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I set up my 1st 10 gallon planted tank 7 weeks ago. It is cycled, but the Nitrates stay high(20-40ppm). I have not added any live stock yet. 25-50% water changes help for a day or 2, but I believe the source is dead plant matter. I continue to prune dead/unhealthy leaves. Some plants have healthy roots with possibly a few rotting roots now (some are visible).

I had a lot of trouble planting them initially. They kept floating out of the substrate. I'm sure they didn't like being shoved back into it repeatedly.

All my anacharis died. Pigmy chain swords regrowth is very pale, small, stunted. Pennywort is OK, not growing much. Italian Vals are doing OK, a few twisted leaves (more than normal). Cryptocoryne spiralis veins are dark green with light green on the outer.

The only plants doing fine are anubias nana petite, java fern, and surprisingly dwarf HG (slow growth, but fine)

I have looked at plant deficiency charts to troubleshoot. Not sure what I'm doing wrong with the fertilizers. I stopped dosing Equilibrium and KNO3 now to see if that's adding to the problem. Just adding 1/64 t. KH2PO4 2-3x/week. Never added CO2.

I'm concerned there could be a few rotting roots under the substrate. Would I have to tear down the tank and start over? I could have the same plant growth problem 2nd time around if I don't know the culprit. Or should I add a Malaysian Trumpet and Nerite snail to eat all the dead roots and leaves?

Also, here's an overhead view of my glass top and light in case it's a problem. I don't like the black hinge in the middle that blocks light. I positioned the light to the back so it doesn't cast a shadow on the foreground hairgrass.
 

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I set up my 1st 10 gallon planted tank 7 weeks ago. It is cycled, but the Nitrates stay high(20-40ppm). I have not added any live stock yet. 25-50% water changes help for a day or 2, but I believe the source is dead plant matter. I continue to prune dead/unhealthy leaves. Some plants have healthy roots with possibly a few rotting roots now (some are visible).

I had a lot of trouble planting them initially. They kept floating out of the substrate. I'm sure they didn't like being shoved back into it repeatedly.

All my anacharis died. Pigmy chain swords regrowth is very pale, small, stunted. Pennywort is OK, not growing much. Italian Vals are doing OK, a few twisted leaves (more than normal). Cryptocoryne spiralis veins are dark green with light green on the outer.

The only plants doing fine are anubias nana petite, java fern, and surprisingly dwarf HG (slow growth, but fine)

I have looked at plant deficiency charts to troubleshoot. Not sure what I'm doing wrong with the fertilizers. I stopped dosing Equilibrium and KNO3 now to see if that's adding to the problem. Just adding 1/64 t. KH2PO4 2-3x/week. Never added CO2.

I'm concerned there could be a few rotting roots under the substrate. Would I have to tear down the tank and start over? I could have the same plant growth problem 2nd time around if I don't know the culprit. Or should I add a Malaysian Trumpet and Nerite snail to eat all the dead roots and leaves?
What's your light cycle? Are your water parameters steady? 7 weeks isn't an out of the ordinary time frame for plants to still be settling in. I have 4 Echinodorus Quadricostatus, only one is settled in enough to produce runners. They've been planted in the tank since the second week of January. They were looking decent but two weeks in I moved them 2 inches forward and they did not like that. Pygmy chains don't like to be moved. They really need iron supplementation. I use iron tabs under them and dose iron as well. I also use Osmocote Plus root tabs. You could try some form of those to kick start them. Number one thing I would say is be patient. Don't rush to tear the tank down because the plants aren't reacting the way you expect.

I have Corkscrew Vals that were looking great since I got them. They have their own corner in my tank. I finally saw runners a few days before my I saw my Pygmy Chain with runners. All the sudden, I'm now losing leaves like crazy from the Vals. I think one problem could be that I need to put in a root tab or two under them. The main problem though, I believe to be the current they're getting now. I changed the configuration of my spray bar to have one section shooting downward against the glass right above them. I was getting alot of detritus build up in that area. I'm betting they're going through another adjustment. Point being, just about everyting we do in a planted tank has an impact on plant health. They're like us in that they need time to adjust when their circumstances change.

I don't use CO2 either. I've read that when you don't use CO2 and do water changes that the CO2 levels fluctuate and can lead to stunted plant growth. I think that's what I'm seeing in my tank. Most of my plants are doing great, some are very effected by it. Since I'm not going to use CO2 I just have to live with it. That could be an issue your seeing as well.

Anacharis are very heat sensative as well as being intolerant of organic carbon like Excel for instance.
 

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I agree with SNAXX - Anacharis likes cooler water. Pennyworth is basically a floating plant and will start growing much faster and healthier once it reaches the surface, closer to the light and atmospheric CO2.

That's a 10g? The tank and plants are looking darn good to me, especially for a 10g started from scratch (clean tank, new substrate, new plants). I personally would just let it be for now and let things settle down more. Take another picture in 3 - 4 weeks and compare it to your current one and you will see what I mean.

To address some of your concerns:

- Nitrates in your range are rather common in a planted tank, especially in CA. On the (very) rare occasions when I bring my tank water to a fish store for testing, they have heart attacks when they see my levels. As long as its < ~40 ppm, just let it be.

- It takes years for the new AquaSoil to really compact and that's when Trumpet snails could be of some use. Otherwise, once you add snails you will always have snails. Add them only if you like them, not because you think they will 'fix' your tank.

- You will always have some rotting matter in a planted tank. As long as it is not visually disgusting and as long as you have minimal algae, leave it alone.

IMHO, your tank, in it's current stage in life, is looking better then 90+% of the tanks I have seen.

Can't leave you without any free advise, right? Besides just let the tank mature for a while, I would:

- start adding a tiny pinch of crushed fish food (like flakes) once every several days. That would a) add some trace elements for your plants b) grow the bacteria a bit more so that you won't have a spike once you add fish

- spread out your HG out more and trim it down

- just heads up: healthy Italian Vals easily grow to 48+". They are really too long for a 10g
 
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I agree with SNAXX - Anacharis likes cooler water. Pennyworth is basically a floating plant and will start growing much faster and healthier once it reaches the surface, closer to the light and atmospheric CO2.

That's a 10g? The tank and plants are looking darn good to me, especially for a 10g started from scratch (clean tank, new substrate, new plants). I personally would just let it be for now and let things settle down more. Take another picture in 3 - 4 weeks and compare it to your current one and you will see what I mean.

To address some of your concerns:

- Nitrates in your range are rather common in a planted tank, especially in CA. On the (very) rare occasions when I bring my tank water to a fish store for testing, they have heart attacks when they see my levels. As long as its < ~40 ppm, just let it be.

- It takes years for the new AquaSoil to really compact and that's when Trumpet snails could be of some use. Otherwise, once you add snails you will always have snails. Add them only if you like them, not because you think they will 'fix' your tank.

- You will always have some rotting matter in a planted tank. As long as it is not visually disgusting and as long as you have minimal algae, leave it alone.

IMHO, your tank, in it's current stage in life, is looking better then 90+% of the tanks I have seen.

Can't leave you without any free advise, right? Besides just let the tank mature for a while, I would:

- start adding a tiny pinch of crushed fish food (like flakes) once every several days. That would a) add some trace elements for your plants b) grow the bacteria a bit more so that you won't have a spike once you add fish

- spread out your HG out more and trim it down

- just heads up: healthy Italian Vals easily grow to 48+". They are really too long for a 10g
Just want to say hi and welcome back OVT you helped me a few years back with my needle valve change and it has been humming right along since thanks
also agree your tank looks great and probably just needs some time.
 

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What's your light cycle? Are your water parameters steady? 7 weeks isn't an out of the ordinary time frame for plants to still be settling in. I have 4 Echinodorus Quadricostatus, only one is settled in enough to produce runners. They've been planted in the tank since the second week of January. They were looking decent but two weeks in I moved them 2 inches forward and they did not like that. Pygmy chains don't like to be moved. They really need iron supplementation. I use iron tabs under them and dose iron as well. I also use Osmocote Plus root tabs. You could try some form of those to kick start them. Number one thing I would say is be patient. Don't rush to tear the tank down because the plants aren't reacting the way you expect.

I have Corkscrew Vals that were looking great since I got them. They have their own corner in my tank. I finally saw runners a few days before my I saw my Pygmy Chain with runners. All the sudden, I'm now losing leaves like crazy from the Vals. I think one problem could be that I need to put in a root tab or two under them. The main problem though, I believe to be the current they're getting now. I changed the configuration of my spray bar to have one section shooting downward against the glass right above them. I was getting alot of detritus build up in that area. I'm betting they're going through another adjustment. Point being, just about everyting we do in a planted tank has an impact on plant health. They're like us in that they need time to adjust when their circumstances change.

I don't use CO2 either. I've read that when you don't use CO2 and do water changes that the CO2 levels fluctuate and can lead to stunted plant growth. I think that's what I'm seeing in my tank. Most of my plants are doing great, some are very effected by it. Since I'm not going to use CO2 I just have to live with it. That could be an issue your seeing as well.
Anacharis are very heat sensative as well as being intolerant of organic carbon like Excel for instance.
My light is on for 7 hours. I have brown algae.
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrites: 0 ppm
Nitrates: 20-40 ppm
pH: 6.4 (Except when I do a wc it goes up to 7.8 and takes a day or two to buffer back down to 6.4. My TAP water pH is 8.0. My substrate buffers the pH lower.)
GH: 5-6 drops (89-107 ppm)
KH: 4-6 drops (71-107 ppm)


My anacharis and valls nana were right next to my heater. That must have been one of the reasons they died. Cryptocoryne retrospiralis are next to my heater now. Regrowth is very small/stunted like other plants, but I don't dare move a crypt right now.

I do 25-50% wc every 3-6 days to lower nitrates. So that natural CO2 in the water is fluctuating. I don't know of a way around that. I think it's more important to lower nitrates first. Even with these water changes my nitrates may go down to 10-20ppm for a couple days, but go up to 40ppm again. I think it will balance out once I get plants to grow. So I'll try root tabs for the swords, crypts. Also, am I correct to not dose KNO3 since the nitrates are high?

Could my glass top affect the CO2 and oxygen? I need a cover for a betta and snails. Plus it keeps a lot of water from evaporating out of the tank.

I agree with SNAXX - Anacharis likes cooler water. Pennyworth is basically a floating plant and will start growing much faster and healthier once it reaches the surface, closer to the light and atmospheric CO2.

That's a 10g? The tank and plants are looking darn good to me, especially for a 10g started from scratch (clean tank, new substrate, new plants). I personally would just let it be for now and let things settle down more. Take another picture in 3 - 4 weeks and compare it to your current one and you will see what I mean.

To address some of your concerns:

- Nitrates in your range are rather common in a planted tank, especially in CA. On the (very) rare occasions when I bring my tank water to a fish store for testing, they have heart attacks when they see my levels. As long as its < ~40 ppm, just let it be.

- It takes years for the new AquaSoil to really compact and that's when Trumpet snails could be of some use. Otherwise, once you add snails you will always have snails. Add them only if you like them, not because you think they will 'fix' your tank.

- You will always have some rotting matter in a planted tank. As long as it is not visually disgusting and as long as you have minimal algae, leave it alone.

IMHO, your tank, in it's current stage in life, is looking better then 90+% of the tanks I have seen.

Can't leave you without any free advise, right? Besides just let the tank mature for a while, I would:

- start adding a tiny pinch of crushed fish food (like flakes) once every several days. That would a) add some trace elements for your plants b) grow the bacteria a bit more so that you won't have a spike once you add fish

- spread out your HG out more and trim it down

- just heads up: healthy Italian Vals easily grow to 48+". They are really too long for a 10g
Thanks for the compliments! It's a relief to hear that my tanks condition doesn't sound as bad as I thought.

With the nitrates being high, is this a bad time to add a few ghost shrimp and 1 nerite snail? I'm going to add them eventually and I want them to eat my brown algae outbreak. It doesn't show in my picture. I rub it off the glass, but it stays on the leaves. My pH does fluctuate from 6.4 to 7.8 when I do a wc. It takes a day or two for my substrate to buffer it back to 6.4. However, I was told not to worry about that.

Should I continue with 25-50% wc every 3-6 days until there is good growth and nitrates lower? Or is this doing more harm than good by throwing off my pH and natural levels of CO2? I think the nitrates will go above 40ppm if I don't, but I could be wrong.

I wanted corkscrew valls, but the seller was out of stock. She noted Italian Valls can be cut to any length without harm. I settled for those knowing I would need to trim them frequently.

Closer view of brown algae on leaves.
 

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Carpe Diem
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Just want to say hi and welcome back OVT you helped me a few years back with my needle valve change and it has been humming right along since thanks
Hi Doogy262, thank you very much and I am touched.
I am just passing through:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Last night I added 5 Flourish root tabs 4-6' apart. Next time I'll buy cheaper root tabs online. I didn't want to wait for shipping.

Now that my Nitrates are under control (5-10ppm) I added 1 Nerite snail. (In pirate voice) The first brave soul to voyage new waters, aye "The Black Pearl." Yes, that's it's name.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
How did you get your nitrates under control? Water changes?
Yes, 25-50% wc every 1-3 days for 2 weeks while pruning dead plant matter. I thought it would be ok since there were no fish or invertebrates at that time.

Speaking of water... A couple days ago I noticed a slight haze on the surface of the water. It went away when I did a 20% water change. What is that? I have noticed that on my previous aquarium too when it was due for a water change.

Also, my pigmy chain swords look pretty pathetic. I chopped most of the leaves that looked weak (very light green, almost white, stunted/small) and added Flourish root tabs 6 days ago. Can pigmy chain swords recover if chopped back like this or should I remove them?
 

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If you want to try to save the chain swords trim them down low to the substrate and allow new growth to return.

I would say that your nitrate levels are now lower do to your water changes and that your plants have probably now rooted well and are aboarbing it better now. It's is now time to consider a fertilizing regimend. I would suggest a low level ei method or ppspro. Is that a 24/7 light you have? If your not going to use co2 I would use excell liquid carbon and follow the instructions. I used it per instructions and my anacharis was always fine. 1ml per 10 gallons daily.

I think most of the problems you had with difficiancies were nutrient related and probably micro nutrient related. Ei and ppspro will fix that. Root tabs with both micro and macro nutrients are great.

Also get a different cover. That black strip causing the shadow suuuucks. I dealt with that for a long time and it does effect things
 

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Here's some pics of my pygmy chains. The one with runners took a while to recover after I moved it, but recover it did. The little one still seems stunted but it's throwing out new leaves regularly. The tall one came a few weeks after the two shorter ones, thinking that may not be the same species. I've never trimmed them though I should. In my case it's tough to see exaclty where I'm trimming because my tank is 22" tall. They don't look perfect but they seem to be thriving. With no CO2 I think it's alot tougher to get them looking like the pics we see when searching them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
If you want to try to save the chain swords trim them down low to the substrate and allow new growth to return.

I would say that your nitrate levels are now lower do to your water changes and that your plants have probably now rooted well and are aboarbing it better now. It's is now time to consider a fertilizing regimend. I would suggest a low level ei method or ppspro. Is that a 24/7 light you have? If your not going to use co2 I would use excell liquid carbon and follow the instructions. I used it per instructions and my anacharis was always fine. 1ml per 10 gallons daily.

I think most of the problems you had with difficiancies were nutrient related and probably micro nutrient related. Ei and ppspro will fix that. Root tabs with both micro and macro nutrients are great.

Also get a different cover. That black strip causing the shadow suuuucks. I dealt with that for a long time and it does effect things
My light is Finnex Stingray. I just ordered a 2nd one to put in the front by recommendation. I was told 2 may be needed with a glass top. I thought it would be worth a try

I'll read up on EI and ppspro. Would Flourish liquid fert work the same besides being more expensive? A few reasons I haven't used Excell liquid carbon: Mostly because I read valls will melt. Also, I will be out of the country for 4 weeks this summer. I want to make it as simple as possible for my tank-sitter (which I have yet to find). If I start dosing Excell I'm afraid I'll be stuck using it. It sounds like it has to be consistent every day. Not a start and stop, add it whenever I feel like it. I was trying to make my tank low maintenance so I have the freedom to go for a short weekend trip and not worry about it. Sounds like I got myself into a higher maintenance situation. Which is fine. I'll make it work.

I have not found a better replacement for my glass top. What did you use instead?
 

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A decent alternative to EI dosing is using Osmocote Plus style root tabs. They work well with rooted plants. It's NPK straight to the roots. I also use iron tabs for the iron hungry plants.
 

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My light is Finnex Stingray. I just ordered a 2nd one to put in the front by recommendation. I was told 2 may be needed with a glass top. I thought it would be worth a try
I politely disagree- I think you might have too much light, instead of not enough. I have a finnex stingray on a 10 gal and my plants did not get healthy until I cut the light back. I tried many things but ended up putting plastic strips over the LEDs to diffuse the light, and getting floaters as well. My lights are on only 6 hours. I do 1/3 EI dose once a week only, and only occasionally put a few root tabs in. It's never been healthier. Look at my tank journal for this one and you can really see the difference how miserable my plants were w/algae and poor growth, until I reduced the light.

I also didn't like the black hinge and replaced my glass lid with a sliding top made of lexan panels. I can't recall where the tutorial is for that on here right now, but it's linked to in my journal as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I am glad you politely disagree! As soon as I popped the 2nd light on I was leery of it. Also, I think my light is too short. Raising it an inch might make a difference. If I can figure out how.

On the glass lid, if I could rip off the black strip I would be satisfied until I make a sliding glass top. It might be glued on, but I'll try without going bat crazy and cut myself. Lol.

I'll check out your journal too!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
If you want to try to save the chain swords trim them down low to the substrate and allow new growth to return.

I would say that your nitrate levels are now lower do to your water changes and that your plants have probably now rooted well and are aboarbing it better now. It's is now time to consider a fertilizing regimend. I would suggest a low level ei method or ppspro. Is that a 24/7 light you have? If your not going to use co2 I would use excell liquid carbon and follow the instructions. I used it per instructions and my anacharis was always fine. 1ml per 10 gallons daily.

I think most of the problems you had with difficiancies were nutrient related and probably micro nutrient related. Ei and ppspro will fix that. Root tabs with both micro and macro nutrients are great.

Also get a different cover. That black strip causing the shadow suuuucks. I dealt with that for a long time and it does effect things
What if I add a half dose of Seachem Excel to see if it helps plant growth without negatively affecting the vallisnerias? It's mostly for the pygmy chain swords, brazilian pennywort, and dwarf hairgrass. The other half of the plants don't need it: Java fern, anubias nana petite, and vallisnerias.
 

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I was struggling with problems similar to yours. My solution: Use reverse osmosis water, which eliminates the challenges of rock hard water and other added chemicals. Your pH will then stabilize nicely, and you will have to do fewer water changes. I get 5 gal. bottles refilled at the local R/O machine. Secondly, take the leap and use CO2 injection. It's actually very easy and not that expensive. I have a 20 lb tank of CO2 that should last at least a year. Thirdly, I have a 24/7 fixture. Plus I run a Planted + supplementary light for about 1 1/2 hours. I just trimmed the tank back and got about a 1/2 bushel of material out of it. Insane growth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Have you ever thought of going topless lol all my tanks are open and i like the ease of feeding and cleaning,unless you have some serious jumpers it works great.
Lol I would if it weren't for all the dust, evaporation, and future jumper/escapists (A betta and mystery snail have yet to be added). I think it looks pretty nice without and yes it would be easier. The weather where I live is so nice my house doesn't have a central air unit system. The drawback is the house gets dusty. Portable air purifiers help.
 
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