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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all...

My readings are:
Nitrates: 0ppm
Phosphate: 4ppm
Potassium: 0ppm??
Iron: 2ppm
Dose 5ml TMG every week at waterchange. (15%, 1x week)
PH: 7
GH: 11deg
KH: 7deg
DIY C02 running approx 25ppm
Seachem Root Tabs in plain gravel
3.29 wpg on 29gal
Heavily planted tank
4months old.

Right now I am trying to establish a fert routine, but I'm experiencing some major troubles! I have a serious green water problem as well. This is round 2 with the GW. I had it about 3 weeks ago, then got rid of it temporaliy with a 4 day blackout, which put a serious beating on my plants.
I cant figure out why it came back?? Another Blackout is not an option!

Also, I cant figure why Phosphates are so high when my Tap water is only 1ppm. Something is making it rise up over time. Somebody told me that it is the activated carbon in my Penguin filter cartridge that is leaking phosphates into the water column. So I did an experiment where I left a brand new carbon cartridge in a bucket of tap water. The phosphate readings did not change over a 48hr period. So is it true or not that activated carbon leaches phosphates back into the water?

I feed minimal amounts of food to a moderately stocked
tank (1x-2x/ week). And have no dead fish..

So..What are the possible causes of rising phosphates? I though I had the problem solved when I did the Carbon Filter experiment. But the results were negative!? What else is driving the Phosphates up in a tank where there is no water column fertilization???

Thanks for the advice..
Nick
 

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Welcome Nick D:)

How well did you clean the tank after the blackout? You should have done at least a 50% wc and then redosed your tank. Did you follow Tom Barr's instructions for hte blackout? If you did not get rid of a lot of hte dead plant and algae matter from the blackout then I am sure that is contributing to your secon outbreak. If your plants are not growing well (and there would be much organic matter from dead and dying leaves and roots. etc) then that will contribute to both the raising P and the algae problems.

What else besides TMG do you dose? NO3? You should have levels of NO3 of around 10ppm(to 15ppm) especially if you have that high of P. Cut back on your Fe dosing for now too.

I would recommend that you start doing 50% wc once a week and at tht time dose to 10ppm NO3 and dose smaller amounts of TMG everyday. Sorry, I can't help with that dosing as I have never used it. Make sure your test kits are accurate. Forget about the Fe test. Make SURE your CO2 levels are good adn don't trust your P kit (Forget the K test and dose 10-15 ppm at the wc).

To my knowledge, carbon will leach P that it has collected once the carbon is "full" which is why your test wiht a new cartridge tested 0. I would recommend doing away with the Carbon entirely. You are using a penguin filter right? If so take and old cartridge, rip off the old foam and carbon so you are left with the plastic frame. Then get your self some Blue filter foam made by Marineland (what I use), cut a piece a little higher(1") and a little over twice as long as the cartridge is high. Wrap it around the plastic frame and secure it with a couple of rubber bands. Stuff it back down into the filter adn change it in 3-4 weeks, or as necessary. You can stick a thin layer of fine filter floss between the layers of foam if you want. If you use the bio-wheel, stop:) saves on CO2.

Hope this is helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hey...
Actually I did use Tom Barr's method. All was good for 3-4 weeks then I had green water again.

I did a huge w/c yesterday, and got the P levels down to around 2ppm. I also dosed some Seachem Nitrate to around 5ppm yesterday. I will try and get it up to 10ppm today...dont want to raise it too fast!!

The water is still cloudy however, but much better than it was! My CO2 is around 20ppm, hopefully that is high enough for the meantime.

So...the way I understand is that if I can get my NO3 levels up to 10ppm, and my P levels to around 1ppm, while keeping my CO2 up it shouldn't be long before my green water clears and my plants start growing again!

Is that right??
Nick
 

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Nick,

Greenwater can be surprisingly persistant you may need anouther black out. It is possible that your low N test measurment contributed to your 1st blackout's failure. I can't be sure if nutrient adjustment alone will cure your greenwater since I've only had success using blackouts. A 4 day blackout is on the long side; 3 days should work well enough. You can use water changes to keep your water less cloudy till you think your plants have enough strength to survive a 2nd blackout. Floating plants are unaffected by greenwater. It may also help to get a big bunch of fresh fast growing stem plants to compensate for lost plant vitality resulting from blackout.

Many people resort to UV in their greenwater battles. I did after my third years seasonal recurrence. It seems daily UV exposure also offers some extra abilities to reduce other algae in their motile phases.

If your tank is indeed producing more P than N, then adding N will help lower P buildup if you have adequate CO2 and light. This is a general principle of good aquatic plant nutrition. Understanding it will help your plant health but may not be a solution to greenwater.


Let us know what you learn. Good luck,


Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi again everybody...

Just an update..
I finally got my Phosphate under control after some serious water changes! Its holding steady after 3 days now at .75ppm. Nitrates were dosed to ~7.5ppm, and potassium as well. Also dosed iron and trace with TMG. I went away for the weekend after getting everything back on track Friday afternoon. I returned on Sunday night to find more greenwater!!! Man..I cant win with this stuff. A blackout is my last choice cuz of the beating it put on my plants last time, and I can not afford a diatom filter or UV light...

So...given my nutrients are in order, how long should it take to burn off the greenwater?..and what about photosynthesis??.. it wont be optimal because of the cloudy water and minimal light penetration.. is that a factor?

Please help on where to go from here?? How long should I wait it out?? or what can I do in the meantime to help the process??

thx again...
Nick
 

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Nick D said:
So...given my nutrients are in order, how long should it take to burn off the greenwater?..and what about photosynthesis??.. it wont be optimal because of the cloudy water and minimal light penetration.. is that a factor?
I've not heard of anyone able to "burn off greenwater" by optimizing fertilization; it would be nice to hear from someone who had. I think you have noted the primary reasons already, "photosynthesis... wont be optimal because of cloudy water". You can use water changes to improve clarity but as I mentioned before, a blackout is your most effective low-tech tool. It may be possible to burn off greenwater with floating plants but I think that would be as detrimental to your submersed plants as a blackout.

If my memory serves me correctly, I recall one person from APD who struggled with greenwater and discovered that anti-biotics solved her problem. In her case, repeated blackouts were unsuccesful so she tried anti-biotics out of desperation. Speculative consensus was that her "greenwater" may have been a BGA (blugreen algae/cynobacteria) and not a classic greenwater case.

Since you seem to be testing NO3 can you report on your daily NO3 loss? How fast does it drop to zero? a few hours, one day, two days?

How did you dose potassium? If you are using TMG and stump remover (KNO3) you will not need more K from anouther source. TMG has a formulation with plenty of K and micros but no N, P, or hardness (dKH and dGH).

For a more detailed explanation of my own fertilization routine read: http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1311

gl,
Jeff
 

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Thanks for the response...

I just came home from work and did another 50% water change to get the clarity happening. I dont think any plant is going to out compete algae if proper light is not reaching the plant?!? Right??

I am also stopping all ferts until things settle down again. I will reduce the NO3 to ~5ppm or less so that algae cant use it to multiply...

Damn, this is like a catch 22!! Add more ferts to get the plants going good, but then the algae kicks in and clouds the water!! Its like 1 step forward, 2 steps back.

We'll see how the low NO3 works out...

ohh.. to answer you question about N uptake. I dosed to ~15ppm on Friday afternoon, and on Sunday night it was around 7.5ppm. So maybe around 2-3ppm a day, I'm guessing..

thx
Nick
 

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Nick D said:
We'll see how the low NO3 works out...
Nick,

I think this is probably backwards thinking. Consider the fact that you developed your greenwater with high P low N conditions. Wouldn't continuing high P low N then reinforce your greenwater? Perhaps you could read back over my linked posts to get a better idea of N/P interaction?

If you want to try a nutrient cure, dose only 1/4 tsp KNO3 and 3-5 ml. TMG each day with CO2 at 25ppm until your P is undetectable and N holds steady. Eliminating P from your water seems to make the most sense if high P caused your greenwater. Then when you reach zero measurable P and stable N, try a little darkness if your greenwater is still problematic. Your fish can handle NO3 up to 50 ppm without excessive stress.

If nothing else you will learn something in the process and become a better gardener by your struggle.

Jeff
 

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Those Hagen quick filter are 5 micron in size, the GW cells are 2-5 microns across depending on age.

These can be used to remove the GW, filtration, UV and copper have works along with Daphnia but fish will eat those.

The good news is that there are many methods to get rid of it and it does no harm to the plants.

Bad news is that you will not beat it by fertilization, Blackout generally don't work except in milder cases or with lower light and only if you do them for a long time.

CO2 addition also helps to grow green water, high light also.

It's induce by adding NH4, this can come from fert's like Jobes sticks etc or from fish waste if something increases the loading of NH4 or disrupts the NH4 from being assimilated into the plants or bacterial conversion to NO3.

Basically anything that backs up enough NH4 to cause the algae to bloom. Once they bloom they are going to be very tough to get rid of.
While it might look like a lot of algae, in terms od biomass, it's very small and they just don't need much to live on.

Adding some more biofilter can help if you have only a small biosection to prevent reoccurances. If you use a UV for a while, this can help it from ever coming back.

I've induced GW many times over the years using NH4/Jobe stick etc, but it's been impossible for me to get it to occur without too much fish/critter loading, NH4 etc.

You can add all the NO3 and PO4 you want, it's not going to induce the GW, only NH4 can do that, but once there, it'll hang on for dear life.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Tom,

This person first posted a query about how to solve a P buildup problem. Someone suggested to Nick that the problem was caused by the carbon in the tank's filter. So Nick has been messing with filtration media and worrying about how to lower P buildup. Greenwater seems to be a new associated problem – doh.

I am still focusing primarily on the originally posted problem of P buildup while trying to guide Nick into a deeper understanding of aquarium fertilization. In this case Nick has decided to try for a nutrient solution and somehow got an impression that low N is the way to go. From my perspective this notion is unfathomable. Since I decided to offer my guidance, I am doing what I can to not abandon Nick. He/She is making some good connections and just needs a little help evaluating conclusions; hmm... perhaps I should focus on the connections?

I hate discussions of algae, there is a different forum for that. At this point explaining or speculating about the causes/cures of greenwater is grist for the algae forum. Certainly greenwater is a recurring topic there.

Thanks for your greenwater input tho,

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hey Guys...

I appreciate all the help from both of you! You have really made a difference! Thank you very much!! I have one last question however...

Tom, I read an article posted by you on fins.actwin I believe:
http://fins.actwin.com/aquatic-plants/month.200108/msg00663.html

It talks more about Ammonia control and biological filtration than nutrient control as a way to combat greewater...
So what about going to the LFS and getting a supplement to help convert NH4 into NO3 quicker, in order to help my biowheel handle any spike in NH4?? Would that help clear the water faster/ more? Or am I already passed that stage, and no further biological tampering will fix it now??

~~~~~~~~~~

Jeff, thanks for your help as well! I am really trying to understand the relationship between P and N, and I have read all your messages regarding the subject. As you suggested, I am trying to shift the balance to P being the limiting factor, rather than N. I think that is why my greenwater appeared in the first place (contrary to Tom's opinion).

Right now, I have cut my lights to 6hrs a day, and reduce P to .5ppm, and N to 3-5ppm as suggested. How long do you figure I have to maintain this relationship til the greenwater 'burns itself out'!

I really cant afford the Diatom or UV, and am actually having fun trying to solve the problem the 'long way' as it strengthens my knowledge in fishkeeping, etc.

I hope I am able to beat the GW, then I will be able to help others from my experiences, just as you guys have helped me!!

Thanks again...
Nick
 

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Nick,

Glad to hear you are having fun with the challenge.

I think that reducing your day length below 8 hours will only have detrimental effects to your plants. Better plan is to reduce your wattage or add a diffuser between your lights and water. I adjust my day length between 9 and 11 hours as the seasons change. Remember that light is your #1 nutrient. All other nutrients follow its limitation. The basic troubleshooting order is Light, C (carbon), N (nitrogen) and then P (phosphorus).

From your post you seem to already have a grasp of basic hardness factors. And TMG is well designed for the task of preventing micro deficiencies while balancing the dynamic aspects of your tank. However, your decision to put more than 3 wpg in a tank before laying a good foundation in planted tank husbandry is trumping your hand. Look back on the troubleshooting list to see where light resides. That light combined with good CO2 enrichment has driven your N to zero and created a cascade of problems. Solve the N problem and you will be on your way to puzzling over curled leaves and distorted growth in a algae free tank.

Note in Tom's old post how he used an established filter from anouther tank? What does that tell you? Your greenwater is likely connected to changing your filter media during high P conditions. (That was a kind'a evil goose chase to send you on.) Does that fit with your history?

Your NH4 spike was over in a few hours. They never last long and if they do, your fish die. Now you've just got stubborn unicellular green algae to contend with. There are some good war stories on that topic at http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=20

as always good luck and have fun,

Jeff
 

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Nick is not using my so called method, I suggest 50% weekly water changes to reduce any build up like PO4. He's doing 15%.
Few utilities will use more than 1ppm of PO4.
Low NO3 is bad.

Yep, I think I hate algae talk also but someone always ask why and it does tell me a fair amount about what nutrient issues are occuring. But it's off topic some here.

Nick, the trouble is not so muchy what you are doing now with gw, it's the fact you have it. Kill it and keep the tank in good shape.

Easy to control level by doing large weekly water changes, very simple.
The water changes prevent anything from building up, the regular dosing keeps every thing well fed. You can try reducing the water changes etc later or other changes after you get comfortable.

Most folks that have been doing plants for many years will tell you, 2 w/gal is fine for most any plant I've ever grown. More light is not better and with folks buying PC lighting, this creates a huge problem for most.

For this 29 gal tank, I'd add

1/4 teaspoon of KNO3 3x a week
A few drops of Fleet enema 3x a week
5mls of TMG 3x a week
50-60% water change weekly
Really watch the heck out of the CO2, make sure it's 20-30ppm the entire the time the lights are ON and make sure the levels don't dip below that later in ther week after the brew is slowing down more.
I changed my brew weekly when I did the DIY. It's a PITA.
I also designed a few CO2 diffusers to help equilibrate the CO2 levels which helped immensely.

CO2 is going to cause a lot of issues for you then NO3.
The above routine will get you through all this but you need to understand why you are doing this and I'll defer you to Jeff on that one.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 
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