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14 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 120 gallon tall planted tank that was cycled in December 2006. The only plants that are doing well in my tank are vals and thread algae. I have been supplementing with Flourish Excel every other day. Today for the first time in a while I added regular Flourish since our iron test said we had no "good" iron. About a month ago I added API root tabs to to gravel. I read that algae can often be controlled by adding more plants so I've let the vals get out of control. I still manually pull out globs of thread algae almost every day. The plant leaves are also covered with a short algae. I do about a 15-20% water change weekly. I have 4 Siamese algae eaters, 6 otto cats and 1 false Siamese algae eater as well as other fish.

So I thought I'd come to the experts and find out if I should be testing for other elements or supplementing with other elements.

substrate: eco-complete
lighting: high - aquarium hood with 2 halides (11 AM - 4 PM) and power compact (10 AM - 10 PM) lighting
CO2: 3 DIY soda bottles that bubble into an overturned bowl in the sump
temperature: 78 - 80
ammonia: 0
nitrite: 0
nitrate: 10
ph: 7.6
kh: 4
gh: 5
PO3: .25
free FE: 0
good FE: 0
filtration: in sump first stage is a filter pad that removes debris before water flows over bio-balls. The second stage has the C02 bowl and the phosgard bag above a sponge before the water enters the third stage where the water is pumped back into the tank. I do have a sump picture if my description isn't clear. Let me know if you'd like to see that.

other: using a phosgard, fish are doing very well - infact too many babies

tank pictures:

I didn't really take these pictures to display the sick looking plants - I was just taking tank pictures last night. If you would like any closeups of anything in particular, let me know and I'll post it.

9,600 Posts
Ok. First off take a few minutes and read my Guide.

Then lose the Phosguard. You need balance. Plants need phosphates.

Have you tested the nitrate test kit?

Also your CO2 "system" is not worth a tinkers damn. You have exactly the levels of CO2 in your water one would expect with NO CO2 added. DIY CO2 with passive diffusion just will not work in a 120 gallon tank.

Iron tests are worthless.

To solve your problems. Get your ferts in balance. That includes CO2. I would highly suggest you take a look at the Estimative Index method of dosing the tank.

25 Posts
Greetings from up north on Rt 309.

Here is what I would do.

Lose the Phosgard as recommended previously. I only use it because mine are 4-5ppm. If it gets too high though...put it back I guess.

Get ferts from, specifically:
CSM+B - for traces
K2SO4 - for Potassium

Go to the drugstore and get 100% Epsom Salts for Magnesium. This was one of the missing pieces I had to find for my tank that isn't talked about often for already hard water tanks like mine. This is a cheap additive.

Your Nitrates are pretty decent at 10ppm, but just watch to make sure they don't drop to need some in there, otherwise grab some Nitrate fert from as well.

I don't see any mention of powerheads in your tank for water movement. I would get a glass diffuser and put it under a powerhead on one side of the tank, and then just run a plain powerhead on the other. I don't think your CO2 injection method into the sump is doing a lot, so this would kill two birds with one stone.

Get a drop checker (Red Sea model is less then 10 bucks) to get a better grip on CO2 levels.

I think the most important thing right now is you are missing a few key ferts, and trying to up them with Flourish products for that big of a tank is going to be really expensive.

Is that Anacharis in your tank? Be carefull with Excel dosing with that...alot of people have problems that way. You don't really need Excel if you get the CO2 injected properly...except for some algae help.

Lastly...once you get everything in line, give it time. It won't explode in growth overnight, but after a few days or weeks it will take off.

Premium Member
1,885 Posts
I agree with what has been said above.

- your CO2 is basicly worthless, 3 DIY bottles on a 120 won't do much. To get the proper levels you will need pressurized ideally with a split line so you can run a diffusor at each end of the tank (thats what I do with my 120).

- Your lights are most likely far to strong given the inadequate CO2 (this is based on you using MH and PC lights for a fairly long photoperiod)

- I don't see a ton of fish in the tank. I am betting your nitrate kit is lying to you. Even if it is 10ppm once you get the CO2 issue solved this will drop like a rock as the plants move on to the next limiting fert.

- Take out the phosguard it is NOT the cause of your algae. Again once you get the CO2 and start adding NO3 your PO4 will drop to the point you have to start adding that also.

-Maybe once you have uped your CO2 and started dosing NO3 and PO4 you MAY need to dose iron but i doubt it....its pretty far down on the list. I also didn't notice anything about trace elements. Flourish trace has iron in it also plus a bunch of other things that you may start running sort on once you have the big ferts (CO2, NO3, PO4) taken care of.

14 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The eco-complete is really black. Probably the first picture looks more true to color.

The phosguard is gone.

There is a lot of water movement in the tank in fact the fish get free rides in certain parts of the tank. I don't think I need more. You can see the 4 returns in the top back in front of the two side overflows.

Thanks everyone for the information. I've been doing a lot of reading - my head hurts. It's a lot easier to grow plants in my garden than in my aquarium.

I still need to look into CO2. I've held off because of the cost and I've heard scary stories about fish getting killed. Any suggestions as to a cheaper, safer way to implement it?

The total light wattage is 729. 2 Halides = 500, 2 actinic 460nm = 108, 2 actinic 420nm = 108, blue & white lunar lights = 18

As to what plants I have I'm not really sure. I have all of the tags from when I bought the plants but never got around to putting names with plants yet. I went to That Fish Place with a list of what I wanted and they didn't have any of those so I just picked out plants that I liked.

I started a website with pictures of our aquariums but it is far from finished. Actually I was starting with the live rock in the salt water tank since so many people were asking me about that but quickly threw some pictures on the fresh water page so you could take a look at which plants I have if you would like:
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