Planted tank, algae, CO2

grymeths

New Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2019
Messages
31
Reaction score
1
Hello everyone! Hope you guys are staying safe during this period.

This is my second thread from this forum (first one was about 8 months ago!). Previously i asked you guys about some fish stocking queries before I got my first tank. Some updates since then: my tank has been running for about 5 months now! I have a ~45gallons tropical tank (3ft x 1.5ft x 1.5ft).

Here are some of my equipments/stocking:
-Current USA 24" Satellite Plus PRO LED lights (on for 7hrs a day)
-EHEIM Classic 350 (2215)
-1x bristlenose pleco
-6x honey gourami
-6x kuhli loaches
-6x cherry barbs
-16x false julii corydora

Parameters taken today (last W/C 4 days ago):
pH: 7.6
Ammonia: 0ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 20ppm
Total hardness (as CaCO3): 30-153
Total alkalinity (as CaCO3): 6-46

Plants:
-Hydrocotyle Tripartita
-Hygrophila 'Siamensis 53B'
-Rotala 'Bonsai'
-2 other plants i couldn't recall (but when i bought them i recall all the plants being low-co2 requirement), anyone can identify?
-Root tab added (Dennerle power tab root fertilizer)

Here is how my tank looks now, 5 months in:
IMG_0417.JPG

IMG_0422.JPG
IMG_0425.JPG

IMG_0424.JPG
IMG_0423.JPG


On the first day:
camphoto_1804928587.JPG

After 1.5months, when it was at its healthiest:
camphoto_342241519.JPG


Question:
1. Am I having an algae bloom?
It does look like it, but the green tint has been there since the first day i have gotten my tank.
2. Should I be concerned?
So far, I have been disregarding the green color (just been doing regular water changes to remove some of it, nothing else in particular).
3. What is happening to my plants?
This is my first time having a tank, and hence it's my first experience with aquarium plants. They were growing well and green (multiplying, growing taller) for the first 2 months, and then suddenly they started turning yellow/brown/black. There are too many reasons online that I found - perhaps due to lack of certain nutrients in the water, but I do not know how to measure them professionally (which I do not intend to either), and I also do not know how to identify the different plant diseases from its look. I attempted to add Seachem Flourish Trace about 3.5 months in (when the plants were already turning ugly), but they did not do any difference. I then thought that perhaps it was not getting enough oxygen but getting too much light/nutrients, so I reduced the number of plants (started snipping part of them off), stopped the flourish trace, and waited, but the plants did not turn for the better.
4. Any help with how I can resolve this plant issue please!!!
I have been very stressed because of the plants, and am very very sad that my fishes have to be in the same tank with them. I am afraid the plants might release chemicals of sorts that may be harmful to the fishes, or they might not be sucking up the ammonia as strongly as they were when there were flourishing, so i think this is quite an urgent problem! As I am still a student and am paying for everything tank-related myself, I consider myself to be on a budget. When I first wanted a tank, I was looking for low-tech planted tanks with an average lighting system and no co2. However, i'm guessing right now (please let me know if you identify any plant problems) that the plants are this way because of the lack of CO2 (low fish load as well + no co2 system), and am seriously considering whether to get a CO2 system.
5. Should I get a CO2 system? What kind?
If I really have to, what kind of CO2 system should I get? I am not very well-versed with making my own system, or with the very sophisticated ones that I have found online (I have read a lot of CO2 guides and they are very difficult to understand). I am looking for a budget/low maintenance one if possible, and the one I found at my lfs is ISTA CO2 Aluminium Cylinder Set - Professional. I find quite limited, and mixed reviews, and am looking for any feedback or alternatives. It isn't very cheap, and i'm not sure whether it will work (been told by the lfs guy that my tank is "big" and require a better CO2 set than this one) well. I do not think there is a readily available CO2 refiller nearby, and probably would have to get new cylinders to replace them (which will be super costly)! I am really contemplating whether to spend so much money to attempt to rescue the plants, and whether it will be worth it (i do not think my tank is considered heavily planted, right...?) at the end of the day.

Will appreciate any help and direction I should be going - whether I should be getting a CO2 system, what else should i be doing to the plants (continue trimming them, or to remove them entirely, especially the foreground hydrocotyle tripartita)? I would see removing the plants as really the last last last resort.

Thanks a lot.
 
Last edited:

utahfish

Fish Herder
Joined
May 5, 2004
Messages
1,503
Reaction score
1,395
Plants need 2 things light and food and different plants eat diffetently. Some mostly through their roots and some mostly through their shoots(leaves) light drives nutrient absorption if light is lacking nutrients wont be absorbed and algae will take hold, if too much light plants will use up nutrients and excess light will feed algae.
All plants need Nitrogen phosphorous CO2 and potassium in larger amounts than other nutrients like iron calcium magnesium ect...
If any one of the nutrients a plant needs to grow isnt provided it wont grow as well.
Get a comprehensive liquid fertilizer. A lot of people use seachem flourish its a respected brand. Personally i use Easy Green made by aquarium Co op its a quality fertilizer and is less expensive. The liquid fertilizer will benefit the shoot feeders most. Then get a substrate fertilizer(root tabs) again seachem root tabs are good. Aquarium co op also makes good ones. These root tabs will mainly benefit root feeders and should be placed deep in substrate next to root feeders. Depending on plant load these will need to be replenished every couple of months. Lastly check lumens on light. Low light plants need 20-30 lumens per liter to grow effectively. 30-40 for medolium 50+ for high light plants.
The liquid fert needs to be dosed on a schedule according to your plants needs
I dose twice weekly once in the new water i change for weekly water change and once mid week. Pay attention to plants and know their signs of nutrient deficiencies Google signs of nutrient deficiency in aquarium plants ex. Pinholes in leaves= potassium deficiency.
Hold off on CO2 until you get nutrients figured out without proper nutrients CO2 will just grow algae as its just one if many essential nutrients
 

Martyn87

Fish Fanatic
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
161
Reaction score
101
Location
Stourbridge, England
Looks like your plants Have necrosis. Are you providing any fertiliser any more?
It’s doesnt sound like you are so essentially you have starved your plants of nourishment. Hydrocotyle isn’t too challenging nor is the Rotala and crypts.

What substrate do you have

Do all the plants wave in the current?
 
OP
grymeths

grymeths

New Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2019
Messages
31
Reaction score
1
Looks like your plants Have necrosis. Are you providing any fertiliser any more?
It’s doesnt sound like you are so essentially you have starved your plants of nourishment. Hydrocotyle isn’t too challenging nor is the Rotala and crypts.

What substrate do you have

Do all the plants wave in the current?

Hi Martyn,
I do not recall which substrate I am using, but it is aquarium soil (might have been help advanced soil for plants). I did use Dennerle power tab root fertilizer when I first planted them, and i added about 2 more at different spots about a month back. I stopped on the liquid fertilizer (Seachem flourish trace) about a month ago. I started it only after the leaves turned dark, and i stopped since there aren't any improvements. No, the plants do not wave in the current, I do not use any wave maker. Thanks!
 
OP
grymeths

grymeths

New Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2019
Messages
31
Reaction score
1
Plants need 2 things light and food and different plants eat diffetently. Some mostly through their roots and some mostly through their shoots(leaves) light drives nutrient absorption if light is lacking nutrients wont be absorbed and algae will take hold, if too much light plants will use up nutrients and excess light will feed algae.
All plants need Nitrogen phosphorous CO2 and potassium in larger amounts than other nutrients like iron calcium magnesium ect...
If any one of the nutrients a plant needs to grow isnt provided it wont grow as well.
Get a comprehensive liquid fertilizer. A lot of people use seachem flourish its a respected brand. Personally i use Easy Green made by aquarium Co op its a quality fertilizer and is less expensive. The liquid fertilizer will benefit the shoot feeders most. Then get a substrate fertilizer(root tabs) again seachem root tabs are good. Aquarium co op also makes good ones. These root tabs will mainly benefit root feeders and should be placed deep in substrate next to root feeders. Depending on plant load these will need to be replenished every couple of months. Lastly check lumens on light. Low light plants need 20-30 lumens per liter to grow effectively. 30-40 for medolium 50+ for high light plants.
The liquid fert needs to be dosed on a schedule according to your plants needs
I dose twice weekly once in the new water i change for weekly water change and once mid week. Pay attention to plants and know their signs of nutrient deficiencies Google signs of nutrient deficiency in aquarium plants ex. Pinholes in leaves= potassium deficiency.
Hold off on CO2 until you get nutrients figured out without proper nutrients CO2 will just grow algae as its just one if many essential nutrients

Hi Utahfish,

Yup I understand most of what you are sharing. I did try my luck with both substrate fertilizers (root tabs) and liquid fertilizers, but did no avail. I am afraid now that there might be "too much" nutrients and not enough CO2 to keep up with the nutrients/light. Do you suggest I reduce the amount of light given? How do you check the lumens on light? I am currently using Current USA 24" Satellite Plus PRO LED lights, and they do not say how do you calculate the lumens based on the intensity. Thanks.
 

utahfish

Fish Herder
Joined
May 5, 2004
Messages
1,503
Reaction score
1,395
Hi Utahfish,

Yup I understand most of what you are sharing. I did try my luck with both substrate fertilizers (root tabs) and liquid fertilizers, but did no avail. I am afraid now that there might be "too much" nutrients and not enough CO2 to keep up with the nutrients/light. Do you suggest I reduce the amount of light given? How do you check the lumens on light? I am currently using Current USA 24" Satellite Plus PRO LED lights, and they do not say how do you calculate the lumens based on the intensity. Thanks.
Usually a bulb will say on it how many Lumens it is, sometimes in small little writing. If not go to manufacturers website and it should be listed, if not ask them.
Too many nutrients would have to be a lot to kill plants.
Plant need to be dosed weekly with nutrients as they absorb them, just like when you go without food you die.
If one is worried about accumulation of nutrients do a large water change then dose ferts. Plants need nitrogen phosphate and potassium among other micro nutrients to grow. Depending on your source water most water supplies have enough of the micro nutrients in it for plants, phosphates are provided by food and organic waste and nitrates by fish respiration and alot of water supplies have nitrates in them, depends where you live. Check your local water dept website for water quality. Nitrates for plants should be between 5-20ppm lower than 5 plants struggle higher than 20 fish struggle. If your source water has high nitrates then avoid fertilizers with nitrate and go with seachem flourish. If low in nitrates find a fert with nitrates in it like easy green or thrive. Lastly is potassium most local water sources wont have potassium in it at least not enough for plants so one needs to dose potassium. Find a liquid fert high in potassium like easy green or buy liquid potassium alone or can buy dry potassium and dry dose. Hope this helps
 

utahfish

Fish Herder
Joined
May 5, 2004
Messages
1,503
Reaction score
1,395
Hi Utahfish,

Yup I understand most of what you are sharing. I did try my luck with both substrate fertilizers (root tabs) and liquid fertilizers, but did no avail. I am afraid now that there might be "too much" nutrients and not enough CO2 to keep up with the nutrients/light. Do you suggest I reduce the amount of light given? How do you check the lumens on light? I am currently using Current USA 24" Satellite Plus PRO LED lights, and they do not say how do you calculate the lumens based on the intensity. Thanks.
All i could find on line is 1500 lumens for your light. Low to medium light plants need 20-30 lumens/ liter so example if one has a 20 gallon tank thats about 75 liters.
75×20=1500. So if you have a 20 gallon tank your light will provide enough for low light plants to grow, ferns anubius crypts ect...any larger tank than 20 gallons and 1500 lumens isnt enough to sustain plants.
 

StevenF

Fish Herder
Joined
Aug 8, 2015
Messages
1,456
Reaction score
372
Location
US
Yup I understand most of what you are sharing. I did try my luck with both substrate fertilizers (root tabs) and liquid fertilizers, but did no avail. I am afraid now that there might be "too much" nutrients and not enough CO2 to keep up with the nutrients/light. Do you suggest I reduce the amount of light given? How do you check the lumens on light? I am currently using Current USA 24" Satellite Plus PRO LED lights, and they do not say how do you calculate the lumens based on the intensity. Thanks.

Most people expect that any fertilizer you buy will have everything plants need to grow. The reality is that most don't. Most fertilizer manufactures Don't include calcium They assume it is in your tap water. Since tap water it typically chlorinated they also don't include any chloride which plants also need. Others put miniscule amounts of copper and zinc assuming your tap water pipes will leave some in the water. However tap water is extriemly variable in its composition so often your plants run out of one or more nutrients and growth stops. And if it goes on long enough you get a tank that looks like yours.

In my case I used RO water in my aquarium and an inert substraten my aquarium. Tried several different fertilizers and none of them worked. It took me years to figure it out For you your posted water parameters look OK. You have nitrogen which is good and your GH says you have a mix of calcium and magnesium in your water (The GH test only detects those two nutrients). When you set up your tank it had some nutrients in the substrate and with what your water had they had good growths for a few months until something ran out. Many people like aquarium soils because they provide nutrients. However they are costly and often run out of nutrients in a year or two. In your case it ran out quickly. As of right now do a water change once a week preferably replace 50% of the water to keep nitrate and ammonia levels safe and to keep organic levels stable.

There is no need to look into a CO2 at this time. We need to get your plants growing first. Do you still have the bottle of Trace? We could add other things to it to fix it. Also where do you llive? With a location we might be able to find a water quality report that would tell use more about your water.
 
OP
grymeths

grymeths

New Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2019
Messages
31
Reaction score
1
Most people expect that any fertilizer you buy will have everything plants need to grow. The reality is that most don't. Most fertilizer manufactures Don't include calcium They assume it is in your tap water. Since tap water it typically chlorinated they also don't include any chloride which plants also need. Others put miniscule amounts of copper and zinc assuming your tap water pipes will leave some in the water. However tap water is extriemly variable in its composition so often your plants run out of one or more nutrients and growth stops. And if it goes on long enough you get a tank that looks like yours.

In my case I used RO water in my aquarium and an inert substraten my aquarium. Tried several different fertilizers and none of them worked. It took me years to figure it out For you your posted water parameters look OK. You have nitrogen which is good and your GH says you have a mix of calcium and magnesium in your water (The GH test only detects those two nutrients). When you set up your tank it had some nutrients in the substrate and with what your water had they had good growths for a few months until something ran out. Many people like aquarium soils because they provide nutrients. However they are costly and often run out of nutrients in a year or two. In your case it ran out quickly. As of right now do a water change once a week preferably replace 50% of the water to keep nitrate and ammonia levels safe and to keep organic levels stable.

There is no need to look into a CO2 at this time. We need to get your plants growing first. Do you still have the bottle of Trace? We could add other things to it to fix it. Also where do you llive? With a location we might be able to find a water quality report that would tell use more about your water.

Hi Steven,

I am from Singapore. A quick search online led me to this website that gives the average range for each parameter in our waters: https://www.pub.gov.sg/Documents/Singapore_Drinking_Water_Quality.pdf
It may not be the exact amount, but it does serve as a guide. An hour earlier I just ordered 2 more bottles - seachem potassium and seachem flourish excel, in an attempt to boost some of the nutrients (as adviced by some of you guys earlier). On top of what I have currently (Dennerle power tab root fertilizer and Seachem flourish trace), does it look like im achieving somewhere? I may try out the use of trace, excel and potassium at the same time, and see whether it improves. Two questions I have now is

1. Judging from the looks of my plants, can I just try adding the additional liquid ferts and see if they get better? Or are the plants so damage that I have to remove them entirely? Like deroot them. I'm not sure if this levels of darkening is salvageable.
2. As you said, does this mean that CO2 is "secondary"? They should be used for better growth, but not a necessity just for them to "live" per se. Since I can "get them growing first" before deciding whether to add something "additional".

Thanks!
 

Martyn87

Fish Fanatic
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
161
Reaction score
101
Location
Stourbridge, England
With plants there are three items that they need to grow.

Light - food - supply

If you have loads of light then you would have seen loads of algae which you aren't. So I dont think it's a lack of light.

Your hydrocotyle has died from Necrosis. It in essence consumed itself and is not uncommon for a very fast growing plant without nourishment. You need to get a full fertiliser and I would recommend EI dosing, it's cheap and effective. You also need to improve the flow to the plant to ensure all the plants are getting the food they need. All your plants should be slightly moving to ensure that is the case.

On the CO2 side along as you keep the light lower then you will not have an issue with the plants you own.
 

utahfish

Fish Herder
Joined
May 5, 2004
Messages
1,503
Reaction score
1,395
Hi Steven,

I am from Singapore. A quick search online led me to this website that gives the average range for each parameter in our waters: https://www.pub.gov.sg/Documents/Singapore_Drinking_Water_Quality.pdf
It may not be the exact amount, but it does serve as a guide. An hour earlier I just ordered 2 more bottles - seachem potassium and seachem flourish excel, in an attempt to boost some of the nutrients (as adviced by some of you guys earlier). On top of what I have currently (Dennerle power tab root fertilizer and Seachem flourish trace), does it look like im achieving somewhere? I may try out the use of trace, excel and potassium at the same time, and see whether it improves. Two questions I have now is

1. Judging from the looks of my plants, can I just try adding the additional liquid ferts and see if they get better? Or are the plants so damage that I have to remove them entirely? Like deroot them. I'm not sure if this levels of darkening is salvageable.
2. As you said, does this mean that CO2 is "secondary"? They should be used for better growth, but not a necessity just for them to "live" per se. Since I can "get them growing first" before deciding whether to add something "additional".

Thanks!
I wouldnt use excel it can be toxic to fish. Also id go with flourish comprehensive over trace.
 

Martyn87

Fish Fanatic
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
161
Reaction score
101
Location
Stourbridge, England
If you have fish then you shouldn’t need too much nitrate and phosphate being added to your tank so really a potassium and trace element fertiliser would be best. Flourish Complete would be fine.

I cannot stress enough though the benefit of water circulation and getting the fertiliser to your plants. I would dose with Seachem complete and get a mini power head to push the water around the tank.

As an aside you also need to buy more plants now, and the right type which must be easy low light demand plants. If you add fertiliser but don’t have enough plants to take it up you will suffer with algae.

Have a look at these types;
Enchidorus
Cryptocycorene
Microsorium
Anubias
Vallisneria
Buchaphelandra.

Best bet use tropica easy plants to pick what you like and research your plant care.
 

StevenF

Fish Herder
Joined
Aug 8, 2015
Messages
1,456
Reaction score
372
Location
US
Thanks for the water quality report it was hellpfull. I honestly think your problem is iron. Flourish trace doesn't have any. At your PH of 7.6 the best choice for an iron fertilizer is Fe DTPA. It is reasonably stable in the water up to a PH of about 8. Above that it oxides and precipitate out of the water and will probably no longer be available for plants. However I don't know if you can get it in Singapore. An alternative is Seachem Iron (iron gluconate). Iron gluconate is stable at any PH but bacteria will rapidly consume the gluconate making the iron unavailable for plants.

If you have fish then you shouldn’t need too much nitrate and phosphate being added to your tank so really a potassium and trace element fertiliser would be best. Flourish Complete would be fine.

Yes with your fish and the waist they make there should be some nitrogen and phosphorous in the water. but plants also need potassium, sulfur, and chlorine (in the form of a chloride salt) to grow. i don't want to assume you have all of these in your water. Your test kit numbers show enough nitrate. You can get a phosphate test kit but assuming your nitrate is from the fish you probably have enough phosphate. I would not recommend flourish comprehensive since it has almost no zinc in it and your water quality report shows no zinc. Flourish trace does have zinc but more than I would prefer.

I would recommend doing one 50% water change per week and imediiently after that dose 40ml of flourish trace, This will insure you have a minimum of 0.02ppm Mn, 0.006ppm B, 0.039ppm Zn, 0.007ppm Cu, 0.0007ppm Mo. In comparison I dose my tank to 0.05ppm Mn, 0.02ppm B, 0.02ppm Zn, 0.01ppm Cu, and 0.001ppm Mo in my RO water tank. I would prefer to have higher levels of Mn, B,and Mo but that would push Zn level way up with flourish trace.

For Iron I dose to 0.1ppm. If you use Seachem iron gluconate I would split this up and dose 1ml 3 times a week evenly spaced. If you find Fe DTPA dose at 170mg (about 1/32 of a tsp) once a week. That is close to what I do in my tank for my macros and it works very well in my RO water tank. I also dose nitrate to 10ppm, and phosphate to 3ppm. and uses a GH booster to maintain my calcium and magnesium levels. Your water report shows calcium and magnesium so I don't think you need Calcium and magnesium.

I would then watch your tank, It may take some time but the plants should start to recover. If you don't see any indications of any improvement I would suggest adding some Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) 1tsp. This would increase magnesium and sulfur levels a little. Be sure to use Epsom salt with no die or perfume in it (pure Epsom salt).

If that doesn't work you can try using Seachem potassium use the instructions on the bottle to dose to 5ppm right after the water change. And then lastly you can use Seachem phosphate dosed to 2ppm.

I wouldn't use Excel it is sold as a carbon supplement but it can be harsh on some plants at the recommended dose. I have not seen any harm to fish but honestly I didn't see any significant improvements to my plant growth when I used it. If you are concerned about CO2 level for now just increase water aeration with a air pump. That will put CO2 in the water and maintain Oxygen levels. I do you CO2 but only a very small amount i my small tank since m plants tend to run out of CO2 after about 1/2 a day of growth. In your larger tank with all the fish you have you probably don't Need CO2 at this time. Later once your plants are growing you can consider it.
 

Martyn87

Fish Fanatic
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
161
Reaction score
101
Location
Stourbridge, England
It sounds like ferts were your issue but, don’t forget without a strong turn over of water your plants will not get the ferts delivered to them!

In your tank picks your taller plants are doing ok...anything at the bottom is looking very sick. You need to get all those plants moving with a gentle wave at the very bottom.

Get the ferts going and then give us an update in three weeks!
 

Stan510

Fish Addict
Joined
Dec 10, 2018
Messages
960
Reaction score
637
Iron will green all the plants up. If that first photo is what it is now? Just need iron or for the Hygrophila corymbosa(?) potassium(magnesium?)..look it up,they are hogs for that I think it is.
If that first is your tank? Just iron seems to me. Seachems is concentrated also..so it can go a long ways.
I also would recommend you do a 30-40% water change..some tint is normal..you got a bit more..its reducing the light output and I think tint can be a factor period in slow plant and fish growth. You can never have it drinking water clear...but better is good enough.
 

Most reactions

trending

Top