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Plant Help I’m struggling

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Hello, I could use some help because I’m clearly struggling. I tried planting cryptocoryne wendtii 2 different times and it grew this algae (anyone know the type?) second time it grew on a cryptocoryne Lucens and it’s on some of the old growth of this Pogostemon Stellatus 'Octopus'. My lights are on a timer set for 8 hours total (2 in the am, 6 in the pm)  55 gallon tank with Nicrew Classic Led plus light from Amazon. I water change about 20-30% a week. Been testing my water and my Nitrates don’t get above 40 ppm and it’s barely at 20 ppm weekly. I was adding root tabs once a month. I thought I wasn’t getting enough nutrients because of the low nitrate level so I was using Co-op liquid fert 2x per week and the co-op carbon stuff daily. I’ve since tossed out all but the octopus and plan on replanting once I figure out what I’m doing wrong. Two much nutrients? Too much light? Not enough? 




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The problem you're encountering is your tank is not in balance. When light, and nutrients aren't in balance, the result is algae. Once you have algae, it will also be competing against plants. We have many videos and articles on balancing an aquarium. I'm not sure what the par of your light is, but that will remain a constant as it's on a timer. Then depending on the plants you have/growth you adjust the fertilizing.

To get back on track, I'd probably purchase something like a Siamese algae eater or flag fish to start working on the staghorn algae. It also looks like you have some diatom algae as well, however your mystery snail is probably working on this.

With just the crypts in the tank, it'll be hard to balance as they need to little light, and feed from the substrate. You may find benefit in turning down your light if possible, or raising it higher, until your plant load is more dense. This will be a learning experience over probably 6-8 weeks for you to dial in lighting and nutrients. Fight off the algae and get the plants growing instead of algae.

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On 10/4/2021 at 12:53 PM, Joel Steen said:

Man. I’m doing so bad I’ve even got Cory commenting lol

You're not doing a bad job! I think we all battle algae at some point and I'm not sure that pristine tank that some chase is very realistic. I'm currently battling staghorn myself! It's tough but the lovely nerms here will help guide you in the right direction. 

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On 10/4/2021 at 2:04 PM, Joel Steen said:

I was using Co-op liquid fert 2x per week

Hey there!  As Cory and others have said, there is an imbalance in your tank.  I'm not an expert in this area and have only been in the hobby for about three years but I wanted to give my thoughts so take them for what they are worth.

From what I see in your pictures I think there may be too much fertilizer used for the amount of plants in the aquarium.  The extra fertilizer is being utilized by the algae.  I also see you're plants are in the substrate and are already getting the majority of their nutrients from the root tabs you've been using (I'm assuming here).  The liquid fertilizer mainly adds nutrients to the water column for plants that heavily feed from there.  Someone more experienced in plants would probably be able to give a rough % of how much a plant absorbs nutrients from root system in substrate vs water column but I'd guess the majority comes from substrate. 

As others have also mentioned there are fish that will eat all this up for you and help keep things clean.  If you don't plan on getting a cleaning fish to help battle this then I'd suggest staying on top of cutting off the dying parts of the plants that are losing the battle to algae to help slow down the spread.  I battled Black Beard Algae and tried letting the tank balance itself out without removing it and was left with a mess.  Once I started aggressively removing the algae and balancing I got it under control quickly.

Keep trying until you dial everything in.  Even if it takes months to figure out it's worth it!

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On 10/4/2021 at 4:36 PM, Joel Steen said:

Is there a way to know there’s a balance issue prior to getting a bunch of algae?

Yes! You have a light that’s designed to grow plants. It’s not the brightest on the market but it’s plenty bright enough to grow algae. The trick is to have enough plant mass to outcompete the algae. You can either buy them or grow them. I would recommend a bit of both. Get some more fast growers like Pogostemon Stellatus Octopus and whatever other beginner plants catch your eye. You also probably need to cut and hour or two from your lighting period. 
Here’s my algae reduction plan that I learned from Cory and Irene and tweaked for myself. 

1. Less light

2. A cleaning crew. I use Otocinclus and Amano shrimp. 
3. A large plant mass. 
4. Manual removal 
5.  Possibly dosing with a liquid Carbon product like Easy Carbon. This can help knock back the majority of the algae and make number one, two and three. more effective in the long run. 

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