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Unhappy Tank (EI + F.Excel + Root Tabs)

Discussion in 'Estimative Index' started by zero996d, Mar 3, 2015.

  1. zero996d

    zero996d Junior Poster

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    Hi Guys,


    I have been reading through the posts here and on theplantedtank and am looking for some advice, particularly regarding various algae.


    My setup:


    -200l aquarium


    -Sand substrate


    -Root tabs


    -Estimative index (see below)


    -Flourish Excel (5-6ml daily, as recommended by seachem)


    -Fluval aqualife LED 35W (8 hours)


    -FX6 filter (plants waft gently in the current)


    This tank is approximately 2 years old now.


    The good news is, I can grow something. The bad news is, it's hair algae.





    From what I understand, in any planted tank there is a balance between nutrients, light and CO2. If this balance is right, the plants are happy and they can quite readily grow rather than algae.


    Estimative index is designed to eliminate nutrients being a problem in this equation, which leaves CO2/light and apparently account for ~95% of all algae problems of EI users. In order to CO2, i have been dosing flourish excel. Assuming my 6ml daily of flourish excel is reasonable, this should hopefully eliminate CO2.


    That leaves light.


    My aqualife LED light provides 2980 lumens, which equates to about 15 lumens/litre. Although this says nothing about the effectiveness of the light produced, according to tropica this would correspond to the lowest end of what they would consider a low light tank. I realise the placement of the light matters, and in my case the light sits directly on the aquarium glass, so i have added several sheets of paper to reduce the intensity of the light. The light is on for 8 hours a day.


    Since doing all this, my algae situation is better but not great. I have attached a picture of my tank after a rather heavy trim of all the plants to remove as many of the unhappy leaves as possible.





    Quite clearly, you can see that one of my plants is full of holes and my first thought was nutrient deficiency (hence moving over to EI), but now i am beginning to suspect my clown loaches. The other thing to notice from the pictures are the ludwegia, which seem to lose their lower leaves quite quickly, the other types of algae and the fact that some of my plants just seem to disintegrate.


    I have been hoping to avoid using pressurised CO2 as i am not convinced it will solve my problem. Increasing light duration & intensity seem to make the problem worse, so that would suggest too much light still, but the tank doesnt appear that bright at the moment and i am hoping not to have to reduce my photo period to 6 hours and add even more paper! Most of my plants just arent happy. I'd understand if i was running 3 T5 tubes (~23 lumens/litre), but im not! I've tried growing 'medium' light plants but they just die.


    EI details:


    -KNO3 @ 2.2g (sunday, tuesday, thursday) ~ 20.25ppm


    -KH2PO4 @ 0.37g (sunday, tuesday, thursday) ~ 3.87ppm


    -TNC Trace @ 0.79g (as per their online calculator), monday & wednesday


    (I live in a very hard water area, ph 8)


    I'll try almost anything, so long as it doesn't harm my fish!


    Thanks!


    Andy
     
  2. Thumper828

    Thumper828 Junior Poster

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    What kind of filtration are you using? You might need to increase water circulation. I think you are really under dosing the excel.....
     
  3. zero996d

    zero996d Junior Poster

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    I have an FX6 which turns over approximately 10 times the volume of the tank every hour. My plants waft gently, so I'm hoping my water circulation is OK. I do have a spare power head I could test with, so might do that.





    The flourish excel bottle says 5ml for every 40 on every big water change, so following my 50% water change i add 5x5ml. It then says dose 5ml for every 200l daily or every other day, so i dose 6ml daily. I am reluctant to overdose due to the effect on the fish.
     
  4. jeff123

    jeff123 Junior Poster

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    I won't bore you with the detail fertilizer since I am still a newbie too. But the lighting is bright so I think that is quite adequate. Do a 4 on 1 off then 4 on. This is the Walstad lighting which can starve the algae.
     
  5. burr740

    burr740 Micros Spiller
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    Full EI is too much for an Excel only tank. 1/3 once or twice a week would be a better range.
     
  6. zero996d

    zero996d Junior Poster

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    Thanks Jeff, I will definitely try this. I've heard that there is no definitive proof that a 'siesta period' helps, but I cant see any harm in trying it.


     
  7. zero996d

    zero996d Junior Poster

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    Hi Burr,


    I read the EI page that says low tech no CO2 usually results in a max uptake 10x less than in a pressurised high light setup, and then introducing excel can increase this by about 3x.


    Initially i did try a reduced EI, but when i saw that an excess of nutrients doesnt cause problems and the advice Tom gave saying start with the full dose and gradually reduce (waiting 3 weeks every time), i thought this would be safer than trying to estimate the reduction in dose appropriate for my setup and accidentally causing a deficiency.


    I will have a look for some more advice regarding excel only tanks. Do you know of any particularly useful threads/posts? There are so many!


    Thanks!
     
  8. burr740

    burr740 Micros Spiller
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    Think of Excel as being almost a middle ground between real CO2 and none at all. Im a firm believer that excess nutrients doesnt cause problems...up to a point. Can you test for nitrates or phosphates? That would give you an idea if there's currently a big excess.


    I would,


    - Cut EI down to something like 1/3 twice a week or or 1/4 three times


    - Double the Excel. I've used 3x the daily amount before, with no ill effects (fish only, no shrimp). Forget the big dose after a water change, just do the same amount every day.


    - Do at least a 50% water change twice a week. Algae doesnt like water changes.


    - At least for a while, reduce the photo period by a couple of hours. Or if possible, raise the fixture a few inches. You could try a split photo period as Jeff suggested, 4/2/4 etc.


    - Continue to manually remove all the algae you can, and keep the filters, equipment, substrate, etc, very clean.


    - Be patient.
     
    #8 burr740, Mar 4, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 4, 2015
  9. zero996d

    zero996d Junior Poster

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    I can indeed test for nitrates; without EI, i was reading <5ppm and tried to adjust the EI such that the maximum nitrate concentration over time assuming no uptake would be 40ppm.


    I will give the tank a while to settle and observe the effects.


    I will try a 4/2/4 or a 4/4/4 photoperiod, too, and post the results in case anyone else every runs into a similar problem.


    I have been hoping to grow a wider variety of plants, but my 'medium' light plants die so I guess the general consensus here is that CO2 is the limiting factor, preventing me from increasing the light.


    Thanks!
     
  10. jerrybforl

    jerrybforl Lifetime Members
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    No CO2=less ferts! How tall is the tank? You may have too much light as well!
     
  11. zero996d

    zero996d Junior Poster

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    Hi Jerry,


    It's abooout 16" deep.


    I have reduced the EI back to 1/3rd of the full amount as per the suggestion of Burr740; the reason I started on the high side was due to a post of Toms:


    "So the aquarist dose only 3 things really, KNO3, KH2PO4 on the day of the water change then every other day there after, traces of the off day till the next week rolls around. Do a 50-70% water change, dose the macro nutrients back, add the traces the following day and repeat. You can slowly back off this amount till you notice plant growth differences to tailor your individual tank’s need, but all you will do is waste some macros and traces by adding more than the plant needs. You should give each change in your routine about 3 weeks before making another change. This will take time but is worth the time spent. It will not cause algae unless you over look something, namely CO2 or under dosing KNO3 which both of these account for about 95% of all algae issues."


    With regards to the light, I now have it on 6 hours a day in a 4/4/2 split; I thought i'd keep the longest chunk of photoperiod to around the time the excel is dosed, due to its short half life. I also have some paper directly under the light, which visibly reduces the intensity of the light. So i guess thats less than 15 lumens/litre now, though i appreciate lumens/litre is a poor measure of light intensity.


    I have also attached a table showing the concentrations of some of the EI parameters in my tap water, as specified in a report by the water company. It looks like potassium and phosphate should be my two main concerns, if my maths is correct. (Assuming 50% water change, dosing to 1/3rd of total EI targets, i'd need to dose 6ppm of potassium and 0.62ppm of phosphate weekly, though for now i will continue dosing everything to 1/3rd of EI assuming nothing is being contributed by my tap water).


    I will keep an eye on the tank for another 2 weeks and see if things look to be improving. I was thinking about adding some big floating plant to reduce the light on a more permanent basis in place of the paper - if anyone has any thoughts or comments regarding this or anything else, I'm all ears!


    Thanks for all your suggestions


    Andy
     
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