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tank problems

Discussion in 'Advanced Strategies and Fertilization' started by yme, Oct 26, 2006.

  1. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    hi Tom and others,

    I am still figuring out how to get a beautiful planted tank and I want to share the things I have done and if possible get some advice.

    So, a couple of months ago I had some BGA again and again. I was able to get rid of it by a combination of kanamycin and lowering a bit in PO4 (I know, it is not according to tom's philosophy.... but it worked)

    Now I wanted to optimalize the CO2 concentration, so I made two outlets on the CO2 valve and connected that to two powerheads of 200 l/h. It gave a nice mist all over the the tank, but the result was a disaster: plants stopped growing and a lot of BBA appeared.

    here some pics:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I think you can imagine that I didn't like this. So I changed the setup again. I setup again the good old external CO2 reactor and made two outlets to insert the CO2 at both ends of the tank. Further I installed a 600 l/h powerhead and connected the second CO2 outlet to the powerhead in order to get a nice mist. I see indeed again the tank covered in small bubbles...
    Moreover, some plants are starting to grow again: the rotala, blyxa and mayaca are now doing fine. (see next post because I am limited to 4 pics).

    So that's oke now. I see however that the stargrass can not branch or grow happily further. The leaves stay white and there is no growth. I do see new growth, but this arises from new sprouts that were originally below the gravel. So it will definately take some time to renew the bunch. But as you can see, the new growth is looking fine:
    but why can the old stems not grow anymore???

    [​IMG]

    So, overall the situation is better since I changed the CO2. But in general, it can be better. For instance, I still have quite some algae and (importantly) the downoi hasn't grown and that is not the most difficult plant. But why have I dificulties with this plant? Since I have it, it has not grown, just stayed the same size and is now slowely dying...
    My thought was a Mg deficiency because the nerves are still green whereas the other parts are white.

    Is it possible to give me some advice???

    to do so I provide the most important information below (as well as a pic of the complete tank in the next reply)


    tank: 160 liters
    light: 3x 30 watt T8, for 10 hours
    pH: 5.8
    KH: 3 (accoring to water company and the testkit)
    GH: 6-8
    Ca: the water that I use for waterchanging contains 17 mg/l, on top of that I add 7 mg/l Ca per week to the tank, so the final concentration will be 17+14=31
    Mg: the water that I use for waterchanging contains 3 mg/l. I do not add extra Mg. IS 3 MG/L TOO LOW????
    PO4: 0.8 mg/l, I add 0.3 mg/l/day
    NO3: not known due to iron interference with the testkit, but I add 3 mg/l/day
    B: I add 0.05 mg/l boron per week for just in case....
    flourish: 3-4 ml/day
    flourish iron: 3-4 ml/day

    I hope you can give some advice!

    greetz,

    yme
     
  2. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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  3. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    The first post sounds like you were sucking air into the CO2 lines and injecting microbubbles of air instead of CO2. Just a thought.
     
  4. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    hmmm, I don't think so.
    I had connected two bubble counters as well. And the CO2 bubble rate was higher than I could count. All that CO2 has to go somewhere...

    greets,

    yme
     
  5. cousinkenni

    cousinkenni Prolific Poster

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    I don't know if this will help, but I hope it will. Even though your dosing regimen looks good, I think it to be the culprit. I have found that Downoi is pretty non-picky about things like CO2,GH, and KH (others may argue this). The only thing that I have found thus far to really affect it is nutrient load. It seems that for this plant the more the merrier. The only time I have seen this plant "melt " (which it can do quite quickly, even overnight) is when I neglect to add nutrients. Even when my rotalas have stunted from what appears to be at this time low CO2, the Downoi has been happy as long as I was dosing according to EI.

    You may want to consider adding more nutrients. The extra nutrients shouldn't hurt your tank at all and may even help this specific problem.

    Ken Takeuchi
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Some plants do not compete as well for some nutrients and expression deficiceies rapidly.,

    Stargrass comes to mind.

    Generally good light as well, the tank is shaded in some regions is looks like.

    So Ken's suggestion is good, the CO2 looks to be a major improvement as well.

    Time, some more nutrients now the CO2 is going full steam is a wise idea.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  7. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    More Light ?

    Wouldn't hurt any (within reason). On the observed formation of new growth are the leaves balanced proportionately or wrinkled, and crooked ? Are you using EI dosing parameters ?

    As far as Phosphates and Algae go, I personally feel like that's alot of Marketing Hogwash. I can grow splendid algae with Phosphate readings that are barely detectable, yet new plant growth is severley stunted, and dog legged. I'll happily supply a phosphate reactor to anyone who'd like to conduct their own phosphates V. Algae experiments if they agree to supply full documenation and Photo's to the Barr Report in return. Better yet put the phosphate reactor on one tank, and supply 30 ppm Co2 to another W/ equal nutrients and lighting and let us know what you find out. ;) Do a good job of it and I'll even throw in an Eheim pump !!! I DID ! Just wished I'd taken pics dadgummit... :( Regards, Prof M RPS...Reformed Phosphate Stooge
     
  8. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I think I understand what happened: You increased the CO2 dosing, the plants began to look bad. So, the increased CO2 dosing caused the plants to start growing faster, which used up one or more of the nutrients, leaving the tank short of that nutrient. That may be like when people increase phosphate dosing, cause the plants to grow faster, which uses up the nitrates, leaving the tank nitrate starved.
     
  9. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    Seems Logical...

    That makes quite a bit of sense really.

    OTR. you don't happen to recall if Star Grass is one of those plants that is sensitive to either Iron or Excel do you ? I was curious about the dark edges of the star grass leaves. Possibly iron deposits ? The nappy edges remind me of phosphate starvation.

     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Yes, this is called secondary deficiency. It's a cascade effect.
    It goes like this:

    light=> CO2=> N=> K=> P=> Ca=>Mg=> S=> and so on

    Our tanks are seldom at max light levels, so we first should focus on non limiting CO2 levels before we look at anything else.

    Nutrient studies of any sort are a waste of time if the CO2 is not addressed in a non limiting manner.

    I suppose one could say at a semi limiting CO2 levels, but then it's a two part system, it's PO4 and CO2 limited, this can work, although it's a PITA but many used such a method prior to myself saying otherwise.........

    Plants did not do well, a few did. Those with higher CO2 and folks with solil substrates(they had enough P but not in the water column where they feared it most) etc.

    Most of the nicer tanks had folks that eye balled CO2 more than tested.
    Few really understood why it worked etc and just thought this line:

    "There's much we do not yet know about planted tanks......."

    There is and that is true, but the way folks use it to suggest alternatives ands then not go about looking into it has drawn my full ire and wrath.

    You have such questions and do nothing to answer them?
    Then argue with me when I do? :D

    Stop that and do the test yourself.
    Prove it to yourself, you have nothing to prove to me.
    I'm already convinced:p

    What often happens is poor test methods, some things got overlooked when you set things up. I've done this many times myself, but I went back and made sure rather than being so confident.
    I made sure the test kits were correct, many, well, most don't do this step.
    Some assume their CO2 is good
    Some believe in myths from the web or hobbyists books and use such assumptions to do their test.
    Some folks are simply sloppy with their mainteance and routines and may run the test fine for a few days and then slack off.

    I do most of the test for 30 days or less, I know after this time I'm going to mess something up. Then I'll have to start over again.:mad:
    Now having mess up many times, you get to know what to look for and know what someone else is/is not doing when you see their tank.
    But........you must start over again and run the test several times.
    Not just once.

    You need to do this to make sure you did it right and there's consistency.

    This is a fair amount of work. But that is the way to really answer things....and why I tend to be matter of fact about things, you can tell when someone has not done this and where they went wrong.

    Be as critical about your own conclusions and methods as I was, then you will know and see it as well.




    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    well we have a discussion! very nice :D

    To start with the CO2 issue (that is I think solved now):
    before the installation of the two 200 l/h powerheads, I had one 600 l/h and one 900 l/h powerhead connected to the CO2 outlets. The plants grew reasonably well than. Only after the change to the 200 l/h powerheads the real problems began. So I think really that I was low on CO2 with the 200 l/h powerheads. And that I am now able to keep the levels more up.

    In respect to NO3/PO4:
    I dose NO3 according to the EI. adviced is 16-33 mg/l/week. I dose 21 mg/l/week.
    PO4 is recommended at 4.2-8.4 mg/l/week. I dose 2.1 mg/l/week. So that is much lower. However, I measure the PO4 level by photospectrometer which I calibrated and think gives accurate results. If I add more PO4 per day I see the level slowly rising during the week, if I lower the PO4 dose I see a decrease in PO4 levels during the week. So I *think* I am not far of in dosing PO4....

    the new plant growth:
    blyxa and mayaca appear to be happy.
    The few stems of new growth in the stargrass are normal as well (as you can see in the pic)
    The rotala is doing reasonably, but the tops could be bigger and fuller.
    the downoi has almost no new growth but the new leaves that are formed are very small and white and tend to die away in time
    The proserpinaca species cuba has a bit too small new growth and the new leaves are a bit crinkled and twisted.
    The potamogeton gayi has very whitish new growth and I think it has stopped growing as well. Basically the same situation as the stargrass.
    hygrophila balsamica: new leaves are a bit small and tend to collect a lot of algae .


    For the trace elements: I dose automatically. So I have a brownglass flask with 150 ml flourish and a brown glass flask with 150 ml flourish iron. So the trace elements are for quite some time at room temperature. Seachem said it wasn't a problem....
    This morning I added 10 ml flourish and 10 ml flourish iron, let's see what happens! (will dose 10 ml every other day)

    I hope this helps!

    greetz and thanks,

    Yme
     
  12. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    So we have covered NO3/PO4, I think those are reasonable.
    CO2, can assume for now it's okay.
    Lighting we will assume to be fine.

    GH and traces appear to what's left.
    I would certainly try TMG for foir the traces for 3-4 weeks and see what you think.
    MgSO4 may help as well.

    The white color may be low on Mg.

    That can be ruled out by adding it 1-2x a week.
    Trace issues can be resolved by trying the TMG which is pretty good for the tap water there.

    A good vacuuming o fht e various regions of the substrate: eg, vacuum all the way down each water change,. say 1/4 to 1/3 of the tank per week till you have vacuumed the entire substrate at least once.

    This alone can solve many issues for folks and maintain the water clarity.

    Much like using a large water change to re set the nutrients, vacuuming deeply once a year re sets the substrate and allows more inorganic nutrients to get down there, greatly increases O2 to the substrate, thus faster cycling of fish/plant waste.

    So try TMG, MgSO4(TMG has some Mg in it), and vac the substrate over the next 3-4 weeks.

    Try angling the CO2 to hit the downoi.
    That plant is worth more than Mayaca and other cheap stem plants, so coddle it.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  13. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    thanks tom!

    The graveling I already do. I like it!
    As for the Mg, I have it at home so I will add p.e. 5 mg/l, that's no problem.

    And very surprisingly, I just saw that tropica is being sold by an internet firm from which I got the downoi. They sell it just from sempember 9th! So I gues I am very lucky... I'll try it.

    greetz,

    yme

    ps: TMG is now sold as plant nutrition liquid, right?
     
  14. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    Substrate ?

    What substrate are you using ? Flourite ? You may be able to back off the Flourish Iron...in the absence of any iron readings this is a very broad presumption. I've only encountered this once before, but that system contained Flourite, and I was utilizing Flourish, and Flourish Iron. Once I ceased dosing the flourish iron, and performed a few water changes new growth perked up almost immediately, and all of the rotting ceased. Just a WAG... Prof M

    FTR: I readministered the Flourish Iron over a 3 week period, and history repeated itself. I've since ceased using it in that tank, and have suffered no problems since.
     
  15. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    I use just plain gravel with a bit of red clay. So, not much ferts in there...

    greetz,

    yme
     
  16. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    Red Clay ?

    And yet I wonder still...What makes the clay red ??? ;) Grtz, Prof M

     
  17. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    well, if things are as they are... iron of course :D

    so you suggest stopping with flourish iron?
    well, together with the other suggestion, I will be busy for quite some weeks!

    greetz,

    yme
     
  18. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    It would be nice if you could get some ADA AS or Flourite.

    I think so of the minor issues may go away and better overall growth, but this is more likely just some consistent dosing and time from here on.

    Just keep up on things and be pateint, add the TMG when you can.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  19. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    well, almost a week later... let's have an update:
    Last week I discvered that the bottle of flourish was covered in fungi. So I changed the flourish bottle (3 ml/day), used a little less flourish iron (2 ml/day) and gave a bit more Mg (4 mg/l after waterchange). (I measured the GH witrh a new testset: 10 degrees, I think we can rule out Mg or Ca deficiency...)



    And watched.....
    Basically some sort of green hair/fur algae starts rapidly to grow. It is now on every leave blocking the light to the chloroplasts of the plants :( . It is very easy to rub it of, collects a lot of dirt and in some places I think I see BGA on the leaves again. The glass was covered within 3 days with a nice green fur. But anyway it is a clear change :D

    Concerning the plants: the plants that didn't grow still do not grow. Not a single leave appeared. So these plants leak a lot of nutrients into the watercolumn, possibly giving rise to the algae.
    The newgrowth of the stargrass is still coming from the one stem, but it is growing and looks nice (although even the very new leaves are now covered in algae). The proserpinaca is growining nice, new leaves are bigger, but like the stargrass covered with this fur-like algae.
    The rotala species vietnam has stopped to grow. It has now the "small leaves syndrome". due to less iron or more Mg?

    Basically I think I have to remove the old, not growing plants and replace some nice fast growing stemplants for the moment. Just to get things going again.

    Am I on the right track?

    greets,

    yme
     
  20. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    dear all,

    Just another update. I think that one of the main problems was the flourish. With all the fungus growing in it I can imagine that a lot of the nutrients were consumed and that I was in fact underdosing. Well, whatever the cause was I changed the following things: use of new flourish 3 ml/day, started adding excel (just to be sure that the C-supply isn't a big problem, despite my optimisation of the setup).
    the other parameters were unchanged.

    I see that the growthand assimilation is starting to return. Although the old really damaged plants do not, new sprouts are formed on several plants and look nice and green. Together: good news!

    However, I have now some green fur-like algae that is taking the opportunity to grow on the old leaves, a bit on the new leaves, and on the glass. I hope and think this is temporarily, but what would be the suggestion to keep this algae under control in this period of plant-recovering? Should I just wait until the plants are healthy again or is there something that I can do temporarily? Possibly less light? Metabolism is slower, algae and plants are growing slower and the plants get the change to recover from the malnutrition?
    Anyway, it is growing fast and is inhibiting the the light to reach the chloroplasts of the plants :mad: . I don't like it!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    thanks!

    yme

    ps: sorry for the quality of the last two pics, something went wrong.. (but I hope you can see the algae anyway)
     
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