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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I feel like a frantic mother (I'm a guy..)

I've been chasing after some issues here and there in my new 20 gal for the past 5 weeks it's been up. I can't tell if I'm doing something wrong, or it's just not had the time to balance. There's algae, green water, signs of certain deprivations (mostly potassium, just got a fert for it) and diatoms. My next thing to worry about is if my pH is too high (7.6-7.8). With it being a low-tech (no co2), I'm unsure if I should add certain things like co2 or more ferts. I need some advice on how to figure out if it's balanced, or if I'm just over worrying. Is my pH keeping my plants from absorbing the ferts? If so, is HLC recommended? Any help is appreciated, thanks guys!

Ferts:
Flourish, Flourish Excel, Flourish Potassium, and Flourish Root Tabs.

Specs:
20 long, ammonia: 0-.05 ppm, nitrites: 0ppm, nitrates: 80 ppm, pH: 7.6-7.8, 1.8 WPG (high intensity, 8 hrs/day)

Stock: 12 RCS (including shrimplets), adding an Oto tomorrow :)
 

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5 weeks isn't a really long time on a tank, I've had my 40b up and running around 10 to 12 weeks now and still dealing with diatoms (worst I've ever had over the years) myself. an Oto will help 2 or 3 would be better.

Are your plants growing? The pic doesn't look bad to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
5 weeks isn't a really long time on a tank, I've had my 40b up and running around 10 to 12 weeks now and still dealing with diatoms (worst I've ever had over the years) myself. an Oto will help 2 or 3 would be better.

Are your plants growing? The pic doesn't look bad to me.
Is a 20 gal enough for more than one Oto? Yeah they're growing! At first, a majority of them melted away. That's mostly over now, however. The only thing not really growing is the hair grass and the red one (starts with and "L"?) but I'm starting to see new growth on the grass :)

Thanks for the reply!
 

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Carpe Diem
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Well, first off, stop worrying about your pH - by itself, it has little effect on your plants. Mine is 8.4 out the tap.

Your first focus should be your light as everything else in your tank revolves around it. WPG does not mean much nowadays as it is basically the measure of how much electrical energy your fixture is using - not how much useful energy is actually reaching your plants. So, do please share some details like what bulbs you are using (CFL, t5ho, LED, etc.) Kelvin rating, and the brand/type of the fixture. That will help others to estimate how much and what type of light you actually have.

The next focus are your plants - they + light + nutrients are the 3 cornerstones of a planted tank. Every one of them must be in the right relationship to the two others for the whole system to 'balance'. In comparison, everything else are minor adjustments.

Plants: what do you have?

Nutrients: your water (kH), your substrate type, your fertilizers (how much of what you are dosing and how often), and your water change schedule.

Without these key info, anybody's guess will be as good as mine.

You can do it - this community has your 6.

Edit: I would not add any fish to your tank until you get it figured out. Ottos are especially poor choice right now for a lot of reasons.

v3
 

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Is a 20 gal enough for more than one Oto? Yeah they're growing! At first, a majority of them melted away. That's mostly over now, however. The only thing not really growing is the hair grass and the red one (starts with and "L"?) but I'm starting to see new growth on the grass :)

Thanks for the reply!
I have 3 in a 40gal so... They don't get real big and you can always feed them alge waffers down the road.

Some of my plants leaves melted (1 was really bad almost took out all of the original leaves) but with new growth showing at the same time I shrugged it off as transplant shock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, first off, stop worrying about your pH - by itself, it has little effect on your plants. Mine is 8.4 out the tap.

Your first focus should be your light as everything else in your tank revolves around it. WPG does not mean much nowadays as it is basically the measure of how much electrical energy your fixture is using - not how much useful energy is actually reaching your plants. So, do please share some details like what bulbs you are using (CFL, t5ho, LED, etc.) Kelvin rating, and the brand/type of the fixture. That will help others to estimate how much and what type of light you actually have.

The next focus are your plants - they + light + nutrients are the 3 cornerstones of a planted tank. Every one of them must be in the right relationship to the two others for the whole system to 'balance'. In comparison, everything else are minor adjustments.

Plants: what do you have?

Nutrients: your water (kH), your substrate type, your fertilizers (how much of what you are dosing and how often), and your water change schedule.

Without these key info, anybody's guess will be as good as mine.

You can do it - this community has your 6.

v3
My lightning is an Aqueon 30" t5 dual fixture with one 6700k and one colormax bulb. I have an Anubias Nana, some Java moss, a Red Flame, Ludwigia, Dwarf Hair Grass, 3 Amazon Swords, Rotala Nanjenshanx, and some Hygrophila Angustifolia. They're growing in Eco-complete. I dose 2 mL of excel daily, 1.33 mL of Flourish twice a week, and 4 mL of Flourish Potassium 3 times a week (all recommended dosages). I do a 30 % water change once every 2 weeks. My kH is 60-80. I'm glad to hear about the pH. Really didn't want to mess with that! You guys have helped me out a ton in the past... Gotta love this place! Thank you.
 

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Carpe Diem
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Some obvious things jump right out:

- Flourish contains micros only. Your N is at 80 ppm and you are dosing K. What about P? If you are bottoming out on phosphate then the other nutrients cannot be used by the plants. In that case, this would be your problem number One.

- I am guessing that you are using CoraLife bulbs. If that is the case then you are pushing it a bit, but not too bad. If you are using any other brand, then you got some serious light for the plants you have and no co2.

- The majority of your plants are heavy root feeders. Planted in substrate with no nutrients. Therefore, all your swords and even the hairgrass can't grow much. In a month since planting, I would have expected them to double in size under decent conditions. Your Amazon swords should grow out of the tank in another month.

Given the above, your situation is not surprising. The green water is another indicator that at least some of my guesses are pretty close.

My short term plan would be:
- either check or start dosing phosphate
- clean the tank: rotting leaves, plants, any algae you can get out
- do a decent water change >50%
- rethink your plant choices: at least temporarily, dump some cheap fast growing plants like water sprite, ambulia, Stargrass, etc. and different floaters: they will reduce the amount of light and start sucking up you N and other excess junk.

Take some pictures of the tank.
Give it a couple of weeks.

Take more pictures.
Compare the pictures: did the plants grow? Is algae receding?

v3
 

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First off, 5 weeks is really way to soon. If it was 5 months than I would say that's a good point to really be focusing on dialing it all in.

How high is the light fixture away from your substrate? How long are you lights on per day?

Start doing weekly PWC, aim for 30-50%. This will replenish vital minerals.

You should be testing for nitrates at the end of the week, this ensures you know how much uptake your getting and from here you can starting adjusting ferts.

I would suggest getting dry ferts. Specifically k2so4 and micros aka trace elements. Since you have flourish comp than for now you don't need micros. Through feeding and good fish load N and P should be fine.

Key here is to observe for plant deficiencies and this will tell you how to make adjustments.


My tank is just pasted 4 months old and I only started to high my stride on week 15.

Another important thing to consider is that when you are making changes to your tank don't expect immediate results. You need to observe for several weeks to see how the change is taking effect. And make small changes, this means not upping you bio load 4x is 1 week or not adding a whole ton of ferts compared to the week before. Try and be gradual.
 

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I second OVT.
Your dosing seems way high for 30% water change every 15 days and that little plant mass. Its a low tech tank so you wont see much growth in just 5 weeks.
 

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You're worrying too much . Low tech goes slow , give it a month or 2 and see how it goes . Nitrates a bit high for me though , maybe go to a weekly water change 20% or so for a few weeks and cut back on ferts? I'm doing 15-20% bi weekly changes on my 30P plus 1/4 dosing weekly of Flourish and Trace .Works for me. Don't sweat the Ph . Keep in mind that , unlike a high tech tank , which frequently develops into an exercise in better living thru chemistry , low tech means trying to set up a small ecosystem that's as self regulating as possible for long periods of time , years , maybe . This means taking your time and letting your plants,fish , and inverts find their groove , and then not messing around too much .
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Some obvious things jump right out:

- Flourish contains micros only. Your N is at 80 ppm and you are dosing K. What about P? If you are bottoming out on phosphate then the other nutrients cannot be used by the plants. In that case, this would be your problem number One.

- I am guessing that you are using CoraLife bulbs. If that is the case then you are pushing it a bit, but not too bad. If you are using any other brand, then you got some serious light for the plants you have and no co2.

- The majority of your plants are heavy root feeders. Planted in substrate with no nutrients. Therefore, all your swords and even the hairgrass can't grow much. In a month since planting, I would have expected them to double in size under decent conditions. Your Amazon swords should grow out of the tank in another month.

Given the above, your situation is not surprising. The green water is another indicator that at least some of my guesses are pretty close.

My short term plan would be:
- either check or start dosing phosphate
- clean the tank: rotting leaves, plants, any algae you can get out
- do a decent water change >50%
- rethink your plant choices: at least temporarily, dump some cheap fast growing plants like water sprite, ambulia, Stargrass, etc. and different floaters: they will reduce the amount of light and start sucking up you N and other excess junk.

Take some pictures of the tank.
Give it a couple of weeks.

Take more pictures.
Compare the pictures: did the plants grow? Is algae receding?

v3
I will get a phosphate test kit and determine if I need to add some in. I've been tracking the growth of my plants since I started the tank and my swords took off immediately (although they seem to have taken a break), my anubias grew a new leaf (I'm surprised because the plant is covered in algae and diatoms), my Red Flame and all my other plants grew some too, besides my hair grass which like I said, only just participating in the growth. My light is pretty close to the water, 2" maybe. I recently reduced my photo period from 12 to 8hrs. Do you recommend I construct a DIY co2 system? I'll pick up some of said plants on my trek to the pet store today. I've been removing algae, especially with a recent outbreak of Cyclops, and dead/rotting leaves as much as I can. When I did my water change last week, the water was very clear and the tank itself looked a ton better, but that only lasted a few days, for when I came back from my Mom's, it was back to it's old self again :thumbsup: I'm surprised, I thougt that Eco-complete was a good substrate! I even added some root tabs to help out the swords and any other plants who were feelin' it. I was thinking Otos would help remove the diatoms and algae forming on almost all the leaves of my plants, and maybe they'd help with the phosphate problem? Thanks, for helpin' me out. :smile::smile:
 

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The light you have is what was previously known as a Coralife T5NO light, and it is probably giving you 40-50 PAR, or medium light. That is enough that your plants will do much better if you dose Seachem Excel at 4 ml per day. I suggest reading http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?t=21944 and buying the chemicals it recommends, then dosing them at about 1/2 of the dosages shown on the tables. Don't try to test for nitrates and phosphates and adjust dosing based on that. Just do the weekly 50% water changes, and you won't need to worry about overdosing fertilizers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The light you have is what was previously known as a Coralife T5NO light, and it is probably giving you 40-50 PAR, or medium light. That is enough that your plants will do much better if you dose Seachem Excel at 4 ml per day. I suggest reading http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?t=21944 and buying the chemicals it recommends, then dosing them at about 1/2 of the dosages shown on the tables. Don't try to test for nitrates and phosphates and adjust dosing based on that. Just do the weekly 50% water changes, and you won't need to worry about overdosing fertilizers.
I read the article and looked at the chart and I identified some of the chemicals, one of them being potassium nitrate. Seeing that I dose Flourish Potassium and my nitrate levels are 80ppm, is this specific fertilizer necessary? And the 50% WC every week is the EI method, right? I think I should try doing that like you said, but not completely sure how it works.. just make sure you dose more than enough, then repeat after each WC? I've not gotten into dry ferts, nor do I have a specific schedule on my dosing. I should probably get on that. Should I forget all the flourish deals (besides excel, or go co2 instead?), and go all-dry? Thanks!
 

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The EI dosing method, which that thread is about, is based on:
1. An excess of nutrients does no harm, unless you allow the excess to build up to levels far higher than most people ever experience.
2. If you replace half the water in the tank once a week, the highest concentration of any nutrient will be twice the total amount you dose per week.
3. Plant growth rate is determined by the least available nutrient for the plants - Liebig's Law of the Minimum.

If you dose the amounts shown in the tables, following the schedule shown, then replace half the water in the tank once a week, you will never have a shortage of any nutrient, and you will never have such a high concentration of any nutrient as to cause a problem. None of the nutrients will be in short supply, so the plant's growth rate will be determined by the amount of light and the amount of CO2 present in the water. That is the optimum situation.

Nitrate and Phosphate test kits are difficult to use correctly, often give incorrect results, and need to be calibrated before trusting their results. Rather than trust those kits, use the EI dosing method and don't bother with testing.

Excel is an alternative source of carbon for plants, which can be used instead of CO2 for tanks with low or medium light only. It works best if you dose twice the recommended dosage every day, and don't ever dose the "new tank" dosage (which is 5 times the daily dose).
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The EI dosing method, which that thread is about, is based on:
1. An excess of nutrients does no harm, unless you allow the excess to build up to levels far higher than most people ever experience.
2. If you replace half the water in the tank once a week, the highest concentration of any nutrient will be twice the total amount you dose per week.
3. Plant growth rate is determined by the least available nutrient for the plants - Liebig's Law of the Minimum.

If you dose the amounts shown in the tables, following the schedule shown, then replace half the water in the tank once a week, you will never have a shortage of any nutrient, and you will never have such a high concentration of any nutrient as to cause a problem. None of the nutrients will be in short supply, so the plant's growth rate will be determined by the amount of light and the amount of CO2 present in the water. That is the optimum situation.

Nitrate and Phosphate test kits are difficult to use correctly, often give incorrect results, and need to be calibrated before trusting their results. Rather than trust those kits, use the EI dosing method and don't bother with testing.


Excel is an alternative source of carbon for plants, which can be used instead of CO2 for tanks with low or medium light only. It works best if you dose twice the recommended dosage every day, and don't ever dose the "new tank" dosage (which is 5 times the daily dose).
Okay, that makes sense. I'll start double-dosing Excel. I just did a 50% water change too. Now for the Flourish and Flourish Potassium, do I double-dose those aswell, all on separate days? Also, should I buy an EI pack from Grean Leaf Aquariums, containing Plantex CSM + B, KNO3, KH2PO4, K2SO4, and forget about all the Flourish products?
 

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Okay, that makes sense. I'll start double-dosing Excel. I just did a 50% water change too. Now for the Flourish and Flourish Potassium, do I double-dose those aswell, all on separate days? Also, should I buy an EI pack from Grean Leaf Aquariums, containing Plantex CSM + B, KNO3, KH2PO4, K2SO4, and forget about all the Flourish products?
Flourish fertilizer dosage tables appear to be designed for low light tanks only. When you have more light than that you have to dose more than the table amounts. Personally, I would order the dry chemicals you listed and use the Flourish comprehensive as a micronutrient mix until it runs out, then switch to the CSM+B, and I would keep using the Excel at double dosage.
 

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Okay, that makes sense. I'll start double-dosing Excel. I just did a 50% water change too. Now for the Flourish and Flourish Potassium, do I double-dose those aswell, all on separate days? Also, should I buy an EI pack from Grean Leaf Aquariums, containing Plantex CSM + B, KNO3, KH2PO4, K2SO4, and forget about all the Flourish products?
I recently started planting my 55 gallon. I took the plunge right away and bought the EI pack from Green Leaf Aquariums along with two of there 500ML dispensing bottles.
I recently found this thread by zorfox very useful http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?t=647697. Basically I follow the same routine except I dose 1/3rd of the ingredients as suggested. That along with root tabs. I'm interested to see if my tank does well as it's my first planted one.
 
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