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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've got a 6-year-old low-tech planted tank that is doing OK, but I've hit a road block with nutrients and plant growth. My dwarf sag and various Crypts are happy, Vals and an Amazon or two are doing OK as long as I keep up with the root tabs. But my Anubias is getting holes in the leaves, my trident Java fern is not thriving and is sending out babies like mad, my frogbit is sending down long roots (which it seems to do a lot more when it wants more nutrients), and my red root floaters are not red.

Ferts:
Using root tabs every other month (instead of the recommended every 3-4 months), NilocG Thrive 2x/week, and Flourish Excel ~4x/week keeps my parameters good (ammonia/nitrites 0 ppm, Nitrates 20 ppm, phosphates 1-2 ppm).

Setup:
~65 gallons, cannister filter, Current USA Satellite Plus Pro LED lights at about 50% brightness (with a bit of emphasis on red) run for 8 hours per day, Eco-complete substrate, very hard water at pH ~7.8, ~76 degrees F, moderately populated with small fish. I do ~40% water changes 3x per month.

Questions:
1. How high can I let nitrates and phosphates go if I add more nutrients?
2. Or should I just slow things down by lowering the light even more?
3. How can I tell if I'm running a medium-, or low-light tank (without spending $$$ on a PAR meter)?
4. Do I just have too many plants for a low-tech tank?
Plant Plant community Wood Organism Grass
 

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You Nitrate and Phosphate is in check, and it's in a good ratio.

The holes in Anubias leaves usually indicates a Potassium deficiency.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You Nitrate and Phosphate is in check, and it's in a good ratio.

The holes in Anubias leaves usually indicates a Potassium deficiency.
Thank you. I've read that, and I know I can supplement with additional potassium, but are there any good potassium test kits available? Or do I just dose blindly until I see no more holes developing?

I was hoping a quality all-in-one fertilizer would cover all the nutrients. If not, do I just identify and troubleshoot one deficiency after another over the months/years until overall growth looks good?
 

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Thank you. I've read that, and I know I can supplement with additional potassium, but are there any good potassium test kits available? Or do I just dose blindly until I see no more holes developing?

I was hoping a quality all-in-one fertilizer would cover all the nutrients. If not, do I just identify and troubleshoot one deficiency after another over the months/years until overall growth looks good?
Of course the best way is to test, you can look for Salifert Freshwater Potassium K test, on Amazon or eBay.

I prefer mixing the compounds my self based on accumulation and what's already in my tap water. The ready mixed fertilizer is good but it doesn't always fit every tank.
 

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This is a great question, I am just about to post something similar.

I am using PPS pro system and unfortunately I do not do any testing other than TDS and monitoring plants. I can totally verify what you mentioned about the roots on your floating plants, when I put some in this tank from a low tech the roots basically dropped off or shed to little spikes and growth/replication exploded.

Have you considered a CO2 system? Rather than lowering your light you could just increase the efficiency of the plants to balance things out. That might solve several of your problems. Even a very low dose could have a big effect all things being equal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
This is a great question, I am just about to post something similar.

I am using PPS pro system and unfortunately I do not do any testing other than TDS and monitoring plants. I can totally verify what you mentioned about the roots on your floating plants, when I put some in this tank from a low tech the roots basically dropped off or shed to little spikes and growth/replication exploded.

Have you considered a CO2 system? Rather than lowering your light you could just increase the efficiency of the plants to balance things out. That might solve several of your problems. Even a very low dose could have a big effect all things being equal.
Yes! Ha! I've been considering CO2 for over a year, but I'm intimidated. I need to look for a "CO2 for Noobs" book. Thanks for the suggestion.
 

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You Nitrate and Phosphate is in check, and it's in a good ratio.

The holes in Anubias leaves usually indicates a Potassium deficiency.
I've got a 6-year-old low-tech planted tank that is doing OK, but I've hit a road block with nutrients and plant growth. My dwarf sag and various Crypts are happy, Vals and an Amazon or two are doing OK as long as I keep up with the root tabs. But my Anubias is getting holes in the leaves, my trident Java fern is not thriving and is sending out babies like mad, my frogbit is sending down long roots (which it seems to do a lot more when it wants more nutrients), and my red root floaters are not red.

Ferts:
Using root tabs every other month (instead of the recommended every 3-4 months), NilocG Thrive 2x/week, and Flourish Excel ~4x/week keeps my parameters good (ammonia/nitrites 0 ppm, Nitrates 20 ppm, phosphates 1-2 ppm).

Setup:
~65 gallons, cannister filter, Current USA Satellite Plus Pro LED lights at about 50% brightness (with a bit of emphasis on red) run for 8 hours per day, Eco-complete substrate, very hard water at pH ~7.8, ~76 degrees F, moderately populated with small fish. I do ~40% water changes 3x per month.

Questions:
1. How high can I let nitrates and phosphates go if I add more nutrients?
2. Or should I just slow things down by lowering the light even more?
3. How can I tell if I'm running a medium-, or low-light tank (without spending $$$ on a PAR meter)?
4. Do I just have too many plants for a low-tech tank?
View attachment 1032928
Your nitrate and phosphate look good. Maybe extra potassium added. The Excel has no nutrient value,it basically an algae deterrent
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Your nitrate and phosphate look good. Maybe extra potassium added. The Excel has no nutrient value,it basically an algae deterrent
Yes. I use it to deter algae to give me a buffer on the too much light or too many nutrients side of the equation. It works pretty well in my tanks to deter algae.
 

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Just go for it. With your tank being stable already (light intensity and photoperiod) you don't have much to lose. Lower light and CO2 is fairly fool proof. Just start slow, keep the surface moving well and pull back a hair when your fish stress. It is cheaper than a new light (around 150 for a full setup) and only about 5 bucks a month after that. There is a potential for BBA and you'll have to adjust ferts a bit but switching to estimative index will be much cheaper in the long run and more flexible when you notice any deficiencies. I recommend not using CSMB though, JMO.

Best part is, you can solve the raising your light problem and have some wiggle room to move it closer or upgrade if things go well.
 
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