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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm going to ask this here as it is mostly a substrate question about algae.

I have a 4'x2'x2' 120 gal set up with mineralized top soil with muriate of potash, aragonite, and some turface under it. The substrate is capped with inert gravel. I switched to this substrate at the end of August. The tank ran well for the first few months, no initial algae problem etc. Now, however, BBA is going good, GSA is at an annoying level, and I've got some wonderful green stringy stuff growing. Basic specs are:

Fluval 304
Magnum 350
Sump with Phyllantus in it
Koralia 2 for more water movement

Lighting is 7 54W T5HO, one bulb on 12 hours, three bulbs on 9 hours, all 7 bulbs on 5 hours.

1 4" denisoni barb
9 2" silver angels
4 barilius sp.
9 inlecypris auropurperus (if I spell any of this stuff wrong it's because I don't feel like looking it up!)
3 1.5" garra
4 1.5" bushynose pleco
6 (I think) otos

I've got pressurized CO2, run the drop checker a bit yellow.

So, what I'm thinking and from the way my tank looks it seems as though something is missing. I get decent growth out of some plants, but over all growth has really slowed the last few weeks. I do a 30% water change about every 10 days on average. Sometimes more, sometimes less. The plants do not look deficient, and I know they don't grow as fast in the soil as with like EI. My water tests at basically 0 nitrates, .25 ppm or less phosphate. As an example of terrible growth, my Mexican oakleaf has been "stuck" about 2" below the surface for 3 weeks now. The growth is nice and compact and the color is decent, but it is no longer growing. That certainly never used to be a problem with that plant!

So, the basic question is: Is it possible that the substrate just can't satisfy the needs of all the plants? I added the angels 2 weeks ago hoping some more fertilizer would make a difference, but it hasn't one way or the other. The tank is heavily planted like stupid, probably twice the amount of plants that should be in it.

Sorry for the long post, thanks for reading, any thoughts are appreciated!

Premium Member
5,865 Posts
I think you're lighting is too intense. Try backing it down to only two bulbs for the 12 hour period and 6 bulbs for 4 hours in the middle of that 12 hour period.

Growth does slow down considerably once it's settled in. It sounds as though your potassium has run out. Try dosing 0.01 ppm of potassium daily to see if it helps. Trust me, start with this tiny dosage and keep it there for a couple of weeks. I suspect it will start to turn around again.
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