Fertilizer frustrations and Algae

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sairving

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Hey everyone, I have a 3-gallon tank with one betta in it that's been running since June. It's been up and down with the plants. I started out using just Seachem Flourish but then had to add phosphorus because of a deficiency (plants yellowing). Then I noticed a few holes in the plants leaves so I started adding potassium.

A two-week experiment with following the Seachem fertilizing schedule has left me with a mess of fast-growing green algae. I've cut my lighting time to 7 hours. Originally I was running a Nicrew (10 hours a day) but now I have finnex Fugeray planted plus clip. I haven't fertilized in a week and have gone back to 2 water changes a week. I use Flourish Excel daily. Today, I did fertilize with Flourish comprehensive and nitrogen.

Here's where I need some input. I live in Southeast Wisconsin and I have well water. Our water is very hard. Out of the tap, hardness comes in at 250, PH is 8.4, and Alkalinity around 250. For substrate, I use UNS Controsoil. This has really helped buffer the water in my tank. The only thing I don't dose is Seachem Iron and Trace. We have a lot of calcium, minerals, and iron in the water.

What I'm wondering is with my very hard water, would it be worth it to start looking into powder fertilizers and using the Estimative Index? I could try an all-in-one fertilizer but with my hard water, there will be minerals and iron I don't really need to add.
 
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Darthmoli

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You're using Excel daily and you are still having algae problems? Excel though it says its a carbon buffer its really just an algae killer. Usually algae means your missing something that your plants require to grow so instead your algae gets to consume all the nutrients. I would look into dosing iron and trace even if you have a lot in your water. Iron is absorbed very quickly through plants.

What it sounds like to me though is your water is so hard that your CO2 is your problem and dosing Excel isn't going to give you the Carbon you need. Look up a CO2 to PH to KH chart. Then pinpoint what yours is. As you can see if you have a PH of 8.4 then its gonna be real hard to keep up with the CO2 requirements of your plants without heavy CO2 injection. With your kh so high you need to come down to around 7.5 ph to get it in equilibrium. Otherwise your dosing is just going to feed the algae.

How many plants do you have in your 3 gallon and what kind? What kind of substrate do you have? Seachems line is a little nuanced for a 3 gallon and I think you would do better with a comprehensive fert like Aquarium Co-Op all in one easy green paired with their carbon (since you wont really need iron if you on well water) or leafy greens by api. Though if you feel confident using seachems line you can get more specific. For example I modified seachems recommended slightly. I almost never does excel unless algae is going insane and I alternate macro and micros with iron daily and advance every other day. I also triple dose nitrogen but thats mostly because I need to stay around 10 ppm nitrates or my plants will starve.
 
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sairving

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Darthmoli said:
You're using Excel daily and you are still having algae problems? Excel though it says its a carbon buffer its really just an algae killer. Usually algae means your missing something that your plants require to grow so instead your algae gets to consume all the nutrients. I would look into dosing iron and trace even if you have a lot in your water. Iron is absorbed very quickly through plants.

What it sounds like to me though is your water is so hard that your CO2 is your problem and dosing Excel isn't going to give you the Carbon you need. Look up a CO2 to PH to KH chart. Then pinpoint what yours is. As you can see if you have a PH of 8.4 then its gonna be real hard to keep up with the CO2 requirements of your plants without heavy CO2 injection. With your kh so high you need to come down to around 7.5 ph to get it in equilibrium. Otherwise your dosing is just going to feed the algae.

How many plants do you have in your 3 gallon and what kind? What kind of substrate do you have? Seachems line is a little nuanced for a 3 gallon and I think you would do better with a comprehensive fert like Aquarium Co-Op all in one easy green paired with their carbon (since you wont really need iron if you on well water) or leafy greens by api. Though if you feel confident using seachems line you can get more specific. For example I modified seachems recommended slightly. I almost never does excel unless algae is going insane and I alternate macro and micros with iron daily and advance every other day. I also triple dose nitrogen but thats mostly because I need to stay around 10 ppm nitrates or my plants will starve.

Yeah, I add double the recommended dose of Excel for the tank size and still have issues with algae. In the last few weeks, I've been removing as much as I can at water change time. Plantwise, I have Bacopa Carolinia, Bacopa monnieri, 2 rather sad looking crypts (this is the second time I've tried to get them growing), and several Aubais Nana Petite plants attached to driftwood. I removed my S repens because it started to turn yellow and melt. I had Red Root floaters but roots ended up covered in algae. For substrate, I have UNS Controsoil. It buffered the water really well at setup but not so much anymore.

I've actually been debating for a while about switching to an all-in-one fertilizer. I would love nothing more than to get rid of a few bottles of fertilizer and use Seachem Excel when there is an algae problem. When everything is gone I may try something like Easy Green or Thrive. the hardest thing I've found with the Seachem line is figuring out the dosage for small tanks is not straightforward

I did some math this morning and found a CO2 to PH to KH chart. Best estimate, the CO2 is sitting around 5 ppm. Then I went to Rotala butterfly and used the calculator they have and it looks like I need to get the PH down to 7.2 to get 30 ppm of CO2. After doing some research, I'm going to head over to my LFS to see if they have Fluval Peat Granules or Indian Almond Leaves.
 
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Darthmoli

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Yea trying the Seachem line on a 3 gallon tank is going to be extremely hard to get right. Much easier to go for an all-in-one. If you're going to drop your ph just remember you should really only drop it by about .2 a day. Most fish can handle up to 0.5 fluctuations okay but over that and you run risk of shocking your fish. Seachems Acid Buffer is actually decent for this. Just use a little once a day til you hit your ph. This will also lower your Kh but yours is so hard that is gonna help you.
 
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-Mak-

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sairving said:
Yeah, I add double the recommended dose of Excel for the tank size and still have issues with algae. In the last few weeks, I've been removing as much as I can at water change time. Plantwise, I have Bacopa Carolinia, Bacopa monnieri, 2 rather sad looking crypts (this is the second time I've tried to get them growing), and several Aubais Nana Petite plants attached to driftwood. I removed my S repens because it started to turn yellow and melt. I had Red Root floaters but roots ended up covered in algae. For substrate, I have UNS Controsoil. It buffered the water really well at setup but not so much anymore.

I've actually been debating for a while about switching to an all-in-one fertilizer. I would love nothing more than to get rid of a few bottles of fertilizer and use Seachem Excel when there is an algae problem. When everything is gone I may try something like Easy Green or Thrive. the hardest thing I've found with the Seachem line is figuring out the dosage for small tanks is not straightforward

I did some math this morning and found a CO2 to PH to KH chart. Best estimate, the CO2 is sitting around 5 ppm. Then I went to Rotala butterfly and used the calculator they have and it looks like I need to get the PH down to 7.2 to get 30 ppm of CO2. After doing some research, I'm going to head over to my LFS to see if they have Fluval Peat Granules or Indian Almond Leaves.
The CO2 charts only work if you're actually injecting CO2 - excel is not CO2 and might not even work as a carbon supplement.
Lowering your pH when you have no dissolved CO2 is not going to increase dissolved CO2 :)
 
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sairving

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-Mak- said:
The CO2 charts only work if you're actually injecting CO2 - excel is not CO2 and might not even work as a carbon supplement.
Lowering your pH when you have no dissolved CO2 is not going to increase dissolved CO2 :)
Ah okay. I really don't want to start injecting co2 on such a small tank. At this point, I would be happy to get the plants out competing the algae. It seems like all I've been doing is feeding it. In the last week, I did 2 large water changes in an attempt to try and cut down on any excess nutrients in the water column. I've already shortened the lighting time.
 
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sairving

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Darthmoli said:
Yea trying the Seachem line on a 3 gallon tank is going to be extremely hard to get right. Much easier to go for an all-in-one. If you're going to drop your ph just remember you should really only drop it by about .2 a day. Most fish can handle up to 0.5 fluctuations okay but over that and you run risk of shocking your fish. Seachems Acid Buffer is actually decent for this. Just use a little once a day til you hit your ph. This will also lower your Kh but yours is so hard that is gonna help you.
I bought some fluval peat granules and a filter media bag yesterday. If the peat doesn't work to lower the PH and soften the water, I'll pick up the Seachem Acid Buffer. There is city water across the street but the last quote we got to hook up was expensive. Something would would have to be seriously wrong with the well.

On the plus side, my betta should like the tannins in the peat.
 
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-Mak-

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sairving said:
Ah okay. I really don't want to start injecting co2 on such a small tank. At this point, I would be happy to get the plants out competing the algae. It seems like all I've been doing is feeding it. In the last week, I did 2 large water changes in an attempt to try and cut down on any excess nutrients in the water column. I've already shortened the lighting time.
Can you post a picture of your tank and the problem algae and plants?

Dose normally, according to this:


Cut light to 6 hours, increase flow if possible, and manually remove as much algae as possible :)

sairving said:
I bought some fluval peat granules and a filter media bag yesterday. If the peat doesn't work to lower the PH and soften the water, I'll pick up the Seachem Acid Buffer. There is city water across the street but the last quote we got to hook up was expensive. Something would would have to be seriously wrong with the well.

On the plus side, my betta should like the tannins in the peat.
Why are you trying to lower pH?
 
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sairving

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-Mak- said:
Can you post a picture of your tank and the problem algae and plants?

Dose normally, according to this:


Cut light to 6 hours, increase flow if possible, and manually remove as much algae as possible :)


Why are you trying to lower pH?
Its green hair algae that's been growing like crazy. Now in the last day my nitrates have been way too low and there is a bit of cyanobacteria. I'm going to manually remove it and the algae after the football game. I think I'm going to pull the driftwood too and clean all the algae off.

I've set the timer to run the light for 6 hours, and opened up flow on the filter.

As for dosing, I've been following the Seachem chart. I ended up doing some math to try and figure out how much to dose.

I added some fluval peat granules to the filter. It hasn't lowered PH but it's softened the water some.

By sheer luck, I managed to find the results from the last well water test we did.

Out of the tap

ph 8.5
Alkalinity 240
Chlorine 0
Hardness 425
 
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