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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So, it seems that I just can't fix a problem that's been going on in my 40 breeder farm tank. I did have a bad green dust problem and still have BBA, leaf down curling and stunting issues. I've been doing big water changes every 2-3 days along with massive substrate cleaning, as it was pretty dirty in there. Before adding my LED fixture, I had some of the same problems.

Here are the specs:

Rapid LED fixture with 24 LEDs, 4 royal blue, the rest a mix of cool and neutral white. I usually have it turned down to about 85%. PAR values are roughly what you'd have under new T5HO bulbs.

Nitrate: I have a gram scale and have been adding .3 grams per day (1.22ppm), which leaves me around 15ppm when I test. I have an AP kit, but it has come out pretty much the same as a Lamotte someone in my club has. If I add the recommended amount for EI daily, I'd have WAY high nitrate (.79g).

Phosphate: Add .12 per day of potassium phosphate (.55ppm).

Magnesium sulfate: .5grams per day. I've had some plants grow leaves that curl downward in a strange way and this was suggested as a possible remedy. Does not appear to be working.

K: After some pinholes on Saururus chinensis and Limnophila rugosa (+ ratty lower leaves on inclinata), I started adding some KCL, though I will probably just get some potassium sulfate. Adding .9g a day now(3ppm), though I suspect that may be too much, as it's out of whack for the other macros as far as amount goes and some additional stunting has happened recently. Perhaps something else is blocking K uptake (the magnesium sulfate?).

Co2 is through an ADA diffuser under a Hydor. My drop checker seems to have disappeared. New one on the way. It's turned up fairly high, but the shrimp seem to be OK.

Flourish Excel and Flourish: 10ml daily. Flourish Iron: 5ish ml daily.

KH is 5, GH is 10, but only because I've been experimenting with magnesium phosphate to solve a mysterious leaf down curving problem.

Rene Filstar canister filter, Hydor and an old in-tank UV filter that really only moves water. Spray bar vertically along back, the other two along the front. Lots of water movement. Canister cleaned about once a month. Airstone for about 5 hours at night, which actually helped quite a bit.

Fish load: 3 cherry barbs, 4 glowlight tetras. That's it. I've got quite a few Amano shrimp and natural color cherry shrimp. A few nerites and what has become way too many trumpet snails (culling).

Plants affected:
Stunting: Hemianthus glomeratus, Ludwigia inclinata, Ludwigia simpsonii x L. repens, Rotala macrandra
K deficiency symptoms: Saururus chinensis, Limophila rugosa, L. suffruticosa
down curling leaves: L. simpsonii x L. repens, Acmella repens
General crappiness and failure to thrive: Hydrocotyle tripartita.
Bigger problem is older leaves just gradually accumulating the little black nubs of BBA and being ruined. If anything, it grows faster now than ever.

On the other hand, my Hygrophila sp. 'brown' (probably polysperma variant), is pretty amazing looking. Limnophila aromatica from the Asian market looks fantastic, while the rugosa beside it struggles. The inclinata and a lot of other plants actually look pretty good much of the time, but there's just _something_ a bit off. What? I have no idea at this point. Growing plants was never this hard in Pittsburgh. Maybe as my collecting and ID skills have improved my growing skills have declined? :mad: I've got some pretty valuable plants I don't want to lose, and since it's collecting season, I don't feel like going through all the trouble of obtaining these great new plants before Amanda can get a hold of them herself just so I can bring them back to get covered with little black nubs and stunt. I want to enjoy the growing part of my hobby...

Thanks in advance.
 

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K: After some pinholes on Saururus chinensis and Limnophila rugosa (+ ratty lower leaves on inclinata), I started adding some KCL, though I will probably just get some potassium sulfate. Adding .9g a day now(3ppm), though I suspect that may be too much, as it's out of whack for the other macros as far as amount goes and some additional stunting has happened recently. Perhaps something else is blocking K uptake (the megnesium sulfate?).
I've dosed way more K and never fixed the problem with potassium. But after increasing PO4, no new pinholes appeared anymore. This worked for me and multiple clients in the lfs I work. Try it!

Perhaps this helps for the stunting as well. And the tripartita uses a lot as well. My tank easily uses 1.2 ppm PO4 a day, so I think you're on the low side. Try it for 2-3 weeks, I bet things will improve (you can thank me with some newly collected rare plants:p)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I will try it, though I must say I have been a bit wary of adding too much because of a last battle with BGA. It was pretty nasty. Maybe .16 or so per day. I may as well cut the MG as well. I'll report back. Thanks!
 

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Hi Cavan,

I may have missed it....what is your source of Ca? Are you maintaining your Ca:Mg ratio?

I have very soft water here in Seattle and if I don't dose sufficient Ca & Mg I experience similar deficiencies in my plants. Typically I dose sufficient Seachem Equilibrium to maintain a 4.0 dGH with extra MgSO4 and CaCl. I also add a little baking soda (NaHCO3) to maintain at least a 2.0 dKH. Some of my plants seem to really like the extra carbonate.

calcium:
Leaves to show effects first: New
Mild deficiency: Smaller, distorted new leaf growth. Reduced leaf tissue, with the central vein persisting.
Leaves often cupped, rather than flat
Moderate deficiency: Often sudden bends or twisting of leaf, which is now much reduced in size.
White streaks or white edges in new growth. Roots are stubby and twisted. Root tips may die.
Leaves of Vallisneria are strongly crinkled as though they have tried to grow and got jammed in a small space.
Severe deficiency: New growth almost entirely white. Leaves are tiny deformed stumps. Growing points for both shoot and root die.
Damage and die off growing points.
Yellowish leaf edges.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi Roy,

I'm not really sure what the ratio is. I'd certainly like to eliminate the ratio as a problem or fix it if it is one, but I don't have the right test kit I suppose. My water here is not so soft, but if I can check that out I will.
 

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Hi Cavan,

I have seen various numbers for the Ca:Mg ratio ranging from 4:1 to 3:1. Seachem Equlibrium uses about 3.3:1.

I find that if I add equal volumes of CaCl and MgSO4 (i.e. 1/2 tsp each) I can maintain the proper ratio. Of course CaCl creates an exothermic reaction so I typically dissolve it in water prior to adding it to my tanks.

It is amazing to me how quickly some plants will start to respond with new healthy growth after I correct whatever they are trying to tell me they are missing!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yes, but the problem in my case is that, unlike you, I'm not basically starting from scratch when it comes to the GH. I need some means of finding out exactly what the ratio I have from the tap is.
 

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Hi Cavan,

It's amazing what you can find online; for example the water analysis for your utility in Silver Springs, MD.

If I am reading it correctly it looks like the average annual dGH in your area is about 5.8 dGH with about 15 ppm of Ca and 4.8 ppm of Mg. Assuming the substrate and hardscapes are basically inert I would say your tap water should be fine. Tom Barr has these comments on Ca and Mg levels in post #8 of this thread.

Assuming the fertilizer levels are good the most likely culprit may be the CO2 level.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Pics of leaf curling?

I had a similar problem a while ago which I think might have been a boron deficiency.

Down-curling leaves seems to be a sign of boron issues especially in rotalas from what I've seen & can gather.
It's not that really. Not along the edges. It's more that the tip is pushed down as if you had your finger on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hi Cavan,

It's amazing what you can find online; for example the water analysis for your utility in Silver Springs, MD.

If I am reading it correctly it looks like the average annual dGH in your area is about 5.8 dGH with about 15 ppm of Ca and 4.8 ppm of Mg. Assuming the substrate and hardscapes are basically inert I would say your tap water should be fine. Tom Barr has these comments on Ca and Mg levels in post #8 of this thread.

Assuming the fertilizer levels are good the most likely culprit may be the CO2 level.
Thanks. Well, I think I'm going to increase P and cut out the MG additions and see how that goes.
 

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Hmmm...

Why are you adding some much flourish and iron a day?

I used to dose about 5 ml flourish/iron in my 58 a day, then one day I realized I hadnt filled my autodoser in about a month, turns out when I changed the clock I never hit the set button so I hadnt dosed any flourish in probably 1.5 2 months. Plants looked great.

Reset it to its former 5 ml a day and got some algae that I hadnt seen in awhile.
Lower it and the algae is gone.

Id start there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hmmm...

Why are you adding some much flourish and iron a day?

I used to dose about 5 ml flourish/iron in my 58 a day, then one day I realized I hadnt filled my autodoser in about a month, turns out when I changed the clock I never hit the set button so I hadnt dosed any flourish in probably 1.5 2 months. Plants looked great.

Reset it to its former 5 ml a day and got some algae that I hadnt seen in awhile.
Lower it and the algae is gone.

Id start there.
What algae? I think I'd put that lower down on the list of possibilities; I've actually added proportionally more in other tanks and not run into this. If nothing else works and I get desperate, I'll try that.

Interestingly, I got one of those little white plastic drop checkers in the mail and installed it. Dark green. My ADA checker, wherever it is, usually read higher. I'll bump it up a bit and see if that does anything, though I know that's unlikely to have any direct effect.
 

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Sorry to bump in, but in reading through the thread I noticed a lot of focus on nutrients, ratios, levels of this and that, etc., but not a mention of CO2. Some plants are doing better than others, which to me sounds like CO2 competition.

The lighting change may have exacerbated what was already going on to a small extent making it more apparent. LEDs seem to be more "potent" IME, although I've never seen it proven..so its just anecdotal.

Any surface skimming? The airstone may be degassing more CO2 over night than previously...did you compensate for that?

Instead of airstones I have opted for some surface skimming with the same benefit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
OK to bump in. ;)

I've actually looked into getting a surface skimmer, as I do seem to get quite a bit of surface scum. The airstone ameliorates that to some degree, though not quite enough; I'm reliant on the frequent water changes to keep ahead of it. If I can get something that skims and serves as an inlet strainer that can reach down into the tank enough, I'll consider it. What are you using?

In any case, I did bump it up slightly and will be keeping an eye on the fauna.
 

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OK to bump in. ;)

I've actually looked into getting a surface skimmer, as I do seem to get quite a bit of surface scum. The airstone ameliorates that to some degree, though not quite enough; I'm reliant on the frequent water changes to keep ahead of it. If I can get something that skims and serves as an inlet strainer that can reach down into the tank enough, I'll consider it. What are you using?

In any case, I did bump it up slightly and will be keeping an eye on the fauna.
I had the same experience you did with the surface film. An airstone really helped, but not quite all the way. I sprung for the ADA vuppa 1, it did the job...but I wouldn't recommend it. It is a pretty piece of hardware, but needs a lot of baby sitting since it doesn't auto adjust to the water level. I switched to the new eheim skim 350 and that is great. I think there is some real benefit to surface skimming in planted tanks. After adding it I was able to increase my CO2 and relieve the problems I had with CO2. It was perplexing for a while because fish would tell me too much CO2, but plants would say not enough. By adding the surface skimming I could add more without stressing the fish.

I've also found drop checkers give false high readings when combined with ceramic diffusers or atomizers. The bubbles enter the chamber causing it to react quicker and trap more CO2. My drop checker was more reliable when I switched things over to a cerges reactor. There is still lag time of about an hour, but if I'm hitting the lighter green when lights are on (or at full power with my dimmable ATI) its been good to go because it was in a good range before that. When I used an inline atomizer I would have to be hitting neon yellow and still wasn't sure.
 
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