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Help diagnosing deficiency?

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by jmpease, Dec 18, 2007.

  1. jmpease

    jmpease Junior Poster

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    I have a well established 55g planted tank and have been using the EI method for the past several months, but am still having some plant growth and algae issues. While plant growth has greatly improved since switching over to EI, something is still amiss and I'm hoping that this community can offer some advice.

    It appears that I'm suffering from a nutrient deficiency (iron?), but according to the responses to several other similar posts, I'm led to believe that I still may not be injecting enough CO2.

    Tank parameters:

    GH 8+ (8 from tap with addition of equilibrium)
    KH 6
    PH ~6.7
    Following EI as per "EI Light" instructions for 40-60g aquariums
    Lighting 4x55watt compact fluorescent (on about 10 hrs/day)

    I recently (about two weeks ago) increased the amount of CO2 I was adding and have already seen a noticeable difference in my wisteria (fuller, greener leaves). It appears, however, that there is no change to my swords and anubias. The leaves are slightly difformed/curled and eventually thin out near the edges, almost appearing to rot away. A new leaf on one my anubias grew in light yellow. These symptoms have me guessing that this may be an iron deficiency, but I've also read that identifying specific sources of poor growth in terms of nutrients is extremely difficult. Can I assume that the addition of the proper amount of flourish should provide ample amounts of iron? Or, generally, that following a proper EI regimen shouldn't require additional supplements?

    I'm attaching a couple pics that are, hopefully, of good enough quality to help.

    I should also mention that I recently moved these tanks to a new house about 3 weeks ago, which required uprooting the plants and removing about 2/3 of the plant mass. Also, as of last week, I switched to tap water from RO (reconstituted using equilibrium and alkaline buffer to GH 5, KH 6). According to the local water report, however, the tap water should be fine for plant growth.

    Looking forward to any advice you can give!
     
  2. jmpease

    jmpease Junior Poster

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    Correction - the lighting above is 4x65 watt.

    I'm buying a drop checker today to make sure I'm adding enough CO2. I know Tom et. al. were discussing a solution to a pH probe w/ built in checker to automate the addition of accurate CO2 levels...what ever happened with that idea?
     
  3. jmpease

    jmpease Junior Poster

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    After further reading, it appears that my lighting is extremely high (~4.7 watts/gallon), and lighting at this level will amplify any problems caused by insufficient C02. It also seems that the consensus is that C02 levels are more of a factor then nutrient levels.

    About a year ago I moved from a single strip compact fluorescent to a double strip under the misunderstanding that my algae problems and poor growth were caused by insufficient lighting. I spent a lot of money on an RO unit under the misunderstanding that these problems were caused by nutrient imbalances in the local water supply (specifically excess phosphate levels from orthophosphate).

    In hindsight, I could have saved a bundle with proper dosing and CO2 injection. I wish I had stumbled across the Barr Report sooner!

    Can't wait for that drop checker...
     
  4. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    You are giving yourself some good advice! If you think your tap water is a bit high in phosphates, just consider the tap water by itself to be one dosage of phosphate, and dose per EI for the remaining doses before the water change. EI light, as I recall, is for those who have good reasons for not dosing beyond the plants immediate needs - lighter than usual plant mass, lower light intensity, slow growing plants, etc. With as much light as you have you need to be sure you are dosing 30 ppm of CO2, as you have already figured out, but you should also consider switching to normal EI dosing. You are making good progress in any case.
     
  5. jmpease

    jmpease Junior Poster

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    Thanks for the advice and encouragement! Hopefully in a month or two I'll have some positive results to share.

    Off topic, it suddenly appears that plant growth is the least of my problems right now. My young denison barbs are showing signs of ich (white spots, gasping and flashing)...oh, the horror! Cranked the temp and crossed my fingers. Maybe the switch to tap water wasn't as subtle as I thought :-(
     
  6. jmpease

    jmpease Junior Poster

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    Since over 4 watts/gallon is overkill, is it advisable to switch back to the single strip lights, effectively cutting the watts by 1/2? Is that not enough? Would a change like that be too disruptive at this point?
     
  7. FishRocker

    FishRocker Junior Poster

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    Nope. Go ahead and turn on strip of lights off it will slow down the growth of your plants. U may also want to get yourself a drop checker (with 4 dKh water) so you can make sure that your CO2 is at 30ppm. Continue your EI dosing and everything should turn around in a month or so....
     
  8. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    More light will drive uptake of nutrients and co2...so reducing the lighting may be all you need to get things back in balance. I'm assuming you're adding Plantex or some other mix with iron and traces already. If so I wouldn't think that a deficiency in and of itself would be the main issue.

    Also I think that "EI Light" is referring to the title of the article, not a particular type of dosing. Normal EI dosing is usually 3x/week for high light/co2.

    Oh, the joys of ich. I went through this myself last month, in two tanks, and twice in one of them. The only thing that worked for me without medicating the entire tank in one instance was to remove the affected fish (only my neons for some reason) and treat them in a qt with malachite green/formalin. Then a week later, put them back and kept the temp in the tank up around 84ish (as high as my heater will go evidently). The first time that happened, I think I brought the temp down too fast and stressed the fish and the ich came back. This time I'm reducing the temp very slowly and it's been three weeks with no ich.

    Everyone says you have to treat the whole tank and I understand the reasoning behind it, that the ich actually live in the gravel. But the thing was, only the neons seemed susceptible to it so once I took them out, any remaining ich must not have been able to find hosts and died off.
     
  9. jmpease

    jmpease Junior Poster

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    I'm using flourish 3x/wk along with equilibrium once a wk after the 50% change, alternating w/ 3x/wk addition of KNO3 and KH2PO4...just have to make sure I'm adding enough I suppose.

    Yeah...I reacted a little too late and have lost 4 out of 5 denison barbs ($$$) thus far. I'm pretty sure the 5th isn't going to make it. My clown loach and black shark are showing signs of ich too, but my rainbow shark, dwarf puffer and SAEs look OK. It's a love/hate relationship w/ the black shark...a big bully that likes to nibble on the plants, but has quite a personality. It was an (maybe unfortunate) impulse buy at Petco, and I wish I had done some research beforehand.

    Since my "jumpers" are now all but gone, I've taken this as an opportunity to remove my glass lids and mount my lights (now both single strip) on adjustable flip-open legs. This should make tank management much easier and removes the annoying shadow cast on the plants.

    I'll make sure to keep the temp raised for a while (I'm thinking at least a couple weeks after the last signs) and drop it slowly....I've stress these guys enough already!

    Thanks again for the feedback.
     
  10. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    Just an FYI....To expect temperature alone to cure ich, you usually would have to have it above 86. Around 85 - 86 ich will stop reproducing, but will not actually be killed, but theoretically over time since they are no longer reproducing they will all die off. A cycle of ich is usually around a week depending on temperature. I would go two weeks with no symptoms to be sure. If you have a qt tank you can easily use, it may be worthwhile to remove the fish that have signs of ich and treat them with meds seperately just to make sure you get rid of it. Each cyst that falls off an infected fish can produce thousands of free swimming parasites after it hatches in the gravel.
     
  11. Tex Gal

    Tex Gal Junior Poster

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    Maybe you already know this but just incase this will help with your ick
    Freshwater Aquarium: Ick

    I have used the Mardel products before with loaches and such and have had no bad affects, lost no fish, and my plants were fine. I had a low tech tank, don't know it that makes a difference.

    It looks like you need more iron. In my reading people that have over 4wpg have a hard time keeping up with their iron needs. A few people have posted that they dose iron every other day! That seems a lot to me, if you are also dosing the traces, but with those high light numbers their plants grow so fast they need it. They have had to also increase their potassium too. Too much iron gives build up spots in the slower growing plant leaves that look brown, (kind of like burned spots). It doesn't seem that you have that problem.

    So sorry about your fish losses. Hope things get better fast. I just got a UV filter that I will be hooking up soon to kill off all those floating pathogens! Nasty little buggers!! :mad:
     
  12. jmpease

    jmpease Junior Poster

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    Since things seem to be getting better without the chemicals, I think I'll just stick with the raised temperature for now. If it comes back for another round, this time or next, I'll certainly consider the Mardel line and being a little more aggressive with treatment. Hindsight's 20/20, and I could have replaced all of my plants with less $$$ then the cost of 5 denison barbs.

    UV filtration seem to be a little pricey, but then again, so does fish replacement every time ich comes around. I'll consider this as a more proactive measure of prevention.

    The drop checker just arrived, I'm dosing full EI with some extra iron for peace of mind and I've cut back on my excessive lighting. Hopefully all I have to do now is fine tune, sit back and enjoy the results.

    Cheers!
     
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