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The Perfect Tank - Complete Failure With No Plausible Reason

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by aquamann, Nov 28, 2018.

  1. aquamann

    aquamann Junior Poster

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    Okay, let me start by saying I've had a few CO2 planted tanks in the past that have been a great success. I'm very familiar with EI, GH, KH, pH etc...

    I went on a mission to set up the perfect planted tank and it has been a disaster:

    • 40g
    • GLA Dual stage CO2
    • Milwaukee pH controller - pH drops about 1.2-4 easily 30ppm+
    • Good flow everywhere/surface aeration
    • Eheim Cannister filter
    • ADA Aquasky light
    • Automatic water changes with RODI water using Spectrapure AWC pumps. Removes and adds about 20% water per day
    • Reconstitute water daily to 150 +/- TDS with GH booster/Kh+ (1)
    • EI
    • ADA soil, seiryu stone, ADA driftwood
    On initial setup I lost most of the plants - not a big deal, typical cycling and I didn't plant heavily enough. Tank is now 3 months old and I've replanted much heavier. Water stays a very slight murky color (after having many tanks it is not crystal clear like usual) despite making sure I have no detritus and adding nitrifying bacteria.

    The issue: Plants grow, livestock all die. All my amano shrimp die, RCS die, tetras all die within a week and water stays a very slight murky. I even turned off the Co2 when adding livestock and the next day they're dead.

    There are no contaminants in the tank, literally everything is from ADA with no additions/substitutes.

    Only thing I can think of is the RODI water being an issue even though I definitely properly remineralize it. I am completely sick of doing 50% water change 1/2x per week as I end up disturbing the soil and where the tank is located there is no sink nearby for python. Is this salvageable?
     
  2. casey

    casey New Member

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    What does your tap water look like, most freshwater fish will be fine in tap. Your ro water could be too acidic and with the co2 makes things really bad. Ada also leaches our ammonia for the first little bit, and can pull a lot of stuff out of the water lowering you ph. So if you like using the ro I would add some crushed coral, that will help buffer your kh and help stabilize you ph. If you have very hard water do half tap half ro. Also 20% every day try that once a week, you are taking too much water out. You need to let that water age a bit, need time to let bacteria build up in the aquarium, you almost want a algae to grow a little bit, there is never a tank that is 100% algae free. If you have a little it’s not a bad thing it can look bad but it is still a plant doing the good things plants do.
     
  3. casey

    casey New Member

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    looking at your post again, don’t add any new fish let it sit for a week or two, feed the tank a little bit of fish food and add the bacteria. Use a test kit and add fish when you have nitrates and get fish that like the ph your water is at. Then I would only change water when you need to, like I said Before you are changing too much water, and spending way too much money on your ro by making a lot of water you don’t need.
     
  4. aquamann

    aquamann Junior Poster

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    Hi casey,

    Thanks for your input. The water change drains/fills at the same time slowly 24/7. This means that about 20% water removed per day actually equates to about 50% a week since it is also removing freshly put in water at an equal rate. My RODI water has a pH > 7. Tap has a pH if 7.8. Tank pH sits around 6 with CO2 on and 7.2ish before lights on after aerating at night.
     
  5. casey

    casey New Member

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    I don’t know then, I have gased a tank myself more the once, at lower ph the co2 can make it crash much more easily so that could be part of it, you can lower the co2 or run an air stone.
     
  6. rajkm

    rajkm Article Editor
    Staff Member Lifetime Member Article Editor

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    I would start one thing at a time.
    First recalibrate my ph probe. Make sure the readings are right.
    Next would be a manual large WC. 70-80%.
    What’s in your filter? And what’s in your tank? A tank pic will help.
    Cloudy water usually is one of 2, bacteria bloom or green water.
    Have you tested your ammonia, nitrite and nitrate?
     
  7. Mike Workman

    Mike Workman Subscriber

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    Well I have a few thoughts but they might draw some ire....1) Why are you changing so much water? Changing water as you know removes impurities or contaminates. Assuming the tank hasn't been contaminated inadvertently by something on one of the components you used to set it up, what's the water change supposed to be doing? I am asking because it is a daily change, and changing things right now doesn't help stabilize the tank. 20% per day is a lot, it is a hell of a lot more than equivalent to 50% per week. If you were trying to "rinse out" something you suspect might be in there, go ahead and do an 80% change or two as rajkm suggests. But unless you have prodigious daily input of stuff which you shouldn't (waste, ferts, etc.) 20% per day is roughly equivalent to 87% per week.

    I know that everyone thinks water changes are the best thing on the planet, and they can be. But if you are stabilizing an environment, let is rest awhile, stop changing it. (Again I am assuming you aren't trying to rinse out something bad). Once your tank is "alive", doing a 20-50% water change is a perturbation that the bacteria, plants and animals can ride through. Doing it every day seems excessive to me.

    And before everyone jumps on me, I do have computers that run my tanks, and I wrote the code that does the water changes. I started with exactly this - well close anyway - 15% per day because well, I could, all I had to do was let the machinery do it, no hoses, buckets siphons etc.. It worked but the tanks didn't "thrive"; they were just OK. So I changed it, modified my code, to change 35% once per week. Wow! The tanks did much better. Exploded actually.

    My tanks are all CO2 (closed loop), LED. The water is just tap (GH/KH 8/8...pretty hard) but with a very high quality Chloramine and particulate filter (10 micron, I don't think the particulate filter does anything beneficial except contain the bit of the filter that removes Chloramine).

    Generally I agree with what others have said:
    1. Calibrate the pH meter/controller carefully.
    2. Set the pH up at 6.7: 6.0 is too low IMO. If your probe is reading high by say 0.2, your pH is 5.8, and I will just say that in my opinion this is far too low.

    IMO the problem is your pH. Could easily be wrong. And if the pH is that low, or lower than that due to even a small measurement error, your CO2 is most likely in the Red zone.

    I'm not meaning to be critical just honestly trying to help. Good luck!
     
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