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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 29 gallon CO2 injected tank with Ammania sp. Bonsai, Alternanthera Rosanervig, and dwarf hairgrass mini. The AR is doing great, but the bonsai doesn't look so great, and the hairgrass isn't filling in as quickly as I'd like. The bonsai is growing at a good rate, but the lower leaves get covered in algae and look unsightly. Substrate is Amazonia II with the powersand underneath and all the supplements that came with the kit (Bacter 100, Penac P, etc). Water changes every other week, CO2 at 30ppm, 76F water temp, dosing 3mL of Seachem Flourish once per week. Light is on a 24/7 cycle (Finnex Planted 24/7 LED) with about 5 hours at 75% of full intensity and the remainder ramping up/down from full dark/light. I'm hoping based on the healthy growth of the AR, my issue can be more easily identified.

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I have a 29 gallon CO2 injected tank with Ammania sp. Bonsai, Alternanthera Rosanervig, and dwarf hairgrass mini. The AR is doing great, but the bonsai doesn't look so great, and the hairgrass isn't filling in as quickly as I'd like. The bonsai is growing at a good rate, but the lower leaves get covered in algae and look unsightly. Substrate is Amazonia II with the powersand underneath and all the supplements that came with the kit (Bacter 100, Penac P, etc). Water changes every other week, CO2 at 30ppm, 76F water temp, dosing 3mL of Seachem Flourish once per week. Light is on a 24/7 cycle (Finnex Planted 24/7 LED) with about 5 hours at 75% of full intensity and the remainder ramping up/down from full dark/light. I'm hoping based on the healthy growth of the AR, my issue can be more easily identified.

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Do you have any livestock in the tank? Also how recently has the tank been set up?

Two things that stand out to me immediately are your light cycle and your choice of ferts. I would recommend having 6-8 hours of lighting, with a 15-30 minute ramp up/down on either end, and the rest of the time either have the light off or if you want to have some lighting for viewing pleasure to have it as low as possible (1-2% ideally). Plants cannot photosynthesize for more than 12 hours, and you start to have significant marginal utility decreases around 10 hours, so beyond 10-12 hours of lighting all you are doing is growing algae if you have your lighting on too high.

In regards to your ferts choice—flourish—flourish is not a complete fertilizer. While it does provide sufficient micronutrients (nutrients that are only needed by plants in very small amounts) it provides almost no macronutrients (the main and most important nutrients for plants—Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) and is actually meant to be used with flourish Nitrogen, flourish Phosphorus, and Flourish Potassium in order to provide complete nutrition. Because that is a PITA, I would suggest switching to an actual comprehensive fertilizer like NilocG Thrive or APT Complete.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Do you have any livestock in the tank? Also how recently has the tank been set up?

Two things that stand out to me immediately are your light cycle and your choice of ferts. I would recommend having 6-8 hours of lighting, with a 15-30 minute ramp up/down on either end, and the rest of the time either have the light off or if you want to have some lighting for viewing pleasure to have it as low as possible (1-2% ideally). Plants cannot photosynthesize for more than 12 hours, and you start to have significant marginal utility decreases around 10 hours, so beyond 10-12 hours of lighting all you are doing is growing algae if you have your lighting on too high.

In regards to your ferts choice—flourish—flourish is not a complete fertilizer. While it does provide sufficient micronutrients (nutrients that are only needed by plants in very small amounts) it provides almost no macronutrients (the main and most important nutrients for plants—Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) and is actually meant to be used with flourish Nitrogen, flourish Phosphorus, and Flourish Potassium in order to provide complete nutrition. Because that is a PITA, I would suggest switching to an actual comprehensive fertilizer like NilocG Thrive or APT Complete.
Tank is stocked with six Corydora, three Amano, and a DG. The tank has been set up for about six months.

I have some NilocG and will give that a try, as well as adjusting the lighting. Unfortunately, I cannot control the ramp up/down time, surprisingly. I have the light set to turn on at 9am, ramping up to full intensity at 12pm, full intensity until 6pm, then ramping down to moonlight only from 6pm to 9pm.

The NilocG bottle says to dose 1mL per 5 gallons. Is this is a good starting point or should I increase the dosage since I'm injecting C02 and high lighting?
 

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Tank is stocked with six Corydora, three Amano, and a DG. The tank has been set up for about six months.

I have some NilocG and will give that a try, as well as decreasing the lighting. Unfortunately, I cannot control the ramp up/down time, surprisingly.
Great—I just wanted to see what your bio-load is like because older leaves deteriorating can be because of waste organics accumulating and inconsistent maintenance.

I would actually increase your lighting period while at 75% to 6 hours at least and up to 8 hours, just make sure the light is as low as possible beyond that.

Other things that really help too are increasing plant mass/density (you could even just add more of each plant or at least the bonsai) and increasing water changes to weekly to make sure waste organics aren’t accumulating. You may have to do weekly water changes with NilocG actually too, definitely double check that. APT Complete is a leaner fert and cheaper that I know does not require weekly water changes FWIW.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Great—I just wanted to see what your bio-load is like because older leaves deteriorating can be because of waste organics accumulating and inconsistent maintenance.

I would actually increase your lighting period while at 75% to 6 hours at least and up to 8 hours, just make sure the light is as low as possible beyond that.

Other things that really help too are increasing plant mass/density (you could even just add more of each plant or at least the bonsai) and increasing water changes to weekly to make sure waste organics aren’t accumulating. You may have to do weekly water changes with NilocG actually too, definitely double check that. APT Complete is a leaner fert and cheaper that I know does not require weekly water changes FWIW.
Wait, so don't do 100% lighting? If you aren't familiar with the Finnex planted light, you can only adjust in 3 hour periods, which is aggravating. So if I set the light to 100% at 12pm and 3pm, it will actually turn on at 9:01am and ramp up to 100% over a 3 hour period leading up to noon. Same goes for ramping down (starts decreasing at 3:01 to moonlight at 6pm). This would only give me 4.5 hrs of >75% light intensity.

Should I try to set it at 75% at noon, 3pm, and 6pm? This will give me 6 hours at 75% and >50% for 3 hours. Maybe set it to 100% at 3pm to get a couple hours of >75%?

And do I also set the red, blue, and green spectrums at the same percentage as the white?
 

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Wait, so don't do 100% lighting? If you aren't familiar with the Finnex planted light, you can only adjust in 3 hour periods, which is aggravating. So if I set the light to 100% at 12pm and 3pm, it will actually turn on at 9:01am and ramp up to 100% over a 3 hour period leading up to noon. Same goes for ramping down (starts decreasing at 3:01 to moonlight at 6pm). This would only give me 4.5 hrs of >75% light intensity.

Should I try to set it at 75% at noon, 3pm, and 6pm? This will give me 6 hours at 75% and >50% for 3 hours. Maybe set it to 100% at 3pm to get a couple hours of >75%?
Dang if there really is no way to adjust it other than in 3 hour increments, then I would do 100 percent, 100 percent, and then 0. You have the normal 24/7 not the plus right? If so, the normal 24/7 isn’t too strong, so that’s why I suggest just doing 100 for the first two time slots.

Also you should consistently/always get rid of as many decaying leaves or completely algae ridden leaves as possible. Leaves that aren’t in good health just divert energy from the plant that could be better spent making new healthy growth and contribute to waste organics in the water column, they don’t heal. Depending on how bare that leaves the bonsai, you may want to just cut off the healthier upper portions, throw away the barer bottoms, and replant the upper portions. You could also cut off the healthier portions, replant those, and leave the bases. Normally bonsai can handle just being cut and letting the bases create new shoots, but sometimes if the plant isn’t healthy to begin with the bases won’t be able to create new shoots—just something to keep in mind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Great—I just wanted to see what your bio-load is like because older leaves deteriorating can be because of waste organics accumulating and inconsistent maintenance.

I would actually increase your lighting period while at 75% to 6 hours at least and up to 8 hours, just make sure the light is as low as possible beyond that.

Other things that really help too are increasing plant mass/density (you could even just add more of each plant or at least the bonsai) and increasing water changes to weekly to make sure waste organics aren’t accumulating. You may have to do weekly water changes with NilocG actually too, definitely double check that. APT Complete is a leaner fert and cheaper that I know does not require weekly water changes FWIW.
Dang if there really is no way to adjust it other than in 3 hour increments, then I would do 100 percent, 100 percent, and then 0. You have the normal 24/7 not the plus right? If so, the normal 24/7 isn’t too strong, so that’s why I suggest just doing 100 for the first two time slots.

Also you should consistently/always get rid of as many decaying leaves or completely algae ridden leaves as possible. Leaves that aren’t in good health just divert energy from the plant that could be better spent making new healthy growth and contribute to waste organics in the water column, they don’t heal. Depending on how bare that leaves the bonsai, you may want to just cut off the healthier upper portions, throw away the barer bottoms, and replant the upper portions. You could also cut off the healthier portions, replant those, and leave the bases. Normally bonsai can handle just being cut and letting the bases create new shoots, but sometimes if the plant isn’t healthy to begin with the bases won’t be able to create new shoots—just something to keep in mind.
No dying or decaying leaves. Just the lower halves of the bonsai getting covered in some brown algae. I trimmed them a few days ago and replanted the shoots.

I do have the plus version...


1032514


Great—I just wanted to see what your bio-load is like because older leaves deteriorating can be because of waste organics accumulating and inconsistent maintenance.

I would actually increase your lighting period while at 75% to 6 hours at least and up to 8 hours, just make sure the light is as low as possible beyond that.

Other things that really help too are increasing plant mass/density (you could even just add more of each plant or at least the bonsai) and increasing water changes to weekly to make sure waste organics aren’t accumulating. You may have to do weekly water changes with NilocG actually too, definitely double check that. APT Complete is a leaner fert and cheaper that I know does not require weekly water changes FWIW.
Dang if there really is no way to adjust it other than in 3 hour increments, then I would do 100 percent, 100 percent, and then 0. You have the normal 24/7 not the plus right? If so, the normal 24/7 isn’t too strong, so that’s why I suggest just doing 100 for the first two time slots.

Also you should consistently/always get rid of as many decaying leaves or completely algae ridden leaves as possible. Leaves that aren’t in good health just divert energy from the plant that could be better spent making new healthy growth and contribute to waste organics in the water column, they don’t heal. Depending on how bare that leaves the bonsai, you may want to just cut off the healthier upper portions, throw away the barer bottoms, and replant the upper portions. You could also cut off the healthier portions, replant those, and leave the bases. Normally bonsai can handle just being cut and letting the bases create new shoots, but sometimes if the plant isn’t healthy to begin with the bases won’t be able to create new shoots—just something to keep in mind.
No dying or decaying leaves. Just the lower halves of the bonsai getting covered in some brown algae. I trimmed them a few days ago and replanted the shoots.

I do have the 24/7+plus.

Here's a video of the tank:IMG_3523.MOV
 

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No dying or decaying leaves. Just the lower halves of the bonsai getting covered in some brown algae. I trimmed them a few days ago and replanted the shoots.

I do have the 24/7+plus.

Here's a video of the tank:IMG_3523.MOV
Cool, beautiful tank and that AR is stunning. How tall is your tank? Also, do you know your KH? Since you’re at the 6th month mark, it would also be best to supplement your plants with root tabs. They’ll really appreciate it. The nutrients in aquasoil can actually be depleted fairly quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Cool, beautiful tank and that AR is stunning. How tall is your tank? Also, do you know your KH? Since you’re at the 6th month mark, it would also be best to supplement your plants with root tabs. They’ll really appreciate it. The nutrients in aquasoil can actually be depleted fairly quickly.
Thanks. Just wish my hairgrass would grow in quicker! My kH is typically around 2 or 3. I'll add some root tabs next time I do a WC.

Would you recommend 75% light intensity since I have the plus version? Tank is 16" tall.
 

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Thanks. Just wish my hairgrass would grow in quicker! My kH is typically around 2 or 3. I'll add some root tabs next time I do a WC.
Those will help the plants for sure. My AR and my bonsai (I believe it’s actually Rotala Indica btw, used to be incorrectly called ammania bonsai) really took off with root tabs.

The most important thing for the hairgrass and any carpet is sufficient CO2 injection and distribution followed by sufficient light-you want to get a PH drop of about 1 from before the CO2 comes on to about 1-3 hours into the injection. That’s the best way to measure CO2 injection, drop checkers are honestly only good for telling you if a specific area is getting CO2.

See these links for further details if you’re skeptical of the PH drop measurement style or need any info on CO2 in general:

Here is my tank also just so you can see I know how to grow a luscious dwarf hairgrass carpet and am not talking out my butt lol:
1032524


Those links are from a website started by professional aquascaper Dennis Wong. Super helpful website.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Beautiful tank! I dream of mine looking that nice. Hopefully I'll get there one day soon.


I've read similar articles and it all sounds familiar. I ordered some Thrive+ today and will start routinely dosing on a weekly basis and also check to ensure my C02 is at the optimum level. I think I'll also get a new diffuser because the one I'm using doesn't create a very fine mist.

I have a pH meter and have measured the C02 concentration in the past, but the pH never seems to drop by a full point. Maybe 0.6 to 0.8 max. I get nervous going much higher because the drop checker is turning yellow, and I've gassed fish in the past. I currently have my drop checker on the far left of the tank towards the bottom and it's a faded lime green color. The diffuser is at the far right of the tank. I figure I'm probably in the ballpark.

I used to run surface skimmers on all my tanks, but had a few fish deaths because of them, and got tired of them making noise when the water level dropped or they got clogged with plant matter or a curious snail. I may consider changing over to a sump and using an HOB skimmer so I can more easily maintain a consistent water level.
 
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Looks pretty good to me. The algae on the Rotala leaf should fade as the plants grow or you add more plants. I would make larger water changes for now.
Also..you have lights on 24 hours a day? Even with lower output..that's way too much. Totally unnatural. That's an algae maker also.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Looks pretty good to me. The algae on the Rotala leaf should fade as the plants grow or you add more plants. I would make larger water changes for now.
Also..you have lights on 24 hours a day? Even with lower output..that's way too much. Totally unnatural. That's an algae maker also.
The lights are completely off from midnight to 9:00am, full intensity from about 10am to 5pm, then 10% blue/green lights until 9pm, 10% blue light until midnight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
What does it mean when plants start growing long roots above the substrate through the stem? Does this mean they are not getting enough nutrients from the substrate?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I did a 50% WC yesterday then dosed NilocG Thrive at 3x (Thrive is for low tech). My nitrate level today is 40ppm. Is this a good level to aim for at the beginning of the week after a water change considering I am injecting CO2 and using medium to high lighting?
 

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I did a 50% WC yesterday then dosed NilocG Thrive at 3x (Thrive is for low tech). My nitrate level today is 40ppm. Is this a good level to aim for at the beginning of the week after a water change considering I am injecting CO2 and using medium to high lighting?
Thrive is for high tech and is modeled after EI, Thrive C is for low tech. Plants do better with more regular dosing, so I would dose ideally at least 3 times a week if possible. In regards to the 40ppm nitrate, all I can say is I dose APT Complete which only adds 7.2ppm Nitrogen a week (but I have a heavy fishload), and I believe Barr doses about 45ppm Nitrate a week (dosed as 15ppm 3 times a week though, not all at once).
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Thrive is for high tech and is modeled after EI, Thrive C is for low tech. Plants do better with more regular dosing, so I would dose ideally at least 3 times a week if possible. In regards to the 40ppm nitrate, all I can say is I dose APT Complete which only adds 7.2ppm Nitrogen a week (but I have a heavy fishload), and I believe Barr doses about 45ppm Nitrate a week (dosed as 15ppm 3 times a week though, not all at once).
Sorry, I meant ThriveC. I just ordered a bottle of Thrive plus though.

I used to dose EI, and I recall the 15ppm per dose guideline. Correct me if I'm wrong, but whatever amount you dose weekly will never be exceeded by twice that amount, correct? For example, dosing 45ppm per week means your nitrate will never exceed 90ppm if you do weekly 50% water changes. In reality, it will be less than that because of plant uptake. That being said, if I'm currently at 40ppm nitrate after yesterday's water change and fertilizer dosing (18mL of ThriveC), then that would be okay for a heavily planted tank, no? Mine is not heavily planted at the moment, so I should probably cut back to 20ppm average until I have more growth? If so, I need to do another WC ASAP.
 

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Sorry, I meant ThriveC. I just ordered a bottle of Thrive plus though.

I used to dose EI, and I recall the 15ppm per dose guideline. Correct me if I'm wrong, but whatever amount you dose weekly will never be exceeded by twice that amount, correct? For example, dosing 45ppm per week means your nitrate will never exceed 90ppm if you do weekly 50% water changes. In reality, it will be less than that because of plant uptake. That being said, if I'm currently at 40ppm nitrate after yesterday's water change and fertilizer dosing (18mL of ThriveC), then that would be okay for a heavily planted tank, no? Mine is not heavily planted at the moment, so I should probably cut back to 20ppm average until I have more growth? If so, I need to do another WC ASAP.
I actually haven’t heard that, most likely because I never went the EI route so I’m not an expert on it by any means, but what you’re saying sounds right given appropriate plant uptake and a weekly water change/changes. I’m really not well versed on manually adjusting nutrients—Barr repeatedly states that CO2 and light are more important things to be anal about lol. I can just say that typically EI aims for 20-30ppm total nitrate per week. Burr doses 18ppm total in a stem-heavy fully planted tank and APT’s EI version of Ferts aims for about 13ppm total nitrate.
 
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