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Help Balancing Planted Tank

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Happy Monday everyone.

I have a 55 gallon heavily planted tank that I'm having trouble finding balance in. It is moderately stocked (several nerite snails and two CAE) and I feed daily. Weekly water changes. Nitrate levels seem to be consistently very close to 0 (tested and confirmed with multiple methods), even with daily dosing Flourish comprehensive or Nitrogen. I did a 5 day blackout in the last week of December and it killed just about all the green hair algae, but now it seems to be returning. PH, KH, GH all test good. PO4 is consistently 0.

Tank Details:

  • Light: Fluval Planted 3.0
  • Filter: FX4 at 100% flow with FX6 outflow to reduce velocity and retain mass-flow
  • Substrate: Fluval Stratum
  • Daily Seachem Excel dose of 17ml (yes this is a lot, no my fish aren't stressed)
  • Root tabs placed generously
  • Weekly Flourish comprehensive recommended dose
  • Weekly Seachem Iron recommended dose
  • Weekly Flourish trace recommended dose
  • Weekly 30% water change

My numbers tell me that I need to up my fert dosing but I feel like I'm already adding such a large amount. Mainly I'm looking for a sanity check to make sure I'm on track. I added a dosing schedule below that I put together.

Sunday: Nitrogen

Monday: Comprehensive
Tuesday: Trace
Wednesday: Comprehensive
Thursday: Iron and Trace
Friday: Comprehensive
Saturday: 50% Water change after lights off with Comprehensive, Iron, and Trace following

Thoughts?
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I use the Day Sim Late Red profile that Bentley Pascoe came up with. I reduced the blue light today in an effort to slow algae. I'm not sure how to upload an Image.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
What are you growing?
Quite a bit, see the list below. The plant growth has been great and I don't really notice any significant deficiencies.

Rotala, Italian Val, Ludwigia, Java Fern, Amazon Sword, Anubias, Crypt W.

If your light is strong, then you might need co2 to increase growth and stop algae.
I'm aware, I assumed that Excel on an auto-doser would be enough but I am second guessing this now. CO2 is in the pipeline.

Why r you only dosing N and not P&K.
I don't have any experience dosing P&K, I'm not sure how to measure it. I'm hesitant to move over to a full EI schedule without CO2

Also if your using tap water, most of the time you don't need a separate Iron product or the trace the comp should be good.
My plants showed Iron deficiencies even with the root tabs. Since I started dosing iron they have gone away. This is why I dose even with tap water.
 

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More than likely just too much light for your setup. NPK dosed doesn't cause algae, so there's no reason to be afraid to provide K and P. Healthy plants usually don't have algae issues, but if growth is slow with a lot of light it can happen. Co2 increases growth tremendously so it can be the difference between algae getting a foothold or not. Without co2 all you could do is shorten light cycle, increase water changes and use organic removal products like carbon and/or purigen.
 

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Quite a bit, see the list below. The plant growth has been great and I don't really notice any significant deficiencies.

Rotala, Italian Val, Ludwigia, Java Fern, Amazon Sword, Anubias, Crypt W.



I'm aware, I assumed that Excel on an auto-doser would be enough but I am second guessing this now. CO2 is in the pipeline.



I don't have any experience dosing P&K, I'm not sure how to measure it. I'm hesitant to move over to a full EI schedule without CO2



My plants showed Iron deficiencies even with the root tabs. Since I started dosing iron they have gone away. This is why I dose even with tap water.
If you look at Rotala Butterfly it makes things super simple for figuring out EI dosing whether you want to do it daily, normal EI schedule or low light/weekly dosage schedule. It also allows you to calculate what you need to mix the dry ferts into a solution for use with your auto doser if you want.

I definitely recommend you implement Co2 at some point, even though it's slightly overwhelming at first it's totally worth it.
 

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You need to start by reducing your light if your copying Bentley Pascoe, he runs co2 so I would lower levels by 30% on every color. Also it would take 20 capfuls of flourish nitrogen to raise your nitrates to 7.5 % you would need to do that twice a week to get enough. Flourish products are fine but are not designed for high light fully planted aquarium, more like low light sparsely planted. I would suggest looking at a good all in one fertilizer like thrive.
Good Luck


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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I think I'll start with reducing light significantly and go from there. I'll update in a month or two and see where it goes.

Thanks everyone!
 

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You also need to up phosphate to a consistent level. Low phosphate can inhibit a plants ability to uptake iron.

Along with lowering light slightly and your plant choices being all low demand easy plants with no co2 I’d do this.

Fluorish comp, 4ml 2x wk
Fluorish Nit, 14ml 2x wk
Fluorish Phosphate, 24ml 2x wk but not on same day as comp.

At mid week dose test Nitrate and Phos, phos should be in .5-1ppm range, Nit in 5-10ppm range.
 
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