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Help with 150g planted tank

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by NVES, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. NVES

    NVES Junior Poster

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    Good day all,

    This is my first post (sorry if it's a long one), but I have read many of Tom's articles and several of the posts on here to get me started - but I am in need of some expert advise.

    I've had my 150 gallon tank running for 8 months now, in the beginning my plants were growing fine and then Nov-Dec my plants started deteriorating and now I'm left with pretty much just stalks, and I've lost a few plants

    I have had no issues with the fish in the tank, just the plants. In fact all of my fish are exhibiting mating/spawning behaviours, which I thought was a good sign.
    In the past two weeks I've changed my bulbs, added root fertilizer tabs, and started a weekly dosing regime of 2 tsp Florish Excel, 1 tsp of KN03, and 1/4 tsp of KH2P04.

    So far things aren't getting better.
    My goal is to have a nice thinkly planted tank with lots of community colourful fish, looking to get lots of vals growing - but they don't last they just disintigrate (sp). I'm also trying to avoid going with a pressurized co2 system.

    So what am I doing wrong? What should I be doing? Any assistance is greatly appreciated! Any suggested readings?

    Thanks,
    Aaron



    My setup:
    150 gallon tall - 48"x30"x24"
    eshopps wet/dry filter and dual overflow - approx 1000 GPH
    48" - 4x65w coralife power compact fixture (2@6,700k; 2@10,000k and bulbs replaced Jan 10-11) with 4 blue LEDS. Before the bulb change I did have 2@10,000k and 2@Attinic.
    Pool filter sand for substrate (~1" thick)
    Driftwood

    Fish Stocking:
    6 Giant Danios; 15 Brilliant Rasboras; 30 Cardinal Tetras; 20 Silver tipped Tetras; 12 Bolivian Rams; 20-25 Amano Shrimp; 5 Nerite Snails; 2 Apple Snails; 3 BN Plecos.

    Plant Stocking:
    1 amazon sword; 2 moneywort; 2 moss balls; 1 red hygro.

    Test results from last night before a water change 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 5 nitrate. I haven't checked pH for a while, but if memory serves it was 7.2 or 7.4. I have not check for water hardness.

    I have been doing bi-weekly 50% water changes, and am now starting (2nd week) of doing weekly 20-25% water changes; although last night's change was 50%.

    Fertilizers - into 2nd week. Weekly add 2 tsp Florish Excel, 1 tsp of KN03, and 1/4 tsp of KH2P04.
     
  2. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    More to come later, but if not running c02, I would just use 1-2 bulbs max..

    Your high light levels are causing a huge demand for c02 and macro/micros which are not being met.

    Lowering the light will lessen the demand for these things and slow growth down.

    Basically, you are starving your plants, while driving them with high light to grow fast and require more 'food'. Not a good combo.

    I would look into the non-c02 low light sticky. Use a good enriched substrate and low light/few water changes. This may meet your goals, but growth will be slower and perhaps not as lush as when using c02.

    It is a tradeoff.
     
  3. eleontie

    eleontie Junior Poster

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    I noticed a similar scenario in my mineralized soil setups. Explosive growth for the initial period when nutrients are abundant, then slow decay. If you want to stick to undemanding, simple plants - lower the lights : anubias, crypts, mosses will be fine. If you want to keep the lush growth, you'll have to enhance your setup with regular dosing and CO2.
    Also,
    People reported that in some case Vals are not so good at tolerating Excel dosing. Mixed reports, so ... take it with a grain of salt see here

    Eugen
    http://www.aquaticinspiration.info
     
  4. NVES

    NVES Junior Poster

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    Thanks for the responses thus far - I've turned off one set of lights, so right now I'm just running 2x65w (not sure if it's the 6.7k or 10k bulbs).
    Thus far there has been no change or difference in the tank.

    Question what temp should I be at? I'm currently 80-81 F, is this too high? Could this be a source of issues?
    Also on the Vals, I'm not sure what the issue is, I have a 10 gallon that has lots of vals in it and I don't do anything to the tank - no ferts nothing. They grow slow, but they are still very long and thick - kind of what I'm trying to get going in my 150.

    Should I be looking at changing substates? Or is this just a case of swallowing the pill and jump on board with a pressurized co2 system?

    Sorry for all the questions, and thanks kindly for your help.

    Take care,
    Aaron
     
  5. ArnieArnie

    ArnieArnie Prolific Poster

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    These changes won't be seen overnight, give it à change to addept.
    How long do you turn on the lights? stay under the 10 hours.
    Also would I dose more KNO3 to about 20 ppm with KH2PO4 at 2 ppm.
    Dosing frequency can be lower than a high light tank.
     
  6. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    A few more things after reading your initial post:

    Substrate

    You are using plain pool sand. I am concerned that some fine sand can tightly pack around the roots and provide no 02 enriched areas and will kill the roots and then the plant.

    Personally I would switch to either basic gravel with some osmocoate or worm castings added. Flourite if you can afford it.

    Just use the sand for decorative purposes.

    Plants

    Per your post, you have 3 stems, a rosette, and 2 moss balls in 150 gallons of water and a large footprint. That doesn't sound that jungle like :) I would suggest going out and getting MANY MORE stems and various plants. Get some rotalas, hygros, etc that will grow quickly and give you a chance to see if conditions are better or improving. Buy a mat or two of java fern ($20 per mat) and use that. You can always remove plants later once you have learned how to grow them. Green thumbs exist, but plants need basic care just like the fish do. Takes time to learn it, period!

    You need a lot more bio-mass IMO. Plants I have found are like many schooling fish and do better in groups.

    Dosing

    Excel is a carbon supplement and MAY not do well with all plants. Many reports of melting due to it's usage, so be cautious. I would use EI dosing method and dry ferts as they are cheap and easy to use. Check out the EI sticky.

    Temp

    Your current temp is fine for most plants. Some like anacharis prefer cooler water, but just don't use this plant :)

    C02

    I would at least investigate this. The cost can be much less than you may think for a small decent setup ,esp if you are handy.

    Light

    Bulb temp is just for us. I would NOT use the actinics, but the temp rating is a personal preference.

    8 hours duration is plenty and I would go to 6 at your present time due to no bio-mass.

    Patience

    It takes time up to several weeks for things to improve. Plants take time to adapt to even better conditions.

    Get some more plants in there, maybe upgrade your substrate a bit, dose EI and get used to this type of routine and see if you like it.
     
    #6 Gerryd, Jan 21, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2011
  7. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    I have a 29 gallon tank with 2 WPG of T12 and a soil substrate. It's been set up for 2.5 years. No CO2 but every few months a little KNO3 is added.

    The plants are growing profusely, particularly the vals. I have to trim every month. I recently cut back the lighting to reduce the need for that.

    The 150 gallon tank needs more nutrients. I'm not sure that water column dosing works well in low-tech tanks, compared to using a soil substrate. It never has for me, but theoretically it should, I guess.

    Excel in other than small doses kills or retards vals and a few other plants.

    There's my two cents worth.

    Good luck!

    Bill
     
  8. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    High Tech Runs Smack-Dab Into Low Tech

    Hi,

    What you seem to have is an almost low tech system connected up to high tech filtration system and your bio-filtration system is winning.

    My guess is a couple of things happened together, the eshopps wet/dry filter fully matured and your Amazon Sword (I am assuming Echinodorus amazonicus), really got settled in. ;)

    Now you have two monsters sucking up the nutrients. :gw

    You have an inch (2.5 cm) of pool filter sand, which is wonderful stuff; because, contrary to what Gerry says, it does not compact.

    So you have about one third the depth of sand needed to make a decent, deep sand bed (DSB), though it is no doubt trying. :rolleyes: You are probably keeping your aquarium clean including the sand, not allowing mulm to gather and decay adding to the tanks burden.

    I think I would try removing a third or half the bio-balls and see what happens, I would also definitely continue dosing and let mulm gather on the substrate. Adding a few Oak leaves would not hurt. :)

    Changing substrates is a major undertaking. If you are so inclined I would recommend adding another two or three inches (5-7.6 cm) of pool filter sand. If you want to increase the value of the DSB mix in 10 to 50% clay (soak it for a week or two prior), I like cheap kitty litter for the purpose.:)

    Good luck and have fun, this is after all a hobby, not, well, er, golf.:eek:

    Biollante
     
  9. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Bio,

    I said I was concerned that it MAY compact......Not that it would definitely.....
     
  10. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    It Took Me Days to Get Up The Courage...

    Hi Gerry,

    It was only with great trepidation :eek: that I contradicted you… I think this is like the second time… Your distinction is duly noted…:gw

    Actually there are many types of sand and are engineered for specific purposes, pool filter sand is specifically designed not to compact else channels would form negating the purpose of the sand.

    Biollante
     
  11. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Bio,

    That made me laugh out loud....thanks.....

    The other thing of course is that I HATE to be wrong...thus the qualification just in case :)
     
  12. NVES

    NVES Junior Poster

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    Well recently I've done the following:
    1. Scooped out 1/3 of the sand
    2. Replaced with plain black gravel
    3. Added 20-30 vals and 8 red cambomba (sp?)
    4. Planted all plants in the gravel with root tabs added

    And plan to do the following today:
    1. Remove remaining sand
    2. Added 75 lbs gravel mixed with 45 lbs of black flourite
    3. Replant vals and cambomba into mixture of gravel/flourite
    4. Major water change today

    I also plan to do before and after water tests to ensure no major swings. I have recently lost a couple of fish, first to neon tetra disease after adding 10 more cardinals, and also 3 of my rams for whatever reason. I'm assuming the ram deaths are due to my screwing around with the tank. And some of the vals have lost their lenght, but the bases still look very healthy.

    Any advice before I get started? Won't be starting this for a few hrs.
    Also I don't have a spare tank to move my current fish, so I'm assuming that I'll have some more losses.

    Thanks,
    Aaron
     
  13. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    Your fish can go into a bucket or some type of rubbermaid container for even a week if fitted with a small filter and heater..

    I kept >200 fish this way for two weeks once..lol

    So, when replacing that much substrate you will lose a good deal of your bacterial bed. So, I would do 50% water changes DAILY for at least a week. I would then do at least 2-3 times for the next week. All based on fish load of course.

    This will help reduce stress on the fish and help reduce algae outbreaks due to an increase in nh4..

    If you assume losses already you are at a disadvantage :) fish are tougher than we think....

    You could also replace the substrate in TWO stages so with say two weeks between. I did this with my 180. I did half one week and did all the WC I just advised you to do, and then 2 weeks later did it all over again. It took longer but was less work overall and better for the fish. Just move everything to one side, siphon out the gravel (while doing that water change) on one side, and replace.

    Tom advised this to me and it worked very well, but I always have high fish loads as well. I like fish!

    Hope this helps a bit.
     
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