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Help! Beginner to Planted Aquariums, Dissolving Plants + CO2

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by wuski, Jul 29, 2012.

  1. wuski

    wuski Junior Poster

    Jul 22, 2012
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    Hello Mr. Barr and everyone else,
    We are quite serious beginners to planted aquariums, (brothers at the age of 9 and 12) and need help on our freshwater 36 gallon bow-front Aqueon tank. We have been using ADA Amazonia aqua-soil and our tank has been cycling for 2 weeks now. We have the following plants in the tank: Anubias Coffefolia, cyperus helferi, vallisineria leopard, marsilea, blyxa japonica, echinodorus tennellus, drwarf cryptocoryne, java fern, a red plant (see pic), and some type of moss. (see pic) Our ammonia level has been around 2.0 for the last two weeks, and we have a Coral life 08601 aqua light HOt5 fixture that is 30 inches. The light has a 10k lamp and a blue light. We have also added 3.5 tablespoons of equilibrium in hopes of helping the plants. Now here are some of the problems that we have encountered:
    Some of our dwarf cryptocoryne, blyxa japonica, and the cyperus helferi have seem to been dissolving or fading, becoming both limp and looking as if they have lost their chlorophyll pigment. (as seen in pic) Could you please help us by telling us what is happening and what should we do?
    We have also noticed that two of our small anubias's leaves are turning yellow , along with how many of the leaves have black, small dots.(which we think is dirt, but could you tell us if anything is wrong?)Many of our vallisineria leopards have also been fading (or dissolving), and the echinodorus tennellus have been getting light brown tips.
    We have also noticed that our ph has gone from 6.7 during the first week, to 6.4. (is there something wrong?)
    Finally, we have been putting 2 caps of flourish excel co2 every night. Now, I think one problem may be how we are putting the co2 so late, and not letting it process in the light, which we turn of a few hours after putting in the co2. Because of this should we look into buying a co2 sytem, and if so, which one would you recommend? Or should we just stick to the 2 caps of co2, perhaps putting them in earlier? Advice and answers would be appreciated.



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  2. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
    Lifetime Member

    Jul 6, 2009
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    The nutrients you are adding now are not enough to grow plants. They also need nitrate (NO3) and phosphate (PO4). I suggest you read this article:

    Further it seems like the "blue light" is an actinic marine aquarium light which does not grow freshwater plants. You should change this to a freshwater lamp, maybe around 6500K. Don't use more light than 8 hours.

    The flourish excel should be added in the morning, not at night. By the time the plants need it, it doesn't work any more.

    The pH drop is caused by the ADA soil, this is normal for this product.

    Personally I wouldn't buy a CO2 system for now and first learn how to grow plants. This way it will be much more managable for you.
    #2 dutchy, Jul 29, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2012
  3. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Jun 21, 2009
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    Read & Follow Label Direction and Use That Arithmetic You Have Been Learning

    Hi Guys,

    First the Excel is not CO[SUB]2[/SUB], it is a plant friendly form of carbon.:)

    The stuff in Excel that provides the plant friendly carbon does this by using a strong cleaning agent that kills germs and fungus. Your dentist very likely uses a stronger (more concentrated) version of the same stuff to sterilize dental instruments.:eek-new:

    So, the same thing that can help our plants grow can also kill them.:eek:

    Please read the label carefully, I would also be happier if I knew a parent or guardian was involved. I think 9 and 12 are certainly old enough to be serious aquarists, I was, but I also know that it helps to have a little help available.:) The active ingredient in Excel is dangerous.:gw

    If you look under the directions on the label, it says “DO NOT OVERDOSE!

    On the label we read:
    DIRECTIONS: On Initial use or after a major (>40%) water change, use 1 capful (5-ml) for every 40 L (10 Gallons*). Thereafter use 1 capful for every 200 L (50 Gallon*) daily or every other day. Dosing may be slowly increased for high-growth aquariums. For smaller dosing please note that each thread is approximately 1 ml.

    First, we need to know how much water, as serious aquarists you refer to this as the water column.
    • You have a 36-gallon aquarium
      • It has stuff in addition to water in it.
    • A rule of thumb many serious aquarists use for “stuff” is 15% of the stuff in an aquarium is not water.
    • Being educated aquarists you know that 15% is another way of saying [SUP]15[/SUP]∕[SUB]100[/SUB] or 0.15.
    • So quickly you multiply:
      • 36-gal X 0.15 = 5.4-gal
    • Since we want the total amount of water you quickly subtract:
      • 36-gal – 5.4-gal = 30.6-gal

    Now we know you have 30.6 gallons of water to worry about. Since in the directions we see they use 10-gallons, we can call the water column 30-gallons.

    So looking back at the directions we see “On Initial use or after a major (>40%) water change, use 1 capful (5-ml) for every 40 L (10 Gallons*).

    • We know that “initial” means “first” time we use it “or after a major water change,” in the parenthesis “major water change” is defined, the “>” means “greater than” 40%, in your case that would be
      • 30-gal X 0.4 = 12-gal
    • So from the directions we see you should use 1 capful for every 10-gallons of water, the first time you dose and anytime you change more than 12-gallons of water.
      • 30-gal ÷ 10-[SUP]gal[/SUP]∕[SUB]capful[/SUB] = 3-capfuls; always cancel everything you can, I know that written out this way it is harder to see, in this case the "gal and "0" cancel leaving [SUP]3[/SUP]/[SUB]1[/SUB] capful or 3-capful.:)

    Looking back at the second sentence, “Thereafter use 1 capful for every 200 L (50 Gallon*) daily or every other day.”

    • Thereafter is a fancy way of saying “after the first dose.”:rolleyes:
    “Use 1 capful for every 50-gallon,”:confused:
    Uh-oh, we only have 30-gallon—hmmm… Since we know 1 capful is good for 50 gallons, I know a little division!:)
    • 30-gal ∕ 50-[SUP]gal[/SUP]∕[SUB]capful[/SUB]; we cancel the gal and the “0”
    • = [SUP]3[/SUP]∕[SUB]5[/SUB]-capful

    That could be a problem, until we read, “For smaller dosing please note that each thread is approximately 1 ml.” We can either just figure that means use the 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] thread on the cap to dose the amount or we can make our teachers proud and figure:

    • Since in the first line of the directions we are told each capful is 5-ml.
    • [SUP]3[/SUP]∕[SUB]5[/SUB]-capful ÷ 5-[SUP]ml[/SUP]∕[SUB]capful[/SUB]; cancel “capful” and “5”
    • = 3-ml
    • Since each thread equals a milliliter, use 3-threads for your daily dose.:)

    As a practical matter stop dosing Excel for a couple of days, if you can, perform a major water change.

    If you cannot do the water change, wait a week before dosing anymore Excel and please be careful with it.

    I have a couple more ideas, but this is enough for now.

  4. DaBub

    DaBub Guru Class Expert

    Oct 18, 2009
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    Maybe not so serious...:p
  5. Monilovesplants

    Monilovesplants Prolific Poster

    Nov 27, 2011
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    Way to go guys! This is a great hobby to start with...

    You'll definitely want to replace the blue lamp with a plant one of 6700 (or within that range). Just to be certain - if you're talking about a blue night bulb (like LED) - that's different. If it's an acetonic lamp, you want to replace it. That's meant for salt water. :unconscious: No worries - I bought a system and it came with a blue bulb which I can't use either and had to replace it. :D

    If your parents are willing to help you out, I recommend the Seachem fertilizers. Your tank is pretty small so you won't need a ton to fertilize your plants. You can find them at Petsmart or a local fish store. You could probably get some Flourish, Trace and Iron to start with. If they don't have it, Dr. Foster's online does and it's not very expensive. Phosphorus is usually in your fish food and your fish will produce nitrates so I don't see you needing those right away. By the way, way to go guys! This is a fantastic hobby. Oh, I agree with the above careful with Excel. I've killed some plants with that stuff. Some plants are very sensitive to it and do melt. You may need to reduce the amount and need to get the other ferts...I know my plants eat up Iron like no tomorrow.

    Um, you don't have fish in this mix do you? If yes, get some Seachem Prime IMMEDIATELY (2.0 ammonia is highly toxic) as they are going to be burned by the ammonia. A small bottle from Petsmart will last you ages and will protect your fish from Nitrates, Ammonia and it's great to have on hand in case your tank suddenly has a nasty Nitrite spike. For now, I would recommend doing major water changes until you get the ammonia down to nothing and add a product like Tetra Safestart (nitrates and ammonia need to be low to use it) if you already have fish in the tank. The product will not cycle without fish so don't waste your money UNLESS you have fish. The tank will be cycled within a week (that's usually how long it takes for me - no water changes for a week after you add the stuff). If you can't do that, use Prime every 24 hours to protect the fish and do water changes daily until the cycle starts. It might take a few weeks that way. The key thing is to protect your fish. If you don't have API tests - get your parents to buy you the set with Nitrite, Nitrates, PH, Ammonia, and more. The first four are key to taking care of fish - if just plants - no need to run out and buy them right away.

    Were you planning on only doing a plant tank? If yes, I'm not sure that your tank would ever cycle. Um, could someone whose more of an expert step in and answer that one? I thought you needed fish to cycle a tank so...

    Good luck! Happy days...

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