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Plants not growing that well... then fuzz algae!

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by fablau, Apr 10, 2016.

  1. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Hello guys,


    after several weeks of struggling with fuzz algae, I have decided to post a thread here, maybe you can help me to figure out what I am doing wrong here, I really don't know what to do else.


    Here is my current tank configuration:


    - 75gl tank with wet/dry filter. Pre-filter cleaned every 2 weeks.


    - Co2 injection with DIY needle wheel pump, AM 1000 reactor and DIY cerges. Co2 starts at 10am (3 hours before lights on) and stops at 7pm (1 hour before lights turns off). PH full degassed is 7.6. When the Co2 starts, PH is usually around 7.5 and by the time lights are on (at 1pm) Co2 has dropped to 6.44, and then it slowly gets lower more until reaching 6.22 at around 5:30pm until the end of the injection cycle at 7pm. PH drop from fully degassed is then between 1.2-1.4. With the displacement method, I pump about 50ml of Co2 per minute.


    - Lights are 4 T8 lights plus 1 BML LED light at 10% (used mostly for dawn and sunset effect). PAR at the substrate is between 50 and 70 when all lights are on. Three of the T8 lights and LED are on from 1pm to 8pm, the 4th, front T8 light is on only from 1:30pm to 7pm.


    - WC once a week on Saturday.


    - EI fertilization as follows:


    Macros: KNO3 8.42ppm and KH2P4 1.72ppm on SAT-MON-WED


    Micros: CSM+B with Fe 0.3ppm on SUN-TUE-THU


    Tanks is pretty old (8 years old!) and substrate is Eco Complete. I use exclusively tap water which KH is 7 and GH is 15-18. I am probably going to tear down the tank this Summer and start from scratch, but fact is, right now, the situation is not that bad. Most of my plants are growing well, even though they used to grow faster before I started the de-tox experiment back in November. I used to have BBA a few weeks ago, but I could find the sweet spot of Micros and so all leaves are clean now (Anubias included, very clean), but some plants are just not growing well as they should and keep getting fuzz algae at the tips, mostly Ambulias and Cabombas. Also, I have come at the conclusion that for some reason I am completely unable to grow AR, it just doesn't grow and gets algae on just 2 weeks old leaves.


    What am I doing wrong? Why I see still some plants struggling even though I am providing them with everything they need?


    Looking forward for your thoughts guys, tank you in advance.


    All the best,


    Fab.
     
  2. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Here are some pictures of my tank and those few plants with fuzz algae, maybe will help you to understand the situation:


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
  3. burr740

    burr740 Micros Spiller
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    Have no advice to offer, just wanted to say that your tank looks sweet! Nice depth.
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I would maybe try adding the CO2 not so early. I add mine right when the lights come on. Right when it goes off.


    You also might try just bubbling the CO2 into the reactor vs the mist NW thing. Or get a larger reactor housing. Reduce the mist in the tank basically.


    A little is okay.


    If that is good, then a horde of Amano shrimp.


    I never under estimate the algae eaters. Moss, fine leaf plants, they are great.


    And you got plenty of that.


    Try trimming those Cabomba and Limno back much more, even removing the weeds and replace with something a bit slower growing and not all boom and bust.


    I would top them and then sell or toss the tops, the stumps will grow back pretty quick. Keep plants in the middle from over shadowing the front and foreground lower growing species.


    Stems and other plants can over shadow Anubias, Crypts, Buces etc, but not the HC, EH, UG etc. Generally, the less the plants over grow between trims, the better.


    Another thing, about once a year or so, uproot say 1/3 to 1/4 of a section..then deep vacuum that gravel. Then replant and clean the area well. The following week or 3-4 days later, repeat on another section. Clean filter that time also. Then the 3-4 weeks etc, repeat, after a month to two weeks or so....the tank should be pretty clean and nice.


    It also gives you a good chance to rearrange thing and redo sections you have wanted to do.


    About a week after cleaning the tank up, clean that filter again.


    Shrimp should clean this type of algae up, likely Oedogonium.
     
  5. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    Your tank is very nice looking. I can barely see the algae.


    Tom's advice, which is basically: add horsepower to CO2 reactor system, add algae eaters, manage bioload, and reduce organics is gravel and filter.


    Not much to add to that, but I will repeat what I'd focus on.


    The beauty of having EcoComplete is that you can shove a vacuum deep in it and clean it really well to reduce organics. I miss having the ability to do that with Aquasoil. You have to be dainty with Aquasoil. So enjoy one of the benefits of EcoComplete - vacuum the heck out of 25% of the tank every couple of weeks. You will be done with the whole tank in about 2 months. This is a excellent chance to trim and reduce bioload.


    Tom mentioned this too. Instead of letting everything grow to the surface and then cutting all down to size (sudden drop in bioload), try to keep bioload somewhat even at all times by trimming some plants every few days. This increases stability.


    Don't wait two weeks to clean your pre-filter. Do it every few days. I find removing dead or half-dead plant matter to be very important in algae control.


    Less light. This calms everything down.


    I know a lot of people have grown AR well in EcoComplete, but I still suspect you will probably experience better growth when you re-do your tank with Aquasoil this summer. I had the same substrate before Aquasoil and had issues with AR and bunch of other plants. Better substrate helps a lot.
     
  6. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Thank you guys for your suggestions! And I appreciate your comments. (Vin, could you spot your plants? They are growing well, look at the group on the right!)


    Anyhow, ok, I got the fact to reduce organics (clean the filter more often, vacuum the substrate, etc) and to not reduce plant biomass too much to keep the environment stable (great point!).


    What puzzles me is what Tom said about the Co2. Why should I get rid of the needle wheel pump and inject the Co2 directly in the reactor? I used to do that before, but then I read that the needle wheel would mix the gas better... am I mistaken? I am confused on that... the mist in the tank is almost zero because Co2 gets chopped by the needle wheel pump, then goes into the AM1000 reactor, and then into the cerges. Also, Tom wrote above to let the Co2 start later, I tried that and got better results with early startup... unless I really have an inefficient Co2 system that doesn't give me the right drop at the right time. Here below is my current Co2 drop curve, please, let me know your thoughts about it:


    [​IMG]


    About shrimp, I have about 30 Amanos and 50-60 RCS, they are eating those algae all the time, so they help, but still I see some of my plants not growing as they should (too slow!) With "too slow" I mean Ambulias (Limnophila) growing about 2-3 inches per week instead of 6-7 inches per week as they used to! Something is clearly hindering their growth, but don't know what.


    What I have noticed experimenting a lot since the detox back in November, is that I can control BBA by giving the right amount of traces (not too much, not too little) and enough Co2 to have a PH drop of 1.1-1.2 by the time lights are on. But if Tom is suggesting to start Co2 when lights turn on, that PH drop wouldn't be reached if not after 3 hours into photoperiod... I am confused with Co2. Of course I can try to apply Tom's schedule, but as I said, I noticed some plants getting better by starting Co2 earlier with my current setup (as I said above, maybe my setup isn't efficient enough!)


    As for AR, I used to grow it pretty well before dosing EI, when I used to have less light (about 40 PAR at the substrate) and dosing just Flourish Comprehensive once a week... no macros! Anyway, I'll probably try aquasoil when I'll have the chance to start over (even though I like to be able to deep vacuum the substrate without issues!)


    As for the lights, Vin, do you really think should I reduce lights? Photoperiod length or intensity? How much?


    Thank you again.
     
    #6 fablau, Apr 11, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 11, 2016
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I am less concerned about the drop per se than the mist levels. This might not be an issue is some tanks, but others with the stem plants all over, there's a missing subtle difference. Sometimes it is not so subtle either. Just try reduced mist and see. Same amount of CO2, just more dissolved, less mist.


    The slow degas rates are there, the CO2 drop is pretty slow also, 2-3 hours at least. Might try a bit more surface movement and then a higher flow rate through the CO2 reactor or something. Seems under powered. If folks add CO2 1-3 hours pre light, then this often the case(under powered).


    You have and more issues than most, that may be a root cause of it.


    When the CO2 is right, the clouds shall part and ye shall see the light.


    Something to think about.


    Limno's should be growing 5-8 inches a week, not 2-3. Even in a non CO2 tank, I get 1-2 inches a week rate, but only 1/2 the diameters. If those are not growing, then something is up.


    I think the switch to the ADA As will make a difference.


    Yea, you have to fuss with it to avoid a mess, you can deep vac it also, but this is slow going comparatively. AR will grow better in the ADA soil.


    I'd do the big clean and slowly over week blocks, work on one issue, the gravel, replanting, trimming, CO2. If the CO2 reactor is catching all the mist and that's good, then I'd try more flow through it. I'd still try and just add a 3/16"th tube inside the reactor and bubble it up through that at the same rate you had before and see.


    It should only take you 1-3 days tops, to note a good sized change with the CO2. 30 shrimps should be enough, so I think you are good there.


    The other thing about CO2 and trimming, you will have better tank mixing, less CO2 demand, other plants will get more light and should do better, and you keep the system more stable.


    Given everything to this point, I'd work on the CO2.


    Seems like the root of this. Also, you should get faster degassing and perhaps more complete degassing. So surface water movement may increase that and also provide more O2 for livestock.


    you might lose some CO2, but if that is ramped up more, then you can add a bit more and that should not be an issue.


    In the past, many folks conserved their CO2 and neglected the O2. Then could not add much without stressing the livestock.


    I think Robert Hudson's tank in the Bay area was the 1st tank I saw this issue. His tank was under powered. Had a little Disc diffuser on a good sized tank.


    Little surface movement. Some ADA tanks also, but they had little livestock to begin with and less light. Smaller shallower tanks have a higher flux rate also than larger tanks.


    Just less distance/smaller volume to degas the CO2. Larger tanks take longer and to add gas and to remove it.


    Another approach is to ramp up the light to match the 2-3 hour CO2 curve. The Apex controller can do this with several LED fixtures and the ATI fixture can do this or a DIY 0-10v bllast type.
     
  8. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    Fab - I think you have plenty to work on with that Tom suggested above.


    Reducing light, removing some plants, giving the existing plants more elbow room, will all contribute to less CO2 competition and struggle.


    The fact that your Limnos are under-performing is a sign that something is not right. This is a competitive plant. It is a convenient problem because you don't have to trim it all the time. But this tells me that there is competition. One clever way to reduce competition is to have a tall plant next to a short one. This gives more 'elbow room' and allows better flow between plants.


    I am not a CO2 infrastructure expert at all. So I don't even understand half the suggestions Tom gave you. :rolleyes: I paid a professional dude to install my system for me. I had to have him come back and add 'horsepower' three times. He thought I was nuts. Join the club. :D


    So I'd say fix these three things: reactor power, organics, plant bioload, light. If you fix all of this at once, you may not know which variable fixed things (if it does) but if things get better, then does it really matter? Then when you switch to Aquasoil, you'll be in even better shape.


    Yes, I see the plants I sent you.
     
  9. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Thank you so much guys, this is very valuable advice and I will try everything suggested. I will keep reducing organics, but mostly I will make some experiments with the Co2 this coming weekend. I know the pump feeding the reactor isn't giving that much power because of the DIY needle wheel, otherwise the pump itself is pretty powerful (Rio 1100). I can try to remove the DIY needle wheel and put in place its regular impeller, then bubble the Co2 directly into the reactor as it was supposed to originally. Of course I will keep the subsequent inline cerges as it is now which helps to reduce th mist furthermore. My goal can be simply trying to improve Co2 dissolution in order to have a faster Co2 drop by pumping the same amount of Co2. I will keep you posted with my results. Then of course I will try to have better circulation between plants, more O2, etc.


    Vin, about reducing light, I see Tom didn't talk about that. Also, do you mean reducing intensity or photoperiod?


    Thank you again.
     
  10. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    I was suggesting reducing intensity, not photoperiod. Your PAR isn't crazy high at 50-70. Maybe that's why Tom didn't suggest changing that. And that's reasonable.


    My suggestion is to get it to 40-50. Your Ludwigia glandulosa and Cabomba may not like it. But it will make it even more stable for the reasons I listed above.


    May be try reducing light intensity last. Do the other things first.
     
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  11. nicpapa

    nicpapa Guru Class Expert

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    I use cerge reactor conected to my filter outlet, my filtert is eheim ecco pro 2036, its not abig one.


    To adjust my co2 reactor i add a co2 diffuser inside cerge reactor. :)
     
  12. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Great, makes sense and I will do that! Thanks :)
     
  13. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Thanks Nicpapa... But I don't understand exactly what is your reactor... Just the cerges or have another one before it?
     
  14. nicpapa

    nicpapa Guru Class Expert

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    Ok i take a pic.


    I have one reactor.


    The reactor is like cerges but i put inside a glass diffuser , i made a red arrow to see.


    [​IMG]
     
  15. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Oh! I see now... Thanks for the picture. Well, seen your results seems to work pretty well!
     
  16. Dennis Singh

    Dennis Singh SynKing!

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    Here I blame the soil. Its exhausted whatever its exhausted (inert?), go new soil, reduce lighting, you'll be good.
     
  17. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Soil is Eco Complete, it shouldn't get "exhausted" shouldn't it? For sure it needs to be cleaned and I am doing it. I am also still experimenting with Co2 as Tom suggested and I will give you som results soon. Thanks!
     
  18. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Ok, here is an update guys and I need your input. I did exactly what Tom suggested for the past week: got rid of the DIY needle wheel pump and instead used a Eheim Compact 1000 pump (265gl/hr) with regular impeller connected to the AM1000 reactor the "official" way, and actually I have noticed better dissolution of Co2 and it looks like plants are getting better (good sign!)... but there is a problem now... 3 days ago the AM1000 reactor begun to leak, probably because it is too old, and I haven't been able to fix it. Instead to buy another one (pretty expensive!), I went ahead and bought this other, different reactor suggested by Vin somewhere else:


    http://www.amazon.com/Sera-Flore-Active-Reactor-1000/dp/B0033GDCVC?ie=UTF8&keywords=co2%20reactor&qid=1461257328&ref_=sr_ph_1&sr=sr-1


    It arrived yesterday, connected today but so far I haven't been that happy. This reactor seems to dissolve Co2 much less efficiently than my old AM1000. I just can see a lot of bubbles coming out into the tank, not a good sign in my experience. Keep in mind that I am still using the same exact cerges after the reactor, which should help with dissolution, but it is the reactor that just doesn't seem to work well enough.


    Additionally, this new reactor has 5/8" hose connections (whereas the AM1000 has 1/2"), so I am using a different pump with 5/8" connection to drive it (Rio 1000), the power is pretty much the same as the Eheim compact 1000, but of course with 5/8" connections instead of 1/2" the amount of pushed water seems much bigger... not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing since it is my understanding that a too fast flow into the reactor means less time for the Co2 to dissolve... so, here are my final questions I'd need your help with:


    1. Do you think the new Sera reactor may be less efficient than the AM1000? If so, would you suggest me to get a new AM1000 or equivalent reactor?


    2. What other alternatives would you suggest me instead than getting back to the AM1000, if you know any better one(s)?


    I could consider to make something myself, but I it looks like I cannot easily find any time lately, so I'd prefer to buy something already made.


    Any ideas and tips are very welcome!


    Thank you.


    Fab.
     
  19. Dennis Singh

    Dennis Singh SynKing!

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    8 years, something should be exhausted for the need of increase of co2 vs. your old good growing ways. Everything is exhaustible, harvestable, and depletable although inert. There is something the co2 can hit and replace. I know a member, same experience, for one difference he capped eco complete over clay, lasted I think 12-15 years about for him until he had to change. Take into consideration please.
     
  20. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Sure, I take this into consideration, I actually plan to replace the substrate this coming Summer anyway. I was just wondering how much of a play has the old substrate with the problems I am having now. I know of people like Nicpapa who recycles his substrate all the time (I think he uses Flourite)...


    Anyhow, any thoughts about the Co2 issue I wrote above? Thanks.
     
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