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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys I'm about ready to give up on having a successful low tech tank. I see the low tech lush forum on here and I'm just out of words. What am I doing wrong?

This has been the best forum for my tank and I want to be successful, but I'm about ready to ditch all the fancy lights, ferts, all that and just have maybe a sword and driftwood and be done.

So my tank is a 125 discus. It has cories, tetras, nerites, and 2 BN plecos.

Plants are jungle Val, wisteria, cabomba, water sprite, Anubius, red wendtii crypts, and Amazon swords.

I have nothing but an algae farm it seems with brown algae everywhere and turning the leaves and roots black. Seems I'm getting a hair algae outbreak also and it just looks horrible.

For ferts I've been dosing gla ei method with their macros/plantex dry ferts. Also use seachem root tabs.

For c02 I've been using excel and now metricide 14 daily.

Lights are a 72" beamswork led 6500k, and a 48" Finnex Planted Plus.

They were on a timer for 10 hours per day, but I switched yesterday to 2 4 hour split photo periods, 6-10 am and pm.

Water changes are every other 2 to 3 days depending on work.

I'm not seeing much growth and it's just becoming a not fun chore. Can anyone give me any real tips and ideas to fix the issues? I would love to do pressurized c02, but it's not an option right now. Thank you!
 

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Hey guys I'm about ready to give up on having a successful low tech tank. I see the low tech lush forum on here and I'm just out of words. What am I doing wrong?

This has been the best forum for my tank and I want to be successful, but I'm about ready to ditch all the fancy lights, ferts, all that and just have maybe a sword and driftwood and be done.

So my tank is a 125 discus. It has cories, tetras, nerites, and 2 BN plecos.

Plants are jungle Val, wisteria, cabomba, water sprite, Anubius, red wendtii crypts, and Amazon swords.

I have nothing but an algae farm it seems with brown algae everywhere and turning the leaves and roots black. Seems I'm getting a hair algae outbreak also and it just looks horrible.

For ferts I've been dosing gla ei method with their macros/plantex dry ferts. Also use seachem root tabs.

For c02 I've been using excel and now metricide 14 daily.

Lights are a 72" beamswork led 6500k, and a 48" Finnex Planted Plus.

They were on a timer for 10 hours per day, but I switched yesterday to 2 4 hour split photo periods, 6-10 am and pm.

Water changes are every other 2 to 3 days depending on work.

I'm not seeing much growth and it's just becoming a not fun chore. Can anyone give me any real tips and ideas to fix the issues? I would love to do pressurized c02, but it's not an option right now. Thank you!

Low tech is supposed to be easy and fun. It seems like your doing so much more then what a low tech should be..got to remember plants grow slow and every thing takes time. all those beautiful tanks take awhile before they get to where they are. honestly if your having algae problems. you could be having countless of things going up and down.. such as to much light, to much ferts, water is up and down..not enough plants in the tank to soak up all the excess that is floating around. honestly and I don't want to sound like a jerk but do some more research in the forums see what others are doing in their journals. got to remember no 2 tanks are alike. so every one has different things they need to do to make their tank the way it is. plus when you switch up things you need to go slow.. so changing your light period you will see it take an effect over 2 or more weeks. same as adjusting ferts or what ever. its a labor of love and its not an easy one.. but you got to remember low tech is really just low tech..

I know it isn't much help but its more of hey keep trying don't fail learn whats good and bad and research..
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I think I'll cut back to once or twice per week on the ferts and keep the metricide up daily. Reducing the light also may help, so we'll see. Thanks guys!
 

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I think dosing ei method in a low tech tank is your problem. More nutrients than the plants can take up = algae farm. I have two low tech tanks and have decent growth and few problems and I only use root tabs. I think I would cut out the ei dosing. Keep using the metricide. There is a par graph here that may contain your lights on it but I am guessing, guessing mind you, that you can eliminate the 48" light and if you want keep an 8 hour schedule split into two four hour segments for the beamworks. Once you get things under control add the 48" light back into the mix and see how it goes. I think if you do these things your algae issues go away. Also you said you have black algae on the leaves, I would double the dose of metricide and see if it starts turning red, if it does then it is dying off.
 

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Good advice being given here.
Don't despair- go at it slow & easy, and keeps things as simple as you can. As has been suggested, cut out all the other nutrients for a while and just go with the root tabs & metricide, along with temporary light time reduction, even down to 6 hrs./day, and see what develops. Be patient - give things 3-4 weeks to settle in, but meantime get rid of as much of the existing algae as you can, by whatever means works.
 

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I'm no expert so food for thought and a grain of salt here. But it seems like both those lights on at 10hrs/day may be a bit much. I'm thinking if I was you I might put each on a separate timer where one comes on at 8am, off at 8pm and the other comes on at say 12pm, off at 6pm. (or there abouts). This better simulates sunrise/midday/sunset and reduces overall light. At the same time reduce any ferts, do a few water changes and beat on the algae. Most of all as mentioned, we (all) need patience as it takes plants time for new plants to get past any transplant shock, root and grow enough to keep algae at bay.

Note: I'm new to a planted aquarium, but I've been an organic vegetable gardener in my 3000 sq.ft. garden for some 35 years. Plants (and transplants) take time to establish and grow.

Edit: Btw, For now, let the algae have the back wall and/or one side or the other (or both) and fight it in the front and around/on the plants. I know it doesn't seem like it, but in some regards, right now algae is helping by absorbing some of the excess nutrients. Once the plants take hold they will out compete for the nutrients and the algae should slip away.
 

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I don't know if discus is the best idea for an easy tank. The balance between the plants and the fish is a fine line. From what I understand, discus need pristine water quality. Doing water changes that often is probably purges the water of macros/micros. My suggestions:

1. Double dose excel (or metricide equivalent) daily. I dose 3ml metricide daily in my 20L and 2ml in my 15.
2. Cut the photoperiod. You could probably get away with 6-7 hours. For me, once I get over 7, high or low tech, I have issues.
 

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Wow that's a lot of work! I had a very rough start and was ready to give up after about three months, too. I now have a dirted tank capped with blasting sand. I maybe remember to dose with Flourish once every couple weeks. Low light on for 7 hours, with 4 hour siesta breaking that up. No algae problems (I actually worry about my nerite getting enough), plants grow slowly and I finally learned to give up on those that don't make it and stick with plants that grow easily and well (an expensive lesson for me). Good luck!
 

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I say get rid of all fertilizers except for your root tabs. I've had luck with of those plants (except cabomba) even without fertilizers.

I think the fertilizers are causing your algae bloom.

No co2, either. I don't think those plants need it.

Good luck.
 

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You're working too hard ! I think that if I were in your place , I'd do the following … Cut out the excel/metricide . Stop EI dosing for now . Maybe just use the beams work for now .Do a 30% water change , wait a couple of days and do another , and then a third a few days after that . 3-30% changes over a week to a week and a half . This should get most of your excess nutrients out . The plants you've got all should do OK with the reduced light except , as mentioned by NOTCOUSTEAU , the cabomba .Wipe/scrape the algae off whatever surfaces you can without damaging anything . Don't try to remove the root tabs . If your tank isn't heavily stocked with plants , think about adding more swords , crypts , anubias and maybe some vallisineria . The whole purpose of all this is to reset your tank to a low/lower mid light low tech tank . Once you've got this done , consider low light EI dosing and minimal water changes .I use this method on my tanks and it works fine . I dose K2HPO4 in a solution of 1.75 g/250ml. ; KNO3 in solution of 15.5g/250ml. and Microplex in a solution of 4.25g/250ml . These solutions were calculated ( via HERE: Rotala Butterfly | Planted Aquarium Nutrient Dosing Calculator) to give me a 10ml/10 gallon dose .Dosing every other week . Water changes every 3-4 weeks , maybe 20% max . Plus top ups for evaporation . I also add chelated iron monthly , in solution of 3.4 g/250ml , @10ml/10gal.. Just remember that plant growth will be slow . You've gotta be patient . You also don't want to add any large fish that dig . Keep a light fish load . Good Luck !
 

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Discus is a whole different ball game. EI dosing doesn't work with the Discus water change schedule, at least not as expected. Your photo period is way too long. You should have started at 6 hours and only increased the photoperiod after a few months if you weren't having any algae issues. Metricide and Excel are not well suited for starting a tank, IMO.

Here's my advice:
1) Lighting: Stick with the 72" LED on a 6 hour photoperiod. Ditch the secondary lighting for now.
2) Dosing: Stop. Just stop it all. Leave the root tabs, but stop EI and excel dosing.
3) Water changes: Perform your water changes for the discus as you have been.
4) Plants: Get frogbit floaters from someone and add them to the tank.

I like to consider myself an expert of low tech. The only tech in any of my tanks has been water changes with a python. The biggest suggestion I have is getting some frogbit. It is an amazing floating plant that should be given away all the time. It will absorb tons of nutrients and rapidly multiple. Once you've established a good frogbit colony, you can easily up the photoperiod. I would routinely scoop out 70% of my frogbit and give it away, only to have the entire surface covered in frogbit in a week or two. Great nutrient sink, very good root system for fish, and can help block out light if you find you have too much.

Your plant growth is limited by the resource that they lack the most, CO2 in your instance. Algae thrives on the remaining resources.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
That sounds exactly like what my 20g shrimp/baby pleco planted tank is doing.

I dose nothing in that tank. It's plants see doing incredible. I'll take the planted plus off for now and get some frog bit. I took the cabomba out last night and reduced the lighting to 7 hours. 3 on then 4 hours on later in the evening.
 

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That sounds exactly like what my 20g shrimp/baby pleco planted tank is doing.

I dose nothing in that tank. It's plants see doing incredible. I'll take the planted plus off for now and get some frog bit. I took the cabomba out last night and reduced the lighting to 7 hours. 3 on then 4 hours on later in the evening.
You should be able to get some for free. It is basically a weed. Duckweed works if you can live with it. Some people hate it.
 

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Sounds like you're stuck between keeping a discus tank and keeping a planted tank. You're not dosing EI correctly if you're doing water changes every couple of days; which I assume you're doing for the discus;and if so then you're probably not doing enough water changes for the discus (unless they're healthy full grown adults already). You've also got quite a large tank which can be tricky for plants depending on the depth....and dosing liquid carbon in that is going to get expensive in the long run. I also wonder what substrate you're using? Also wonder how long this has been setup ?

I think the best questions you can ask yourself are:
-whats your goal? A nice planted tank? A nice discus tank? A nice community tank?, etc. Lots of work/maintenance or little to now work/maintenance? (dosing schedules, trimming/maintenance schedules, water change schedules, feeding schedules)
-why are you doing what you're doing? Are you dosing ferts via EI method because you've seen others have success or because you tried something else and weren't happy with the results?
-why are you dosing liquid carbon? again is it because you were not happy without the dosing or because someone else says to do it that way?
-Why are you trying to grow these particular plants? Sometimes you have to let your tank (fish, plants, lights, etc) tell you what to do. If these wont work in your setup maybe something else will? You wont know unless you try! (for example....I've given up on trying to grow any species of val. For some reason I just cant get them to survive (not thrive, but just survive!) even though plenty of people say its an easy plant. I cant do it low tech, high tech, pressurized co2, no co2....so I stopped trying!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks for the comments guys. It's amazing how doing nothing to my 20g gets good growth.

For the 125, I started with 2 30" Finnex 24/7s on the 24/7 cycle. I got hardly any growth and all brown algae.

Got a 48" planted plus and a 72" besmswork 6500k led. Put them each on a 10 hr/day straight cycle. Also have been doing full ei dosing since February.

All of my java ferns were dying. All brown leaves nearly every day. I thought this was from no nutrients so I started the ei method then.

After that my java fern picked up, but I also got lots of algae. Started dosing excel daily. Ended up with metricide since it's cheaper. I stopped the ferts and have only been dosing metricide daily for 2 weeks. Java ferns have really picked up but still extremely slow growth. Also moved the lights to a 4 hour each split photo period.

All of my other plants still have lots of brown algae and some black algae that's hard to get off on my sword and anubius. It's just black, looks like bba.

So I got some otos and they cleaned the brown algae up good. Found one attached to a discus and that was the end of them in that tank. Put 2 bn pleco and nerites in but haven't done much.

Today I cut the Finnex planted plus off and have only the besmswork on a 3 and then 4 hour timer.

I do 2 large water changes per week. The discus and other fish are all doing great.

So should I just keep this up and still get some frog bit?

I see so many people's tanks they are lush and mines just ugh. I started dosing metricide to help with algae and growth but it doesn't seem to be doing much.

Again thank you so much!
 

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Thanks for the comments guys. It's amazing how doing nothing to my 20g gets good growth.

For the 125, I started with 2 30" Finnex 24/7s on the 24/7 cycle. I got hardly any growth and all brown algae.

Got a 48" planted plus and a 72" besmswork 6500k led. Put them each on a 10 hr/day straight cycle. Also have been doing full ei dosing since February.

All of my java ferns were dying. All brown leaves nearly every day. I thought this was from no nutrients so I started the ei method then.

After that my java fern picked up, but I also got lots of algae. Started dosing excel daily. Ended up with metricide since it's cheaper. I stopped the ferts and have only been dosing metricide daily for 2 weeks. Java ferns have really picked up but still extremely slow growth. Also moved the lights to a 4 hour each split photo period.

All of my other plants still have lots of brown algae and some black algae that's hard to get off on my sword and anubius. It's just black, looks like bba.

So I got some otos and they cleaned the brown algae up good. Found one attached to a discus and that was the end of them in that tank. Put 2 bn pleco and nerites in but haven't done much.

Today I cut the Finnex planted plus off and have only the besmswork on a 3 and then 4 hour timer.

I do 2 large water changes per week. The discus and other fish are all doing great.

So should I just keep this up and still get some frog bit?

I see so many people's tanks they are lush and mines just ugh. I started dosing metricide to help with algae and growth but it doesn't seem to be doing much.

Again thank you so much!
I have never used a Finnex light fixture, so excuse the dumb question, but can your lights be dimmed?

Most of your plants are slow growth plants, so hitting them with lots of light is going to cause algae. Also if algae continues to be a problem, I'd cut down the photo period. Again, low light plants do not need lots of light. I'd cut down the photo period to 6 hours and try that for a few weeks.

If this tank is under 6 months old, odds are the brown algae is diatoms which will go away by itself once the tank settles.

Adding something such as Frog Bit or Water Sprite will help, especially if this tank is new. As for the metricide, I think you're throwing money down the drain.

This tank needs time to settle and throwing things like Excel or metricide at it isn't going to help. According to your post, it isn't even acting like a decent band aid. I also think you're trying to change too many things at once so even if you do find something that may help, you won't know because you're doing other stuff as well.

Your first priority should always be the fishes health. You've said that they are fine, so start with something simple like making the photo period shorter. Adding Frog Bit I don't consider a serious change. It would be there to soak up any excess nutrients in the water which will starve off the diatoms and BBA. If you need to up your game with the maintenance side of things, then that's what you need to do. Metricide is never going to work as it is said to if there is too much stuff in the water.

Plants don't lie. When they're happy, they will always tell you just as they will tell you when they don't like something.
 
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