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Old 07-27-2013, 11:57 AM   #21 
Flyby Stardancer
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Originally Posted by jaysee View Post
I know people with plants say how much easier it is to maintain the tank, but I can't imagine a tank could be any easier to manage than my fish only tanks. Of course some of the plant people feel the same way. There are a limited number of variables to manage in a non planted tank. Adding plants adds to the variables, and just like in math, the more variables there are the more challenging the problems are.

If I were in your position, I would start pulling the plants out one species at a time. Again, all you can do is rule things out. There's a saying - when everything you've done is wrong, what's left is what's right. I think removing variables makes the tank less complicated, and easier to figure out the root of the problem. One of the lessons I learned from applied physics is to break a problem down to its simplest form and work with what you know to find a solution.

Before doing anything though, I would absolutely have the water checked by another test kit - even of its petsmart. Even if they use strips and not a liquid kit, there's only one thing you need to know and that's 0 is 0. Doesn't have to be very precise when all you want to see is nothing. Whether it reads 0.5 ppm or 1 ppm isn't really all that important - you're going to do a water change and then dose with water conditioner in either case.
I won't be able to get to a Petco/Petsmart until next week. Things are super-busy this weekend and I'd be exhausted even without the additional care of new tanks. (Things will get done and I might have to sacrifice some other stuff to make sure the animals stay as healthy as I can keep them, but it's still a lot to do.)

I'm thinking I could also test the test kit by running tests on DI water. I keep it on hand to clean out my test tubes after each test, so it's not like I'd be running out and buying anything new. And with DI water, it's a guarantee that there's no ammonia/nitrites/nitrates, so those tests SHOULD come back 0, and if they don't then I know my testing kit is borked.

And this morning I tested leftover treated tap from last night's water change... Holy frag! the nitrates IN THE TAP were in the 40-80 color range (the two colors look identical to me on the chart). No wonder I can't get nitrates down, if that's the case.

And as far as plants adding variables... probably about 60% of the plants were added after I started having issues. I'm wondering if I'll need to add CO2, or some kind of micronutrients to boost plant growth to keep up with what's in the tank. The only growth I've actually seen is in the Anubias nana and the plantlets coming off of the java ferns. (when I bought them, there was one plantlet out of three plants. Now I have something like five planetlets...)
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Old 07-27-2013, 12:22 PM   #22 
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I hope you get to the bottom of this - you're on the right track I think.


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Old 07-27-2013, 09:14 PM   #23 
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Okay, someone on another board I'm on pointed out that the legal limit is roughly 10ppm. I tested my tap as soon as I got home. Still at least 40ppm. Called the water company's emergency line, and an inspector is supposed to call me back.

I don't know what scares me more, if it's only my house, or if it really is a bigger problem.
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Old 07-29-2013, 02:44 PM   #24 
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Okay, so I think one of my problems is the plants aren't growing and absorbing as much N as they should be for my light and nitrogen levels.

The stems that I've had in there for a month aren't showing any increase in size. That is a bit of a red flag for me. So, nitrogen obviously isn't an issue since I'm struggling with it. Light doesn't seem to be the issue, since the day I did two water changes back-to-back, then suddenly my nitrates took a huge dive that wasn't caused by the water changes.

That leaves CO2 or other nutrients. I wouldn't think I'd have issues with micronutrients, as hard as my water is and with Eco Complete as a substrate, but I guess it's possible. Could adding liquid CO2 or ferts help with the plant growth, at least?
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Old 07-29-2013, 05:04 PM   #25 
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From what I've read, EcoComplete doesn't need supplemental ferts. In fact it may be one reason for your nitrate problem. I don't know where to find this info. The search is up to you.

In any even, crypt and other stems are supposed to grow quickly.
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Old 07-29-2013, 05:13 PM   #26 
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Old 07-29-2013, 05:55 PM   #27 
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From what I've read, EcoComplete doesn't need supplemental ferts. In fact it may be one reason for your nitrate problem. I don't know where to find this info. The search is up to you.

In any even, crypt and other stems are supposed to grow quickly.
What do you mean, might be one of the reasons for my nitrate problem? It doesn't contain nitrates directly. The only nitrates in it would be from fish waste. Which, while I try to vacuum some of it up, others need to be left for plants, and I can't vacuum the tank well anyways. (either I lose substrate until the vacuum clogs up, or it doesn't vacuum up anything at all. Very frustrating.)

And Crypts are rosette plants, not stems. They and the Aubias, both the root-feeders in the tank, are the ones doing very well. It's the water column feeders that aren't doing as well. Even then, the crypts probably could be doing better... They've put out new leaves, but not really grown any taller.
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Old 07-29-2013, 10:17 PM   #28 
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Okay, took a sample of water to Petsmart and I watched and checked the colors as well when the employee tested my water. On her tests, ammonia was .5 (the next one up from 0 on her color chart), and nitrate was 20. Because the nitrates on hers were so much lower than mine, I purchased a new nitrate test kit, and just tried it out. Nitrates 20ppm.

...At least that's better than them being sky-high.

I also purchased API CO2 Booster (Neither Petco nor Petsmart carries Flourish Excel). I added one drop tonight, then will start adding it in the mornings tomorrow, slowly upping the number of drops, until I get to the full dose for my tank (10 drops, same as Prime).
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Old 08-05-2013, 10:16 PM   #29 
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Updates updates updates.

Ammonia is slowly dropping, but still not at 0.

I've been slowly adding CO2 Booster and I started adding Flourish Complete with the water change this past Friday.

Friday the plants pearled, but nothing since then.

Nitrates are still way higher than what I'd like.

I'm working on a new filter for the tank. It'll be basically a sump filter, but with the filter next to the tank rather than below it. (I have no access to put the sump container below.)

Here's the sump container next to the main tank, for a size comparison. It will actually be on the other side of the tank. (I'll need to move the tank over next water change.)


And a rough idea of what the filter will be like finished:


There will be sponges in there between the outflow nozzle and the rest of the tank, and the green container will hold the biomedia. The intake of the pump will sit down amongst the media and the top will be covered with filter fiber. It'll end up looking something like this:


And then the water will be pumped back up into the tank. There will be a valve to control how fast the water flows back into the tank, and a DIY spraybar (under the surface).

I'll be getting in some more plants before the filter is finished, so when I'm ready to install it, I think I'm going to cup boyfish and completely re-scape the tank. I'm not entirely sure where I'll put his cave, but I'm thinking of putting the low-light plants (especially crypts and anubias) along the left side of the tank, and the stems in the center, directly under the light. The floating plants don't seem to like this tank, so I'm thinking of getting some black craft mesh and putting that on top of the plastic flanges that are meant to hold the built-in filter. That should provide some barrier for the low-light plants, and a place where boyfish can go to get out of the light.

So, I have two decisions to make. My current light is 14watt 5000k. The only 6500K lights I can find are either 13 watts, or 23watts. My tank's lid can handle up to 25watts (I confirmed with the manufacterer). So... Do I want to upgrade the light again?

Also, do I want to cap the current Eco Complete with sand? Eco Complete, while being the size/shape of gravel and behaving as such, seems to be as light as sand when it comes to cleaning. I haven't been able to clean ANYTHING out of the gravel, and normal cleaning techniques means that the substrate gets sucked out until a large piece wedges itself into the vacuum's valve and blocks the flow. So I'm thinking it might be a good idea to cap it with sand so I can at least get some of the waste out of the tank so it doesn't overwhelm the filter. Also, the Eco Complete seems to be a bit sharp, and boyfish's tail is turning up tatttered. :/ The obvious bite marks are healing without new ones, but the tattered look worries me.

Thoughts? Ideas?
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Old 08-05-2013, 10:26 PM   #30 
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Just make sure you've got your fail safes in place - don't want water everywhere

I can't help you with the lighting. I've no experience with the Eco complete, but I've heard it's sharp. I've also heard its not that sharp. Not very helpful, I know.

Last edited by jaysee; 08-05-2013 at 10:33 PM.
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