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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been struggling with why my tank is not thriving? I really need solid advice on what the possible cause could be. I blame my lighting , but have blamed nutrient deficiency, lighting, as well as not having proper filter size. I have been told all of the above.
I use r/o water because my gh is 21 & kh 23 out of tape:icon_sad: The tank, 10 gal, is looking better & the plants are mostly green. Balancing good looking green plants & algae. I would like soft water tank for tetras & wide variety of plants. I dose seachem comp. as well as Fe, Mg, Ca, & seachem trace. I also dose plantex CSM+ B. I even dose small amounts of PO4 to keep between 0.25-0.75ppm, baking soda for Kh. I make my own Gh booster with 3 parts CaSO4, 2 parts MgSO4, 3 parts KSO4.

My nitrates
have risen high but were on the low side for the first few weeks. I am at week #11 now. The tank cycled 4 weeks ago :)The plants grow but only once in awhile will show some pearling. I run pressurized C02 1 bubble 2-3 seconds with 30 watts (2X15) NO t8 only. Substrate flourite red & black, no laterite. Sorry No pics yet.:icon_sad: The lighting looks a little dim but I am running more than 3 watts per gallon. They are cheap lights. 8000k wide spectrum still in the correct range I believe.The tank was only to be an experiment to see if I could grow in 100% R/O water for bigger tank. I am already $300 over budget on this tank!!! I have tried mixing R/O & tap with poor results with ph & nutrient problems. Some bga has reared its ugly head but I am currently controlling it with water changes & keeping up with keeping my tiny Zoo Med 501 clean. I also run additional powerhead for additional filtration & circulation. I recently beefed up surface aggitation with no real waves but steady ripples to increase O2. CO2 controlled by solinoid. It runs 12 hours a day with the lights. Gh is 3 now with kh at 7, NO3 running high at 30+ppm, zero NO2, No ammonia, ph 6.4-7.2, temp 77.5-80, No drop checker. Plants anubius, microsorium, wisteria, needle leaf luwigia, carpet of pearl grass & micro swords. My best guess is the tank has an on going O2 deficiency. The question is WHY? I get some brown algae, with some green & yes a little BGA, which has been associated with low O2 issues. Once again the tank looks good, I have prior experience but need help on this one guys because I never used straight r/o water. I have a small fish load only, 1 tetra & 4 cherry shrimps. Could I use more long stem plants?, more filtration from bigger filter? More powerful lights? Mineral deficiency? Advice please. I have helped others now I am reaching out myself.
 

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Some possible ideas

- Think about adding a mineral to your RO water like Seachem equilibrium
- Increase CO2 to 1bps (recommended guideline generally )
- Dose less ferts or switch to EI index
- increase plant mass with easy stems like rotala
- let the tank continue to stabilize
 

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Plantex and flourish are very similar. sounds like too much ferts unless you are adding slowly daily and doing a 50% water change every week to get the nutrients back out. Too much light will help the algae growth. Cut back on your light a bit maybe
 

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You didn't mention dosing nitrates, and you do get BGA at times, which tends to show up when there aren't enough nitrates in the water. Without nitrates the plants will do very poorly.

I would dose nitrates per the EI tables, perhaps at 1/2 dosage, if you are concerned about doing that. If this is the problem, the plant response will be quick and within a week you will see a difference. Just be prepared to then run into other nutrient shortages, since the faster growing plants will need more of everything else too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Images from my tank

What do you think? The pictures make the tank look a little better than it really is . All I have is a cheap point & shoot. The macro does not work right & it eats batteries. Sorry, but its something. The only thing pearling in this tank right now is the algae:icon_cry:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I mentioned that they are high. They were low for the first few weeks that could explain where BGA came from from the start. They were down around 5ppm early on during cycling but I have since dosed KNO3 to bring them to 10-20ppm to get rid of BGA. Now even after stopping KNO3 after 3 weeks they are climbing back up. My test kit is showing 30-50ppms now! I plan on doing a big water change to get them back down to 20 or less but I already do 50% a week. Do I need to increase fast stem biomass? I also plan on cleaning the tiny canister even though I just cleaned it 10 days ago. It was the tanks first cleaning & it was almost clogged. The tiny 501 Zoo Med cant handle more than 2 weeks in this tank. I wanted to go with the fluval 104 but was concerned it would have been too much with the current. Probably should have gone that way with a spray bar. It seems I have high organics. I do not know where the NO3 is coming from with such a small bio load. Any further ideas. Without any pearling the tank will continue to have O2 shortages. This R/O water is challenging. Nothing has died & zero live stock losses. I have had tanks doing really well before with natural soft water with plenty of O2 produced by the plants thats why I feel the tank is not balanced. The point is I know what a thriving tank looks like. Its like finding the missing puzzle piece.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Just a thought. I recently started adding seachem Replenish. Most ingredients in this product contain sodium or chloride in them. I know sodium is bad but there seems to be some contradiction on chloride in planted tanks. I think maybe part of my problem is using the replenish which seachem says sodium & chloride is bad for planted tanks when they sell it as well. I think I will switch to Equilibrium & give it a try. My tank was doing better when making & using my own Gh booster with CaSO4, MgSO4, & KSO4, introducing No sodium or chloride.
 

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What is that I see under the flourite? I'm not sure why you think there is an O2 shortage? Even if you don't see pearling, your water is probably well over 100% saturation, and your way under the maximum bioload for a 10g, plants or no plants. You should have at least med-hi light there.. 12 hour photoperiod is overkill, and probably encouraging algae. That is a young tank, I don't see why your filter would be getting so clogged from 1 tetra and a few shrimp. You don't really have room for more plants, I'd work with the ones you've already got. Where are all these nitrates and organics coming from if your changing half the water weekly-A tank this new shouldn't have much organics unless you had like a pound of dead plants rotting in the back corner-which you clearly don't. Is there a dead squirrel buried in your flourite? You might want to try a drop checker to see if your getting enough CO2 in the water.

And I'm guessing the sodium and/or chloride in your ferts are not enough to even raise your salinity to 1 ppm-and should have no effect on the plants
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for some solid advice James. The stuff under the substrate is supernatural white sand that probably is killing my CEC. I added a little in the early stages because it helped me root the small plants better, but I realize now it was a big mistake. It came with this bio magnet stuff that was supposed to clean the water . I think it did something chemically to the tank in a negative way, because organics collected on all plant roots & solid objects in the tank & lasted for months. That could have messed up the CEC in the tank but I am just speculating on this. As far as the sand , probably not helping the substrate. I will not use this stuff ( ever again) , & would warn people on using this stuff because it seems everybody on the internet that has this junk in there tanks has BGA!!!!! You are right about the nitrates. In the few weeks my nitrates were low. Around 5ppm, but now according to my Nutrafin test kit they are sky high. Last time I checked over 30 ppm more like 40ppm. I am thinking of switching to API because I do not believe the results myself. When I cleaned the filter 10 days ago I felt like I was doing an oil change on my car. It was very dirty. It took a double rinse in tank water with 2 buckets to get the wool & sponges clean. There was plenty of mulm in the bucket as well. I only feed the fish 1 time a day sometimes skipping a day. He is only taking frozen brine shrimp & frozen blood worms 3 at a time sometimes I add a little extra flake food for the shrimps being careful not to put more than a few flakes in for them every 3 or 4 days. I am cutting back on the lights from 12 hours to 10 hours. You do not see a problem with the chlorides & sodium but it seems like the tank started to drop off a little more when using replenish which contains chlorides. The wisteria reaches fast for the surface, but does not pearl much. The anubius gets a new leaf every week. Microsorium gets new babies often. The tank had some yellowing issues but has improved. What makes you think There is 100% saturation???? No to small amounts of pearling, that would be 100% sat. The water to my eyes appears dead!!! I get some pearling , but you have to look high & low. The 30 watts really is not a lot of light. I have seen bright tanks , & this 1 seems almost dim! The reflectors are poor.
 

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Well pearling occurs when your well over 100% saturated. Because the plants are generating pure 100% O2, the concentration quickly surpassess what the water would hold when exposed to plain old atmospheric air(21% O2) If you had plastic plants in a 10 gallon you could easily house 5 of those serpae tetras, with D.O. remaining near 100% if you have proper surface agitation of course, in a planted tank, the plants just crank out O2, but of course you don't want to push the bioload or you will get algae problems. I'm not experienced with most of those plants you have, but for anubias to grow a leaf/week that's fast for anubias. If the water appears dead.. maybe get a small powerhead, the plants would probably appreciate the extra flow and it would help distribute your Co2. Throw some aluminum foil behind your bulbs, and they will get much more efficient, I've worked with that kind of lighting on a 10g, it's at least medium, you should be able to grow almost anything with it.

I'm still perplexed by where all the organics are coming from. There is no way it's coming from your feeding regimen. Could be the ferts. I have never seen the supernatural sand before-and a quick search reveals little product info, other than some talk of smoldering volcanoes, sapphires and rubies. You could try gravel vaccing it out. You should only have to clean that filter maybe once every month max, getting a bigger filter is not the solution IMO, it's figuring out where all this crud is getting into your system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks again James for the info. To me I judge how well the plants are doing by how much they pearl. I have had tanks that pearl much more with less surface agitation. So much in fact that the power head was just pushing pure o2 out like crazy. The canister filter gurgling with 02 out of the output. But this was natural spring tap water that was soft, not R/O. But I would not get those results every night & I would not say that it was all good anyway because a highly saturated tank will oxidize a lot of trace elements. I did seem to see more o2 when I ran without a diffuser in current tank. When I ran the CO2 directly into the sponge in the powerhead it seemed to spread the CO2 more around the tank.To answer your question on powerhead, I already have 1 its in the images I sent. The problem with that procedure was I would be left with lots of CO2 bubbles on the surface blocking light. The diffuser seems to pull the ph down faster which is strange considering the plants seemed to like the powerhead diffusion way better. The ventura in the powerhead seems to make tiny bubbles but not as small as the difusser.
Foil on the bulbs I will try, its sounds like a good idea provided they stay flat not crinkled. The organics in question I believe are actually inorganics from the flourite set up. My next cleaning should be better. But that does not explain where the NO3 is coming from ?
The supernaturals make up about 20% of my substrate & only tiny amounts can be vacuumed at a time. I believe they create an anaerobic condition while killing the CEC exchange because of the tighter distance between particles which COULD cause BGA!!! & nutrient exchange issues. All the tanks on the internet have that junk in them that contain BGA! Regarding the bio magnet cleaning up the tank water after setup , it does this but then you are left with all the particles glued to tank objects & plant roots as well as everything in the tank except the water itself. Big Problem, it takes a long time to neutralize this condition. Its going away but very slowly.
Final note. I still believe there is an O2 deficiency, but cant prove because the test kits are not that accurate anyway. If periodic bubbles do not come from the substrate or some pearling from the plants you can assume there is an O2 problem to a point or the plants are not doing that well which will create an O2 problem. Thanks
 
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