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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, my tank has been set up for 2 weeks. I thought I had the basics figured out, now I'm not so sure.
My specs are:
55 gallon
2x65 Coralife (6 hrs on, 2 hrs off, 6 hrs on)
HOB filter (came w/aquarium)
Heavily planted (about 60% stemmed plants)
some snails that hitchhiked on the plants
78-80 temp
ammonia 1.0 ppm
nitrite 0 ppm
nitrate 40 ppm
ph 6
gh 300
kh 0

ferts
2.5 ml Excel daily
1 ml Flourish daily
2 ml Leaf Zone daily

What ferts am I missing?
Why is my ph so low in the tank when it is 7.6 out of the tap?
also I have alot of fine debris lying on the plants. I've tried to vacuum it up with a gravel cleaner during a water change (pulled the plants up instead) and swirling it towards the HOB intake (most of it swirls on past). Is this keeping the ammonia high? and how in the world do I get rid of it?
Any changes in general that I need to make?:rolleyes:
Thanx for any and all help.
 

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You didn't list your substrate, but if its SMS, that is probably what is causing your pH drop. I don't know the mechanism behind it, but i saw a similar drop when i set up a small tank with it.

The "debris" might be diatom algae, common when setting up an aquarium. The friendly Otocinclus catfish will be a major help if it is, they love diatoms, and will rapidly clean your tank. They are peaceful fish that won't harm your plants or other inhabitants.
As for ferts - Excel - in a tank your size, you are only dosing 1/2 of the recommended guideline... maybe try bumping it up to the full amount. (5 ml)
Flourish covers your micro nutrient needs, and Leaf Zone only contains iron and potassium, not sure at what concentration. So, you are still missing Nitrogen and Phosphorous. Maybe do some reading on here for ideas on a fertilization plan. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Indignation for your response.
I'm using aquariumplants.com's substrate. Since I haven't read anything about it lowering the ph, I never even considered it could be the cause, I'm still learning something new all the time.
I've read through alot of the ferts threads, but I must go into info overload, cause I just end up total confused. :confused: I'm not sure whether I have low or moderate light or somewhere in between, hence I'm not sure what or how much ferts to use. I will increase the amount of Excel to 5 ml daily.
I have been hesitant to add any fish yet as the ammonia level has stayed to high, although the snail population hasn't been affected, I don't what to commit fish homicide. ;)
 

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Sorry, didn't see your ammonia readings. Definitely wait on the fish then, as it would almost certainly be homicide... Otos are very sensitive to water conditions.
As for your lights, I'd say with the 2x65w lights you fall into the moderate light category.
Have you thought about getting pressurized CO2? It can make a big difference, keep in mind that plants need far more carbon than any other nutrient. Excel will help, but it will not give the same results as CO2.
I can't be of much help with the fertilization routine, as I'm still learning that myself. I personally like the EI method of dosing. Its easy to do, feels like there is more room for error, and I've seen great results with it. But I'm using it on a high light, pressurized CO2 system, so YMMV.
 

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Hi infoscavenger, sometimes it does seem a little overwhelming, but hang in there. :)

First - are you sure your test kits are reading accurately? It's always a good idea to test your kits with some solutions that you've prepared yourself for this. Check out post #3 in this thread to show you how to make test solutions for NO3 and PO4. You might also want to get a report from your water system to see what your water composition is.

From what I can tell, Leafzone is only potassium and iron, that is only part of the needs of the plants. They also need nitrates, phosphates and various other micro-nutrients, which you are not adding. Why your nitrate levels are so high, is baffling - that's one reason I suggest calibrating/testing your test kit. Also with a high load of stemmies, NH3 buildup should not be happening.

If it were me, I'd ditch the on/off/on of the lights, and just go with 8-10 photoperiod on all the time. I don't think there's any proven benefit to the other one - the plants just have to crank it off just as they're getting it going.

Definitely go with the full dose of Excel, you have enough lighting to warrant it.

I can't comment on the pH issue, and am not familiar with the substrate you're using. Are you doing regular water changes? I hope I have answered some of your queries without making you more confused. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
I think I would like the EI method also, but I can't do the 50% weekly water changes.
I shattered my ankle (yep, pins, plates, screws & wire are holding it all together) in Dec. I know that was forever ago, but there are 5 different break sites, so lifting 5 gallon buckets of water are a bit hard to do. (BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID OF DARK BASEMENT STEPS! LOL:faint:) I've just been doing 10% wc weekly and topping off.
I need to keep to a low maintenance tank, so I think I will stick to using the Excel for a carbon source for now and find an online source for the rest of the seachem line of ferts.
I'm not for sure which plant to use to help with the high ammonia, would floating plants block too much light?
Ive been using test strips for the water parameters, I know they're not very reliable, but their all I've got.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hello Bert.
I read that doing the on/off/on lighting would prevent algae, will the excel prevent algae from taking over my tank until it has cycled and I can add a algae fighting crew?
 

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In regards to water changes - Sorry to hear about your ankle, but they make a product that eliminates buckets altogether. I haven't used one, but my LFS owner has close to 4000+ gallons of tank water in her house, and she swears by them. python clean and fill
 

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Hello Bert.
I read that doing the on/off/on lighting would prevent algae, will the excel prevent algae from taking over my tank until it has cycled and I can add a algae fighting crew?
Excel has been shown to have algaecidal properties, especially if you overdose it (2x-3x). As far as 'preventing' it, if all the plants need are provided for, and you give the full Seachem recommended doseage, I believe algae should not be a problem in your system. I would keep the photoperiod to around 8 hours. Of course, ymmv.

The python is a handy tool to use, if you've never tried one.
 
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