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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, well I start out with a little background story. I was first having trouble with my plants growing, they would kind of melt from the bottom up. I thought I needed root tabs, I have pool sand substrate, so I bought some osmocote root tabs and placed them in the substrate, this has been around 4-5 months ago, I put maybe 10 in my 90 gallon tank, spaced out evenly. This did help a little but soon after I started dosing PPS Pro and got my Co2 worked out, this seemed to really help and I started seeing some positive results, things started to turn around, the best I had ever achieved. My MYRIOPHYLLUM MATTOGROSSENSE was growing like crazy and another foreground plant (dont know what it is) was sending runners out every direction, things were really going good.

Now two weeks ago I did a water change as normal and a couple days after I start seeing melt in my unknown foreground plant, in the upper portions of the leaves they turned pale or almost see through. My MYRIOPHYLLUM has all detached from the root system it had and the stems have turned brown and what little new growth there is is very small, the stems are almost like a needle and its is not bushy at all.

Ph - 7.6 during Co2 off period
Amonia - 0
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 80-160 , Im not sure why this is so high, fish dont seem affected

KH & GH, not exactly sure how the conversion chart works
KH - 5 drops = 5dkh?
GH - 8 drops = 143.2 ppm GH/KH?

I use RO water and have been doing water changes about every 2 weeks.

Thanks.
 

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Hi sprint_9
Ammonia and nitrite testing is not important in planted aquariums. On the other hand, finding nitrate NO3 80-160 ppm is alarming. You need to get rid of this toxic level by flushing the aquarium. Keep changing water until you get NO3 bellow 15 ppm.

You also mentioned your KH and GH testing results. This is nice but we need to know how to interpret the results, you need to read the instructions. Nevertheless, finding GH coming from your substrate is not a bad thing when you are using RO water. This may not require the need to dose extra Ca by CaSO4.

My recommendation is to dose daily, Solution #1 at 1 ml per 10 gallon and Solution #2 at 0.1 ml or 2 drops per gallon. Also, some aquarium pictures would help.

To make this super easy you need to get a TDS tester then you won’t need test kits. Yes, any cheap TDS tester with µS scale will do. This is how it works, RO water is ~10µS, one daily PPS dose is 1 ppm of NO3 representing ~6µS. So, to limit NO3 to 15 ppm we need to make sure the water column TDS reading doesn’t go over 100µS. This is easy to be controlled with water changes, no more no less and no test kits.

If you have any questions please ask,
Edward PPS
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies guys.

Im going to do a water change tonight, and tomorrow night. I did a water change after I wrote my post on the 6th and I am down around 60-80 ppm as of last night, I did calibrate last night as well to 100 ppm. It was most likely above 100 before the water change on the 6th.

On my GH/KH test I really dont understand API's instruction sheet. You convert the number of drops it takes to change from one color to another color but the conversion chart doesnt make sense.

I did find others with a similar problem, I searched on here and found a post from a while back where someone had high nitrates and was dosing PPS pro. They omitted some or all of the KNO3 from the mix, and added in K2S04 to make up for the lost calcium. I tried this but Im not sure if it has dissolved, I just mixed last night. Im wondering if I would be served better by adding some CaSO4 to make up for the removal of KNO3? I have noticed what looks to be Ca deficiencies in some plants in the past, about a month ago I added some extra K2SO4 to my mix and it did seem to help.

Ill have to get a tds meter, probably just get a cheap one off of amazon.
 

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Hi sprint_9
What chemicals do you use to make Solution #1 and #2?

Next is your NO3. Because you don’t have the TDS tester yet you need to do something about the possibly elevated NO3 levels. Here is how, take 1000 ml RO water and put in 5 drops of Solution #1 and stir it. This is now 1000 ml of 10 ppm of NO3. Take your NO3 test kit and check this 10 ppm water. Now you know what colour 10 ppm of NO3 looks like. Then with the same NO3 kit check your aquarium water. The exact ppm reading is not important. Important is to see if you have more or less NO3 in the aquarium. If you have more NO3 flush the aquarium.

I cannot help you with the API GH and KH test kits as I don’t use them. Maybe somebody will explain it here.

You are saying about others having the same high NO3 level but I can tell you I see people having also the opposite problem of zero NO3. There are reasons behind these inconsistencies. Instead of finding why it is, people start fiddling with the solution contents and that doesn’t resolve the issue.

Next is your assumption that KNO3 or K2SO4 supplies Ca Calcium. No, there is no Ca Calcium in K2SO4 or KNO3. Because you use RO you may need to supply Ca in CaSO4 form. I will tell you how when you get some.

Keep dosing as suggested above and do the 1000 ml RO NO3 test to see if you really have high aquarium NO3. Also, when ordering the TDS meter make sure it does µS, need to have 0 – 2000 µS range or similar.

Edward PPS
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi sprint_9
What chemicals do you use to make Solution #1 and #2?
I was going off of the calcuator, using the same chemicals in the calculated amounts. This most recent time I fiddled with it like I mentioned above. Ill probably use it for a few more weeks since I have it mixed already. After this mix that I altered I will go back to the calculated amounts per the calculator since you mentioned the changes I made make no difference to NO3.

You are saying about others having the same high NO3 level but I can tell you I see people having also the opposite problem of zero NO3. There are reasons behind these inconsistencies. Instead of finding why it is, people start fiddling with the solution contents and that doesn’t resolve the issue.
In the future is there anything I can do specifically with my dosing to help with the issue? Just dose the appropriate amount, or lessen it? I should mention I have a good to maybe even a little high fish load

Because you use RO you may need to supply Ca in CaSO4 form. I will tell you how when you get some.
Ive got some CaSO4 on order, should be here toward the beginning of next week.

Ive got a tds meter picked out as well, does 0-9999 µS. That is about all I can fine for a range.

I am down to around 20-40 on NO3. I need to do a couple more water changes but haven't had time this week, this weekend I should have more time. I have noticed things seem to be looking much better in the tank, both plants I mentioned in my first post have taken a turn for the better.

Thanks for the help Edward, I really appreciate it.
 

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Hi sprint_9
The reason why I am asking first what chemicals you use to make the two solutions is because I see people using all kind of stuff and then wondering why it doesn’t work. You are talking about a calculator, do you have a link?

The original formula is here
How is your different?

If you like to modify the fertilizer content maybe due to higher fish load than I would do so later, when your plants are in good shape and the ecosystem is stable.

Here is a template I use to describe the fertilization:

How do I start PPS-Pro?
We all know new setups are challenging. Plants need time to adapt to new conditions.
To begin, aquarium water can start at any nutrient levels. Then we start dosing daily PPS-Pro solution #1 (Macros) at 2 ml per 10 gallon and PPS-Pro #2 (Trace elements) at 1/10th of the recommended 1 ml per 10 gallon for about four weeks to let the plants to adapt. (Daily dose 2 ppm NO3, 0.2 ppm PO4, 2.66 ppm K, 0.01 ppm Fe)

During this time and in to the future we need to switch from test kits to conductivity readings. This is easier, cheaper, faster and more accurate to overall living condition. Everything in an aquarium, alive or not, has some relationship to conductivity. TDS-tester

The way it is done is to maintain consistent levels of pollutants, like fertilizers, substrate leaks, fish waste, decoration leaks and other with water changes. Some setups involve large water changes at times, and some more balanced, not so much. That’s the beauty. Plants and fish love consistency.

For example, when your tap is 300 µS, one PPS-Pro daily fertilizer dose is 6µS. This one dose is 1 ppm of NO3. So to limit the NO3 to 15 ppm we need to make sure the conductivity reading is kept under (6 x 15) + 300 = 390 µS. This is so easy.

After the four weeks we start dosing daily PPS-Pro solution #1 at 1 ml per 10 gallon and PPS-Pro #2 (Trace elements) at 1/10th of the recommended 1 ml per 10 gallon and follow the conductivity TDS readings for water changes. Yes, no more test kits. (Daily dose 1 ppm NO3, 0.1 ppm PO4, 1.33 ppm K, 0.01 ppm Fe)

If you feel like needing more fertilizer then there is no problem to dose more ml of the PPS-Pro solutions. The conductivity reading will take care of it and balance it out.

(Copied from here)

sprint_9,
You can skip the 2 ml per gallon dose and go directly to 1 ml per 10 gallon because you use RO water. RO is a slow supply.


The last is Ca Calcium, an essential plant nutrient. Because RO doesn’t have Ca we need to add it. This is done daily by adding 0.3 ppm of Ca with CaSO4. This can be done dry or in a solution.

Dry 0.3 ppm Ca daily dose, 2.6 µS
0.052 g per 10 gallon or 40 L
0.155 g per 30 gallon or 120 L
0.258 g per 50 gallon or 200 L
0.387 g per 75 gallon or 300 L
0.516 g per 100 gallon or 400 L

Calcium Solution 0.3 ppm Ca daily dose, 2.6 µS
3 ml per 1 gallon or 4 L
3.44 g CaSO4 in 2000 ml RO

One Ca dose increases conductivity 2.6 µS and one PPS-Pro dose of 1 ppm NO3 increases conductivity 6 µS, a day. RO is usually 10 µS. To limit NO3 to 15 ppm with Ca dosing we need to maintain water column at 140 µS with RO water changes. ((2.6 + 6) x 15) + 10 ≈ 140 µS

Note: For tap water, example tap 300 µS, ((2.6 + 6) x 15) + 300 ≈ 430 µS


Edward PPS
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That is the calculator I use. This most recent time I omitted some KNO3 and added K2SO4 in its place, hoping to lower my nitrates as I had read some posts on here about others trying the same thing when they had high nitrates.

When I get my calcium can I add that directly to my solution 1 bottle?

Ive got a couple more questions for in the future. At what point do I start to up my dosage on solution 2 from 1/10th? And what would be the proper way to alter the solution for a high fish load?

Ive always used the calculator but never noticed all the articles and faqs in the side menu, I completely over looked all of that.
 

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API GH and KH tests:

KH is a measure of carbonates. It is measured in several ways in different trades (Your water company may report it in different units than aquarium keepers use). API reports it in German degrees of hardness. Each drop of reagent, added to 5ml sample of water = 1 German degree of hardness. The other common unit is mg/l (milligrams per liter) which is the same as ppm (parts per million) some test strips report the results in ppm. 1 German degree of hardness = 17.9 ppm.
Common sources of carbonates in aquariums:
Limestone and related rocks, sand, gravel.
Coral sand, oyster shell grit, sea shells.
Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).
Potassium bicarbonate.
pH raising products (read the label- many of them are baking soda)
Fertilizers that contain carbonates or bicarbonates.

GH is measured the same way: German degrees of hardness, and ppm. API results are in German degrees of hardness. Each drop of reagent, added to 5ml sample of water = 1 German degree of hardness.
GH is a measure of both calcium and magnesium. Plants need both minerals. Plants use about 4 parts calcium to 1 part magnesium.
Many fertilizer 'recipes' include Epsom salt, which is a good source of magnesium, but has no calcium.
Sources of GH in the aquarium, some are more calcium, others are more magnesium, some are combined with carbonates so raise both GH and KH:
Limestone and related rocks, sand, gravels.
Coral sand, oyster shell grit, sea shells.
GH booster products that usually include calcium sulfate and magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt).
Fertilizers that contain calcium or magnesium.

I would like to know what you are adding to your RO water to prepare it for the tank. What products are you using? What is in these? Read the label.
 

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… This most recent time I omitted some KNO3 and added K2SO4 in its place, hoping to lower my nitrates as I had read some posts on here about others trying the same thing when they had high nitrates. … And what would be the proper way to alter the solution for a high fish load?
When there is more fish, fewer plants, waste build up or unhealthy plants, NO3 starts accumulating. The PPS-Pro Solution #1 has more K by design to compensate for a reasonable fish load. Adding even more K is an option but it has limits. The limit is with N from fish waste. Fish waste N is in organic form which plants don’t use directly. It has to transform to inorganic form before plants can use it. This is done by bacteria and it is a slow process. Because of this slow process we cannot rely on this source of N in CO2 enriched higher light aquariums. Higher NO3 test kit readings don’t necessarily mean there cannot be N deficient plants. A test kit reads both, organic and inorganic together as one. The same applies to P.

Because of this, there is a good chance that your NO3 readings will go down once you start dosing complete fertilizer. The reason behind this is having healthier plants and overall ecosystem.

When I get my calcium can I add that directly to my solution 1 bottle?
Unfortunately that wouldn’t work, CaSO4 solubility is too low.

… At what point do I start to up my dosage on solution #2 from 1/10th?
The 1/10th of 1 ml is 2 drops per gallon or 40 liters and it is the normal PPS-Pro #2 Trace element dose.



I would like to thank Diana for her informative post above.

EdwardPPS
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I would like to know what you are adding to your RO water to prepare it for the tank. What products are you using? What is in these? Read the label.
Diana, thanks for the great write up on the kits and what the readings mean. It really helped me understand it. As I was reading your description on where the KH/GH readings might be sourced from I realized I am likely getting some readings off of my Seriyu stone. I have probably 15- 20 pounds in my tank which is a 90 gallon. I wonder if it would be advisable to remove it, I was leery about buying it as I have read about others having issues with it altering the water quality. I figured with only that much in a larger water volume I would be ok, might not be I guess.

The only product I use during water changes is Prime, and I dont use that every time either

Unfortunately that wouldn’t work, CaSO4 solubility is too low.
Can I add the dry granules right to my sump? Also just to make sure I understand this correctly, for 75 gallons I dose .387 g daily? That seems like a lot.

The 1/10th of 1 ml is 2 drops per gallon or 40 liters and it is the normal PPS-Pro #2 Trace element dose.
The reason I am confused on this is because on the calculator page here it says this :

Dosing: The proper dosing quantity is 1 ml of each solution per 10 gallon or 40 litre of aquarium size. Dose prior to lights turning on.
 

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… The only product I use during water changes is Prime, and I don’t use that every time either
Why do you use it with RO water? There is no need.

Can I add the dry granules right to my sump? Also just to make sure I understand this correctly, for 75 gallons I dose .387 g daily? That seems like a lot.
This can be dosed anywhere where is some water flow. Yes, 0.387 g makes 0.3 ppm of Ca in 75 gallon.

The reason I am confused on this is because on the calculator page here it says this :

Dosing: The proper dosing quantity is 1 ml of each solution per 10 gallon or 40 litre of aquarium size. Dose prior to lights turning on.
The full dose of 1 ml of trace elements is for hard water and active CEC substrates, since you use RO you need 1/10th of that, 2 drops per 10 gallon.
 

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The only reason I use prime every now and then is because it says it helps with promote the production and regeneration of the natural slime coat.
I wouldn’t use it because it interferes with trace elements.

I have been over dosing solution number 2 for some time then, and by quite a bit.
I am sorry, this was always a tricky choice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I have no problems stopping my prime usage, one less thing to buy.

No worries, Im wondering if some of my plant/algae problems could have been related to over dosing on solution 2.

Another question that I have had is with the use of Osmocote tabs, do you recommend using them or no? I have inert pool sand for substrate.

Sorry for all the questions.
 

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I have no problems stopping my prime usage, one less thing to buy.
Keep it simple.

No worries, I am wondering if some of my plant/algae problems could have been related to over dosing on solution 2.
Hard to say. Usually it is a combination of things. The key is to create a stable and consistent environment. Changes are causing plants to go to transformation shock and that is what algae are waiting for.

Another question that I have had is with the use of Osmocote tabs, do you recommend using them or no? I have inert pool sand for substrate.
Tabs may work well under deep soil substrate in an aquarium without CO2 enrichment.
In a CO2 aquarium, tabs can create havoc. The tabs can leak out of the substrate and mess up water column levels. Also, uprooting plants sitting on tabs can ruin a day.

Sorry for all the questions.
Why not, it’s fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I ordered some plants today. I want to try and get some healthy stuff in my tank and see if I can get some positive results. My current set of plants has been through enough ups and downs Im not sure if it will ever make it, Im going to save some of it, but not all. So Im planing a rescape, also planing on removing some of my seriyu stone, probably not all of it but Im going to lessen it down to only a couple of rocks. I find that they just seem to collect algae, and debris just seems to collect around them likely adding to my nitrate issues.

Ill stay away from root tabs, keep it simple as you said.

Last night I did another water change, and cleaned my sump. Ill have to get an NO3 reading tonight.
 

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Hi
Getting new plants is nice, still, keep as many old plants as you can, they will recover. The new plants are coming from different environment and that means that they will regrow new leaves. The old leaves will deteriorate and get algae so they need to be removed but not before new growth appears.

One more thing, plants will not stay alive for long in zero Calcium Ca water. RO does not have Ca.
 

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PPS only addresses NPK+micros does it not? You are using mineral free water, correct? The GH and KH is from your rocks only as you aren't adding anything to the RO, correct?

GH is supposed to be calcium, magnesium and potassium but tends to be more calcium than anything else. I wonder if low magnesium is a problem here. My water has a moderate amount of GH but adding 1 tsp of epsom salts to the 180 gallon tank sure helped out some plants that were suffering in my tank a couple years ago. The week after the salts were added the plant tips showed recovery so it is fast. The myrio in particular would show fast recovery.

I'd add magnesium before I added calcium. Mine is from the $ store, just make sure it is plain epsom salts.
 
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