is used by the plant in pigment production and
flowering. Thus it balances the red which is used for growth.
But I should first say that I haven't done high tech so my info is from what I've read
both directly about it and what solves problems people have/w it.
In other words wait till it's co-signed by others before you act on any of it.
Opinion: Your light is higher than your CO2 level can accommodate.
Before the CO2 comes on if you check it then and towards the end of the "on" period of it, you should get a one point drop. 7.5 to 6.5 for example. This indicates that maximum or very close to it has been absorbed by the water.
This is not consistent/w what you have reported in your tank. So I'm saying the light is too intense for that CO2 level and hindering growth.
I still find that four bulbs(depending on how good the reflectors are) for a tank 18" tall
is overkill. Scroll the page on this link. Check to see that you are using enough ferts.
http://www.fishfriend.com/fertfriend.html
Milwaukee regulators are not a preferred brand very much from what I read on here.
But you might try to increase the amount you are using till you get that point one drop
and see if that helps your problem. If you can't raise it some you may need to cut the light to balance the system.
So too much light/not enough CO2 and possibly not enough ferts.
Just a system that needs a little more time for you to tweek it better.

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-19-2015, 03:11 AM Thread Starter
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PH is controlled by the apex so the PH is taking with both co2 on and off, the apex keeps the water constantly between 6.6-6.8. tank has been running about a year. And its older leaves turning yellow. Whole leaves and now some tips of those yellowing leaves are browning. And some of my plants that seemed to be growing great this last year now are not growing at all anymore.

Bump: The bulbs are 2 6000k white light, 1 aquatic life roseate, and 1 ATI aquablie special all 39watt T5HO and I was under the impression that much light was almost required to grown baby tears at an 18" water depth.

Also if my kh is a constant 4 with a PH of 6.6-6.8 the ppm of co2 should remain almost a constant 25-30ppm.

So if its fertilizer how much and of what should I add to combat these problems
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-19-2015, 12:40 PM
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OK Now we are getting somewhere!

First, please read up on why the pH-KH-CO2 table isn't reliable in a planted aquarium setting. Controlling CO2 addition via pH monitoring will lead to issues, IME. It is much better to remove the controller and set your CO2 bubble rate by using a drop checker. Do you know how to do that? I don't think you have enough CO2 in the tank.

Second, the symptom you describe leads me to believe that you're dealing with a macro nutrient deficiency, most likely nitrogen. I'm not experienced with the Seachem line of fertilizers but I would suggest that you add a little more of the NPK solution with the objective of increasing the N and P. I would suggest adding a little manually every couple of days and monitor plants. Depending on growth, it may take a while to see if the symptoms continue.

Good luck and report back


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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 02:12 AM Thread Starter
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I do have a drop checker in the water and it is constantly green in color. So I upped the nutrients today. Hoping to see some results by morning.
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 02:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alphanomad117 View Post
I do have a drop checker in the water... I upped the nutrients today. Hoping to see some results by morning.
Was that the third or fourth time you said you had a drop checker?

You will not see results in the morning, no matter what you do. Patience is one of the hardest parts of this hobby, you gotta give and change a week before you can scrap it and try something else.

You're hairgrass and cuba, if its only ~1 month old and you bought it from a commercial supplier (as opposed from coming from another tank) would have been grown emersed, it will die back and regrow as it adjusts to a completely underwater environment. I agree you should have seen some new growth by now, ESPECIALLY in your hairgrass, but before you start messing with the chemistry... a LACK of growth is almost never solved by upping ferts if you're already dosing. If it was a macro/micro deficiency, you would see new growth that was off shape or color or too small, not non existent or just slow, and since you should expect old leaves to die off when these plants specifically move to a completely submerged environment that's not a positive sign of a nutrient deficiency.

before you start messing with your chemistry arbitrarily, Take a look at your water flow. relocate your probe or drop checker (at least temporarily) to your HC and make sure it is reading what the rest of your tank is. A dead spot in your water flow would fit your symptoms to a T. This may be as simple a fix as relocating your spray bar or diffusion method. Also, try moving your light to a more direct position over the foreground.

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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 12:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turbosaurus View Post
You will not see results in the morning, no matter what you do. Patience is one of the hardest parts of this hobby, you gotta give and change a week before you can scrap it and try something else.

You're hairgrass and cuba, if its only ~1 month old and you bought it from a commercial supplier (as opposed from coming from another tank) would have been grown emersed, it will die back and regrow as it adjusts to a completely underwater environment. I agree you should have seen some new growth by now, ESPECIALLY in your hairgrass, but before you start messing with the chemistry... a LACK of growth is almost never solved by upping ferts if you're already dosing. If it was a macro/micro deficiency, you would see new growth that was off shape or color or too small, not non existent or just slow, and since you should expect old leaves to die off when these plants specifically move to a completely submerged environment that's not a positive sign of a nutrient deficiency.

before you start messing with your chemistry arbitrarily, Take a look at your water flow. relocate your probe or drop checker (at least temporarily) to your HC and make sure it is reading what the rest of your tank is. A dead spot in your water flow would fit your symptoms to a T. This may be as simple a fix as relocating your spray bar or diffusion method. Also, try moving your light to a more direct position over the foreground.
I agree. It may be too early to try to spot nutrient deficiency and you should expect a die off as plants adjust to the submersed environment. You also want to make sure that you have good movement in the tank. These are very good points.

I usually put the drop checker down low in the tank corner where I think my flow may be the lowest so that I get a conservative reading. Do you have anything else besides the filter for water movement?

By the way, I didn't mean to cause you to mention your drop checker several times. I read it the first time. I was simply attempting to guide you away from controlling CO2 using exclusively the pH controller.


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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 04:57 PM
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In order for the PH controller to be set to deliver the proper amount of co2 you must know what the PH of the tank water is before the co2 is added. The only way to tell is to de-gas some tank water. You can do this a couple ways but the fastest way is to take a sample of tank water and run an airstone in it for half an hour or so. That will drive off any co2 in the water and then you can test for PH.

The reason this is important is because you want a 1.0 to 1.2 drop in PH from degassed water to gassed,(co2 added), water. In other words, If your tank has a PH of 7.2 when de-gassed and you set your PH controller to 6.8 then you only have a .4 drop and are way short of co2. The number your controller is set for is irrelevant unless you know where you started.

You may already have known this but it is far more important to the conversation to include the de-gassed PH since the PH you have set the controller to is useless information without it.
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-20-2015, 11:01 PM Thread Starter
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thank you keymastr that makes a little more sense the way you explained the PH drop. I'll definitely set some tank water aside and check it. As for flow here is a picture of my tank and how I have my flow set up.

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Most plants have a slight sway to them without the circulation pump, when I do turn it on my baby tears are almost sideways, fish don't seem to mind and it doesn't much affect the other plants but didn't know how much flow is to much. The fluval 206 I'm running is more than 10x water turnover rate. I do have a power head rated for 230gph as a opposed to the circulation pump picture above which is rated for 425gph.

All that aside upping my ferts has seemed to help. I'm seeing new offshoots from my hair grass and the tree branch looking plant is finally starting to grow new leaves.
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-21-2015, 02:40 PM
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There is a chart somewhere in this forum that shows the signs in plants and its corresponding deficiencies. If i find it, I will post it. But ya, its usually always lack of Nitrogen in my tank whenever there is yellowing. And you can see difference in 2 days when u add Nitrogen. It is the best to be proactive but I am a bit reactive to adding fertilizers. But in your case, it could still be acclimating. I have seen that in Micro Sword and hairgrass. They take forever to acclimate and usually kill the actuall plant. its always the new one that survives.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-22-2015, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alphanomad117 View Post
tank has been running about a year.
Just a thought. Are the bulbs a year old? In my tank, when the bulbs get about a year old, growth comes to a stop. Pop some new ones in and growth comes back.
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