General plant help V soft water

ollyUK

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26 May 2009
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Hi folks, been a while since a grew plants and knowing the previous problems I have had I want to pre-empt and solve some of the issues before I go down that road again!

So, My tank is 180 liters, standard jewel lighting (new tubes and ballast), injected CO2 and dosing E.I. I have gone for a sand substrate this time as I plan to put cory's in the tank, but this is a concern of mine!

I cycled my tank with ammonia (took forever!) and then a piece of salmon to keep things going before adding plants. Large water change this weekend then added a group of Black Phantom Tetras, who I might say seem fairly happy.

My only issue is that I am not convinced my plants are showing signs of growth, and suspect this might be to do with the fact we have very soft water (water sourced from Lake district).

The plant showing the worst signs is, I think, Alternanthera reineckii 'Pink'. Leaves have been shed and the upper leaves are showing melt-like tears in them. There is a new leaf lower down but I cannot be sure if this is growing now or if it was present before purchase.

Another plant I struggled with last time was my frogbit. They multiplied fairly well, but never looked terribly healthy, melting leaves and brown 'grazes' etc... I never got to the bottom of the problems.

Ideally, I would like to purchase a complete JBL kit but I am stuck with the API end of things atm (I think it is fine if you follow instructions to the letter!), as I have spent quite a bit of money, but I am going to buy a gh/kh kit to see if I need to buffer the water. I would like a full test kit for potassium etc. though, might ask Santa!

Another concern is my choice of substrate, sand. Would it be beneficial to add root tabs to the plants?

Anyway, I will take some pics if necessary later today, but I guess I am just after advice as to what I should look at next and if there is anything dose wise that E.I. might not cover alone.

Thanks
 

ollyUK

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26 May 2009
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I just want to add I am injecting about 2 bubbles a second and the CO2 goes into one of these impellor type reactors in line with the pump. Seems very effective as there are no co2 bubbles at all!
 

Zeus.

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Soft water from the Lake District I am jealous already.
Most scrapers go for soft water or RO mix and plants do better in it as it as it avoids the complex interactions which happen with hard water.

Your Frogbit is having issues so it's not the CO2 affecting that but you may also have a CO2 issue with the other plants OFC as 2 BPS for 180l isn't going to increase the [CO2] much.
What colour is your Drop Checker ?

Sand can be a cheap and attractive substrate but appart from looks and anchorage it doesn't bring much else to the party, root tabs would help in the plants in the substrate OFC.

Your Fert regime may not be enough which I initially think is the main andissue your tank turnover may be an issue also.

Some more details of tank, lights, photo period, powerheads, CO2 period and fert regime and a full tank pic would help also ;)
 

ollyUK

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26 May 2009
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Will get a shot later of the plants in question... The sand I chose for the corys more than anything although I guess some proper soil would be better, not too late to sort as nothing is rooted yet, plants still in their pots! The pump is an EX1200 with an upper spray bar in three sections. Two sections are pointing down while one section across water surface. Did this as a compromise between aeration and keeping the frogbit out of the flow, but also getting CO2 in lower areas. Photoperiod about 8 hours, the lamps are two 35W T5's.

Now I have run out of 4dkh so waiting for new scales so I can weigh out some bicarb. With my old regime 2bps was adequate and I have a proper reactor now. I guess it is possible it is not working as well as I think!

I will upgrade to LED when I can afford it. Nothing less than a £150 or more will provide the light these tubes do IMO but I stand to be corrected!
 

alto

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24 Dec 2014
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The sand I chose for the corys more than anything although I guess some proper soil would be better, not too late to sort as nothing is rooted yet, plants still in their pots!
I strongly suggest a restart!

Yes a lot of work but more time consuming than difficult and well worth the long term as it makes planted tank keeping so much more simple, especially when your tap water is lacking in plant support

My tap is KH 0-1, GH 1-2, pH 6-6.5 but not a particularly meaningful number as the least bit of acid or alkaline buffer will swing the pH dramatically (water source is basically rainfall/snowmelt reservoirs), and basically plant nutrient free :wideyed:

I’ve been keeping plants for a good while, sand, fine gravel, then fine gravel with a nutrient rich base (Sera Floredepot was an amazing discovery), the various Flourites, EcoComplete (quite a different product these days compared to the initial release), ADA soil (unfortunately got the “ever-releasing ammonia lot” so after several months, binned that rather stupendously expensive experience ... and shut the tanks down for awhile)
At last, Tropica Aquarium Soil (& Growth Substrate) ... incredibly consistent product with great customer service
(hence my complete assimilation ;))

Corydoras are quite happy sifting Tropica AS Powder (mine completely ignored the lovely sand area I’d tried tempting them with, after a year or so, I just siphoned out the sand and extended the Soil - the soil particles on sand drive me mad) but you can also follow the method shown in this Josh Sim at Green Aqua video

You can also creat some sand areas in the tank - best to allow any fine carpet plants to establish before adding Corydoras as they can easily uproot shallow plants such as HC and MC, deeply planted grasses will be fine
A George Farmer client tank video (original set-up video linked in the video detail menu)

Juwel tanks grow wonderful plants even with stock lighting, filters - just upgrade to reflectors, and possibly second light unit depending on tank size and plant goals
Juwel has done Tutorial Set-ups with video - begin with those plant choices and expand (to more challenging plant species) once you’re successful growing the basics :)
https://www.juwel-aquarium.de/en/Service/Set-up-examples/

You can switch over to LED for various reasons, but T5s grow great plants and have good color rendition (better than many LEDs)

I’d invest in Aquarium Soil rather than water parameter measuring gadgets - your water suppliers will be able to provide water analysis reports (seasonal, daily etc over years), then you know what you’re adding
(I’m lazy so I just used Tropica fertilizers and some Seachem Equilibrium for shrimp)

The aquarium soil acts as a nutrient reservoir for plant roots, it’s much more highly aerated than close-packing sands, some plants can be (easily) grown equally well in other substrates, some plants strongly prefer soils

While you’re rescaping, just drain the filter, rinse out any debris (using treated tap water), then repack filter and leave standing with just a few cm’s water in the bottom (for humidity) - just the open hose fittings will maintain suitable oxygen levels for the filter bacteria

Defiantly don’t worry about “feeding” the filter bacteria over the few days (or weeks)
(Darrel dw1305 has posted loads of information about current level of understanding re aquarium “cycle” microflore - rather than the old tales :D ... absolutely no salmon or ammonia required, and perhaps even detrimental to the bacteria etc that will actually end up doing the Job)

Your current Black Phantoms can be kept quite happily in any food grade plastic bin with an airstone etc
Filipe Oliveira demonstrates a complete rescape in this video and how he keeps the fish
 

alto

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24 Dec 2014
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For CO2 bps is a relatively subjective measure, but assuming it’s a similar bubble to Tropica diffuser, I’d suggest 2-4bps for a 180l water volume, depending really on plants (your light is moderate)
I run my 60P ~ 1bps
 

Parablennius

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5 Mar 2016
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Morning
I too have very soft Lakeland tap water and think my plants do better when I boost my change water up to GH5 using Calcium Nitrate and Magnesium sulphate. I don't bother about the 1.5 KH. I dose fairly lean but daily with the last of my LushMax and inject CO2 to an estimated 15ppm using 2deg KH fluid.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I cycled my tank with ammonia (took forever!) and then a piece of salmon to keep things going before adding plants. Large water change this weekend then added a group of Black Phantom Tetras, who I might say seem fairly happy.
If you fish look OK, then you are good.

A lot of us don't start tanks by adding ammonia, we just plant and let our tanks grow in. Have a look at page 4. of <"Bedside Aquarium">, it explains why the traditional view of cycling is wrong and may actually lengthen the time period until tank nitrification is established.
I have gone for a sand substrate this time as I plan to put cory's in the tank
Would it be beneficial to add root tabs to the plants?
Root tabs are probably a good idea. I like sand in the tanks, and <"Ian Fuller"> says keep your Corydoras with a sand substrate, which is good enough for me.
Another plant I struggled with last time was my frogbit. They multiplied fairly well, but never looked terribly healthy, melting leaves and brown 'grazes' etc... I never got to the bottom of the problems.
fact we have very soft water (water sourced from Lake district).
This might be a lack of magnesium (Mg), as @Zeus. says you've eliminated CO2 as an issue by using a floating plant. You are unlikely to have much magnesium (Mg) in your water.

Have a look at <"Micronutrient toxicity...">, it talks about using the colour of your Frogbit as a proxy for nutrient content. I called it the <"Duckweed Index"> and another one of its advantages is that it does away with the need for water testing.

cheers Darrel
 

ollyUK

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26 May 2009
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So I think I am getting somewhere with my plants. Been getting healthier leaves but these are mostly easy grow plants. My solution was to double the E.I. ingredients. I probably should pin down exactly what I am short of though!

I suspect my main problem now is that some of my plants need cutting back, especially the big green thing in the center of the tank!

Frogbit has settled down and it is not melting now but is still performing poorly. There is new growth, however. The more lush roots covered in algae though :(

I have also been getting hair algae around the tank, I am putting this down to messing with the CO2 a lot recently as it turned out my regulator was not doing a very good job of hmm, regulating. This has improved after getting one of those Chinese bubble counters with built in non-return. The last two glass devices were flaky to say the least, especially the nonreturn! This is a cracking bit of kit!

Gotta keep the sand for a while, overspent with everything so a bit skint!

One more question though. My drop checkers are both apple green, and don't seem to change even after CO2 has been off for a couple hours. Now to complicate matters I seem to be getting a cacky skin forming on the surface inside the checker which of course will be a barrier to gas exchange, not sure where this stuff is coming from? Despite that, even when cleared, the drop checkers only go back to blue if I take them out the tank. Is this due to low kh and perhaps stock levels maintaining the levels?
 

Zeus.

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One more question though. My drop checkers are both apple green, and don't seem to change even after CO2 has been off for a couple hours. Now to complicate matters I seem to be getting a cacky skin forming on the surface inside the checker which of course will be a barrier to gas exchange, not sure where this stuff is coming from? Despite that, even when cleared, the drop checkers only go back to blue if I take them out the tank. Is this due to low kh and perhaps stock levels maintaining the levels?
If your DC doesn't go blue at night it is a good indication that the tank water isn't gasing off the CO2 at night, which in turn suggests the surface agitation may be inadequate and if that is the case their will be less O2 getting in the tank water at night. Maintaining a healthy [O2] day and night helps the bacteria break down the organic wastes which in turn helps reduce algae issues
 

ollyUK

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26 May 2009
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If your DC doesn't go blue at night it is a good indication that the tank water isn't gasing off the CO2 at night, which in turn suggests the surface agitation may be inadequate and if that is the case their will be less O2 getting in the tank water at night. Maintaining a healthy [O2] day and night helps the bacteria break down the organic wastes which in turn helps reduce algae issues
Ah that's interesting thanks!

I have pointed two of the outlet tubes in to the water to purposely reduce flow for the frogbit. Maybe I need to turn the middle tube round for more circulation. At least the fish don't seem to suffer though!
 
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