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Ailing Alternanthera reineckii and others... (not to mention general morale)

Discussion in 'Advanced Strategies and Fertilization' started by Daniel Morris, May 25, 2007.

  1. Daniel Morris

    Daniel Morris Lifetime Charter Member
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    My A. reineckii won't grow! The growth is stunted and the older leaves just gather black crap and eventually get nibbled off by my rosy barbs. ALSO - I've had considerable difficulty trying to grow L. repens, which used to grow like a weed when I lived in Washington D.C. Now that I live in New York City it grows slowly and instead of reddening on the top it grows a pale shade of green.

    According to my drop checker my CO2 is at 25-30, and I'm using a barr style reactor, so I don't think its that. (see parameters at bottom)

    See the picture to get an idea of the A. reineckii. As for the rest of the plants:

    Anubias barteri: gathers black crap and old leaves are pretty unhealthy looking
    Hygrophila corymbosa: Old leaves develop pinholes and gather black crap
    Diandra: weak growth, and bottom part of stems look pretty awful
    Ludwigia repens: weak growth, and no indication of reddening
    Glossostigma: almost completely died out - only a few strands floating now

    Without getting too detailed here are the tank specs:

    72 gallons
    220 watts
    Eheim 2226 filter
    CO2 injection with Barr style reactor

    pH - 6.4
    GH - 7
    KH - 4

    Dosing is pretty straightforward EI (I believe):

    1 tsp KNO3 3x weekly
    1/4 tsp KH2PO4 3x weekly
    20 ml Flourish 3x weekly (on alternating days)

    I used to add 35 ml of excel & 1 tsp of Barr's GH booster upon water changes but am now planning on skipping that step.

    I am guilty of not being the most consistent doser - which I feel like is the FIRST problem, but even during months when I dosed PERFECTLY according to schedule I noticed the stunted growth of A. reineckii and accumulation of black crap on the plants. In other words, inconsistency only seemed to exacerbate the already present problems.

    I'm at the "about to throw a brick through the tank" stage so I'm open to any/all suggestions. If I can't figure it out this go around I'm considering selling my equipment and ending my 4 year foray in this hobby, so I'm really hoping someone can help ID the source of the symptoms.

    Thanks in advance.

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  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Looks like more Mg and CO2 are needed.
    NY water is pretty soft like SF's.

    Add more GH booster and be consistent.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. Daniel Morris

    Daniel Morris Lifetime Charter Member
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    I've been hesitant to add MG without adding CA - is it important that these two be kept in a tight ratio? (CA:MG in a 4:1 ratio?)

    How much MG would you suggest I add? In the form of MGSO4?

    Also - would you suggest 1 teaspoon of GH booster? or more? - I assumed with a GH of 7 i would be in good shape...

    Do you know what the black stuff on the plants is? Build up of diatoms?
     
  4. Daniel Morris

    Daniel Morris Lifetime Charter Member
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    I've read a few posts that indicate that a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of Ca:Mg is important, and that GH booster is an easy way to increase the availability of both. So if I'm having a magnesium issue though, do I also need to raise the calcium level? This post seemed to indicate that disrupting this ratio would adversely impact the effect of plant growth... Is this true in anyone's experience?

    For folks who have dosed to resolve Magnesium deficiencies (if this in indeed the problem) do you dose GH booster or do you dose Mg separately? Tom - in another thread a few months ago, you suggested I add 1 tsp of GH booster at water change... but if we consider that GH is a nutrient (?) wouldn't it decrease due to plant intake? And therefore I would need to add 1 tsp 3x a week or at least dose more throughout the week. I have a feeling this conclusion is wrong, but it would be helpful to understand why/how.

    A question thats really been bugging me is what is the black crap covering the Anubias and the Hydrocotyle leucocephala in the pictures above?? One member suggested it looked like diatoms, but I'm skeptical - I thought diatoms usually appeared a shade of yellow or brown. I'm not the only person having this issue. There are two other threads on TPT where we're trying to figure it out... See this one and this one

    To be honest - I've seen some improvements with my anubias since I started being more consistent with my dosing, but the algae seems omnipresent. (some have suggested spot treating with Excel as a solution)

    Any help or experience is much appreciated...
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Rather than obsessing with Ca and Mg, just add some extrra, it's not going to do any harm. The ratio is just a ratio, it does not imply a limitation.

    Add 1/2 teaspoon of Epsom salt 2x a week.

    Now....focus ..........a lot........... on CO2.
    The Mg is a minor one and merely to rule out an issue there.
    Ca is likely pretty high in your tap at GH7.

    The rest is just CO2, and CO2.

    Work on that and you ought to resolve things well.

    Most folks see twisted new growth etc and think Ca/K etc, which is baloney.

    If you add more of these nutrients, you tend to get higher rates of growth, not less. So the obvious conclusion is to add more CO2, which I know distorts and causes smaller stunted growth, that is a classic sign of low CO2/limiting CO2.

    But few listen..............most would rather play "nutrient chairs" and suggest all sorts of test, involved set ups to determine relationships etc (all of which they curiously never seem to get around to, yet like to insist that I must to convince them, yea, right.......) that do not address a much simpler test method to see if it's a nutrient issue to begin with:cool:

    Just rule out a limitation for the nutrients, adding a bit more than you need is not going to cause any adverse effects(other than say NH4), then start focusing on CO2.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. Daniel Morris

    Daniel Morris Lifetime Charter Member
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    Tom -

    I've seen you write that low CO2 is responsible for 95% of algae issues... so I considered that first.

    My drop checker indicates strong levels of CO2, and my pH monitor (just calibrated last week) indicates a pH of 6.4. If my KH is 4, then I'm at around 47 ppm CO2.......
    AND I've had angels and a few other fish gasping at the surface occasionally..... so thats why I dismissed low CO2 as a problem right off the bat.

    That being said... Test kits are an aquarist's worst friend right? I'm assuming that my test kit is accurately measuring the KH at 4 degrees - if it was 1 or 2 degrees then I would be needing some more CO2. I'm also assuming that my two month drop checker solution is functioning correctly....

    Alot of assumptions as you can see.

    I'll add the Epsom Salt, and stop obsessing over Mg ;)
    I'll crank the CO2 slowly till I see good growth in my A. reneickii.
    And make sure I setup the drop checker correctly!

    Thanks Tom

    PS - any insight as to the algae in the pictures?
     
  7. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    If you don't have good water circulation it is possible to have too little CO2 in areas of the tank, even though a drop checker says you have 30 ppm or so. So, I would try to rearrange the water flow pattern and/or increase the water flow rate throughout the tank. And, changing the water in the drop checker would be a good idea too.
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I've seen the species and type of algae in low CO2 tanks, I've also seen this specific plant does this same type of thing for reasons stated.

    It will not bounce back rapidly, you may as well trim off the Anubias leaves, they will never look good again.

    While you have a drop checker and test kit for pH, one singhle measurement does not tell me/you/anyone what the CO2 supply is for the entire week, 2-3-4week period.

    You need good stable consistent CO2, dosing etc, after a week or two, mostr plants bounce back, Ammannia and Alteranthera may take longer.

    If you have gasping fish, either you do not haver enough surface movement, or you simply have too much cO2 and maybe trying to make up for the past issues that lead to stunting.

    Things such as low CO2 can take time to regain the resiliency and growth it once had. Low PO4 is far different, you see rapid results from additions if severely limited.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  9. markis

    markis Junior Poster

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    Try VaughnH's advise. Mine A. Reineckii looked the same.
    I've changed current flow path and added additional powerhead with attached hose (powerhead is located in one corner near bottom of the aquarium and the exhaust in the other) to improve water current flow rate.

    I've combined the use of powerhead with CO2 fertilization to create CO2 mist simple by placing airstone below inlet of powerhead. I have now nice ultratiny CO2 bubbles travelling from one side to another.

    I've seen large improvment in A. Reineckii growth which stopped losing lower leaves only by adding the right water flow.
    CO2 mist adds another big bonus.
     
  10. Daniel Morris

    Daniel Morris Lifetime Charter Member
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    Vaughn - I think you're right. My drop checker is somewhat positioned closer to my CO2 reactor, and my water circulation could be better. I've been meaning to get a powerhead to increase the poor circulation in my tank, but have been putting it off. So yesterday I went out and purchased one...

    Markis - thanks for the advice. I set it up so that there is an current of water running along the bottom of the aquarium from the powerhead accompanied by a current of water from the Eheim output stirring a few ripples on the water's surface (as Tom suggested), so I guess similar to your setup. I've also been considering getting a T-connector piece for the CO2 line coming from the CO2 canister so that some of the CO2 will get dissolved with the Venturi Reactor, and some will get dissolved in the flow of the powerhead.

    Tom - that CO2 correction doesn't happen overnight is good for me to understand, especially with plants such as Alternanthera reneickii and Ammania. I generally assumed if one approach wasn't working, then after one week its time to try another. Instead, I'll focus on making sure the CO2 is consistent for a couple weeks. I actually used to have Ammania until it just looked too pitiful that I threw it away.

    I have setup the CO2 solenoid to power off when the lights go off, and then an air pump kicks in and goes all night till the lights come back on again. I thought the air pump at night might make my otherwise stressed fish a little more comfortable... But this is obviously accompanied by a pH swing - Sorry to be obsessive here, but it just makes me wonder whether this setup allows for consistent CO2.

    I will say this though... In the last 6 days I've seen an improvement just from consistent dosing and reducing the photo period to 8 hours. It really reminded me that many of my challenges in this hobby are related to my habits as a caretaker. :)

    I've been in this hobby for almost 4 years and I've never had a tank worthy of competition, but one day I will! If the hobby teaches me anything its that there's no such thing as a home run that puts you in the clear. You've got to keep at it everyday.
     
  11. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Another lesson to learn, and some day I swear I will learn it, is to be just as consistent with routine tank maintenance - cleaning, pruning, fluffing, etc. I am seeing the effect of finding another week has gone zipping by and I didn't touch the tank except to feed and fertilize. It sure looks to me like you need to be obsessive with tank maintenance.
     
  12. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Tenacity will make up for luck, skill, brains, talent, etc.
    Vaughn's comment is very true as well, measure things in different spots.
    I do this often, but I cannot suggest every possible thing for every case either, so it helps to have a group give you feedback.

    CO2 off at night is better for fish.
    They do not need 14-16 hours of high CO2 at that time.

    Add more current, place the CO2 measurement devices in other locations etc, blast the suspect plants directly with CO2 mist etc.

    Then add some Mg, and I think that ought to rule out most things for you.
    Sprinkle a little patience and see.........

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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