forum convert needs fert help

Discussion in 'Aquarium Fert Dosing' started by discusdean, 15 Feb 2008.

  1. discusdean

    discusdean Member

    After being converted from another form to this wonderful vessel of knowledge and wisdom and after reading page after page of info (i'm stumped).

    I have a 500ltr planted aquarium that after much expense and labour still dose not deliver the pleasing growth and vigour that i see from many other tanks and was wondering if i poured out my heart and soul of what im doing one of you could help and steer my to the path of green enlightenment

    500 ltr
    92 watts t8 flourescent 6000k
    102 watt t5 5000k
    optional 800watt metal halide(not used) 6600 k
    pressurised c02 2bps ladder diffuser (measures 10ppm)
    300w heater and 100watt under gravel heating
    2inch mixed plant substrate base covered with 1.5 inch fine black gravel
    1 304 fluval external filter


    ph 7.2
    amm 0
    nitrite 0
    nitrate 5
    phos .1
    hardness 8
    lighting is on 12 hours daily
    temp with in 1 degree (25degrees set)
    co2 dosed during day only
    iron based liquid fert added 1x week
    75ltr water change(50:50 tap/ro) every 2 weeks
    whole tank controlled by aquatronica control system (ph /water level/timers/dosing/temp /ect ect)


    30 neons
    1 discus (small rehome)
    10 coridoras
    5 ottos

    brasilias lil
    echidorus mix(mother plants)
    variuos other unnamed plants totalling 100 or more

    Basically the tank has been running for 6 months and no matter what i try the plants look yellow and holed and im suffering a hair algae outbreak again for the second time and am getting very dispondant and am hoping a guru and shining light (eg you)can point me in the direction of a green wonderland .

    any help would be appreciated and taken with humble gratitude.
  2. sks

    sks Guest

    few things:

    1) get rid of the heating cable, it's not needed. :D If you can't do that unplug it.
    2) T5's would help, you probably have far too little light, and 800 watts is way too much.
    3) for ferts recommendation look at, because your regime is totally indequate. :(
    4) get 2 x Eheim 2217's and use one to run an Aqua Medic CO2 reactor, because your filtration is woefully inadequate and I suspect I know who put you up to "only once the tank volume per hour" philosophy. The ladder diffuser I find not very good, it works, but I rather have an external reactor so everything is neat and tidy, and it doesn't get messed up with algae.
    5) Consider using a drop checker to test your CO2 levels.

    I redid my tank using ECO complete and dry ferts and I'm glad I took the plunge. Others here will have much better advice for you.

    Oh, and by the way, I'm using an aquatronica computer too. But a few months down the line I will take it OFF and stick to two timers. Totally overkill for a planted tank in my opinion.
  3. discusdean

    discusdean Member

    cheers for the advice can unplug the cable heating easily enough ,what levels of light ing would you suggest as mine works out to just under 200w and thought that would be enough (bad info yet again.

    you sugest a higher turn over for the tank then what is the benefit of that other than increased filtration .

    you mention a drop checker could you elaborate on that as have a permaneant checker and a liquid test kit
  4. discusdean

    discusdean Member

    sorry forgot to say the aquatronica is being used to run my reef also, so a bit of a labour saving device really.
  5. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

    I don't think you need to unplug the cable; it's just that they don't really seem to have any benefit and therefore aren't needed. If it's helping with your heating then you may as well leave it on as it will at least keep them substrate a little warmer.

    At the moment your lighting is under 2 wpg which means it's a pretty low light tank but you should be able to get ok plant growth, just maybe not with high light requiring plants. Once you get good basic growth you may want to use the Halides to give you a brief burst of higher light of say a few hours. This can allow you to grow more demanding plants, but shouldn't be done until you sort out the nutrition and CO2.

    The Drop checker is the most reliable way of measuring the actual level of CO2 in your tank. It consists of a small permanent glass or plastic container in the tank. You fill this with water of 4dKH and a pH indicator solution and the CO2 diffuses into this solution and gives you a pH based solely on the amount of CO2. For 4dKH water a green solution means you have 30ppm CO2. Clive has done a great write up about drop checkers in the Cookbook section!

    A higher turn over seems to be one of the factors that is common to successful planted tanks. There are two percieved advantages to a higher turnover:
    First of all CO2 and other nutrients are evenly distributed around the tank giving good plant growth all over the tank. In poor currents plants may struggle in areas of the tank, or CO2 levels may be locally low allowing less than ideal, or fluctuating, conditions where algae can proliferate.
    Secondly, More filtration means any ammonia produced in the tank is more rapidly removed from the water column and ammonia and other organic waste seems to be a major trigger of algae outbreaks.

    If I were you I would first add a drop checker to make sure you are getting CO2 levels of about 30ppm. A better method of diffusion will also help this, such as an external reactor.
    I would then look at dosing more fertilisers. Many on here use the EI method of adding fertilisers, but another popular idea, especially for those who are starting out is the Tropica range of fertilisers. Tropica Plant Nutrition plus (TPN+) is a 'complete' fertiliser and once you get CO2 levels up I think this may be the best way to dose your tank to start with. Once you get things growing you could then switch to the dry ferts and an EI type of dosing where you have greater control and it's cheaper!
    I would also look at adding another filter (especially if you plan on adding more discus as they can be pretty messy fish) or a powerhead to boost water flow.
    Once your plants are growing then look at adding noon bursts of you MH if you want to grow more demanding plants, but don't do this until your CO2 and nutrients are in place as the higher light will cause more algae IME.
  6. sks

    sks Guest


    I would be good if you could show some photos of your setup.

    If you're using your aquatronica already then you might as well leave it as it is, just a glorified timer/plug socket.

    I am of the view that, if done correctly, less is definitely more. I took me a while to take the plunge and change the system I was using before because of other things happening and because I was basically listening to the wrong people.

    You have very few fish so my advice to you is to do a total strip down and start again, just like I did in my tank redo in the journal section. I recommend

    1) ECO complete as a substrate
    2) T5 lighting, or use your metal halides but only 2 x 150 watts on (or 2 x 250 watts). 800 watts is total utter overkill, more likely to burn your plants
    3) 2 Eheim 2217s (never like the bucket type filters anyway so I tend to keep it simple), filled only with mechanical and biological media, but you probably want some purigen in the initial stages (never used the stuff myself)
    4) Aqua Medic 1000 external reactor (use RO tubing for CO2 proof hose)
    5) make up the ferts according to I use the all in one PMDD+Trace
    6) one aqua medic dosing pump to dump it all in. Remember to ratio up the fert mixture accordingly. If you want finer control you need to get the aquatronica, but I have a feeling that you have the aquatroica already.
    7) I get my plants from greenline aquatics and they're very good.

    Here what my tank looks like after 6 weeks of the above set up;


    Before anyone jumps in and say that they feel my advice is a bit extreme, let me state that the hobby has moved on, there are better ways of doing things, and to keep an old system ticking over might not be worth your while. You can elect to just up your ferts, CO2 and lighting, and there is nothing wrong with doing that, but it's so much nicer to get it right from the beginning. This is what my old system use to look like when I upped the ferts/CO2/lighting:


    And if I continued I'm sure I could of gotten rid of the algae and the other issues but it was just an eyesore and uphill struggle so I elected to start over again, doing it according to what others are doing since they were getting much better results than me.
  7. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Chicago, USA
    Hi and welcome to the forum. As supplementary information to the previous posts please take heart and don't despair. :D With a few fundamental changes you can easily turn the tank around.

    500 liters is a fairly large tank and some things that others can get away with in smaller tanks are unforgivable in this size. Principally, your fertilization regime, your flow and your CO2 application should be revised as top priorities.


    According to the EI dosing regimen you can dose the following as a baseline and make adjustments as needed:

    3X per week 1.5 teaspoons KNO3 (Potassium Nitrate)
    3X per week 0.5 teaspoons KH2PO4 (Potassium Phosphate)
    2X per week 5/8 teaspoon CSM+B or 33ml TPN
    1X per week two teaspoons GH Booster or MgSO4 (Epsom Salts)

    The powders listed above can be acquired from here: ... th=145_146
    For your size tank I would start with 1/2 kilo KNO3, 1/4 kilo KH2PO4, 100g GH Booster (or go to Boots Pharmacy and buy Epsom salts) and 100g of (CSM+B) Trace Element Mix

    As an option to the CSM+B powder you can use Tropica Plant Nutrition.
    The TPN (Tropica Plant Nutrition) is a commercial liquid trace element mix and can be purchased at the same vendor at this page: ... lter_id=48

    A typical example of an EI fertilization regime would go as follows:

    Sunday - 50% (or more) Water Change - then dose KNO3, KH2PO4 and 2 teaspoons of either GH Bosster or MgSO4.

    Monday - dose CSM+B Trace or TPN whichever you chose.

    Tuesday - dose KNO3 and KH2PO4

    Wednesday - dose Trace element

    Thursday - dose KNO3 and KH2PO4

    Friday - dose Trace element

    Saturday - rest

    Repeat this regime regularly.


    Ideally you'd want your filter to turnover between 3X to 5X the
    tank volume per hour. This flow rate continuously delivers the nutrients to the leaf and stem surfaces and carries away waste products. The flow keeps particles in suspension so that they can be carried away by the filter intake instead of accumulating on the substrate surface. The problem is that filters only deliver about half of their output rating. A good rule of thumb is to multiply your tank volume by 10 and get filter(s) rated at that value. You therefore ideally need to get enough filters rated at 5000L per hour. A single 304 is insufficient I'm afraid. You may want to upgrade to the FX5 and two of them would be better.


    As Ed says read and re-read the CO2 measurement thread until you can repeat it in your sleep :lol: In part because the flow problem, CO2 is THE single biggest problem in a big tank.

    Hope this helps.

  8. sks

    sks Guest

    None of this is difficult information. None of it. It's not meant to be. It's meant to be common as muck. We are not talking about Quantum Mechanics, and not even a hint of calculus is involved. ;)

    Basically what I see is that we get fewer and fewer threads like this because it will spread . . . . . and then we can get to the main point: the creative side, where opinions and taste are allowed to differ. Because the technical side (preventing algae, dosing regimes) will be a triviality, and rightly so.
  9. discusdean

    discusdean Member

    Cheers to every one for the help have ordered the dry ferts and upted the water changes already so will start them as soon as they arrive .

    I was wondering with this regime and if i upped the co2 level what lighting level should i aim to have above is 2wpg enough or should i aim for 3wpg

    The hair algae outbreak that i have a the minite is getting bad will this go using this regime or should i get some exel and try that as i see some members have had good results with this (should i hold of dry ferts if i use this)

    Plese keep the info coming it is all great and very helpful.
  10. sks

    sks Guest

    pictures would help immensely since we can get to see the condition instead of you describing it. How do you implement your water changes?

    I'd be quite keen to get more carpet forming plants rather than large amazons. If you look at most of the setups in Natural Aquarium world there are hardly any towering amazon swords because they literally hog the gravel and the other plants don't get a chance.

    I'd ditch the T8s and add 4 more T5s to get it to 3 wpg or thereabouts (look for a total of about 400 watts of lighting), you have not told us your tank dimensions. T5s give more of a punch than the T8s. However, I personally don't like the wpg rule since you have to bare in mind the inverse square law of light distribution: if you move your lights twice the distance from the source you get one quarter the intensity at the source.
  11. discusdean

    discusdean Member

    The tank is 60x24x24 in size

    I siphon the water change water as i clean the substrate and wood and then top back up using a slow pump with tap/ro water at a ratio of 3:1 was doing about 20% but on advice have increase to around 50% weekly

    what types of lighting are you guys using .

    after ceg advice am trying to locate the csm+b fert on thre web to no avail is it just a trace fert.
  12. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Chicago, USA
    Hi discusdean,
    The CSM+B is on the dry fert website from AE I gave you. You have to go to the next page and it's simply called Trace Element Mix.

    In my opinion, for the moment I really wouldn't try to change any of the lighting right now. If you had enough lighting to get algae then you have enough to grow your plants. Fixing the CO2 and the nutrient dosing will be good enough for the moment. Your plan to increase the water changes is a good one. You can use Excel or Carbolife to supplement your CO2 for now.

    Later, after you have a better grip on the tank and when the plants get healthier, you can reassess and determine whether you want higher growth. Adding more light right now will not help you kick the hair algae. It will most likely make matters worse.

    Take your steps slowly and don't try to do too much too soon. You've got plenty of time. Remember that along with the water changes you must physically remove as much of the algae that is in the tank. When you add the nutrients the algae will feed on the nutrients as well so it's a bit of a catch-22. There is no choice though so you might see an increase in algae in the beginning. Just continue to add the excel and nutrients and to do the water change (2X or 3X per week if you can manage it) and you will see an improvement after a week or two.

    You have time to think about all the other things but let's take care of the basics first. That would be my advice.

  13. sks

    sks Guest

    Arcadia have a lovely T5 unit that will fit your tank, 4 bulbs. If you can hang the unit from the ceiling that would be good, there's also a switch on it to use 2 lights at a time, so it having the high light gives you problems you can only set it to using 2. If you can hang the unit you can place it higher to lower the light intensity hitting the tank.

    I don't have to siphon my substrate. If you are using very little flow then that might be something you would do, but if you're blasting the tank that probably won't be required.
  14. discusdean

    discusdean Member

    Cheers ceg

    Was not anticipating changing the lighting straight away but as with most higher priced things we have to budget so was thinking ahead

    do you think doing water changes with a 3:1 water/ro is okay or would a remin powdered ro be better ,I have the option for either at the min.

    Is dosing the exel at the same time as the fert okay and if so do you think that doubling the dose (as some people seem to think is the best way to curb hair algae)is the right way to go.

    I Know some of these questions belong in other posts but the info you are giving is keeping a very dispondent keeper from giving up and washing out.
  15. Vase

    Vase Member

    Dont give in mate. About a year ago I removed the remaining fish from my 720 litre baby, pulled all the plugs out and just walked away, literally. I'm in the same boat now ;)

    And I'm finding your questions and people answers very helpful
  16. sks

    sks Guest

    there's nothing to stop you switching over to your metal halides, but at 800 watts I do wonder what configuration you have it in? 2 x 250 + 2 x 150? If so then take the 2 x 150 pair to use, and if the light is still too bright use one bulb or move the light housing higher.
  17. discusdean

    discusdean Member

    The halides are in a 2x400w configuration so do not think using them is a option now
    a shame really but will sell the light and up the filtration like ceg suggested i think

    Am trying to bear with it and keep going and info and help has given me a new sence of purpose that i may be able to do this.
  18. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Chicago, USA
    Hi, I guess I'm not really sure why your are using RO. Is it for the discus? The plants don't really care so you can use whatever water you feel necessary for the fish. If you don't have any particular reason for using RO, then just use tap and save yourself trouble. Not having to mix and match makes it more likely that you'll keep up with the water change. As you'll see discussed in other threads, the water changes help by removing ammonia, detritus and algal spores. Remember to dose the nutrients immediately after the water change.

    The instructions on the excel bottle are to dose a certain percentage at water changes and to dose a different percentage on non-water change days. Excel is unfriendly to some plants if overdosed so I suggest you just dose daily per bottle for the first three weeks or so. Our mind set should be to make our plants healthy, which the excel does by providing a source of carbon which is not available to algae. As the plants become healthier the algae will recede.

    Hang in there! Be systematic and persistent with the water changes, nutrient dosing and CO2 and you find that the tank becomes healthier within weeks. :D

  19. sks

    sks Guest

    400W?!!! I've never seen 400 watts bulbs! Must be flood lights or something. I still have my 150 watt halide and you don't really want to look into it, and since it's hung up rather high that does happen accidentally. T5s are easier on the eye and the light spreads better because it's diffused.
  20. discusdean

    discusdean Member

    Cheers ceg the ro was being used to soften the water a bit but after your reply and reading other threads i think i will just cut it out ,as you say a fifty percent water change is a large job on a 500lt so am thinking of desighning a auto water change unit at work.

    Will start the exel as soon as it arrives do you think i should see an improvement in a few weeks then .

    And sks the 400 were over my reef so had to be big ,at nearly 9inch long and 2inch diameter they cost 60+ each they were alittle pricey to run.

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