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Needing help - certain plants melting, others not growing

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  • Needing help - certain plants melting, others not growing

    It has been a long time since I have been here, or really activily trying to maintain a tank. I recently decided to get back into (end of summer). Things were going well, then my light broke, I got a new T5HO fixture and things were looking even better than they had been. Until now. Over the past few weeks the certain plants have been going from bad.. to worse.. to non existent. The following plants are doing very well; riccia, ludwiga repens, blyxa japonica, (a crypt, anubius and java fern - but those really can almost not be killed for me for some reason). The star grass is marginal.. it's not really growing like it was, but is slowly growing and not dying. The ludwiga arcuata is pretty much stalled and seems to be stunted - the top are very small as before it was growing quite large and full. The biggest problem of all of them was the E. Stellata. I have 6-10 stems growing well and now, nothing. Everything melted slowly and I am down to 2 top of stem I am desparately trying to save.

    ph is at 6.6-6.4, kh is around 3 or so. Drop checker reads a slightly greenish yellow (def. more yellow than green) - this has a homemade 4dkh (might be off?) fluid in it.
    I dose EI at 1/4tsp KNO3, 1/8tsp KH2PO4, 1/8tsp K2SO4 (just started that this week) and 1/8tsp of Plantex - all 3x a week on opposite days.
    50% water change weekly (generally speaking).
    2x 39w T5HO lights on 10 hours a day.

    As I said, most things are growing well, but the ones I REALLY want to be in there aren't. I some thread algae, but not even close to bad (this is also new in the last little while - sort of similar time line to the other problems).

    Do the problems in these plants in particular and the algae point to something in particular deficient or excessive? I am at a loss and being in Canada I don't really want to lose any more plants as they are not terribly easy to obtain. I cannot really pinpoint when it started going bad.. I seem to recall adding some seachem equilibrium a couple of weeks in a row and that is when I _think_ it took a turn for the worse. That was a month ago though and I have not added it since. I wonder if it could be that or perhaps a the filter needs cleaning (1.5 months since I cleaned it last)?

  • #2
    What is your GH, KH? IME, Stargrass (H. zosterifolia) likes adequate Ca and Mg.

    Used to think it (Stargrass) likes low GH by info from some website.
    So I kept low GH and found I had to dose very high Fe to keep it barely survived.
    And it always annoyed me with frequent melting.

    After finding that its natural habitat has quite hard water (both KH and GH),
    I add more Ca and Mg. It becomes stronger. I don't have to dosed very much Fe now.

    PS: Seachem Equilibrium should have helped. But you suspect it made things worse.
    Well, I've no idea about this. And you might be right. This is a normal issue in this hobby
    (or any hobby related to biology). I should have stuck with electronic toys :P
    Last edited by nipat; 03-10-2012, 01:57 PM. Reason: Add PS, grammar


    • #3
      I always say P. stellata is a CO2 indicator plant. A deficiency results in stunting and disintegrating crowns. Blyxa etc. are real weeds that will also respond with less growth, but it won't show that much. My advice is to review the CO2 and flow. Don't stare to much at Ph numbers. Your plants are the best test you can have.

      My 2011, 2012 and 2013 AGA aquascaping contest entries:


      • #4
        Hi vinlo,

        You provided the fixture and EI dosing level but you did not indicate the aquarium volume to help make that information relevant. If the new fixture resulted in a substantial increase in light wattage or intensity, then your nutrients (fertilizer and carbon) needed to be increased as well to maintain balance.

        Assuming your drop checker indicator solution is correct you probably have about 30 ppm CO2 which should be fine. Are you dosing the same EI quantities as with the old fixture? Is your photoperiod the same? Are you keeping up with the 50% weekly water changes?

        When Tom Barr visited us at GSAS about a year and a half ago he did an excellent presentation on "The Light Limited Aquarium". There is a thread on the subject on this forum. Two points he made have helped me improve my planted aquarium skills; the first was that I was probably providing too much light (intensity/duration), and the second was reminding me of the importance of maintaining a balance of nutrients and light.

        If it were me, I would start with two 50% water changes over the next week 'reset' the tank. Then I would determine what I changed, or didn't change, compared to when my aquarium was doing well. If you could provide the missing information it might help us provide a better response.

        Last edited by Seattle_Aquarist; 03-09-2012, 03:38 PM.
        45 Gallon Tall; 96 Watt AH Supply CF; 6700K; & 30 Gallon Long; 2X36 Watt AH Supply CF; Pressurized CO2; UGF; Heat Treated Montmorillonite Clay
        Greater Seattle Aquarium Society


        • #5
          I had a thought it might be CO2 (as well as Ca/Mg - that is why I had added the Equilibrium). I am using an Up Aqua CO2 atomizer running at about 40psi and 2 BPS. Drop checker reads yellow (as stated earlier that could be a problem with the fluid though). Seems no matter how much I increase my BPS the CO2 seems to stay where it is, perhaps I need a different diffuser/atomizer?

          Also, the crowns of the plant are the only part that is healthy.. the melt starts at the base and works it's way up the stem.


          • #6
            30 gallon, 36x12x18 or so. T5HO, 2x39w on for 10 hours a day. 50% water change weekly (generally speaking - do miss a week here and there). I have been waffling on the EI quantities. I originally was dosing 3/8tsp KNO3, 1/8tspKh2Po4 and 1/8tsp of plantex all 3x a week. I change that to 1/4, 1/16 and 1/16 - as I reread the newer EI dosing posts. And now do somewhere in the middle of the two. Should I increase the amount?

            I do not have a gH or kH tester, sorry. No one in my city carries them either.

            The timeline is as follows.. got the the light at the end of october, things were great all november and all december - super growth - remembered why I like the hobby. Added the Equilibrium in the begining of January for about 1 month and changed the direction of my outflow. Everythign has gone down hill from there. _Everything_ was doing bad for a while there. Riccia stopped growing, lost most of my Pogostamon helferi, Ludwiga repens got all crazy and started getting holes in old growth and star grass stopped growing. Now all those things are doing alright with the exception of the stargrass but the Limophillia Aromatica (sorry thought it was E. Stellata) and the Ludwiga brevipes (another mistake, darn) are doing poorly.. I also lost a small stand of Baby Tears (completely gone).
            **end edit**

            For a month or two after the light fixture things were going perfect and I remembered what about planted tanks I enjoyed. Since then there are only 2 things I can contribute to the change - 1. I started adding 1/4tsp of Equilibrium and 2. I repointed the filter output to be into the tank more than more toward the top. I have since changed the outflow back and stopped the Equilibrium.
            Last edited by vinlo; 03-09-2012, 05:49 PM.


            • #7
              Originally posted by vinlo View Post
              ..... the melt starts at the base and works it's way up the stem.
              Still CO2, just with the difference that's it a BIG deficiency. I recently lost all the background plants in my tank because of that. Staring too much at a pH number was the mistake. Now I don't care what the pH says, and my tank is back to where it was again.

              I'd change the drop checker fluid and keep changing it every month.

              I'm not sure about atomizers. The fact that you SEE the CO2 doesn't necessarily mean there's enough.
              Last edited by dutchy; 03-09-2012, 07:12 PM.

              My 2011, 2012 and 2013 AGA aquascaping contest entries:


              • #8
                Certainly makes sense what you say. But why the sudden change with the CO2? I didn't change the setup since the summer time - same tank (yes there is CO2 in it), same atomizer, bubble rate has gone up and down due to me thinking there isn't enough CO2. Certainly the fish aren't gasping for air at the top or anything so it can be upped..


                • #9
                  CO2 is a gas so hard to grasp what changes. Less flow because of a dirty filter, dirty atomizer, low gas pressure, addition of wood, change in tap water, you name it. You have to stay on top of it. As soon as we take it for granted, it bites you in the butt.

                  Light and ferts are very stable, CO2 isn't at all. A lot of factors can influence it.

                  My 2011, 2012 and 2013 AGA aquascaping contest entries:


                  • #10
                    P stellata grows extremely fast in my tanks, I put it the back where it is more light limited. My Ca/Mg is lower than yours almost certainly.
                    My GH is roughly 2 degrees and often lower, I've never once seen any issues with Ca deficiency over a wide range of tap water and growing conditions having lived many places.

                    I've grown this plant maybe 15 years now.

                    Even the client's do well with it.

                    Light/ferts are fine..this just leaves something to do with CO2.


                    • #11
                      You don't think the photoperiod is too long? Cut is back to 8 hours maybe?

                      I guess cleaning the filter and either turning up the bubble counter or cleaning the atomizer is in order? Or perhaps I should revert to my DIY inline diffuser that I use for 8 years?


                      • #12
                        So I cleaned out the filter and the inline atomizer. The flow appears to be up a bit, and the CO2 mist is much finer now. I guess we'll see where this gets me. Aside from the PH/Kh which appearantly is useless for me how can I gauge how much CO2 is in the water? My current plan is to turn it up high until the fish stress and then turn it down a bit. Seems like there should be a better way?


                        • #13
                          Fish could do it, but some fish can tolerate very high CO2 levels. Shrimp are more sensitive to CO2, when they want to climb out of the tank, you need to back off just a little. But this is just half of it. Good dispersion is the other one.
                          Last edited by dutchy; 03-10-2012, 07:04 PM.

                          My 2011, 2012 and 2013 AGA aquascaping contest entries:


                          • #14
                            Been really watching the tank today. It seems as though there is more CO2 in the water. Damaged ends pearling (which has not happened in a while), bubbles on the undersides of leaves - not sure if these are really signs or not, but it seems like things are in the right direction. Also, when I shut the filter down you can see a stream of bubbles going up the tubing - which I don't recall seeing in the past. Lastly, the mist coming out of the outlet is much more fine that it has been in the past - lots of micro bubbles in the tank. I put a drop checker on the far end of the tank to see what it would read also - lime green (with new fluid in it). Also did a 50% change today too. Will start dosing according to EI today.


                            • #15
                              In general, you see CO2 issues and a positive response in 1-2 days if....and only if the CO2 is now in a good range.............if not, then the CO2 is still poor etc, you will not see a positive response.

                              I see folks adding more CO2 and think they have MORE than enough etc......
                              They don't.

                              Others just lose patience and add too much and gas their fish.
                              Lots of hollering on various forms about fert balance, but few seem to get the CO2 balance.