Fertilizer Issue i Believe? (Rimless, HC, RCS, DH)


Junior Poster
May 11, 2009
OK so brand new to this, this is plant dying help thread :)


Here are my specs:
Setup 25 days ago
9gal of water
28W light, 6700, 8.5 hours per day on timer
DIY c02, two 2l bottles into one diffuser, running since setup.
77 Degrees Fahrenheit using hydor inline
Eheim 2213 set at 70% flow, tank had a good clockwise substrate to surface spin, co2 stays at surface no surface agitation. There is charcoal in there but we are at a month so it should be a non factor now and i wont be replacing it.

Fauna: 1 beta, 3 RCS, 2 Amano, 3 Ottos


Amazon Sword, been in tank 11 days, looks bad
Some sort of blaze grass thing i added two the segregated betta jar, seems ok but not great. Added 11 days Ago
Java Moss, added at start 25 days ago, doing mediocre not great.

HC, Added two days ago, looks great its brand new though :)

Dwarf Hairgrass, added two days ago looks good but has some yellow brownish strands.

Water parameters:
PH: 6.5 degrees
GH: 6.72 degrees
KH: 5.04 degrees
Ammonia: .03 mg/l
Nitrite: .05 mg/l
Nitrate: 20 mg/l
Was zero on the Ammonia and nitrite but dealing with a spike and extended nitrogen cycle because of a RCS in filter issue.
-Dont think i am really at 35ppm C02 because fish and inverts seem fine, also im not using anything to change the tank buffers etc, just some aquaplus water conditioner on new water.
-Doing 40% water change weekely

Fertilizer Regime:
Substrate: Eco Complete Black 1 to 2.5 inches deep
I have Seachems Excel, Comprehensive, Nitrogen
Also Have Taylor Aquatics Amazon Advanced for phosphorus
I have been doing the following EI dossing regime:

Tuesday, Day1: 5mil Excel, 1 mil comprehensive, 1mil taylor advanced, 1mil nitrogen
Wednesday, Day2: 1mil Excel
Thursday, Day3: 1mil Excel
Friday, Day4: 1mil Excel, 1mil Taylor Advanced for Phos, 1mil nitrogen
Saturday, Day5: 1mil Excel
Sunday, Day6: 1mil Excel, 1mil Comprehensive
Monday, Day7: 40% water change and tank cleaning

ok according to Ei dosing threads and guidelines over an entire week i am missing 3mils of potassium and 6mils of iron because i just don't have those products. Is my symptoms a deficiency of those two or is there something else wrong?

Also i want the new HC and hairgrass to do really well so pleases recomend a better routine or tank changes if im of track.

Really appreciate the help and for reading the giant thread, here are is the problem pic:



Plant Guru Team
Lifetime Member
Sep 23, 2007
South Florida

First please note that you have > 3 wpg on a small tank...

Light is what drives plant growth and thus the demand for c02 and other nutrients.

If the c02 levels are not stable and sufficient for the light levels, that will cause issues right there....

HC will not grow if the c02 is not right........

Ok, c02 first:

What kind of diffusor do you use? What is the bubble counter rate going into it? Do you use a drop checker to help determine what the c02 level is?

DIY c02 is not as stable as we would like and unstable c02 is the cause of many poor growth and algae issues.

Drop checker thread:



how many bulbs/type of fixture is it? Can you use 1 bulb but still get a good spread over the tank? Can you mount the lights so the fixture is adjustable height wise?

Lower light levels require less c02 and other ferts as the plant growth rate will be slower...high light and DIY c02 may not always match..


I am unfamiliar with the liquid ferts, but I do not add iron at all....

However, eco should contain fertilizers so I would think these would almost be enough for your plant load (now anyway) without water column fertilization.

Why not try dry ferts (cheaper and easy to mix/measure)?

Here is a link to a good supplier:

Welcome to Planted Aquarium Fertilizer

and a link to a main fertilizer method thread on more info, how to use, measure, how much, etc.



1. Reduce the light if possible.
2. Get a drop checker and see what the ppm of c02 MAY be.
3. Open up the moss ball some more and separate into smaller clumps. This will speed up it's recovery time and you will have more quicker.
4. Trim any dead leaves from the sword and ensure there is ample depth for the root structure. Swords have large roots and need room to spread.
5. Do an extra %20 water change every week, maybe mid-week. This will help overall.
6. Keep the diffusor lower in the tank and see if you can direct the current to push the output around the tank.

SLOWLY every couple days, increase the rate of the c02 into the diffusor keeping an eye on the fish and other critters. Back off if they hide or discolor, act funny, breathe heavier, etc. Look for the underside of the sword leaves to produce fine bubbles or 'pearls' of 02. This is a good indicator that the c02 levels are okay, but is not a sure sign.

Circulation and flow is also important so see if all areas get flow to distribute new nutrients/co2 and wash away waste. Fish also like a good current for exercise, so keep that in mind.

Also, your tank may still be cyling, so too much ammonia/nh4 may be present and making things worse.

Hope some of this helps.


Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Jan 24, 2005
Sacramento, CA
Lets start with light: you need good lighting to grow HC, and to a lesser extent, hairgrass. Your light is half off the tank, shining on the table beside the tank. So, you don't have a 28 watt light on the tank - more like a 14 watt, and it is far enough off center that the left half of the tank gets little light.

CO2 is almost essential to succeed with HC, but Excel would be an acceptable substitute. DIY CO2 is difficult to get enough and steady enough CO2 from. If you virtually obsess over the DIY process you can make it work for that size tank. You can't measure the CO2 in the water by measuring KH and pH. That just doesn't work. A drop checker will come close to giving you the amount you have, and you can adjust the bubble rate upwards after the drop checker turns green, but very slowly.

You need a complete menu of nutrients for the plants, but you are missing potassium, one of the most important ones. It would be better to use the bottled fertilizers as decorations on the curio shelf and buy some dry KNO3 and KH2PO4 for the macro fertilizers.

You shouldn't have a readable amount of either ammonia or nitrite in the water. Either the test kit isn't accurate, or you need to get the nitrogen cycle going better.

I would:
1. Put the light directly over the tank.
2. Get dry fertilizers, KNO3 and KH2PO4 and dose per EI
3. Add some floating plants to help with the ammonia and nitrites for now.