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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, All.

I'm having several problems with my newly set-up 4-gallon 'long.' The indicator plant I'm using is L. sp. 'Pantanal' that I've had for a little over a week. It was doing really great for the first week, but now it's doing the same thing that all of my other Ludwigias and Rotalas do: curling back the leaves and getting stunted, crumpled tips. It happened very suddenly, too. So I did some testing and tweaked accordingly - brought up GH using a very tiny bit of epsom salt and mostly gypsum (CaSO4). Now it's up to 10 degrees (oops!). Then I discovered that the KH was <1 so I brought it up using primarily potassium bicarbonate and a little baking soda. Now it's up to 4 degrees. The pH was exactly where I wanted it - 6.8 - until, of course, I brought up the KH. Now it's around 7.6 (it's normally 8.0 or above straight out of the tap). Last night I also switched from "bell diffusion" to directing the bubbles into the filter intake. It did absolutely nothing. The bubbles are going up the intake tube and being jostled around, eventually getting pulled into the impeller and getting broken up. But I cannot get the darn CO2 level past like 3 ppm! I'm NOT going to get a pressurized system for a 4-gallon tank, though.

As for ferts, I'm following Tom Barr's suggested dosing regimen. However, since he uses KH2PO4 and I use Flourish Phosphorus for phosphorus, I may have messed up on this part. I used the calculation on the bottle for a target level of 0.5 ppm. Is this too high?

Anyway, I'm all out of ideas of how to get the pH down and CO2 up.

Has anybody ever tried adding acetic acid (vinegar) to lower the pH? I believe that our water treatment plant adds NaOH to bring up the pH so as to avoid corrosion in the pipes. They also leave the water really soft to minimize calcareous buildup. But I suppose acetate is actually a buffer that would make it so that you can't use the pH-KH-CO2 relationship to measure CO2. Maybe diluted H2CO3, HNO3 or H3PO4 would actually be more "practical" since the plants could actually use the conjugate bases as nutrients... I do still have friends who work in labs ;). I thought those pH-lowering chemicals were typically H3PO4, anyway. Just need something to neutralize the OH-. Any suggestions? would this be a terrible idea?

The 'Pantanal' was SO beautiful when I bought it. I thought it was doing pretty well for a week, although the color was definitely not as intense. Then it did the crumpled-tip thing that ALL of my red plants end up doing. I'm at my wits' end. Last night I was ready to rip out the stems and throw them into the toaster over. They mock me. They want me to fail, and to fail slowly and excruciatingly... GRRRRR :evil: .

Please help me :cry:.

-Naomi

P.S. - 100% Flourite, no heater, 14W N-O fluorescent light. Thanks.
 

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You wouldn't be expecting any sympathy from me, would you? :D

It sound like what happened (as still is, to a degree) to my 'cuba'. I just dosed another 7ppm of Mg because the progress from last week has taken a step back. After my initial Mg dosing last week it was looking good, then the new growth started coming in nearly white. So I added a touch of Ca, but nothing. So I'm back to working under the assumption that my Mg is still out of balance with my Ca and bringing its level up. Tom says he's grown this plant in very hard water so I'll keep plugging away. It doesn't hurt that the 'cuba' is nearly blanketed by my L. aromatica so its poor condition isn't quite so obvious.

Well, this beats landscaping the yard. :lol:
 

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Naomi,
CO2, CO2 and CO2.

These are not difficult plants if they have enough CO2/ferts.


Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
plantbrain said:
Naomi,
CO2, CO2 and CO2.

These are not difficult plants if they have enough CO2/ferts.
But that's my problem... It seems that no matter how hard I try, I cannot get that CO2 dissolved into the water. The only way I see it happening is to have 10 DIY CO2 bottles bubbling into 10 overturned bottle caps. Since the one only gets me up to 3 ppm, I imagine I'd need about 10 to raise it up to the desired 30 ppm. Maybe if I turn off the filter to completely stop water movement that would help to keep the CO2 in the water. I could try that, but I thought that keeping this tank unheated would sort of offset the CO2 loss from water current.

Since having the CO2 bubble into the intake wasn't helping, I went back to the bottle cap bell diffuser. I'll set up one more bottle and see if running two helps at all. Thanks. If I see *any* pearling whatsoever from *any* of the plants in this tank, I'll post a happy update. Don't anybody hold your breath :roll: .

-Naomi
 

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Naomi,
On my 29g I was running two 1gal jugs (3c sugar + 1 tsp bakers yeast in each) into the intake of my Magnum 350. With that setup I was able to get ~20ppm of CO2 (pH 7.2, KH 11), so I'm very surprised that you can't get your CO2 up in a 4g tank. Does your DIY make enough pressure to push the CO2 through an airstone/diffuser? Maybe run the diffuser under the filter intake so that smaller bubbles are being taken into the filter.

Or how about making an ultra intense yeast mixture (double or triple your yeast amount) to see if you can the CO2 concentration up...if only at the expense of changing your mixture more often.

I've since added pressurized CO2 to the 29 (Fedex delivered my Milwaukee regulator today) so you're welcome to my remaining stock of Flourish Excel if you think that'll help (at least in the short run).
 

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These are neglected non CO2 tanks, both 4 gal

http://www.aquatic-plants.org/gallery/album02/DSC00140

I do not know why you cannot get CO2 into your tank.
Do not use bell style diffusers.
They don't work well.

Feed into the filter or power head etc.
Your issue is CO2, not this plant.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the suggestions... I've already thrown together another mix, which I'm hoping will be bubbling away by tomorrow. The problem with having the CO2 bubbling into my filter intake was that unless I have it on full-flow, the bubbles would sort of collect at the flow control knob and the impeller wouldn't be able to break them up immediately. It had to pull pieces off of the one, big collective bubble (if you could picture that). I don't want it at full-flow, either.

I'm thinking of having the outlet bypass all of this and lead the tubing (from the overflow side) right to the impeller. Only thing is, this is going to require much smaller tubing (diameter-wise), which I plan to look for at Home Depot, tomorrow. This may also back-fire and lead to stray bubbles getting trapped *in* the apex of the intake tube.

Bill, thanks for the offer of the Excel. I've actually been supplementing with it in all of my planted tanks but it's doing no apparent good. I'll let you know later if I'll take you up on the offer. Congrats on going pressurized :D . I'm sure it'll make your life MUCH easier!

-Naomi

P.S. - Tom, those tanks are SO awesome! The lights are 7W or 13?Your "neglected" tanks look 100x better than my "fussed over" tanks.
 

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gnome said:
But I cannot get the darn CO2 level past like 3 ppm! I'm NOT going to get a pressurized system for a 4-gallon tank, though.
"If it were me with this dilemma, I might use it as an excuse to buy a bigger tank! [...] That should solve most of your problems." (Gnome et al 2004)

__________________
Gnome, Naomi et al. "Need a bit of help." Internet: Aquatic Plant Central, 2004. pp. 12802.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Bah!!! You got me, there, cS! :oops: :lol:

I rarely take my own advice. But going pressurized for a 4-gallon tank? Hmmm... If I can't get DIY to work on such a tiny tank, I'm doing something else wrong. I think the yeast I'm using has gone stale. The little yeast bits are not dissolving completely, and it generally takes at least 48 hours to get any appreciable bubbling.

-N
 

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Naomi,
I've had good success with Red Star yeast from Costco. I keep a small amount in a tupperware container in the fridge. The rest I vacuum seal and stick in the freezer. I would proof the yeast before I added it to the bottle jsut to make sure it's still viable.

Try using slightly warmer water when you create your mixture. Maybe that will get it started sooner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Okay - at the risk of sounding like a culinary idiot... When you "proof" yeast, is it supposed to fizzle and froth right away (I know to use warm water) or within a few minutes, or what? And are you supposed to proof it in warm sugar water or without sugar?

I just realized that I've been storing it improperly. See what happens when you don't pay attention to Mom's kitchen habits? ;)

-Naomi
 

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Naomi,
Repeat after me...the Food Network is your friend :D

Proofing the yeast simply means to get it started in a small bowl with a pinch of sugar and some warm water. In a few minutes it should start to foam. It doesn't have to look like a beer head, but you should see a thin layer of foam developing. At that point you know that the yeast is still alive and can be added to the bottle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Okay - I wouldn't go as far as calling it "pearling" but some of the plants in there that have never produced so much as a bubble are now releasing like one teeny-tiny bubble per thirty seconds or so. All I did was to turn off the filter. Maybe it was causing too much water circulation that the CO2 was getting driven off. Since I turned it off a few hours ago, I've seen my plants actually burp out a few bubbles. I'll leave it off for a few days (except for a few minutes each day when I add the nutrients) and see if there's any noticeable difference in growth. Come to think of it, I had the best growth out of my 2.5-gallon when I had zero water movement (aside from fish swimming around and maybe mild heat convection). Maybe there was more to having no filter than I thought.

bharada said:
Naomi,
Repeat after me...the Food Network is your friend :D

Proofing the yeast simply means to get it started in a small bowl with a pinch of sugar and some warm water. In a few minutes it should start to foam. It doesn't have to look like a beer head, but you should see a thin layer of foam developing. At that point you know that the yeast is still alive and can be added to the bottle.
Thanks, Bill. From the sounds of it, my yeast can no longer be proven beyond a reasonable doubt ;). I'll have to let it go.

As for the Food Network, watching that stuff makes me hungry. Maybe if my husband and son weren't such culinary wusses it would be worth my while to try cooking new foods. California rolls are about the extent of my husband's experimental nature. Ketchup and non-chunky pasta sauce are the only forms of tomato that my son will consume. Meanwhile, I'm here craving sashimi and natto (something that even disgusts most Japanese). Ain't life funny...? :lol:

-Naomi
 

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Naomi,

First let me remind you of your success with erect moss, 2 leaf Hemianthus, and L. nummelaria. Your Lysimachia, which is fairly difficult, was grown with very clean lower leaves, your Hemianthus was rich green with well spaced leaf nodes and your erect moss was healthy and free of any hair algae. When I see pictures of your tanks they are always very clean looking and have good color. You are an avid aquatic gardener and continue to try new plants considered difficult by most gardeners. Hurray!

There is a simple heirachy of plant nutrients for us to consider in aquatic gardening. Each succesive nutrient is limited by availability of the previous nutrient and trouble shooting follows the same order. This heirachy is: light, carbon, nitrogen, phosphate, pottasium, calcium, magnesium and iron. Light levels are usually fixed by hardware choices and everything else follows availibility of this primary nutrient.

In your case, nutrient availability is limited by dissolved CO2 and regardless of how well you follow the estimative index your growth will always be limited by carbon. You will tend to succeed with a few species that are able to outcompete the others for this limited carbon. Those plants that succeed will do well and those that don't will languish and die. Matching species with similar nutritional needs seems to be neccesary when one gardens in lean or limited conditions. You might find that limiting your species selection could improve success rates at current CO2 enrichment levels. Basic idea is to remove the strongest competitors to give the weaker ones improved chances to succeed.

In the April-June issue of TAG there is a column titled, "Heiber and Brewer – Stranded on the List: threads of special interest from the aquatic plants digest email list" in this particular issue they summarize some DIY yeast reactor threads. They claim that problems with brewing are often central to general problems with DIY CO2. At the end of the summary they highlight Tarah Nyberg's recipe. Perhaps her recipe could improve your results.
___
Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Jeff Kropp said:
Your Lysimachia, which is fairly difficult, was grown with very clean lower leaves,
Oh, I wish this were true... I trimmed off the lower [naked] half of each stem before I bagged them for you.

your Hemianthus was rich green with well spaced leaf nodes and your erect moss was healthy and free of any hair algae.
The Hemianthus is the *only* plant I can grow decently, and the lack of algae was thanks to my Amano shrimp, which I have since moved to a different tank so I could increase the Flourish dosing. If I took a photo of that 10-gallon right now, you'd be shocked at how much algae I've grown in there.

This heirachy is: light, carbon, nitrogen, phosphate, pottasium, calcium, magnesium and iron. Light levels are usually fixed by hardware choices and everything else follows availibility of this primary nutrient.
Interesting... I've been thinking that iron preceded Ca and Mg. I'll have to pay more attention to these, then.

Matching species with similar nutritional needs seems to be neccesary when one gardens in lean or limited conditions. You might find that limiting your species selection could improve success rates at current CO2 enrichment levels. Basic idea is to remove the strongest competitors to give the weaker ones improved chances to succeed.
Very interesting that you mention this... A few years ago, I had great luck growing M. umbrosum in a 2.5-gallon tank with Flourite. I'd figured out the best way to propagate it and the stuff was growing out of my ears. But then it happened - I acquired some L. nummularia 'aurea' and I planted it *right* next to the umbrosum (sort of stupid artistically, since they're so similar in form). Up to this point, the umbrosum was somewhat isolated from the other plants in the tank and I guess it liked having its own space. Suddenly, the umbrosum was growing out stunted leaves and looking quite pathetic in every possible way. At the time, however, I was looking for any excuse to get rid of it all, so I didn't care that it was languishing. But I'm sure that M. umbrosum is a relatively weak competitor for nutrients. You've reminded me that mere proximity could trigger the demise of a delicate species, especially when the water column is being run lean and survival is more dependent on what can be extracted via root system. And it just hit me that the 'Pantanal' is planted right next to the L. nummularia 'aurea'... I'll let them duke it out for now and see what happens ;). Neither of them seems to be coming out the winner.

In the April-June issue of TAG there is a column titled, "Heiber and Brewer - Stranded on the List: threads of special interest from the aquatic plants digest email list" in this particular issue they summarize some DIY yeast reactor threads. They claim that problems with brewing are often central to general problems with DIY CO2. At the end of the summary they highlight Tarah Nyberg's recipe. Perhaps her recipe could improve your results.
Drat! I let my AGA membership run out so I haven't been getting TAG. I'll search by keyword through the APD and theKrib to see if I can't find the recipe.

Thanks for your words of encouragement. I wish half of the stuff you thought about my plants and tanks were true :cry:... I'll keep plugging away. Right now in my 4-gallon, I have a stand of golden lloydiella, some L. sp. 'Pantanal', Hottonia palustris, M. umbrosum, and five pieces of glosso. I'll leave it at that for now (no promises ;)) and see how they fare. If they all survive, I'll have varying shades of green and a bit of red (hopefully) from the 'Pantanal.' I'm sure I'll have more to report when I see you in two weeks.

Thanks again!

-Naomi :)
 

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gnome said:
Drat! I let my AGA membership run out so I haven't been getting TAG. I'll search by keyword through the APD and theKrib to see if I can't find the recipe.
Here's Tarah Nyberg's recipe from the current TAG:

-1c sugar per 2 l of de-chlorinated
-Add 1-2 tsp of a protein drink mix (or soy or bean flour)
-Optional: Add 1 tsp of ammonium sulfate, or use 1 tbs molasses (or both)
-1 tsp baking soda is also nice to keep the pH from crashing
-Yeast: About 1/4 tsp

She notes, "Leave yeast in from previous mix in the bottom if it smells like yeast, beer, bread, etc.... If it smells like mold or something more disgusting, consider starting a new culture. I usually only needed to refresh it every month or so-3 weeks is probably better."
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I haven't yet tried the new DIY CO2 recipe, but I thought I'd update... I've basically stopped running the filter. I only have it on for a few minutes every day to homogenize the water when I add the ferts. I've also stopped "calculating" the CO2 level and rely only on my observations. My plants are pearling, now! Not like constant streams of bubbles, but with my Hottonia, every few minutes, it burps out a thin stream for a few seconds, then again a few minutes later. My M. umbrosum releases a small bubble every few seconds. Both of these are looking very good and putting out new, healthy growth. The L. sp. 'Pantanal' is not magnificent-looking, but it's retaining the lower leaves and is growing. I suspect it's probably having problems due to alkaline water. The L. nummularia 'aurea' is okay, but has resumed the loss of lower leaves. It's no worse off than when it was in the 10-gallon.

I planted four tiny pieces of glosso, and they've already put out daughter plants. I think I'll move the rest of my Hottonia (from my 2.5-gallon) into this tank.

Maybe I'll be able to put up a photo in a couple of weeks.

-Naomi
 
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