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I've had a 36 gallon tank setup for about 1.5 years now and have hit a major snag. My plants have stopped growing and many now have holes in their leaves. A few have even died. I'm really not sure what is going on.

The biggest thing I can think of is that I've made a number of changes to my liquid fertilizer usage throughout the tank's life. I've gone back and forth on using/ not using fertilizer as I don't want to overdo the tank's bioload. Most recently, I've used Tropica Premium Nutrition but shortly after I started, I noticed the problems I mentioned arising. I tried to switch to Thrive this week but it seemed to cause an ammonia spike in the tank.

I'm at a complete loss for what is going on and would love some advice.

Here are the tank specs:

36 gallon
2 Finnex Lights
CO2 System (has been running a bit higher than normal recently)
Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 20-30
pH - 6.0
 

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Tropica Premium Nutrition does not contain nitrogen or phosphorus, according to their website: https://tropica.com/en/plant-care/liquid-fertilisers/premium-nutrition/

You have ample nitrate according to your test results, but I suspect your phosphates are low. Could be the culprit. I'd keep using Thrive, as it has macro- and micronutrients.

Also, how often are your water changes?
 

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Tropica Premium doesn't have much of any macros, as it is mainly a micro dose. I'd go back to the Thrive, assuming it is an AIO. Use this calculator to determine dosing: https://rotalabutterfly.com/nutrient-calculator.php and you'll have to give it a couple weeks to show full effect.

If you want a full response, give us as much of the following as possible:

- Light: ideally, PAR and PUR reading/estimate at the substrate and photoperiod?
- What is the CO2 ppm level and how is it measured?
- Current PO4, GH, KH, pH and TDS readings and which test kits/devices are used for each?
- Substrate type and how long has it been in place?
- What is your filter setup?
- Cleaning regimen (filter and water change frequency and amount)?
- Circulation: surface rippling and are all plants gently moving from top to bottom?
- What is your water source and do you use a water softener?
 

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I've had a 36 gallon tank setup for about 1.5 years now and have hit a major snag. My plants have stopped growing and many now have holes in their leaves. A few have even died. I'm really not sure what is going on.

The biggest thing I can think of is that I've made a number of changes to my liquid fertilizer usage throughout the tank's life. I've gone back and forth on using/ not using fertilizer as I don't want to overdo the tank's bioload. Most recently, I've used Tropica Premium Nutrition but shortly after I started, I noticed the problems I mentioned arising. I tried to switch to Thrive this week but it seemed to cause an ammonia spike in the tank.

I'm at a complete loss for what is going on and would love some advice.

Here are the tank specs:

36 gallon
2 Finnex Lights
CO2 System (has been running a bit higher than normal recently)
Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 20-30
pH - 6.0

What were the tank parameters when everything was going well? If you keep a log book of your tank parameters over time you can identify what has changed when things go awry.

In my experience planted tanks don't like changes. The fewer changes you make over the life of the tank the more successful your tank will be. Plants acclimatize to there surroundings. When you change the parameters the plants have to reclimatize to the new parameters which causes stress, melting and die off. Do your weekly water changes, ease off on adding fertilizers and stick to one fertilizer, what ever it is. Stop changing things and let the tank come to a balance again.
 
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