Advice needed re: nutrients, et al. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-12-2004, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
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Advice needed re: nutrients, et al.

I need some help. Iím about as frustrated as Iíve ever been with my tank, mainly because Iím not getting the results I want even after a threw down a bunch of cash (a bunch for me at least) to upgrade the whole thing. Anyway, hereís the rundownÖ

About six weeks ago, I swapped my 29 gallon tankís low-grade filter and lighting for better stuff. I went from an AC 200 + AC Mini and 80 watts of NO light to an Eheim 2213 and 110 watts of 6700 K CF light (Iíve had pressurized CO2 going the whole time).

Under my old system, I didnít really fertilize at all (Flourish irregularly) and had good growth with everything suitable for moderate light. Now, Iím fertilizing regularly and Iíve got my CO2 turned up (about 25 ppm), but Iíve got more problems than before. I figured that good light + good CO2 + nutrients would make for a beautiful tank, but that ainít what I got.

Here are the parameters as of last night:
pH Ė 6.6
KH Ė 4
Nitrate Ė 3 ppm
Phosphate Ė 0.2 ppm
29 gallons, fluorite/sand substrate

Here are my problems:
*Junk in the water. Lots of debris iand what looks like dust in water Ė almost as if filter intake isnít working (output is good, though). This is probably another post altogether.

*Green dust. Less than 24 hours after I completed a 50% water change and scrubbed the glass clear, a green dust of algae started appearing on the glass at the front of the tank. The algae is normal (it used to need scrubbing every ten days to two weeks, and itís currently all over a few pieces of wood in the tank); the speed with which it appears isnít.

*Brown fuzz and dark edges on leaves. With most of my plants (wisteria, rotala indica, rotala magenta, a. reineckii, lysimachia, stargrass, micranthemum micranthemoides) I get good-great growth on new leaves at first, then everything older than a few days accumulates this brownish fuzz, then turns dark at the edges. After that, the oldest leaves start deteriorating. The rotala indica is worst overall (almost all tinged with brown), the oldest leaves of a. reineckii and stargrass are scraggliest (but they have nicest new leaves), and the Java fern isnít touched by it at all.

*Slow growth. With my old low-grade set-up, rotala indica would go absolutely crazy Ė Iíd have to trim pretty seriously every ten days or so. Now itís slower (though still the fastest grower Iíve got). In addition, hairgrass in that version of the tank spread very rapidly and thickly after a few weeks of acclimation. Now, my hairgrass is just sort of creeping along Ė more than a month has passed and itís just now starting to grow together. It also seems to be going through a bit of a second die-offÖ the first being the emersed growth blackening and falling away after a week or two. Again, Java fern seems to be the only plant doing well.

A few points to consider:
*I did tear down and re-set the tank at the beginning of June and the beginning of July (temporary housing), but saved almost 50% of the water, all of the substrate, and used the same filters to re-start both times. Didnít lose a single fish, so I figured there would be no problems with the plants.

*I removed a lot of hygro a few weeks ago (some stems were about 30 inches long). I left it in the tank while we were on vacation, then removed it before I really started my fertilizer regime. Could removing that much of it have off-set things that much?

*The tank is stocked with 3 zebra loaches, 5 emerald-eye rasboras, 1 SAE, and 4 otos.

*Fertilizing looks like this for me: Odd days I add nitrate (to 5-7 ppm), potassium (+7 ppm), phosphate (to 0.5 ppm, though I stopped this week because I thought my dust algae might be a direct result of too much phosphate), +2 ml Flourish, +2 ml Flourish Iron. Even days are just +2 ml each Flourish and Flourish iron. Water change every week to two weeks.

So, onto my questions:
1. Do the symptoms of my plants point to any specific lack of nutrients? I canít really imagine lack of light or CO2 are issues. Could I be adding too much of something?

2. If there is no conclusive diagnosis, what should I do next? I had thought about doing a big water change (50%+) this weekend and just not fertilizing for a month or so to see what results I get. Is this silly?

3. Should I just ride it out? Fertilize like Iíve been doing, maintenance like Iíve been doing, and assume everything will normalize in time?

Thatís about the size of it. Can anyone out there lend a brother some advice? Iíd appreciate it, thatís for sure (my plants would too, I'd wager).



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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-12-2004, 07:08 PM
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Well, I'm not sure what you meant by green dust. If it's green water, just stop fertilizing for a while.

I experienced the same thing before when I switched my light fixture. I didn't add the wattage but swapped from ODNO 6700K to PC 6500K. All my plants seemed to stop growing for a couple of weeks. Rotala and Ludwigia were the ones those got effected the most. All the old leaves from my ludwigia turned brown and black and fell off. After 2 weeks, they started to have a lot of healthy new growth. I didn't have algae problem in that tank though so I still fertilized as usual.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-12-2004, 08:44 PM
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Planted tanks are all about balance. Before, you had a nice low-tech planted tank that was in balance. Once you upgrade the tank it now out of balanced. The plants now have different requirements and they are not growing. I have read often, but not experienced myself, that plants donít like when you change lights. They get used to the light spectrum and intensity.
I would say that your tank now is a new setup and you should treat as so. Stop adding micro nutrients (Flourish) and increase the NO3 to 10 ppm and PO4 to 0.5 or 1.0 ppm. That is how I get rid of cloudy water and green algae film on the surface.

Once the tank is established and you see that some of plants are growing you can start adding micro nutrients slowly.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-13-2004, 12:14 AM
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The first thing I notice is that IMHO you are adding way too much Potassium. Stop the Potassium dosing. The KNO3 will provide more than enough Potassium.

Then I notice that you seem to be lacking traces. I suggest you pick up something like Plantex CSM and dose traces with that. And you can IMHO and my experience increase the amount of Flourish by a factor of at least 3. I dose around 10-12 ml of Flourish into my high light 29 gallon tank every week and sometimes more.
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