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Wow, and before I know it, it's been a year. Where do I start. I think right around after the previous post, things took a gradual downturn. Somewhat so slow that before I realized it, I lost my erio rats and crypt flamingos around February. That was my wakeup call. I realized something was seriously wrong with the tank and I had no idea what. I tried to backtrack and I couldn't seem to reverse the damage. I had random stunting all over the place and I just couldn't place my finger on the solution. Tried going back in my own journal here and couldn't seem to catch a break either. Finally, after another 4 months of traveling fruitless paths, I felt like I needed some quiet time to think and analyze things. I started to collate another journal of sorts outside of this thread and finally, was able to keep going further and further back to reverse things I did. I happened upon a change I did a whole HALF YEAR prior that ended up to be the key to the whole thing.

I present to you, the "other journal" in all its glory. A year's worth of updates in one post! A year's worth of babbling and insight into one crazed mind. Obviously, I don't expect everyone to pore through it in its entirety, so feel free to jump to after the quoted section for the conclusion.

201901 for 2:1 thoughts
From natemcnutty post, burr suggested 2:1 ca to mg while lowering k a little. Nate's tank was lacking in mg and his ludwigia was suffering. I wonder if I had a similar issue. Before it died, it was stunting badly and I do tend to od k in previously possibly misdiagnosing pinholes in leaves?
( 2019-02-07 there's a lot of talk of K antagonizing the other macros -- mulders chart. )

Burr Micros 2019-06 mix - lower Fe
experimenting with cutting in half in 2019-10 so I can do a daily dose more properly.
I think I'm having calcium shortages . Crypts are having problems and I read somewhere that it may be calcium. Interestingly, this is also what I adjusted -- see below -- in 2019-01 and the crypts started declining.
using 3 teaspoons of each calcium AND magnesium
2019-10-01: from mg's journal, a nugget of burr's dosing
18/5/21 NPK week, .3-.5 Fe/micros per week. High Mg, 10-20 in the water column. 2-3:1 Ca:Mg. 60-70% water change per week.
2019-11-15: trying no additional potassium!
lost erio rat and flamingoes. trying to reinspect co2 flow
Not too sure about the gh boosting and calcium now. Lost the last bit of the crypt flamingos and the prized erio rat. IT almost feels as if my macros are being challenged. perhaps too much calcium or the other suspicion is mg overdose -- recalculated for 2:1 calcium to magnesium ratio using teaspoons.

seems to be slightly better but still not right. reinspecting the journal and seeing a correlation from 2019-06 mix and declining plant health. The cutting in half may have affected boron to deficiency levels. correct this when making a new batch of micros. Maybe doubledose for now to use up the leftover .

Based on entry above, reverting to burr's 2018 stronger fe version to reset and perhaps more fitting due to haphazard almost 2 day skipping dosings anyway. Perhaps that shot of fe at .2 helps more than a continous .1 if things are looking for something above .1 to break through whatever antagnonistic things are at play ... ought to resolve the boron issue too.

2020-04 --- 2020-05 recommitting to better, more frequent, trimming practices and finally really cleaning out the mulm from the soil. trying to keep a cleaner tank, also due to a new fluval gravel siphon trying to not let things get overgrown

2020-05-21 -- added osmocote

Been trying to recover to dosing the original mixes of macros and micros that did real well in early 2019. Pogostemon Stellatus seems to be doing the greatest here. Hydro japan not bad. Golden lloydelia doing good. Rotala sunset and rotala macrandra does great when it gets closer to the top. red ammania doing the worst--after a period of great growth, it's just now stunting like crazy. rotala ramosior fl had a spurt of goodness and then went away. I'm coming to accept that it's my 1 month water change situation, but I need to find a way to compensate for this. I'm not sure I want to commit to more frequent water changes than this due to .. complications. Re-read Vin Kutty's thread about rotalas and family. (see ferts note for link) The conclusion was "Lots of nutrients in the substrate with nothing in the water column is the easiest method" . Well, I can't really go with nothing in the water column because I think a nutrient rich column is whats helping the stellatus, lloydelia, and even crypts do better. So, I suspect maybe the osmocote balls ran out. Dennis says "insert osmocote balls into my aquasoil substrate selectively every month or so for certain plants that I want to grow faster. " Have to start logging when I put the osmo balls in. added another round of osmocote balls -- about 10 each area -- under the rotala ramosior and red ammania. Lets see what happens. Will try to maintain 1 month water change period.

2020-05-31 -- added more osmocote; did not do front load of macros for this water change to see if I can go lean -- if indeed I can do the lean(er) water column with more nutrients in the soil

On water change, I did some small rescaping as I pulled up some macrandra and rotala sunset by accident. Since they were up, I decided to add a bit of osmocote into the soil below them before putting them back in. What I did notice was that the roots looked pretty weak. Going back to the last macro mix in the end of 2019, I think I decided to drop potassium in case they "antagonize" the micros. Reading a few links online about terrestrial plants, I did come across a couple that mentioned that potassium was necessary for healthy root growth: . I do wonder about this. Should I replace the potassium into the macro mix? Or should I see what the osmocote does? Or should I do both? Forget about antagonizing micros if the plants aren't even growing. or is it the other way around? are the stronger micros so abundant that its actually affecting the potassium?? Lets see what the osmocote does for the next two weeks.

2020-06-02 -- really revisiting the idea of increasing the potassium.

Took a look at Dennis' APT-X levels
5ml per 25G sort of kinda close to my 5ml to 20G
N - P - K Iron Mg
6 - 2.8 - 16 .12 1.6

Current dosing is only

N - P - K
4.8 - 3.6 - 4.5

No matter how its looked at.. potassium is pretty lacking.

2020-06-06 -- alright, adding potassium it is.
things are better, but that red ammania. Why wait for the next two weeks. It's been a week and it feels like it's "trying," but just not there yet.
made up a separate solution of potassium @1.2ppm/dose (3.6 weekly) to combine with the existing macros to bring the potassium levels to 8.1ppm weekly. (see musings in ferts note)
Will just add the 3.6 right now WITHOUT the other macros for this week to see what happens. Suspect there's still a lot of N from the previous pre water change dosing, so still in the theme of trying to go lean EXCEPT for potassium.

Another epiphany while analyzing the changes over time:
4.8 - 3.6 - 9.3 up to 20190207
4.8 - 3.6 - 6.9 up to 20191115
4.8 - 3.6 - 4.5 up to 20200606
I wonder if this is what really killed the erio rat. The timing is really suspicious. The erio rat declined almost exactly during this period of decreases. It was purchased in 201910, potassium dosing went down in 201911 and it died in 202002. bad roots due to lack of potassium? ludwigia white AND the flamingos too! mid 2019 was the last time when they did 'good' ...

2020-06-08 - settled on new schedule, "lean(er)" macros is 20ppm to emulate Dennis' APT Complete philosophy: balance without starvation

Did some more comparison's between APT complete and what I'm putting in and realized he's roughly aiming at 20ppm accumulation of N. That about matches up with my formulations but I need to cut down to 2 doses of macros only before a water change to stay at this level.

Inspired by Dennis' APT dosing, let's go with .. micros on even days 0-2-4-6 Su-Tu-Tr-Sa
macros .. at some point in the week based on last water change. just not over 2 doses before a water change.

Also, these plants are brutally honest (or correlation), the frogbit instantly is growing better roots. for a while now I've wondered why their roots were not as robust as before but since shorter roots looked a bit better in the tank, I've ignored it. to the detriment of everything else!
I think the red ammania is responding to recent changes. suddenly made shoots after a while of just not doing 'anything'

2020-06-13 - trimming, things seem to be continuing to improve.

added a few more osmocote balls here and there. Red ammania is starting to find its stride. fingers crossed. suddenly the hydrocotyle japan is not doing well. what now. so puzzling. too lean macros? too much iron still? both? as too much iron is antagonizing everything else that it antagonizes? let's wait until after this week to change the micros as a blast of nitrates may be due. Front loaded the NPK mix at 3.2/2.4/6.6 (10ml old mix; 15ml new Kmix)

2020-06-18,20 - trimming, continued observation, hydrocotyle japan continued decline

Red ammania is on the borderline of doing okay. Other plants seem a little erratic but mostly okay. I think at this time I'll attribute it to leaner N in the water column and erratic nutrient levels in the soil. This has got me really considering replacing or adding soil. The soil is tired. 10 years already? There's only so much adding osmocote can do I suppose. Probably do it in sections as I trim. Sort of simulate MG's cups a little.

Blast of nitrate on 6/13 seemed not to have done anything for the hydrocotyle leaves that just practically disintegrated and I'm left with vines only. Also took the chance to clean out on old piece of wood and re-tie the hydrocotyle back on with thread. I am still debating on lack of macros but more leaning on the iron problem as it is way over what most recipes have so I've decided to not be stubborn about it. And I believe the decline in the hydrocotyle started after we went back to the high FE micro mix. As they are competing problems, I chose to continue the lean nitrate path since that was the purpose of the decision one month ago to follow "Lots of nutrients in the substrate with nothing in the water column is the easiest method" So, doubled down on more osmocote balls. Slipped some more in here and there underneath stems as they got trimmed and replanted. Give all this stuff some more time to play out.

Equally or more importantly, the ramosior FL is growing slowly but steadily. Stupid snail ate up a lot of it, but it's tolerating whatever we're doing.

Remixed current batch to have half the iron ppm dose by cutting the batch in half (250ml) and adding back a new batch of 250ml micro mix with everything at the appropriate amounts for 250ml EXCEPT iron. So juuusst in case it could also be a nitrate limiting problem, and since my nitrate test kit is shot right now, I have no way of knowing at the moment and it's good training to force me to just watch the plants, I added NPK 1.6/1.2/4.5 macros on the 20th to see if it helps anything. Was supposed to just add only potassium to continue to lower the nitrate levels, but the hydrocotyle worries me.

Monthly water changes also makes it harder to "correct" dosing errors so, mulling returning to 2 week water changes, but there needs to be some rethinking of the water change method. Ordered some shower head fittings, clear hose, a valve to see if direct dump from tap (python style) will encourage me to return to that.

2020-06-27,30 - trimming, stunting

did a trim but did not add more osmocote. mainly because the plants with osmocote have somewhat stopped responding. they can't have lost effectiveness this fast already can it? saw green dust algae on the pogostemon stellatus leaves. too much of some macro?

well, things are stunting. red ammania, rotala macrandra, hydrocotyle. but the glass is clean. lean nitrate dosing at work I suppose? hummmm.. the conundrum. micro dosing has been consistent on the lower iron batch and today, I gave a shot of 3.6ppm potassium. Maybe the nitrates are at the level I want? If potassium alone can improve things, then we may be on to something.

was going to water change but there are other more pressing things.

2020-07-03 - water change

potassium did not do much, only one stem of macrandra responded. and that was even after I added 5ml of macro this morning.
Finally got around to a water change in the evening and something just dawned upon me... EI dosing for magnesium is supposed to be at least 5ppm Mg dosed 2-4x weekly !! My dose is 7.5ppm. In a long month of no water change, I wonder if these ran out... especially magnesium. Kind of forgot that I only dose these during water changes. Even APT complete includes 1.6ppm Mg per week. I wonder about calcium though... Even if magnesium isn't consumed, it gets antagonized by all that additional potassium perhaps. So as I'm adding potassium, I'm exacerbating the magnesium problem -- or calcium. Perhaps its really time to give up this monthly water change cycle and at least go back to 2 weeks.

2020-07-11 - rescape, added landen aquasoil to sections

after the previous water change, I went back to dosing macros on odd days and micros on even days. most things seem to be on the upswing. floaters are starting to get wild again, hydrocotyle japan seems to be holding onto their leaves, rotala macrandra is looking a little fatter. red ammania still is not responding. So, I decided to add new aquasoil to it to see if it helps. Redid the sections for the rotala macrandra and the red ammanias. Cupped out a "ditch" worth of old aquasoil and poured in the new, trimmed, replanted. Dosing to stay on earlier even/micro ; odd/macro.

2020-07-18 - generally pleased, but with trepidation

I'm seeing mostly good signs but seemingly 'one' rotala macrandra stunted and one pogostemon stellatus stunted. Yet, hydrocotyle japan and rest of macrandras are doing nice. monte carlo seems to have recovered it's robust spreading ways. I can't help but to think that I somehow went too low on the nitrates again during the last "nutrient cleansing." but ... as we're onto the second week of dosing accumulation, red ammania has all but stopped growing. DESPITE the fresh aquasoil it is sitting in. humm... too much nitrates again? can't be. lack of magnesium and calcium already? Well, when in doubt, change more water right? Alas, life delays it again.

2020-07-22 - water change

new hose is okay. helps a little not having to lug a barrel on wheels across the whole house. water from tap definitely is very fast compared to my old system. -- but now I have to deal with a 50ft, having a tendancy to kink, hose that needs to dry out lest it gets moldy. Glad I do this tracking now, I forgot to add calcium and magnesium! This new system doesn't have the barrel that reminds me to do it mentally. Still adapting.

2020-07-24 - some thoughts from random readings

Burr mentioned in plantedtank thread about his water having too much calcium and forcing him to dose heavier to compensate. Dennis doesn't dose any calcium and assumes whats in tap is 'usually' enough. .. But he DOES dose a little bit of magnesium. 1.6ppm worth over the week. Should I cut down on the calcium? Maybe there's some serious accumulation over the years. Maybe something has changed in tap. The woes of not running RO. I don't want to believe my eyes but it looks like things did look a little better for the day that I "forgot" to dose my calcium and magnesium. As I'm bringing down the doses of macro from EI levels, I probably shouldn't maintain EI levels of calcium and magnesium dosing.... hummm...

further reading in this
and another thread
reminds that ratios between K, Ca, Mg are important:
Burr's historical and current: 25K ~40Ca 20Mg (he claimed 40 from tap and he maintains that when his Mg and K is close, it works better)

DeanNa reported: 30K 20Ca 10Mg (he claims that higher K and Ca works well for him)

Is this the missing puzzle? From a purely 16K dosing standpoint, my dosing of 15Ca and 7.5Mg should be okay... but what comes in the water? Also, if I don't frontload, I start out with a little less than 3K -- which has to contend with 15Ca and 7.5Mg
Expired GH test. I swear. again, years of not testing has resulted in a lack of tests that have me banging my head against the wall. Why do I resist testing or buying tests? This is a weird idiosyncracy. (15 minutes later) .. there, problem solved. Orders for Ca, GH, Nitrate tests done.

okok. since I'm following mostly Dennis' stuff, lets drop out the Ca dosing and just trickle in some Mg.
To reach your target of 1.6ppm Mg you will need to add 1.23 grams (equivalent to 1/8 tsp + 1/16 tsp + 1/32 tsp + 1/64 tsp ) MgSO4.7H2O to your 20gal aquarium. That's a pain. I'm okay with 1.42 grams @ 1/4 tsp for 1.66ppm

If this works, this will be full circle, almost. I started with 1/4 tsp, but probably with Ca+Mg mixed. Ca+Mg dosing was upped in 201803 to 1 tsp per 10 gallons to improve plant health. That was mixed 3:1, but even then, my dosing as close as I can determine from old notes was 4.8 - 3.6 - 9.3 weekly that amassed to 9.6 - 7.2 - 18.6 which is what I'm sort of back to..........

ALSO! rescaped right side sections to make way for new erio rats and trithuria blood vomit. scooped out old aquasoil, put in some reclaimed aquasoil along with new landen in the back right and moved the monte carlo there. cleared out the right front and put in new landen all the way for the new plants. what a dust mess. will need water change.

2020-07-26 - water change

got a chance to change the water. only dosed 1/4tsp Mg as mentioned in previous update along with front load 2 doses of macros. did seem to notice that red ammania gave signs of life since the last two days.. fresh landen giving off ammonia? response from last water change and addition of fresh calcium/magnesium? reduction of nitrates? Guess we'll see in the next two days as we're rolling with new theory.

2020-07-28 - observations

I can't believe sometimes when things are working, how fast they grow. so, after half a year and a look at some of those old pics in january, I think this all rolled downhill when I cut the potassium in november. This may have been the biggest mistake! Since then, I've been lowering, upping, adjusting all sorts of stuff, but never getting something balanced again until these last two days. And I can't believe I never noticed the potassium issue. Lets see if the improvement persists. The growth of some stuff I had in the tank last winter was just amazing compared to what I have now. looking at it ratio wise it may all still be off though. If I dose properly, I am at 9.6 - 7.2 - 16.2 but only dosing 1.6ppm Mg. Guess I'll figure out what to truly dose when I get my tests in and figure out whats in my water.

DaveKS inspires me to reinspect some dosing and measurements
These follow Burr's observation of potassium and Mg closeness
Greggz: 12-5-13 with measured 34Ca - 17Mg
Burr: 18-3.6-13 with 40-14
Immortal: 5-3-16 with 50-18
Grobbins48: 16-3.94-15 with 40-20

These do not. I wonder if that's a dosing amount of Ca : Mg or a measured amount
Hendy: 11-14-27 with 23-11
MarylandGuppy: 22-3.75-24 with 31-5
KenKeating: 26-5-19 with 25-7
Dennis: 6-2.8-16 with 0-1.6 dosing; no observed ppms; but he did write on his site:
Having 15ppm of Calcium and 5ppm of Magnesium will work fine for most tanks. Some plants such as Downoi and Rotala sunset favour higher GH levels.

Additionally, that new aquasoil is dragging the KH down to 2. Perhaps assisting things on that front too...

2020-07-29 - observations

with rose colored glasses, I didn't see that they hydrocotyle japan declined and AR had been steadily declining. I don't know right now. think I'll just have to hold steady for a little while to see what happens, if red ammania continues to grow, then I'll forge on. Plus I have to wait for testing.

2020-07-31 - observations

things seem to hold sort of steady. no worse, no better. realizing that my dosing is pretty low (when not front loading) in the grand scheme of things
4.8 - 3.6 - 8.1 ( 1.6 - 1.2 - 2.7 per dose ), I added another 10ml (3.2-2.4-5.4) on 3rd day after water change. If indeed I did change out so much water and went really lean, there's probably no accumulation. can't wait for these tests ...

2020-08-01 - water testing

salifert nitrate test shows 25ppm. probably why things seem to be holding on now. I guess the plants do really revolt when less...
calcium test shows 30ppm in water, 20 in tap. This was after skipping a dose this recent water change. may have been running unnecessarily a little too high before? I guess I'm okay with 20 in tap. This aligns more with Dennis' method anyway of only having to dose magnesium. Waiting on GH test to determine mg in tap. Things seem to be okay right now after a couple days of settling down. .. except AR. AR seems to be melting! Hopefully this is more of what Dennis mentioned, give it stability. The last few weeks have been all over the place. Will buckle down and wait.

2020-08-04 - more water testing
GH tank : 7
GH tap : 4

plugging in the formula:
((17.86 x dGH) - (2.5 x Ca ppm)) / 4.1 = Mg ppm(ppm dGH - (2.5 x Ca ppm)) /4.1 = Mg ppm

Tank : ((17.86 x 7) - ( 2.5 x 30 )) / 4.1 = 12.2 Mg ppm
Tap: ((17.86 x 4 ) - ( 2.5 x 20 )) / 4.1 = 5.2 Mg ppm


Tank : 30 : 12.2 close to 2:1
Tap : 20 : 5.2 close to 4:1

reviewing a total dose to water change of
9.6 - 7.2 - 16.2 and matching with 30:12.2

these numbers seem pretty good

lets hold steady and see how it goes ....

2020-08-08 - water testing pre water change; water change
realizing that there's a huge range between 25-50 on the salifert test, I looked into the possibility of determining. found a thread where @immortal1 did some dilutions to utilize the low range ability of the test.

GH 7, 30ppm Ca, 12.2ppm Mg
Nitrates: 45ppm (using salifert and shifted testing)
holding steady. plants seem to be responding, albeit slow. hydrocotyle is recovering, red ammania, AR both trying with little buds. one erio rat had a weird melt on the lower half, seems to be holding steady now. also lost one blood vomit, maybe burying/non burying issue or split too small. rotala fl showing many buds and are sort of outgrowing what snails can eat. rotala macrandra hitting some sort of stride, pogostemon stellatus is enjoying it. Two week water change coming up.

2020-08-09 - post water change testing

GH 6, 25 ppm Ca, 10.89ppm Mg
Nitrates: 20-25ppm

will dose micros,Mg today and a single dose of macros tomorrow. looks like front loading may not be needed at =>20ppm nitrates.
banking on lower Ca levels to allow me lower everything else. plant response for today and tomorrow may change my mind.

2020-08-12 - observations and water testing

growth was doing AMAZING for two days after the water change and suddenly yesterday, it seemed to have slowed. red ammania put out two stunning leaves and seemed to have quit again. Was it a lag in the lowered nitrates? was it happiness right after the water change? was it the added magnesium?
nitrates: =>25ppm today after a fresh macro dose. so that's 2x since the water change.
maybe I should be adding Mg with my macros to keep things in balance ..
lets see what happens by tomorrow..

2020-08-13 - observations

Well, I had all sorts of scenarios going through my mind. Did not notice any marked improvements. Red ammania seems to have pushed its twisted leaf a little but it remains twisted. Decided to stay the course and dose micros accordingly to schedule as everything else is, well, not "suffering" and I wanted toa avoid any drastic changes.

2020-08-14 - observations

Now I'm a little stumped. macrandra looks just a little full again and red ammania seems to "want" to unfurl it's twisted leaf? The shot of micros? What do I do today? Maybe I'll decide to dose as normal. 1.6 - 1.2 - 2.7 is not going to drive up nitrates too much. Leave the testing or the decision to cut off for the weekend and the second week.

2020-08-16 - trimming, observations

Well, not much has changed since 8/14. things are.. just going, but something feels off. ammania never unfurled. macrandra is okay, but .. I'm just waiting for a shoe to drop. ramosior seems to split, build a bunch, stunt, split, build a bunch, stunt, repeat. hydrocotyle japan seems to have slowed down it's nice growth ever so slightly. I feel like things are in a little decline. I just can't recapture that lightning that happened between 8/10 and 8/12 -- can't figure it out. Can't really be the lowered levels of macros can it? I barely dosed since with such low levels of dosing... can't be micro overdosing can it? I left out dosing yesterday to see what would happen, but I guess, nothing. Gave a shot of 1.6ppm Mg today and nothing else. Just seeing what this does. Tired from trimming. Maybe will test water later or tomorrow...

2020-08-17 - trimming, observations

Mg shot shows some hope? hydro japan has perked up. ammania seems to be pushing. but.. now the other erio rat lost some bottom row of leaves... trimming damage? I can only hope so and that it's not some other water inconsistency issue.

2020-08-22 - water change, observations, decisions

Alright, buckled down on a hunch and added Mg shots of 1/8 tsp (0.8ppm) per macro dose... I think this may be working. seems like at these lower nitrate levels, the Mg is even more important to keep things going. Everything is showing promise. Was even hesitant to do a water change, but did so anyway just to keep things clean. Now, to see if I can maintain things. Post water change readings:

Nitrates 10-15ppm
GH 6, 25 ppm Ca, 10.89ppm Mg

Alright, this should theoretically call for a round of front loading. But, as I'm also experimenting, and as Dennis' APT complete spends a lot of time in the 15-20ppm range of accumulation for N safely, I'll split the difference and go with
3.2-2.4-5.4 ppms NPK and 1.6ppm Mg, no calcium

Dosing has settled into alternate days macro/micros. Macros first day after water change.

2020-08-29 - trimming, stayed on course
2020-09-02 - observations

Well, most plants seem to be okay -- except for Red ammania!! Ramosior FL seems to keep stunting and splitting new shoots or is it bitten by snails and splitting new shoots? I can't tell, but at least it's growing. erio rat and blood vomits seems to be thriving. hydro japan is slowly recovering. lots of good in the tank. I loathe to change things up when they're doing so well. dust algae seems to be minimal -- which is what I'm liking from this lower N dosing. So back to red ammania. IT seemed to do well for a half week and suddenly its not happy again. now, I do remember missing a day of dosing.. but am I really that close on the edge? In thinking that this guy doesn't like such low levels of N, I thought about adding a doubleshot for today but out of curiousity, I added a doubleshot of Mg instead -- just to see if I can survive on this low N.

2020-09-04 - observations

Well, I don't think the doubleshot of Mg worked.. if barely. So instead, I just doubleshot the macros today. Additionally, I'm not sure what's going on but there's this weird brown growth (maybe diatoms?) just accumulating on fine leaves and floating plant roots.. Unsure of what may have triggered it. Will just water change soon and try to ride it out. One is due tomorrow.

2020-09-07 - 2020-09-08 - water change, observations

GH 5, 25 ppm Ca, 6.53ppm Mg

going to add 1tsp (6.64ppm) Mg to get the counts back up to 12+
nitrates seem to be well in between 10-25 so will just add a doubleshot of macros (3.2-2.4-5.4 ppms NPK) for good measure.

2020-09-13 - trimming, observations

GH 8, 25 ppm Ca, 19.60ppm Mg

oops, I guess I should've stopped adding Mg throughout the week! definitely should stop it going forward! butt.. it almost seems like everything is liking whats in the tank! well, except red ammania still. but alas, there are such things as too much of a good thing, so for the rest of this week, will not be dosing Mg. Nitrates also look good at over 25, so I'll just let this ride on micros for the rest of the week. Contemplating even going back to daily dosing of micros. "brown stuff" mostly seemed to have cleared out after I took out a bunch of floaters with it on its roots and rinsed them out. "blew off" the rest of them for the filter. there's some lingering around but we'll see.

2020-09-19 - pre water change, check valves, observations

Brown stuff left during the week and is somewhat coming back looks like. Probably will do another floater rinse during today's water change. Daily micros this week has done wonders for everything. Also, because I haven't added any macros since the beginning of the week when levels were good, I've effectively ran "front loaded" this week.

Now, the more likely culprit for the last month (or last SEVERAL months!) of erratic issues since figuring out calcium/magnesium levels may have been faulty check valves on the co2 line. I was adjusting co2 almost every other day just to get what looked to my eyes like similar levels of the day before, but alas, the plants may have been trying to tell me otherwise. I kept on thinking something was stuck in the needle valve as the bubble counter went up and down and just dealt with adjusting as I didn't feel like dealing with changing out a new needle valve.. probably would have finally done it, except, one night, I realized water from the bubble counter was backing up past the primary AND the backup check valve. Now, usually, blowing it back out during the next day's injection should be good enough to clear things out, but clearly, this was not the case here. I think this is the first time I've seen it actually affect the flow rate. Anyway, this past week, I ran without water in the bubble counter and ... in hindsight, by watching and reading back on what happened to the plants the last couple month, it may have been fluctuating CO2 injection. Even red ammania is seemingly coming around, but really holding my tongue on that one...

GH 7, 25ppm Ca, 15.63ppm Mg, KH < 1, Nitrates 10-25 range.
Fingers crossed, water change tonight, check nutrient levels, new check valves, front load, and daily micros for next week.

2020-09-20 - post water change, water testing

GH 5, 20 ppm Ca, 9.58 ppm Mg, KH 1, Nitrates 10

Hm.. this provides an interesting opportunity. 2:1 Ca:Mg is already at the right ratios. Can I run the tank with these this low? Let's do one front load, no Mg and daily micros for this week. I originally thought I was going to add Mg into my macros/micros but having the freedom to not add it here is nice. I'm beginning to see why Dennis' formula only has very little Mg per dose. A little for cushion but no so much that it accumulates. That stuff built up pretty fast last time for me unless my teaspoon was off for 6.64ppm.

I also blew into the main faulty check valve in the proper direction and yea.. definitely resistance. Never had a check valve do this. Ceremoniously chucked into garbage can with disdain.

2020-09-27 - observations, trimming, water testing

GH 6, 20ppm Ca, 13.87ppm Mg, KH 2, Nitrates 10

How does Mg go UP? I have to chalk this one to resolution problems in the GH test maybe. or in the calcium test. Or is it a trend? GH goes up in my tank on the second week for whatever reason? Last time I chalked it to overaggressive Mg dosing, but this time, I didn't dose any calcium nor Mg!!

Anyway, last week's front load, no Mg and daily micros worked pretty decent. Looks like we're somewhat back to the original regimen. I'm getting wary of not adding Mg especially having seen the benefits ( or was it CO2!, heh .. heh) over the last few weeks. Do I trust the tests? or do I ride it out? KH is also back to 2. I wonder if the landen is finally losing it's buffering. The plants seem to be doing okay. Red ammania is still being a little petulant. Is it CO2 again? bubble counts seem pretty steady for this past week since the check valve change. If it's still CO2, then it must be the flow patterns from overgrown pre-trim plants -- or floaters.

Alright, this week, a front load of macros (4.8 - 3.6 - 8.1) , and 1.6 of Mg. GH test be ignored. This would be a test of mimicking Dennis' dosing style to add some Mg into the macros. Continue daily burr micros.

Having learnt the value of potassium in the high tech tank, I've squirted a little into the low tech goldfish tank to see if it helps root development of the plants there. Now that I think about it, usually when plants dwindle away over there, they go root first. I always thought maybe its because the goldfish nip the floater roots but.. hmm, I wonder if it's a lack of potassium.

2020-09-29 - observations

something doesn't feel right. I may be waiting for the other shoe to drop or it might be real. ramosior FL is having some issues and for sure red ammania It goes and stops.. goes and stops. pretty sure co2 is good this time around :D bubble count has been pretty steady.

a burr blurb.. on hendy's journal today got me thinking.
"I think your on the right track. Its an induced K deficiency. Ive cured it in H pinna before by lowering micros, Mg is probably the next likely suspect."

I am running macros kinda low now and it did occur to me that I probably shouldn't be dosing micros like I used to but I didn't want to believe it. Wonder if this is something to investigate. Hold steady till next water change at least.

alternately, it truly maybe that the tests are right and the calcium:magnesium ratio are being out of sorts.

2020-10-02 - thoughts and observations

thought about this for the last couple days. lets stick with the simplest solution. calcium was off, so we'll go with that for the next water change. I think I can run calcium low, but not if Mg is so high that the ratio falls off 2:1 maximum. so this definitely something to react to. Also changed out all the check valves just in case they may be affecting co2 injection rates. Was instantly able to dial back the working pressure. Remaining old check valves seemed to have resistance so they were all dumped.

2020-10-05 - post water change
GH 5, 20 ppm Ca, 9.58 ppm Mg, KH 2, Nitrates 5

Alright, 25ppm Ca was the magic it seemed like for the past month previous to the decline.
So, dosing 1/2 tsp of calcium (4.77ppm) to bump it up from 20
1/8 tsp of Mg just for good measure. I'm not sure that my 1/4 tsp is really 1.66ppm. It feels like more, so I'll half the dose here.
Nitrates a little low, so lets roll with ... double dose of front load
All of that ought to bring us up to a theoretical ~25ppmCa:~11ppmMg nice 2:1 ratio there. and ~15ppm of Nitrates

2020-10-11 - trim week observations
GH 5, 20 ppm Ca, 9.58 ppm Mg, KH 2, Nitrates 25

Hmm. Either my eyes are bad, my dosing calculations are off, or something. The last front load "double" dose should've given us 9.6 - 7.2 - 16.2 NPK, but the nitrate test shows 25. I guess doesn't matter too much for now. More interestingly is Ca is still not at 25 from last week's dosing. Perhaps this explains why the plants "feel" like they're responding but not going wild just yet. I did try to do micros at half dose this week.. silly me, changing both things at once. Now I don't know if it's because calcium is still under or its my micros at half dose.
Soo... prescription for this week
1/2 tsp of calcium and 1/8 tsp Mg just like last week. No macros. Continue daily micros. Maybe keep half dose and test calcium tomorrow just to see if half dose works.

2020-10-12 - water testing
GH 7, 30ppm Ca, 12.2ppm Mg
hmm, my dosing calculations must be off as usual or it's hard to guess with the resolution we're testing at. dosing should've only added ~5ppm Calcium and 1.6ppm Mg, but clearly there's an over 5ppm Ca increase and over 2ppm Mg increase.

2020-10-17 - water testing, pre water change, co2 refilled
GH 6, 25ppm Ca, 10.89ppm Mg, Nitrates 25,
Alright, plants seem to be okay. pogo stellatus and rotala mac has recovered their wild growth with the extra calcium. They definitely didn't like it when calcium fell to 20. So now we know, optimum seems to be 25-30ppm. For now, lets leave measured nitrates at 25ppm as well. Even red ammania seems to have finally pushed out a couple of mini leaves. half dose of daily micros seem to have held. The extra calcium seemed to have helped ramosior fl. growth, but it still doesn't seem to be at a good growth rate yet. The other, unmentioned plants, seem to be pretty happy otherwise. Will probably aim for restoring 30ppm Ca, Nitrates 25 after water change for next week's run. Now that we know good numbers for those, we'll go back to full daily micros to see what that does. co2 tank refilled, locked, loaded for another few months. new ph meter put in action

2020-10-18 - water testing, post water change
GH 5, 25ppm Ca, 6.53ppm Mg, KH2, Nitrates 10
Dosing: 1/4 tsp calcium , 1/8 tsp Mg , front load 15ml of macros to bump nitrates closer to 25, calculators claim that ought to give us 4.8 - 3.6 - 8.1, but will have to test water tomorrow to see how accurate all this dosing is supposed to be.
PH 5.90 - 10:45A
PH 5.86 - 11:38A
PH 5.80 - 1:10P
PH 5.76 - 2:44P
PH 6.35 - 2:03A , degassed PH 7.17 (24 hrs)

excellent thread of some discovering difference between tank degas vs fully degassed from Grobbins48.
but then, does this mean my tank isn't degassing enough or is it not getting gassed enough?🙂

2020-10-19 - water test, continued ph meter fun
GH 6, 25ppm Ca, 10.89ppm Mg, Nitrates 10-25
Well, I guess I'm sort of detecting almost 25 on that salifert test? it's really hard to see. Don't really feel like doing the higher resolution method. As long as I'm close to 25, I think it'll be fine. 1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp Mg provided the right boost numbers wise. Numbers look real good I think. We'll see how this + a week of full micros do.

co2 On - 5:30A
PH 6.06 - 10:00A
PH 6.00 - 3:30P (peak light period)
PH 6.06 - 8:00P
co2 Off - 9:00P
PH 6.42 - 2:00A

2020-10-20 - continued ph meter fun
co2 On - 5:30A
PH 5.98 - 10:30A
PH 5.97 - 3:45P (peak light period)
co2 Off - 9:00P
PH 6.45 - 1:20A

2020-10-21 - continued ph meter fun
testing effect of slightly lower water level.
co2 On - 5:30A
PH 6.10 - 8:45A
PH 6.00 - 12:15P
co2 Off - 9:00P
PH 6.42 - 12:15A

2020-10-25 - water testing
GH 6, 25ppm Ca, 10.89ppm Mg, 25ppm N
PH 6.54 - 2:45A
PH 6.64 - 4:20A
co2 On - 5:30A
PH 6.00 - 10:00A

Growth this week seem promising. Full Micros seem to be what the tank likes. Ramosior fl. seems to be wanting to grow but lets see if we can sustain it another week. Red ammania, oh I dunno, I've been reading some stuff about it working a little better when pushed less. Might have to move it to a shadier place to see how it responds. Just came across a thread where even Dennis mentioned it to be "more trouble than its worth." and that it looks too big for small tanks. This is true. It did look oddly big when it was healthy, but there was a time when it was healthy and it was "easy." One side of me is tempted to give it up but the other side of me is bothered that it grew so well and easy last year and it's such a troublemaker this year. On topic of size, also been feeling pogo stellatus is a little big for the tank lately too. Tempted to thin it down to 3 stems now.

All others are good. Numbers holding steady even after a week --a little surprising. With the way growth has sort of feeling like it picked up towards the end of the week, I think I'll ride the macros and just keep dosing micros to the next water change. Did a little rescaping yesterday and was surprised to find an old mat of monte carlo on the right back corner of the tank pretty much unsaveable. BBA seemed to have taken over its innards. On the surface, I didn't see much in the past few weeks and I just picked off what came to the top but when I decided to take the whole mat out of the tank to properly clean it, I then realized that whole mat was not growing as healthy as it should. I think a combo of it being in the main flow path along with food bits getting caught in it along with bad CO2 in the previous months just did it in. Another newer patch in the front of the tank seems to be doing better.

2020-10-26 - water testing
PH 6.10 - 8:00A

2020-10-29 - increased flow a little; plant trim; water testing
PH 6.45 - 2:00A
PH 6.13 - 9:00A
PH 5.90 - 1:20P
PH 5.92 - 3:30P
PH 5.98 - 5:30P

GH 6, looks "almost" 25ppm Ca? looks a little under 25ppm N

Feels like Ramosior FL is slowing down. Makes me feel like I should have bumped the Ca and Mg a little at the beginning of this week. Red Ammania is . just doing its broken thing and sputtering along.

you know what? lets add a dose of macros. a midweek "perk" me up. This should be the best bang for the buck. I *am* trying to farm those ramosiors currently so why not.

2020-10-31 - observations
Not sure if the dose of macros did the job. It seemed like it did a momentary perk but its stalled again. Unless .... I do need to do a midweek dose of everything (macros/ca/mg) to stabilize things. Increased flow is causing an oddity. it's 12:00A -- 3 hours after co2 goes off and PH is still down in the 6.2s with tons of water trickle in the reactor. Should be 6.4 based on past testing. Speaking of the trickle, its definitely getting a little annoying after all this time without it. Not sure if the extra .1 ph drop is worth it and not even sure if I am really getting that .1. Going to test an extra day to see if that's even consistent. I wonder if the increased flow is causing the filter to burp air and mixing with the co2 that's in there. Maybe have to tweak the skimmer a little.

PH 6.18 - 12:35A
PH 5.85 - 12:00P

2020-11-01 - observations
Added a little macros and the usual 1/4tsp calcium 1/8tsp Mg because the rotala mac looks a little stunted. Curious to see what happens today. Figure things may have run out.

PH 5.97 - 12:00P
PH 5.98 - 3:10P

Well, not sure if all this trickle drama is worth it as the co2 is not dropping as low as it could. Unless some regular air got mixed into the reactor during filter burping. That's worse than yesterday, and not much different from lower flow/no trickle in the reactor.

2020-11-02 - water change; increased flow a little bit more.

That shot of macros seems like it woke things up. Alright, I can't run things that close to the bottom. It looks like even the erio rats suffered. Their bottom rungs of spikes have seriously faded and is melting away. Trying even more flow to see if I can get the co2 to dissolve better. I think there might be something. It's only 2 hours after co2 is shut off and the trickle is gone. Either I didn't get filter burp today or co2 is dissolving better. Let's see what happens with this.

PH 6.40 - 12:45A

2020-11-03 - water testing; dosing

GH 5, 25ppm Ca, 6.53ppm Mg, Nitrates 10
well, last water change had these numbers and I dosed:
1/4 tsp calcium , 1/8 tsp Mg , front load 15ml of macros

Let's repeat to see if we get any consistency. and this time, remember to repeat dose at beginning of next week (on the non water change week)

PH 6.02 - 8:45A
PH 6.00 - 9:00P

2020-11-05 - observations

water was trickling in the reactor all night. filter must have burped into it again. Perhaps interesting is that at barely the crack of dawn, I .. er, the plants?.. woke up to pearling -- maybe due to increased oxygenation from the reactor dissolving burped air all night? Does look nice. A quick check of PH shows me at 6.1 -- a little off the pace, but not too bad. This increased flow is continuously being hampered by the filter burps. Perhaps it would not be an issue if I had separated the skimmer out, but then I'll have to deal with a separate skimmer again. decisions... decisions.

PH 6.14 - 8:10A
PH 5.98 - 3:00P

2020-11-06 - observations

PH 5.87 - 12:53P

2020-11-08 - water testing; dosing

KH 2, GH 6, 25ppm Ca, 10.89ppm Mg, Nitrates 10
repeating the "initial dose" since last time on the second week, we ran out of things.
1/4 tsp calcium , 1/8 tsp Mg , front load 15ml of macros

2020-11-19 - post water change; testing; dosing

KH3, GH 5, 25ppm Ca, 6.53ppm Mg, Nitrates 10

This is starting to be consistent. I like this. Kh moved up a tick. Probably aquasoil is slowly losing its buffering.
dosing as usual
1/4 tsp calcium, 1/8 tsp Mg, front load 15ml Macros

2020-11-22 - trimming; dividing; next day thoughts

I'm slowly losing my blood vomits. I feel like it's the rising KH. But just in case it's co2, I've moved them close to the front of the flow path. It almost felt like the bigger erio rats were blocking it. I got nothing else for now. At least they're growing emersed.

On the bigger erio rats, I've finally split them yesterday. Iceberg is the term for their root system. It was so unwieldy that overnight, I was still fighting with it. And on that topic, some days are not meant to mess around with the tank. Today, I guess I'm in that mood. That root system -- felt like chopping it all off! No matter how I put it in, something would catch on my long tweezers and drag the entire plant back up! If these things weren't one of my original plant goals and favorites, I'd have thrown em out!

I also don't know if it's my frustration lenses or post trimming, but things don't look too right. Plants look a more ragged than usual. I can't see why. Parameters should be right. Just as I felt like I settled on a routine, it's curving on me. Anyway, walking away from the tank. Just added the usual dose of micros. Today is not the right day to be obsessing over this tank. Full stop.

2020-11-25 - dosing; thoughts

Alright, so I guess last time I was in a spell. Things are not as bad as they seemed. newly divided erio rats are holding, but those blood vomits.. I dunno. As for the rest of things, it feels okay, but the stems seem to be lagging a little. Gave em all a front loaded macro boost + calcium + mg. Let's see what that does. I wonder if I need to bump this or the macros up some more for the next water change. I like the no green algae dust , but not getting the growth I want is counterproductive.

2020-12-01 - post water change; testing; dosing
KH2-3, GH 5, 20-25ppm Ca, 6.53ppm Mg, Nitrates 10

continuing to be consistent post water changes, KH is hovering between 2-3. I feel that the color starts to change at 2 but is not really yellow until 3.
erio rats and blood vomits are continuing to decline. I'm not sure what to do about this if it truly is the KH problem. Mulling over the complications of going to RO.
However, one stem of rotala ramosior cramer is finally taking a stride along with most stems. Testing the night before showed nitrates at 25 or above. I feel that they really like this extra kick of nitrates. As if they were waiting for the second week to kick in gear. So, ok ok. I willl..

30ml of macros front loaded. (by calculations: 9.6 - 7.2 - 16.2)
1/4 tsp Ca: 1/8tsp Mg (from previous testing: ~5ppm Ca: ~4ppm Mg)

2020-12-03 - water testing

KH2-3, GH 6, 25ppm Ca, 10.89Mg, Nitrates 25
mm, it looooks ok, but I can almost feel the ramosior cramer slowing down. Let's try a little more Ca+Mg as if giving them an advance on the second week...

2020-12-11 - water testing; dosing

KH2-3, GH 6, 30ppm Ca, 7.84Mg, Nitrates 25
So after the extra Ca+Mg last week and the double front loading, I feel like it was a good week and a half of growing. Everything grew nicely, including cramer for a little while. Even the erio rats and blood vomits are recovering, but it feels like cramer is slowing down again. So, between yesterday and today, I added a 5ml of macros and the usual 1/4tsp Ca, 1/8tsp Mg because ramosior cramer is slowing down again. Didn't seem to respond this time though. Maybe it wants a water change ...

2020-12-12 - curiosity

out of curiousity, I threw in another 10ml of macros to see if that does anything.

2020-12-29 - water change; testing; dosing

KH2-3, GH 5, 25ppm Ca, 6.53ppm Mg, Nitrates 25

Well, before I knew it, it's been more than 2 weeks since the last update. The extra 10ml of macros did pretty good. Everything grew satisfactorily except ammania gracilis, but I've sort of written that one stem off. Well, it feels like sometimes ramosior fl grows and cramer stops and vice versa and there's probably still some weakness going on as the snails continue to feast on them and ruin them. Otherwise, I see myself returning to somewhat a heavier dose as I have no stomach to keep tweaking for now. I need some consistency and the extra week of benevolent neglect during the hectic days of Christmas combined with some extra oomph of food seemed to have done well for the tank. Aside from trimming somewhere in this gap, and "winging" a little extra 5ml of macros and micros a couple days back, ramosior cramer did not stunt. Feel like one of the pogostemon stellatus did slow down a bit, as did the hydrocotyle, so this was as far as I cared to push it and found some time for the water change.

so .. as previously mentioned, lets keep things a little heavier. go well above 25 and closer to GH 7
15 ml macros; 1/2 tsp Ca : 1/4 tsp Mg
Well, the super condensed version is that sometime, late last year, I decided to reduce my K dosing. My current conclusion is that this somehow resulted in less than robust root health that cascaded into poor plant health. Then, late this year, I encountered clogged co2 check valves that took a while to identify. I'm finally at a point where I feel content enough with the tank to start posting again. If nothing else, the side trip this year has resulted in me finally acquiring a bunch of testing reagents and equipment and forced a rescape.

Of course, all these words mean nothing without pics. So let's see if I have some snaps from the relevant time periods. No doubt, I was too bummed to take many shots during the lowest point so, there may not be any of those.

So, as an idea of how blindsided I was, this was a picture in February. As usual, I love to get these sunlit shots, and as a whole, the tank looked "ok." In clarity of hindsight here, the crypts, erio, lud white, frogbit, hydro japan have all declined. Questionable frogbit roots should've been my first indicator if I could go back in time and tell myself.


So, there was easily a gap of 6 months here where I can't seem to find pics of now. I keep telling myself, I'll snap some pics to document the struggle, but I guess I also kept saying, I'll take the next one when things look just a tick better. In the end, I guess I never did. Luckily, it's all documented it as indicated in the quoted journal above. Here's a shot in August where things seemed to 'start' to recover. I suppose I should say that despite the "struggles", I never really lost the majority of the plant mass so the ordeal was .. eh, relative I guess. There's probably not a huge disaster pic where everything was melted -- the majority of plant mass lost would probably be during trimming and rescapes. So, perhaps this year was more an inferiority complex of how cruddy my tank was compared to really good ones out there.


August was roughly when I had the clogged co2 check valve issues, so I think the biggest sufferers here were hydro japan, rotala macrandra, and monte carlo. Pogo stellatus was also being erratic.

September saw a huge jump in plant health I felt. A lot of things recovered. If the other journal blurbs above were busy, it may just have been me obsessive over things. But that, after all, was the lesson this year. To see the small signs and react before things get bad.


I think this September post trim pic from a downward angle is more able to capture just how much plant mass had been removed. Gone are the huge globs of "stuff" on the left side that hides the filter pipes and there's clear paths for water flow to circulate between the "rows" of plants now.

Here's the rest of the shots for the year -- not much else to say, just maintenance and trying to keep things stable, always searching for that last little bit of optimization for the trouble plants:




Well, I suppose that's all for now, if any a reader has been gracious enough to stick through this entire post, I applaud and thank you for doing so! I also have to give thanks as always to the regulars here, and to people not on here, the 2Hr Aquarist, Green Aqua who keep sharing and inspiring. As you can see in the quoted alt-journal, they matter greatly in my thought processes and I would not have been able to dig myself out without your findings and inspirations. Finally, I feel like a special mention is that this year also forced me to recommit to the ole Greggz mantra of maintenance and elbow grease. Without robbing due credit, to all the beautiful tank threads on here -- hendy, burr, immortal, grobbins, nntnam, those pristine green aqua tanks --just to name a few, I'm sure you guys all had your part in convincing me, but it's Greggz who always badger people with it wherever he goes :D

So, I close with an amalgamation of Greggz's maintenance/hard work mantra with another earworm as one of my younger kids have recently discovered finding nemo and finding dory:

just keep trimming ... just keep trimming .. just keep trimming .

Happy New Year, folks!

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75g, 40g, 20g
3,847 Posts
Great post @ipkiss - kinda amazing when you put a years worth of ____ in one post. Especially considering most things in our little hobby don't happen over nite (i.e. slow descend into death, leading to excess yuk, leading to algae).
Really like your Halloween pic.
And yes, where would we be without @Greggz constant badgering about maintenance? See (section) above, LOL. Honestly, GreggZ insite and help to most everyone probably goes unappreciated way too much.
Well ipkiss - here's to another 10 years of "stepping" in the right direction.

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Rank Amateur
1,368 Posts
Discussion Starter · #226 ·
fresh off of a new year's day trim

some angles just impress more than others sometimes

and since I posted in the share your dosing thread, it'd be wrong to not include it in my own journal, eh?

funny enough, seems like I came close to full circle from a while back. Either I lost a year to experimentation or this is the best I can figure out for now:


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Rank Amateur
1,368 Posts
Discussion Starter · #228 ·
What an utter delight. I came at this sucker hard, and it still took me a couple of days. Thoughtful, funny, and pretty pretty pictures. it's why I'm here. Thank you and press on!

(what's that little spiky fella in the front right?)

Thanks! I'm glad it entertained. Those spiky plants are Eriocaulon ratnagiricum. More info on them can be found here and more info on eriocaulons in general can be found here. I've referred to them through my past musings as erio rats, so if you've seen me complaining about them.... those are it. They still stump me somewhat. I love them to bits, but ... they drive me nuts, what with the periodic melting of almost all their spikes -- as you can see in the one in the upper left corner. At least lately, I've been able to get them to recover. The first set that I lost melted and never came back at all.

There's something I'm missing. It may very well be that I can't get at changing the water frequent enough to keep their soil area clean and thus every siphoning around them, there's a huge amount of debris that land on their spikes. Or around trim time, their roots get damaged by my pulling of their neighbors that invade their area, or trim time debris land on their spikes too. I'd consider squirting their spikes clean with my turkey baster, but I swore I triggered off a huge round of melt that time too. Sooo, all speculation and kid gloves for now.
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