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Discussion Starter · #761 ·
Sounds like your making the right moves. If there's one important thing to understand is your light. Light drives the demand for everything, co2 and ferts. So if you can't get a PAR meter see if you can google more. I'm sure someone has used that light at the depth you have and you can get a feel for it.

Plants generally are good indicators of light. Rotala R is a prolific pearler, so yes you should see lots of pearling if the plant is happy. Mermaid weed should be red not only on the top but have some nice color down the stem under good light. Blyxa turns reddish, gold and bronze under high light. Your's looks healthy but it looks green in the pics, nothing wrong with that, but it does give an indication of light. The Pogo H needs pretty good light, is it blocked by the wood or any other plants. Long spaces between nodes of stem plants usually indicates not enough light, more compact, fuller growth means good light and the plant is not "reaching" for the light.

In a fairly tall tank with so much hardscape and light demanding plants it's more difficult to give lower lying plants like carpets enough light without algae issues unless you up the stem count. Nothing keeps algae away and plant leaves clean like stem plants. Not flow, not gph, not even water changes. Plants constantly uptake waste/toxins that cause algae.

I think I might have mentioned when you setup the hardscape to remove some rocks, most notably the ones behind the wood to make more room for stems and light. Poor light causes algae issues too, as the plants don't grow properly. Once this happens plant tissue dies and the resulting waste is algae food. If you need to do 80% WCs to keep algae away until things take off do it. You could do 80% anyway, bigger water changes only make things easier.
Or you go the other way and get lower light epiphytes, ferns, buces, mosses and lower the light. Don't worry about the po4, no3. That is the not the problem.
I definitely intend on borrowing that PAR meter from my local club. The last several months I've had a lot extra added onto my plate at work with my CEO looking to partially retire and me beginning to take over more and more of what he does. It's definitely not a bad problem to have, but at the same time it means less time and far more burnout during the week. But the holidays are coming up so we should see a slight slowdown, but also from a client I've been working on bringing on board since May who is finally starting.

I do know of one YouTube using this light in a tank that is exactly the same size - George Farmer. I haven't been able to see if he's done some PAR readings, but from the last time (3 months or so ago) that I watched one of his videos his tank seemed to be doing really well.

Definitely will be borrowing a PAR meter though. If I wind up getting too lazy I might just rent one from Bulk Reef Supply.

As the Rotala grows, the space between nodes seems to be on par with other high light setups. I did notice that one of the plants that didn't do well initially and partially died off was R. Macandra, but it eventually regrew, but it exhibited the typical signs of too much light....sideways growth versus straight up.

I'll have to check Farmer's YouTube page to see if he's taken any PAR readings on his tank and also to see how his tank is doing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #762 · (Edited)
Ran the tests and here is where they're at:

Nitrate: 20ppm
PO4: 8-9ppm - it's dark blue, but not quite as dark as 10ppm
K: 30ppm

I'll test again Saturday right before the weekly WC.

For some reason, and I suspect that reason being that I don't really know exactly how many gallons of water are actually in my tank after displacement from hardscape, sand, lava rocks under the sand, and then how many gallons of water are added back in due to the two canister filters, so I was overdosing ferts well beyond what I should have been.

My goal is to get my dosing levels at where the Rotala Butterfly calculator, and various other sources recommend. I more or less want to have 22.5ppm of NO3, 3.9ppm of PO4, and 22.5ppm of K by Saturday each week.

Based on what I'm dosing now, I'm not dosing any PO4, and have reduced KNO3 by quite a bit, along with halving the dose of K2SO4.

I'm sure I'll reach a point where I'm adding enough ferts to achieve those levels pretty closely, and a month later something will be off. So I know this is probably getting a bit too picky, but I want to understand what the base levels are based on - waste produced by plants, fish, decaying plant matter, etc., with the addition of ferts. Once I know that, I can target to keep my levels at the levels above.

What this will do for me is mainly set my mind at ease knowing that if something weird happens, I can eliminate a few variables right off the bat and start spending time looking elsewhere.

Depending on what Saturday's tests show, I'll either need to tweak something, or continue dosing what I'm currently dosing and move onto exploring other potential issues, like not knowing what my PAR levels are. If I don't need to tweak anything after Saturday I'll reach out to the local plant club and borrow their meter.

I could very well need another fixture, or maybe I need to raise mine a bit more, or lower it. To this point it's been a game of taking educated guesses based on PAR data I've seen on the Twinstar 900S, which is a smaller fixture.

One scenario I think is likely to happen is there was a PO4 reservoir in the tank that just wasn't getting used up in enough quantities by the plants, and my dosing was just causing it to build up more and more even with water changes. Stopping the dosing of KH2PO4 will let it slowly work down again so that I can figure out exactly how much to add back in. But what it seems like to me is I'm getting PO4 from somewhere other than ferts, but the ferts were exacerbating the issue. I started thinking about this just now after testing PO4 and seeing it's still fairly high, and this was after a very large water change on Sunday. It's not coming from my tap since that's at .50ppm, so it's coming from somewhere. My guess is one or both canister filters have a bunch of crap in them and need to be cleaned out. I'd put my money on the GLA being the cause since there isn't a pre filter keeping crap out of it. When I replaced the lava rock in the GLA, it was horrific. There was reddish brown sludge that I needed to wipe out of the bottom and sides, and a whole bunch of crap just sitting in the canister that drained out as I drained the water out of it. Two weeks from Saturday I'll see if that has been the cause. It'll be two months since the last full maintenance on it so if it looks like diarrhea when I dump the water out, and suddenly PO4 levels drop, I'll need to change the maintenance to monthly and see how that goes.

If you've made it this far I'm sure you can see this is making me lose my mind lol.

ETA: One thing that has been fairly confusing to me is let's say you dose EI, and suddenly you start experiencing algae issues. With a hardscape heavy tank such as this one, you want to add more fast growing plants to soak up some of the nutrients.

Why not just reduce nutrient levels, which seems like the direction I'm headed in? I added a bunch of new stem plants, which I wanted to do anyhow because I like stem plants, but let's say I didn't. If I'm dosing enough nutrients to potentially cause an algae outbreak, why not just reduce what I'm dosing? It seems more in line with "lean" dosing than EI, but everything I know about lean dosing is that you have to watch your plants closely and see if you need to increase a dose of one thing or another. Why not test more frequently and figure out exactly what you need to dose? Just a random thought that popped into my head that I thought I'd throw out there and see if it elicits some discussion.
 

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OK, so algae is a micro-organism, it's highly unlikely it's going to care whether your no3 is 10 or 40 or your po4 is 1 or 10. It wouldn't need much to get going compared to the plants.

Every tank has excess ferts sitting in the water column, otherwise your test kits would measure zero all the time and the plants would have used everything up and become deficient. That's why it's much better to have too much fertilizer than two little.

There are two very popular ways to fertilize a tank, Use an inert substrate and generously fertilize the water column (EI-ish) or use an aquasoil type product where most of the nutrients are in the soil (ADAish) and your supplementing the water column lightly. What both of these approaches have in common is that they both are susceptible to algae.

Taking this a step further. Every tank whether it's planted or fish only, whether it's dosed or not can succumb to algae. So what do these tanks have in common? Light and waste, not the dosing. In a tank with no plants and no dosing the only thing that could cause the algae is fish waste/food. When these things decompose they release ammonia and other toxins that turn algae spores into full blown algae.

Because of the ammonia release from waste there is a large difference between natural organic nutrients like fish waste/food and the inorganic salts we dose that do not come with this baggage.

When you don't have enough uptake ammonia enters the water column and algae starts. That's why plant heavy tanks are the easiest to keep algae free and hardscape heavy the hardest. Nothing takes up ammonia/toxins as quickly as plants, NOTHING. If you stir up your gravel and let it move around the tank you will most like start either an algae bloom, BBA or other algae. Nothing has changed with the dosed ferts, but you released ammonia/toxins from the substrate into the column.
 

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Discussion Starter · #764 ·
OK, so algae is a micro-organism, it's highly unlikely it's going to care whether your no3 is 10 or 40 or your po4 is 1 or 10. It wouldn't need much to get going compared to the plants.

Every tank has excess ferts sitting in the water column, otherwise your test kits would measure zero all the time and the plants would have used everything up and become deficient. That's why it's much better to have too much fertilizer than two little.

There are two very popular ways to fertilize a tank, Use an inert substrate and generously fertilize the water column (EI-ish) or use an aquasoil type product where most of the nutrients are in the soil (ADAish) and your supplementing the water column lightly. What both of these approaches have in common is that they both are susceptible to algae.

Taking this a step further. Every tank whether it's planted or fish only, whether it's dosed or not can succumb to algae. So what do these tanks have in common? Light and waste, not the dosing. In a tank with no plants and no dosing the only thing that could cause the algae is fish waste/food. When these things decompose they release ammonia and other toxins that turn algae spores into full blown algae.

Because of the ammonia release from waste there is a large difference between natural organic nutrients like fish waste/food and the inorganic salts we dose that do not come with this baggage.

When you don't have enough uptake ammonia enters the water column and algae starts. That's why plant heavy tanks are the easiest to keep algae free and hardscape heavy the hardest. Nothing takes up ammonia/toxins as quickly as plants, NOTHING. If you stir up your gravel and let it move around the tank you will most like start either an algae bloom, BBA or other algae. Nothing has changed with the dosed ferts, but you released ammonia/toxins from the substrate into the column.
That definitely makes sense and is exactly the type of discussion I was hoping for.

With reef tanks, controlling algae is pretty easy even though reef tanks get WAY more light, and for longer periods than we experience here with planted tanks. It's kind of a fourfold approach: water changes every week, high capacity GFO to remove all phosphates, clean up crews, and protein skimming. You can add a fifth approach in sensibly stocking fish. I like fish so I've always stocked a bit more than you're supposed to, but because of the other four things, I never had an issue with excess waste, or algae. My parameters in my reef never exceeded 10ppm of nitrates, and always 0 on PO4. I used algae magnets to clean the glass every day, but it was more biofilm than algae that I was cleaning away. I actually forgot another method with refugiums filled with macro algae to suck up additional nutrients. You'd run the lighting on that the opposite of your reef lighting.

Obviously the reef keeping approach is drastically different, but now you have me wondering if it would make sense to add a UV to kill off some of the algal spores floating around in the water column?

I'm still going to follow the plan I laid out above, but trying to think of ways to eliminate as much of the free floating stuff as possible.

I was on the road pretty much all day yesterday driving to Indianapolis and back for lunch with my CEO, so I had a lot of time in the car to think about things, but when I came home I noticed that the algae I've been battling....it hasn't progressed and the threads of algae seem to be weakening. Either one change I've made is starting to work, or more likely it's a combination of changes that are having an effect. It'll be interesting to test everything again tomorrow and see if PO4 has come down a bit more.

It's clear that there is some kind of imbalance and until I can test PAR, I won't know for sure what's causing it aside from continuing down the path of eliminating variables.

At the end of the day I know that much of this testing is kind of pointless, but I like knowing for sure what my plants are consuming and the rate that they consume the nutrients.

Hopefully these new and old stem plants start growing rapidly. It does look like they've all settled in and have straightened themselves out, in particular the new stems I added. Maybe the week after next I'll start seeing substantial growth out of them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #765 ·
I don't know why I keep doing this to myself, but I tested again last night. NO3 is up to 30ppm, PO4 seems like it dropped a fraction. It might be 7ppm if I had to guess (bit less blue than on Wednesday), and K came down to 25ppm.

The tank looks great though. It's been super clear all week. Fish are doing great, and the new and old plants look to be settling in nicely. Of the new stem plants, the Pogo Erectus seems to be putting on growth already.

I'll probably leave my ferts the way they are...KNO3, K2SO4, and CSM+B. I've gone this far down the PO4 rabbit hole so why stop now lol. I'm going to limit myself to dropping below 5ppm and then I'll start dosing KH2PO4 again. The one thing I don't want to happen is I drop too low and start seeing GSA.

I almost went and got more fish today but I had a pork butt sitting in the fridge since last week and it really needed to be smoked today so I spent most of the day doing that. I might go tomorrow, or maybe next weekend, or one day during the week after work.

I'm also going to try to connect with the person at my local club that has the PAR meter and borrow it next weekend, or at least get in contact with them and schedule a date to pick it up in the event someone else is borrowing it.

I'll be knocking the WC out today when the lights come on.

I still have the long hair/string algae, but I'm not seeing anything new and what's currently there isn't really green any more. It's almost like it's dying off. Fingers crossed so hopefully the algae is getting ready to kick the bucket.
 

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Hopefully the new plants will fill in, if they increase uptake significantly that should take care of the algae issue as well. In a tank with good uptake you could literally through in a piece of wood covered with BBA and it will just dye out and disappear. Algae will appear if conditions are right and disappear if they aren't, that's why pretreating plants prior to putting them in an aquarium is useless. Depending on the way the plants grow (size/color) they should give you an indication of your light.

i would hold off on fish until everything is growing well and the algae is gone. Why add more organic waste? It's only going to make things harder. You had an uphill battle to begin with, because of all the hardscape and not enough plant mass. So hopefully you'll turn the corner on this.

Addressing the UV from your prior post. Cant hurt I used to use them on big tanks. One you'll have crystal clear water and never get green water. Many times if you remove alot of plants or something gets stirred up it can start green water. Whenever I remove stems from the root and it makes a mess, I follow immediately with a big water change or suction out the area that got stirred up. Two the UV will also help with fish acclimation since it will kill pathogens in the water that might attack that fish when it's stressed and it's immune system is compromised.

There's no problem with ferts, they don't remove anything significant especially if your doing EI type dosing.
If you don't have a quarantine setup, the UV is the next best thing and in many cases better, but not a necessity.
 

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Discussion Starter · #767 ·
Hopefully the new plants will fill in, if they increase uptake significantly that should take care of the algae issue as well. In a tank with good uptake you could literally through in a piece of wood covered with BBA and it will just dye out and disappear. Algae will appear if conditions are right and disappear if they aren't, that's why pretreating plants prior to putting them in an aquarium is useless. Depending on the way the plants grow (size/color) they should give you an indication of your light.

i would hold off on fish until everything is growing well and the algae is gone. Why add more organic waste? It's only going to make things harder. You had an uphill battle to begin with, because of all the hardscape and not enough plant mass. So hopefully you'll turn the corner on this.

Addressing the UV from your prior post. Cant hurt I used to use them on big tanks. One you'll have crystal clear water and never get green water. Many times if you remove alot of plants or something gets stirred up it can start green water. Whenever I remove stems from the root and it makes a mess, I follow immediately with a big water change or suction out the area that got stirred up. Two the UV will also help with fish acclimation since it will kill pathogens in the water that might attack that fish when it's stressed and it's immune system is compromised.

There's no problem with ferts, they don't remove anything significant especially if your doing EI type dosing.
If you don't have a quarantine setup, the UV is the next best thing and in many cases better, but not a necessity.
I'll need to do some research on UV units because it can't hurt to add one to the tank. The only issue is it's getting fairly tight inside the stand. I'm wondering if there are any units that I can maybe hang on the side where my inflow and outflow pipes are that's strong enough for this size tank. Worst case I'll need to start PVCing the GLA and reactor to make more room, but the reason I was initially planning on doing that is because I wanted to control the flow going through the reactor because I thought that I was not getting 100% dissolve rate on my CO2, but it turned out that my plants were pearling so much that the tiny bubbles were O2...like an absurd amount that made me believe it was CO2 escaping. After observing the tank up close I quickly saw that my assumption was wrong.

Otherwise my plan is definitely leave things be and continue doing exactly what I've been doing. Things seem to be headed where I want them so I won't make any drastic changes, or additions, unless I'm adding more plants and just wait for everything to grow in. As soon as PO4 hits about 4-5ppm, the following week I'll add that back in with the macro doses. It seems like the tank is using 2ish ppm per week. So if I get down to 4ppm or so, if I add in 2ppm I should remain around 4-5ppm constantly.

I think the craziest thing is every week when I swap out the Oase pre filter pads, the ones I pull out that have been in there one week are so ridiculously dirty that it doesn't really make sense. I feed the fish every other day, and the food literally never even hits the sand because they're eating it up so quickly. I'm not sure where all that crap is coming from but it's one observation I've made over the last month or two of weekly pre filter pad swaps.

It is surface skimming so I'm guessing that plant matter and whatever other organic matter is being skimmed off the surface is breaking down into brown crud.

I did make one other change mid week last week. Each week I have 6 small rubbermaid cups with lids. I add the dry ferts to the cups, Sun-Tue-Thur are macros, and the opposite days are micros and Saturday nothing gets dosed since it's water change day. I've always just filled each cup with the ferts and left them dry. On the day I'm adding them I just add some water, shake it up and then dump it. When I dump it, about half of the ferts were still crystals. I decided mid week last week to add water, shake them all up, and then leave them to fully dissolve so that when I add the ferts, it's all in solution. I'm not sure if that will make a difference one way or the other since it's going to dissolve in the tank, but figured that the ferts would be available to the plants more quickly in a solution versus slowly dissolving in the tank.
 

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You are very diligent in your journaling (unlike me lmao) so I'll be following along here. I think the more diligent members that really take time to journal everything and discuss always contribute the most so thank you.

I only read the previous few pages so apologies if I missed something

I think Asteroid's responses are spot on. I think the core of your issues are due to having lower plant mass in a high tech setup with good amount of light. This is literally the reason I am doing dutch style tank now - I can pack the tank with stems and everything is just easier. In previous setups I always had issues where I needed enough light to satisfy the faster growing stems but my hardscape would always have algae. It almost seems impossible to have it both ways... hardscape heavy tanks struggle to support the higher light environment for high tech stems simply because you can't get plant mass high enough to out-compete algae etc. For example you have that bit of carpet in front that wants a lot of light but in doing so you are going to blast all that wood/rocks with light as well. It might be doable but I think you would need immaculate conditions to avoid all algae etc

I will also say that decaying plant mass contributes to waste more than we expect IMO. Right now I have <20 fish in a ~90g setup and feed very little and am always surprised at how much waste I can vacuum up during water changes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #769 ·
You are very diligent in your journaling (unlike me lmao) so I'll be following along here. I think the more diligent members that really take time to journal everything and discuss always contribute the most so thank you.

I only read the previous few pages so apologies if I missed something

I think Asteroid's responses are spot on. I think the core of your issues are due to having lower plant mass in a high tech setup with good amount of light. This is literally the reason I am doing dutch style tank now - I can pack the tank with stems and everything is just easier. In previous setups I always had issues where I needed enough light to satisfy the faster growing stems but my hardscape would always have algae. It almost seems impossible to have it both ways... hardscape heavy tanks struggle to support the higher light environment for high tech stems simply because you can't get plant mass high enough to out-compete algae etc. For example you have that bit of carpet in front that wants a lot of light but in doing so you are going to blast all that wood/rocks with light as well. It might be doable but I think you would need immaculate conditions to avoid all algae etc

I will also say that decaying plant mass contributes to waste more than we expect IMO. Right now I have <20 fish in a ~90g setup and feed very little and am always surprised at how much waste I can vacuum up during water changes.
I always tend to write or journal what's happening, what actions I'm taking, observations, etc., mainly as a means of a sanity check. I might do something today that causes an issue 4 months from now so I'll actually go back and read through what was happening to see if it's a problem I caused and can correct. I did this with my reef tanks as well and it proved to be very useful. What I don't share is I actually have a test results spreadsheet with notes, along with a maintenance spreadsheet with notes, the latter of which is obviously used a lot more. I also feel that others can benefit from some of the things I'm trying to do, dealing with, or thought processes and discussions in the thread.

I'm hopeful that I can get enough plant mass to grow so that it outcompetes the algae. One of the other things I'm going to do is add a lot of anubias to the tank. There are a lot of little nooks and crannies that can use some, along with maybe some crypt parva.

I strongly suspect that if I stock this tank the way I want to stock it fish wise, I may need to amp up my filter cleanings. I'll know for sure in a couple weeks after I see how bad my GLA canister is.

I think one of the things I've been trying to avoid is packing the tank with plants so that the hardscape doesn't get covered, but I think sacrificing some of the hardscape by covering it with plants seems like the only solution, and quite frankly as long as I do it the right way, it won't detract from the overall look of the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #770 ·
One interesting observation I made last night...

For a couple months it seemed like I could never find more than a couple Otocinclus at a time. My reticulated SAE's also didn't graze a whole lot on algae. I chalked the former up to the tank being so hardscape heavy that there's no way I'd see them all, and the latter I figured were so accustomed to eating fish food that they just completely lost interest in algae.

Well last night and most of the last two weeks I've seen a startling difference in that the Otocinclus are actively grazing on algae in large numbers, but they've also been extremely active, and the SAE's are also grazing constantly.

The only changes have been reduction in ferts, removing those four large rocks, and rescaping the stems and adding new ones. Water changes have remained the same so I'm not quite sure what to this of this. It's also not the level of CO2 because after adjusting my controller to raise PH a bit, I decided that since my fish seemed perfectly fine that I'd just lower it again.

One variable is that my tank has been exactly 1 degree warmer than it has been throughout the summer. I think that change just started over the last couple weeks since the weather dropped down into the 30's here. My heater controller has a 1 degree range - if temp drops below 72.4 the heater kicks on and then shuts off at 73.4. The tank has consistently been at 74.4. Is it possible that those two species prefer the water to be a bit warmer than what I've kept it at?

I will be making one more change, but this is strictly from a maintenance perspective. Rather than doing my water changes on Saturdays...which sometimes turn into Sunday water changes because of friends and family coming by, I'm going to switch to water changes on Friday nights, and then adjust my dosing days around that. I'll still plan on doing filter maintenance on Saturdays just to spread the load out a bit, except pre filter pad swaps on the Oase which I'll continue to do on water change days. So in the grand scheme of things, the only benefit to the tank on making this change is that it's more likely to actually get the water change on the actual water change day rather than being too busy to get it done because company is over.

The stem plants really seem to be getting ready to take off with growth. I'd suspect that they're still focusing their energy on producing roots and once that's done they'll start actually growing. It's hard to tell if there has been any growth whatsoever since it would more than likely be minimal at best, but it won't be questionable once they're halfway up the tank lol.

The one other update I have that I didn't want to mention until I knew for sure is the growth rate of nearly every buce in my tank. I'm seeing at least one new leaf every week. I'm doing something right, the question is what is it exactly :LOL:

The other thing I noticed is that when reading about MC, it tends to grow upwards when there's a lack of lighting. Mine grows compact along the sand. Is it getting just enough light to not start reaching up, or is there just not enough organic matter in the sand for them? I'm hoping to answer this question once I get the PAR meter. I did reach out to the local group and someone is currently using it but I got my name in there for the next to borrow it.

Aside from that I'll test again tonight. I may or may not update this thread with those results unless PO4 went nuts and suddenly disappeared. Honestly I hope something like that doesn't happen because that'll drive me crazy not knowing why it suddenly dropped all on its own lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #771 ·
Wow, so I didn't expect these test results, but I can't say I'm displeased.

NO3: 25ppm
PO4: between 2 and 5ppm, I'd call it 3ppm
K: between 30-35ppm

So between the last test which was just before my WC and today, PO4 dropped 3-4ppm.

I really don't think I can attribute it to water changes since I've been doing the same water changes since I started going down this rabbit hole.

Could it be that whatever condition was causing the plants to not efficiently take up PO4 has been solved? I did move the lighting more towards the center of the tank rather than biased towards the rear. The main reason I initially biased it towards the rear was due to the rocks that I removed blocking some of the light from reaching the stem plants. Did moving it forward enable more of the plants to start benefiting from more light?

Could it be halving the dose of micros? I was adding 2X as much as I should have been adding.

Could it be the slight increase in temperature?

I doubt we'll ever know for sure, but the plan now is once I do my WC on Friday, Saturday will get PO4 added back into the macro doses.

I think the only way we'll know for sure is if the plants go bananas with growth.

I will test one more time on Friday, at least PO4. If it has dropped to 2ppm or below, then I'll know that the plants are starting to use it, but will need to make sure that I'm dosing enough for it to be freely available, without getting crazy.

But hey, this couldn't have been a better surprise on a day where I was ridiculously stressed out from work.

Anyhow, I'm glad this issue has been resolved! Now to just stay the course.
 

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Discussion Starter · #772 ·
After doing a lot of reading today, stuff from Barr and others, I think I may have a theory that really explains everything.

If everyone recalls back about a month or more ago I had the rona and couldn't get my weekly water change in. I continued dosing normally though.

During that week, towards the end of that second week I began noticing some changes in the tank. The stems weren't growing as rapidly as they were, and the most noticeable was Pogostemon Helferi Downoi had basically shriveled up. Any of the plants from the Alternathera species looked terrible. They've always looked terrible, but were looking even more terrible.

@Asteroid I think you mentioned that I was putting a lot more stock into the value of water changes than I probably should be since skipping one shouldn't really make much of a difference. I completely agree, but after going back through the thread, and combining it with what I learned today I think I have a theory.

So we all know I was dosing at least 2X what I should have been dosing. I confirmed this with my testing and looking at what Rotala Butterfly recommends.

For that week I skipped the water change because I was too sick, I continued dosing, at 2X. Now with macros, meh right? Who cares if I'm dosing a month's worth in two weeks. That would literally have no effect because I was still within range of EI.

But....I was dosing well over 2X of micros (CSM+B). So for god knows how long, basically when I switched from nutrient solution to dry ferts, I've been dosing 2X+.

I was reading about deficiencies just to brush up on them, and I think it was one of Tom Barr's posts (not on this forum) but it was about excessive iron. Distorted and stunted growth on fast growers, most plants show signs of something not being right, and the appearance of filamentous algae.

I'm not one to wrap a bow around a problem and call it good, but this does explain everything lol. It's been a couple weeks that I've been dosing micros at the correct level, and even a hair lower than recommended. What I've noticed in those couple weeks is Rotala leaves are much larger, fuller even than they were. The filamentous algae is still there, and I do my best to remove it when I see it but it doesn't look bright green any more. It's still growing wherever there's moss, but the color has definitely changed.

Back when I had this problem I mentioned toxicity but didn't explore it further and only just found it by accident.

In any case, that still doesn't explain PO4 building up the way it did. Could that stunting have caused the plants to not take up PO4, K, or nitrates and they just continued building up despite water changes?

Everything seems to be responding well to what I'm doing so I'm more just curious to understand what the cause actually was. This is seeming like the most likely cause.
 

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Took a couple fish pics that were cool. I really need to organize my spare room so that I can get to my DSLR and macro lens.
Tip. If you turn off your pump and CO2 for a minute or so before taking your photos you can get rid of most of those white spots.
 

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Discussion Starter · #775 ·
Tip. If you turn off your pump and CO2 for a minute or so before taking your photos you can get rid of most of those white spots.
I'll have to try that once I get my DSLR unburied.

Believe it or not, all those bubbles are O2 lol. I thought they were CO2 for a couple months until one night I sat by my tank and carefully observed it and I'd say at least 90%+ is from pearling.

The canister filters running just seem to keep them suspended rather than rising to the surface and bursting.

I was glad to have figured this out because I intended on running an overly complicated PVC setup to mainly cut the flow down through my reactor.
 

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After doing a lot of reading today, stuff from Barr and others, I think I may have a theory that really explains everything.

If everyone recalls back about a month or more ago I had the rona and couldn't get my weekly water change in. I continued dosing normally though.

During that week, towards the end of that second week I began noticing some changes in the tank. The stems weren't growing as rapidly as they were, and the most noticeable was Pogostemon Helferi Downoi had basically shriveled up. Any of the plants from the Alternathera species looked terrible. They've always looked terrible, but were looking even more terrible.

@Asteroid I think you mentioned that I was putting a lot more stock into the value of water changes than I probably should be since skipping one shouldn't really make much of a difference. I completely agree, but after going back through the thread, and combining it with what I learned today I think I have a theory.

So we all know I was dosing at least 2X what I should have been dosing. I confirmed this with my testing and looking at what Rotala Butterfly recommends.

For that week I skipped the water change because I was too sick, I continued dosing, at 2X. Now with macros, meh right? Who cares if I'm dosing a month's worth in two weeks. That would literally have no effect because I was still within range of EI.

But....I was dosing well over 2X of micros (CSM+B). So for god knows how long, basically when I switched from nutrient solution to dry ferts, I've been dosing 2X+.

I was reading about deficiencies just to brush up on them, and I think it was one of Tom Barr's posts (not on this forum) but it was about excessive iron. Distorted and stunted growth on fast growers, most plants show signs of something not being right, and the appearance of filamentous algae.

I'm not one to wrap a bow around a problem and call it good, but this does explain everything lol. It's been a couple weeks that I've been dosing micros at the correct level, and even a hair lower than recommended. What I've noticed in those couple weeks is Rotala leaves are much larger, fuller even than they were. The filamentous algae is still there, and I do my best to remove it when I see it but it doesn't look bright green any more. It's still growing wherever there's moss, but the color has definitely changed.

Back when I had this problem I mentioned toxicity but didn't explore it further and only just found it by accident.

In any case, that still doesn't explain PO4 building up the way it did. Could that stunting have caused the plants to not take up PO4, K, or nitrates and they just continued building up despite water changes?

Everything seems to be responding well to what I'm doing so I'm more just curious to understand what the cause actually was. This is seeming like the most likely cause.
Barr is usually pretty OK with very large dosing, so who knows. What did you read? You were only dosing CSM and not supplementing with additional FE dosing right? I mean you would really have to be dosing a lot to get to levels that would be counterproductive.

Nice pics, you shot those with your phone?
 

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Discussion Starter · #777 ·
Barr is usually pretty OK with very large dosing, so who knows. What did you read? You were only dosing CSM and not supplementing with additional FE dosing right? I mean you would really have to be dosing a lot to get to levels that would be counterproductive.

Nice pics, you shot those with your phone?
I was first reading through a bunch of old posts from him on what I think is his forum about deficiencies. For whatever reason I did a search on overdosing and started finding posts from him and others on excessive iron symptoms. Based on what I read, and the signs of this in my plants, it seemed to hit all of the symptoms I've had with my plants. Stunted growth, which is still visible on my Rotala, and stunted growth is definitely what seemed to suddenly happen to my Pogo Helferi, and basically every plant just seemed to halt in growth.

I was dosing 2X what the calculator recommends and was doing exactly 50% water changes the whole time. If I'm dosing 2X for months, each water change is only removing 1X. The following week I'm dosing another 2X and when I do that water change, more than 1X remained in the tank. I think that maybe over months, iron built up and then the straw that broke the camels back was skipping the water change and continue dosing. One of the other symptoms, the filamentous algae was tied to excess iron dosing.

Everything is recovering nicely, but it was definitely something that piqued my interest because of how well it described what I was seeing.

Yep, those pics were from my iPhone. I gotta give apple credit on using great quality lenses in the phone cameras. Their built in software definitely doesn't hurt lol, but it does take pretty nice images.

I took this pic of my dog a couple weeks ago with my iPhone. It's really starting to rival what my old DSLR can do lol.

Dog Dog breed Carnivore Companion dog Whiskers
 

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I was first reading through a bunch of old posts from him on what I think is his forum about deficiencies. For whatever reason I did a search on overdosing and started finding posts from him and others on excessive iron symptoms. Based on what I read, and the signs of this in my plants, it seemed to hit all of the symptoms I've had with my plants. Stunted growth, which is still visible on my Rotala, and stunted growth is definitely what seemed to suddenly happen to my Pogo Helferi, and basically every plant just seemed to halt in growth.

I was dosing 2X what the calculator recommends and was doing exactly 50% water changes the whole time. If I'm dosing 2X for months, each water change is only removing 1X. The following week I'm dosing another 2X and when I do that water change, more than 1X remained in the tank. I think that maybe over months, iron built up and then the straw that broke the camels back was skipping the water change and continue dosing. One of the other symptoms, the filamentous algae was tied to excess iron dosing.

Everything is recovering nicely, but it was definitely something that piqued my interest because of how well it described what I was seeing.

Yep, those pics were from my iPhone. I gotta give apple credit on using great quality lenses in the phone cameras. Their built in software definitely doesn't hurt lol, but it does take pretty nice images.

I took this pic of my dog a couple weeks ago with my iPhone. It's really starting to rival what my old DSLR can do lol.
a

I hear you and of course who knows, but stunting can happen for a ton of reasons, too little, too much, algae, co2 deficiencies and other water-related issues. That's why that picture you always see showing leaves with plant deficiencies is useless because they are based on terrestrial plant damage and don't take into consideration the additional issues when water is in the equation.

Yes, outdoor pics with tons of natural light the phone pics are very close to DSLR ones. When light becomes the limiting issue than the DSLRs do much better as the sensor in the phone camera is much smaller.

That's a great shot of a great dog!
 

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Discussion Starter · #779 ·
a

I hear you and of course who knows, but stunting can happen for a ton of reasons, too little, too much, algae, co2 deficiencies and other water-related issues. That's why that picture you always see showing leaves with plant deficiencies is useless because they are based on terrestrial plant damage and don't take into consideration the additional issues when water is in the equation.

Yes, outdoor pics with tons of natural light the phone pics are very close to DSLR ones. When light becomes the limiting issue than the DSLRs do much better as the sensor in the phone camera is much smaller.

That's a great shot of a great dog!
Thanks, I definitely agree that lower light is where the camera phones fall flat on their faces. They're also not even remotely as good with macro. With a nice macro lens and even an entry level DSLR, you can take some macro shots that blow away what a camera phone is capable of.

I agree 100% on the charts with leaf pics being useless. Back when I had GSA, not a single leaf showed signs of PO4 deficiency, at least according to those charts with pics. What I did see during that time were holes in leaves, which would point to something else entirely, like a K deficiency.

I did go down the rabbit hole of Mg deficiency, that affected uptake of the other nutrients. I don't have a freshwater version of an Mg test kit though. I may pick one up for the heck of it, even though I probably don't have a need for it, even if it's just to establish what my tank is currently reading.

If you can't tell, when I don't know how something works it bothers me lol.
 
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