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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Long time reader of the site, first time poster. I decided to get into the hobby recently and decided to do a low tech set up. About half the plants have been in the tank approx 10 days and half were placed about a month ago. Its a new tank (less than 1 month old). I've noticed some serious issues with my plants - spots (black/brown), yellowing, and just generally not looking well. I've tried to do a quick search of the different deficiencies but I just wanted to get y'all's opinion. Some quick info about the tank: 36 gallon bowfront, EcoComplete substrate, Finnex Fugeray Planted + LED lighting (currently 12 hour photoperiod), have been using Excel for carbon source (3/4 capful 2x weekly), maybe 2-3 times in the past month I've dosed with Flourish (I read that with new substrate, you shouldn't need to dose anything for the first 2-3 months at least so I havent been as consistent with the Flourish), not quite sure of the species of all the plants as I ordered them online in a bundle labeled "hardy low light" or something to that effect and just received an assortment... pH 8.2, Amomnia, nitrite and nitrate 0, not sure of hardness, Temp 75, various species of fish, inc cory cats, tetras, barbs, and danios with one gourami, all seem to be happy and healthy. Water changes about 20% every 7-10 days. Pics attached and any info at all would be greatly appreciated. I've just put so much work in getting this tank set up and I want to see it succeed!
 

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Have you checked your nitrates? Has been the source of most of my problems.

Cheaper alternative to excel is
Metricide 28 glut 2.5% or Metricide 14 2% glutaraldehyde

Metricide or Cidex. Not cidex odt. Excel has 1.5% Glut. A quart is approx $25 on Ebay. At dealmed.com 1 gallon $18.20. shipping $9.99
glut = (1.5 x container)/ cidex glut%
glut = (1.5% * 100ml)/2.5%.
500ml bottle = 300ml of 2.5%(Metricide 28) + 200ml of water
Dose 30ml daily in a 20g tank
 

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Ferts usually consist of both Micro(Flourish) and Macro ingredients.
You only have the Micro and need to use it according to the directions on the
package. That sub gives NO nutrients to the plants.
The Macro is where the nitrates will come from that were mentioned in the above post.
Planted tanks usually strive for somewhere between 10 and 20 PPM of it.
Plants MUST have some of it to grow. Not having any IS a problem.
Excel is carbon.
Animals breath Oxygen and plants breath carbon. Raising the carbon level two
or three days out of a week at best is causing the plant to get inconsistent
levels of it through the week. Use either every day or not at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So I guess I'm confused between nitrogen (as in the macro-nutrient) and nitrates (as in the final product of the ammonia cycle). Do the plants only utilize nitrogen in the form of nitrates....meaning nitrates are the indirect (or direct?) measurement of the amount of nitrogen in my tank? And as far as the Excel, the product label recommends daily vs every other day dosing...dosing daily is something I could do however.

So do my plants look like they are suffering from low nitrogen or low carbon? I'm just trying to get an answer to what I'm doing wrong or what else I need to be doing.

Other than daily carbon dosing, any other suggestions?
 

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Plants, apparently from what I heard love ammonia as well besides nitrates. So they use them up too in competition with beneficial bacteria.

Plants that are lacking nitrogen I believe turn yellow.

How's the water circulation going in the tank? Got any water pumps in the tank to help move fertilizers/fish crud around? I suggest trying that; even if it doesn't help much with the problem you are having, it's important though anyway so the plants get their nutrients more efficiently.

Good luck.
 

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Meditate on Raymond's advice. Dose your carbon daily. Put in about 4 grams of Potassium Nitrate (KNO3) when you do a water change. Dissolve it first so the fish don't eat it. Or use Flourish Nitrogen. Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate are all consumable by plants but a little Nitrate is safe to dose. 10 to 20 mg/l will get your plants going. 4 grams of KNO3 will raise your tank's Nitrate up by about 11.5 mg/l and it will give the tank some Potassium. NeonFlux has good advice about the circulation. You could put a powerhead in the tank somewhere to help out with that.
 

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I forgot to compliment you on your tank. It's stunning. Yes Seachem Nitrogen would work. But you should get Seachem Potassium to dose along with it. What I said about 4 grams of KNO3 raising your Nitrate by 11.5 mg/l is a little off because I didn't take displacement into consideration. Don't go crazy with the Nitrogen because you already have fish helping you fertilize. So no double dosing or anything ambitious like that.

The bacteria in your filter take fish Ammonia and Nitrite and convert it into Nitrate. The fact that your tank tested zero for Nitrite means that you have probably established bacteriological filtration. Which is great. You are the proud custodian of a healthy tank. But where has your Nitrate gone? Well I'll tell you. To the plants and they want more of it. They don't like it as much as Ammonia and Nitrite, but it works. So it's alright to hit the throttle a little on that nutrient.

Do not dose your tank with Ammonia. Your pH is too high and it is a wreckless thing to do.
 
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