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1 Week Newbie Update: Help Needed!

Leah95

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11 Jan 2021
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19
Location
United Kingdom
Hey everyone!

So, I set up my new tank 1 week ago and its been a rollercoster! I’m very new to keeping a planted tank so I’ve been reading and asking my LFS as much as I can but, I just wanted to check in with people here to see if anyone can help with some issues I’ve come across (My original post with all my tank details are here: First Aquascape! but, for a quick overview, it’s a Aquanano 60 100l tank with a sump and co2 injection):

Current parameters:
I’m using the JBL pro Aquatest lab set. The tank was set up on the 11th and I was using the API master test kit beforehand but it didn’t measure everything and I knew something was wrong so I brought the better set. The first day I tested was also the first day I introduced co2. Firstly, the KH was awful but I’ve managed to increase that by dosing the water column with AquaVitro carbonate but now the GH has gone down? I have increased the iron using 1/2 cap of flourish iron daily. The silicates were so high they were off the scale so I’ve added 43ml of Phosguard to the filter (recommended by LFS) and I’ll be testing the silicates on Thursday, however, I tested the phosphates today and they’ve increased?! Most alarming is the o2 levels which went from healthy to barely anything, I noticed the fish were panting and lethargic (not at the surface)and thought it may be the co2 but the drop checker and the stats below suggest it should be fine, please can someone help me figure out what is wrong? I’ve done a 30% change today to add some oxygen to the tank and reduced the bubble count to 1 every 4 seconds and the drop checker hasn’t changed. I also have a large amount of white stuff on the new spider wood. I presume it is biofilm, I did soak this for 2 weeks and the LFS said this is normal, however, I am worried this may be the cause of the rapid decline in oxygen.

Date17/1/2118/1/2118/1/2119/1/21
Time14:0014:0020:0016:30
Temperature23.223.123.723.2
KH0-1 (No blue)2 (With blue)66
pH6.56.977
GH3-422-32
NH400
No200
No300
Po40.40.8
Sio26+ (Dark blue)
Fe0.050.050.20.2
Cu00
o26-81
Co21018
Bubble Count1ps2ps1 every 4 secs
W/C50%30%

Plants:
Most of my plants are looking worse for wear. I think some are experiencing melt and the Amazon sword is showing signs of iron deficiency (I’ve now started dosing with iron so hopefully this will help). I have the stock light on from 2-9pm and the co2 at 1 per 4 secs (see above for why) but this has only been running for 2 days now so I’m not expecting to see much improvement. I’ve attached some other photos so, if anyone can point out alternative theories as to the reason behind their decline, that would be ace. Also, if this is normal for a new tank, please let me know because I can’t find any help online. I have been treating them with Flourish x1 a week and flourish excel everyday.

Co2:
I managed to get myself a co2art Pro SE complete set. I have it running off a FE and the solenoid is on a timer (turns on 1.5hrs before lights on and goes off 1hr before lights off: lights running 2-9pm). Co2 is being diffused in using a JBL Taifun reactor (I don’t like the look of it but I was told it was the most efficient way for in-tank diffusion). The problem I am having is when the solenoid goes off, the working pressure increases from 24 to 57psi and stays there so, when it turns on, the bubbles go crazy. Luckily I’ve been here both days since it’s been setup to adjust it but I want to just let it run without worrying. Does anyone have any advice for this? I have contacted co2art, just waiting for a response.

These are my main questions at the moment, they’re a bit of a mix but I’m really hoping someone may be able to point out what I’m doing wrong or whether some of this is normal. I’m actually really enjoying having a planted tank despite all of this as I like the challenge, however, I don’t want my plants and fish to suffer in the process so all advice is welcome :)

(Cables in the pic were close to the tank as I turned off the filter to feed the fish and the tank currently has a 1cm overhang but I’ve ordered some 18ml ply till the custom tank is built, and it has soft felt attached to the bottom)

5F47EEC7-03B7-44E1-A37E-6746B2320065.jpeg

DFBBB1AB-65B9-4B76-9C3D-9855AF930AF3.jpeg
32ED25E9-E183-4454-B810-9BE8A79623F7.jpeg
7E008A06-5D19-48DB-B709-A77955AA9EA8.jpeg
 

Libba

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12 Jan 2021
Messages
43
Location
Australia
There's a lot to unpack here but let's start with filtration. From the photos it looks like your tank is an all-in-one with a pump in the back? I can't see how you're getting any surface agitation which is concerning. Surface agitation is extremely important for gaseous exchange and will help keep those O2 levels stable.
 

Leah95

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11 Jan 2021
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United Kingdom
There's a lot to unpack here but let's start with filtration. From the photos it looks like your tank is an all-in-one with a pump in the back? I can't see how you're getting any surface agitation which is concerning. Surface agitation is extremely important for gaseous exchange and will help keep those O2 levels stable.
There’s a sump in the back and a power head that came with the tank. I‘m looking at getting a duckbill output as it is currently just blowing onto the glass so there’s a dead spot near the wood. The tank came with a wave maker which I used for a while but it’s pretty strong so I took it out when I introduced the co2 as I thought it would lead to wasted co2. Do you think I should reintroduce the wavemaker or order the duckbill?
 

Libba

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12 Jan 2021
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43
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Australia
There’s a sump in the back and a power head that came with the tank. I‘m looking at getting a duckbill output as it is currently just blowing onto the glass so there’s a dead spot near the wood. The tank came with a wave maker which I used for a while but it’s pretty strong so I took it out when I introduced the co2 as I thought it would lead to wasted co2. Do you think I should reintroduce the wavemaker or order the duckbill?

This is a mistake a lot of people will make - worrying about wasted CO2. CO2 is cheap; it's just the gear that is expensive. You can make up for the CO2 lost by increasing your bubble count. I would put the wavemaker in as long as it's not too strong for your livestock. If not then redirecting some current to the water surface should be fine. I recommend reading this article to get a good understanding of surface agitation in a CO2 injected system:


And a good video here:

 

GHNelson

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Hi Leah
Having a new set up, you have diatoms and white bacteria growth on wood which normally happens!
Its very rare not to get diatoms.....its a process you need to go through to achieve a mature and stable aquarium.
You have some new growth coming through.....:thumbup:
Do regular water changes....have decent surface agitation for Co2/O2 exchange!
I'm not sure about the regulator issue....:(
hoggie
 

sparkyweasel

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30 Jun 2011
Messages
1,703
If you are using an active substrate it could explain why your GH is falling.
Don't worry about silicates, they won't cause any problems.
Opinion is divided on Phosguard, as to whether is works, but it claims to remove phosphate, which is an essential plant nutrient. I wouldn't use it in a planted tank.
The white stuff is mould and/or bacteria feeding on traces of non-woody matter left in the wood. It will stop when that food source is exhausted. You can remove it with a brush and syphon if you like, to improve the appearance, but it will return until it's out of food, so it's up to your preference. If it used the wood as a jumping-off point to attach to your plants, clean it off those.
The brown film is diatoms, they are very common in a new set-up and usually go away of their own accord. You can rub them off leaves with a finger and thumb. They do use silica, but you don't need to buy expensive stuff that claims to remove silicates.
Flourish is trace elements. You could consider a complete fertiliser.
hth

 

Kezzab

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18 Jan 2016
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Carlisle
Hi, all the above is sensible.

I know it's hard, I've been there, but be patient and don't stress every blemish. The whole experience is no fun if you do.

Follow the basic set up guidance and expect plants to have a period looking sad before the perk up. Usually around 6 weeks for me before a tank feels like it's out of start up phase.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
The silicates were so high they were off the scale so I’ve added 43ml of Phosguard to the filter (recommended by LFS)
I'm not being funny, or trying to be difficult, but asking your LFS, rather than this forum, about planted tanks is a bit like asking your hair-dresser whether the advice you got from the Doctors is right. They may be really good with fish (a lot of LFS are), but they aren't likely to be great with plants.
If you are using an active substrate it could explain why your GH is falling.
And the dKH as well.
........... I’ll be testing the silicates on Thursday, however, I tested the phosphates today and they’ve increased?!
I know it's hard, I've been there, but be patient and don't stress every blemish. The whole experience is no fun if you do.

Follow the basic set up guidance and expect plants to have a period looking sad before the perk up. Usually around 6 weeks for me before a tank feels like it's out of start up phase.
What @Kezzab says, just put the test kits away, they aren't telling you anything important at the moment and they are just an extra source of worry. I'm not a CO2 user so others will have to advise about that.

I'd syphon out any dead leaves and wood biofilm, keep up your water changes and watch the plants.

cheers Darrel
 

Paulukk

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28 Dec 2020
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Agree with all of the above- had our tank for a couple of months. It looked great for a couple of days initially then we got the white slimy bacteria all over the wood, the plants started looking a bit sad, got diatoms and just the tiniest pinch of blue green algae discolouring a patch of sand. The water chemistry was all over the shop. Did 50% water changes every other day the first week(and scrubbed the wood gently with an old toothbrush), then 50% every 3 days increasing the interval up by a day every week or so. Now the tank has stabilised and the plants are growing really well- it gets a shot of tropica fertiliser most days and we’ve stopped obsessing about the chemistry. I’m sure yours will come good with time
 

Leah95

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Hey everyone,

I firstly wanted to thank everyone for all of your advice, you guys have been incredibly helpful! I wanted to give you all an update on how it’s going thanks to everyone’s advice.

Over the past 3 weeks I have been doing 50% w/c on a Sunday and a 20% w/c and top-up on a Wednesday and it’s starting to come along nicely! I’ve now been able to get my parameters to a comfortable level through El dosing. Still in the process of reducing the silicates as nothing was working so I’m now trying JBL Silicatex and slowly increasing the amount I use.

I’ve managed to fix my Co2art regulator thanks to the incredible people in customer service! I’ve also upgraded the light with a Fluval Plant 3.0; someone was selling it ultra cheap and I thought it would be great interim whilst I save for a Twinstar. I’ve had it a few days and started it around 25% intensity; I’m already seeing new red leaves coming through on the Ludwigia Sp.!! I’m still working on the Amazon swords which aren’t looking great but I think they’ll improve slowly with time and I’ve also just added some more staurogyne rubescens as there was finally some in stock.

I finally felt the tank was at a comfortable enough level to introduce fish so I’ve been slowly adding stock, all of which have been thriving and have helped clean the tank up! Stock now includes:
  • 5x harlequin rasboras
  • 5x black neon tetras
  • 3x gourami (incredible algae cleaners)
  • 3x panda garra (I keep the water level a little lower than the glass to avoid them climbing out and always stop at the waterline)
  • 2x Amano shrimp (more will be introduced, I was a little hesitant as I lost my original one when I had the problem with the co2)

The amount of visible algae is also starting to drop which is amazing to watch. I’d like to add a few more red plants for contrast when I feel I’ve got the light right and move the dwarf grass but, so far I’m really happy with it.

Ultra grateful for everyone’s advice above, you guys have helped me out so much!
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7DC47A47-E25E-4769-9C39-2940DBBA2145.jpeg
 
Last edited:

Paul Kettless

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Seems like you are moving in the right direction, and always nice to see some fish make it into aquarium. Your plants are not going to care if the light is a fluval 3.0 or twinstar. I dont know much about the 3.0, but they seem to be very popular state side for sure. Cory from Aquarium co-op is a huge advocate of them for one. Im sure having control over the spectrum and power via the app will help.
 

Leah95

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Seems like you are moving in the right direction, and always nice to see some fish make it into aquarium. Your plants are not going to care if the light is a fluval 3.0 or twinstar. I dont know much about the 3.0, but they seem to be very popular state side for sure. Cory from Aquarium co-op is a huge advocate of them for one. Im sure having control over the spectrum and power via the app will help.
Thank you! I’m happy to finally get some fish in there, although fish weren’t my main focus, they’ve really brought it to life. The Twinstar was the original light I was going to get, I like that it’s on legs (though I’m thinking of suspending the Fluval off the ceiling to incorporate the tank more into the room - if that makes sense) and I’ve heard it’s better for reds but, I agree, a lot of people really seem to like the Fluval, especially its versatility in terms of settings - I’ll try and give an updated review in a month or so about how I’m getting on with it! I watched a guy on YT called Bentley Pascoe who gave a low-down on the settings as it was very confusing/overwhelming to start with; I’m going to follow his method and see how we get on! :D
 

Leah95

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Hi Leah
You are making good progress....how long has the Ludwigia repens been planted?
Hi,
Thank you so much! I’m really happy with how it’s developing, it’s definitely given me a little more confidence and trust in the process :)

The Ludwigia’s have been planted since 12th Jan so just under a month. I was really surprised at them because I brought them as a test and they’ve survived the best through everything. They’ve grown fairly fast considering the changing conditions!
 

GHNelson

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Hi,
Yes, they do grow reasonably fast.....when they get near the surface you could chop them in half and replant the tops!
Remove the old bottom part of the plant from the substrated, trim the out roots off, and use the bottom parts as floating plants, these will help you get the aquarium matured!
hoggie
 

Paul Kettless

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Thank you! I’m happy to finally get some fish in there, although fish weren’t my main focus, they’ve really brought it to life. The Twinstar was the original light I was going to get, I like that it’s on legs (though I’m thinking of suspending the Fluval off the ceiling to incorporate the tank more into the room - if that makes sense) and I’ve heard it’s better for reds but, I agree, a lot of people really seem to like the Fluval, especially its versatility in terms of settings - I’ll try and give an updated review in a month or so about how I’m getting on with it! I watched a guy on YT called Bentley Pascoe who gave a low-down on the settings as it was very confusing/overwhelming to start with; I’m going to follow his method and see how we get on! :D
Yeah I have also seen many things on you tube from Bentley Pascoe, he seems to know his stuff to a degree. It seems like one of the good things about this light is the fluval app. Please do keep us all up to date, its nice to see peoples progression and watch the tanks mature. Im fairly new to planted tanks myself, so it always good to see different peoples experiences and journeys.
 

John q

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Hi Leah, tank looks like it's coming along nicely, I'm sure the swords will spring into action once they get settled.
Panda Garra are really comical fish and full of character, they'll be squabbling with one another at some point and might even turn grey and lose the red tints off their tail fins (this happens when they're seriously peeved), don't worry this is normal and will settle down once the pecking order as been established.
 

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