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Deformed Hygrophila Polysperma growth

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Hrafnkell, Aug 11, 2008.

  1. Hrafnkell

    Hrafnkell Junior Poster

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    Hi

    I'm relatively new to the hobby of keeping aquatic plants in an aquarium.
    I have a 120L/30 Gallon tank, with 3x18W T8 + 1x24W T5 lighting or about 2.5W/gallon. CO2 is provided by yeast fermentation, the Hagen Nutrafin system but my own "brew" that gives more CO2. I try to keep the CO2 stable by starting a new "brew" every 5-7 days. CO2 levels seem to be OK judged by a Cal Aqua Labs drop checker.
    EI is the method I use to provide macro and micro nutrients. I'm using CMS+B and KNO3,KH2P04.
    Substrate is just gravel, probably inert when it comes to nutrients.

    I mainly have fast growing plants in my tank: Hygrophila polysperma, Limnophila sessiliflora , Vallisneria americana. All grow quite fast. Limnophila sessiliflora will overtake the tank completely in about 2 weeks if I don't prune it and remove new plants at each water change.

    But I've always had problems with the Hygrophila polysperma. It was my first plant and I chose it as I read it was supposed to be one of the easiest plants to keep. The leaves will often be deformed or wrinkled and sometimes holes. Shortly after a leave has formed it will get pinholes that start to grow. In a few days the leave will curl. Sometimes the leaves will have white vains.

    The water here is very soft. Probably abt 1dGH and 2-3dKH. I add GH booster to get GH up to about 5dGH as I've read that lack of Mg/Ca can cause pinholes.


    I've attached images of the H.Polysperma showing what I describe. Any ideas what could be causing this?
     
  2. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    I also have this plant, and it will often be the first to show symptoms of a deficiency since it's such a fast grower. The only times I've ever had serious problems have been when co2 levels have been out of whack/fluctuating. Since you are dosing EI, I would say that co2 is your problem. Do you have 4KH water in your drop checker? Does the color fluctuate? How many bottles of co2 brew do you have? What are you using for a reactor? I have the same size tank as you and I have two 2L bottles running, one of which has to be changed weekly to keep co2 steady and I also have to add an additional 1 tsp of yeast to the bottle I don't change. The output runs into an internal filter which chops it up into tiny microbubbles and dissolves most of it. In this way I keep my drop checker at a yellowish green.

    The two times I've had serious issues with my hygro was:
    1. I stopped co2 injection - got pinholes that enlarged slowly until the whole leaf fell off. I was pulling out a net worth of leaves every day for a month until I started co2 again, problem went away within a couple of days.
    2. CO2 was fluctuating due to poor maintenance - this time, new growth looked like pieces were sort of missing, and the leaves were a bit deformed like yours, and algae started growing on them which normally didn't happen. Kept co2 stable at greenish yellow for a week, after that time new growth was looking normal again.

    I also only have 2wpg with poor reflectors.
     
  3. Hrafnkell

    Hrafnkell Junior Poster

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    Yes I have 4KH water, at least I have what Cal Aqua Labs supply with their drop checker. I only have a single 1/2L bottle for the brew. The reactor is a "slide/ladder" that the bubbles travel along for quite some time. One can see them dissolve and getting smaller. I guess 80-90% of each bubble is being dissolved. I've been thinking if it could be lack of CO2 but the color of the drop checker is stable and the "correct" color.

    This video shows a reactor like I'm using.

    Guess the next step is to add more CO2 and see what happens. It is interesting to hear how much CO2 you are using compared to me.
     
  4. ccLansman

    ccLansman Guru Class Expert

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    Where is the drop checker in relation to the co2 ladder? If it’s near the ladder then you’re not getting a very good indication of overall co2 saturation.
     
  5. Hrafnkell

    Hrafnkell Junior Poster

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    Good point.

    It is as far as possible from the ladder, opposite end of the tank. That should not be a problem.
     
  6. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    In that case I'm sure it's a co2 issue. I can't imagine trying to maintain sufficient co2 levels in that sized tank with only one bottle and 1/2 liter at that. It's just impossible. Even on a 10g I had to use 1-2L bottle. One 1/2 L bottle would only be sufficient for maybe a 5g tank, if that. Even when I totally restart both bottles with fresh yeast and sugar, and there are literally co2 microbubbles flying all over the place continuously to the point where I can hear them over the TV, my drop checker never gets above greenish yellow. What you should do is make up some new 4KH solution using distilled or RO water and baking soda, and add bromythmol blue to it. This will give you an accurate reading. I have no doubt that you are not getting sufficient co2 with your setup.

    The mix I use is 2c sugar, 1 tsp yeast (bloomed before putting it in the bottle), fill the bottle to within 3" of the mouth. After one week, I add 1 tsp of additional bloomed yeast. After two weeks, I change out the whole bottle. I stagger them so that every week I'm adding 1 tsp of yeast to one, and changing the other. I also keep a 25 watt incandescent bulb in a desk lamp shining on the bottles 24/7 to keep the bottles heated hotter than room temperature. This maintains my drop checker in the green range. Any hint of blue, and I know something went wrong and change out both bottles immediately.

    Do you have a hob filter or a canister? In either case, if you run your co2 output line to the intake of the filter so that it sucks up and at least partially dissolves the bubbles, you will probably do better with dissolving and circulating your co2.
     
  7. Panda

    Panda Guru Class Expert

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    I used to have that same ladder set up for one of the 10 gallon tanks. You should try another method to diffuse your CO2. Search here for CO2 diffusion or distribution...you should find how to use a power head to diffuse the CO2 around the tank. I'm using it and growing many plants with this method. You will see a huge difference
    One example: a friend of mine has a CO2 tank without a solenoid and using the ladder set up on 24 hr with no problem.. He changed the ladder for a CO2 reactor. When he changed to a reactor the next morning found his discus almost dead. Why? more CO2 distribution during the night - that he did not use to have with the ladder- and, well he bought a solenoid and a timer.
     
  8. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    Look on the articles board for the DIY internal reactor. This evidently works to nearly 100% efficiency. But you'll still need to upgrade your bottles. :)
     
  9. Hrafnkell

    Hrafnkell Junior Poster

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    Yes I plan to build that internal reactor and add it. Might also try Excel.

    It puzzles me though why I get a "correct" color on the drop checker that indicates 30ppm of CO2. I've contacted Cal Aqua and they have confirmed that the indicator solution provided is 4dKH water created from distilled water and has bromythol blue.
     
  10. Hrafnkell

    Hrafnkell Junior Poster

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    Yes I plan to do that. But still I can see the bubbles travelling up the ladder getting smaller and smaller and almost dissapearing before they get to the top. It must be the gas being dissolved into the water. That suggests the ladder is doing a good job of dissolving the CO2.

    Lots of new things to study and learn! :)
     
  11. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    This may be true, but it may not be sufficient for your tank's NEED.

    It also does not mean that it is DISTRIBUTED throughout the tank as needed.

    Just things to keep in mind.
     
  12. Panda

    Panda Guru Class Expert

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    I agree with Gerry. Plus you can have 30 ppm of CO2 near the CalAqua but not where it counts: near the plants.
     
  13. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    I would suggest replacing your solution to see what happens. Both your method and your plants are telling you that your drop checker is giving you a wrong reading. It can go 'bad' after a while, and it's also possible that it got contaminated from tank water or condensation. If a very small amount of condensation got into it, the KH would decrease, and then it would be telling you that you had enough co2 when you really had maybe 10 or 20% of enough.

    Something else you can try to see if you're near the ballpark - take a sample of tank water and test pH and record it. Shake it up over and over, uncapping it in between shakings to allow the co2 to offgas. Once it stops changing color (it may take a while, you can even let it sit overnight uncapped to be sure), look at the color and check pH again. You should see about a 1.0 - 1.2 pH RISE after the degassing if you are anywhere near the ballpark of enough co2.

    The co2 ladder is probably working to dissolve the small amount of co2 you are adding. But what will happen when you increase the amount of co2 you are adding by 5x? You can try it and find out.
     
  14. Elkmor

    Elkmor Junior Poster

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    Try ADA AS. ;)
     
  15. Hrafnkell

    Hrafnkell Junior Poster

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    I will probably do that at some stage. That however requires mixing up baking soda and distilled water in the correct ratios, something I have a feeling requires a scientific precision scale. That I do not have access to. Any hints on how to create a 4dKH solution easy?

    This I tried last night. I used the Tetra PH test kit (5ml aquarium water, 7 drops of indicator, compare color to a chart). Fresh aquarium water measured just under 7.0pH, after shaking and letting it then stand all night the pH measured 8.0pH. Sounds about right? I guess the KH value of the water matters here. Mine is quite soft. This is puzzling!

    Just for reference: My recipie for the yeast brew probably gives off 3-5 times more CO2 than the brew one can buy from Hagen/Nutrafin. I use:
    0,5L tap water
    1/2 tsp instant yeast bloomed in the water
    add 100g sugar and 1/4-1/2 tsp malt extract (for yeast nutrients).
    1 tsp baking soda to buffer pH to keep yeast happy.
    Stir and/or shake well to dissolve some O2 that the yeast can use while getting up to speed.
     
  16. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    You can make your own solution easily by simply adding a very small amount of baking soda to distilled water and then diluting it down until you get a reading of 4KH with a test kit. You can increase the accuracy of your test kit by using double the amount of water, if it's the type where you add drops to it....for instance, with mine it says that each drop added to 5ml of water = 20ppm of KH. I use 10ml of water, then each drop = 10ppm of KH, to get a finer result. But it's not a very exact thing, I mean if you have 4.2 or 3.8 KH it will still be within the realm of practically accurate.

    Your overnight test suggests that you are within the ballpark of appropriate co2 levels. However this isn't a failsafe method, with an extremely low KH this method can be off as well. Plus it basically depends on whether it's coming to true atmospheric equilibrium or not, which is a topic of some debate; and then it also depends on what atmospheric equilibrium is where you are.

    But for the sake of argument lets assume that your drop checker is reading accurately. Do you have very good circulation in the tank? Hygro goes through nutrients very quickly, so very good circulation is needed to provide the co2 they need as they use it up.

    I think I would try increasing co2 anyway, just to see the effect on your plants.

    Are your plants pearling?

    You could also increase your fertilization. If you have a large mass of hygro, it can burn through nitrates like crazy. At one point, I was adding 1/4 tsp KNO3 per DAY just to keep up with demand, before I pruned it back a lot. And that was under 1.25 wpg! So increasing your EI by 50% or something like that, couldn't hurt. But just for the sake of learning what's going on, I would try the co2 thing first since that seems the most suspect.

    How often do you change your brew?
     
  17. Hrafnkell

    Hrafnkell Junior Poster

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    I don't have excellent circulation. It is a Juwell Rio 125 tank with the built in filter unit that has a 600 L/hour powerhead. The circulation gets worse through the week as the Limnophila Sessiliflora grows. :) But I dry dose the GH booster and it quickly clouds all the water so its not likely I have very dead spots.



    I deffinetly plan to try more CO2. I really want to build the internal venturi reactor described by Tom Barr on this site. I'm looking for a cheap way to get a power head. The LFS here charge silly money for a power head like the rio 180, equivalent of $60-$70. I can import a few for that :) In the mean time I plan to try Excel as another source of carbon. I've never played with that anyway so it will be fun to try.

    I don't have a great mass of Hygro. But I have a conciderable mass of L.Sessiliflora. I would think that burns through ferts like crazy. It grows alot each day. And yes I have pearling. Not early in the morning but quite alot of bubbles rising from the plants in the afternoon.
    I've wondered if I should try adding more ferts. One thing at a time. CO2/Excel first! :)

    Every 5 days now. I start the brew in a bowl, let it stand for a few hours and then replace what is in the bottle. It is up to full "speed" in a few hours. It provides "steady" co2 for abt. 5 days (judged by counting bubbles in the ladder) and then suddenly drops in CO2 production but it will continue fermenting for 1-2 weeks more, just slower.
     
  18. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    One thing that I used to do - run your co2 output line directly into the intake on your filter. I did this with my hob filters by just squeezing the airline and pushing it through the slats on the intake. It really works quite well for diffusing co2, and it's free. :) It's probably not 100% efficient, but another advantage is that it will put the co2 into the output water of your filter which will be sort of shot around the tank.

    The thing with circulation is that plants use co2 at a very fast rate. If you have been reading the thread that Tom posted about co2 measurements, you see that it's really amazing what the difference is in co2 if you go from just the general water column, to next to a leaf or in a plant bed, since the plants are actually using the co2 up faster than it gets to them. So just because you seem to have co2 at your drop checker, doesn't mean you have co2 at your plants where they need it, if you have poor circulation, since the plants will be carbon limited based on how fast more co2 gets to them.

    I think if you get a couple of bottles going and put the output into your filter intake, and add some more circulation via a powerhead or even an airstone or two if you like, you'll see a big difference shortly if that's the issue. Plants are quick to respond to more co2.
     
  19. Hrafnkell

    Hrafnkell Junior Poster

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    Decided as a first step to add CO2 injection to the built in Juwel filter.
    I have a Juwel Rio 125L tank with a built in filter. It is powered by a powerhead connected to the sponge house with a simple adapter. I got a new adapter, drilled a hole in it and put in a air tube. On the other end of the air tube is an orange juice bottle with DIY CO2 brew.

    View attachment 695
    The adapter with a air tube and juice bottle cap.

    View attachment 696
    The power head with the modified adapter ready to go into the tank.

    My Cal Aqua drop checker is now more yellow than green and there is much more pearling on the plants. Sometimes looks like a snow storm in the tank with all the bubbles flying around.

    I'll report here later on the long term effect (been running just a few days).

    But this seems to have increased another algae problem, some sort of surface scum. Its grayish with green "dust" in it. :(

    IMG_5782.jpg

    IMG_5783.jpg
     
  20. janner

    janner Junior Poster

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    How are your Hydrophilas doing nowadays?
    I have a similar situation. Pressurized CO2 with timer and JBL Vario/Taifun-spiral and H. corymbosa is looking kind of "tired".
     
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