Plant Damage, Stunted Growth. What am I doing wrong?!

RyanP

New Member
Joined
28 Jul 2019
Messages
14
Location
Kleinwallstadt, Germany
Hi all,

This is my first post on the forum and I am hoping you can help me figure out what is going on in my aquarium. I have been in the hobby for about 2 years and am having a great time learning what it takes to keep a planted tank, but I have been having several issues for the past 3-4 months with plants surviving for 3-5 weeks, and then having stunted growth and damaged lower growth and a good case of GSA on the plant leaves.

Here are my aquarium specifications:

Volume:
-Juwel Rio 180L (101x41x50cm)

Lighting:
-2x 45" T5 (removed reflectors because I was having a GSA problem on my hardscape)
-Photoperiod 6 hours per day

Filtration:
-1x Eheim eXperience 350
-1x Eheim eXperience 150
-1x 1000l/h powerhead

CO2:
-Pressurized CO2 using ceramic diffuser. Running 260bpm. Turned CO2 up until the fish were only at the top and then dialed it slightly back.

Dosing:
-M/W/F 36ml Aqua Rebell Estimative Index (weekly totals 22.5ppm NO3, 4.15ppm PO4,
17.1ppm K)
-T/T/S 3.6ml Easy Life Ferro (0,6ppm Fe)
-Root Tabs: JBL 7Balls under all root Feeders
-I took the advice of several members here and burned my test kits, so I'm not able to tell you what ppm is currently in the tank :), but I am very consistant with my dosing and water changes.

Substrate:
-Inert small gravel (1-2mm) over JBL ProFlora Aquabasis Plus

Plants:
-Alternanthera Reineckii Mini (planted approx. 3 months ago)
-Microsorium Pteropus
-Anubias Barteri Nana
-Staurogyne Repens (planted 10 days ago)
-Cryptocoryne Moehlmannii (planted approx. 3 months ago)
-Hygrophila Siamensis 53b (planted approx. 3 months ago)
-Rotala H’ra Vietnam (planted 10 days ago)
-Ludwigia Repens Rubin (planted 10 days ago)

Stock:
-12 Mollies/Platys (15-20 Fry)
-9 Amano Shrimp
-7 Cherry Shrimp
-1 Bristlenose Pleco
-15-20 small Pest Snails

I do a 50% water change every week on Sundays and clean my filters once every two months on an alternating schedule. I believe I have optimized my flow as best I can. There are CO2 bubbles reaching all parts of the tank and my drop checker which is in an area of lower flow, is lime green/yellow around 2-2.5 hours into the photoperiod.

The plants seem to take off and grow right after planting, but 4-5 weeks in I start noticing smaller growth and leaves on the bottom of the plant developing pinholes and other types of damage. The GSA growth on the leaves has seemed to stop since I removed the reflectors from my lights, but it is still appearing on my Ohko stone. Approx. 10 days ago I planted an some in-vitro Rotala H’Ra and am already noticing the same type of damage on the lower leaves…

Does anyone have an idea what this could be? I know mechanical damage is usually the result of a lack of CO2, but judging by the reaction of my fish as well as my “lower” levels of lighting, I would say I have a sufficient level??

I am willing to try anything here to get back the rapid growth I had when I started this aquarium approx. 12 months ago. Any suggestions are much appreciated. I have attached a few pictures to better show the types of damage I am describing as well as one of the entire aquarium.

Thanks in advance,
Ryan
Aquarium.jpg
 

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Tim Harrison

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7,761
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UK
Hello Ryan and welcome to UKAPS.

It could be a mobile nutrient deficiency, maybe K. However, your drop checker needs to be lime green at lights on and all the way till lights off. Otherwise, your plants will not get the carbon they need to grow well especially under your light, which I'd consider to be on the high side. So lack of CO2 is the most likely culprit.

It takes a bit of trial and error to dial the gas in properly. Start by turning the gas on at around 2 hrs before lights on and see how you go. My gas comes on 3 hours before lights on, for instance.

I think it's best to aim for steady and healthy growth rather than rapid growth. But since you're using T5 bulbs in a covered tank you don't really have any control over intensity, which is the driving force. So I recommend that you increase your plant biomass as well; it's looking very sparse in there. I would plant more of the same and add some cheap floating stems until they've become established and matured.

High plant biomass infers a great deal of biological stability, that's why many folk plant very heavily from the outset. It will certainly help with the fight against algae, GSA or otherwise. However, I wouldn't worry about GSA on rocks it can give them a natural patina.
 

Zeus.

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1 Oct 2016
Messages
3,201
Location
Yorkshire,UK
However, your drop checker needs to be lime green at lights on and all the way till lights off. Otherwise, your plants will not get the carbon they need to grow well especially under your light, which I'd consider to be on the high side. So lack of CO2 is the most likely culprit.

It takes a bit of trial and error to dial the gas in properly. Start by turning the gas on at around 2 hrs before lights on and see how you go. My gas comes on 3 hours before lights on, for instance
+1, some plants have pinholes in the leaves- number one cause IMO is poor/fluctuating CO2 levels. Filter output seems OK, Do the plants sway about ? may be better with the powerhead jetting the water across top of the tank to work with the output of the spraybar on the left, Spray bars ten to work better when on the back of the tank, where does the filter on the right output also? as Tim surgests could be you not having CO2 come on early enough
 

RyanP

New Member
Joined
28 Jul 2019
Messages
14
Location
Kleinwallstadt, Germany
Thanks for the quick replies. I have my CO2 turning on two hours before lights on right now. I will up that to three and see if I can have that drop checker lime green at lights on. As far as flow goes I have done a lot of trial and error. With the current setup I have the larger filter outputting through the spray bar across the top of the tank from left to right (inlet rear left), the powerhead positioned slightly below that pointing downward and slightly toward the back of the tank. The second filter output is on the back right pointing left, parallel to the back wall which creates circular flow on the top, as well as slight downward flow right on top of my diffusor which is in the bottom left corner. I did a quick Sketch which I think does an OK job of describing what I mean (I hope :)) Plants in the entire aquarium are moving. The only place I am not seeing a ton of flow is in the right lower corner, but as there are no plants positioned there I dont think it's a problem.

I planted the Rotala H'Ra as well as the Ludwigia Repens Rubin last week in order to introduce some faster growing stems to the system. Hope those will help and I will have to see what other plants I can find to bump up that plant mass. I heard that Hygrophila Siamensis 53b was faster growing, but I haven't had too much luck with it so far...
 

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Jayefc1

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2 Sep 2017
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Location
Swadlincote
Just a quick side note the Reineckii Mini I have been told that amanos like to munch on it I know this will not be the case for all plant issues but 9 will befo have a feist on them
Cheers
Jay
 

Zeus.

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Joined
1 Oct 2016
Messages
3,201
Location
Yorkshire,UK
drop checker lime green at lights on
DC always lags behind the actual pH can take 2-3hrs dependant on DC, hence the reason we like pH pens in combo with the DC colour change, they work well together with pen and paper and a pH profile.

Not so keen on your flow pattern, twin spray bars at the back with power head in the middle should yield a better flow/turnover.
 

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