Stems Rotting Dead Center

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csmith

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Update

So my tank now looks like crap. I'm getting the water tested again this weekend and I fully expect it to still be horrible, but maybe not as bad. I'm not too worried about it anymore because I'm going to attempt to fix this tank myself, without the assistance of ottos/snails. I've got brown glass from top to bottom. I haven't done anything all week, but did a 50% WC last Saturday and topped my longest stems, then replanted those tops. I figure I can propogate my own plants instead of buying more.
The sag has a huge amount of death and when I bought it it had quite a bit of algae, but the new growth looks clean and healthy. The crypts seem fine, one plant had a leaf melt but there are 1-2 new shoots coming from the centers so I expect that these are a little more happy than before. I can't really tell with them as they grow so slowly. My H. polysperma has quite a few new shoots coming from its side, so it isn't growing straight up, but its sideways growth looks kind of cool. The other stems seem like they stopped rotting for the most part. I did have 2 that rotted off, one at the substrate and one about an inch above the substrate.
I haven't really been replanting anything that floats up in hopes that the higher light at the top of the tank would make them grow quicker and as a byproduct clean up my water a little. That method seems flawed as, again, I've got glass covered in brown. I'm going to redo the flow setup a little again this weekend as I've yet to find something that both I and the plants like. It's a work in progress and I couldn't avoid any of the problems I thought I would with raising the light but I guess I'm learning something in the process so it's not all for naught.
I do have some weird new stuff growing from the glass though. It looks like tiny hairs or even a spiderweb type make-up in some areas closer to the substrate. This actually shares turf with my diatoms. Anyone have a clue? It's definately not hydra as it isn't nearly as rigid and it goes from top to bottom of the tank.

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LoudCreature

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Oct 17, 2009
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kind of looks like a new tank.

Keep replanting, whatever it was seems to be working out of the tank.

LC
 

Steven

Guru Class Expert
Aug 5, 2009
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Smith, I myself also have experienced like your stem plant situation a couple months ago, rot at center stem, more likely an inch above substrate.

May I ask what is the size of your Onyx Sands particle about? Eg. 2-3mm? Or smaller?

Here is what I did but I'm not sure 100% if this is related to what I guess or concluded. Try to buy yourself a new batch of plants, let them float a couple of days, after that, instead of straight planting them to substrate, you put them in a small pot by wrapping them with thin filter floss/foam like this
P5071326.jpg

and let them be for another one week, if they survive (not rotting) this long, you can plant them directly into substrate to see if they rot this time. If they are, you can conclude that nothing is wrong with your water column but inside your substrate. Whether it is substrate anaerobe or not enough time for bacteria to colonize down there.

After I insert some Bacter Ball, I can see things get better though not sure too if the tank has somehow mature itself or not, anyhow I'm struggling with this tank for 5 months now but as of right now, it happens that I have a whole lot more % of success of growing the plants that I used to failed before (rot at center or completely in just 4 days after planting).
Graphic1-2.jpg


Also by this way, I finally able to acclimatize the emmersed Ludwigia arcuata to submerged one, although I have to admit until this time I still got a stem or two from them that have grow to some point and look good today but tomorrow they just wilted away even doesn't say good bye.
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Hope to help.
 
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csmith

Guest
Update and Epiphany

So I had my water tested today. Nitrites were 5. Ammonia tested off of the chart again. So far off of the chart, in fact, that when my LFS used half of my water and half clean water it was still off the chart. They offered to go down to a quarter of my water but I passed. I have well over 20 ppms of NH4 in my water and for reasons unknown to me. It's been over a month! What gives.. :mad:

I've thought of everything possible that could be happening and I just can't come up with anything. My LFS thinks its my DIY ferts, that somehow they're breaking down and causing the ammonia spike. I personally believe that's flawed, as there aren't even four molecules of hydrogen in what I'm using. KNO3, KH2PO4 and K2SO4.

Then it hit me, the worm castings. If I didn't do something right with them would they be leeching heavy amounts of NH4, even though they're buried by almost 3 inches of sand? If commercial substrates (ADA) do it can it be likely this is the cause of my NH4 problem? If so, how long will it take. Ginormous water changes every weekend sure aren't doing the trick so I really hope giving it time to mineralize will solve this problem.
 
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csmith

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Steven;52084 said:
Smith, I myself also have experienced like your stem plant situation a couple months ago, rot at center stem, more likely an inch above substrate.

May I ask what is the size of your Onyx Sands particle about? Eg. 2-3mm? Or smaller?

I couldn't really tell you. Even the seachem website doesn't really specifiy. It would seem smaller thnan yours.

Steven;52084 said:
Here is what I did but I'm not sure 100% if this is related to what I guess or concluded. Try to buy yourself a new batch of plants, let them float a couple of days, after that, instead of straight planting them to substrate, you put them in a small pot by wrapping them with thin filter floss/foam like this and let them be for another one week, if they survive (not rotting) this long, you can plant them directly into substrate to see if they rot this time. If they are, you can conclude that nothing is wrong with your water column but inside your substrate. Whether it is substrate anaerobe or not enough time for bacteria to colonize down there.

After I insert some Bacter Ball, I can see things get better though not sure too if the tank has somehow mature itself or not, anyhow I'm struggling with this tank for 5 months now but as of right now, it happens that I have a whole lot more % of success of growing the plants that I used to failed before (rot at center or completely in just 4 days after planting).

Also by this way, I finally able to acclimatize the emmersed Ludwigia arcuata to submerged one, although I have to admit until this time I still got a stem or two from them that have grow to some point and look good today but tomorrow they just wilted away even doesn't say good bye.

Hope to help.

I'm starting to lean towards something being wrong with the substrate, but not necessarily just because of the substrate. That may not make sense.. I think I did something wrong with the substrate that is causing this.
 
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csmith

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Solving A Problem With A Problem

So I did my WC today and loaded up on the Nitromax. I'm starting to think this stuff is a gimmick because I'm triple dosing every weekend and it doesn't help anything. Seeing as I have the stuff, though, I figured I'd use it. Anywho, I pulled out 50% of the water, wiped down the glass to the substrate to remove the diatoms and came across quite a bit of GSA obscured by the brown wall. I'll deal with the GSA later as I up the PO4. Next I did my stem trimming (there was some excellent new growth) and replanted the tops next to the bottoms which considerably filled in the tank. Looking from above there is only a 1-2" section of the substrate you can actually see. There is quite a bit of new growth on the dwarf sag that I couldn't see through the wall of brown on the glass. The sag also has the algae covered die-off it started with but I'm assuming it'll fix itself when the blades detach from the plant. Weird enough the only new sag showing issues is the only runner that has popped up. The crypts are growing at the speed of fart, so nothing new on them other than they've got something attached to the leaves that I assume is algae.

After that I added Prime and filled the tank, then immediately took another 50% of the water out. I'm trying to dillute the NH4 as much as possible and hope I can catch up. I'm really hoping the worm castings are the cause of my ammonia/nitrite problems because at this point I just want an answer. I repositioned the powerheads and then filled again.

With the new powerhead configuration I'm noticing two things. No stems have floated to the top, and not too many of the CO2 bubbles are making there way into the mass of stems. CO2 above the stems is fine, mid-level is alright but right at the substrate there isn't much. You can see some of the CO2 bubbles, but it's enough to make me worry. To fix this I repositioned one powerhead and not before my hands were out of the tank a stem of M. aquaticum popped right out of the substrate. I moved the powerhead back to its previous position and everything is sitting tight. To describe what I'm seeing, the first few stems of the mass have a little sway, but all the way in the back there's almost 0 plant movement. Almost. I moved the powerheads in the first place because when they would come on they were bending all of the stems easily to 90 degrees and it looked horrible/made it hard to keep stuff in the substrate.

If I were to give these plants a week or two to take root would that be fine, or can I expect lower leaf die-off before this?
 
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LoudCreature

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Oct 17, 2009
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Assuming that it is fw nitromax, these are hit and miss ime.

Use filter material from mature filter. even mature tank water and bloom with a tbs of sugar in a quart jar set for a day or 2.

Biollante suspects the strong oder reported is first sign of problem, something rotting, high NH4, seems to confirm.

LC
 
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csmith

Guest
LoudCreature;52151 said:
Assuming that it is fw nitromax, these are hit and miss ime.

Use filter material from mature filter. even mature tank water and bloom with a tbs of sugar in a quart jar set for a day or 2.

Biollante suspects the strong oder reported is first sign of problem, something rotting, high NH4, seems to confirm.

LC

Indeed it is freshwater nitromax. The filter, filter material etc. were all literally transferred from the old tank to the new as they were. Nothing was new on this tank other than the substrate. I agree with the symptoms of the problem, I just don't have a bead on what the problem is. Hence the assumption that it's the substrate. It's really just a shot in the dark. One of the few variables not present when problems didn't exist.
 

Tug

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That strong odor reported might be coming from Halliburton. Colorado has a huge number of polluted water sources due to hydraulic fracturing. And they are not the only place. I suggest you take off your blinders and demand a water quality report. Find out if you are living in 'Gasland'. You might not have a problem, but OTOH you might. Watch this documentary if you think I'm kidding ✒ Josh Fox: Living In The Middle Of A 'Gasland'
 
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csmith

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Very powerful article. I did dig a little into where my water supply comes from. I forget the specifics of the whole thing, but I know it's mostly mountain runoff. Snow melt, all of that stuff. You're right, though. I should probably get a report for, if nothing else, peace of mind.
 
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csmith

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10 Day Update

Well, I decided to start from scratch. I was getting no where with the NH4 so I decided to change some stuff up as nothing was getting better anyway. I changed out my Eheim Liberty for a Fluval 205. At a claimed 180 gph flow rate I'm sure I'm getting closer to Tug levels of filtration. :p I didn't keep the Eheim running to transfer bacteria as I was supposed to because, again, I've got off the chart NH4 levels anyway so what's it matter? I'm moving up to 2-3x a week water changes as a permanent fixture for the time being so hopefully that'll alleviate the issue for a bit.

I also redid the look of the tank. I finally understand what everyone was talking about with planting stems. It's weird at first to plant them right on top of each other but it does look a lot better. I ditched the M. aquaticum because I couldn't really ever get used to that pine tree look. I've also transferred some of the stauro from my DSM to this tank to fill in some empty space and to add a little variety to my foreground. Looks better if I do say so myself.

After scraping off all of the GSA I had cultured (that stuff took over very quickly once it got a foot hold, 2 mL Fleet Enema added 3x weekly now to up the PO4 until I need to make another batch of ferts), I decided I might as well mod one of my Maxi-Jet 400's for CO2 duty. It'd allow me to remove the Mini-Jet if nothing else. Side effects from this were amazing. Now I only need 1 Maxi-Jet in the tank instead of two. I guess it takes a while to understand flow, how it works and what it really means. By strategically placing the filter output and the one powerhead I got enough water movement now that everything moves with a gentle sway in the tank. I had three powerheads in the same tank before and couldn't get it right. I'm still learning. :eek: Things are looking better as a whole and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully it isn't a train. :rolleyes: One other major change I made was moving the light fixture closer to the front glass. I'm trying to get the stems to have their crowns facing forward like in all those pretty pictures I see and this is the only way I can think of getting that done. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

The only other issue I'm having now is my H. kompakt. It hasn't grown vertically since I started this tank. It continues to kick out new leaves but doesn't grow up, so the bottom leaves in turn die/rot sandwiched between the substrate and larger upper leaves. It almost resembles a rose bud in its growth. I removed all but the upper two leaves in hopes of changing this pattern. It's located in the back of the tank between the two crypts. Any suggestions?

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csmith

Guest
Oh, and Tug. Remember the Oto that up and disappeared? I found him. :( He somehow made the jump out of the tank through a 1 1/2" gap between the rim and glass lid. DOA on the bottom of the stand. Since when do Oto's jump? :confused:

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csmith

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Am I Anaerobic or Highly Aerobic?

Today I learned/found some things. I did a 50% water change, planted two stems that floated up, then refilled. I then turned around and immediately did another 50% water change, added a few more stems of stauro and refilled. I noticed on the first refill bubbles floating from the plants, the size of the CO2 bubbles that come from my powerhead. Then I noticed a spot where it was coming from the substrate. I poked down to the bottom glass with a skewer and had fairly decent sized bubbles float out from the substrate. My question comes from the article/thread LoudCreature posted about roots and how they affect substrates. The bubbles were mostly around my sag, not so much the stems or stauro. Could these have been O2 bubbles, or is it definately an anaerobic substrate? I also think the stems are still dying below the substrate, not merely floating up but I can't be 100% sure.

Also after the two 50% water changes I tested NH4 again. It's still at the top of the scale at 8 ppms. Should my math be correct thats upwards of 32 ppms, before my water changes today, 3 days after my last water change. What the hell..?!
 
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shoggoth43

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If there's no smell from the bubbles in the substrate you're probably ok. If there is, you'll definitely smell it when the bubbles come up.

Your water is likely treated with Chloramine. If you add dechlor like Prime, then the ammonia component of the chloramine is now free and in the water and will need to be broken down just like fish waste. You can do a sanity check with a glass of your tap water and dechlor and test for ammonia. This should at least get you a ball park for what's in your new water. Your test may also just be way off, but at least this gives you an idea of what to expect in your readings.

-
S

csmith;52466 said:
Today I learned/found some things. I did a 50% water change, planted two stems that floated up, then refilled. I then turned around and immediately did another 50% water change, added a few more stems of stauro and refilled. I noticed on the first refill bubbles floating from the plants, the size of the CO2 bubbles that come from my powerhead. Then I noticed a spot where it was coming from the substrate. I poked down to the bottom glass with a skewer and had fairly decent sized bubbles float out from the substrate. My question comes from the article/thread LoudCreature posted about roots and how they affect substrates. The bubbles were mostly around my sag, not so much the stems or stauro. Could these have been O2 bubbles, or is it definately an anaerobic substrate? I also think the stems are still dying below the substrate, not merely floating up but I can't be 100% sure.

Also after the two 50% water changes I tested NH4 again. It's still at the top of the scale at 8 ppms. Should my math be correct thats upwards of 32 ppms, before my water changes today, 3 days after my last water change. What the hell..?!
 
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csmith

Guest
I am using Prime, but I wasn't aware it released ammonia when it broke down the chloramine. Today I did 3 consecutive 50% water changes, and that took me down to 4ish ppms of NH4. That tells me I was back up to 32+ ppms after my water changes 48 hours ago. Whatever the problem is, it's working fast.
As for the stems rotting under the substrate, I'm now sure it's happening. I've been sure to trim the stem plants at the node before I replant them and my third stem of the week floated to the top, rotted off up to the top of a section.
Moreso, now that I'm paying attention to it, quite a few bubbles float from the substrate when I'm doing water changes. No bad odors, but they definately come from the substrate. It seems triggered by the addition of the new water, as it doesn't happen when I'm not changing water.


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csmith

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More Questions Than Answers

Last Thursday I did 3 consecutive water changes of 50%. Saturday I did 5. Today I did 6 of no less than 75%. That's a lot of water. I'm showing 0.5ish ppms of NH4 now. I've done 14 water changes of atleast half the water in the aquarium over 5 days, but everyday I don't change water my NH4 level has doubled, tripled or even quadrupled according to the previous days readings. If I allow more than 2 days between water changes I get readings too far off the scale to get an accurate number. Could I potentially be facing an issue that just won't correct itself, or am I just now hitting it hard enough to fix it?

As for the stems rotting, I buried the stem pictured in the thread above on Thursday at the back of my stem group. I did, however, leave an angled opening in the substrate on the backside of that particular stem so I could watch it. Sure enough, today it's completely brown up to the substrate. It has roots coming out from the node directly above the dying section(s) buried into the substrate and I think that's the only thing holding it down. So, I still have rotting issues.
 
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csmith

Guest
..and the obligatory algae questions

I've got GSA, what would appear to be the makings of that green hair-like algae, and diatoms. I really hate having multiple forms at the same time. I'd assume this would all require me perfecting CO2 a bit more, right? My crypts are covered in something as well, but I'm not really sure which it is, or if it's a different kind.

I've also got brown spots on my stems. I'm not really sure if it's algae, perhaps detrius. Anyone know?

Also, is it a good sign or a bad when stems throw out roots above the substrate? I've read both answers here, and my stauro is sending roots like crazy.

Crypts:

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Stems with brown spots:

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Stauro sending out roots:

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