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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've had my nano 55l cube for about 6 months and I can't seem to get the balance right between co2, lighting and ferts. I'm permanently battling algae of some sort and the plants are dull and go leggy.
I've got injected co2 (co2 art dual stage regulator) my lighting is the lominie Asta F120 (which is a bit overkill) will be swapping for 2x fluval sky led lights and I dose EI ferts 10ml per day (followed instructions). I do 50% water change every week so I'm not sure what else to do. Don't want to give up with high tech but I think it is beyond my capabilities. My low tech tank is thriving.
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My first thought was the same as @Mark Fisher. What are your light settings like? mostly the times. But yes, the intensity too.

If you don't feel it's that, maybe increase water changes or reduce your fert doses by like half for a little while.

Algae occurs when there is an abundance of one type of nutrient. Sometimes more but at least one. Plants suck up nutrients in a consistent ratio. If there is too much of something, an algae will come in and start to feed on that nutrient. Same goes the other way, if the tank is lacking in one nutrient then the plants continue to use nutrients in the same ratio but the the amount they take in overall is reduced and limited by the lacking nutrient. Which then leaves all kinds of tasty treats left over for algae to thrive on.

Ultimately we would need more info to help you out here. Light regiment and intensity and as many test kit results as you can give us. Also a break down of the actual ferts you're using, not just that you're doing the EI method.


PS. I run mostly what I call mid tech tanks. I do some dosing of monophosphates and iron and some trace elements every so often. Literally end up doing one dose of something each week, the thing I feel it needs the most at the time just once per week. next week I dose something else. I run low co2 on just about all my tanks. I know I am not near the 1.0 pH drop so I don't even test for that or have the co2 fluid that changes colors. Anyway, it works. Just some food for thought. Lastly, I didn't see any plants in there that necessarily require full blown EI dosing. Though stem plants require good light exposure from my experience.

PPS. add some shrimp?

Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I’ll try include as much info as I can. The light is on for 6hrs a day but at 100% because its an older model which isn’t dimmabl. From the data I found online at substrate level (70cm below the light) it’s around 100par
the most recent tests which I did this evening, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 80 (which is way higher than expected so will retest) PH with co2 is 7.2, will get a pre co2 reading tomorrow. Phosphate 0, GH 18, KH 10. fish are fed frozen food once a day and only as much as they can eat in a min. Ferts and dosing are these. not sure what else to include.
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I dose EI ferts 10ml per day (followed instructions). I do 50% water change every week so I'm not sure what else to do.
Hi @Captain Ahab

My suspicion is that the problems you are seeing are caused by excessive light and excess nutrients/ferts. I don't follow the EI Method. I prefer to minimize surplus nutrients in my tanks. And that means measuring nutrient concentrations using water tests. For me, that means nitrate and phosphate followed possibly by other tests. Some people prefer other approaches - whatever works for you.

The light is on for 6hrs a day but at 100% because its an older model which isn’t dimmabl.
Just spotted the above. This is going to be a major problem. You are almost certainly flooding your tank with way too much light. I suggest you tackle this first, then consider the nutrients.

Anon
 
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you have way too much lighting. 100par at 70cm would be 150+ at 45 cm. might want to use only one fluval sky (maybe at reduced output) to start. dial-in your co2. use leaner dosing. feed sparingly. good luck.
 

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You've got a lot going on.

At dKH 10 I would expect your degassed pH to be 7.8 to 8.00. If so, your pH with CO2 injection at 7.2 is not optimized. My guess is it should be more like 6.4 to 6.6. How are you measuring pH? Calibrated probe? With a high tech tank getting CO2 right is key and likely the root cause of most of your problems. It takes time and effort to get it right and it's well worth the time.

And I agree with above comments that your light is likely too high. Once you get over 100 PAR you better have EVERYTHING dialed or you can expect to have issues.

Please don't listen to the comments above suggesting too much fertilizer is causing algae. That whole analysis about ferts and algae sucking up nutrients in a consistent ratio is nonsense. I have seen too low of nutrients cause more algae than too many. And the suggestion to dose a bit of this one week then a bit of something the next week is also bad advice. Plants like stability and consistency. You want to learn how to dose to keep levels in the tank as stable as possible.

You're dosing is not EI...which is good. Very few tanks need full EI levels. NO3 is about 15 per week and PO4 about 4.5. Honestly pretty decent and similar to many successful planted tankers out there. But it's hard to say for sure without seeing a full tank shot and the plant mix. Not sure on the micros as I am not familiar with what you are using.

If your NO3 really is 80 ppm, then you have problems. But it's likely not dosing. More likely is fish feeding and poor maintenance. Frozen foods are terrible for planted tanks. Adds loads of NO3 and other dissolved organics. I would do several back to back water changes and reset the tank. Then again if you are using the API test kit then I would not trust that reading without testing it against a calibrated sample.

All in all I would reset tank with water changes, vacuum the gravel, clean the filters, remove any dead or decaying plant matter, turn down (raise?) the light, keep dosing ferts, and most importantly get CO2 dialed in properly. If you need help with that reach out and I would be glad to help.

Don't give up. You can achieve balance. There are many successful planted tanks out there. If I were you I would seek out folks who demonstrate success that you can see and study their methods. And be careful listening to advice from folks who's tanks you haven't seen. There is loads of bad advice out there.

In the end a successful planted tank is a balance of light, CO2, fertilization, and even more importantly maintenance. And all of that needs to be in relation to the mix of plants you are attempting to grow. Sound complicated? It is, but you can do it if you take the time to learn.

After getting CO2 dialed in, next I would work on thinking of ferts in terms of ppm dosed per week. It's the universal language of the planted tank and knowing what you are dosing will help others help you.

Good luck and I look forward to seeing where the tank goes from here.
 

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Hi @Captain Ahab
My suspicion is that the problems you are seeing are caused by excessive light and excess nutrients/ferts. I don't follow the EI Method. I prefer to minimize surplus nutrients in my tanks. And that means measuring nutrient concentrations using water tests. For me, that means nitrate and phosphate followed possibly by other tests. Some people prefer other approaches - whatever works for you.
Anon is right on the money, I think. A strong clue is the phrase "leggy plants". I only dose my tank with nutrients/fertilizers perhaps once every week or two (I have a lot of fish). I also have a number of Amazon swords that I know consume a lot of nutrients. But you know, I've become a bit disenchanted with high tech tanks myself. You can have a beautiful planted tank without CO2 and high intensity lighting. It just takes more time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
@Greggz definitely a lot to think about and I’d like to get the tank looking good. sounds like a full reset is what’s needed. When you say to get my co2 dialled in, what exactly do you mean? I have my co2 coming on about 90 min before my lights come on and the drop checker has started to turn green and from what I can make out it stays lime green till well after the light have gone off. I have replaced the light with 2 less powerful fluval lights which I know work well as I’ve got some rotala rotundafolia in my shrimp tank, which is quite red and looking nice. As far as maintenance goes I clean and do a water change weekly. The feeding is kept to very small amounts, roughly enough for the fish to eat in a few seconds until they have all eaten. I’m Still new to the whole ferts thing and I was dosing what was recommende. I’ll start dosing again after a reset and just monitor it. I got a successful low tech planted tank. I see all these luscious and vibrant tanks and I just want mine to look like that. i dropped the water level to try increase the flow from the HoB. Might upgrade the filter to a small caniste. That’s a full tank shot. I look at it and want to cry.
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@Greggz definitely a lot to think about and I’d like to get the tank looking good. sounds like a full reset is what’s needed. When you say to get my co2 dialled in, what exactly do you mean? I have my co2 coming on about 90 min before my lights come on and the drop checker has started to turn green and from what I can make out it stays lime green till well after the light have gone off. I have replaced the light with 2 less powerful fluval lights which I know work well as I’ve got some rotala rotundafolia in my shrimp tank, which is quite red and looking nice. As far as maintenance goes I clean and do a water change weekly. The feeding is kept to very small amounts, roughly enough for the fish to eat in a few seconds until they have all eaten. I’m Still new to the whole ferts thing and I was dosing what was recommende. I’ll start dosing again after a reset and just monitor it. I got a successful low tech planted tank. I see all these luscious and vibrant tanks and I just want mine to look like that. i dropped the water level to try increase the flow from the HoB. Might upgrade the filter to a small caniste. That’s a full tank shot. I look at it and want to cry. View attachment 1035087
I wouldn't start over, getting the light down to a more manageable level is going to make it substantially easier to get co2 levels dialed in. Getting things super lush and colourful takes a lot of time, effort, and experience, also having plants that get colourful without having to pull tricks like nutrient restricting also makes it easier. Seeing the full tank shot, that doesn't even look that bad, while there is an excess of algae, the plant growth looks generally strong. I'm nearly 100% sure your issue was low co2 for the amount of light the asta 120 puts out, I have 2 of those on a much larger tank and it's borderline.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I wouldn't start over, getting the light down to a more manageable level is going to make it substantially easier to get co2 levels dialed in. Getting things super lush and colourful takes a lot of time, effort, and experience, also having plants that get colourful without having to pull tricks like nutrient restricting also makes it easier. Seeing the full tank shot, that doesn't even look that bad, while there is an excess of algae, the plant growth looks generally strong. I'm nearly 100% sure your issue was low co2 for the amount of light the asta 120 puts out, I have 2 of those on a much larger tank and it's borderline.
ive got a 250ltr 60cm deep tank that I’ll put the asta on to. I’ve altered the lighting so I’ll do a big water change and see how it goes. Just added some rotala h’ra so am looking to see how that grows.
 

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ive got a 250ltr 60cm deep tank that I’ll put the asta on to. I’ve altered the lighting so I’ll do a big water change and see how it goes. Just added some rotala h’ra so am looking to see how that grows.
Lowering the lighting should help. Keep an eye on things and have patience. It takes plants time to adjust to new parameters.

Optimizing CO2 is a long discussion. It all has to do with pH drop from a fully degassed sample.

To get a fully degassed sample, leave a glass of water out for about three days (or one day with a bubbler in it). Start measuring the pH about every six hours or so until it stabilizes and comes to equilibrium with the atmosphere. To really do it right you want a calibrated pH probe. Test strips or liquid tests are an estimate at best.

The higher the light, the more demand for CO2. You will often hear about a magical 1.0 pH drop. In reality most of the best tanks you will see are more like 1.2 to 1.4. That means a pure yellow drop checker. Getting this right will make everything else easier.

You might also see a CO2/pH chart that is supposed to show the ppm of CO2 in the water. It doesn't. According to the chart my CO2 is 100+ ppm CO2. Is it really? Very unlikely. There are other forces at play with pH than just CO2.

As to fertilization, it's best to start thinking in terms of ppm of each fert. And you also need to understand how water changes and accumulation affect the actual amounts of ferts in the tank.

Good luck and it will be interesting to see what effect the new light will have.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I started with a large water change today and tried to re-engage as much of the algae as I could. While doing that I ended up removing the bonsai with the moss on it, the rotala wallichii and the pogostemen erectus which are now in the grow out tank. I've turned off the co2 for now in essence made it a low tech tank. I'll try figure out the amount of ferts needed and start dosing and hopefully clear the algae. Then I'll start the co2 up but really slowly to I get the drop checker light green all the while checking the pH difference. I'll look into a pH probe. It's driving me mad because it used to look really good until the algae took over.
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I just wanted to touch on something I noticed no one else brought up yet regarding your plants being "leggy". If you are talking about your stem plants, they will grow leggy even with extreme light co2 and fert dosing. What creates the beautiful bushes you see in others tanks is because of the way they trim their plants. Understanding proper trimming technique with stem plants in a high tech setup makes all the difference. First you need to focus on getting good growth, which of course will have to do with what others suggested for balancing ferts lights and co2.

To get stem most stem plants to grow bushy, you need to constantly be trimming them once they get long enough. I usually let mine get close to the surface, then cut them in half. Snip the very top of the cutting off and then replant it. Continuously do this and they will be bushy in no time. This is also necessary to do in low tech, the only difference is you won't have to do it as often and it will take longer to regrow and fill out. Every cut you make along the stem will yield two shoots at the top. After it grows out cut the tops of the two shoots to yield 4. And so on. That's how you grow multiple shoots from one single stem.

I'm usually doing this once a week in my high tech dutch, which is a shallow tank and running about 150 PAR at the substrate. I'm not dosing EI either. Dosing slightly more than suggested on the bottle of APT complete which in my opinion is a pretty lean fertilizer.

Btw I don't suggest shutting off the co2. That will not solve your algae problem. Actually it could make it worse. When people have algae problems they panick and try to reset or majorly adjust growth factors which can actually shock your plants and just make the situation worse. We all battle algae at one point or another, and a lot of times it makes you want to tear everything out and start over. But don't give up, a lot of tanks I admire wouldn't exist if people didn't power through the algae stages. I suggest some amanos too btw. They do absolute wonders to keep algae in check while the tank matures and you work on balancing everything. (I'm going through a terrible diatom outbreak in my new high tech....was losing my mind until I added amanos) if you add some amanos I would scale back your feeding of your fish to avoid having excess food for the shrimp. The less actual food they have the better because it will entice them to eat the algae instead. Truthfully I only feed my fish 3-4 times a week.

Edit: btw I reread your original post and noted you saying your plants are dull. I have two Lominie Asta 20s on my other high tech which only has easy growing green plants.. they do a fine job with extra potassium dosing to keep the plants extra green, try upping your potassium dosage for one. Secondly while the Asta lights are full spectrum, they technically only have white coloring. You may have better luck with a RGB light or a WRGB. Something with red blue and green diodes will probably help make your plants more vivid. I think the Astas are better for low tech or at the very least easy plants like hydrocotyle, Christmas Moss, and monte carlo. Anything more demanding might not grow as healthy. Light intensity is only part of the equation. You could have the most powerful light but if it's lacking proper color spectrum, you can throw any ideas of luscious plant coloring out the window, even greens. Without a wide color spectrum a lot of high tech plants will either suffer or not grow as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thank you for all your help, that’s why I love this forum, you guys are so helpful. One thing I forgot to ask. My diffuser, I have it placed about 2 inches off the substrate directly below the HoB filter so the bubbles rise and then are moved around the tank by the flow of the filter. Would this be the best placement or should it be neat the front where the flow hits the glass before returing to the intake?
 
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