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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone. I'm new at aquariums of any kind, and although I've been doing research it's kind of confusing.
This is my first tank ever, and has been up since the early September. The cycle went really fast. Since then my parameters have been stable.

I only have a Betta living in there, and the plants are a red cabomba, wisteria, bacopa, java fern, marimo ball, and christmas moss.

My cabomba seems to be doing great. Is not entirely red, but the tips are, and it's growing like crazy. On the other hand, my wisteria got all yellow and its leaves went see-through, so I took most of it out since it was dying. This past Friday, I got a Bacopa, and today a lot of it's leaves were decomposing leaving my with half of the original plant. The Java Fern is showing brown spots that end up being holes, and there's something fuzzy on it's leaves that I've been trying to ID with no luck. The marimo ball, and moss seem to be doing just fine.

It is a 5.5 gallons tank
2 10watts Coralife Mini Compact Flourescent Bulbs color pink
8 1/2 hours of light daily
Ammonia 0
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 0 ~ 20 (some color in between)
Ph 7.6
KH 180 ppm
GH 120 ppm
Temp 81F ~ 83F
Penguin 100 filter (stock media filter)
Excel ~1ml every day
Flourish Comprenhensive ~1ml every week
Conditioned Tap water (Prime)
1.5 gallons of water changed every weekend
Plain gravel as substrate

Why are my plants having such a hard time? What is wrong?
Please help...

This is how my Bacopa looked like today





This is the Wisteria



The Java fern


... and its fuzzy stuff



Thanks.
 

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I'm not the most knowledgeable person on this forum (by a long shot), but it seems to me you've got too much light (although I don't know what a "pink" light is) to rely on excel alone. You're going to need to add CO2 (by DIY or pressurized) to get healthy plant growth. Also, the Flourish product (not sure it's called "comprehensive") is probably only trace elements and not a sufficient source of ferts. Other folks around here, know much more than I do, and I'm sure they will add their comments. Also, the "fuzz" on the fern is some kind of algae- which you're going to have more of very soon unless you bring the other elements into line (CO2,ferts). In the meantime, I would suggest you limit the lighting period (8 hours or less) and maybe turn off one of your bulbs to inhibit algae growth.
 

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I have a 55G that I was having the same sort of issues with. I got sold that comprehensive product with the little kit from my lfs. It specifically says on the back that it is not an adequate source of macro nutrients and for you to use the seachem nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. It has some of those macros in there but I don't think its enough for your lighting regime. I would consider looking for dry ferts in the long run it can save you some $.

At 5.5G I think you could rely on excel for your carbon source. Although your PH seems a bit high which is a sign that you don't have enough co2 in your tank. The real question is when did you take that reading based on when you dosed your excel? You seem fairly heavily planted for a small tank and you could probably stand to up your dosing of excel. Algae is almost always a sign of low Co2.

I would fix your Co2 problem first before adding a significant amount of ferts to the water just make your algae problem worse.

Like comatoast I am not the the most knowledgeable either just trying to help.
 

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a pink tube is GRO - LUX. Since chlorophyll is green, it reflects green color and absorbs red (and blue-purple) light the best.

I'd say that you are having problems with Macro nutreints: Phosperous, Potassium... and maybe Iron too. If you lower your lights and add those 3 nutrients, you will probably notice improvements fairly soon. I have a 10 gallon that had 80 watts over it (The fixture stuck out a foot on either side, 2 40 watt bulbs) so I turned off one of the lights and things are doing better now. I kind of do an EI method... which is where you add a lot of ferts and change half the water every week, so that "salts" don't build up.

I had brown algae on the substrate, and it was pearling. Blue-Green-Algae too. After taking a light off, there was less Calcium dust, less algae and all my problems just went away like magic. Still have Green Dust Algae on the back wall, but that's no big deal. The nutrients are vital to plants as well. Iron is a key component in chlorophyll. Phospherous is in DNA or something. As for potassium, I dunno what it does but it is very important.

My tank has NO CO2 and no Excel and I have healthy stem plants. Dwarf hairgrass isn't growing much but... Many plants can get carbon from CaCO3, it takes a bit more energy to break down but it works OK for a while... CO2 isn't necessary in moderate light... From what I can tell... I am kind of a NOOB too. I have only 1 planted tank and it has been up since August.

This is all in MY OPINION, some people's OPINION is that CO2 is always a necessity. Dry weight, carbon makes up a huge percentage of an aquatic plant's biomass. Hence, it is the ultimate macro-nutrient.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Then my problem is that I have too much light for the nutrients in the water? I can't afford a CO2 reactor, and I'm afraid that with a DIY CO2 my Betta will die due to excess CO2.
I could increase the Excel to 2ml, I've read that people over dose and get rid of algae. Is it a good idea?
 

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Don't overdose the Excel, you can kill a Betta this way as well.

Your plants don't look THAT bad. Often you need to give them some time to establish. That could be several weeks. I don't think the Java Fern looks bad at all.

A bit of algae growth occurs in all new tanks. As things balance out, algae disappear all by themselves.

I don't think two 10W bulbs are that excessive. W/gal rule doesn't apply to tiny tanks.

Your substrate isn't the most plant friendly. Gravel like that doesn't have much CEC (cation exchange capacity) unlike fired clay substrates. That means it will not absorb nutrients and make them available to plants. So whatever is in your water column is what plants have available. If your tapwater lacks say NO3 (assuming your 0-20 range is close to 0) then plants will be limited.

I wouldn't worry too much though... keep doing what you are doing, don't worry about algae (plants will grow out of it), and give it some time to settle. You can't expect to get a masterpiece overnight. :smile:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Don't overdose the Excel, you can kill a Betta this way as well.

Your plants don't look THAT bad. Often you need to give them some time to establish. That could be several weeks. I don't think the Java Fern looks bad at all.

A bit of algae growth occurs in all new tanks. As things balance out, algae disappear all by themselves.

I don't think two 10W bulbs are that excessive. W/gal rule doesn't apply to tiny tanks.

Your substrate isn't the most plant friendly. Gravel like that doesn't have much CEC (cation exchange capacity) unlike fired clay substrates. That means it will not absorb nutrients and make them available to plants. So whatever is in your water column is what plants have available. If your tapwater lacks say NO3 (assuming your 0-20 range is close to 0) then plants will be limited.

I wouldn't worry too much though... keep doing what you are doing, don't worry about algae (plants will grow out of it), and give it some time to settle. You can't expect to get a masterpiece overnight. :smile:
You are right, I haven't given them time to adjust. Thank you for the tip on the substrates. I know is not the best, but can't change it yet. When I do I will look for a fired clay one like you mentioned. And it's true, how can you tell? The No3 color looks closer to 0 than 20, but although I waited for the nitrates to build up, they never did. What can I do?

Thank you, I feel better now :)
 

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They won't build up with that many tanks and one fish. The plants are uptaking it all. You might have to dose PMDD style to get some macros and trace in there to have them grow better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
They won't build up with that many tanks and one fish. The plants are uptaking it all. You might have to dose PMDD style to get some macros and trace in there to have them grow better.
Ok. I see, it makes sense now. There is so much information and discussion that I'm getting confused.

So far it's clear to me that I need my plants to be healthy and growing so they out-compete algae. My plants seem to be having a hard time doing that. In fact it seems that they are loosing more leaves than producing new ones. The cabomba, although the healthier looking of them all, seems to have slowed a little, and the Java Fern has two new leaves with translucent tips. All this and the fuzziness, which has extended to the rest of the plants, is evidence that something is out of balance.
I agree with Wasserpest, it is a new tank and needs time to settle, but in the meantime, can I do something simple to help the plants?

I've been looking at the CO2 commercial systems, but they are too expensive, and the DIY won't stop adding the CO2 at night. That means possible Ph swings and what if the Betta suffocates :(? Also there's not that much space in the tank for a DIY reactor. If I direct the CO2 bubbles into the filter intake won't that make the water going to the bio-wheel CO2 saturated and mess with the beneficial aerobic bacteria living there?

What about the low Nitrates? 2wheelsx2 has a point, but I've read that it is difficult to not take the NO3 levels over 20ppm when dosing it. What can I do then?

And is my light schedule good? I have the lights on from 7am to 10:30 am, then from 4 pm to 8:30pm. I do this because it lets me check on the tank in the morning before leaving the house, and enjoy it in the evenings when I'm back.

Help please
 

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That means possible Ph swings and what if the Betta suffocates :(?
Can't help with all your questions, but for this question, you don't have to worry since Bettas are labyrinth fishes and can take their air from the surface.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Can't help with all your questions, but for this question, you don't have to worry since Bettas are labyrinth fishes and can take their air from the surface.
You have a good point there. What if I add an Oto or Siamese algae eater? These fish are won't be able to get oxygen like the Betta.
 

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Air pump with a timer to come on when lights go off at night will take of it. I did that when I did DIY CO2.

SAE will be too big for 5.5 gallons as they are too active. Try a small Bristle Nose Pleco (they will eventually get too big but will be fine for a couple of years) or stick to Otos. I've personally not had much lunch with Otos, so I stick to BNP's, but of course my smallest tank is a 15 gallon breeder.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Air pump with a timer to come on when lights go off at night will take of it. I did that when I did DIY CO2.

SAE will be too big for 5.5 gallons as they are too active. Try a small Bristle Nose Pleco (they will eventually get too big but will be fine for a couple of years) or stick to Otos. I've personally not had much lunch with Otos, so I stick to BNP's, but of course my smallest tank is a 15 gallon breeder.
Thank you 2wheels. I think I'll get an Oto because of the size. Since no one has jump on me because of my lightning schedule, should I assume is acceptable? I read somewhere that plants grow at night, but when does night starts for the plants?
 

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You're right. No one jumped on you because your photo period is appropriate. :D

I'm not sure that it's 100% accurate that plants grow at night. I think it's more accurate that they recover at night from the growing they do when the photosynthesis. Kind of like the human body recovering at night with rest.

I don't think that you need to worry about night, just that you have darkness, which you have.

As for the oto, try not to only get one. Get 3 or 4 at least. I have found them to be temperamental when transferred, plus they are a shoaling type fish. You just have to make sure they are getting more food than just algae since they are very efficient algae eaters.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
:( The Bacopa is looking just like the pictures on my first post again. One of the stems is rooting up from the under the gravel. I can see red lint like stuff on it's leaves and over my driftwood. It feels like I have too few plants, but at the same time I'm not sure if I should add more. If they compete algae, sounds reasonable to add more, but those that I have keep shrinking...
What can I do? My plan is to get some Otos tomorrow. Should I get more plants? Some specific fertilizer? At this point I'm so lost, I don't know how to fix the problem.
 

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Red algae is dying algae. It looks like your tank is finally stablizing. I would get NPK (macros) fertilizers. You are right now only providing the micros, and plants need both. I would also get a better micro fertilizer. Comprehensive is a little better than plain water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Red algae is dying algae. It looks like your tank is finally stablizing. I would get NPK (macros) fertilizers. You are right now only providing the micros, and plants need both. I would also get a better micro fertilizer. Comprehensive is a little better than plain water.
Thanks. I will do that then :)
 
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