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2 years old planted tank need to replace substrate?

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by fablau, Dec 11, 2010.

  1. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Hello here,
    in September 2008 I setup my new 75gl aquarium by using the Eco-Complete substrate as base, and then covered it with clean gravel. With the help of CO2 my planted aquarium used to grown great (see attached picture taken one year ago).

    But as today (2 years after), despite I use different types of root fertilizers, the plants don't grow as they used to. I am afraid I need to replace or "integrate" the substrate with something new. I am pretty sure that after 2 years the Eco-Complete substrate has lost most of its components.

    What do you suggest to do? Adding laterite? Something else? And how without destroying everything? I am open to any suggestion, this is the first time for me facing this issue.

    I look forward to hearing from you!

    Thank you in advance for your thoughts.

    Best,
    Fab.

    View attachment 2000
     
  2. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Do You Dose?

    Hi Fab.,

    Are you dosing the water column? :confused:

    Biollante
     
  3. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Do you mean if I use liquid fertilizers? if so, yes, regularly, I have a very strict schedule on that. But i think the problem here is the substrate, I haven't changed my water fertilization in the past 2 years and my plants used to grow more in the past.
     
  4. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    I Can't Go 2 Months Without Increasing Fertz

    Hi Fab.,,

    Have you accounted for plant growth, two years is a long time to grow plants and not require an increase in fertilizers. :)

    Even inert substrate should continue to support growth... :gw

    Before you do anything radical, I suggest you go through the options.

    If you wish, I suggest telling us about your routine and what the situation with your tank is now. :)

    Biollante
     
  5. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Sure, here is my situation and current routine:

    1. As I said earlier, I started my aquarium in September 2008 by using the Eco-Complete as substrate covered with clean gravel

    2. My regular routine for the substrate is to put a mix of Seachem Flourish Tabs and Total by aquariumplants.com once a month. For my 75gl aquarium I use usually 2 FlourishTabs and 7-10 Total tabs a month. I never used tabs until one year ago when plants begun to grow less, then I started to use FlourishTabs but with no results for 3 months... then I tried Total and they were better... but not good as they used to be, so probably that's not enough.

    3. My regular routine for the water column is to add the following liquid fertilizers by Seachem with a water change 2 week schedule as follows:

    1st week Saturday: 1/2 water change
    1st week Sunday: Flourish 7.5ml
    1st week Wednesday: Flourish Phosphorus 5ml
    1st week Friday: Flourish Trace 15ml
    2nd week Sunday: Flourish 7.5ml
    2nd week Tuesday: Flourish Potassium 5ml
    2nd week Saturday: 1/2 water change
    and so on...

    And of course I have a CO2 system with AM1000 inline reactor 3-4 bps, 120w fluorescent lights combined as follows:

    40w T8 Life Glo 2
    40w T8 Sun Glo
    40w T8 Power Glo

    And everything worked great until about 6 months ago, now plants are growing but slower. Some of them keep growing as before (i.e. Sword plants) but other seem to have issues (i.e. Rotala).

    Since I haven't changed anything since the beginning and changed regularly the lights every year (I just replaced them 1 month ago), the only element that, in my opinion, might have been compromised is the substrate.

    I will wait for your thoughts.

    Thanks!

    Fab.
     
  6. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi fab,

    I have another theory for you other than substrate...

    You have insufficient c02 and/or nutrients for the light levels.

    You have a LOT of light (4 bulbs) IMO and you don't need that much. The liquid ferts are mostly water, so are most likely limiting, and it is very hard to manage c02 for that much light.

    I would try removing 2 bulbs and do nothing else but wait 2-3 weeks and see how that shakes out.

    In the meantime investigate the use of dry ferts and EI for a cheap and easy way to fertilize at least your macros...

    I would be reluctant to change your substrate at this time. Especially as I think it is NOT the root cause of your issues..
     
  7. hbosman

    hbosman Guru Class Expert

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    IMO, the Ecocomplete should be just fine. It is supposed to be inert but probably has good cation exchange capacity. So, anything being added in the column should be introduced into the substrate as well. I am still using the Flourite that I added to my aquarium in 2004 and still can grow crypts really well. I have from time to time, added fert tabs in the substrate but, quite frankly, the crypts do just as well with just EI dosing with dry ferts in the water column. Either that or the fish poop is quite sufficient.
     
  8. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi fab,

    Please provide more detail on your c02 setup and flow?

    Have you increased c02 with the increase in plant bio-mass?
     
  9. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Thank you for your thoughts, but I don't understand why everything worked great until 1 year ago. I mean, for over 1 year plants have grown great with exactly the same light and CO2 conditions.

    Also, you suggest to "reduce the light"... I am not sure about that, some of the Rotala look to have problems with low light and I think I have already a "low light" system. I have red Rotala plants and they grow only at the surface because I do not have enough light.

    Anyone has experienced something similar? I mean, do we all need to deal with the substrate to integrate substances after a while or not? Just wondering if there is a sort of "standard" procedure to "replenish" what has been lost after years of operation...

    Thank you again and I will await for more thoughts.

    Fab.
     
  10. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    I remember I used to have just 3 bps at the beginning, now I am at about 4bps. But I have a CO2 indicator and it looks good.

    Let's be clear: all my plants grow, but some of them, specifically Rotalas, Micro Swords and Ambulias, don't grow and look healthy as they used to. If needed, I can take some pictures to show you the difference.

    Thanks.
     
  11. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
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    Aquatic plants that thrive under high levels of light are more likely CO2 limited,

    not light deficient - it's the CO2

    "Poor growth in plant aquaria has usually been attributed to insufficient light over the tank and when asking the experts, the advice has always been to increase the light availability before any other action is taken. New research shows that this may be poor advice, in particular, for an aquarium without CO2 fertilization" - Tropica
    http://www.tropica.com/advising/technical-articles/biology-of-aquatic-plants/co2-and-light.aspx

    Your dose:
    Recommended dosing changes

    Dose 8mL Flourish 3x week and drop the Flourish Trace

    Anyone can make stock solutions that are more concentrated then Seachems and with a tank your size, adding dry fertilizer direct is even easier - just as good and a lot cheaper. You're not even close to the levels of NPK you need for a high light/CO2 tank. To reach those levels using Seachem products, the following amounts x3 will give those plants a better chance. If you want to wait two weeks between water changes, dose Seachem Nitrogen x2 in the second week. Once you see what I am recommending, you will understand why Gerry is suggesting that you look into dry fertilizer.

    75 gallon tank
    30 mL Seachem Nitrogen (8.1ppm NO3) X 3
    100 mL Seachem Phosphorus (1.7ppm PO4) X 3
    5 mL Seachem Potassium (0.8ppm K) X 3

    Compare those doses to EI for 60 – 80 Gallon Aquariums and you can see I recommended about half the levels of PO4 and trace. I'll catch some flack for that I'm sure. :p http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/2819-EI-light-for-those-less-techy-folks

    3/4 tsp KN03 (NO3 = 8.4ppm) 3x a week
    3/16 tsp KH2P04 (PO4 = 2.6ppm) 3x a week
    1 tsp GH booster once a week (water change only)
    ¼ tsp CSM+B (Fe = 0.2ppm) 3x a week
    50% weekly water change

     
    #11 Tug, Dec 13, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2010
  12. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
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    I think what Gerry is getting at is not the need to reduce your lighting, but that under that light the other nutrients are limiting plant growth. I am not sure about Rotalas, but my understanding is that Micro Swords and Ambulias can suck up a lot of nutrients. It could be CO2 is off. It usually is, but it looks more like nutrient deficiency in this case.

    I'm thinking the light is coming from only three 40w T8s. Which is fine :confused:, if the other nutrients/CO2 are non-limiting.

    How is the CO2 getting into the water column?
     
    #12 Tug, Dec 13, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2010
  13. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    I do think the poster can lower the light even if ONLY 3 bulbs :)

    However, I mostly think that c02 and other nutrients are limiting for the amount of light provided.

    Lowering the light and subsequent demand for c02/ferts seems easiest thing to do w/o changing anything else.
     
  14. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Thank you so much guys and sorry for my delay in responding (happy 2011!!!), but for an unkown reason i didn't get notification of new replies on this thread and I assumed no one replied to me! Instead you gave me great advice, I increased co2 and got a better result despite now I am dealing with a litle bit of GDA (not sure yet if that has been triggered by the increades CO2).

    But now that I read though your other suggestions to increase dosing, I will try that. Increasing just co2 helped to grow Anubias and a little more the Micro Swords, but I am still struggling with the Rotala.

    I will keep you posted, thank you so much again for all the provided precious info.

    Best,
    Fab.
     
    #14 fablau, Feb 19, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 19, 2011
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