Plants stopped growing and are dark plus algae trouble

bored411

I’ve got a planted 10 gallon tank that’s been running since October and the plants in it were growing well before just… stopping. They have darker colors and I’m seeing minor green algae and a lot of brown diatoms. I did have an ammonia spike last week but it only lasted a couple of days. I have CO2 but the valve likes to turn itself off so I try my best to keep an eye on it and adjust until I get a better set up. I dose with Thrive and started the EI method the last few weeks for the Monte Carlo. I have a fluval aqua sky light on for 9 hrs from 10-7. substrate is fluval stratum.

The few plants getting new growth is the Monte Carlo, staurogyne repens, anubias, and Java fern. The Java fern has black on it and new leaves have transparent tips. The anubias has green algae that doesn’t come off on it and has darkened. The older Monte Carlo is brown but not dead. The alternanthera reineckii has stopped growing completely and has also darkened. The staurogyne repens has also darkened and is brown but not dead.

I removed the Ludwigia super red mini into a larger tank but it too was dark and is only getting new leaves in the other tank which has been recently planted. I also put some clippings of the reineckii in the larger tank with no signs of new growth there. (Moved plants are shown in later pictures)

basically, I have no idea what I’m doing wrong or if I’m missing something to keep these plants growing and bright as well as keep the algae down and the diatoms.
 

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Cherryshrimp420

How do you dose the EI method with Thrive?? Doesnt make sense....

For the EI method you have to dose individual elements for each day (and stagger the macros vs micros so they dont interefere eith eachother).

In your case it seems like you added too much macros which is fueling the algae growth
 

bored411

How do you dose the EI method with Thrive?? Doesnt make sense....

For the EI method you have to dose individual elements for each day (and stagger the macros vs micros so they dont interefere eith eachother).

In your case it seems like you added too much macros which is fueling the algae growth
What am I doing wrong with my Monte Carlo? | Aquarium Plants Forum | 514496

That's the thread where I was asking how to use Thrive for the EI method regarding my monte carlo. This is what's in the Thrive in one pump according to the website:

"1 pump(2ml) per 10g will add ~6ppm NO3, 1.1ppm PO4, 5ppm K, and 0.25ppm Fe"

I was told to do one pump everyday with 50% water change at the end of the week. I was doing one pump every 2-3 days with no signs of progress. When I started dosing every day with the water change I started seeing growth again which is why I've kept doing it. The brown algae and green algae were there before I started doing this. I've seen an increase in brown algae after doing this but less green algae. So this isn't the cause of the algae. If anything, it's helped lower the green algae.

While checking the EI method website I've been using, I'm only going slightly over in PO4 and K. The only thing that's probably being overdone is the Fe and NO3.

"A weekly cumulative dose of nutrients according to EI would be around:
NO3 - up to 20 - 30ppm (I'm doing about 42)
PO4 - up to 5 - 7ppm (I'm doing about 7.7)
K - up to 20 - 30ppm (I'm doing about 35)
Fe/traces - up to 0.5 - 1ppm (I'm doing about 1.75)"

I do miss a dosing or two through the week as well.

Also found this tidbit: "Tom Barr, a well known aquascaper, has tested and concluded that excess nutrients do not cause algae, and he was the inventor of the EI method"
 

Cherryshrimp420

What am I doing wrong with my Monte Carlo? | Aquarium Plants Forum | 514496

That's the thread where I was asking how to use Thrive for the EI method regarding my monte carlo. This is what's in the Thrive in one pump according to the website:

"1 pump(2ml) per 10g will add ~6ppm NO3, 1.1ppm PO4, 5ppm K, and 0.25ppm Fe"

I was told to do one pump everyday with 50% water change at the end of the week. I was doing one pump every 2-3 days with no signs of progress. When I started dosing every day with the water change I started seeing growth again which is why I've kept doing it. The brown algae and green algae were there before I started doing this. I've seen an increase in brown algae after doing this but less green algae. So this isn't the cause of the algae. If anything, it's helped lower the green algae.

While checking the EI method website I've been using, I'm only going slightly over in PO4 and K. The only thing that's probably being overdone is the Fe and NO3.

"A weekly cumulative dose of nutrients according to EI would be around:
NO3 - up to 20 - 30ppm (I'm doing about 42)
PO4 - up to 5 - 7ppm (I'm doing about 7.7)
K - up to 20 - 30ppm (I'm doing about 35)
Fe/traces - up to 0.5 - 1ppm (I'm doing about 1.75)"

I do miss a dosing or two through the week as well.

Also found this tidbit: "Tom Barr, a well known aquascaper, has tested and concluded that excess nutrients do not cause algae, and he was the inventor of the EI method"

Ok so there's a lot to explain but ill be brief:

Unfortunately not all nutrients listed in bottled ferts can be used by plants. Really just the macros are useful for the most part. The micros are usually not in a form that is bioavailable.

Certain nutrients inhibit uptake of other nutrients, for example phosphates bind to iron so you need to dose po4 and iron on different dates. That's just one of many reasons why all-in-on ferts are unlikely to work as intended.

Anyways, there's a reason why the EI method does not go crazy on phosphorus. Although plants and algae both need it, it is often a limiting factor in algae growth. You can read more about N and P relationships here: Fact Sheets | UMass Amherst MWWP
 

bored411

Ok so there's a lot to explain but ill be brief:

Unfortunately not all nutrients listed in bottled ferts can be used by plants. Really just the macros are useful for the most part. The micros are usually not in a form that is bioavailable.

Certain nutrients inhibit uptake of other nutrients, for example phosphates bind to iron so you need to dose po4 and iron on different dates. That's just one of many reasons why all-in-on ferts are unlikely to work as intended.

Anyways, there's a reason why the EI method does not go crazy on phosphorus. Although plants and algae both need it, it is often a limiting factor in algae growth. You can read more about N and P relationships here: Fact Sheets | UMass Amherst MWWP
So, what do you suggest? I feel trying to get all the individual nutrients will also up the cost I have to pay. I could get a two pack of Macro and Micro nutrients Thrive also offers or I can try changing up what I'm doing currently some other way.

I just see it as dosing everyday with the 50% water change every week has shown me some growth so if sticking with it will keep this growth going, then I will stick with it. If there's a better way and it shows progress, then I will do that. Just trying to figure out what I can do to get these plants to thrive with their original bright colors and hopefully with less algae (both brown and green).
 

ruud

The phosphates and iron binding is actually the one mentioned most often. The reaction I believe is prevented in acidic conditions. The all in one bottles contain absorbic acid to prevent this from happening in the bottle; one must make sure to keep the bottle light/air tight as much as possible. Once released in the tank, reaction is prevented if ph is acidic as well; if binding occurs, iron can still become available once it hits the substrate... but this is were my knowledge stops, so I'm walking on thin ice here.

I think what a problem is in your tank, is the limited plant mass. If the surface area of your tank is covered with plants by at least 70%, my experience is that you can do pretty much anything you like; some plants will sooner or later suffer for sure, but (visible) algae won't set foot. Somehow, people find the former a lot less important than the latter...

Something to try is adding a number of java ferns, even if it is just temporary till things really improve.

I believe I also questioned is in another thread, but if I see algae on leaves, I again and always doubt if there is sufficient water movement in your tank.
 

bored411

The phosphates and iron binding is actually the one mentioned most often. The reaction I believe is prevented in acidic conditions. The all in one bottles contain absorbic acid to prevent this from happening in the bottle; one must make sure to keep the bottle light/air tight as much as possible. Once released in the tank, reaction is prevented if ph is acidic as well; if binding occurs, iron can still become available once it hits the substrate... but this is were my knowledge stops, so I'm walking on thin ice here.

I think what a problem is in your tank, is the limited plant mass. If the surface area of your tank is covered with plants by at least 70%, my experience is that you can do pretty much anything you like; some plants will sooner or later suffer for sure, but (visible) algae won't set foot. Somehow, people find the former a lot less important than the latter...

Something to try is adding a number of java ferns, even if it is just temporary till things really improve.

I believe I also questioned is in another thread, but if I see algae on leaves, I again and always doubt if there is sufficient water movement in your tank.
Okay. I've got a buce plant coming in and I do plan on more java ferns which I'll get Thursday. I added some hornwort from another thank and some extra crypto parva I had as well (I'll attach a picture of the tank now). I have a bubbler along the back wall as well as the CO2 diffuser on the back wall under the output of the HOB filter so I feel there is enough movement in most of the tank with the least amount being in the front, but the majority of the plants are in the back other than the monte carlo and one of the repens. I did scrub algae off the glass yesterday during my water change, but you can still see the brown I missed near the edge of the gravel.

IMG_1255.JPG
 

ruud

Ah yes, now that I see your tank again, I really am convinced that given your apparent bright lights and plenty of aquasoil, the simple lack of plant mass is giving you the algae problems. Your tanks seems to have worsened from last week. And things will only get worse.

I would add a lot of fern and if possible dim the lights a bit. (Java fern obviously gets its nutrients via the water column, but the column is fed by the nutrients released from your substrate.)

It might be worth to take some or even most Monte Carlo out and grow it emersed for now, until your tank is doing fine, after which you can put the Monte Carlo back in. If I had your tank, that's what I would do. You can take a plate, fill it with a thin layer of aquasoil, put the MC in/on, and make sure to moist it on a daily basis. Place the plate on a windowsill or close to a window without direct sunlight. Chances are big, your MC will start growing fast after a first few weeks of status quo.

If you follow this, you might consider a black-out for a few days to kill the algae. Take out the MC -> black-out (keep the water well aerated, e.g. with an airstone) -> do a large water change -> add a lot of fern and continue normal light regime. Once the plants that you want to keep in your tank are doing OK, you can gradually take out fern and add the MC back (you'll have plenty by then).

You can store the unemployed java fern in a vase as decoration.
 

bored411

Ah yes, now that I see your tank again, I really am convinced that given your apparent bright lights and plenty of aquasoil, the simple lack of plant mass is giving you the algae problems. Your tanks seems to have worsened from last week. And things will only get worse.

I would add a lot of fern and if possible dim the lights a bit. (Java fern obviously gets its nutrients via the water column, but the column is fed by the nutrients released from your substrate.)

It might be worth to take some or even most Monte Carlo out and grow it emersed for now, until your tank is doing fine, after which you can put the Monte Carlo back in. If I had your tank, that's what I would do. You can take a plate, fill it with a thin layer of aquasoil, put the MC in/on, and make sure to moist it on a daily basis. Place the plate on a windowsill or close to a window without direct sunlight. Chances are big, your MC will start growing fast after a first few weeks of status quo.

If you follow this, you might consider a black out for a few days to kill the algae. Take out the MC -> blackout (keep the water well aerated, e.g. with an airstone) -> do a large water change -> add a lot of fern and continue normal light regime. Once the plants that you want to keep in your tank are doing OK, you can gradually take out fern and add the MC back (you'll have plenty by then).

You can store the unemployed java fern in a vase as decoration.
Sounds good. I'll try that. I'll remove monte carlo tomorrow and do a blackout until Thursday evening when I'm back from work. I'll do a water change Thursday and add ferns that day before turning the lights back on at a slightly lower light level and see if things improve.

Should I continue dosing everyday with Thrive or cut back? And should I cover the plate of monte carlo with plastic wrap to keep moisture in?
 

ruud

On the contrary; during black-out; don't dose anything. After black-out, do the opposite of EI and go lean. Dimmer lights, a lot of java fern, aqua soil (macronutrients), water changes (micronutrients).... that should be enough, at least for your java fern. Check your more sensitive plants for issues, such as brown spots, yellowing parts, holes. Perhaps they can grow on aquasoil and water changes only; at least initially - that would be the ideal scenario.

I must not have realized the limited plant mass your tank currently has, and perhaps focused too much on your MC. The EI approach really is only suited for heavy planted tanks. But all is definitely not lost, but save your MC first.

One more comment; you could add a transparent foil over the plate with aquasoil and MC, to keep it moist. So this approach is actually not that different from a dry start, albeit not in your tank but on a plate.
 

Cherryshrimp420

So, what do you suggest? I feel trying to get all the individual nutrients will also up the cost I have to pay. I could get a two pack of Macro and Micro nutrients Thrive also offers or I can try changing up what I'm doing currently some other way.

I just see it as dosing everyday with the 50% water change every week has shown me some growth so if sticking with it will keep this growth going, then I will stick with it. If there's a better way and it shows progress, then I will do that. Just trying to figure out what I can do to get these plants to thrive with their original bright colors and hopefully with less algae (both brown and green).

Planted tanks need time and patience....I wouldn't worry too much if the tank was set up in October. Give it a few more months. Some plants can take a while to establish after long transport, they can also shed all their leaves and regrow them. It's prime opportunity for algae but not a sign of failure...

Anyways I feel like going high-tech is a bit ambitious... What Co2 concentration are you aiming for? Is there a day-night Co2 cycle?

Im not sure if Thrive is the best option, ideally you want a way to control phosphorus input. Here's more information on the role of phosphorus: https://www.epa.gov/national-aquatic-resource-surveys/indicators-phosphorus

The phosphates and iron binding is actually the one mentioned most often. The reaction I believe is prevented in acidic conditions. The all in one bottles contain absorbic acid to prevent this from happening in the bottle; one must make sure to keep the bottle light/air tight as much as possible. Once released in the tank, reaction is prevented if ph is acidic as well; if binding occurs, iron can still become available once it hits the substrate... but this is were my knowledge stops, so I'm walking on thin ice here.

Any metal would compete to bind with phosphate from what I understand, so that includes all the trace metals like zinc, copper etc. But even without po4, chelated iron is not very stable and probably wont last long in a bottle, perhaps a week or so in the right conditions. For non-chelated irons....questionable how well the plants can absorb them...

On the contrary; during black-out; don't dose anything. After black-out, do the opposite of EI and go lean. Dimmer lights, a lot of java fern, aqua soil (macronutrients), water changes (micronutrients).... that should be enough, at least for your java fern. Check your more sensitive plants for issues, such as brown spots, yellowing parts, holes. Perhaps they can grow on aquasoil and water changes only; at least initially - that would be the ideal scenario.

I must not have realized the limited plant mass your tank currently has, and perhaps focused too much on your MC. The EI approach really is only suited for heavy planted tanks. But all is definitely not lost, but save your MC first.

One more comment; you could add a transparent foil over the plate with aquasoil and MC, to keep it moist. So this approach is actually not that different from a dry start, albeit not in your tank but on a plate.

Yeah perhaps going lean is the better option...The Co2 should be turned off too if going blackout although OP need to decide whether to be low-tech or high-tech first...
 

ruud

Proves that things can oftentimes go right, despite of and not because of.

And related to this, what goals one has with a planted tank. Having high-tech in mind, auto-dosers for fertilizers, ph co2 controllers, and measuring PAR levels comes up. A less ambitious tank with Monte carlo, can however be successful with a lot less control, and even without CO2, but the start can be tricky, as this tank proves.

And also an appreciation for the fact that certain plants will have a hard time, fragment, decompose. Things that I am personally fine with and allow to happen in my tanks.

Bored411's tank seems to be set with the end-result in mind, rather than the beginning. With carpets, a dry start is easiest (which "the trick" with the plate will prove). Alternatively, adding a lot of plant mass from the beginning has never failed me. It almost feels like cheating; that's how bullet-proof I find this approach with regards to algae prevention. But again, there might be plants that suffer (initially).

Feel free to do both; add a lot of plants from the beginning in your tank and grow a few MC on a plate and add these later to your tank. You might even get some appreciation for growing plants emersed. Below is one of my wabi-kusa vases, with MC growing in front (not just the light part hanging over; these were just catching sun when the picture was taken). It looks OK, but not thriving. Then again, I oftentimes forget keeping my wabi-kusa vases wet; they go through dry periods! Still MC survives.


IMG_20211220_120415367_HDR.jpg
 

bored411

Planted tanks need time and patience....I wouldn't worry too much if the tank was set up in October. Give it a few more months. Some plants can take a while to establish after long transport, they can also shed all their leaves and regrow them. It's prime opportunity for algae but not a sign of failure...

Anyways I feel like going high-tech is a bit ambitious... What Co2 concentration are you aiming for? Is there a day-night Co2 cycle?

Im not sure if Thrive is the best option, ideally you want a way to control phosphorus input. Here's more information on the role of phosphorus: Indicators: Phosphorus | US EPA



Any metal would compete to bind with phosphate from what I understand, so that includes all the trace metals like zinc, copper etc. But even without po4, chelated iron is not very stable and probably wont last long in a bottle, perhaps a week or so in the right conditions. For non-chelated irons....questionable how well the plants can absorb them...



Yeah perhaps going lean is the better option...The Co2 should be turned off too if going blackout although OP need to decide whether to be low-tech or high-tech first...
The tank was technically set up in May but became a fully planted tank in October and I have removed and switched out some plants that were in it (especially recently because I've gained two other tanks that I felt would work better with my taller plants that were struggling in this tank).

The CO2 right now is a bit tricky. I'm using one of the smaller Fluval canisters and dosing only during the day. Because I'm doing this manually and the regulator knob likes to turn itself off, it's not as consistent as it should be. I need to get a 5lb canister I have filled and set up in order to get it done properly. Currently, I turn it on at 10am when the lights turn on and off at 6pm when the lights dim into a sunset setting. When I'm home, I check on it frequently to make sure it's still going at the rate it should be (about 2-4 bubbles a second) and only slow it a little when the indicator is green and edging into yellow (or my guppies start staying up near the surface telling me it's too much).

The plants in there now have all been in there since October except the Monte Carlo (added in November), the crypto parva (added last week), and the Hornwort I added two days ago. The Anubias and the larger Java Fern have been in there since I first did the tank in May. The Anubias is a strong plant that's been through everything in that tank and still going god with new leaves. It just has the most green algae stuck to its old leaves.

I checked the tank this morning though and am seeing new growth! I'm seeing more small Monte Carlo poking up through the substrate, my Anubias has a fresh new leaf, the Java Fern leaves are filling in their tips that were transparent and the Repens are sprouting new leaves in their centers and new sprouts at their bases. The reinickii is the only one that I'm not seeing anything, but it's hard to tell if the small leaves at its center are new or not.

Should I still do the blackout and remove the Monte Carlo? I don't mind just scrubbing off the algae for now (there's a nerite in there munching on it too) and waiting a few weeks to see if they keep growing with my everyday dosing and 50% water changes. I'll still add more java ferns on Thursday to help with the algae, but what do you think?
 

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Cherryshrimp420

That's a good sign if there are new leaves. I would just give it sometime. Seems to be on the right track. Not sure if blackout is needed, I'd just keep monitoring it...doesn't seem too bad atm
 

bored411

That's a good sign if there are new leaves. I would just give it sometime. Seems to be on the right track. Not sure if blackout is needed, I'd just keep monitoring it...doesn't seem too bad atm
Okay, I'll keep an eye on it then. Any tips on how to handle the algae? I'm gonna get more java ferns Thursday but should I do anything else or just wait until I get the Java Ferns and go from there?
 

Cherryshrimp420

Okay, I'll keep an eye on it then. Any tips on how to handle the algae? I'm gonna get more java ferns Thursday but should I do anything else or just wait until I get the Java Ferns and go from there?
The key here is to get the plants growing...if they can out compete the algae then you don't have to do anything. I would just give it some time and see how it goes.
 

ruud

At least you have an escape plan.

And adding ferns is still a good idea; depending on the development of your tank you can add more or less. And keep the ones you don't need in a large vase. Add a thin aquasoil layer, a few dry leaves and a few shrimp, et voila, you have a lovely display.
 

Fishstery

No one mentioned this. Your substrate has a lot of detrius. The best way to clean fresh aquasoil, especially when some plants like your MC hasn't rooted yet, is to attach a small turkey baster to the end of your siphon house. Very gently squeeze the baster to blow the detritus up out of the gravel and hover over with the siphon to suck up the gunk as you go. All that detritus is just algae steroids.

I would agree with others that you don't have enough plant mass for EI dosing. EI is really only best suited for dutch tanks that are heavy in stem plants or those with heavy plant mass that want to grow it fast. I don't recommend EI dosing for anyone that is below advanced level with planted tanks because it's walking a fine line.

I would go with a more lean fertilizer like APT complete. Very easy all in one that is well rounded and lean on nitrogen.

It seems you are running your light cycle at 8 hours. Too long. Dial it back to 6 for right now. You also need to find a fix for your fluctuating co2 otherwise you will always struggle with algae. Staghorn is one to appear when co2 is low or fluctuating.

If it were me, I would do a huge manual removal, 80% water change and adjust your light and co2 timer. This is your complete reset day. Wait a day or 2 with no dosing, and then start dosing a more lean fert like the ADA line or APT complete.

I suggest also getting a phosphate test if you are using tap on this tank. It's important to know your phosphate level when using tap, if yours is like mine that already contains 2ppm, when you dose an all in one fert you are inadvertently over dosing phosphate only which throws off your macro balance. If your tap is high in phosphate, you either need to pick up a line of separate NPK macros, or continue with an all in one and then get a separate nitrogen fert. Up the nitrogen dosing and get nitrate to phosphate ratio 10:1. If you have 2ppm of phosphate for example, your target nitrate level will be 20ppm.

A phosphate level above 2 is probably too high for a tank this sparsely planted and is just an invitation for algae. That's not to say that high phosphate causes algae like some people think. It doesn't, you van dump phosphate but it has to be in the right kind of setup like a dutch style.
 

bored411

No one mentioned this. Your substrate has a lot of detrius. The best way to clean fresh aquasoil, especially when some plants like your MC hasn't rooted yet, is to attach a small turkey baster to the end of your siphon house. Very gently squeeze the baster to blow the detritus up out of the gravel and hover over with the siphon to suck up the gunk as you go. All that detritus is just algae steroids.

I would agree with others that you don't have enough plant mass for EI dosing. EI is really only best suited for dutch tanks that are heavy in stem plants or those with heavy plant mass that want to grow it fast. I don't recommend EI dosing for anyone that is below advanced level with planted tanks because it's walking a fine line.

I would go with a more lean fertilizer like APT complete. Very easy all in one that is well rounded and lean on nitrogen.

It seems you are running your light cycle at 8 hours. Too long. Dial it back to 6 for right now. You also need to find a fix for your fluctuating co2 otherwise you will always struggle with algae. Staghorn is one to appear when co2 is low or fluctuating.

If it were me, I would do a huge manual removal, 80% water change and adjust your light and co2 timer. This is your complete reset day. Wait a day or 2 with no dosing, and then start dosing a more lean fert like the ADA line or APT complete.

I suggest also getting a phosphate test if you are using tap on this tank. It's important to know your phosphate level when using tap, if yours is like mine that already contains 2ppm, when you dose an all in one fert you are inadvertently over dosing phosphate only which throws off your macro balance. If your tap is high in phosphate, you either need to pick up a line of separate NPK macros, or continue with an all in one and then get a separate nitrogen fert. Up the nitrogen dosing and get nitrate to phosphate ratio 10:1. If you have 2ppm of phosphate for example, your target nitrate level will be 20ppm.

A phosphate level above 2 is probably too high for a tank this sparsely planted and is just an invitation for algae. That's not to say that high phosphate causes algae like some people think. It doesn't, you van dump phosphate but it has to be in the right kind of setup like a dutch style.
Thanks for the help! I know I need to clear up the debris in the substrate and will probably try your turkey baster trick on Saturday when I do the usual water change.

I do want this tank to have more plants (the guppies like to chase the swordtail and I'd like to give her more hiding places) but I was struggling keeping stem plants in the ground and moved them to a taller tank with more room. I'm going to add more java ferns and another buce plant, but would like to add many some anubias petites and stem plants again once the plants are doing well (my cory are in another tank so the stem plants are less likely to get pulled up now).

I am doing the dosing every day with 50% water change on Saturday because it was a trial for me to see if things changed and so far I am seeing more growth so I will keep doing it for the moment.

I will cut back the lights to 6 hours and I will see if I can wrap the regulator dial to keep it from slipping back off once this canister runs out. As soon as I get the larger canister filled, I can get a timer set up and have a more regular schedule which will definitely help, as you said.

I didn't know about testing for phosphate in the tap water. I'll look into getting a test for that. And you're saying that Thrive has too much of something that ADA or APT have less of? I'm not familiar with the more complex chemistry involved in plant-keeping in aquariums. Chemistry isn't my strong suit. :confused:
 

Fishstery

Thanks for the help! I know I need to clear up the debris in the substrate and will probably try your turkey baster trick on Saturday when I do the usual water change.

I do want this tank to have more plants (the guppies like to chase the swordtail and I'd like to give her more hiding places) but I was struggling keeping stem plants in the ground and moved them to a taller tank with more room. I'm going to add more java ferns and another buce plant, but would like to add many some anubias petites and stem plants again once the plants are doing well (my cory are in another tank so the stem plants are less likely to get pulled up now).

I am doing the dosing every day with 50% water change on Saturday because it was a trial for me to see if things changed and so far I am seeing more growth so I will keep doing it for the moment.

I will cut back the lights to 6 hours and I will see if I can wrap the regulator dial to keep it from slipping back off once this canister runs out. As soon as I get the larger canister filled, I can get a timer set up and have a more regular schedule which will definitely help, as you said.

I didn't know about testing for phosphate in the tap water. I'll look into getting a test for that. And you're saying that Thrive has too much of something that ADA or APT have less of? I'm not familiar with the more complex chemistry involved in plant-keeping in aquariums. Chemistry isn't my strong suit. :confused:
Api has a liquid test for phosphate which is pretty good. Yeah the ada line is super lean in nitrogen (which is what turns into nitrate) and APT is the in between. ADA is nice because it's separate bottles for everything, so you can follow their lean dosing method or overdose slightly depending on your needs. APT complete is all in one which I think is well rounded but more on the lean side rather than rich which I prefer. EI dosing works wonderfully in heavy plant tanks like my dutch, but grew the plants too fast for my taste when I used thrive + at EI levels. But I also have a stem heavy tank with a tiger lotus so they can handle rich dosing. You have a lot of anubias and slower plants it seems and I don't see your plant selection needing EI dosing. Again EI dosing does grow plants exceptionally well but really only should be utilized in a proper setup with someone who is more on the advanced level with water chemistry and plant husbandry otherwise it's an invitation for algae.

You may benefit from just leaving the co2 on 24/7 at a consistent rate, and put an airstone in the plug in and run all night while the lights are off in the meantime. Or find a way to mark your needle valve so you can set it exactly the same every day.

The simplest way I can explain to balance a tank,

Higher light means you need to inject more co2. If you have lower light then lower co2 inconjunction. O2 saturation and co2 saturation are independent of each other. It is possible to have both high co2 and high dissolved oxygen at the same time, and the plants highly benefit from both. More surface agitation might help, but it will off Gass some co2 so you may then need to adjust the co2 when adding more surface flow. I run very rich co2 and strong surface agitation with really high light (150-160 PAR at the substrate). Everything was looking fantastic until I made a rookie mistake and didn't notice my co2 tank was getting low which caused the valve to fluctuate and then I had to deal with getting rid of staghorn algae.

Dosing is simple, dose on the lean side instead of starting off full throttle. Watch your plants for deficiencies. They will tell you what they need. If you see deficiency signs then adjust the dosing a little higher until you hit an Equilibrium. People think that they can dump ferts and that = healthy plants but that isn't true.
 

bored411

Api has a liquid test for phosphate which is pretty good. Yeah the ada line is super lean in nitrogen (which is what turns into nitrate) and APT is the in between. ADA is nice because it's separate bottles for everything, so you can follow their lean dosing method or overdose slightly depending on your needs. APT complete is all in one which I think is well rounded but more on the lean side rather than rich which I prefer. EI dosing works wonderfully in heavy plant tanks like my dutch, but grew the plants too fast for my taste when I used thrive + at EI levels. But I also have a stem heavy tank with a tiger lotus so they can handle rich dosing. You have a lot of anubias and slower plants it seems and I don't see your plant selection needing EI dosing. Again EI dosing does grow plants exceptionally well but really only should be utilized in a proper setup with someone who is more on the advanced level with water chemistry and plant husbandry otherwise it's an invitation for algae.

You may benefit from just leaving the co2 on 24/7 at a consistent rate, and put an airstone in the plug in and run all night while the lights are off in the meantime. Or find a way to mark your needle valve so you can set it exactly the same every day.

The simplest way I can explain to balance a tank,

Higher light means you need to inject more co2. If you have lower light then lower co2 inconjunction. O2 saturation and co2 saturation are independent of each other. It is possible to have both high co2 and high dissolved oxygen at the same time, and the plants highly benefit from both. More surface agitation might help, but it will off Gass some co2 so you may then need to adjust the co2 when adding more surface flow. I run very rich co2 and strong surface agitation with really high light (150-160 PAR at the substrate). Everything was looking fantastic until I made a rookie mistake and didn't notice my co2 tank was getting low which caused the valve to fluctuate and then I had to deal with getting rid of staghorn algae.

Dosing is simple, dose on the lean side instead of starting off full throttle. Watch your plants for deficiencies. They will tell you what they need. If you see deficiency signs then adjust the dosing a little higher until you hit an Equilibrium. People think that they can dump ferts and that = healthy plants but that isn't true.
Yeah, I was just confused because the plants themselves aren't really dying? They've just.... stopped. There's no real yellowing or browning of leaves, no holes. The java fern still makes little mini ferns on the leaf tips, the anubias still grows one leaf every so often. They've just gotten dark and I don't know if it's because of the algae (which is covering the surface of some of the plants) or if it was something I was doing wrong. The algae to me was the big sign I was probably doing something wrong alongside the monte carlo turning a brownish-orange.

the nitrate is usually pretty high (to me) when I get around to water changes, between 40-60ppm and even the occasional 80ppm, though 80 was when I was having the ammonia spike a few weeks back and right before when I was only doing smaller water changes every 10-12 days (my own fault for not doing weekly changes even though levels were alright).

I went ahead and ordered the APT complete to try out instead of Thrive since it was easier for me to find than the ADA. I'll try to get the 5lb co2 filled thursday after work and set that up too so it's consistent and on a timer.
 

Fishstery

Yeah, I was just confused because the plants themselves aren't really dying? They've just.... stopped. There's no real yellowing or browning of leaves, no holes. The java fern still makes little mini ferns on the leaf tips, the anubias still grows one leaf every so often. They've just gotten dark and I don't know if it's because of the algae (which is covering the surface of some of the plants) or if it was something I was doing wrong. The algae to me was the big sign I was probably doing something wrong alongside the monte carlo turning a brownish-orange.

the nitrate is usually pretty high (to me) when I get around to water changes, between 40-60ppm and even the occasional 80ppm, though 80 was when I was having the ammonia spike a few weeks back and right before when I was only doing smaller water changes every 10-12 days (my own fault for not doing weekly changes even though levels were alright).

I went ahead and ordered the APT complete to try out instead of Thrive since it was easier for me to find than the ADA. I'll try to get the 5lb co2 filled thursday after work and set that up too so it's consistent and on a timer.
I'd say it's probably algae for the slow growers. Anubias and Java fern are algae magnets, they grow super slow and they keep their leaves the longest so naturally the algae is attracted to them. You can solve this issue by planting them in the lower lit areas of the tank, as well as rubbing the leaves between your fingers before changing the water each week to clean up algae and detritus instead of letting it build up. If your monte carlo is new then it's completely normal for monte carlo to melt back a good bit. Both low tech and high tech I've always had it melt off pretty bad initially, it takes a while to establish itself and then suddenly it will explode. Trying your best to remove as much dying plant matter as you can is the most important part of the first few weeks of a high tech setup. Decaying plant matter + fresh aquasoil = algae. Next time I do a high tech I'm going to try dark cycling the soil for 2 weeks before planting to see if that alleviates any inital algae issues. That's just putting the aquasoil in, filling the tank, and running the filter with no lights for a few weeks to leech off most of the ammonia before adding plants to reduce ammonia based meltoff.

Your nitrates are high because you are dosing more nitrogen than your plants consume in a week. Think of it this way, following EI dosing your water change is reset day which is why you don't dose ferts on this day. Given you have enough plant demand, let's say they use up 40% of what you fert dosed that week. You do a 50% water change with empty water which leaves your fert residue down to 10%. Let the plants uptake that overnight until you start the dosing cycle again the next day.

When you are dosing severely more than what your plants use in a week, you are leaving excess macros in the water even after the water change and then are full dosing ontop of that afterwards. More experienced EI dosers take this waterchange overlap into account when dosing. For instance, you are dosing 45 ppm of nitrogen per week (EI is only about 30). Your plants are only consuming 20ppm that week. That leaves 25ppm of nitrogen left over in the water column. Now you do a 50% water change and dose your ferts again. That leaves an excess of 12ppm nitrogen in the water ONTOP of that daily dose. Each week that goes on it accumulates more and more in an endless cycle and this is why you are having high nitrate.

Like I said if it were me, deep clean the plant leaves and manually remove as much as you have patience for. Give it a few minutes to let all the dust in the water settle, then do a large 80% water change with the turkey baster method. At this point lower your light duration to 6 hours. Do not dose any ferts for a day or 2, and then start up fresh with APT complete per bottle directions. At first your plants may look worse before they get better, I accidentally shocked my dutch tank when I switched from full EI to APT cold turkey without tapering it down. They threw tons of deficiency signs but I waited it out and they look exceptional now.
 

bored411

I'd say it's probably algae for the slow growers. Anubias and Java fern are algae magnets, they grow super slow and they keep their leaves the longest so naturally the algae is attracted to them. You can solve this issue by planting them in the lower lit areas of the tank, as well as rubbing the leaves between your fingers before changing the water each week to clean up algae and detritus instead of letting it build up. If your monte carlo is new then it's completely normal for monte carlo to melt back a good bit. Both low tech and high tech I've always had it melt off pretty bad initially, it takes a while to establish itself and then suddenly it will explode. Trying your best to remove as much dying plant matter as you can is the most important part of the first few weeks of a high tech setup. Decaying plant matter + fresh aquasoil = algae. Next time I do a high tech I'm going to try dark cycling the soil for 2 weeks before planting to see if that alleviates any inital algae issues. That's just putting the aquasoil in, filling the tank, and running the filter with no lights for a few weeks to leech off most of the ammonia before adding plants to reduce ammonia based meltoff.

Your nitrates are high because you are dosing more nitrogen than your plants consume in a week. Think of it this way, following EI dosing your water change is reset day which is why you don't dose ferts on this day. Given you have enough plant demand, let's say they use up 40% of what you fert dosed that week. You do a 50% water change with empty water which leaves your fert residue down to 10%. Let the plants uptake that overnight until you start the dosing cycle again the next day.

When you are dosing severely more than what your plants use in a week, you are leaving excess macros in the water even after the water change and then are full dosing ontop of that afterwards. More experienced EI dosers take this waterchange overlap into account when dosing. For instance, you are dosing 45 ppm of nitrogen per week (EI is only about 30). Your plants are only consuming 20ppm that week. That leaves 25ppm of nitrogen left over in the water column. Now you do a 50% water change and dose your ferts again. That leaves an excess of 12ppm nitrogen in the water ONTOP of that daily dose. Each week that goes on it accumulates more and more in an endless cycle and this is why you are having high nitrate.

Like I said if it were me, deep clean the plant leaves and manually remove as much as you have patience for. Give it a few minutes to let all the dust in the water settle, then do a large 80% water change with the turkey baster method. At this point lower your light duration to 6 hours. Do not dose any ferts for a day or 2, and then start up fresh with APT complete per bottle directions. At first your plants may look worse before they get better, I accidentally shocked my dutch tank when I switched from full EI to APT cold turkey without tapering it down. They threw tons of deficiency signs but I waited it out and they look exceptional now.
Okay, so let me make sure I have this right:

I'll wait until I get the APT bottle. Then, I'll take out all plants and rocks, give them a good wipe down, and the tank glass for leftover algae. Then, wait for everything to settle and use turkey baster to clean substrate better and do 80% water change (with fish in, I'm assuming). Then, lower lights to 6 hrs, replace plants and rocks, and let it sit for 1-2 days then restart dosing with APT.
 

Fishstery

Okay, so let me make sure I have this right:

I'll wait until I get the APT bottle. Then, I'll take out all plants and rocks, give them a good wipe down, and the tank glass for leftover algae. Then, wait for everything to settle and use turkey baster to clean substrate better and do 80% water change (with fish in, I'm assuming). Then, lower lights to 6 hrs, replace plants and rocks, and let it sit for 1-2 days then restart dosing with APT.
You don't necessarily have to remove the plants or rocks, it might be easier to do a deep clean but then again if it's super dusty in there already doing so may or may not cause another algae spike from disturbing everything so much. If you were to remove everything to scrub I would to a 100% WC then. Otherwise keep it in the tank, use a toothbrush for the rocks and your fingers for the plant leaves. Sometimes being too intrusive makes it worse. The rocks don't look to bad, I see some regular diatoms which will go away on their own, GSA which won't come off anyways, and regular green dust algae which will die off eventually once your plants take off. So if it were me I would leave everything In the tank. Some of the worst algae infected leaves down low on the plants could stand to be clipped off and then just gently rub the rest between your fingers. Like I said brush the rocks and driftwood. Be patient and let it all settle to the substrate and vac the heck out of it. If it gets super dirty, like more than you can vaccuum before you run out of water in the tank, just suck 80% of the water out, fill it back up a bit, vac again, then gently fill it back up. Pick a spot where dumping the water in won't disturb the substrate.
 

bored411

I had some plants come in today that I forgot about. 2 Red Wendtii (one I put in here one in another tank) and more buce plants than I expected. Nothing’s set in place yet and I will still grab a few Java ferns tomorrow and probably replace the hornwort with them. Still plan on scrubbing and cleaning things Saturday with my water changes and I’ll put things in place then and trim up stuff to get rid of anything that’s older or dying. I’ll update on things Saturday when it’s cleaned up and hopefully I’ll see some good signs later on! The APT is supposed to be here but then too so we’ll see
 

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bored411

APT is running a little late because of the holidays but I trimmed and scrubbed and cleaned the gravel up more. I’ve got a spider wood piece that should be here Sunday and I’m going to rearrange things to make sure I got all the nooks and crannies where debris could be hiding. I’m seeing progress in the Monte Carlo though! They new growth was hiding just under the substrate and I’m hoping that trimming off old, algae leaves will help. Haven’t glued down anything yet though since I’m going to move things around.
 

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Cherryshrimp420

Slow down a bit... Theres no need to trim or clean or scrub. Just let the plants grow. Dont try to rearrange either because disturbing their roots will just setback their progress.

Just patience, thats all A planted tank is the easiest thing ever if we just wait
 

bored411

Slow down a bit... Theres no need to trim or clean or scrub. Just let the plants grow. Dont try to rearrange either because disturbing their roots will just setback their progress.

Just patience, thats all A planted tank is the easiest thing ever if we just wait
I only trimmed old leaves with really bad algae on them and those which were melting badly. Wasn’t going to rearrange the plants already rooted, just move the rocks to clean gaps were debris is collecting (I found quite a bit just with the turkey baster) and adjust them for a spider wood piece. I brushed some extra algae off the rocks and cleared up the front glass only. Left the rest for the nerite.
 

Cherryshrimp420

Okay, I don't do any trimming or cleaning on my own tanks (except trimming to sell) so I can't provide much advice there. Hopefully your planted tank journey goes well!
 

bored411

Okay, I don't do any trimming or cleaning on my own tanks (except trimming to sell) so I can't provide much advice there. Hopefully your planted tank journey goes well!
Fishstery suggested trimming the old stuff and I know leaving some of the old leaves can inhibit growth. Plant focuses on repairing old stuff and not making new stuff. That and old leaves blow light to lower portions of the plant. Removing the more algae infected ones means it shouldn’t spread as fast. I’m hoping, anyway. But I’ll post more updates once I get it all redone and cleaned. Hopefully I see even more growth
 

bored411

Finished rearranging and added the spider wood. I’ve got a rock on top to hold it down for now since I’ll be out of town for a few days with my sister taking care of it. But here’s the arrangement with everything glued down and the rooted plants untouched.
 

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bored411

Progress! I’m seeing new growth again even after rearranging the rocks and adding wood. New anubias leaf, new repens, new Monte Carlo, new Java fern (which grow with transparent tips that fill in green latter apparently), and even new buce! I’ve only just started the APT the last 3 days, starting the second I got it after a substrate clean and water change. And while there’s still some left over brown algae I’m not seeing any new algae issues (other than a small bit of hair algae on the buce from a dying leaf or two that I brushed off). Hopefully I’ve got it figured out
 

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Fishstery

Progress! I’m seeing new growth again even after rearranging the rocks and adding wood. New anubias leaf, new repens, new Monte Carlo, new Java fern (which grow with transparent tips that fill in green latter apparently), and even new buce! I’ve only just started the APT the last 3 days, starting the second I got it after a substrate clean and water change. And while there’s still some left over brown algae I’m not seeing any new algae issues (other than a small bit of hair algae on the buce from a dying leaf or two that I brushed off). Hopefully I’ve got it figured out
Nice!! I think your EI dosing was definitely the problem. APT is pretty lean like I mentioned and I think that it suits your tank demand better. Just keep up on the maintenance, vacuuming the substrate and removing any leftover decaying plant matter and things will balance out :) seems like you are in the home stretch with the algae issues.
 

bored411

So, things are definitely growing much better! I've got even more new leaves on the buce plants, anubias, java fern, crypt, repens, and the monte carlo is slowly but steadily poking up more and more. I am getting some brown algae again on the front glass (which I scrubbed off Saturday during my water change) and no green algae that I can see other than a tiny bit on the wood that was added.

However! The hair algae has gone mad. It's all over the buce (even after I trimmed off melting leaves), on the java fern in the center (trimmed off one old leaf there), all over the alternanthera reineckii (that was trimmed and hasn't shown signs of growth so I'm considering replacing it with either new ones or a different plant altogether), it's also on the underside of the anubias leaves and on the new crypt I added after not expecting to get it. I see a bit of it on the airline tubing for the bubbler as well but I'm not sure what to do about it, or if something is still going wrong.
 

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Fishstery

So, things are definitely growing much better! I've got even more new leaves on the buce plants, anubias, java fern, crypt, repens, and the monte carlo is slowly but steadily poking up more and more. I am getting some brown algae again on the front glass (which I scrubbed off Saturday during my water change) and no green algae that I can see other than a tiny bit on the wood that was added.

However! The hair algae has gone mad. It's all over the buce (even after I trimmed off melting leaves), on the java fern in the center (trimmed off one old leaf there), all over the alternanthera reineckii (that was trimmed and hasn't shown signs of growth so I'm considering replacing it with either new ones or a different plant altogether), it's also on the underside of the anubias leaves and on the new crypt I added after not expecting to get it. I see a bit of it on the airline tubing for the bubbler as well but I'm not sure what to do about it, or if something is still going wrong.
That is actually staghorn algae, which if you read way back to my first comment I mentioned was bound to show up with your fluctuating co2. Staghorn is a sign of low or fluctuating co2 which is why I suggested you get a more reliable valve/regulator. Getting a constant flow of co2 will solve that problem.
 

bored411

That is actually staghorn algae, which if you read way back to my first comment I mentioned was bound to show up with your fluctuating co2. Staghorn is a sign of low or fluctuating co2 which is why I suggested you get a more reliable valve/regulator. Getting a constant flow of co2 will solve that problem.
I taped up the threads on the regulator for the moment with some plumbing tape in the hopes that helps. I'm sick and stuck at home so no filling up the good canister yet. Also spotted Hydra in the tank and am now going to treat with some No Planaria I had from when my 3.5 gallon had them. just mildly frustrating that I think I'm finally getting there and then another problem crops up :(
 

Cherryshrimp420

Are you sure they are hydra? Are you keeping shrimp? If not then they will die eventually and fish eat them too.
 

bored411

Are you sure they are hydra? Are you keeping shrimp? If not then they will die eventually and fish eat them too.
It is hydra. Little green spindles that branch out. I had 3 amano in there but one was dead yesterday (either because of hydra I didn't notice or stuck in molting issue).
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Fishstery

I taped up the threads on the regulator for the moment with some plumbing tape in the hopes that helps. I'm sick and stuck at home so no filling up the good canister yet. Also spotted Hydra in the tank and am now going to treat with some No Planaria I had from when my 3.5 gallon had them. just mildly frustrating that I think I'm finally getting there and then another problem crops up :(
Aww well I hope you feel better soon! Don't get discouraged. Co2 injected tanks are hard to balance. Even the best of us have to deal with constant issues. I'm in the middle of a blackout in my high tech, I'm super anxious to see what I'm left with when I unwrap the tank tomorrow. It's even nothing but problem after problem, you fix one thing and then another strain of algae appears. So trust me I know how you are feeling. It's all about the learning process though :)
 

Cherryshrimp420

It is hydra. Little green spindles that branch out. I had 3 amano in there but one was dead yesterday (either because of hydra I didn't notice or stuck in molting issue).
IMG_1374.JPG
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Ah yes that is hydra.

They won't kill amanos, they can barely kill baby shrimp so if you don't have tiny creatures then no need to worry. They should go away in your tank assuming no overfeeding.

The amano death is due to something else though, it's hard to say what as you don't have a CO2 regulator
 

bored411

Ah yes that is hydra.

They won't kill amanos, they can barely kill baby shrimp so if you don't have tiny creatures then no need to worry. They should go away in your tank assuming no overfeeding.

The amano death is due to something else though, it's hard to say what as you don't have a CO2 regulator
I assumed it was a molting issue. All levels were fine (I checked them that day). I'll cut back on feeding a bit. I only feed once a day but I may have been adding more food than necessary so I'll feed every other day for the moment in less amounts. And I have a CO2 Fluval set right now and the knob to adjust it is just unreliable. Likes to turn itself off. I've got a 5lb canister with a proper regulator but I need to get it filled and can't right now. Until then I'm doing what I can. This tank has caused me issues ever since I got it while the 2 tanks I just took over and my betta tank are doing great and I got them more recently. So, just bad luck I suppose. :rolleyes:
 

bored411

So...hydra was the easiest problem apparently and was dealt with in a matter of 2-3 days... the staghorn is crazy though. I've been home more often and am trying to stay on top of the CO2 staying constant. And while all the plants are all sprouting new leaves, the buce is covered in staghorn algae as is the center java fern. Not only that, but even with some hardcore vacuuming, I'm still finding a whole lot of debris tucked in my stratum substrate. it's tough clearing it out with all the nooks and crannies the rocks create but also without uprooting the monte carlo.

that being said, I'm considering something.... drastic. I want to take out the rocks, wood, and attached plants and clean them up as best I can from the staghorn algae. I've got CO2 liquid booster that I can spray/smear on it (which I started to do last water change) and that kills it off a bit to where I can just pull it off the plants. But I also want to take out the stratum, clean it up, and put it back before capping it with sand. I feel this will help keep debris from getting caught underneath, keep monte carlo from getting uprooted, and make it easier to clean. I've got extra white and black sand that I could use and feel this might help. I will try to get the larger CO2 canister filled as well, hopefully within the next week or so.

that being said, I know this is drastic. I know it might mess with the tank's cycling. I'm just trying to figure out the best way to do this with the least amount of long-term issues, especially since I'll be on a month-long trip in June and one of my sister's will be tasked with caring for it. I'd like it to be just a simple "feed the fish, dose for plants, weekly water change" thing for her but at the moment it's a whole lot more than that with my struggling to deal with everything.

So.... thoughts? I just want to know if this is the worst possible thing to do or if it's one of the better options I have at the moment.
 

Cherryshrimp420

All I can say is I never clean anything in this hobby...so it's not the approach I would take.

That debris in your stratum is good stuff... theyre nutrients for your plants. I wouldn't gravel vacuum planted tanks

Also, not sure if I mentioned this but mollies eat a lot of algae.
 

bored411

Welp, I redid the tank today. Lightly rinsed old stratum and put in baggies, sprinkled root tabs, and capped with sand. Brushed the rocks and left everything else. Bit of rearranging so the wood I had wasn’t making a big gap in the back like before and the tank is cleaner with more room for the fish and the Monte Carlo to carpet better. Though the swordtail tried to throw itself out of the water trying to catch it and then got itself stuck for a minute when it tried to hide without realizing it can’t hide in its old spots.

I switched out the large crypt that was in there as it was outgrowing the tank and put in some reineckii I had in another tank instead. Not entirely pleased with the plant placement but once things grow out a bit it should help me figure things out (there’s a stem plant in the back left that I’d like to actually see but it needs to grow more I think). Hopefully this is solve my debris and some of my algae issue and make things easier for me cleaning wise.
 

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