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Really struggling...

Aeropars

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9 Jul 2007
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Leicester
Hi guys,

I'm not really sure what I'm posting for and not really sure what responses I'll get back but I'm feeling a little big disapointed and not confident about growing aquatic plants.

For the years I've been fishkeeping I've spent most of the time striving for a planted tank but I really can't get it right. The plants show deficiencies, some species I cant seem to grow and in the past i've ended up killing a lot of fish... nearly a load more yesterday. Its even more annoying that this happens at its eems I'm now starting to get the design of the tanks right and if I had good healthy growth I'm confident I could acheive something half decent.

So, I think I should tell you a bit about the tank.

In its current state its been running for about 6 - 9 months. Running 4 x 30w T8's over a 180l Juwel Rio. Lighting runs for 9 hours straight. Pressurised CO2 from a JBL proflora set 3 with PH controller. Substrate is Tropica plant substrate topped with Seachem Onyx Sand. Filtration is with the internal Juwel filter and an Eheim Pro 2 external.

I've recently been dosing PPS pro and havent seen much happen as most of th eplants are kind of dormant after some neglect but the only movement I've seen is a new runner from some of the Valis.

I'm in complete envy of the people on here that understand the chemicle equations and can calculate how much of what element is in a solution amongst the other chemistry type stuff butever since I've been attempting planted tanks I've always seemed to struggle. I used to have more lighting than what I have now and used to dose EI and still didnt see much results but in all honesty I expect the sucessful people to perhaps be more regimented than I am.

At the moment I have been regimented and have been for the last 3 weeks dosing same time every day, adjusted CO2 to be at desired levle at lights on and switching CO2 off 2 hours before lights off to give the fish a break. I've even been speaking to Ceg via PM's and he's advised me to hit more CO2 which I have done to the point the fish are stressing. In the past I've had mass co2 in there as well but again to no avail.

I guess really I'm looking for some words of wisdom so I'll give my fingers a rest now and look forward to any comments or questions you may have.

Lee
 

Ed Seeley

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I know how you feel about things going against you seeming to happen at the worst times. Once one thing goes a bit worng then others seem to follow it don't they. Don't worry though, you will sort it.

The thing that stuck out to me in you post was the pH controller. Do you have this set to regulate a fixed pH or do you just use it as a safety device? If it's changing the CO2 levels to regulate pH then it could possibly be causing some of your issues.

I'm terrible for remembering what I've dosed and when I should dose again and this, I believe, caused issues for me with EI type of fertilising. However in my new tank with Aquasoil I've seen nothing but great growth. I think it acts as a buffer of nutrients for my busy and/or forgetful days. However the Tropica stuff is meant to be great so I wouldn't worry on that score. Maybe, as you are having problems, trying Tropica PN+ might be an option? It's been designed to work with the substrate so might make things easier? (That is pure specualtion and shouldn't be necessary, just thinking 'out of the box'!)
 

GreenNeedle

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I don't understand any of the chemical symbols and wish all the others would just say the common names but there you go. I tend to just ignore the posts with too many symbols (no offence) because I won't understand them. Not being rude to the posters but most of us are dumb to the science part and can just about handle ammonia, nitrate etc. lol

As per Eds comments really - ph controller - not needed, waste of money and I'll bet one part of the causes for algae due to unstable CO2. When you've blasted the tank the ph controller will have been turning it off for even longer which means that its even more unstable and the fish don't know where they are. I would just remove it.

The other thing I notice is that you are having problems yet still have 3WPG lighting. First thing I would do if I was struggling would be to cut the light until I could figure out why I was struggling.

As per EI I wasn't regimnted so I quit it and tried all sorts of other routines. Even when I was regimented (first couple of months) I had no idea really what ppms were in there. Just watched for defficiencies, referenced them on AE Guide and then upped whatever. lol Keep at it and you'll sort your own regime out.

My advice would be get below 2WPG, wait until you get to the stage where you are happy you have control and then return to the higher light and see if you have it right this time. Turn off the darned ph controller first though. lol

Andy
 

Aeropars

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I dont actually have any algea problems. Thats one thing I've been able to sort out whenever I have had it which I tent to have a knack if doing.

I use the Ph controller for failsafe but the solenoide valve is so sensative that I can be opening the needle by 1mm and there will be a good difference in the co2 output. It does kick in but its at the point where fish get very stressed, I even knocked my pleco out yesterday with too muc. I got a right telling off from the missus.

Is the needle valve to sensative? I'm not sure if I can get to a stable point with the co2 should I use this valve as it really is sensative.
 

GreenNeedle

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What you would do in a non ph controller setup would be to open the regulator to between 1 and 2bar. This is the big insensitive knob on top of the regulator which takes several turns to open.

The you would adjust the needle valve slowly to get to a steady 1bps. This is the sensitive one and is to fine adjust the actual output. Once at 1bps you would monitor your DC and from then on and 2-3 hourly intervals increase/decrease until you got to the magic lime colour.

The solenoid should be fitted inline (or some people prefer to screw it directly into the regulator) and put on a timer. This timer would turn the CO2 on 2 hours before and off 2 hours before etc. You would set the needle valve to reach green by lights on. This may take several days to sort out, but as Ceg does if it gets near yellow after 5 of the 9 hours then you can set it to turn off 4 hours before lights off etc. Theres no need to worry about the Ph!! Just spend a whole weekend watching. Then tell the missus/kids etc what I tell my missus:

'if that egg goes yellow, pull that timer out' It hasn't yet thankfully.

Andy
 

GreenNeedle

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If you are a welder then you can fully open the cylinder. The welding regulator leads to a plant which controls the flow. A needle valve is not a plant it is a fine adjusting valve (and much cheaper than a plant) whereas a welding plant gives a rough output. Thisis because in welding it just means you have to weld slower or faster or the weld is hotter or not as hot!

For our purposes we want to open to between 1 and 1.5/2 because the needle valve works in this region.

When I did PPS Pro I got all sorts of defficiencies. They also recommend CO2 at 15ppm!!

I would ditch it and go for JamesC's PMDD+P recipe which in my experience works very well. It is still lean dosing but not as lean as PPS Pro which is not so much lean, more mean in that I think it tries to starve plants.

Andy
 

Aeropars

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Fully open it goes directly to 2 bar. The regulator is a JBL one so whether they altered it I dont know. I assume its the one on the right otherwise the other one to the left would be massivly difficult to get to 2 bar as it goes up to 50 :)
 

ceg4048

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Aeropars said:
... The plants show deficiencies, some species I cant seem to grow and in the past i've ended up killing a lot of fish... nearly a load more yesterday. Its even more annoying that this happens at its eems I'm now starting to get the design of the tanks right and if I had good healthy growth I'm confident I could acheive something half decent.
Lee it might help if we could see some photos of the deficiencies or at least if we could get a description of the deficiencies to analyze.



Aeropars said:
In its current state its been running for about 6 - 9 months. Running 4 x 30w T8's over a 180l Juwel Rio. Lighting runs for 9 hours straight. Pressurised CO2 from a JBL proflora set 3 with PH controller. Substrate is Tropica plant substrate topped with Seachem Onyx Sand. Filtration is with the internal Juwel filter and an Eheim Pro 2 external.
The T8s are lower intensity but you should still be able to grow many species with this, especially if you are injecting CO2.

Aeropars said:
I've recently been dosing PPS pro and haven't seen much happen as most of the plants are kind of dormant after some neglect but the only movement I've seen is a new runner from some of the Valis.
As Andy mentioned, this is a low growth scheme that has it's applications but not for the inexperienced. I guess it's not really surprising that the tank is suffering some form of deficiency.


Aeropars said:
I'm in complete envy of the people on here that understand the chemicle equations and can calculate how much of what element is in a solution amongst the other chemistry type stuff butever since I've been attempting planted tanks I've always seemed to struggle. I used to have more lighting than what I have now and used to dose EI and still didnt see much results but in all honesty I expect the successful people to perhaps be more regimented than I am.
There are plenty of people who aren't good at chemistry. That doesn't stop them from having good growth though. There are plenty of reasons you can fail at EI or any other dosing scheme. Inconsistency is certainly one reason for failure. People have many excuses for failing to dose, but the only valid excuse is if you are out of town. It takes about 5 minutes to dose a tank, so unless you're out hunting insurgents in Afghanistan every morning there is really no excuse for inconsistency. If you can look at your tank you can dose it. The answer may lie in just exactly what you are dosing and in what quantities. If your mixture is very lean, then maybe even doubling it may still be too lean. If you are suffering deficiencies then you are too lean.

Aeropars said:
At the moment I have been regimented and have been for the last 3 weeks dosing same time every day, adjusted CO2 to be at desired levle at lights on and switching CO2 off 2 hours before lights off to give the fish a break. I've even been speaking to Ceg via PM's and he's advised me to hit more CO2 which I have done to the point the fish are stressing. In the past I've had mass co2 in there as well but again to no avail.
CO2 is only part of the equation. CO2 causes a demand for more nutrients so if you are too lean you are asking for trouble. Pick a dosing scheme and stick with it. The EI dry powder article discusses that there are other factors that can lead to failure such as poor filter capacity and flow rate. Again, deficiency is a serious problem that can only be due to poor dosing so it will take a while for the plants to recover from starvation. If you can tell us exactly what you are dosing (and exactly how you prepared your solutions) it might help.

Cheers,
 

Aeropars

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Here's whats in the bottle:

Macro Solution

In 1 liter bottle:
59 grams K2SO4 (Potassium Sulfate)
65 grams KNO3 (Potassium Nitrate)
6 grams KH2PO4 (Mono Potassium Phosphate)
41 grams MgSO4 (Magnesium Sulfate)
Fill with distilled water and shake well. Let sit overnight.

Micro Solution

In 1 liter bottle:
80 grams of Trace Mix

I started dosing at 5ml per day and then upped this to 10ml per day (of each solution).

I'm just leaving for work so I'll get some deficiency pic later on tonight. I think I might have enough in there to start a gallery to help out other members!

Lee
 

ceg4048

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Aeropars said:
Here's whats in the bottle:

Macro Solution

In 1 liter bottle:
59 grams K2SO4 (Potassium Sulfate)
65 grams KNO3 (Potassium Nitrate)
6 grams KH2PO4 (Mono Potassium Phosphate)
41 grams MgSO4 (Magnesium Sulfate)
Fill with distilled water and shake well. Let sit overnight.

Micro Solution

In 1 liter bottle:
80 grams of Trace Mix

I started dosing at 5ml per day and then upped this to 10ml per day (of each solution).

Hey Lee, I just did a very rough calculation based on your numbers. To do a proper analysis one would need to do a stoichiometric calculation based on molar weights but I don't have the energy for that so check this out:

If you add 65 grams of KNO3 to 1000ml of distilled water then essentially each ml of your solution would hold 65/1000 or 0.065g per ml, right?
So now you dose 10 ml per day which means 10*0.065=0.65g per dose, right?
Well, according to the EI calculator, daily dosing of a 180L should be 1.14g per day, so KNO3 is being underdosed by a factor of 2.

If you add 6 grams of KH2PO4 to 1000ml of water the each ml would hold 6/1000 or 0.006g per ml.
Dosing 10 ml per day means 10*0.006=0.06g per dose.
The calculator shows a daily EI requirement of 0.32g per day for a 180L so phosphate is being underdosed by a factor of 5.

The traces work out because you've mixed more grams of trace than any other item. Ironically you are overdosing the traces by a factor of 4, except for magnesium which is being underdosed by a factor of 6.

Of course these are EI type number assuming 3wpg or more. Also your tap water may be high in nutrients so these numbers are only illustrative, not definitive. I just wanted to show how absurd the lean dosing numbers can be if you are not aware of nutritional requirements. In this case adding more CO2 actually causes more problems because CO2 drives more nutrient uptake demand. Again, many people use lean dosing very effectively but they are experienced and understand the context of their dosing scheme. They usually have high quality test kits or spend time and energy calibrating their test kits to ensure they have an accurate reflection of the tank contents. All this is used to control growth so that their aquascape does not grow out of control which would require high maintenance and constant attention. Lean dosing users also typically have very nutritious substrates which effectively supplements their water column dosing. The hobbyists using EI or PMDD type dosing schemes just use a pair of scissors, or the light switch to control growth. It depends on how you want to spend your energy. Fundamentally though each scheme requires the knowledge and discipline to execute properly.

Cheers,
 

Aeropars

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Thanks Ceg, thats a pretty good explanation. So from what you've said there, I would be closer to the targets if I was dosing 20ml per day of the macro solution?

that would make sence thinking about it because I noticed a slight amount of green spot which can be caused by low phosphates.

also, am I right in saying it would be worth adding some more Epson salts to upp the mg factor?
 

JamesC

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What you are dosing is the standard PPS-Pro mix. Don't go 2x or 4x dosing this or you will run into trouble. The standard formulation works OK and only needs a little tweak here and there, not double dosing. Just so you know this is what you are adding daily with your 5ml addition:

1.1ppm NO3
0.1ppm PO4
1.5ppm K
0.1ppm Mg

If you double dose this you will be adding 3ppm K which is 21ppm per week and at quadruple dosing this is 42ppm K per week. A bit too much. If you want to up the levels then why not just do Estimative Index, or at least reduce the K content. PPS-Pro trace solutions are IMHO too rich and can be leaned off a bit.

GSA is the big problem with lean PO4 dosing and one that I find hard to totally clear.

James
 

Aeropars

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Yes, I'm certainly going to go down a different route but I've still got a good amount of the soltion left so didnt really want to just tip it down the sink. Not sure really then if its worth doing much with it.

From what you're saying James, is it possible that I am adding too much CO2 or light or even both which could be causing the deficiencies?

I think its about time I started to understand the actual amounts and how you work them all out. Is there a tutorial anywhere to explain how to work out the PPM of each substance?
 

GreenNeedle

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I will leave the 'chemistry' to James andd Ceg here. lol

As for the Reg, I would guess there's something wrong with it OR it is set to not go past 2 on the gauge!!!

Most regulators are like car speedos. If the reg is a 6 bar reg, it will still show up to 12 bar even though the 6 is a red line. Just like cars that can only do 95mph will still have 120mph+ on the speedo.

Mine will go up as far as 10 bar if I turn it up so I am not sure what is happening with yours!!

I would close the regulator and then open it slowly stopping as soon as the gauge passes 1.5ish. Then you can adjust the bubble count via the needle valve.

Andy
 

Aeropars

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Hi Guys,

I've taken some pics for you to analyse.

Heres the full amount: http://www.tfsuncovered.co.uk/leeandlou ... iciencies/
They are still uploading so give them a few minutes for all to show.

All feedback apreciated and many thanks for everyones comments so far. I've spent a small fortune on getting my tank right for the job and changed it more times than i care to remember so helping me to finally nail it is making me very happy and determined to suceed.

Lee
 

JamesC

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That's stunting you have there. Caused by a shortage of one or more of the macro's - Carbon, Nitrogen, Calcium, Magnesium or Phosphorus. Looks unlikely to be phosphorus or calcium unless your water is very soft. This leaves carbon, nitrogen and magnesium to look at.

Suspect one is CO2. Do you have good water and surface movement along with a nice lime green colour drop checker?
Suspect two is NO3. Try adding a tad more and see if there is any improvement. A good sign of NO3 limitation is when some green plants start to get a red tinge as they near the surface.
Suspect three is magnesium. Do you add any or do you know if you have Mg in your tap water. Adding about 8-10ppm weekly should be fine to rule this out.

James
 

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