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Frustrating Aquarist

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by Steven, Nov 17, 2009.

  1. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Hello,

    My almost carpeting HC recently seem to die off, become browning and then uprooting itself. My stem plants also seem to grow unhealthy, some of the stem like to broken off at its lower part. The water become opaque in this recent 2 weeks and have been doing several 50% WC and will be back opaque within 2-3 days. The tank age is almost 3,5 months. What is the best guess of the main cause?

    FYI, tank size is 80x30x40cm with canister filter and additional small powerhead for extra flow. Light has been lowered to 2x21watt T5NO, the pressurized CO2 has been crank up a lot (maybe pass 40ppm) and I'm doing an EI dosing regime.

    NO3 35ppm
    PO4 2ppm
    FE 0.5ppm
    NH4 0ppm
    NO2 0ppm
    KH 1-2dkh
    GH 1-2dgh
    Temp 26-28C

    Frankly speaking, for this setup, I re-use my mixed aquasoil with Sera and JBL that has been used for only 2 weeks in the previous setup. I dried it up on sun. Could this be the reason from what people called "anaerobic substrate", what is it exactly? I also noticed that my foreground powder type aquasoil become crushed into dust along with the dying HC. Please share your experience with me. Thank you very much.
     
  2. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Frustrating Aquariums Can Be

    Hi Steven,

    Frustrating these aquariums can be, take a deep breath. :)

    First, how sure are you of the levels you report?

    Can you share exactly what and how you dose macro and micronutrients?

    What kind of canister filter, media and so forth? How often do you clean the filter?

    The alkalinity and general hardness numbers you report are I think impossibly low. If you meant degrees rather than parts per million, while possible, they are much too low.

    The ‘opaqueness’ you refer to is it generally white, green or brown?

    It is possible the ‘remix’ of the aquasoil introduced something.

    Anaerobic simply means oxygen deprived and I doubt that remixing in and of itself would have caused anaerobic conditions, I would think that would tend toward aerobic conditions. ;)

    Biollante
     
  3. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Thank you very much Bio,

    I am using Sera Test Kit to test all of my water parameter. So far, the kits that I have calibrated based on this are PO4 and NO3 that proved to be accurate but have no idea about the rest though. Oh yes, for additional info my pH is at 7.4-5.5, before CO2 start and after CO2 stop at night.

    For Nitrogen, I mix 67.2gr KNO3 into 250ml RO water and dose 9ml into the tank every other day to target 20ppm but my tank seem to produced so much NO3 itself right after the third day of 50% WC, so I stop dose KNO3 until the next 50% WC. On Saturday the NO3 could climb to around 30-40ppm. No idea where it comes from though.
    For Phosphates, I mix 7.2gr KH2PO4 into 250ml RO water and dose 5.6ml to target 1.5-2ppm.
    For Potassium, I mix 30gr K2SO4 into 250ml RO water and dose 10ml to target 20ppm.
    For Micro, I use Seachem Flourish 4ml, Trace 8ml and Iron 1.5ml every other day and stop dosing anything at Saturday and 50% WC at Sunday and start back Macro and Micro the other day.

    JBL CristalProfi e900, It consists of 1 container of ceramic rings and 3 containers of mechanical foam from 10-30ppi. I clean it every week at WC by rinsing the media with siphoned tank water.

    Very sorry for the unit mistyping, it is 1-2dkh and 1-2dgh, have corrected it. Thanks.

    I think it is white but am not sure 100%, it could be brown too I think :rolleyes:, for sure there's 0 NH4 and NO2, the 21 cardinals and 6 otos are doing fine and healthy. For additional info, before my tank water become opaque, I removed much enough of my plants by pulling them out of substrates but I did it very slowly. Will it be the cause? But it has already more than 2 weeks.

    What do you mean exactly? I got no clue.

    For additional info, maybe it can help to guess the main problem, Before my HC browning and uprooting, before some of my stem plants broken its lower part, all of the plants seem to grow healthy and water is clear although I learned that my tank circulation create a dead spot and my CO2 output is unstable and my dosing is too little and scarce and my lighting is too high (3x21watt T5NO). So guess, algae attacked, spirogyra, BGA and a little of GSA. I did a blackout for 3 days, the algae seem to gone about 95% up until right now I am 99% free of algae but most of the plants too have difficulty to grow healthy. Is it something in the aquasoil that make my plants root not comfortable to root?

    Picture of my tank water before the recent 2 weeks of opaqueness
    [​IMG]
     
  4. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    CO2/Circulation

    Hi Steven,

    I am sure the situation is manageable and probably revolves around CO2 and circulation. :)

    I will try to get back with a little more this evening and I am sure others will have something to say as well.

    First, it sounds like a bacterial bloom, though it sounds bad, it is usually not a big deal, unless it persists, as with any bloom, something is feeding the bloom.;)

    Second, I would like to see you increase the buffering in the tank, get the GH up to at least 3 dGH and I think unless you have real specific reason not to do so 5 or 6 dGH is better.

    Third, the alkalinity in the tank is real low, again unless some pressing reason at least 3 dKH with 4 or 5 being better.

    I think you will find this absorbs some of the broad swings in water quality.

    My inclination is to think there really it is not a problem with the substrate at least directly, unless something wonky got introduced. Recall any bad or off smells? :eek:

    I don’t have much direct experience with commercial substrates so there may be others that can answer from direct experience or knowledge.

    Biollante
     
  5. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Since I've added a small powerhead, I can see the whole tank at any angle full of tiny CO2 bubbles and can confirm that there's no dead spot, though the HC seem to browning every day bit by bit.

    If it's a bacterial bloom, why there's 0ppm of NH4? Though it could be the reason that my rotting HC feed the bloom. I just noticed that my HC roots is rotting in the substrate and then the stems broke off and every morning I just found many of the broken, browning leaves and floating HC with no root at all. But why? They are almost made the whole carpet before?

    If you suggest the buffering of 4 or more dkh and dgh, I would like to know the reason why, please? Is it the cause of dying HC? I feel bothered if I have to add sodium bicarb and gh buffer every time I WC, so I have to measure exactly how much water I WC to add how much sodium and gh buffer. Although I know that for some that say below 4dkh will make the pH unstable and swing drastically and for gh is just to make sure there's enough calcium and magnesium, am I right? So if I persist in 1-2dkh and dgh, will I not be able to keep a planted tank?

    Oh yeah, I never smell any bad smell before :) and thank you very much.
     
  6. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    To me it looks like you have a problem with the substrate, which cause the rotting roots and plants to uproot by itself.

    Maybe it's also the cause of your unclear water.

    You could replace a small part to try (do a large WC afterwards), put some plants on that spot and see what happens. That's your reference.
     
  7. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Bio, I plan to total rescape in the coming 1-2 month and this time I will buy myself a new aquasoil (no powder) but still re-use the whole old equipments unless for Ista Max Mix CO2 reactor (what do you think about this product? Is it any good?)this time instead of glass diffuser but before I do that, I need to know what is my mistake(s) in my tank now so that I will not repeat it (them) in the next future and to make sure or maximize the chance that I will success in my next planted tank so I will not just spend too much time, effort and money but without good result.
     
  8. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    If it is a problem with the substrate, what do you think or according to you exactly the cause or have you/someone experience it before? I also share the same opinion with you that something is wrong with the substrate since all the plants seem like uncomfortable with their feet :) Thanks dutchy.
     
  9. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    I've seen it before, mostly on older substrates. Anyway, the cause could be a problem with pore spacing, since you are using a powder substrate.

    There's also a subject on this site about this:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php?t=6274

    Maybe it's useful.
     
  10. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Wow, what a good find/link you provided. I think I have the same issue with jonny_ftm guy. I also found my under foreground substrate that is very dark (look like crushed powder) but jonny_ftm's plants are rot just under the substrate while mine are rot apart up above the substrate. Maybe it's true concerning anoxic conditions or pore spacing or what the term say since I re-use the dried up 'mixed' aquasoil with sera and jbl, the powder type aquasoil become easily crushed into even finer powder and therefore disallow the O2 being penetrate to the substrate underneath? thus the root cannot root as Tom said the criteria are not met? and the result is broken stems and rotting root?

    And after I remove many of the plants about 2 weeks ago by pulling them off the substrate, it creates a bacterial bloom (the bacteria come under the substrate and the continue rotting root of HC that feed them this whole 2 weeks causing my water unclear? If that is the case, what a wonderful experience to learn but yet cost a lot too for me to re-scape again. But all in all, I thank you very much dutchy. Really appreciated it :)
     
  11. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    If Substrate Stinks, One Would Think

    Hi Steven,

    If the substrate stuff stinks then it is pretty much the case, it just seems that remixing and drying, assuming it didn’t smell bad (wonky). That would be a lot of O2 used rather quickly.

    The question about the rotting HC, is any of the rotting taking place beneath the substrate? Are you getting any ‘rotten egg’ bubbles or ‘mounding’ (when poked, the mounds should release gas)?

    Changing the substrate should cure the problem, I guess.

    I am one of those who remains unconvinced that watching CO2 bubbles racing around an aquarium equals CO2 in solute. (The vast majority here disagree, vehemently.) I think a small misunderstanding created by the various definitions of ‘diffusion’ and confusion as to whether Boyle, Charles or Fick is in charge.

    Good luck,
    Biollante
     
  12. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    No, I don't think that the substrate stinks but in early setup weeks before when I re-planted the plants with tweezers, I remembered sometimes there was bubbles degas from substrate.

    And yes, I still remember yesterday when I remove all of my HC, some of their roots have rotten and broke off from the main stem but some of them still intact deep in the substrate.

    But the drop checker really changes its color from blue to lime green wherever I put its position around the tank and the pH really drop significantly.

    Thank you Bio.
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Plants will rot/pull up if they suddenly have no CO2.
    I've seen this on perhaps a dozen or more species. HC/Downoi etc seem to do this, Milfoils will autofragment in response to a reduction in CO2 content.

    Sediment pore spacing, etc should not be an issue.
    Aquatic plants add their own O2 to their root zones when healthy.
    When plants die back for whatever reason, the amount of O2 drops and then rot occurs once the supply of O2 is cut off.

    Adding extra O2 via heater cables or larger pore spaces will not fix the main problem with growth however. It will speed up the breakdown of rotting plants is all/reduce the smell from that.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  14. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Thank you Tom, so it is not a pore spacing problem but instead of a CO2 problem?

    Though I still remember I added up a lot of CO2 injection and clean the diffuser disk per 3 days rather than per week like I used to before the problem occurred.

    Should I really need a reactor to dissolve that CO2 in this small tank rather than a glass diffuser then?
     
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