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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am having trouble growing plants in my aquarium. I have been trying to grow the plants available at my local big box pet shop (sword plant, anubias, ferns, etc). They last a little while get some new growth then start dying. I am wondering if I need soil in my gravel substrate. I am dosing the tank with Seachem products. It seems to grow a lot of algae. I have had Chinese Algae Eaters and Otos but they don’t seem to like the type of algae that I have, it’s pretty bright green.

Aquarium-
46 gallon bow front
Net 35 gallons water
Natural gravel, rocks and Ironwood

Filtration-
One Marineland HOT Magnum canister filter with polishing micron filter cartridge
One Marineland HOT Magnum Pro canister filter with Bio Wheel, filter sleeve and media canister with EHEIM Substrat pro bio filter media

Lighting-
Coralife Lunar Aqualights Compact Fluorescent Strip Lights
Two 4-watt Lunar Blue-Moon-Glow LED lamps
Two SunPaq Dual Daylight 6,700*K/10,000*K 96W lamps
Schedule-
8am – 8pm single light
10am – 4pm both lights
8pm – 8am LEDs only

Fertilizer products-
Seachem
Florish
Excel
Iron
Phosphorus
Nitrogen
Trace
Potassium
Prime

Water parameters (last test)
Temp 76* - 86* F
Phosphate 3.5 mg/l
Calcium 200 ppm
Nitrate 30 ppm
Ammonia 0.1 ppm
pH 7.3
K hardness 10 ppm
G hardness 230 ppm
Nitrite 0.2 ppm
Free Iron 0.0 mg/l
Chelated Iron 0.0 mg/l

Any help or advice is appreciated and thanks in advance.
 

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I'd say your missing ingredient is CO2. I'm not familiar with the HOT canisters, but "Biowheel" screams degassing to me.
 

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Take a look here http://www.theplantedtank.co.uk/algae.htm and tell us what kind of algae you have. As for the plants dying, make sure that the ferns and anubias are not planted into the gravel but attached using some cotton thread to a rock or driftwood. The sword you bought was most likely grown emmersed and its perfectly normal for the plant to lose all its emmersed growth leaves and grow new submerged growth leaves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Not a very clear picture. however this is my set up.

Planted aquarium 1.jpg

I can attach some other pictures once the lights come on.

I have been pushing the plants down into the gravel. Is it possible to get them to root themselves in the gravel or do all of my plants have to be attached to rocks or driftwood?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Algae on back glass.jpg

Algae on rock.jpg

HOT is an acronym for hang on tank they each push 250 GPH. I do not believe I have a flow or lighting problem. But, there is definitely something amiss. How long does it typically take for plants to regrow their "submerged growth leaves"?
 

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According to Hoppy's chart:

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/lighting/105774-par-vs-distance-t5-t12-pc.html

Your PC lights are in the "low light" range. Low light tanks don't get fast growth. Having said that. I think that if you were running co2, especially since you are dosing as much as you are, you would get much better growth. If you leave it the way it is, you may have a problem with algae. I also would cut your nitrates and phosphates in half.
 

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Also, Chinese algae eaters don't eat algae.
 

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I like the look of the algae on the rocks. As to the glass you can just scrape off with a razor blade.

Concerning plant growth you my want to get some root tabs for the swords. Otherwise the anubias rizhomes should not be burried in the substrate. Depending on what type of fern you are talking about it should not be burried either. All the plants you are talking about are slow growers so you won't really see much happening, but they are great in low light. You might see some of what you think is die off, but as you state certain plants might just be losing their emersed growth. Just give them time and I'm sure you will like what you see.

I also don't think you need to use ferts or co2 with those plants. However both those things would help with growth, but remember the slow grow won't really speed up that much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you for all of the input. Basically this is my fertilizer dosing schedule. My routine is every other day so this is a two week schedule. If I am using all of these suppliments do I still need to add other products? I like the Osmocote Plus idea for every six months.
Day Product Dose
1 Flourish 3mL
Flourish Excel 18mL
Flourish Iron 4mL
Flourish Phosphorus 2mL
Flourish Nitrogen 2mL
2 Flourish Trace 9mL
Flourish Excel 4mL
Flourish Iron 4mL
3 Flourish Potassium 6mL
Flourish Excel 4mL
Flourish Iron 4mL
4 Flourish Trace 9mL
Flourish Excel 4mL
Flourish Iron 4mL
Flourish Phosphorus 2mL
Flourish Nitrogen 2mL
5 Flourish Potassium 6mL
Flourish Excel 4mL
Flourish Iron 4mL
Flourish 3mL
6 Flourish Excel 4mL
Flourish Iron 4mL
Algae-fix 3.5mL
7 Flourish Prime 4mL

Doesn't the potassium cover the root feeding process?

Also, if the plants do not go into the substrate and they are tied to a rock or driftwood will they eventually root into the substrate? I am not understanding the concept of the plants not going into the ground. Too many years of above the water table gardening I guess.
 

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Yes, the plants will eventually root into the substrate. The thing you want to avoid is burying the rhizome which is the really thick root like thing which the leaf stems grow out of.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
According to Hoppy's chart:

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/lighting/105774-par-vs-distance-t5-t12-pc.html

Your PC lights are in the "low light" range. Low light tanks don't get fast growth. Having said that. I think that if you were running co2, especially since you are dosing as much as you are, you would get much better growth. If you leave it the way it is, you may have a problem with algae. I also would cut your nitrates and phosphates in half.
2x96W=192W 20" above the substrate is right in the "medium light" range on the first chart at 40-50PAR, no? What does the "AHS PC" acronym stand for?
 

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2x96W=192W 20" above the substrate is right in the "medium light" range on the first chart at 40-50PAR, no? What does the "AHS PC" acronym stand for?

AHS stands for:

http://www.ahsupply.com/

Those particular lights are in the Medium range, because they have good reflectors. I think most other PC fixtures would fit into the other category, but I'm not the expert.
 

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Thank you for all of the input. Basically this is my fertilizer dosing schedule. My routine is every other day so this is a two week schedule. If I am using all of these suppliments do I still need to add other products? I like the Osmocote Plus idea for every six months.
Day Product Dose
1 Flourish 3mL
Flourish Excel 18mL
Flourish Iron 4mL
Flourish Phosphorus 2mL
Flourish Nitrogen 2mL
2 Flourish Trace 9mL
Flourish Excel 4mL
Flourish Iron 4mL
3 Flourish Potassium 6mL
Flourish Excel 4mL
Flourish Iron 4mL
4 Flourish Trace 9mL
Flourish Excel 4mL
Flourish Iron 4mL
Flourish Phosphorus 2mL
Flourish Nitrogen 2mL
5 Flourish Potassium 6mL
Flourish Excel 4mL
Flourish Iron 4mL
Flourish 3mL
6 Flourish Excel 4mL
Flourish Iron 4mL
Algae-fix 3.5mL
7 Flourish Prime 4mL

Doesn't the potassium cover the root feeding process?

Also, if the plants do not go into the substrate and they are tied to a rock or driftwood will they eventually root into the substrate? I am not understanding the concept of the plants not going into the ground. Too many years of above the water table gardening I guess.
First, I think "Flourish Trace" is utterly usless. If you look at this chart:

http://aquarticles.com/articles/plants/Podio_Fertilizer_Comparison_Chart.html

And compare it to regular "Flourish", it looks to me to have no real value. You are running 30ppm Nitrate, and 3.5m/l Phosphate. Those might be ok in a high light co2 injected tank, but with no co2, I think your dosing is causing your algae problems. As long as you are using the complete flourish line, I would reduce them, as a whole, until your Nitrate and Phosphates ere half of what they are now. I have medium light and co2 injection. My Nitrates are kept at 10-20 ppm using dry kno3, and my phosphates are kept at 1-2 ppm using dry KH2P04. I dose Flourish 3 times a week, and Florish Iron 1 time a week, and Flourish potassium 1 time a week.
 

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Aren't Seachem dosing suggestions on the light side for well lit tanks? I would double up on nitrate for a week and see if you like what happens. If not, drop back and double up on potassium then trace/iron. Don't increase the Excel unless you do a whole lot of research and are confident it is okay!

Also dose phosphate and iron/micros on different days. Phosphate can precipitate iron out of the water column and make it unavailable to plants. Many people dose as you are without problems but theoretically it is a bad idea.

Using the outdated gallons per watt method you have medium high light, ~4 watts per gallon. I am quite sure your lighting is at least as bright as T12s. Either turn off half your lights or shade the tank with window screening or raise the fixture up. How long are you running the lights? Drop back to about 8 hours and use a timer so you know the lights are on and off on time. Using Excel and Seachem fertz by the book means you need less light.

Clean, aka harass the algae, the tank. Use a prefilter sponge on the filters and rinse them as soon as you see debris. Vacuum the gravel surface when you change water. Scrape the glass then do the water change. Take out the rocks and scrub them down.

Usually new plants sulk for a while then once the whole plant is formed of growth made in my tank they will take off. How long has the tank been set up? Lots of store bought plants were grown hydroponically and all those air leaves need to die and the plant needs to grow all new aquatic leaves. Quite a gruesome process in some cases. Crypts especially. Swords get yellow spots that turn brown and then the leaf is gone but Crypts turn into goo. I particularly like the blue goo that C. wendtii red/bronze/brown leaves turn into when melting.
 

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Oh, I hope you are doing a regular 50% weekly water change. Very important when you are dosing ferts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Ok, I did a 20% (10 gallon) water change out yesterday and retested my water tonight.

9/5/11 tested parameters
Temp 82* F
Phosphate 1.0 mg/l
Calcium 100 ppm
Nitrate 5 ppm
Ammonia 0.1 ppm
pH 7.6
K hardness 40 ppm
G hardness 220 ppm
Nitrite 0.0 ppm
Free Iron 0.0 mg/l
Chelated Iron 0.0 mg/l

Actions:
As recommended I rearranged my dosing schedule to avoid feeding phosphorus and iron simultaneously and doubled the dosage of iron per schedule.

I am still trying to figure out if the timer program is right for my lighting components and whether it the system is low or medium range.

Lighting-
Fixture +/- 20” from substrate
Glass hinged top on tank
Plastic lens on fixture
Fixture on factory stands
Chrome reflector
Coralife Lunar Aqualights Compact Fluorescent Strip Lights
Two 4-watt Lunar Blue-Moon-Glow LED lamps
Two SunPaq Dual Daylight 6,700*K/10,000*K 96W lamps
Schedule-
8am – 8pm single light
10am – 4pm both lights
8pm – 8am LEDs only

Thanks again for the advice :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
50% change out per week! I have trouble keeping up with 20% per month! I may have to quit the fertilizer and figure something else out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I was working on the tank today and after testing the water I found that the chelated iron is now in range. Now I am going to increase my nitrogen and excel dosages. I would like to get the nitrates to 15 or 20ppm.
 
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