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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am at my wits end with my fish tank...
I've been trying to get plants to grow in my tank for the last 3 months, and have failed miserably! I can't seem to get anything growing, and every time I start, the plants get coated in algae within weeks.... So here is the tank description:

My 70 g tank is relatively new. I had some problems with it so its been on and off a bit, but its been running now for 6 weeks straight w/o any interruptions. I used Seachem stability to cycle my tank initially and water from my other tank. By the way of note is that the tank is 22" deep, so its pretty deep compared to other tanks.

Filter is a Fluval 305, cartridges include foam, carbon, bio max, and ammonia remover.

I have a CO2 system (complete with a 20lb tank, solenoid, timer, bubble counter, diffuser etc).

My fish include:
12 rummy nose tetras
6 ghost cat fish
3 Siamese algae eaters
20 or so red cherry shrimp

The plants include (in abbreviated form, let me know if you want the long form):
Hemi Cal
Rotala Nan
Rotala Wall
Hygro Cory
Juntus Repens
All from Aquaflora nurseries (Direct from Tim, so they are excellent quality...err were when I got them, now they are sad)

Lighting:
2 x 39 W Life-Glo T5
1 x 96 W Coralife (I have a sneaking suspicion that the light is for salt water though. It has a blue tube and a white tube? Anyone know how to confirm?)
= 174 W / 70 g = 2.5 w/g
12 hour light period

Fertilization Method:
EI Method
KH2PO4
CSM +B Micro
KNO3
Flourish Excel

Current water parameters:
Ammonia 0ppm
Nitrite 0 ppm
Nitrate 5 ppm
GH 80 ppm
kH 60 ppm (I think that is 3.36 dKH)
PH: 6.5 ish (changes depending on the time of day. I have a digital one, calibrated recently)

The story:
ROUND 1
So we got my first batch of plants from Aquaflora nurseries (two carpeting plants). Initial tank setup:
trying the dry method
2 x 39 W lights (came with the tank)
was working ok, but some plants were going brown a bit
Had to go on vacation so filled the tank up to 2" so that all the plants were covered.
Came back and filled up the tank the entire way cause we figured things were going well. Tank had a leak in it..... all plants came out. Tossed the plants.

ROUND 2
Tank setup:
6 ghost cat fish
2 x 39 W lights
complete co2 system
EI Method
Tank leaked again, so I had to take the plants out and put them in a clear propagation box (the ones you start seeds for your garden in, mini green house thing ). All went back in 1 week later. I had an algae bloom a few weeks in, and so did 30 % water changes every 1 to 2 days for a week. It cleared up in no time. Most of the plants dying though (the carpeting plants disintegrated and tiny leaves all over the tank!)

ROUND 3
this is the current setup that is described at the top. Realized that I didn't have enough light (1 W/gallon), so added the second 96 W one (now its 2.5 W/g). Algae is still coating the plants a bit though.... Some (10 - 20% of surface) algae on the glass. Got SAE and Cherry red shrimp to deal with this... Have not seen any pearling on the plants. Plant's doing seem to be appreciating it...
Using the EI method, technically, but we've been a bit stingy on this these days because of the algae issue. So we've been cutting back on it a bit.

Issues that I can thing of:
CO2 level: Current Co2 level in water is unknown. Trying to make a drop checker, but I didn't realize that making 4dKH solution was going to require a scientific scale (will do this when I go to the office). Diffusion method is similar to: YouTube - DIY co2 diffuser (sorry this is the best I can find). CO2 is pumped into a container, and a pump pumps water down which causes mixing, and prevents large co2 bubbles from escaping.
Light Level: Although i have 2.5 WPG, which is considered medium, maybe the fact that the tank is 22" deep is the problem?

Let me know if you have any wisdom to share with me!
 

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plants dont necessarily pearl when doing well. mine thrive and i only see minor pearling if i have all flow off in the tank. to pearl with a decent current though you'll be trimming ever few days

as for your coralife bulb, if you suspect it to be an actnic, try buying a much cheaper GE 6500 bulb as a replacement, you'll get great colour rendering and the plants respond well to it. You do afterall have a deep tank, so getting a more plant friendly bulb will help the par increase at the bottom of the tank. if the tank is lightly planted, try reducing your EI regime, EI recommendations are often made for 3-4 Wpg heavily planted.
 

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I would say for a new tank, you are introducing too many fertz initially, too long a photoperiod and you don't have quick enough growing stem plants to compensate for nutrient uptake. so this is what I suggest:

  • Cut down your photoperiod to 7 - 8 hours.
  • Reduce EI dosing to once a week and 1/2 the dose
  • Get some quicker growing stem plant/floating plants to help with nutrient export (ie. Hygrophila polysperma, Pogostemon Stellatus, Water Lettuce, Salvinia, Ludwigia repens 'rubin', etc.).
  • Get your drop checker in order (or bring it to my place and I'll give you a starter of 4 DKH)
  • Swap out your 96W 50/50 bulb for a GE 9325 (if they make it in 96W) or a 6400 - 6700K plant specific bulb.

BTW, what are you using for substrate?

I would be willing to give you a fast growing starter pack for free to help out (PM me if interested).

JMHO.

Best Regards,

Stuart
 

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How are your fish doing? if you've got a CO2 pressurized system and your also dosing with excel you could be putting too much carbon dioxide into the system. Not sure if that could harm your plants directly but it would lower your PH to a point that they might not like.
 

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How are your fish doing? if you've got a CO2 pressurized system and your also dosing with excel you could be putting too much carbon dioxide into the system. Not sure if that could harm your plants directly but it would lower your PH to a point that they might not like.
Dosing both carbon sources concurrently is fine. I do it ALL the time :)!

Respectfully,

Stuart
 

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Discussion Starter #6
How are your fish doing? if you've got a CO2 pressurized system and your also dosing with excel you could be putting too much carbon dioxide into the system. Not sure if that could harm your plants directly but it would lower your PH to a point that they might not like.
Fish are great. Even the ghost cat fish that are temperamental are great.
pH is not an issue so much. I have a pH controller, so if it drops too much it'll turnoff the Co2, and I've been adding buffers to compensate for the swings (pH goes from 6.6 to 6.3 or something right now).
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I would say for a new tank, you are introducing too many fertz initially, too long a photoperiod and you don't have quick enough growing stem plants to compensate for nutrient uptake. so this is what I suggest:

  • Cut down your photoperiod to 7 - 8 hours.
  • Reduce EI dosing to once a week and 1/2 the dose
  • Get some quicker growing stem plant/floating plants to help with nutrient export (ie. Hygrophila polysperma, Pogostemon Stellatus, Water Lettuce, Salvinia, Ludwigia repens 'rubin', etc.).
  • Get your drop checker in order (or bring it to my place and I'll give you a starter of 4 DKH)
  • Swap out your 96W 50/50 bulb for a GE 9325 (if they make it in 96W) or a 6400 - 6700K plant specific bulb.

BTW, what are you using for substrate?

I would be willing to give you a fast growing starter pack for free to help out (PM me if interested).
Substrate.... good question :confused:. Something GREAT...JK... I can't give you the specifics right now, but it's not a 'special' substrate that has a lot of nutrients in it. Its about 1/4" substrate (not gravel, not sand)

Maybe you are right.. I'm doing too much at once... but is there a risk of losing plants, or having the algae get out of control because of reducing the photoperiod and fertilizer?

Thanks for the offer on the plants. I'll try to get this batch working. If it doesn't work I'll msg you.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Ah huh! Pictures are worth a thousand words!

So as you can see, the tank is lightly planted for now, but eventually it should be very heavily planted. The entire back side is packed with plants. The front I just want to have ground cover.
 

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Algae is usually caused by organic matter. usually related to fish population being more than the plant density and or an unestablished micro organism (filter bed).

I can run an extremely high ppm level of inorganic NPK without any algae, as long as there is no rotting plants and or fish waste. Once I have any fish waste or rotting plant matter, algae starts to take over.

Do you know what kind of algae you have? What are you feeding your fish?

What are you adding to get your GH up to 80 ppm?

Is that Turface MVP? Is the substrate very light?

From experience, I would keep dosing the tank as plants cannot use organic waste/nutrients, but algae can. Once your tank mature a bit, the algae usually starts to disappear if the fish waste isn't excessive.

Add fertilizer based on the plant load and not the usual EI level.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Algae is usually caused by organic matter. usually related to fish population being more than the plant density and or an unestablished micro organism (filter bed).

I can run an extremely high ppm level of inorganic NPK without any algae, as long as there is no rotting plants and or fish waste. Once I have any fish waste or rotting plant matter, algae starts to take over.

Do you know what kind of algae you have? What are you feeding your fish?

What are you adding to get your GH up to 80 ppm?

Is that Turface MVP? Is the substrate very light?

From experience, I would keep dosing the tank as plants cannot use organic waste/nutrients, but algae can. Once your tank mature a bit, the algae usually starts to disappear if the fish waste isn't excessive.

Add fertilizer based on the plant load and not the usual EI level.
Algae:Errr... based on this websites photos (Freshwater Algae Types: An Illustrated Guide - Article at The Age of Aquariums - Tropical Fish) and descriptions I would say Green Dust Algae and Brown Algae. There is none of the beardy/thready/hairy/stringy type. Just glass and plants coated with algae (if it matters, the green stuff is on the wood, and the brown stuff on the plants, rocks, and glass)

Fish food: Flakes (TetraMin Pro) and blood worms.

GH adder: Seachem Equilibrium

"Is that Turface MVP? "... a who what? :confused:
If I had to describe the colour of the substrate I would say a mix of "7831 Bold Gold" and "7832 Golden Treasure" (Cloverdale Paint)
 

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not sure if adding a few more fish in your tank is an option for you, but placing a few ottocinclus in your tank may help with algae bloom and give the that type of fish plentiful to munch on.

as per CRS Fan's suggestion to get some quick growing plants, it works! i picked up some salvinia and water lettuce from him, and my small algae(diatoms and all) dissappeared. i did not stop the fert dosing.

hopefully you'll find your dosing and stocking balance. good luck.
 

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I also think using a carbon filter is a not recommended for planted tanks. It may filter out the nutrients you are dosing.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I also think using a carbon filter is a not recommended for planted tanks. It may filter out the nutrients you are dosing.
Huh... I never thought of that...
I suppose there's not a lot of reason to keep the carbon filters necessarily... Anyone else find that the carbon filters interfere with the EI method?
 

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not sure if adding a few more fish in your tank is an option for you, but placing a few ottocinclus in your tank may help with algae bloom and give the that type of fish plentiful to munch on.

as per CRS Fan's suggestion to get some quick growing plants, it works! i picked up some salvinia and water lettuce from him, and my small algae(diatoms and all) dissappeared. i did not stop the fert dosing.

hopefully you'll find your dosing and stocking balance. good luck.
Me and Otto's don't get along... I had a few years ago... managed to kill them all within a month ;_;... that said that was in a 20g tank, and this is now a 70.
That's what the Siamese algae eater were for (... although they definitely prefer flakes, blood worms and left overs more than algae... they are SUPER fat now)....
Interesting about the quick growing plants... definitely will think about it.
 

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Brown algae and green dust is fine. Nothing out of the ordinary for a newly setup tank. Just keep dosing the way you have been and add an algae cleaner. bristlenose pleco works if you don't mind something bigger

SAE doesn't work well on brown algae or algae in general if there is a food source. Unless they are super hungry, they usually leave the algae alone.
 

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I agree with Edge. Brown algae (diatomaceous) and green dust algae are both normal for new tanks. There are 2 things that you could change to help a bit, but not 100% necessary. You might considering shortening the photoperiod from 12 to 10 or 8 until you get a handle on the how much your tank needs or the other thing is to increase the plant matter with a lot of stem plants which until the tank stabilizes. This will allow excess nutrients to be absorbed and perhaps help your tank to stabilize faster. But neither is absolutely necessary. What you need is time.
 

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How often are you doing water changes? Although you have plants in your aquarium , fresh water is still needed to keep things balanced.What temperature is your setup at right now ? Different plants have their own lighting and temperature requirements to make them happy.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
How often are you doing water changes? Although you have plants in your aquarium , fresh water is still needed to keep things balanced.What temperature is your setup at right now ? Different plants have their own lighting and temperature requirements to make them happy.
Water Change: Since I've only had this tank going for a few months, the water change has been frequent because of the algae issue (during the algae bloom i was doing 30 % every day or every other day for a week), now i am at about 20% every 2 weeks.

Temp: 27 degrees C
 

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I can only think of 2 things, 1 is to take out the carbon from the filter as already mentioned, and the second is to take out the ammonia remover from your filter. Otherwise I would say you seem to be doing a pretty good job, and those are 2 of the easiest types of algae to deal with. You can try dosing more KH2PO4 as increasing it does get ride of green spot algae. But your tank will balance out eventually, but I wouldn't stop dosing your EI, I would just carry on doing what it recommended. The only other suggestion is getting a UV light as that might work for both types of algae you have currently. Just a thought!

Curtis
 
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