Struggling with plants, please help!

courtneylm

Hello all, I have been struggling with the plants in my tank. I have tried so many things. I have injected co2 (run through a reactor off my canister filter), a fluval fresh and plant light, I have a bunch of root tabs in the substrate, and I dose fertilizers daily. The lights are on for 9 hours a day, with the co2 starting 2 hours before lights on and ending 2 hours before lights off. They are still struggling. I've been trying to get them to grow tall and lush to help break up the line of sight in my tank to help with my angelfishes aggression, and it's not going well. I have had all of the plants since the end of November. I am at a loss. I'm new to planted tanks and just need help.

Alternanthera inclinata

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Hygrophila stricta

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Cryptocoryne wendtii

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Bacopa caroliniana

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Pogostemon stellatus

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Myriophyllum scabratum & cabomba caroliniana

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MacZ

Oh, that's Cabomba, I thought it was Elodea when I looked at the picture in the other thread. Elodea would also be an option. And Hydrocotyle leucocephala. Just to complete my answer to your question from earlier.
 

JLAquatics

Hello all, I have been struggling with the plants in my tank. I have tried so many things. I have injected co2 (run through a reactor off my canister filter), a fluval fresh and plant light, I have a bunch of root tabs in the substrate, and I dose fertilizers daily.
Greetings! I don't know if this will help your situation or not, but do you know what fertilizers you use and how much you dose? Something is making me think that these plants are not getting enough nutrients (macro or micro) to grow correctly. You already have co2 injection and you also have a quality plant light with a good day and night cycle.

Listing the brands used as well as the frequency of the doses will prove most useful in this task and this question includes both root tabs and liquid fertilization as well. Hopefully we can get to the bottom of this frustration. :)
 

FishareFriends6

You need a good light to match the nutrients and co2 quantity, all based on water volume. How big is the tank?

Your substrate is also inert so the plants can’t root into anything apart from sand and root tabs.

You need a specific watt light per litre of water to ensure the right PAR at the substrate to encourage growth and photosynthesis.
 

courtneylm

Greetings! I don't know if this will help your situation or not, but do you know what fertilizers you use and how much you dose? Something is making me think that these plants are not getting enough nutrients (macro or micro) to grow correctly. You already have co2 injection and you also have a quality plant light with a good day and night cycle.

Listing the brands used as well as the frequency of the doses will prove most useful in this task and this question includes both root tabs and liquid fertilization as well. Hopefully we can get to the bottom of this frustration. :)
I use seachem root tabs, and seachem flourish excel. I can't remember how many tabs I put in, but I know I did more than the recommended amount. As far as fertilizer dosage, I do 2.5 capfuls daily, which is the recommendation on the bottle.
You need a good light to match the nutrients and co2 quantity, all based on water volume. How big is the tank?

Your substrate is also inert so the plants can’t root into anything apart from sand and root tabs.

You need a specific watt light per litre of water to ensure the right PAR at the substrate to encourage growth and photosynthesis.
The tank is a 120g, not sure what that is in litres. It's a 59 watt light, with blue, pink, cold white, pure white, and warm white.
 

JLAquatics

I use seachem root tabs, and seachem flourish excel. I can't remember how many tabs I put in, but I know I did more than the recommended amount. As far as fertilizer dosage, I do 2.5 capfuls daily, which is the recommendation on the bottle.

The tank is a 120g, not sure what that is in litres. It's a 59 watt light, with blue, pink, cold white, pure white, and warm white.
Thank you for posting this information courtneyIm. I think I have just found your main problem. Seachem Flourish Excel is not a fertilizer, rather an algaecide. As a result, your plants are not getting the proper column fertilization they desperately need, especially if this is the only column "fert" you are providing. Most of the plants struggling seem to be stem plants which would make complete sense given that you are not dosing proper column water fertilization in the tank (which stem plants will consume more of than the root tabs).

You would be much better off dosing an all in one fert such as Easy Green or Thrive. I bet your plants would begin taking off shortly after changing the fertilizer friend. Just make sure that whatever fertilizer you use is labelled as an all-in-one (containing macro and micro nutrients) as these ones will be the easiest for a beginner to use. :)
 

courtneylm

Thank you for posting this information courtneyIm. I think I have just found your main problem. Seachem Flourish Excel is not a fertilizer, rather an algaecide. As a result, your plants are not getting the proper column fertilization they desperately need, especially if this is the only column "fert" you are providing. Most of the plants struggling seem to be stem plants which would make complete sense given that you are not dosing proper column water fertilization in the tank (which stem plants will consume more of than the root tabs).

You would be much better off dosing an all in one fert such as Easy Green or Thrive. I bet your plants would begin taking off shortly after changing the fertilizer friend. Just make sure that whatever fertilizer you use is labelled as an all-in-one (containing macro and micro nutrients) as these ones will be the easiest for a beginner to use. :)
I had read that jt was algaecide, but then seachems website says that isn't true so I used it as a regular fertilizer. I'm not saying you're wrong, just that that's why i continued to use it. I will look into picking up one of those. I had Dustin's fertilizer that I used for a bit but i didn't have any luck with that one.
 

MrMuggles

I had read that jt was algaecide, but then seachems website says that isn't true so I used it as a regular fertilizer. I'm not saying you're wrong, just that that's why i continued to use it. I will look into picking up one of those. I had Dustin's fertilizer that I used for a bit but i didn't have any luck with that one.
I had the same problem as you in my newish 120G, using only root tabs in sand and some Seachem flourish Nitrogen. When I started using a complete fertilizer instead - the Easy Green from aquarium co-op - it turned around all of my plants within days. They went from melting to growing almost immediately.

All of the seachem fert products are separated, each contains a very narrow range of micro/macro nutrients, to encourage you to buy several bottles to form a complete mix.
 

courtneylm

I had the same problem as you in my newish 120G, using only root tabs in sand and some Seachem flourish Nitrogen. When I started using a complete fertilizer instead - the Easy Green from aquarium co-op - it turned around all of my plants within days. They went from melting to growing almost immediately.

All of the seachem fert products are separated, each contains a very narrow range of micro/macro nutrients, to encourage you to buy several bottles to form a complete mix.
I have another question related to this. I have a co2 drop checker, and I'm wondering where in my tank is the ideal location for it to be. I have my drop checker circled, it is right in front of my filter outlet, and I have a co2 reactor hooked up to that side of my filter. Is that a good location or should I move it to the opposite side of the tank?


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Cherryshrimp420

Light is too weak. Need a better LED with higher par/lumens or use the maximum setting if not already.

The co2 checker placement and everything else is secondary. There is simply not enough light reaching the bottom of the tank right now
 

courtneylm

Light is too weak. Need a better LED with higher par/lumens or use the maximum setting if not already.

The co2 checker placement and everything else is secondary. There is simply not enough light reaching the bottom of the tank right now
Any suggestions for lights? I have mine set to 100% for all colors except blue, which is at 50%. I read somewhere that blue light can cause algae problems, but should I max it out anyways and see what happens? Can I use multiple smaller lights? I also have the back side of the tank painted with mirror paint to try and help reflect more light into the tank. Not sure if it will work but I like the look of it if nothing else.
 

Cherryshrimp420

Any suggestions for lights? I have mine set to 100% for all colors except blue, which is at 50%. I read somewhere that blue light can cause algae problems, but should I max it out anyways and see what happens? Can I use multiple smaller lights? I also have the back side of the tank painted with mirror paint to try and help reflect more light into the tank. Not sure if it will work but I like the look of it if nothing else.
It's hard to say how good your light is, do you have the model and specs for that particular light? A lot of cheap LED lights on Amazon have about half of the advertised par values.

Without a par meter, you can sort of judge the quality by using a watt meter and see if it is drawing out the advertised amount of power.

Generally for big tanks like 100g+, it's very hard to get good light penetration and the high quality aquarium lights are very expensive. I used garage lights from Amazon, about $15 each. You can buy 3 of them and put it on your aquarium.

Apart from that, reducing the amount of discoloration in the water will help a lot. That mostly comes from driftwood, so you might have to try out different pieces to find ones that do not leech as much.
 

GpixL

Something you can also try (maybe in another tank) is to get a substrate specifically for plants. This has worked for me in the past although I would try to find what the cause of the plant deaths is. I say in another tank because it can be hard to do this in your main tank, and once you have grown the plants you can put them in you main tank and see if they are better off when they are adults. You should also check your lights like someone else said.

How many gallons is the aquarium?
 

courtneylm

It's hard to say how good your light is, do you have the model and specs for that particular light? A lot of cheap LED lights on Amazon have about half of the advertised par values.

Without a par meter, you can sort of judge the quality by using a watt meter and see if it is drawing out the advertised amount of power.

Generally for big tanks like 100g+, it's very hard to get good light penetration and the high quality aquarium lights are very expensive. I used garage lights from Amazon, about $15 each. You can buy 3 of them and put it on your aquarium.

Apart from that, reducing the amount of discoloration in the water will help a lot. That mostly comes from driftwood, so you might have to try out different pieces to find ones that do not leech as much.
The light is the Fluval plant 3.0, 48". I've also been researching some "diy" aquarium lights that are a cheaper option than the aquarium lights
 

Cherryshrimp420

The light is the Fluval plant 3.0, 48". I've also been researching some "diy" aquarium lights that are a cheaper option than the aquarium lights
Ah okay so with those specs and the discoloration of your water, you probably need 2 of them. But you can always try cheaper garage/flood lights instead
 

sairving

Regarding fertilizer, with a 120-gallon tank, you are going to spend a lot of money on liquid ferts. This is especially true with a tank you're injecting co2 into. My suggestion is to order a dry fertilizer package from Green Leaf Aquariums or NilocG. WIth dry ferts, you can dose using the estimative index method, PPS Pro, or use a calculator to figure out your own mix. Both methods mean you need to do your weekly water changes to take excess nutrients out. EI doing has you adding the powders directly to the tank. PPs Pro has you mixing your own solutions.

Both websites have directions. Green Leaf Aquarium's directions are really good.
I would spend a little time and read about both methods. In the long run, it will save you money. I have a 10-gallon low-tech tank and dose use PPS Pro. I spent $30 on dry fertilizers and have enough to last me years. Dry ferts allow me to adjust macros and micros much easier.

An all-in-one will get you started adding nutrients immediately and give you enough time to get the lighting figured out. I just wouldn't use one long-term with a 120-gallon tank.
 

courtneylm

sairving I didn't even know about dry fertilizers, I will be looking into that, thank you!
 

Fabregas

This kind of sand bed usually increases the GH of the water body, and such a water environment is not suitable for plant growth. If it is determined that it is river sand and will not affect the water quality, you can try to put granular fertilizer in the roots of the plants. Do not add liquid fertilizers to the water, this will only make your water body produce algae.
 

courtneylm

This kind of sand bed usually increases the GH of the water body, and such a water environment is not suitable for plant growth. If it is determined that it is river sand and will not affect the water quality, you can try to put granular fertilizer in the roots of the plants. Do not add liquid fertilizers to the water, this will only make your water body produce algae.
It's pool filter sand, does that increase gh? Also, I have root tabs in the sand. I'm going to continue my use of fertilizer in the water column. If I notice algae I will adjust accordingly but I have A LOT of stem plants which need the fertilization from the water column, and they are clearly needing more is you see the pictures above. I wasn't using a complete fertilizer system, I have an all in one fert coming in tomorrow and will probably be getting dry ferts next
 

TClare

I had read that jt was algaecide, but then seachems website says that isn't true so I used it as a regular fertilizer.
Seachem Excel just provides carbon. You don’t need it if you are using CO2. Actually you don’t need it anyway. As others have said you need a liquid fertiliser that contains macro and micronutrients. Usually these are dosed once or twice a week. I find that Azoo Plant Premium is very good.
 

MacZ

As nobody here has asked:
What are the water parameters? GH, KH, NO3 would be of interest.
Also, can you get a water analysis from your water provider? Iron and other trace elements are important.

Everything else happening here is just poking in the dark.
 

Cherryshrimp420

As nobody here has asked:
What are the water parameters? GH, KH, NO3 would be of interest.
Also, can you get a water analysis from your water provider? Iron and other trace elements are important.

Everything else happening here is just poking in the dark.

Well this is just light deficiency. Which can be seen by the lack of leaves on the lower stems. As for whether the plants will be deficient in other nutrients, that is to be determined
 

Fabregas

I don't quite understand what you're talking about: tags, is the root tag you're talking about this red basket?
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MacZ

TaB, with a B, short for tablet
 

Fabregas

Sorry, I'm a foreigner. I don't understand what this "tab" means. Is it "tablet"?TaB, with a B, short for tablet
 

MacZ

Exactly: It is short for tablet.
 

Wayne73

From all the information and input from everyone.Please consider this. If you intend to switch your substrate, consider the depth of it, you need at least 3"(75mm). Reason being you give all plants the chance of a good root structure which helps any plant to thrive. An one other point, if your fish load isnt high, go for an all in one liquid fertiliser with nitrogen and phosphates in the ingredients. But do revise your dosing regime, if you choose an all in one with nitrogen and phosphates, as these can create algae.
 

sairving

It's pool filter sand, does that increase gh? Also, I have root tabs in the sand. I'm going to continue my use of fertilizer in the water column. If I notice algae I will adjust accordingly but I have A LOT of stem plants which need the fertilization from the water column, and they are clearly needing more is you see the pictures above. I wasn't using a complete fertilizer system, I have an all in one fert coming in tomorrow and will probably be getting dry ferts next
Pool filter sand does not increase gh or kh.
 

courtneylm

Pool filter sand does not increase gh or kh.
I didn't think so
As nobody here has asked:
What are the water parameters? GH, KH, NO3 would be of interest.
Also, can you get a water analysis from your water provider? Iron and other trace elements are important.

Everything else happening here is just poking in the dark.
All I have for testing the hardness are these test strips, and I don't trust the accuracy too much.and I'm not sure what "total hardness" means. I will use my master test kit for the no3

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sairving

This kind of sand bed usually increases the GH of the water body, and such a water environment is not suitable for plant growth. If it is determined that it is river sand and will not affect the water quality, you can try to put granular fertilizer in the roots of the plants. Do not add liquid fertilizers to the water, this will only make your water body produce algae.
Not necessarily. If you look at father fish on YouTube, he is a huge proponent of having a deep sand bed. There is a nutrient rich layer underneath capped with 2-3 inches of sand. The plants get plenty of nutrients and anerobic bacteria eventually grows. The anerobic bacteria helps remove nitrates.

Its not the method you want to use if you like to frequently move plants around or have a fancy aquascape.

(I promise not to get off topic anymore) back to struggling plants!
 

TClare

Also it is not true that liquid fertilizers will cause algae. This depends on many other factors.
 

courtneylm

As nobody here has asked:
What are the water parameters? GH, KH, NO3 would be of interest.
Also, can you get a water analysis from your water provider? Iron and other trace elements are important.

Everything else happening here is just poking in the dark.
My nitrates appear to be around 10 ppm. Not sure if it's relevant but my pH sits around 6.6 - 6.8. That's about what it comes out of the tap at. Should I try raising my pH to 7? I have neutral regulator that I haven't used before, I also looked into getting crushed coral to add into the filter.

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TClare

Pool filter sand does not increase gh or kh.
Neither does river sand in my experience.
II have very soft water, pH 6.6-6.8 and have no problems growing many plants, though Bacopa is one that has never done well for me. My large planted tank has a substrate of mostly river sand, with a small amount of aqua soil added, cheap led floodlights, no CO2 yet I have to trim some plants most weeks. Vallisneria grows like a weed, though many people seem to think it needs harder water or higher pH.
 

sairving

My nitrates appear to be around 10 ppm. Not sure if it's relevant but my pH sits around 6.6 - 6.8. That's about what it comes out of the tap at. Should I try raising my pH to 7? I have neutral regulator that I haven't used before, I also looked into getting crushed coral to add into the filter.
View attachment 843216
I would test your gh and kh first. I'm sure someone with really soft, low pH water will have a better answer for you. My water is at the other end of the spectrum.
 

courtneylm

I would test your gh and kh first. I'm sure someone with really soft, low pH water will have a better answer for you. My water is at the other end of the spectrum.
At this risk of sounding ignorant, how do I test for those? Do you have any test strip/kit recommendations? The one I used (pictured above) was the best I could find at petco
 

MacZ

All I have for testing the hardness are these test strips, and I don't trust the accuracy too much.
Better than nothing and test strips are not designed for accuracy. They are designed to quickly show if something is present or not in low or high amounts. Nothing more. So you are in the medium range. Allright, no calcium or magnesium defficiencies to be expected. Did you take the pictures within in 75 seconds? Strips have to be read at as exactly at 60 seconds as possible. After 75 seconds the results are useless.
and I'm not sure what "total hardness" means.
That's the GH. GH stands for "Gesamthärte" (german for total hardness).
My nitrates appear to be around 10 ppm.
Good. Means your plants do not have too little nitrogen at their disposal, either.
Not sure if it's relevant but my pH sits around 6.6 - 6.8. That's about what it comes out of the tap at. Should I try raising my pH to 7? I have neutral regulator that I haven't used before, I also looked into getting crushed coral to add into the filter.
Nope, leave it.

Not against you, but a general thing: Most of the fish we keep (Excluding some groups, but those don't matter right now) originally come from habitats with pH in the range between 4.5 and 6.5. I'm dumbfounded again and again how people expect they have to keep pH around neutral (7). Your readings are fine.

Ok, so we know now there is no defficiency of Nitrogen, Calcium or Magnesium.

For trace elements and other macro nutrients (potassium, phosphate) take a look at your water provider's website. They have to publish an analysis somewhere.
At this risk of sounding ignorant, how do I test for those? Do you have any test strip/kit recommendations? The one I used (pictured above) was the best I could find at petco
You just did above. Sairving has simply not seen your post with the test strips I presume.
 

courtneylm

Better than nothing and test strips are not designed for accuracy. They are designed to quickly show if something is present or not in low or high amounts. Nothing more. So you are in the medium range. Allright, no calcium or magnesium defficiencies to be expected. Did you take the pictures within in 75 seconds? Strips have to be read at as exactly at 60 seconds as possible. After 75 seconds the results are useless.

That's the GH. GH stands for "Gesamthärte" (german for total hardness).

Good. Means your plants do not have too little nitrogen at their disposal, either.

Nope, leave it.

Not against you, but a general thing: Most of the fish we keep (Excluding some groups, but those don't matter right now) originally come from habitats with pH in the range between 4.5 and 6.5. I'm dumbfounded again and again how people expect they have to keep pH around neutral (7). Your readings are fine.

Ok, so we know now there is no defficiency of Nitrogen, Calcium or Magnesium.

For trace elements and other macro nutrients (potassium, phosphate) take a look at your water provider's website. They have to publish an analysis somewhere.
This is what I found.

Also, I'm relieved I dont have to try and chase a neutral pH, I've tried before and it was a nightmare.


Screenshot_20220407-093545_Adobe Acrobat.jpg


Screenshot_20220407-093536_Adobe Acrobat.jpg
 

MacZ

This is what I found.

Also, I'm relieved I dont have to try and chase a neutral pH, I've tried before and it was a nightmare.

View attachment 843218

View attachment 843219
Can you link the whole report? It's frustrating when they only publish selected values instead of a simple list with all the things measured.
 

sairving

You just did above. Sairving has simply not seen your post with the test strips I presume.
Found it! (Gets more caffeine)
 

courtneylm

Can you link the whole report? It's frustrating when they only publish selected values instead of a simple list with all the things measured.
Does this work?

Adobe Acrobat
 

sairving

Try searching for a water analysis done by the US Geological survey. They sample and test water for minerals, etc. You might be able to find a little more info that way.
 

courtneylm

Try searching for a water analysis done by the US Geological survey. They sample and test water for minerals, etc. You might be able to find a little more info that way.
I tried that, I'm not coming up with anything it seems. I searched brevard county (that's my county in Florida, city is Mims) water analysis by us geological survey.
 

sairving

I tried that, I'm not coming up with anything it seems. I searched brevard county (that's my county in Florida, city is Mims) water analysis by us geological survey.
I wouldn't worry about it too much then.
 

courtneylm

I have API Leaf Zone coming in today, so I will start dosing that and see how they look the next few weeks.
 

MrMuggles

API Leaf Zone is another very narrow-range plant supplement, it didn't do anything for my melting ferns and swords
 

courtneylm

API Leaf Zone is another very narrow-range plant supplement, it didn't do anything for my melting ferns and swords
That's disappointing to hear, I read some reviews both on Amazon and other review websites and it seemed like a good one. Regardless, I'll be using it for now and getting dry ferts in the near future. Leaf zone was cheap and ordered next day delivery on Amazon so I figured I'd use it to hold me over until I get the dry ferts
 

TClare

That's disappointing to hear, I read some reviews both on Amazon and other review websites and it seemed like a good one. Regardless, I'll be using it for now and getting dry ferts in the near future. Leaf zone was cheap and ordered next day delivery on Amazon so I figured I'd use it to hold me over until I get the dry ferts
I think Leaf Zone only contains iron and potassium. It might help, but it would be better to get a more complete one. Like this one: AZOO Plant Premium - PremiumBuces
If you can get it where you live. Otherwise I think Thrive do similar ones.
 

GpixL

Another one that could work is Seachem Florish. But I dont know the exact product you need.
 

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