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Tank going OK but not great. Any advice? Pic heavy and long post warning

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by nero82, Apr 12, 2011.

  1. nero82

    nero82 Junior Poster

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    Hi everyone,

    Just hoping I could get some advice from you all. This might be a bit of a long post but I want to put as much information in here as I can.

    This is not my first tank, but it is the first hi-tech planted tank I have done. It is now about five months old. After a rocky start I am now seeing good growth on some plants, however I am disappointed in the growth of some other plants, especially the carpeting plants. Due to the slow growth they seem to be getting some algae back on them too, which is causing me much worry. If I don't touch the glass for a week It usually has a decent amount of GDA and Hair algae on it. I'll start with as many stats as I can think of:

    Tank volume: 200L
    Dimensions:
    length 4ft;
    water depth: 16"
    water surface to light: 4"
    Light unit: 4x t5hO
    Photoperiod:
    11am-9pm, 2x6500k t5ho
    1pm-4pm, 1x12000k t5ho
    1xactinic t5ho (just for a bit more colour for viewing)
    Pressurised co2, 2bps, 10am-9pm
    UP atomizer used to inject. (causes misting)
    Drop checkers:
    1 @ 2.7 dkH
    1 @ 5.8 dkH
    Both always green, 2.7 one is sometimes yellowish
    Filter 1500L/hour with 9w UV
    Additional internal filter (cant recall flow) to increase water movement
    Substrate is mostly inert. Root tabs used.

    General tank levels (based on seachem TEST KITS not FERT ADDITION)
    temp: 24C (75F)
    no3: 30ppm
    po4: 1-1.5
    pH ranges from 6-6.8
    kH : 5degrees
    gH: 6-7 degrees
    nh4/no2: 0

    Ferts daily dosed as liquid. Dry equiv would be:
    KNO3: 2.5ppm (0.8g)
    KH2PO4: 0.5ppm (0.15g)
    MgSO4: 0.06ppm (0.11g)
    K2SO4: 2.1ppm (0.125g)
    TRACE mix im dosing 0.16g a day of Simplegrow. (widely used here in australia)
    Also adding 0.5ml of 10% Gluteraldehyde per day

    Changing 100L water every week. (I add 2tps KHCO3 to new water to boost kH)

    Livestock:
    20 Pristella Tetras
    2 Peppered Cories
    2 Ottos
    1 Bristlenose

    I do see pearling, however not on my riccia oddly. Plants are as follows:

    Java fern: does OK. Nice and green, no algae.
    Lilaeopsis: I'd go as far as to say it is not growing at all. Really really disappointed in this. Had some BGA on it, but that has gone for now, but it still gets brown powdery looking algae on it. (ottos are seen on it sometimes)
    Amazon Swords: Set to take over the world. Great growth, nice and green. Get a bit of hair algae on the tips of some leaves which I remove at WC. Sometimes a bit of other algae on the leaves.
    Stricta: Pathetic growth. Lots of roots in the water column, leaves pale.
    Ambullia: You can watch this stuff grow. Needs cutting back by half every week almost. New leaves nice and green, some older leaves have brown powdery algae.
    Riccia: Seems to be growing fast, but no pearling. Has not been in the tank for long though.
    Myriophylum: Growth is so-so. New growth is green, older leaves go brown very fast, seems to be the brown algae on them.
    Staurogyne Tropica: Was very unhappy with the slow growth, but it seems to be picking up now. New growth is green and clean, older growth has the only BBA I can see in the tank (I think its BBA)
    HC: All died in a week. Could have been DOA as I got it shipped to me. Not sure.
    Glosso: All seemed to die, but is now reappearing. Growth looks ok from what I can see, but it is getting algae on it, so Im worried it will get choked to death before it gets settled.
    Bacopa and Rotala Rotundifolia: Growth is med-slow. lower leaves get brown algae and hair algae.

    Yes I KNOW this is an absurd variety of plants, but I have bunches of it all in there because I want to see what does well. Once I have things growing well, I will select what is doing best, and rescape the tank with it.

    Overall, things improved dramatically when I cut down the lighting and started EI 5 weeks ago. I think my dosage rates are a bit lower than some EI I have seen though.

    Woah, ok I think I've done my head in with all this typing. Really sorry for the wall of text, but wanted to give all the details.

    Here are some pics... and thanks in advance for any advice!

    Overall:
    [​IMG]

    Riccia:
    [​IMG]

    Lilaeopsis:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Staurogyne Old growth:
    [​IMG]

    Staurogyne new growth:
    [​IMG]

    Glosso:
    [​IMG]

    Amazon sword:
    [​IMG]

    Bacopa and Rotala:
    [​IMG]
     
  2. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    That's about nuclear light power you have there.

    I'd try with less light, just use the 2 6500K or a 6500/12000K mix. I see some problems related to CO2. less light = less CO2 demand. your plants will grow better = less algae. You don't have plants that need a lot of light.

    I also use four rows of T5, but mine are 24 inch above the substrate, spread over 24 inch and without reflectors, but I have a great growing carpet plants.

    I also think the pH variation is big, assuming the measurements are correct. 6,8 / KH5 is not a lot of CO2.

    The UV could deplete your Fe levels, add enough for a week and check after a day or two if there's any left.

    less light will also slow down growth of GDA and other algae.
     
    #2 dutchy, Apr 12, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2011
  3. nero82

    nero82 Junior Poster

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    Thanks for the thoughts Dutchy,

    So you think I should do away with the burst period in the middle of the day and just run the 2x6500 for 10 hours? I initially had 2x6500 and 2x12000 on for 10 hours. This, naturally, was disastrous, leading to the most massive algal bloom. Since cutting it down to the 2x6500 for 10 hours, and removing one 12000 and replacing with an actinic (i thought an actinic would not increase plant or algal growth?), and just having that and the remaining 12000 on for a 3hr burst period, I have seen positive results. If you think I should, I will do away with the burst period altogether.

    The pH variation is between night and day. So in the morning it might be 6.6, and then by late afternoon it might be down to 6. I actually havent checked this for a while because I was making myself a bit crazy over something I didnt really have much control over, so I just worked on keeping the kH at 5 instead.

    I didn't know that UV could make a difference to the iron. I bought the seachem test kit for it, but no matter how much I add (even added extra straight chelated Fe) I can't get a reading on the kit. I heard that Fe test kits are pretty much pointless though? Would it be worth turning off the UV and see what happens? The iron in the trace mix, and my chelated iron mix, is EDTA.

    I was hoping my co2 would be high enough. The double drop checker method I am using would suggest at least 30ppm. Of course, this might be confounded by the misting.
    Thanks again,
    Nero
     
  4. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    I think 2x 6500 will do perfectly for you, colour rendering is a good average with blue and red, but of course a lot depends on personal taste.

    Turn off the UV and remeasure Fe.

    The CO2 level might be what you measure, but you have to ask yourself if it's enough with that amount of light. Less light might just make it right.
     
    #4 dutchy, Apr 12, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2011
  5. nero82

    nero82 Junior Poster

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    Will do! Thanks Dutchy.

    I'm not so keen on the color from my lights to be honest. Might try and get a slightly redder tube.
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Riccia is not growing............this is a very strong sign there is simply not enough CO2.

    It should be thick and pearling like mad.

    This will help all other issues you are having. Adjust the CO2 and do it slow and progressively, do not rush and turn the valve up too high too fast, you will gas the fish etc.

    Just turn it a tad more, maybe 1/20th of a turn.
    Watch for 2-3 days, then adjujst up a tad more and observe closely the plants, fish and algae, make sure there's ample current and surface movement while you do this, eg, a slight ripple to the surface.
     
  7. nero82

    nero82 Junior Poster

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    Will do Tom, thankyou.

    I've ditched the extra light and the UV. I'll let you know how it goes guys. Thankyou!
     
  8. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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    This post was an interesting read. Yep, straight away I could see that it was too much light, too little CO2, classic symptoms.

    I wonder with a tank as small as 200L whether you really need that additional power filter on the left hand side? Are you drawing water into your atomiser from one end of the tank and injecting the CO2 into the opposite end of the tank? This type of simple push-pull system might be all you need to generate a nice slow water movement through the tank? If the plants start to do noticeably better on one side of the tank than the other, it may just be a matter of tweaking the aim of the CO2 return (mist flow) into the tank to balance things out. I suspect that the powerhead might be pushing the water about too much causing the CO2 to degass a little too quickly.

    What do the other gurus think about turning off that internal power filter for the moment?

    Oh, and by the way, you might find it helpful to forget about the drop checker. Watch the fish and the plants. Use your eyes and as Tom suggested above take it slow. Drop checkers can be very misleading.... (take the drop checker out and forget about it).

    Scott.

    P.S. I get my ferts from SimpleGrow too (I am in Brizzy).
     
    #8 scottward, Apr 18, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2011
  9. jerrybforl

    jerrybforl Lifetime Members
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    Your riccia doesn't look like its happy. I have a huge mat flooting in my tank. It pearls like crazy and is very think. I would also reduce the lighting period. Maybe try and raise the lights off the tank a little as well. Also, whats the temp in your tank? I try to keep mine at around 78-79 F. It works for me. I RO my water so I can get my peramiters where ever I want them. KH and GH usually around 5 dH for me. Try to keep my pH around 6.8-7.0. You definitaly think you should increase your Co2!
     
  10. nero82

    nero82 Junior Poster

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    Interesting seeing other responses, I'll post an update with pics in a couple of days.
    Cheers,
    nero
     
  11. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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    This is a good question also. At the moment the temperature here is Brissy fluctuates a bit, which in turn must have an impact on my CO2 levels (I don't have a chiller nor do I need a heater yet). I can tell this simply due to the amount of CO2 gas building up in the top of my reactor; warm days there is more there, so the general CO2 level in the tank must have dropped a bit. I'm sure this instability will be having an impact on my plants (they are doing ok, but not as good as they do in winter when I can warm the tank to a *stable* temperature).

    Are your temps jumping about a bit? Or are you lucky enough to have a chiller or air conditioner keeping things stable?

    Scott.
     
  12. nero82

    nero82 Junior Poster

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    Thanks for the additional ideas everyone.

    Firstly, temp is 24C. doesnt really budge off there, the weather hasnt been hot enough here for a while to increase it.

    I'm not sure about the co2 issue. I agree there was too much light. I dont seem to be having algae issues now I have reduced the photoperiod. But I don't really want to increase the co2 any more with the size cylinder I have. I am refilling it every three and a half weeks, which is ridiculous. Is low co2 the only reason the riccia would not be pearling? I can't believe I have less than 30ppm. As for degassing, I am unsure of that as well. I added the extra powerhead because the filter I have, while it claims to be 1500L an hour, really seems to have low output. I could see muck collecting on the opposite side of the tank in obvious dead spots. So I added the extra to increase water movement a bit, which was also meant to help with the hair algae. The co2 is being misted in via the spraybar on the right hand side of the tank. Without the extra internal filter the plants don't really move at all, but with the extra one, I get a gentle movement, which I saw Tom say was a good thing to aim for.

    Anyway, here is the update part:

    Algae battle is going fantastic since starting the EI and lowering the light levels. I am not getting any hair algae growth on the plants now. Just a tiny bit on the filter outlet. I am seeing a moderate amount of GDA on the glass between water changes, and now I am also getting the hard green spot algae on the glass that needs to be razor bladed off. But the algae on the glass in general is not huuuuge amounts. The ottos seem to have worked wonders on the diatom algae, and are now even seen feeding a bit on the wafers I put in.

    Plant growth has been better. This is possibly because I am looking more at the plants and less at the test kits. I can't even tell you my levels at the moment.

    -During last weeks cleanout I reefed out most of the stricta coz i never liked it in the first place. The root system looked healthy, and there was a bit more growth than I had thought. I took a few cuttings and replanted them just to see what would happen, but got rid of most of it.
    -The amazon swords are still trying to take over the world.
    -Java fern is growing, no algae present
    -The ambullia needs cutting in half once a week. (excuse the male guppies going after this poor female, I'm getting rid of the extra males next week...I never wanted guppies in the first place but...well...long story...)
    [​IMG]
    -riccia is growing well, but no pearling. This pic was taken after I gave it a good haircut. Probably took about 50% off. Sorry about the focus here...
    [​IMG]
    -lilaeopsis is looking greener, less algae present, but still showing no good signs of growth.
    [​IMG]
    -Staurogyne is looking better, most stems are spreading now. However I read this plant is meant ot be fairly slow growing.
    [​IMG]
    -Chain sword is sending out runners finally.
    [​IMG]
    -glosso is very disappointing. not sure what is going on here.
    [​IMG]

    Here is a full tank pic. At the moment there is a heap of extra stem in there, because I am going to a swap meet next weekend, and I want to have some things to give away. Trying to decide which plants I want to use in the final scape. I am quite liking the leaf shapes of the swords/staurogyne/chain sword.
    [​IMG]
     
  13. nero82

    nero82 Junior Poster

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    If anyone has any ideas as to why the Lilaeopsis or Glosso are not growing I would love some advice. They don't seem to be dying or anything, just not growing. Everything else is showing decent growth now.
     
  14. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    Pearling is not a guarantee for enough CO2, it's more about the amount of light. You can have very good growth with almost no pearling. Don't rely to much on that. It looks postive so far.

    Maybe you have very high GH or KH values, too high for Glosso? High KH might also explain very high CO2 consumption although misting is also a reason.

    Don't forget plants need time to adapt too changes, up to two weeks.

    If you keep getting GSA, bump up the PO4 a bit until more than 2 ppm.
     
  15. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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    If I understand correctly, you will only see pearling once dissolved oxygen levels are at 100%? If DO isn't at 100%, any oxygen released by the plants will be dissolved into the water such that it won't manifest as a bubble. So as dutchy says, plant growth can be very good with no obvious pearling.

    Could this simply be a matter of increasing the surface agitation slightly more so as to boost DO levels? Yes this would have an impact on CO2 level of course.

    Misting definitely uses up more CO2 than using a reactor. If you want to save on CO2, don't use misting, use a reactor instead.

    Yup. I agree.

    Scott.
     
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