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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all! Well as per the title I'm a newbie that has just recently set up a planted aquarium and I seem to be having problems. To start with I had a 75 gal tank that I removed all of the substrate and replaced with: base layer of pure Laterite, Flourite, Volcanit, and Eco Complete along with 1" of "cooked" topsoil (not in this order). I have a cable heater and two filters (1 Canister, 1 Power filter) and about 65 fish. I dose regularly with all of the Excel products except phosphorus because my tap water runs about 1.5 ppm. I have quite a few plants that I bought from the LFS (2 swords, multiple water sprites, and a few others I can't remember the cards are at home). I am dosing at half of the recommended since I don't think that I am at the full requirement of plants. I run a Nova Extreme T-5 light with a total of 216 watts. I have changed the Actinic lamps to 6700 degree lamps and kept the original 10000 K lamps.

Now after all of that dribble the problems. I have always had a little algae prior to nuking the tank and starting over to grow plants. I now have some type of brown junk that gathers on the bottom and around the plants as well as some long green algae that I assume is hair algae. The hair algae attaches to everything including the plants, especially the swords. Most of it is easily removed with a brush except what attaches to the edges of the sword leaves. I also had an outbreak of some small clumps of furry algae that is a nightmare to remove. You can scrape all you want and very little will come off. At first the water sprite was growing new chutes almost daily, but they never got very high and then would turn yellowish. Some of the other plants show some growth, but not like it should. A friend of mine has a very nice planted tank that is growing so fast he can almost prune weekly.

My water parameters are: Ph 6.8, Temp 79, Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrates 10 - 20 ppm. Weekly water change of a minimum of 14 gallons.

I am so frustrated after watching my friends tank at work grow like it's on steroids and mine just barely grows with the exception of the algae. I was gone this past weekend so I covered the sides of the tank so no light with the exception of the provided light gets in to see if that helps.

HELP!!!! What am I doing wrong????
 

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Are you adding CO2? If not I would highly recommend investigating this.

I too changed my 90g tank from a fish only tank to a planted tank and had trouble growing plants. Some would grow ok but the algae definitely had the upper hand.

When I switched to pressurized CO2 the plants really took off. I also removed many of the plants with the most algae. You can also "spot" treat infected plants with Flourish Excel which can kill BBA.

Look through some of the older posts on this site--there is a ton of great information--and many people have encountered the same problems.

Good luck!

-Roy
 

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You have a very rich substrate there with that inch of topsoil, plus a fair amount of light at nearly 3wpg on that 75. I, also, strongly suggest going pressurized with these conditions. IMO, Excel won't cut it. So, what to do...

If it were me, I'd clean it all up as much as possible, do a major water change, and make sure to start a strict fertilization regimen for this tank. Heck I would even consider trying to get my $$ back for the heating cables and using that towards pressurized. :) I would do a photoperiod of no more than 8 hours, especially without CO2.

You have elements of a low tech type tank (soil), with high light. You're going to have some algae issues during the tank maturation process. The brown algae can be taken care of with some ottos, the rest with time and an established routine. HTH.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well you have said what I was afraid of... pressurized CO2. I wasn't really planning on spending that kind of cash right now as I'm sure the Wifey will have issues. I've been looking around the site (very nice btw!!) and tried to get some insight on the CO2 so that I would not ask the same question for the trillionth time. From what I've read, if I go with the CO2 then I would not use the Excel right? Also rjfurbank mentioned "spot" treating with Excel. Do you meat literally pulling the plants and putting them in Excel? I have not heard of this before.

Thanks for your input!!! I need all of the help I can get before the Wifey pulls my plug.
 

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You do not need to use Excel if you're using CO2, although there is nothing wrong with using both at the same time, it's just overkill. Do a search for using Excel to kill algae and you'll find lots of threads.

Spot treating can be done a couple of ways. One, turn off filter or powerhead, so there's no circulation in the tank. Then add the normal Excel dose with a syringe or something you can direct it with, directly onto a patch of algae, for example. Wait a couple of minutes prior to re-starting the filter, etc. I would recommend doing this at water change time, since the dose at that time is the largest. I have never seen plants be injured this way.

Another way involves removing the plants or wood, whatever, and dipping it directly into the Excel. With wood, time doesn't matter, with plants, you kinda have to play with it. Once, I dipped a large chunk of petite nana into Excel. It killed the spot algae, and also killed a bunch of leaves - I did it for too long a time. All plants will show different susceptibilities. Many folks also OD the tank on Excel to hit the algae, and this CAN work very well, but again, there are certain plants that will not tolerate the OD, as well as some shrimp (perhaps some fish also?), that don't do well with it.

HTH.
 

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You have a very high light tank, with almost 3 watts per gallon of T5 lights, but you don't provide the plants with adequate carbon (CO2) or phosphates. So, they will have problems growing well. In fact, with that kind of parameters, the fastest growing plants will quickly use up the small amount of phosphates in the water, and the small amount of carbon available, and the other plants will starve, followed by algae growing all over the place.

You also have a mix of many different substrate materials, I assume with the topsoil and laterite on the bottom. That could work very well with lower light intensity, even with the shortage of water column nutrients. But, it will result in algae with the lighting you have.

So, I suggest you either cut the light intensity about in half, or start using pressurized CO2, with a drop checker to be sure you are providing enough, and a full EI fertilizing method. Either will work, but the high light method will always require that you keep the CO2 concentration the same day after day, and the fertilizing always non-limiting or algae will still get a foot hold. Along with that will be a requirement to maintain constant good water circulation throughout all areas of the tank, even after the plants grow in well, and continuous good tank cleanliness. The rewards from using high light are great, but the work is also great.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the reply Hoppy and Bert. Hoppy I would have thought from reading various other articles that I had Medium light at best. I thought I would end up moving this light to my 55 g tank and have to purchase another higher wattage light for the 75. A little good news for me! As far as the pressurized CO2 I was afraid of that, the Wifey isn't going to like me spending another 200 for the CO2 after I just spent 300 or so on substrate and an under gravel heater. Oh the laterite is on the very bottom and the soil is about mid way up in the substrate.

I do have a couple of questions. The first is the phosphate. Do you think I need to add it even though my tap water has about 1.5 ppm (per test kit) of phosphate? I did not purchase any because I was afraid of an increase in algae, but I seem to have the algae at anyhow. The second, although a newbie questions I'm sure, is what is the EI fertilizing method?

With the circulation, I am currently running a HOB filter and a Magnum 350 canister filter along with a power head for circulation. I just read about the bio-wheel causing CO2 to be passed back into the atmosphere, would that cause a problem now since I am not using a pressurized system and only using the Excel?

Thanks for the help!!!
 

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ei dosing is found http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/...zing/15225-estimative-index-dosing-guide.html there and you could try the diy co2 although you would need many bottles and in the long run it would be more expensive and even after the setup it still might not work right since its not controllable its not recommended for a tank of your size but it cant hurt at this point and it might work like putting a band aid on a fatal wound
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Sorry I used the search and found the EI. But what I didn't find was the drop checker. It resulted in a multitude of hits. So what is a drop checker and where do you purchase one?

Thanks again...
 

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A drop checker is a little chamber that holds PH indicator fluid separate from your tank water, but with some air trapped in between. When you add CO2 some will come out of the water into the trapped air pocket and then re-dissolve into the PH indicator fluid, making both your tank water and the indicator the same PH, thus you can tell your tank's PH without having to do a test every hour. Here's a thread on how to make one yourself. http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/...aquarium-projects/32100-diy-drop-checker.html you can also find them on eBay or through our sponsor sites.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well after reading the replies, I guess the next both logical and practical step is to order the pressurized CO2 system. After looking at a few and one up close (my friend's) I purchased one on line and it should be here in a few days. I did a search on Dr.s Foster & Smith and didn't see the drop checker so I will be missing that. I am also restocking my chemical fertilize and adding the phosphate, which by my meager mind seems wrong due to the fact of the phosphate in my tap water.

Thanks to everyone for such quick replies and eagerness to help!!! I look forward to posting a pict of my tank in a few weeks to show the progress.
 

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About the phosphate: if you were to find that your dinner plate had a small piece of baloney attached to it, would you never feed yourself any meat? I'm sure it would occur to you that once you eat that piece of baloney you are minus any meat in any future meal. Well, that is what you are doing to your plants. You add tap water, which may have some phosphates in it, thinking that nutrient is now taken care of. But, the plants make a meal of the phosphate, leaving none for future meals unless you add it with the other nutrients.

Without phosphate plants use very little nitrate. Just as without baloney you might eat very little bread. Add some more baloney and you find yourself without enough bread, so you still sit there starving. This means, when you do dose phosphates you will soon see the nitrate level in the tank drop very low as the plants gorge on both. This is why a fertilizing scheme has to provide an adequate amount of each of the nutrients, even if one of the nutrients is present in the tap water. (Or you can change water every day to get a fresh supply of phosphate.)

Here, http://www.fish-street.com/cart/co2_test_kit, is the cheapest drop checker I have yet seen. And, here http://www.greenleafaquariums.com/co2-drop-checkers/cal-double-check.html is the best one I have seen, one that I use.
 

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Also, unless you have calibrated your phosphate test kit and know it to be accurate, don't blindly accept what it tells you. BTW, that's true of any test kit. If you're on municipal water, ask them for a water analysis report and that will tell you exactly what's in there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for the explanation Hoppy. And Bert you hit the nail on the head. If the test kit said so, then I took it for gospel. I blindly accepted the results and justified it because I had just purchased the test kit along with an iron test kit. And I just increased the dosing of iron because my test kit showed no traces of iron. So I guess the moral of the story is don't trust the tests.

Thanks again!!!
 
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