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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

I am looking for help, as my Cryptocoryne keep dislocating, turning brown, etc. Which really annoys me, as I would really like them to be healthy. Reality is that I have had a number of plants over the years, different types of Anubia and some Cryptocorine aponogetifolia and have managed to kill most of them. Either the lighting is wrong or the water chemistry is off, as the fish definitely do not eat these plants. The fish are veryOK, it's just the plants that I really can't manage...

Mine is a 950l Tanganyika aquarium, with :
Fish:
  • Tropheus moorii"Mpulungu"
  • Ctenochromis Horei "Burundi"
  • Synodontis mulipunctatus
  • Tanganicodus irsacae"Ikola"
  • Ancistrus
  • Petrochromis trewavasae"Moliro"
Snail :
  • Neritina natalensis

Plants (grow in the sand, which has been in the aquarium a while, so should provide sufficient nutrients)
  • Cryptocoryne aponogetifolia : 3 in total, one almost dead, the other 2 still alive, but not in good shape
  • Anubia nana : dead...
Lighting
  • 2 Aquariusplant 120 (aqua-medic). LED lighting, each 10.000 lumen ie 21 lumen/liter
Water parameters
  • pH 8.0
  • Conductivity 620
  • Nitrates 5ppm (very stable)
  • Nitrites negligible
  • Phosphates vary, but on the whole 0.2 to 0.8. I have increased water changes to ensure PO4 comes down permanently
  • Oxygen is fine
  • I have not tested CO2, but with quite a lot of fish in the aquarium CO2 should not be an issue
  • I tested potassium 6 months ago and result seemed to be OK at the time (I think 10 mg/l)
  • temperature 26°C



 

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Check out George Farmer on Youtube to give you an idea on plants. He has been running a hard cichlid tank for acouple of years now. I don't think he talks about lighting as far as length and intensity. But I would note the subdued lighting that he has running on the tank. I would say it's kind of important on a setup like this. He also doesn't dose any ferts for this tank.

I will mention that if you are not injecting co2 then it is definitely an issue. A limiting factor if you will. Not that that is necassarily a bad thing. If you have lighting on the tank that pushes the plants hard enough, and it looks to me like you do although you didn't mention light durations, ramps, etc., then the plants will experience deficiencies. Everything depends on everything, lol! Easiest thing to mess with is lighing. I have anubias producing new leaves with basically just indirect lighting (tank light is on maybe 3 times per week) to give you an idea.

As to your plants, Anubias are best treated as an epiphyte plant. Are you keeping the rhyzomes about substrate level if you are planting in your sand? Definitely try some Java fern. For C. aponogetifolia have you tried a root tab or 2?

Edit
And phosphates want to be up, not zero!

Just my thoughts :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This should help :
1029809


Pauld738,
Thank you for this most interesting answer.

I did watch George Farmer's video. Nice plants indeed with similar water conditions. I should agree with you his lighting seems rather subdued. Over the past 2 years I have actually tried a few things about the lighting, like running it full steam or reducing it significantly, without significant impact however.

.At present,
  • the aquarium gets some natural light in the morning
  • from 1:30pm to 5pm, goes from 0% to 80% all wavelengths
  • then from 5pm to 8pm 80% stable
  • and from 8pm to 11pm 80% coming down to 0

I hadn't considered injecting CO2, as I would have thought the numerous fish in the tank would provide enough CO2. Food for thought I must say.

As to the Anubias, the rhyzomes were above the sand and the roots in the sand. Should have been OK.

I can easily find Java fern, so it is worth a try.

I have not tried root tabs. But I am going to get some right away.

Root tabs + Java fern and then I suppose trying again to reduce lighting, if root tabs don't do the job.

One question : my water conditions are pretty good for the fish, but when I compare with similar tanks, nitrates are very low and I was wondering if this might be an issue?
 

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I don't think he talks about lighting as far as length and intensity. But I would note the subdued lighting that he has running on the tank.
He is known to use very low light.
Very good for beginner friendly setup must say.

I will mention that if you are not injecting co2 then it is definitely an issue.
Actually....

Aponogetifolia is true aquatic plant (I think emersed growth stays short and doesn't develop properly.) and just like other true aquatic plants like val or blyxa it can utilize carbonates as carbon source very well. Therefore it has little dependance to co2 compared to other "normal" amphivious plants.

The way tanganyikan tanks are set up (I think people add crushed corals and stuff to raise KH) ensures there are high carbonates...
and that is the #1 reason why aponogetifolia is recommended for tanganyikan tank: it can thrive on high KH while other plants struggle.

More co2 would not hurt but...I don't think tanganyikan cichids would like pH drop. Not an expert on tanganyika.


For C. aponogetifolia have you tried a root tab or 2?
I think this is it.
Fish poop alone is a very poor food for plants in general.
Choose one that includes all trace elements and NPK. Or you could make one with osmocote.


Also crypts tend to melt leaves when moved to new environments. Don't yank it out instantly and give it time. As long as the rhizome is healthy it will grow new shoots.


On the side note
How does one inject co2 on 950L tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hello Green python,

You are quite right that for African lakes tanks, rule number one is high and stable pH and high conductivity; in other words high KH. Adding massive CO2 should lower the pH, which is definitely bad. Nonetheless, I will try to measure CO2, just to see. These tanks have very high O2, which makes them healthier for the fish, but may lead to lower CO2 than I would anticipate with plenty of fish in the tank. In any case I understand from your comments that CO2 may not be such a relevant factor for cryptocorynes.

The cryptocorynes have been in the tank for more than 6 months now, so I would expect them to be fine by now and yet you can see from the photo that this is not the case.

I have ordered root tabs with NPK and all trace elements.

By the way, I had not noticed the edit about phosphates that said phosphates should be up. The issue with phosphates as with carbon dioxyde is that both lower the pH. So I need phosphates down. I thought this was not too much an issue however as this would bring the NO3 / PO4 ratio closer to 10, which was supposed to be advisable.

One specific thing about my tank is that its filtration removes efficiently NO3. So I wondered whether a stable NO3 level at 5ppm would be too low to feed the plants. And I guess the root tabs will help provide the plants with the N they need and may not find in the water.
 

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In any case I understand from your comments that CO2 may not be such a relevant factor for cryptocorynes.
Crypts are indeed easy plants with less co2 demand. Many of them prefer hardwater because of this. Some does live at soft blackwater environment.

Especially this species because not all crypts are truly aquatic, and true aquatic plants tend to be better at using carbonates.

1029832

However because your tank has high KH, pH fluctuations with CO2 injections should be low.

The issue with phosphates as with carbon dioxyde is that both lower the pH.
Technically it can I guess but it is such a small amount. All those planted tank geeks chug in massive amounts without experiencing pH drop. No one even really cares about this so no worries.

I think you should worry more about PO4 precipitating out with calcium.
But then again, we are not dosing liquid fertilizer so no matter.

I thought this was not too much an issue however as this would bring the NO3 / PO4 ratio closer to 10, which was supposed to be advisable.
No...I've been searching the "one ideal ratio" (for my tank at least) for a while and it simply does not work like that.
All tanks are set up and work differently, and fertilization should be adjusted accordingly.
At some tank 10:1 works absolutely fine, in other tanks it fails to grow healthy plants.

One specific thing about my tank is that its filtration removes efficiently NO3. So I wondered whether a stable NO3 level at 5ppm would be too low to feed the plants. And I guess the root tabs will help provide the plants with the N they need and may not find in the water.
Thought so. Usually it would not be enough. Certain asian style fert regime aims to remove N and P completely from water column, and they rely solely to very very rich substrate. If you are using inert substrate without nutrients then definitely need more than 5 ppm.

But ya, root tabs will take care of that.
Just make sure to plant them deep enough so that it won't leech too much into water column.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you. Really interesting. You guys are great help.

According to the table my CO2 should be in the vicinity of 6ppm. Just tested at 14-16ppm, much higher than expected, but consistent with a densely populated tank.

Haven't done serious chemistry in years but I would think that calcium phosphate precipitation is not that much of an issue indeed, as there is plenty of calcium in the tank and I would not view calcium phosphate as harmful to fish nor plants.

I was kind of looking for the magic formula, so the "ideal ratio" for PO4 NO3 seemed just the thing. Seems there is no magic formula alas...

Root tabs ordered. Also ordered a Java fern to give it a try and looks nice. Worst comes to worst the tropheus will eat them.

By the way, despite high conductivity ie a high KH, I have consistently found that in my tank a drop in pH is linked to high PO4. This has led me to increase water changes and put some steel wool in the filtration.
 

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According to the table my CO2 should be in the vicinity of 6ppm. Just tested at 14-16ppm, much higher than expected, but consistent with a densely populated tank.
Do not take table or test kit for CO2 too seriously.
That thing can go from 30 to 3 in an hour....and there is a lot of variable that messes with pH/KH other than CO2.
It is one of the most difficult thing to measure accurately.

Haven't done serious chemistry in years but I would think that calcium phosphate precipitation is not that much of an issue indeed, as there is plenty of calcium in the tank and I would not view calcium phosphate as harmful to fish nor plants.
It should not be harmful, however plants cannot use calcium and phosphate when it precipitates out.
No matter tho. Gl with root tabs.
 

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A little late getting back to the party here :)...

Just wanted to say that my comments on co2 were about the way it was being presented. Not that one should inject co2 into a Tanganyikan tank. If you are not injecting co2 than it's probably best to not even worry about it as it will always be the limiting factor.

And yes those pH/kh charts use assumptions that aren't always correct/present in our aquariums. Best not to rely on them.

Not that I have a Rift lake tank set up at the moment but I find that most don't use a pH monitor in their aquariums. One that monitors pH 24/7/365. And because of that don't have a good understanding of what their pH is doing in their tank. In my experience, using pH monitors in my tanks, pH fluctuates roughly the same no matter the kh. I've also seen many exchanges on this and other forums that state that kh has basically no impact on the amount of co2 needed to lower pH. I won't be in a position to start up a new tank for atleast acouple months but would love to see someone running a pH monitor on a Rift Lake tank with heavy planting. See what the pH does. Of course just like you can artificially lower pH with co2, so too can you raise it with surface agitation so my interest would be in those situations that don't use airstones or bubble bars, lol.

Lastly, no one has talked about iron. Pardon if I missed it. That's what I was thinking when I suggested the root tabs. I don't think it's nitrates as I think you have plenty for your situation. Iron might be the limiting factor? As the kh/pH of this tank would bind it rather quickly. If any is being introduced.

Hope you are able to figure it out!

And please try and post back with results. I would love to hear what worked :)

Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hello Pauld738,

Thank you for the comments. Actually, you run Rift Lake tanks this way:
  • top notch filtration. If you are doing Tanganyika, then extra top notch filtration. Your water has to be excellent. Always.
  • conductivity (ie KH) has to be high AND constant. Constant is more important than high actually. 620 micro siemens / cm for Tanga. I never measure KH, but with high conductivity you get high KH. By the way, forget crushed coral for the conductivity. At these pH, it simply won't dissolve into the water. Either your water has high mineral content naturally or you have to add the minerals using prepared Tanga salts or else make your own (used to, but not sure it's cheaper, so why bother).
  • temperature has to be between 24°C and 26°C. Experience shows that 25°C or 26°C stable is optimum
  • high oxygen, through bubbling or surface agitation or both. Oxydator when in doubt.
  • significant water changes to remove NO3 and organic compounds

All of which normally leads to NO2 negligible, PO4 low (and if not steel wool in the filtration pretty much removes it), NO3 varies depending on filtration. Most have it increasing over time, till water changes dilute nitrates. Mine has consistently very low nitrates. pH in a healthy Rift Lake is around 8.10 to 8.20, in any case above 8.0 and never lower than 7.8.

One of my friends has a great tank that mine is 90% derived from and his Apex (I don't have one alas, still using very old but very reliable technology) shows the following
1029884


As you can see pH varies during the day, depending on feeding time. Mine is a bit higher, but variations are the same. When you feed the fish, O2 levels fall and with some lag, pH falls afterwards.
I would tend to believe that conductivity stays high, but truth be told, I have never tried to measure it more than once a day, so that feeling may be completely wrong...

Iron is a good point. Never measured it in this tank.
Root tabs will help with the iron so indeed if Iron is the issue, this might be the solution

Root tabs ordered. Should get them next week. I'll let you know how things go.

Thanks for taking the time guys. Appreciated.
 

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I had look a like C.balansae sit for months Jerome. Then I started to use seachem iron gluconate and it took off..large and dark green.
That's all it took.
When they start? They get big fast and no amount of light is too much.
 

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Hello Pauld738,

Thank you for the comments. Actually, you run Rift Lake tanks this way:
  • top notch filtration. If you are doing Tanganyika, then extra top notch filtration. Your water has to be excellent. Always.
  • conductivity (ie KH) has to be high AND constant. Constant is more important than high actually. 620 micro siemens / cm for Tanga. I never measure KH, but with high conductivity you get high KH. By the way, forget crushed coral for the conductivity. At these pH, it simply won't dissolve into the water. Either your water has high mineral content naturally or you have to add the minerals using prepared Tanga salts or else make your own (used to, but not sure it's cheaper, so why bother).
  • temperature has to be between 24°C and 26°C. Experience shows that 25°C or 26°C stable is optimum
  • high oxygen, through bubbling or surface agitation or both. Oxydator when in doubt.
  • significant water changes to remove NO3 and organic compounds

All of which normally leads to NO2 negligible, PO4 low (and if not steel wool in the filtration pretty much removes it), NO3 varies depending on filtration. Most have it increasing over time, till water changes dilute nitrates. Mine has consistently very low nitrates. pH in a healthy Rift Lake is around 8.10 to 8.20, in any case above 8.0 and never lower than 7.8.

One of my friends has a great tank that mine is 90% derived from and his Apex (I don't have one alas, still using very old but very reliable technology) shows the following
View attachment 1029884

As you can see pH varies during the day, depending on feeding time. Mine is a bit higher, but variations are the same. When you feed the fish, O2 levels fall and with some lag, pH falls afterwards.
I would tend to believe that conductivity stays high, but truth be told, I have never tried to measure it more than once a day, so that feeling may be completely wrong...

Iron is a good point. Never measured it in this tank.
Root tabs will help with the iron so indeed if Iron is the issue, this might be the solution

Root tabs ordered. Should get them next week. I'll let you know how things go.

Thanks for taking the time guys. Appreciated.
Awesome! Thanks for posting that.

And +1 on the steady kh. That's what I was trying to get at. pH can and does fluctuate. The thing that matters is steady kh/Gh. :)




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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Did a little testing and indeed conductivity and therefore probably KH/GH remains constant throughout the day.
At this point, from reading you guys, I would say
  • lighting not a first concern. If the plants are happy, there is some likelihood that they will use the light to their best advantage.
  • Fe and NO3 levels seem likely culprits, as I have not measured the first one that may (should) be too low. And I have measured the 2nd one who at 5ppm, is low.
Course of action is wait for the root tabs (Seachem in this instance) and see what impact they have on plants.
 

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You may be right. :)

I will offer up my 10gal co2 tank (first pic) which currently sits between 2.5-5ppm NO3. And my 40gal non co2 (second pic) which sits ~5ppm.

You can for sure find some faults with both of those tanks but I think plant growth is fairly good considering the level of nitrates that are in those tanks. The 40gal even went to zero at the beginning of the year and non of the crypts seemed to show any outward signs of deficiency. The anubias sprouted new leaves as soon as dosing resumed but I'm not so sure that was NO3? Water changes/general maintenance were involved after the fact, lol!


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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Very nice tanks!!!
I am a little ashamed to have posted a picture of my cryptocorynes showing them going to pieces when I see what one can do....

I had actually tried liquid iron in a previous tank, but with little success, so had not thought it worth the while here. I guess that iron has to be close to the roots rather than in the water column, to be effective.

My soil is basic rather coarse sand, so the type of sand may be an issue to some extent, but one of my cryptocorynes (the one in the picture actually) is still in the sand where it was grown and thrived in another Rift Laka tank till it arrived in my tank.

If I get you both, then NO3 in the water column is not an issue, which actually is convenient, as 5ppm NO3 is great for the fish. The issue is more that my sand is not nourishing enough for the plants hence the root tabs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Tried to get another picture to give you a better idea, but the fish definitely wanted to be on the picture...
As you can see coarse sand, verging on small gravel.

1029920
 

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Make more water changes. You have too much tint- and none of it from iron I bet. It would also help with all that light and near white sands to add some hardy bunch plants to eat up the extra nutrients. Anubias are much too slow to do much of that.
You might be better off with Jungle Val. ALL the vals thrive in lots of light,sand and don't seem to care about iron..grow fine without any additions to the water as long as the lighting is fine. I think it also thrives in high ph. After all,Val's are one of the few aquarium plants growing in the wild with Tanganyika cichlids or Malawi.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Actually, the colours are off, I think. This is straight from the Iphone instead of a camera and though the Iphone is a great camera, colour control is not quite as accurate in these conditions. Sand is light brownish in reality.
The tank has been running 2 years with various types of water changes. No visible impact on plants however.
Picture was taken a few minutes ago and indeed light is at 80% for 3 hours of the day, but that's the maximum.
 

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The one photo that is from the side glass- shows a yellow tinted background. Plus that large amount of BBA is another nutrient overload. More often water changes would help. Or larger changes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
That is correct.

Although the yellow in one and the purple in the other are both totally off, I agree that water changes have been insufficient. I have an automatic water change system that is rugged and quite reliable, but when I changed parameters a few months ago, I for whatever reason failed to get the volumes right. And only noticed it when pH dropped, which took a while. It has been corrected recently (I think a couple of weeks ago). And indeed you can see black brush algea on the cryptocoryne, that may be related to these very low water changes.

That said, water changes were higher before and the plants did not look dramatically healthier then.

Was due to check water changes over the WE. Did it just now and they have been at 40% / week these past 3 weeks. That was high and I have lowered to 20% / week, hopefully stable.
 
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