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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'll be starting a new planted tank in a month or two, I've gotten a Aqueon 13 widescreen(yeah I read the negatives of it), lol. I wouldn't have gotten this but I've a green swordtail and a neon tetra that probably needs more room than their current 5 gallon tank. As it is, I'm having problems growing plants, elodea never grew and melted away, banana plant didn't fair well and I tossed it(small leaves that melted away, algae), windelov seems to be dying off slowly, bacopa hardly grows and a mini nana petite that seems to hold it's own. I cannot for the life in me, find a balance, adding ferts at minimal amounts causes diatoms(dim or higher light outputs), adding recommended amount of Excel and the plants did worse, imo. I've minimized the light output and shortened light on time, stopped ferts and Excel and everything seems better but no real plant growth. Maybe that is my the Low Tech balance?


Since I'm moving to a bigger tank and starting from scratch I'd like to ask for some advice and still wanting to keep it low tech if it all possible with plant growth with minimal algae growth.


Stock Aqueon lighting, possible hob filter upgrade(to AC 30 or 50), bdbs substrate, not sure on hardscape yet(maybe two or 3 rocks) and using low tech plants.
Here are my tap water specs using API's test kits:
ph test >7.6
ph High test ~7.8 - 8.0 ( pH is steady)
Ammonia <.25ppm(if not 0)
Nitrite 0ppm
Nitrate <5ppm
kH 4
gH 4
Phosphate looks like 0ppm to me
in the works of getting a tds meter so...

since I've bad plant growth I've been reading some, according to the ph/kH/co2 chart I've seen, with my parameters of pH8 and kH4 my co2 chart calculation is ~1. I've read for planted tank the ideal is co2 of 30? Maybe a reason why I have bad plant growth if at all. My light and fert. needs co2, right? or algae, in which I end up with.


My question, possibly it be best injecting co2 in which I'm trying to not do, which could bring down my pH a little in which could be good for my swordtail and neon tetra.
Would SeaChem Equilbrium do, raising my gH a few notches while keeping my pH stable at 8 as I read it's not good using pH UP/Down chemicals? hmmm, if attaining a gH of 6-8, still my co2 be somewhat low but maybe get by using Excel in place of injecting co2 for plant growth.
Read swordtail gh ~12(low end) and neon tetra gh~10(high end) so I figure if I could do gH 8? maybe at that value Excel work with ferts with less/no algae, no?

with current tap water test values would it be, co2 injection for low tech plants or what other options do i have working with my tap water?
 

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1st thing I’d do is get rid of hood and pathetic light. Then worry about finding proper substrate for your end goals. Filter can probably be modified to use standard foam so you won’t have to use those crappy cartridges.

There are plenty of plants that will do great without CO2 injection. When a well set up tank ages PH will naturally drop a bit. You can also add a few almond leaves to help that along. Phosphate should be around 1-2ppm if you want plants to survive, as well you’ll need supplemental dosing of a good all in one fert for plants. ThriveG is fert with carbon source like Excel already mixed in for low tech planted tanks.

There’s no sense adding CO2 for low tech med-low light tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Had a feeling the stock light may not be good enough. I will work on it.

on another note, reading charts from API and Seachem I realize the numbers I see are not one in the same, there's API kH/dH test numbers that needs to be deciphered and Seachem dkh/dgh numbers, Yikes! I have to pay more attention to what I'm reading
 

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I'll respectively disagree about co2. If I was starting a new tank I would add co2 from the getgo. It makes growing plants easier in any lighting situation. Even plants like java fern, anubias, etc. all grow better in a co2-enriched tank. In my mind it should be as mandatory as light and filtration.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
ok, I'll read up more on a co2 setup

I have a question, I've read a glass tube co2 checker in tank will not work with water ph 8.
will I have to start ro, rodi, etc. too?
 

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I think the thing to remember with low tech, is that you're looking at plant growth over a period of MONTHS -- especially if the plants are new and have to acclimate to your water. I started a pretty little 5 gallon portrait tank in November, and I swear I found 1 new anubius nana petit leaf after 3 weeks, then not another for a month. Now that it has been 3/4 of a year, it's growing a little more, but it took time to adjust & take off. I'm also deciding that some plants just don't do well in the water I have, and rather than try to fix it with ferts, RO, co2, I'm mostly just enjoying the plants that DO like my water, instead. I want this to be fairly fuss free & low maintenance, so I'm sticking to that (mostly).

I bought an all-in-one fert (Easy Green from Aquarium Co-op), and it's early yet, but I think it's giving the plants a small boost. In my tanks, crypts seem to be the easy favorite -- low light and even before ferts they were solid growers. I've also introduced frogbit that seems to be doing okay (it EXPLODED in my dirted tank...I now scoop it out weekly to put in other tanks). The work tanks have balls of elodea floating, and they seem pretty healthy -- I don't care for it in my home tanks, as it gets in the way of the 'scape. :)

I guess I'm just saying, find your spot & stick with it -- if that ends up being higher tech & you like that, then awesome! If it's a little trial and error finding plants that work for you, that's awesome too! ;) That said, I'd get a good light and make sure your filtration is appropriate, of course! I bought this light for my dirted 15 gallon and it's working out nicely (though the frogbit is shading some of my plants too much, I'm afraid! lol)

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071LJKNWS/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Good luck!
 

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The other folks here have already given you really solid advice and know a lot more then I do. But I am curious about your 5 gallon that seems to be having so much trouble. What is your light on that tank, and what are you using for substrate/ how thick is your substrate?

I am running a low tech tank currently with no co2. I struggled to find the balance with light and ferts etc. But ultimately for me it seemed to work out when I started with too much light and then dialed it back till things were happy. The rest was just dosing recommended amounts and doing my weekly water changes.

My next tank will have co2. From what I can tell its awesome in a tank but you must choose between two dichotomies. Its either cheap to install and keep running. But extremely finicky with its own special maintenance procedures. Or its extremely low maintenance and with an almost fire and forget kind of setup. But with an expensive entry cost.
 

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I have both low tech and high tech. My main high tech is completely self sufficient (Chiros gradient light on a timer with CO2, etc). I enjoy trimming (which needs to happen multiple times a week), I use trimmings in other tanks as you can never have too many tanks ;)
My favorite low tech tank I enjoy because it grows slowly- I dont need to fuss with it much and the slow growing mosses are carpeting in a beautiful way. They are completely different beasts.

I started out with CO2 with a cheap disposable mess... I ended up upgrading not even 30 days later- If you are *thinking* about it.... it will always be that 'itch you cant scratch'. So I highly recommend just spending the extra 200 bucks and try it WITH a timer unless you can gaurentee you will be awake to turn it on, or off..

Substrate I generally mix it up. I like Amazonia for planting and then decorative 'something' for pathways. I have a couple tanks with Eco Complete, amazonia and sand.... it all depends on your scape.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
yes, I appreciate all your responses, tips, etc.
Being my first step into this hobby I did not keep a journal. I've replaced my Aqueon BowFront5 hood and light with a Fluval Nano Plant 3.0 I also installed a Eheim cannister for the past 4 months. I did and still do (~25% or more)water changes every 3-4 days. I'll get algae using minimum NilocG(as low as .125ml) or root tabs for the bacopa that will certainly accelerate algae growth even with my white led's down to 20%.

I stopped ferts.,lowered white leds to 8%, 6 light on hours with only 2 hours Max. light and 4 total hours for ramping up/down. This change been only for 2 days so far
 

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Based only on anecdotal evidence, and changing my own Nano settings, you may want to try keeping your blues at 10-15% of your max level for your other colors.

This seemed to make a difference in my tank with BBA.

I first got the idea from a Bentley Pascoe video.
 

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OP: You water isn't pillow soft, but it isn't liquid rock either. Once you start adding things like Equilbrium, you'll be headed towards liquid rock which makes life harder on the plants as they have to work harder to break down things like ferts. If you are buying fish locally, they'll be fine with the water coming out of your tap.

While there are benefits to CO2, the plants you are trying to grow does not require them. My anubias and java ferns sprout new growth on a monthly basis. They're not growing out of my tank on a weekly basis or anything, but they do grow without CO2. I have vals that I've added to my tank recently that for whatever reason are growing like they are on steroids. This is coming from a person that couldn't grow vals if my life depended on it for years. My suspicion is that I was unintentionally starving them to death. Once I started add a couple of root tabs, they grow.

I'm not here to tell you not to buy CO2, but do understand that it is a whole other layer of potential problems and issues. I'd suggest you figure out what is going on with your current tank, get that straightened out, then perhaps dabble with CO2 once you're confident with problem solving.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Based only on anecdotal evidence, and changing my own Nano settings, you may want to try keeping your blues at 10-15% of your max level for your other colors.

This seemed to make a difference in my tank with BBA.

I first got the idea from a Bentley Pascoe video.

I've read/saw a clip of keeping blue lights low of off due to algae. Thanks!
got whites at 8% and blue at 1% for now, this nano light maybe way too much for what I have, lol
 

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Discussion Starter #14
OP: You water isn't pillow soft, but it isn't liquid rock either. Once you start adding things like Equilbrium, you'll be headed towards liquid rock which makes life harder on the plants as they have to work harder to break down things like ferts. If you are buying fish locally, they'll be fine with the water coming out of your tap.

While there are benefits to CO2, the plants you are trying to grow does not require them. My anubias and java ferns sprout new growth on a monthly basis. They're not growing out of my tank on a weekly basis or anything, but they do grow without CO2. I have vals that I've added to my tank recently that for whatever reason are growing like they are on steroids. This is coming from a person that couldn't grow vals if my life depended on it for years. My suspicion is that I was unintentionally starving them to death. Once I started add a couple of root tabs, they grow.

I'm not here to tell you not to buy CO2, but do understand that it is a whole other layer of potential problems and issues. I'd suggest you figure out what is going on with your current tank, get that straightened out, then perhaps dabble with CO2 once you're confident with problem solving.

thanks for the advice! that makes sense on the problem solving, I appreciate the comments on my tap water, that it may be workable for a low tech tank and fish. I don't want to get into RO/DI nor co2 if possible, it's just the algae(moreso the brown) that bothers me the most. Just have to find a balance for what I have
 
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