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Newbie question on Nitrogen dosing - do I need it now in my case?

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by aadro, Aug 9, 2012.

  1. aadro

    aadro Subscriber

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    Facts:
    New tank (Just over 3 weekes old), 80 gallons. (48"L x 18" W x 23 "H)
    Lights: T5HO, 4 x 54W; [2 x 6700K & 2 x Colormax]
    Light regimen: 1 hr x 2 bulbs (dawn)+ 4 hrs x 4 bulbs + 2 hrs x 2 bulbs (semi-siesta) + 4 hrs x 4 bulbs + 1 hr x 2 bulbs (dusk). [So that's total 12 hrs, with 8 hrs intense, and 4 hrs at 50%. Please don't laugh at the "dawn" and "dusk" stuff. :D )
    CO2 injection: About 2 bps, off at night, about 30 ppm by dropchecker and about 1.0 pH increase from night to morning.
    Substrate: 2-4 inches Ecocomplete over 1 inch sand. [Sand is to cover a 40 W under-gravel heater]
    Ornaments: 1 large and 3 medium pieces driftwood, and two lava rocks.
    Flora: Fairly dense for a starter. About 8 Cryptocorynes; 2 Amazon Sword; 2 Brazilian Pennywort; 1 bunch Java moss; 1 Windelov Java Fern.; 1 Needleleave Java Fern; 1 small bunch Glossostygma; 1 small bunch microsword; 1 Bacopa; 1 bunch Hydrotriche Hottoniiflora.
    Fauna: 4 x Otocinclus; 4 x Leopard Danios; 3 x Zebra Danios. [Waiting for tank to get establioshed before adding more.]
    Water parameters: NH3/NH4 = 0; NO2=0; NO3=10 to 20 ppm; PO4=0.25 to 0.5 ppm; Fe (free or chelated) = 0; Cu = 0.
    Dosing: Seachem Flourish Potassium & Trace, twice a week, Iron twice a week, "beginner's level" dosing, don't remember the amounts off-hand for each bottle. [Also dosing Excel until last week, every other day, but will stop from this week as some plants, especially the swords, are melting. Some reports online suggest the Excel does that to some plants in some setups!]
    Water change: 25%/weekly
    Goal: Medium maintenance, reasonably balanced tank. Don't want to have to tend my tank each day, but don't want the unexciting Diana-Walsted-type "granola-bar" tank either. [No offense intended.]

    And FINALLY, my question to you experts:

    I have Seachem Flourish Nitrogen and Phosphorus, but am not dosing those yet as it looks like I have unused nitrates and phosphates in the tank which the plants have not mopped up. I can't seem to be able to get that NO3 level down any further! I was shooting for maybe 5-10 ppm.

    I have had my fair share of green-water and stuff, which cleared out last week when I was using Excel. Plants are not doing horribly, but they are not terribly healthy as well. They "pearl up" quite a bit from about the 5th hour of light up until the end of each day, but the Bacopa seems to be losing color, the Windelov Ferns have a strange black burn kind of thing at the extremities (can't tell whether it's some kind of algae). But even those black ends seem to be pearling up some at the end of each day. Other plants are so-so. The Hottoniiflora lost all its old stem-work (due to Excel?) but new bright ones are starting up from the bottom.

    What can I do to improve my setup? Do I have too much light? Should I get rid of my fancy-shmansy 1+4+2+4+1 lighting regimen and do what everybody else does? ;) Should I use the Flourish Nitrogen anyway although I still have some NO3 that the plants are not using? Flourish Nitro does provide some ammonium which the plants use more readily, I can see that, so maybe my plants need that? Maybe my particular plants are not very good at using NO3? Then what plants can I add to chew up the NO3 and PO4, so I can have a little bit more "balance" in the tank?

    Lots of questions, but just looking for your thoughts guys & gals. Thanks in advance for your replies/comments/thoughts.

    -Aadro
     
  2. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Lifetime Members
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    How did you test your values? Hobby test kits are generally unreliable. Excel tends to melt Vals, I haven't heard of it melting swords. I think your melt is coming from somewhere else. Also, Excel degrades so is most likely only in your tank for a period of time after dosing (I believe it is photoreactive).

    I think you have a lot of light for the plants you are growing. 30 ppm's by drop checker doesn't mean too much..are you using a 4 dkh solution within the drop checker? As a point of comparison, my CO2 levels needed to make my drop checker pretty much yellow and beyond in my high light tank with lots of fast growing plants. Drop checker is useless for the most part. Plant growth will tell you if you have enough CO2, fish behavior will tell you if you have too much. You don't have many high CO2 demand plants however light dictates the amount of CO2 you need. IMO, siesta periods are overrated and unnecessary. It is a means to control for too much light. I think running two of the bulbs for a full 10 hours would be a good option. It would reduce CO2 demand and give enough light for your plants.

    Dosing is important for CO2 enriched tanks. Co2 gets things rolling and the plants will need nutrients. Flourish regiments are lean to begin with and work best for non CO2 enriched tanks. You should look into EI dosing, it helps you rule out the ferts and forget about the "iffy" testing. Probably low on potassium despite your dosing...swords can be hogs.

    Pictures are also helpful. I'm sure others will have more to add.
     
  3. aadro

    aadro Subscriber

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    Thanks for your helpful comments, Shadow.
    (1) I am using the API tests for most of the tests I'm reporting, except for Fe, for which I'm using the Nutrafin test.
    (2) Re. the drop checker, actually, I'm using two side-by-side, one with 4dKH and the other with 2 dKH solution. The idea is that when the 2dKH turns yellow I've got beyond 15 ppm, and when the 4dKH turns green I've got 30 ppm. Seeing the yellow and green side-by-side ensures that I am at least between the 15-30 range, even if I'm reading the colors wrong. Also, I have szeparately checked to see that the pH in the tank has gone up from about 6.8 in the evening (when CO2 is just turned off) to about 7.7 in the morning (after de-gassing with an airstone all night), so that also indicates about a 30 ppm change. [BTW, two water parameters I forgot to report earlier: dKH=9 and dGH=12]. So, hard water.
    (3) Part of the reason for the extra light was the depth (height) of 23 inches.
    I'll try and post a few pictures soon.

    Yeah, I think you're right about my tank needing much more potassium that Seachem is providing. That was my suspicion as well. I'll go soon to some EI-based dosing. Or at least start with EI-based doses and then adjust as necessary by testing resulting levels.
    Thanks again!
     
  4. Htomassini

    Htomassini Guest

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    The concentration on k in the flourish line is very low. It is better in the aquavitro line. But flourish line is for small tanks were dosing is an issue


    Henry tomassini
    www.theplantedaquariumstore.com
    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
     
  5. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Lifetime Members
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    I think dosing is a good place to start.

    By the way...i can't make fun of your dawn dusk setup because I did something very similar with my old setup.
     
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