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I’m at a loss. Wife wants me to quit.


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                Well, here I am. At a cross roads, stuck between giving up or keeping on. Over the last 2 years, I have spent exactly $1,485.67 on aquarium plants, a few different aquascaping tools, and of course ferts and aqua soil. All of which has been nearly for nothing. Most of the plants I have purchased are long gone. A lot of them melted and just never came back. My ph is 7.6 0 ammonia nitrates at a crisp 5ppm. Everything is where it needs to be. 
 
                I’ve purchased multiple different kinds of ferts, from tabs to liquid. Easy green, seachem products. The only thing I haven’t purchased is c02 due to cost. And I’ve gotten no results from any of it. Nothing. I had hornwort do really well for a month and then in a couple weeks span it was gone. I’ve kept every single said to be easy plant to grow in the aquarium. And I have nothing to show for it.
 
             So for a while I had cuddle bone in the tank for my nerite snails. I have 5 full sized King Koopa Nerite snails. I figured with that many they’d need more calcium. With knowing all that I went down the rabbit and discovered that lots of calcium in the water can effect the growth of plants such as Anubias, Vallisneria, pennywort, etc. So with that knowledge I there forth removed the bone. It’s been 2 months… I still have no results. Also my light is full spectrum and has a built in timer that’s never failed to my knowledge…. I don’t know what to do… I’m about to just sell all of my stuff and be done. 
    

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Edited by Josh
More perspective for the reader
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Sorry to hear you're at this point. You're definitely not the first or last, so know you're not alone in this.

Lets go through a few things here. You've provided some parameters of your tank water, but have you tested your source water? Guessing you're using tap water, so give us a little bit of background on it. Is your source well or city water? How does it test straight from the tap? How does it test from a bucket that sat overnight or has been aerated? 

It's odd to see that some of the 'plop & grow' plants like hornwort are giving you issues, Generally, if you're having issues with non high tech or high demand plants, you have to break the following down:

  • Source water (this is key as it's the building blocks for your tank)
  • Lighting (you mentioned full spectrum, what type of light is it and how long are your light cycles)
  • Substrate (looks to be a mix of inert and aquasoil, depending on the type of substrate you're fertilization process will differ)
  • Fertilizers (you've mentioned ACO's Easy Green & root tabs as well as the Seachem line, how much were you dosing of each?)
  • Tank stock (what fish/inverts do you have in the tank?)

With everything you've got you should be able to grow simple broad leaved plants like Amazon Swords, Anubias, Java Fern, and various low maintenance stem plants. Even with the ferts you have, in the right doses, you should be able to keep up with that same list. Per the condition of some of the plants, it looks like damage based on some lack of trace elements from ferts that are being exhausted too early, or it could just be the condition they arrived was poor and you're fighting the recouperation process and acclimation of plants new to the tank. 

We should be able to figure this out, don't give up yet!

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I see quite a bit of mulm in the tank. Are you gravel vacuuming? And what kind of filtration are you using? 

In addition to what @Tihshho is asking, what is your KH and GH? 

On 9/19/2021 at 2:00 PM, Josh said:

Everything is where it needs to be.

What is everything? 

How many pumps are you using and how many root tabs?

Do you know the TDS of the tank?

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@Josh you absolutely have something to show for it:

 

You are a nerm.

 

That means that you are not alone. Have you kept a spread sheet, to show what change you made, when, and the results?

You actually don't need to have CO2 pumped into the tank, however understanding how plants utilize CO2 will yield better results. 

The pinholes I see are generally an indicator of a deficiency. Tihshho excels in helping people identify deficiencies. 

My wheelhouse is low tech.

Plants use all the available gas in the first 4 to 5 hours of a photoperiod.

That means all the available CO2 is exhausted in the first 4 to 5 hours the lights turn on. After that, the plants can't utilize the lights any longer, and algae starts to grow.

 

So, a simple solution to interrupt algae growth is to limit the lighting to 4, maximum of 5 hours on, then 4 hours off, then another 5 hours on.

I maintain a Google spreadsheet, where I add pictures of what each tank looks like, the water parameters I test that week, my lighting schedule, my feeding schedule, filtration/filtration changes, and tank maintenance steps I take. 

That way I don't have to rely on memory: my spreadsheet shows me before and after. 

This is how I discern that the 4' tank with guppies needs ferts each time the lights come on for maximum growth, but the 2 gallon pico tank only needs ferts every other day, even though it has more plants (proportionately) because it also has a much higher bioload (proportionately).

 

I've been doing this since the 70's.

 

My most expensive learning curve was to always wash my hands, and always soak my wood, before putting in the tank.

I lost 2 tanks of established, F8 breeding discus, and one whole tank of fry.

We can all help you with your plants.

 

I have liquid rock that comes out of my tap, with an [un]healthy side of jet fuel, high ammonia (chloramines), and nitrates out of the tap @40 ppm.😬

We'll help, k?

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What water temperature are you running? Along with do you have hard water or soft water? 

You water may be missing some basic minerals; I see you have used some seachem products have you tried equilibrium? 

Also what light are you using for what tank? You may be using to much light intensity so your plants are "burning".

Have your tanks been able to grow algae and if so do you know what type?

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On 9/19/2021 at 7:27 PM, Torrey said:

@Josh you absolutely have something to show for it:

 

You are a nerm.

 

That means that you are not alone. Have you kept a spread sheet, to show what change you made, when, and the results?

You actually don't need to have CO2 pumped into the tank, however understanding how plants utilize CO2 will yield better results. 

The pinholes I see are generally an indicator of a deficiency. Tihshho excels in helping people identify deficiencies. 

My wheelhouse is low tech.

Plants use all the available gas in the first 4 to 5 hours of a photoperiod.

That means all the available CO2 is exhausted in the first 4 to 5 hours the lights turn on. After that, the plants can't utilize the lights any longer, and algae starts to grow.

 

So, a simple solution to interrupt algae growth is to limit the lighting to 4, maximum of 5 hours on, then 4 hours off, then another 5 hours on.

I maintain a Google spreadsheet, where I add pictures of what each tank looks like, the water parameters I test that week, my lighting schedule, my feeding schedule, filtration/filtration changes, and tank maintenance steps I take. 

That way I don't have to rely on memory: my spreadsheet shows me before and after. 

This is how I discern that the 4' tank with guppies needs ferts each time the lights come on for maximum growth, but the 2 gallon pico tank only needs ferts every other day, even though it has more plants (proportionately) because it also has a much higher bioload (proportionately).

 

I've been doing this since the 70's.

 

My most expensive learning curve was to always wash my hands, and always soak my wood, before putting in the tank.

I lost 2 tanks of established, F8 breeding discus, and one whole tank of fry.

We can all help you with your plants.

 

I have liquid rock that comes out of my tap, with an [un]healthy side of jet fuel, high ammonia (chloramines), and nitrates out of the tap @40 ppm.😬

We'll help, k?

That's right we are Nerms and Nerms never give up.

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Hello everyone, 
        I’m sorry for the late response I’ve just been really busy the last couple of days. Yesterday was mine and my wife’s anniversary so we went out for the night. She’s prego so we had steaks and ice cold sprites. Lol.

      I did read through everyone’s comments. And I went about testing my source of water. And also my fish tank. I’m not going to lie. I’m kinda shocked at the results. The tap I’m not sure about but I will give you guys those numbers here:

Water source:

Ph- 7.8 Ammonia- 0ppm Nitrite- 0ppm                     Nitrate- 20ppm

Fish Tank:

Ph- 8.2 Ammonia- 0ppm Nitrite- 0ppm               Nitrate- 80ppm 😳

          To give more perspective I also wanted to add that my stock includes: 

2 Adult Angel fish

2 khuli loaches

1 yo-yo loach (about 1 inche long now) 

7 pigmy corys 

1 dwarf sunset gourami

4 king koopa nerite snails and also a boat load of pond snails. 
 

            Also, I’ve been dosing 3ml of easy green once a week. And I do a water change in the middle of every month using prime as a conditioner. My filter is a Fluval 107 canister filter. I have a heater in the tank that keeps it about 78 degrees. Also there is no carbon in the filter. The carbon is going in my filter for my wife’s goldfish. And then the phosphate pads were just up in there air. And I wanted to ask your guys opinion on it.A9A8C966-E39F-4627-9B86-786232A11AF3.jpeg.4538c1b4cdf9b8a2f8e5e6b2fcf16ab0.jpeg

5D74375F-588E-4CB7-804A-20538EAD4459.jpeg

Also my moss under the wood has hair algae growing in it. I did increase the light brightness almost a month and a half ago. It hits 80 percent around 2 pm and then slowly dims out to completely shut off at 7 pm. It comes on again about 8 am. I’ve thought about raising the light up, I just haven’t had the tools to do so. 

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Ok all of this is good info!

What is your substrate (it looks mixed) and what kind of lights do you have and what is the duration of the photo period? 

The substrate also doesn't look deep. Since you do have some burrowing species (loaches) stem plants might be struggling to establish due to the substrate not being deep enough to place the plants and being bothered by the loaches poking around and digging them up. 

Edited by Tihshho
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It’s actually mostly larger sand in the areas I don’t have plants growing. The back left corner all the way over to the right corner has about an inch of aqua soil capped with an inch and a half of sand. The khuli loaches just mixed it all up.

the light comes on at 8 am. I start it off at 10 percent. Then by 10 am it hits 30 percent. At 12 pm it hits 60 percent.  At 3pm it hits 80 percent and from there it decreases down until it’s completely off by 7. And the light brand is amzbd. I believe it’s an Amazon product. The light was gifted to me. 

Also I do wash my hands and arms with dawn dish soap before every water change

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If you can, add to your substrate to make it a bit deeper. 2" depth should be fine. 

For the light, you have a very long photo period at 11 hours. Do you spend a lot of time looking at the tank in the morning? If not, it's better to cut those hours and keep the evening hours. Having 6-7 hour photo period will be sufficient. Longer the photo period the more the plants will be absorbing nutrients and depleting your dosing, on top of that, whatever the plants can't take in will be utilized by algae (i.e. the hair algae you are running into. 

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Alright! That’s very helpful info. I agree with @Tihshho that it would be better to have deeper substrate and a shorter photo period. I recommend taking @Torrey’s advice and giving your plants a “nap” in the middle of the day. That will let CO2 build up in the tank, as Torrey explained above.

There’s some good news in those pictures that you failed to mention before: your anubias looks great!! And that makes sense to me because….

Since your pH is 8.2, you may have poor luck with stem plants. I’ve run into that problem in my own tank, and after hanging around this forum, I learned that the plants that do well in my 55g are the ones that can handle high pH. (My pH is 8.4+, not by choice.) 

EA2186A6-F1F1-4EFD-8BD3-55759E038A62.jpeg.52277568e8a241187ad23bcce0849af4.jpeg

So what’s growing in here? Well… anubias, sword plants, and crypts. Hornwort and water sprite will grow too, but only if I let them float. I used to have moss, but it got covered in hair algae (like yours).

My advice is to get yourself some more anubias and try swords or cryptocorynes. They come in lots of different shapes, so even though you’re only working with three kinds of plants, you can still get a lot of variety.

One last thought—does your tank have good circulation? You don’t need super high flow, but if the water’s totally still in some places, the plants will do poorly because the nutrients aren’t circulating. (I notice your anubias is near the air stone, which is an area with good circulation.)

Don’t give up! All is not lost!

Oh also—happy anniversary and congrats on the coming baby!!

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Agreed with what everyone's been saying above. I'm in a similar boat as @Hobbit with high pH water straight out of the tap. I run my tanks high-tech with CO2 with exceptional results, but if you're sticking to low-tech, pick plants that will work in your water. Crypts do wonderfully for me -- all kinds of crypts. But they are moderate to slow growers and they will take time and patience to look spectacular. You can see my crypt tropicas (two of them in the middle) in the picture below, six months settled in the tank:

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Stem plants are hit-or-miss for me. Hygrophilas do really well for me. Pogostemon Stellatus Octopus (the ridiculous jungle of stems in my 29 gallon) grow out of control. Bulb plants do amazing, as do floaters. I suggest you try a bulb plant like a tiger lotus, dwarf red aquarium lily, or aponogeton ulvaceus. They're all super fast-growing plants and look stunning in a flash.

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If your source water is 20ppm Nitrates, I would stop dosing Nitrates completely. That includes root tabs too. Unfortunately, your all in one fertilizer will dose Nitrates. You will want to look for a fertilizer line that allows you to just dose P, K and traces. Seachem Flourish products would work, but expensive. 

I would do 5x50% water changes over 7 days to drop the nitrates and Begin dosing 1ppm P and 15ppm K per week. I would do 25 to 40% water changes per week there after.

I would also quadruple the plant load in the tank with plants like Pennywort, Pearl Weed and Dwarf Sag. Hygrophila Polysperma is an amazing plant and does well to remove nitrates.

Do you know what your KH and GH are?

Edited by Mmiller2001
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@Josh congratulations on the anniversary and the growing family!

Having a kid on the way is a great reason to keep at least one tank going. Lots of research showing links between kids growing up with tanks in the home and the kids growing up into more responsible adults with better grasps of science and ecology. 

 

Fish are great for teaching science (especially genetics) too.

I am going to throw a little bit of a monkey wrench in to some of the suggestions. 

 

I don't think nitrates of 80 ppm are too high for the tank you have right now. In fact, with an 11 hour, uninterrupted photo period, I am willing to bet that the extended photo period is the only reason you have 80 ppm nitrates.

I second the recommendation for a thicker, deeper substrate. Your khuli loaches will thank you just like your plants will. 

You can utilize your khuli loaches to help spread out the new substrate, if you want. I have added well rinsed substrate two different ways to an established tank:

1. Catch fish and move to a bucket with a sponge filter, drain majority of tank water, add substrate, adjust the scape, refill tank with dechlorinated water and half the old tank water, run filter to clear the tank. This is the "work hard" option. 

 

2. Drain about 50% of the aquarium water,  place the plastic craft canvas in the tank to section off the area I am going to add substrate to (keeps fish out of the area), and carefully add well rinsed new substrate. Slowly ease the canvas mesh out, and allow the sunstrate to "pile".

This is especially helpful if trying to add slope to the back of the tank.  (This would be the "work smart" method)

 

I would switch the photo period to 5 hours on, 4 hours off, and 5 hours on, and take pictures in 2 weeks to see if there's a difference in plants.

I suspect that those may be the only changes you need to make to make a difference. 

I have a journal on plants that I need to update, as well. I have some new plants that are thriving in higher pH:

The milfoil is averaging 1.5" a day😳

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On 9/21/2021 at 2:57 AM, Torrey said:

he milfoil is averaging 1.5" a day

Ok you need to send me some of that!!!

@Josh If I may be so bold as to say and I mean no disrespect in any way. I only want to help.   

 

If you want to keep your sanity in this hobby it is of the utmost imperative you change one thing immediately!!

 

STOP TRACKING YOUR SPENDING!   If we actually knew what we were spending on all this ....we would all be exactly like you are now.  We all have had issues with something not working right and it is frustrating.  I think of us as a family here.  Some of our spouses may not understand this hobby....some would freak if they knew the costs...some can be converted to the Dark side but all of us here get each other...support each other...care for each other.  

WE ARE NERMS!!

Welcome to the family brother!!

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On 9/21/2021 at 12:57 AM, Torrey said:

I don't think nitrates of 80 ppm are too high for the tank you have right now. In fact, with an 11 hour, uninterrupted photo period, I am willing to bet that the extended photo period is the only reason you have 80 ppm nitrates.

Could you clarify this?

Edited by Mmiller2001
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On 9/21/2021 at 1:21 PM, Mmiller2001 said:
On 9/21/2021 at 2:57 AM, Torrey said:

I don't think nitrates of 80 ppm are too high for the tank you have right now. In fact, with an 11 hour, uninterrupted photo period, I am willing to bet that the extended photo period is the only reason you have 80 ppm nitrates.

Could you clarify this?

Perhaps Torrey means that adding a long break in the photoperiod will let the CO2 build up in the tank again, letting the plants photosynthesize up to twice as much in one day, giving the plants more energy to grow, thus letting the plants use up more nitrates.

Another way to say it might be “I bet your tank could handle the amount of ferts/fish food you currently use if you change the photoperiod.”

I hope I’m right. I had to guess—it’s just fun. 😄

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On 9/21/2021 at 9:46 AM, ARMYVET said:

Ok you need to send me some of that!!!

@Josh If I may be so bold as to say and I mean no disrespect in any way. I only want to help.   

 

If you want to keep your sanity in this hobby it is of the utmost imperative you change one thing immediately!!

 

STOP TRACKING YOUR SPENDING!   If we actually knew what we were spending on all this ....we would all be exactly like you are now.  We all have had issues with something not working right and it is frustrating.  I think of us as a family here.  Some of our spouses may not understand this hobby....some would freak if they knew the costs...some can be converted to the Dark side but all of us here get each other...support each other...care for each other.  

WE ARE NERMS!!

Welcome to the family brother!!

My hubby would have me committed and divorce me on the spot. When I start thinking of it I question my sanity. This sounds humorous but unfortunately I am quite serious. Take @ARMYVETadvise relax and enjoy vs stress. A week vacation would cost much more and only last a week once it’s going right it’s year round enjoyment for a lifetime. Best wishes 

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