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18 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi again,

I recently joined this forum and was so inspired by some of the pictures that I took on the mission of completely redesigning my aquarium. I emptied it entirely, put the fish and water and Aquaclear 50 filter on a 67 gallon rubbermaid tub. Meanwhile I hauled out the old crappy substrate and replaced it with 21 KGs of Flourite Black. Received a plant order from ThePlantGuy here in Canada and planted those. After a solid weekends worth of work my tank was looking pretty nice compared to what it used to be. It's been two weeks now since I did the overhaul. Here's a picture taken 1 week ago;

Green Aquarium decor Freshwater aquarium Fish supply Screenshot

I'm gonna try to be as thorough as possible with the tank specs, although I dont have my water parameters handy right now.

The tank is a 35 gallon open top. 36" long, 12" deep and 20" tall. I have one Aquaclear 50 filter located in the middle. No other filtration or water circulation (which I think might be one of my problems). As you can see I have 2 large pieces of Malaysian driftwood and 1 rock which probably obstructs waterflow to a certain degree.

The plants in there right now are;

- 4 portions Brazilian Microsword
- 1 Echinodorus 'Oriental' (only plant that seem to be growing well, although it might be slowly dying so hard to tell..)
- 4 baby Crypt Wendtii
- 2 Ammania Gracilis (Nesaea Crassicaulis)
- 2 Lobelia Cardinalis
- 1 large Anubias Barteri
- a couple handful of Amazon Frogbit (to provide shade for Anubias)
- 3 Hygrophilia Carymbosa
- 1 Unknown red plant - sold to me as Red Ivy (recently bleach dipped to remove BBA)

The fish in there are;

- 1 large Angelfish
- 3 Harlequin Rasboras
- 5 Buenos Aires Tetras (which are eating the lobelia and microsword)
- 6 or 7 platies

My fertilizers are;

- Nutrifin Plant Gro
- Flourish Potassium
- Flourish Trace
- Flourish Excel
- KNO3 (not using it though)

Meds are; (used if needed)

- Melafix
- Pimafix

My lights are;

- 4 light fixture with 3 T5HO 6500K bulbs and 1 actinic.
- I currently only use 2 x 6500K bulbs on for 12 hours per day. The other 2 remain off because I was worried about too much light.

My goal is to have a medium-tech, medium maintenance tank. I want to avoid have a CO2 system and would like to stick to Flourish Excel as the only carbon source.

I understand that this would mean slower growth and less fertilizers than a higher tech tank.

My Problems;

- Stunted plant growth
- Algae on driftwood (the one right under the Aquaclear filter)
- Dust and hairy looking strands on some leaves
- Dying bottom leaves
- Fish eating microsword and lobelia

Specific Plant problems;

- New Hygrophilia leaves are very small, crumbled and curly and grow very slowly. (When I first had this aqaurium 3 years ago, I had 1 actinic light and clown puke gravel and somehow this plant was growing very well. Now it looks really sad). Leaves are turning transparent and collecting algae.
- Lobelia Cardinalis leaves are no longer bright green and are slowly turning brownish. Some have become transparent and fallen off.
- Ammania Gracilis leaves are falling off towards the bottom and leaves are collection alot of dust and hairs. Fear it'll start getting overrun with algae.
- Anubias is collecting algae on leaves.

Fert Dosing regime;

- 5ml Flourish Excel every 2 days. 10ml after 30% water change.
- 5ml Flourish Trace twice a week
- 5ml Flourish Potassium once a week
- 5ml Nutrifin Plant Gro after 30% water change.

Last time I checked my water parameters, they were on par with what Nutrifin was recommending. But, I feel like those are general guidelines and not necessarily applicable to planted tanks.

So I really need help for the following;

- Understanding Plant needs and nutrient requirements and what it is I am missing.
- Fish and plant compatibility (I'm most likely going to give the Buenos Aires tetras to LFS)
- Water circulation specifics. Whether I am lacking significantly and creating many deadspots and how to solve that.
- Better Fertilization Regime.
- I used to own 6 golden algae eaters but got rid of them when I redid the tank 2 weeks ago. I figured it would be nearly impossible to fish them out of this newly setup tanks and since have not had an algae eaters. Would amano shrimp work well in this tank? I'm having a very hard time locating SAEs around here and also read that they destroy microsword so not sure about that option. And lastly, I was thinking about Nerite Snails but worry that they wont be able to clean the delicate and small leaves of the Ammania Gracilis...

Please help, its getting very discouraging to spend money and watching things get ugly and die. I would really like to make this a long term hobby but I feel like I'm lacking some serious understanding about how to make it work.

Thank you very very much in advance!

492 Posts
You sound as though you've done some reading so I'll spare you any rehashing of needing a balance between light, CO2, and ferts. If you are not sure you know this then please do some reading on it.
Your light is probably bright enough for a high maintenance 20" deep tank but 12 hours a day is a long photo period and you should try cutting it back to 7 or 8 hours. I keep mine at 7 hrs with 2 x T5 bulbs at a time and a 1/2 hour overlap using all 4 bulbs.
With that much light you need to add CO2 (either that or cut back the light considerably and go low maintenance). Excel is not the best way to provide CO2. I use a pressurized system and I dose with Excel. The later is a BBA preventative and gives a bit extra CO2 to the plants.
For ferts read this;
and then this;
Those should get you going with the dry macro nutrients. For the micro nutrients Flourish Comprehensive should do. The dosing schedule is explained above.
To tackle you BBA problem here is another thread to read;
I can't see BBA in your pic so you may not have very much of a problem. Excel can be hard on some plants and fish so you may not want to go with an initial dose of 3 x's the recommended especially if you have only a small problem.
I'm sure you'll get more responses on these and the other questions you've asked. Remember it is a learning curve and things often don't work out right the first time through.

18 Posts
Thanks for the reading material. You are correct, I have done alot of research on the subject but alot of people say many different things and all situations seems to be unique. I will definitely check out those links. In the meant time though, any suggestion on why the plants cant seem to grow? I am giving them good substrate and light and some form of carbon as well as fertilizers so I would expect something good to happen.. So far they just seem to slowly die, except for the oriental sword, but I worry itll soon get overun with algae.

I see all these nice pictures of tanks with lush green leaves and people referring to plants growing and I really am not experiencing any of this. Not only that but like I pointed out in the OP, the hygrophilia I have used to grow like a weed in this tank when it had a horrible light, horrible substrate and 0 fertilizers whatsoever.

Ive been checking out water pumps to maybe help with water circulation but at some point I gotta step back and say "throwing money at the issue seems to be a waster and is extremely frustrating!"

After reading the two first links you provided I noticed they are for CO2 injected aquariums. What adjustment should I make, if any, if I want to stick to only liquid carbon? I dont want a high-tech tank but rather a med-low tech. I dont care much for growth rate, I just dont want stuff slowly getting covered in algae and dying in there..

492 Posts
I'd like to answer your question but I have little experience with low maintenance planted tanks. About my only experience is a small 5g tank I stick a lot of my cuttings in a throw a bit of my ferts into same time as I dose my high tech tank. It grows a fair amount of green algae but that keeps my pleco fed and the mollies don't seem to care and neither do I. The plants do grow with a 39w CFL bulb above them. I also throw a bit of Excel into it so really I give the small tank virtually everything I give the big one just in much smaller quantities and with little regard to actually measuring anything.

My best guess is your light is too much, too long and possibly too bright. You may be asking for too much growth with too little ferts & CO2 to support it. That is usually a good way to attract algae. Hopefully someone else will come in and maybe address your problems more accurately but in the meantime cut back on the light and see what happens.

5,934 Posts
You can increase the circulation less expensively if you place the AC 50 on one end
and put an air stone/air pump on the other end.
Excel needs to be used daily. Most of the reason people tend to go injected on larger tanks because that can start to cost you.
I think the majority of the issue is related to lack of ferts. Not all but anything short
will stop plant growth. The plant which was doing well was the only one in there ?
Plants, when few of them are there can live off of fish waste/food.
But when the growth demands exceed the supply of food...
Speakng of food...if you get ghost/grass shrimp, it would be cheaper food for the Angel fish than Amano's...LOL...
The light needs to be on only 7-8 hrs. That 12 hrs puts you in the CO2 injection aria.
There are lots of different idea's about how long bulbs last in correct spectrum.
I use them for 10 months.
Hearing this balance thing may have more credibility from an
I would investigate Perpetual Preservation System ferts...PPS
EI fert system requires large water changes each week, but may be an option.
I personally don;t like to do these large water changes. I use a form of EI
now, but I'm also investigating PPS. Those two sites have both on each of them.

18 Posts
Thanks Raymond! Im gonna upload some pictures soon but not sure how they will look since I took them with my phone..

So here's what I did yesterday as per your advice;

- Set my timer to turn the lights on at 11am. I used to turn them on in the morning before leaving for work at 7:40 and shut them off at 8 or 9pm. This should reduce the amount of light to something more reasonable.

- I threw in roughly 4ml of Excel at 7:40am before leaving work since I read here its better to dose it before the lights come on.

As for the ferts, well I'm still reading up on it :)

But thank you both so far, its renewing my confidence.

I was also contemplating buying a Sicce or Koralia water pump or pumps to help with circulation which I fear is causing some of the algae growth on certain plants.

And Raymond, your assumption was correct in that it was the only plant in the tank at the time. It was under a 15w actinic light, clown puke gravel and 0 ferts and yet it was growing like a weed. The leaves were slightly blue which I thought was due to the actinic bulb and it would grow right out of the water. Hopefully I can get it back into good health.

Here are some pics. As I suspected, the lighting is kind of off so the color are as well. However, you can still see some of what I was referring to;

Pic 1; Half-eaten Lobelia. Notice the slight browning and discoloration of the leaves. It looks darker in person.

Body of water Underwater Nature Vegetation Organism

Pic 2; My second Lobelia plant, also getting nibbled and also starting to show signs of discoloration.

Green Leaf Herb Annual plant

Pics 3 and 4; The 2 hygrophilia plants with curly discolored new growth. Pic 4 is just a different angle. Also in pic 4, the red plant on the right is the still-a-mystery plant that was sold as Red Ivy. I dipped it in 1to20 bleach solution for 3 minutes to clear the BBA which turned green then white and doesnt seem to be as present anymore.

Herb Aquarium decor Annual plant Plant stem Fish supply

Organism Leaf Terrestrial plant Plant stem Aquarium decor

Pic 5; This is a picture of the Ammania gracilis. The location in the tank must be dead spot for water circulation. It has lost alot of leaves on the bottom and is starting to get some discoloration as well. You can also see the "Red Ivy" on the right with a few yellowing leaves too.

Organism Aquatic plant Aquarium decor Freshwater aquarium Pet supply
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