55 Gallon Tank Struggles With Planted Tank (Help)

Hello FishLore,

It's been some time, and I've had mixed results in my two tanks since my last headaches. Recently, I've been having issues with my newer planted 55g community. My fish are all doing okay, but I'm having a lot of trouble with my plants and algae. This is my first true attempt at a planted tank, and I was going for a jungle feel and didn't mind plants overgrowing. Recently, many of my plants have been unsuccessful, and it's showing.

Some background: my tank has a sand substrate (I didn't know this was bad for root plants until afterwards, but I have root tabs to make up for nutrients), and it's fertilized with root tabs and Aquarium Co-Op Easy Green for the water feeders. I have Finnex Stingray lights, and all of my plants are low-tech.

As far as the plants go, I have some root plants I can't identify that have grown incredibly well, and then crypts that have also grown and stayed pretty. However, my water feeding plants didn't do so hot. I lost all of my java fern, and my anubias are doing ok but show signs of trouble with dark green spots on the leaves. As far as my Amazon Swords go, they're dying as well. I've never been able to successfully keep swords no matter how much I try, and the root tabs aren't saving them. I dose twice as much Easy Green as recommended for my 55g since the tank is heavily planted, but no success.

And for the algae, I have a massive issue with hair algae and green algae. I have a small BN Pleco growing out, but he isn't big enough to do much. The algae is out of control and I'm not sure why. I figured it might be the fertilizer, but if some plants are dying I doubt there's enough of it to feed the algae?

Basically I'm wondering what could be the source of my plants dying, and how I can control the algae. The hair algae is the bigger problem, and I've been told there's not many good clean up crew options for it. I've tried manually removing it, but it's really tight on my driftwood, and I can't get a grip on it on the plants that it's also attached to without harming them. Let me know what you think, because this tank looks like a jungle alright, but I don't want to have to keep replacing dead plants and dealing with algae.

(I keep my lights on 8 hours a day, nitrates are always present in the tank, but not extremely high)
Sounds like the algae problem is down to excess nutrients in your water. That, plus light = algae generally. How high are your nitrates? How much water do you change a week? Id also stop overdosing the ferts as well.
I think you're on the right track trying to figure out how to make your plants happy. Generally, once your plants are healthy, you'll have less algae issues. Now, in a low tech tank with sand substrate, not every plant will thrive. I've had some tanks where some species just don't do well--and I never figured out why. One option would be to get rid of the plants that don't do well, and just grow the ones that do.

That being said, I'm not sure why your plants aren't happy. A soil substrate could help a lot, but it shouldn't be necessary. You're almost certainly dosing more than you need to, but I think this is more wasteful than harmful. Perhaps there's something in your tap water that the plants don't like. If your source water is bad, you could find a new source or keep less livestock and do fewer/smaller water changes.

Here is an article by Sudeep Mandal describing one way of running a low tech tank you may find useful: .

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