What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

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What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  LuminousAphid on 2014-07-19, 13:41

So I have been struggling with this for a while, and I just can't figure out what is wrong with my planted 20 gallon. In the past I had a really good time getting new species of plants and they would usually grow well for me, but recently I have been having more and more trouble with some kind of deficiency or other imbalance. Now pretty much all the plants have stopped growing quickly, or sometimes it seems like at all, and show signs that their older leaves are not healthy. Eventually all the older leaves get covered in algae and start to get holes in them, and then some of them fall off or start to melt, depending on the species. Here are the parameters on my tank:

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*20 gallon high
*Finnex Ray 2 24'' LED light on 8 hrs, but it gets some daylight through a distant window
*Aqueon HOB filter for 30 gal + sponge filter
*Temperatures range from ~73-82 (I was running it constantly at 82 for a while-more on this later)
*16 neon tetras, 2 small angelfish, 2 SAE, 4 pygmy cory, 1 clown pleco, 1 suviving cherry shrimp, lots of MTS and small ramshorns, 1 juvenile 1'' convict
*Lots of Ludwigia repens x arcuata, some dwarf sag in front, ozelot sword, cabomba, stargrass, crypt wendii red, anubias nana, water wisteria, jungle val, one of the clover-looking ones, java moss, guppy grass, bacopa, a little cupped salvinia
*Heavy on stem plants, still get some green spot algae and diatoms on surfaces and leaves
*I try to dose 1ml flourish every other day, and now supplement with flourish iron about 10 drops every other day
*fine gravel/coarse sand substrate, I try not to gravel vac deep down into the substrate, and there is a pretty healthy colony of Malaysian trumpet snails which turn it over
*I don't often test the water, but when I do it has 0 am/0 nitrite/10-20 nitrates... It should be pretty soft but I use Hikari's 'Ultimate' water conditioner which I believe buffers the water some

I have changed several things since the tank was last doing really well, and I have several theories as to what might be going on, but I would like to hear from anyone else who might have any ideas before I possibly bias the opinions by posting my own.
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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  Nick_87 on 2014-07-19, 14:05

I think I have the same thing going on right now too. My plants were exploding in growth until the last few weeks but I have not changed anything on the tank. I am wondering if the warmer water from the weather has anything to do with it. Just a idea I'm not sure. I can't put my finger on it but my plants have really halted in growth. My Val's that usually grow about 8"-12" a week are now only at maybe 2". Very strange. The only thing that seems to be growing good is water sprite and duckweed haha. I have even upped some of my fert doses with no luck. My plants are starting to look sad. Let me know what you find!
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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  Anthraxx on 2014-07-19, 15:39

my 10g planted w/ crypts has undergone a massive meltdown. first time ever too i might add. must be something in the water changing.. who knows.
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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  hobbyorobsession on 2014-07-19, 15:50

how long has this tank been set up?
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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  Seattle_Aquarist on 2014-07-19, 16:20

Hi LuminousAphid,

Nice looking tank!

With the Finnex Ray 2 on that tank you probably have a pretty high PAR (light intensity) level.  I also have a 20H with a similar LED light and with that amount of light I find that it is very easy to run out of nutrients even with a shortened 6 hour photoperiod.  It appears you have sufficient nitrogen based on your ppm reading, are you dosing any other ferts besides Flourish Comprehensive and Iron?  Due to the soft water where I live I find in my 20 gallon along with normal macros and micros I have to provide magnesium, manganese, and calcium.  Also, due to high light level I have to provide available carbon.

To provide the low / missing nutrients I dose Seachem Equlibrium and Seachem Excel (actually now I make my own DIY Equilbrium and Excel) and that has greatly improved my plant health and restored a good growth rate.

20 gallon; no CO2
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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  Madness on 2014-07-20, 13:48

Very nice Roy.

_________________
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If you want to know what I have, just ask to come visit.

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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  fishNAbowl on 2014-07-20, 14:10

By the looks of your tank and plant growth I would confirm the need of (more) supplement nutrients. That's where I would start.

In my experiance sometimes it seems my tanks will reach critical mass. Like growth will completely stop. Mosses will begin to die back. As soon as I either bump up fertilizers OR do a massive plant trim the plants will again explode with growth and the mosses will begin to come back...
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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  bronzefighter on 2014-07-20, 15:02

fishNAbowl wrote:By the looks of your tank and plant growth I would confirm the need of (more) supplement nutrients. That's where I would start.

In my experiance sometimes it seems my tanks will reach critical mass. Like growth will completely stop. Mosses will begin to die back. As soon as I either bump up fertilizers OR do a massive plant trim the plants will again explode with growth and the mosses will begin to come back...

 Plus One Plus One Plus One 

I'm having this problem right now actually. I've been...neglecting my 27g for a bit and haven't trimmed it in awhile. The P. Stellatus and persicaria kawagoeanum just exploded and a good 50% of my tank is a solid jungle now, then everything has sort of ground to a halt.

LA, when is the last time you gave some of your a good trim? I used to be terrified of doing that, but I found that if you do it right your plants bounce back quickly and look wonderful. That, and it definetly sounds like your having some nutrient issues. I have the Ray2 as well and plants under that just vacuum up the ferts...once I put the Ray2 over my S. Repens and upped the ferts, it nearly doubled in coverage since I planted it.

In my 27g I use approx. 5-10 mLs of Flourish a day!

On a sidenote, someone at the picnic is going to be getting a HUGE amount of P. Stellatus  lol!
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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  LuminousAphid on 2014-07-21, 14:19

Seattle_Aquarist wrote:Hi LuminousAphid,
To provide the low / missing nutrients I dose Seachem Equlibrium and Seachem Excel (actually now I make my own DIY Equilbrium and Excel) and that has greatly improved my plant health and restored a good growth rate.

20 gallon; no CO2
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You have a nice tank there as well, Roy

Thank you, I really appreciate your super useful reply. I have actually been thinking about getting soem equilibrium lately to get some of those nutrients boosted, but wasn't sure whether to start using it. I am generally stingy and don't buy extra stuff unless I really need it, and now I think you have swayed me on the issue. I also have some excel that I used for a short while but then found I didn't need, but maybe I will start dosing it again. I might PM you actually about your home made stuff

Thanks everyone else, especially those who have had similar issues, I guess as they say 'misery loves company' so it's good to know I am not the only one having problems lately. I agree that the higher temps probably have a lot to do with it, as it would be harder to dissolve gas in warmer water... makes sense then to start dosing some excel again.

So I think I am going to order some equilibrium on amazon prime right now, and see if that helps any of my plants. Also might start putting some excel in each day as well to combat the lower CO2 levels due to warmer water- also I took my heater out so that the temp lowers during the night which keeps it cooler through the day. I should probably do bigger water changes as well, maybe start doing 50 per cent instead of about 30. I also pulled all the ludwigia out and replanted only the good portions, so that might help as well.

Thanks to all and votes for you!
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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  LuminousAphid on 2014-07-25, 02:41

So, here is my plan of attack to get things going again;

I am trying out dosing a bit more micronutrients on a more regular basis in the form of flourish and flourish iron
I have also received my seachem equilibrium, and started out with 1 tsp and will do that for 3 days, instead of the whole tablespoon it recommends for 20 gallons

Those are the main 2 things I am trying out, along with keeping temps more reasonable. the lack of hot weather recently has helped with that. I will update as I see things progress--or not--and possibly I can help some of you others out.

Also, I din't really think about it at first, but 'something in the water' actually might not be that far-fetched; there probably are variances in the water supply as the seasons change
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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  LuminousAphid on 2014-07-25, 13:58

I think I will start a post where I can update pics each week, or whenever I get around to doing it.

7/25/14
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sorry it's not super clean, i didn't want to get in there and scrape the glass today-or the last month haha
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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  LuminousAphid on 2014-08-07, 22:20

Tried some equilibrium the last couple weeks at about 1/2 the recommended strength, and even that is certainly helping some of the stem plants look much more healthy. They look nice and bright instead of a more dull green/red, and it seems like the new leaves are even thicker and more 'beefy', and I hope it's not just wishful thinking. The bacopa seems to be the most obvious to respond, but the ludwigia is looking good too.

will post pics when the light is on tomorrow, it's off for the night now.
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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  fishNAbowl on 2014-08-07, 23:06

Spot On - awesome!!
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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  Seattle_Aquarist on 2014-08-07, 23:52

LuminousAphid wrote:Tried some equilibrium the last couple weeks at about 1/2 the recommended strength, and even that is certainly helping some of the stem plants look much more healthy. They look nice and bright instead of a more dull green/red, and it seems like the new leaves are even thicker and more 'beefy', and I hope it's not just wishful thinking. The bacopa seems to be the most obvious to respond, but the ludwigia is looking good too.

will post pics when the light is on tomorrow, it's off for the night now.

Hi LuminousAphid,

I'm glad to hear there seems to be improvement! It seems my water (Seattle / Cedar River) is a little low on Calcium (Ca) and very low Magnesium (Mg); Seachem Equlibrium provides both calcium sulfate and magnesium sulfate (along with other nutrients like manganese (Mn) and Iron (Fe)). Not only does it have the two ingredients I need it also has them in the right ratio. Looking forward to seeing the pics!
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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  LuminousAphid on 2014-08-20, 15:04

Things seem to be going well, I am dumping a lot more flourish into the tank than I ever thought I would, about 1.5ml per day. I was worried about algae as I started to put more and more in, but so far there is no sign of algae takeover at all. I also dose about 2ml per day of flourish iron, with no signs of too much so far. I have been ramping up the level of equilibrium as well, adding about a tsp with each 20-25 percent water change. The ludwigia seems to like the iron, and all my plants are showing good growth and even the older growth looks like it is recovering a bit. Maybe it's just wishful thinking... but overall everything seems great. The guppy grass is quickly taking over, I have even seen it pearling pretty good--with no co2

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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  fishNAbowl on 2014-08-20, 15:07

That looks great!!!
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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  Anthraxx on 2014-08-20, 15:10

nice looking tank. glad its rebounding! Smile idk why but my tank just had a huge meltdown AGAIN. no idea what im doing wrong here anymore. at the point where i may just rip the tank apart in a fit of rage Razz
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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  fishNAbowl on 2014-08-20, 21:09

Anthraxx wrote:nice looking tank. glad its rebounding! Smile idk why but my tank just had a huge meltdown AGAIN. no idea what im doing wrong here anymore. at the point where i may just rip the tank apart in a fit of rage Razz
 scratch - maybe start a thread and post pictures. I am sure we could trouble shoot the issue.
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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  MorganEA on 2014-08-21, 13:05

Anthraxx wrote:nice looking tank. glad its rebounding! Smile idk why but my tank just had a huge meltdown AGAIN. no idea what im doing wrong here anymore. at the point where i may just rip the tank apart in a fit of rage Razz
My 55 gal did the same thing, all my lilies and swords melted. I did a pretty big water change and things seem to be rebounding.
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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  LuminousAphid on 2014-09-04, 13:01

Here is a video update of this tank; things have really improved since I started adding a little equilibrium with each water change and increased the flourish dosing. And I haven't had any problems with algae whatsoever, so that's a relief. Guppy grass has taken over, I need to remove some of that soon

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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

Post  fishNAbowl on 2014-09-04, 15:54

MorganEA wrote:
Anthraxx wrote:nice looking tank. glad its rebounding! Smile idk why but my tank just had a huge meltdown AGAIN. no idea what im doing wrong here anymore. at the point where i may just rip the tank apart in a fit of rage Razz
My 55 gal did the same thing, all my lilies and swords melted. I did a pretty big water change and things seem to be rebounding.
Water changes are beneficial to plants. It replaces micro nutrients the plants consume.

@ LuminousAphid, looking good!

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Re: What is wrong with my tank/why won't my plants grow anymore?

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