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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I recently filled my tank that I had been growing emersed HC in. I had a nice lush HC carpet. I added a ton of stems to get the tank going, and only a few slow growers for lack of better places to put them.

I heard that HC will melt some, but I am experiencing more than I cared to. It still seems to be growing, but I have quite a few nasty dead spots in my carpet. So, first question is: should I just leave it alone for now?

Most of the plants are growing, but some are also melting on parts. I assume most of it is new plant acclimation. Some is algae choking the leaves (which I'll get to in the next paragraph). Specifically the Potamogeton gayi, Myriophyllum tuberculatum, and Bolbitis are problematic. I know the Bolbitis is a slow grower. I have it in a lower light portion of the tank. A few of the leaves (fronds whatever) are whithering away. I am unsure how fast the other two should take hold, but they're in there anyway. Their leaves (whisks whatever again) are also disintegrating. The second question is: Should I trim all excess dead parts? That will be a real chore for plants like HC, PG, and MT.

Lastly, I am experiencing the expected diatom outbreak. It isn't huge yet, but it's growing. I added 3 Otocinclus for the algae, and quite a few ghost shrimp to feed on the decaying plant matter. Last question is: aside from just waiting it out, should I do anything else besides what I have done and watch it kill my plants?

Tank specs are:

pH_7.4
KH_17-20
GH_5-ish
NO2_0
NO3_0
NH3/NH4_0

I am running an 8 hour photoperiod of:

1 hour 1.75wpg morning
6 hour 3wpg midday
1 hour 1.75 evening

on a 30g

I am maintaining 30ppm CO2, and dosing EI.

Any help is appreciated.

Thanks

Edit:
This might be better off in the General Aquarium Plants Discussions forum. If so, mods please move.
 

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You've got a few problems going on there. First off your nitrates are zero. I see you're using EI so something is not reading right here. Nothing is going to grow very long without the proper ferts, particularly with the light level and CO2 level you have.
Second, If you plan to grow healthy HC you'll want to ditch the 3 stage light periods and just stick with the 3 wpg for 8 hours. The 1.75 wpg is not going to cut it for HC.
As for acclimation, you can expect to have some melting in a few plants but probably not to the point you are seeing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I suspect the nitrates are zero because the tank has only been filled for about 5 days, I have a large plant mass, and I started dosing on the day after filling. Hopefully I will have measurable amounts soon.

Of course, my test kit could be wrong.

I knew the 1.75wpg wouldn't really do anything for most of my plants. I am only using them this way because I can. I figured it would also be a nicer way for the future fish to break in the morning. It can't hurt can it?

I guess I'll go ahead and switch all lights on for 8 hours and see if that helps. Is there anything else I should do here?
 

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Like Mikenas102 said, you need to increase your ferts. If you are having zero nitrates your plants have nothing to consume. Also nitrates are the nutrient you dose most, so I wonder what phosphate and potassium levels are. You need to up your dosages.

Did you tell us what you're using as a substrate? I doubt you'll have any diatom outbreak since it's not reallly an new tank. If you've been growing emmersed then all the bacteria is in your substrate already.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm dosing according to the guide found here.

20-40 Gallon Aquariums
+/- ¼ tsp KN03 3x a week
+/- 1/16 tsp KH2P04 3x a week
+/- 1/16 tsp (5ml) Trace Elements 3x a week
50% weekly water change

It's already a lot. You think I should up the KNO3 till I get results? If so, how much should i increase them by. I don't want to go overboard too much.

I have no way to test for P and K.

I wasn't expecting a diatom outbreak either, but that is definitely what I am seeing. It isn't a huge problem yet, but a problem nonetheless.

As substrate I am using a 2" layer of SMS with an inch of Flourite Black on top to weigh the plants down. I also supplemented it with root tabs.
 

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I would up the KNO3 and test the water until you see some in your tank. (Make sure your test kit is accurate.) You can get a test for phosphates. I've never seen one for Potassium, (I don't think there is one). You might just be having such growth the plants are sucking the KNO3 out of the tank. Your substrate is inert except for the iron in the flourite. The plant tabs will only feed the root plants. Your Myrio and bolbitus are water column feeders. While the Potamogeton Gayi has some roots, it mainly feed from the water too. I have read other threads where they can't keep up with the KNO3 as their plants are growing like crazy.

The diatom outbreak will go away. Your ottos will love it. :D
 

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This solution helped me with my Algae problem, I hope it helps you.

I no longewr have the Algae problem

Best Answer - Chosen by Alfredo
Not all algae eaters will eat all types of algae. So first, I'd suggest identifying what type you have. If it's brush algae or cyanobacteria, not much will eat either of these. Here's a link that will help you with the identification: http://www.floridadriftwood.com/algae_id...

No matter what type of algae this is, your first step in controlling it should be limiting the nutrients it needs to survive. So discontinue any plant fertilizers, make sure you aren't overfeeding your fish, and frequent partial water changes - 25% or so each week. Also, test your tap water for nitrates - this is a plant fertilizer, and will fertilize your algae as well. If you have detectable amounts, you might want to buy some reverse osmosis water to dilute the amount of nitrates your putting into your tank. Adding a phosphate-absorbing pad to your filter is another good idea - this is one of the nutrients that plants need that's in the shortest supply in your tank, so if to take it to 0, you'll limit the growth of algae as well.

Limiting lighting for a few days could help if this is a green algae, not so much with the brush algae or cyanobacteria. In fact, with cyano, it might help to increase the amount of time the lights are on - plants are better at removing nutrients than cyano, so they will help "starve" it out. Cyano also doesn't like stong water movement, so repositioning your filter or adding an airwand or small powerhead can help.

Instead of getting a whole new filter, get one of these attachments for your current one: http://www.thatpetplace.com/pet/prod/215... it draws water off the surface (good for removing oily film from dissolved proteins) and the bottom also draws in water. You can adjust the proportions drawn from which end, and there are attachments to connect this with about any power filter. Just remove the strainer from your present filter and insert the flexible tube.
2 months ago
Source(s):
http://www.skepticalaquarist.com/docs/al...
http://www.skepticalaquarist.com/docs/al...
http://www.skepticalaquarist.com/docs/al...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
OoooK, thanks Alfredo...
I assume your post was accidentally placed in the wrong thread, or it was some strange website malfunction (anomaly).

Anyway, I took some water to the LFS to test becuse I realized my kits were 5 years old. They also had very low readings. phosphates only measured about .5 PPM and there were no measurable amoumts of nitrate.

I have been adding quite a lot of PO4 and NO3 for the past couple days. The plants still look bad, but I noticed a lot of pearling for the first time since the tank has been set up. I'm taking this as a good sign.

I have had several low-medium tech tanks in the past, and have always had great success with them. This is my first truly high-tech tank, and the worst problem I've had with plants.

I assumed EI dosing would be sufficient for the plants. Does the high light and CO2 really speed up the plants' metabolisms so much that they require such an overdose of ferts? Can I also assume that they are not getting enough micros, even though I am dosing according to EI?

I hope this is the reason, and it balances out soon.
 

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What lighting system are you using? Lighting will dictate every other parameter in the tank!

It should go without saying that you should be patient during the startup process. You'll get some die-off, a little algae, fluctuations in nutrient parameters, etc. However, the two things that will allow your tank to succeed are lighting and CO2. You must have the proper amount of lighting, and you must have proper CO2 levels. The rest is easy. You already have a great dosing regimine above...and that is enough, although it is possible you might need more KNO3 later on when plant biomass gets higher. In my 29g, I dose 10mL of traces. I use Tropica's Plant Nutrition Liquid, but Seachem's Flourish should be the same dosing amount.

Here's what you need to understand: Light, light, light--it's the key to everything. People who have problems have too much. I'll get to that later after I know what you're using. The next thing is CO2. You've absolutely got to get enough of it in and throughout the tank. I use a little Rio 600 powerhead with a CO2 line sticking into the intake. It shoots CO2 all over the place in a fine mist and provides the critical water circulation my Marinelant HOT filter can't provide on its own. Dead spots, no matter how small, will kill an otherwise healthy tank. And throw that CO2 chart in the trash, along with any drop-checkers. You don't need that stuff; they are like radar detectors...they only throw you off but any good cop (algae in this example) will still get around it and bust you. Plants & algae are your CO2 chart. Keep the CO2 as high as possible. In the case of fish, allow some surface disruption to keep the pent-up gasses exchanged so the fish can breath.

Once you get the light vs. CO2 part down, the rest is so simple. You dose ferts like clockwork on your scheduled days. Dose low after a trim, and bring up your dosing amounts throught the week as your plants grow and demand more and more nutrients. But keep in mind that as they grow, they are also changing the tank circulation, so be sure to keep an eye on that. Allow some surface aeration at night to de-gas the tank and keep the bacteria healthy & happy with lots of oxygen. Do not allow debris to build up (too soon for this, but keep an eye out for it)...that will screw things up bigtime.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Sure I'll show off my strange DIY light fixture here:







It's 4x24w T5HO. Even though I don't yet have the best reflectors, I'm sure I get pretty decent light from it.

I'm injecting pressurized CO2 through a DIY external venturi reactor powered by a bulky RIO 1800 powerhead. I'm sure I get sufficient circulation between this and my filter output. I use a drop checker with 4dKH solution, and I have it set to yellowish green. I prefer to use it at least for now.

I think the NO3 was my problem. I started with a very heavy plant mass, and didn't realize they would suck out so many nitrates. I overdosed some and now have my NO3 reading at about 20ppm.

I am now seeing a lot of new growth and pearling everywhere. Unfortunately, I let my tank go too long without proper nutrients apparently. My once pretty HC carpet has dead spots and debris all over. Most of the plants have melted parts, and the tank developed some nasty brown sludge all over.

I really don't know what to do about this. I can't trim it all out without completely tearing the tank down. Should I leave it alone? I assume it will go away eventually. Will the HC grow out over the sludge and dead spots?

It's kind of depressing. I don't know how long it will take for this tank to recover. I'd start it all over, but I put work and time into growing out the carpet emersed. I'm sure this all could have been avoided had I not missed one important detail; in a high-tech tank, make sure ferts are inline with plant uptake.

Thanks all for the help thus far, and any future advice/recommendations will be greatly appreciated.
 

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Eliminate the noon burst and run 1.75wpg for 8-9 hours (this is high light). I've done an experiment with extremely high light with heavy ferts and extreme CO2. I got the brown sludge--the only tank I've ever gotten it in (and I've had a lot of tanks). I'll tell you this now to save you the pain later: reduce your lighting! Your tank will fail at some point if you continue to go down this route. You can continue to believe that you must have tons of ferts to support your lighting all you want, but this is only an internet myth. If you only want a temporary tank then fine, but if not...
 

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Pull out the spots of HC that are dead. It will fill in again. Take any dead material out of the tank. You might even be able to syphon it out. If there is dead everywhere why can't you let is rot a little and syphon it out. If there is too much you might need to be careful because you could get an ammonia spike. You don't want hurt your fish. Course if you have all these plants that are sucking up ferts then maybe they will take it up. I'd try to get out as much dead as I can. (Maybe add some snails to eat the dead leaves :D)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Avalon:

I've never heard anyone say 1.75wpg is high light. One of the main reasons I'm setting up a high-tech tank is to grow some more difficult, light demanding plants. You really consider 3wpg extremely high light?

The sludge started before I had any excess of ferts. The levels are slightly higher than I want them now. I plan to go back to my original dosing schedule after my next WC, and maybe even lower the dosing some if I think I can. The only time I noticed actual improvement in the tank is when I got my nitrates up. I don't yet know if the sludge is going away, but the plants are finally pearling and growing.

Tex Gal:

I'm trying to remove the dead plant matter, but it's tough. Every time I try and pull it off the HC I end up uprooting sections. Most plants are growing new leaves now with a lot of dead ones still attached. It seems overwhelming to trim so much from these plants, and is slow going and tedious to do so without uprooting them. I'm trying to get what I can though. I might have to invest in a smaller siphon for this. Mine is too large to maneuver through this tank effectively.

I have quite a few snails, and ghost shrimp cleaning the tank with me. The only fish for now are 3 otos that seem fat and happy. Will they eat dead leaves also? I try to observe them but haven't noticed that they do.
 

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Avalon:

I've never heard anyone say 1.75wpg is high light. One of the main reasons I'm setting up a high-tech tank is to grow some more difficult, light demanding plants. You really consider 3wpg extremely high light?

The sludge started before I had any excess of ferts. The levels are slightly higher than I want them now. I plan to go back to my original dosing schedule after my next WC, and maybe even lower the dosing some if I think I can. The only time I noticed actual improvement in the tank is when I got my nitrates up. I don't yet know if the sludge is going away, but the plants are finally pearling and growing.
Since you have T5HO's and what appears to be a nice reflector, yes, 1.75wpg is high light. I wouldn't put too much faith into the wpg rules. I have a single 55/65w PC suspended 5" above a 29g and there's nothing I can't grow. I used to have a 100g with 2x80w T5HO (1.6wpg) and again, there's nothing I couldn't grow (Toninas, L. Cuba, P. stellata, etc.). With lower light, good CO2 makes excellent plant growth possible; I think you'd really be suprised. As for the sludge, I never really figured out how to cure it, but it did eventually go away. A toothbrush or something similar is handy to help remove it. It's really annoying stuff since it grows back so quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well, I thought I had a decent reflector, but now I am unsure. It's mylar. Recently I have been reviewing hoppycalif's thread http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/science-aquatic-lighting/51435-light-intensity-variations-some-thoughts.html where he has been testing various reflectors with a PAR meter. His results for mylar were not very good at all. In fact, he is testing with the same mylar I have installed in my fixture.

That, coupled with 2 of the bulbs I am using (grow lamps sold for terrestrial plants) is leading me to believe I am not getting the light output I originally thought I had.

I have a sheet of mirrored aluminum on order that I intended to use for this fixture. I guess I'll save that for my next project.

I'm sure 1.75wpg is quite enough to grow most plants in my tank, but I hate to readjust my lighting now that I am noticing real improvement in the tank. Even with all lights on, I don't think I am going overboard here. Too bad I don't have that PAR meter to test my fixture with.

I will leave it the way it is for a week or two. I'll clean the tank as best I can and get my ferts inline. If the plants keep degrading and the sludge worsens, I will concede to your advice here and cut back my lights. I will also kick myself for not doing this sooner.

As for the sludge, does anyone know what it is and what really causes it? I've searched everywhere and found very few discussions about it. It must not be a very common problem. I read where one person believed it had something to do with low nitrates. You and another person claimed to have seen it with too much light. Perhaps it's a combination of both. I am considering starting a new thread dedicated to it.
 

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Hey man how are things coming along?

I had some of that brown stuff and my HC all looked like it was dead, but if you go to my site and look at the tank it is looking great. (www.rickonline.us) The brown, dead, Hc all came back to life with the quickness. Everything is growing really well now and things are coming along just great.

Just hang in there, and keep things steady...
 

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Since you have T5HO's and what appears to be a nice reflector, yes, 1.75wpg is high light. I wouldn't put too much faith into the wpg rules. I have a single 55/65w PC suspended 5" above a 29g and there's nothing I can't grow. I used to have a 100g with 2x80w T5HO (1.6wpg) and again, there's nothing I couldn't grow (Toninas, L. Cuba, P. stellata, etc.). With lower light, good CO2 makes excellent plant growth possible; I think you'd really be surprised. As for the sludge, I never really figured out how to cure it, but it did eventually go away. A toothbrush or something similar is handy to help remove it. It's really annoying stuff since it grows back so quickly.
I agree with Avalon's suggestions so far, especially regarding the light. If my memory is correct, the 2wpg "rule" was devised back in the 90's when inefficient shop lights with T-12 lamps, magnetic ballasts, and cool white bulbs were the best source of lighting available. In my opinion, 1wpg of T-5 HO lights put out probably as much light (if not more) as 1-2wpg of the old inefficient shop lights with T-12 lamps and magnetic ballasts...though I have no scientific evidence to support this ;)

Here's what you need to understand: Light, light, light--it's the key to everything. People who have problems have too much.
Light is like the gas pedal on your car and fertilizers and CO2 are the gas. The more you push the gas pedal down (increase the light) the more gas (fertilizers and CO2) you will use. When you drive around town with the the "pedal to the metal" all the time you use much more gas than you would by "cruising" (using lower light). Cruising will still get you the results you want but it may take a little longer to reach your destination. If you continue to use 3wpg of T-5 HO lights, you will definitely need to stay on top of your CO2 and dosing regime to make sure you don't run out of gas and wind up on the side of the road somewhere. In this analogy, being "on the side of the road" would be the equivalent of an algae outbreak :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Update:

Thanks for the help everyone. The tank is coming along nicely now.

The sludge is gone. The plants are growing and healthy. The fish seem fat and happy. All appears to be running smoothly.

I lost only a few plants and part of the HC carpet, but it's all growing back quickly now.

The steps I've taken since my last post are as follows:

-Slightly overdosed NO3 and PO4 for a few days
-Tested those levels frequently and adjusted as needed
-Many water changes, vacuuming, and trimming of dead plant matter.

My lighting and CO2 are the same. Phosphate levels are a steady 1ppm with very minimal dosing. This tank is a nitrate hog however. I'm now dosing slightly over the recommended amounts and the tank is at about 10ppm.

The main problem with the tank from the beginning seemed to be low nitrates. I assume that had something to do with the sludge, but I can't verify this. Did you notice what might have been the cause for the brown stuff in your tank rick4him? Glad to see all is well on your end.

MatPat, was the wpg rule really devised for T-12 lamps? If so, even as a general guideline, it would be pointless to follow with modern lighting.

Great analogy also. I expected it to work like that with my lighting, though I didn't expect my lighting to be this high. I'm definitely holding off installing real reflectors.

I wanted a high tech tank, and was prepared for the maintenance. Looks like I got it, but all is working out for now.
 
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