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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi everyone!



I’m here today because I just can’t pin down why my freshwater tank fails to flourish. All my plants turn brown or melt away and eventually die no matter what I do.



I have a 55 gallon and here are the test results at the moment of posting.



Water: Tap w/ Prime

NO1: 50mg/l

NO2: 0

cl2: 0

ph 7.1 (regulated with alkaline buffer)

kh 9.5°(drops) 40ppm(strips) (highest I’ve seen it so far)

gh 4°(drops) 25ppm(strips)

co2 22.6 ppm(coming up to ~30ppm)

Nutrients: Easy Green AIO and root tabs

Substrate: Imagitarium black aquarium sand

Plants: root, floaters, free standing.

Filtration: aquaeon canister with filtered overhead return

Lighting: 4 x 22” full spectrum led panels

So I set my tank up over a year ago.. sand, driftwood, a few plants, and fish. Waited my cycle then added more fish and plants. Plants died, most fish died, wasn’t a good run.



Bought a better test kit, but still everything passed except ph. Ph from the tap is 7.5, but after a week in the tank you would find it in the 5s. Something in the tank is bringing the ph down to lethal levels.



Months passed and motivation fell off. Nothing like losing everything over and over. A few fish were hearty enough to make it, but no plants survived. Even the snails shells were eat away from the acid and eventually cracked and chipped killing the snails, or at least allowing them to be eaten.



One day I just said enough is enough, I’m tired of looking at a pathetic tank. I’m either gonna figure this out or shut it down.



I started using alkaline buffer to make the ph rise from the falling 5s to 7+ and keep it there. When it falls below 6.5 again(as it will after about a week) I add the alkaline buffer again to bring it back up.



I assumed this would help as the ph was the only thing out of spec on the test strips. I ordered some plants and bought more fish, and although my fish survival rate improved (only lost 1 fish since), I can’t say my plants were doing very good. Browning and melting down to nothing in a week to ten days.



Decided to start checking other possible parameters for problems and bought another test kit. The kh and ph told me I was severely deficient with my co2 levels.



According to the internet you don’t even need co2, and that driftwood adds co2, so do fish, waste, water movement, excess food, etc.. all the things I have plenty of, yet somehow I have very low co2 per the test. Again I feel confident I’ve found my issue.



Installed a co2 reactor, dialed it in to 25-30 ppm for 8 hours a day, and waited. My co2 checker finally started turn green, and I’ve held it there every since.



Much to my satisfaction, my plants stopped dying.. or at least dying quickly. Now what took a week to completely die and disappear, I’m getting a solid 3 weeks before any browning at all.. but it is all still browning, and definitely not growing. I have root plants, floating plants, and plants that sink but don’t really float. All plants are still browning no matter where they get their nutrients from.



Next I started fertilizing them more. I was using Flourish, but switched to Easy Green after it didn’t seem to make any difference. Then added root tabs for the plants that pull from the substrate.



Unfortunately though, even after co2, root tabs, Easy Green AIO, and all my other attempts, I just can’t seem to get these plants to thrive, or even grow at all.



I’m finally tagging out for help, I don’t know what I’m doing that’s so wrong, I’m doing so much more than most people I’ve ever known with a freshwater tank.



Can anyone here help put me on the right track, I’m desperate to be over run with greens and reds and not just from the livestock.



Thanks for taking the time to read this and hopefully save me from this plant purgatory!



-shane
1026348
 

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I'm really sorry about that. Also sorry I have no advice to give :\. Just wish you luck. Hopefully you'll get some better answers soon.

P.S.
is that a golden dojo loach in the back round?
 

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Your low gH relative to your pH and kH could be a potential issue. pH is how acidic your water can be. kH is how much bicarbonate and carbonate is in your water, and that helps to buffer the pH. gH is the measure of dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium that plants, fish, shrimp and snails need to survive and grow.

Normally I keep pH around 6.8-7.0 kH around 0-4 (0 for soft 4 for hard) and gH around 4-8 depending on how high kH is.
 

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Driftwood will lower pH but I don't think it adds co2.
How often do you do water changes?

Sent from my KFONWI using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It is a golden dojo 😊

My gh is 4°, that’s supposed to be acceptable, certainly not lethal right?

“It is well known that both bacterial and fungal decays of driftwood decorations in the tank produce CO2, and driftwoodindeed plays an important role in the wetland ecosystems.”
 

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OK, where to start...

First off, what on earth is NO1? That's not a stable molecule as far as my high school chemistry tells me, so I'm going to assume you mean NO3 (Nitrate)? NO2 is Nitrogen Dioxide, and is a chemical used in the creation of Nitric Acid. This has nothing to do with aquariums, so I have no idea what this is.

Can you give a link for the lights you use? Also, how many hours per day are they on?

How much easy green are you dosing?

How are you testing your CO2?

How many root tabs did you add? Are you sure you got them waaaaaay down in the substrate, like, almost against the glass?

How often do you do water changes? How much do you change?

As for the rest of it, there's a few things that seem off to me. How are you measuring your pH? There's nothing in your tank that will lower your ph into the 5's, and with a KH of 9, it's just not possible. Driftwood will lower your pH, but not nearly as much as you're claiming.

You said that you dialed your CO2 in to 30ppm, but the drop checker in your pic is blue. Assuming you followed the instructions on your drop checker, the CO2 level in that tank is not 30ppm (or anywhere near it)

So, without any more information, I would start by doing a massive water change, without adding the alk buffer. Get yourself a cheap pH probe, and check the pH of your tap waterand tank water. If your pH is truly dropping into the 5's from whatever is in your tank alone, then I'll admit that I'm stumped.

Finally, your driftwood is not adding any significant amount of CO2.

(Note: I see a Bala Shark in your tank. Your tank is not nearly big enough for this fish.)

Bala Shark Care - Really Think About it Before You Buy One! - YouTube
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Excuse my misprint, it is no3, doesn’t change anything though, I’m sure with all your insight, you knew. Thanks for pointing out the typo.

I’m using the suggested amount of easy green for my tank.

Testing co2 with the checker and the conversion table. The picture doesn’t represent that. Just know it’s kept between 24-30ppm.

As many as it took to get across the substrate with 3 inches between them. Yes they are down, I have to place them as deep as possible. I have sifters and a big ass pleco who loves to dig. They can’t be installed any deeper than they are.

I vacuum debris once a week, about 20%. I dump the can about every 2. Plenty enough in my experience with livestock.

I check ph with a meter, calibrate it monthly. I’m sorry you don’t think my tank can drop to the 5s, but you’re just wrong. Whether you want to believe me or not, these are facts. Sorry you’re incorrect.

Obviously the driftwood isn’t adding enough co2, I’m having to dissolve it myself.

Also, I’ll decide the fish I keep. I don’t need you patrolling my livestock. When the 3 balas gets too big I’ll take care of it, let’s try and stay on point please.
 

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It is a golden dojo 😊

My gh is 4°, that’s supposed to be acceptable, certainly not lethal right?

“It is well known that both bacterial and fungal decays of driftwood decorations in the tank produce CO2, and driftwoodindeed plays an important role in the wetland ecosystems.”
Golden Dojo's are my favorite!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It’s actually my girlfriends, she got it for her birthday. It’s name is noodle, but I love to call it Richard... when people say why, I say he looks like a Dick.. they either get it or they don’t lol. He has also became one of my favorites too. Thanks for posting about him!
 

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It’s actually my girlfriends, she got it for her birthday. It’s name is noodle, but I love to call it Richard... when people say why, I say he looks like a Dick.. they either get it or they don’t lol. He has also became one of my favorites too. Thanks for posting about him!
I haven't had many, I had one for a couple years and then... she decided to take an adventure outside the tank. I plan on having 3 in my 70 gallon. They're such awesome little creatures! I've got one currently quarentining in a 10 gallon regrowing fins after a serious case of finrot developed at the store.
:p
 

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You have very soft acidic water. Most living things do not want that.

You told me:
1. Your snail shells are thinning and cracking
2. Your plants turn brown and melt
3. Your pH fluctuations wildly

You have a kH and gH imbalance.

A lack of proper gH levels will lead to what you have listed. Electrolytes and salts in the water column are probably lacking. I cannot explain the pH swings without more information.

Alkaline boosters will only help buffer your pH by boosting your kH. Which one are you using? Are there phosphates in it?

What kind of remineralizer do you use? What are the parameters of the water you use for water changes before they enter the tank ?
 

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You could tie an Anubias plant to a piece of driftwood to see if the substrate is causing the problem. The 50 ppm NO3 indicates that your filter is working well. 50 ppm is also where you change the water. 30 ppm NO3 and below is cool. 50 ppm NO3 and higher you change the water. This is not to say you're a poor water manager. My NO3 got up over 100 ppm last year because my test kit was expired and I was over fertilizing Nitrate. High total dissolved solids (tds) also tell you it's time to change the water. The tank does not look overcrowded with fish so 50 ppm NO3 makes me wonder how big your water changes are and how frequently you are doing them. Try 50% once a week if you're not already doing that. The relatively high Nitrate might be due to over fertilizing like I was doing. Also the NO3 is not high enough to cause your pH to fall so far as it has. You understandably have high alkalinty at 9.5 dKH. I realize you did it to control the pH but you can rein in the KH a few degrees. Mission accomplished. One teaspoon Sodium Bicarbonate in 50 liters of water = 2 dKH. I suspect either your source water has flat alkalinty or that there's something in the substrate. Maybe also reassess your dosing routine. I'm not saying there's a problem with it. Just double check it to be sure. You should have N <30, P >1.5, K >10 ppm, Micros with Fe + trace elements. Your CO2 is excellent. Keep cooking with that.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
@



@BlankHogg

What happened to her? You didn’t find her in time? I’ve heard they can stay out of water for quite some time.



We have a few loaches now, Richard (lol) and 2 dojos, a couple of clowns too. Good luck with your rehab, my best hopes your way.



Mine I love, but he loves to dig up my plants. Good think the girlfriend is the replanter 😊



@AVN

Correct! That’s why I have to use the chemicals I’m using just to maintain what I thought were ideal conditions.



So how do I add these electrolytes and salts?!? I actually thought salts were bad for a planted tank?!? Ask any questions you want, I’ll give you whatever information you need, I’m here to find what I’m obviously missing.



My buffer is called alkaline buffer, I’m not sure if it has phosphorus or not, but I know it’s for planted tanks because other boosters use excessive phosphorus and cause algae.



Remineralizer? This is new to me. I googled it, but it seems it’s for RO water mostly. I’m on tap, and correct me if I’m wrong but don’t the fert’s take care of the macros and micros not already in the tap water?!?



When it’s time to do my changes I get a bucket of 78° tap water from the sink, put in the recommended Prime and Easy Green, swirl it around and dump it in the tank. I check the ph daily, and the whole panel every 2-3 days. If the ph is under 6.8, I put in the suggested dosage, and my ph shoots up to around 7.3-7.5 over a few days. It seems to last about a week in the 7s, and about 3 days in the 6s before I add more. If I don’t add the booster the ph will continue to drop.



Anything else I can clarify?



Thanks again for participating!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
@savetheplants(love the name)

Well I have bananas, which are browning, as well as my floaters.. if they weren’t I would suspect the substrate more. That’s actually why I implemented the tabs just in case on top of the easy green just to see if that was the issue.



Yes sir, I do like to do my water changes at 50. It’s actually water change day today. I admit I only change the little bit it takes to vacuum. Normally about 20-25%. That’s all it’s ever took to give me another week before hitting 50 again. Remember That aquaeon let’s me do a canister with bio balls, charcoal, ceramic rings and mesh filter, and then I also get even more space for bennies (beneficial bacteria) with my over the top filter media. I feel like this supercharges my filtration.



Well there is a hidden whale in the tank I should tell you about. He is probably responsible for 60% of the no3 and 80% of the plants being swooshed around 😊. I have a very large sailfin pleco who hides in the shadows. An awesome fish, but a bull in a china shop nonetheless. He is one of the OGs in the tank for sure, been here since the beginning. He is actually what made me say some “hearty” survivors in my other post.



I can for sure try changing more water if you think it’s what the issue is, but it just seems to be enough so far to maintain safe levels. What do you think?



I’m sure I’m over fertilizing, I’m using tabs and column nutes... not to mention all the waste... but I’m only doing it to find a problem. Hopefully once I experience this explosive growth I hear so much about I can dial back everything possible.



Well as for the buffer, your dosage recommendation tells me I haven’t been dosing enough lol. I gathered from the bottle that 3 teaspoons should be my dosage.. Your suggestion tells me I need 4. All I can say is 3 take it from 6.5 all the way up to 7.3-7.5 in a day or so. Maybe I should go off the books and try 2?!? As far as I understand it, as long as I’m between 6.5 and 7.5 I’m golden.. I would be happy with 7.0 if you think I’m dosing the buffer too much. What do you think about this?



About the ratio, doesn’t the easy green and tabs do this for me. I’m unfamiliar with how to isolate a test like that. Please tell me more.



Thanks for participating, I’m eager to discuss your thoughts.
 

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OK, so I can see you are conscientious and knowledgeable. The substrate seems to have a good reputation. I think that narrows it down to either the tap water or the cannister filter somehow affecting things. I would give the GH a little bump. Better a little more than a little less on that. 5.81 grams Calcium Sulfate and 4.18 grams Magnesium Sulfate stat! I'm not a doctor. I just play one on this forum.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
If anyone is interested, here are a few photos around my tank. Maybe they can help!

 

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@



@BlankHogg

What happened to her? You didn’t find her in time? I’ve heard they can stay out of water for quite some time.



We have a few loaches now, Richard (lol) and 2 dojos, a couple of clowns too. Good luck with your rehab, my best hopes your way.



Mine I love, but he loves to dig up my plants. Good think the girlfriend is the replanter 😊
I live in New Mexico, desert. Not particullarly friendly to aquatic life. They can stay out of water for some time, but it's helpful if there's some humidity. Desert air combined with not finding her for a while-not good. She (Loachy, never gave her a name but over time it became Loachy) was about 6 inches, and she'd rally some of the corydoras and go and look for anything edible, she'd even swim to the surface to get the tetras food. And with the corys, they wreaked havok on anything I tried to but in the substrate. lol
:) glad you like them :p
 

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Discussion Starter #19
@STP
How do I give the gh a bump? Isn’t that by adding the Easy Green? Or is there another way to accomplish this?

thanks once again!

@BlanketHogg,
Yes a lot of cheer tee in this little guy. Reminds me of a bichir I use to have in my aggressive tank. Sorry about loachy 😢.
 
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