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Old 10-23-2019, 12:17 PM   #1
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Melting, fuzz algae, ferts... my head is spinning

Hello,

this is my first post here and I just started so please bear with me. Last friday night I finished scaping and filling my very first tank. I started very heavily planted - there is barely any place left I could plant anymore. The soil is ADA Amazonia Aqua Soil and I've got different brand root tabs/sticks in the soil. There are no fish in the tank for now.

https://imgur.com/gallery/uvb1TYk

The aquarium is 120 litres and I have an Eheim eXperience 250 filled with Seachem Matrix and ~150gr of Seachem Purigen in a small bag inside of it.
Lights are LEDs from Juwel (brand of the aquarium) though I swapped one of the LEDs with a better one. According to my LFS these qualify as "medium" lights".

I started the aquarium up adding a bigger dose of Seachem Stability and Flourish Excel as instructed in the manual. I also dosed the regular amount suggested of Aqua Rebell Mikro Basic Eisen and Aqua Rebell Makro Basic Estimative Index. Together these add 1.5 mg/l NO3, 0.28 mg/l PO4, 1.18 mg/l K, 0.11 mg/l Mg, 0.017 mg/l Fe, 0.008 mg/l Mn, 0.001 mg/l Cu, 0.0007 mg/l B, 0.0003 mg/l Zn and 0.0007 mg/l Mo daily to the tank at my dosing amount. I also have buffered KH up, because out of the tap it is < 2dKH https://imgur.com/EMlLU0u

I don't have pressurized CO2 (yet), but the drop checker indicates light green anyway, probably due to Flourish Excel?


To my issue:
It is now day 5 and my plants aren't looking all that great. I know plants can melt if they were grown emerged, but there isn't any good info I've found on whether this always happens or whether I am doing something wrong.
Monte carlo leaves are turning translucent and yellow, so are some of the Hemianthus Cuba leaves. Amazon Sword leaves are browning and tips are melting off. Marsilea Hirsuta looks brown and like nothing has happened to it after unboxing. Some of my Riccardia Chamedryfolia moss balls have started turning brown, and there is some white hair-like substance that appears on the mosses and some other plants (maybe identified as Fuzz algae?)

Some sources says these indicate a lack of nutrients, but then again I am already adding the recommended dose and measured Nitrates are climbing, which makes me presume everything else must be climbing also although I can only measure PO4, Nitrate and soon K. Other sources say its melt, but I just don't know. How long does melt take? Is there any way to prevent it? Should I keep dosing the ferts at the current rate?

Thank you in advance for all the help.
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Old 10-24-2019, 04:57 PM   #2
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1) Stop trying to buffer kH. Aqua soil will do that for you.
2) CO2 would help dramatically.. Excel doesn't add any CO2. Continue to use it at the "after water change" rate daily.

Your dosing looks good for now, continue with water changes because of the massive amounts of ammonia aqua soil releases when new.

Keep lights on 5-6 hours max during a tanks early life, this is more than enough light to support plant growth and not worrying about algae taking over from the lights being on too long.
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Old 10-25-2019, 03:06 AM   #3
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1) Stop trying to buffer kH. Aqua soil will do that for you.
2) CO2 would help dramatically.. Excel doesn't add any CO2. Continue to use it at the "after water change" rate daily.

Your dosing looks good for now, continue with water changes because of the massive amounts of ammonia aqua soil releases when new.

Keep lights on 5-6 hours max during a tanks early life, this is more than enough light to support plant growth and not worrying about algae taking over from the lights being on too long.
Thanks for the reply. Doesn't Aqua soil lower kH? As pH is at 6.8 even after buffering, won't it completely crash once I add CO2? The values on Day 0 indicate what I get from the tap, so dKH 1.5, dGH 3.5, pH 7.5, nitrates ~1ppm. Since the stuff I've added to the tank only lower pH and KH, I kinda have to buffer it. This apparently common practice where I live. I intend to turn this into a community tank, and go for 20-25 ppm CO2 injection. This would mean 6.4/6.7/6.9 pH at dKH 2/4/6 respectively. So I would be aiming at pH 6.8 and therefore dKH 5. Does this make sense? No fish yet because the cycle is severely incomplete still.

Attached are the latest parameters. I accidentally forgot lights on the day before yesterday for the whole night, so lights were on from 17-08. Then I shut off lights between 08-21, and kept them on for a couple hours. Normal routine is lights on 08:00-11:59 and 16:00-21:59 so 10 hours. Probably need to tone that down quite a bit?

Someone else diagnosed the "hair algae" as actually bacteria eating dead plant matter. This makes sense to me, because:
a) The stuff appeared only on plants
b) The plants it appeared on weren't doing so well
c) The plants with the biggest accumulation were those right in front of the source of flow from the canister filter.

I've been dosing Seachem Stability now for 7 days (so last day was today) so I presume my canister is full to the brim with bacteria, that were spouted directly on plants that were dying. I suppose that is what could cause the white hairy substance.
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Old 10-25-2019, 10:29 AM   #4
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Thanks for the reply. Doesn't Aqua soil lower kH? As pH is at 6.8 even after buffering, won't it completely crash once I add CO2? The values on Day 0 indicate what I get from the tap, so dKH 1.5, dGH 3.5, pH 7.5, nitrates ~1ppm. Since the stuff I've added to the tank only lower pH and KH, I kinda have to buffer it. This apparently common practice where I live. I intend to turn this into a community tank, and go for 20-25 ppm CO2 injection. This would mean 6.4/6.7/6.9 pH at dKH 2/4/6 respectively. So I would be aiming at pH 6.8 and therefore dKH 5. Does this make sense? No fish yet because the cycle is severely incomplete still.

.
Aqua soil will strip the water of all kH, thus lowering the pH. Do not add anything to the water to try and get the kH up. You will accelerate the lifespan of the aqua soil's buffering ability, not to mention you will cause wild pH swings during each water change. No such thing as a pH "crash" using new aqua soil. Again, don't add any kH booster - you are spinning your wheels and making things harder / worse off by doing so.

The kH will be 0, the pH will be 6.4 - 6.6. Then after CO2 you will be at a pH of 5.5 or so, which is perfectly fine for most community fish. CO2 affected pH drops are harmless to fish because it's not an osmotic change in pH from mineral contents swinging.

Please don't use the kH / pH chart for determining CO2, it is vastly outdated and not accurate. A drop of 1.0 in pH from degassed tank water to tank water saturated with CO2 will be ~30ppm CO2.
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Old 10-25-2019, 03:07 PM   #5
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Aqua soil will strip the water of all kH, thus lowering the pH. Do not add anything to the water to try and get the kH up. You will accelerate the lifespan of the aqua soil's buffering ability, not to mention you will cause wild pH swings during each water change. No such thing as a pH "crash" using new aqua soil. Again, don't add any kH booster - you are spinning your wheels and making things harder / worse off by doing so.

The kH will be 0, the pH will be 6.4 - 6.6. Then after CO2 you will be at a pH of 5.5 or so, which is perfectly fine for most community fish. CO2 affected pH drops are harmless to fish because it's not an osmotic change in pH from mineral contents swinging.

Please don't use the kH / pH chart for determining CO2, it is vastly outdated and not accurate. A drop of 1.0 in pH from degassed tank water to tank water saturated with CO2 will be ~30ppm CO2.
Interesting, didn't know this is how ADA AS works but further research confirms it. Some sources did say minimal KH buffering would be OK to get a degree or two but other than that pH will be low. 5.5 sounds unlike anything in safe range for most fish - I suppose your point is its better for fauna to have low and steady pH rather than it fluctuating?

I was intending to stock the tank with a honey gourami pair, school of ember tetra, school of galaxy rasbora, otocinclus (cocama if my wallet can take it - they are 35€ a pop here) and shrimp. Can these take it if pH drops to 5.5?
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Old 10-25-2019, 03:33 PM   #6
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Interesting, didn't know this is how ADA AS works but further research confirms it. Some sources did say minimal KH buffering would be OK to get a degree or two but other than that pH will be low. 5.5 sounds unlike anything in safe range for most fish - I suppose your point is its better for fauna to have low and steady pH rather than it fluctuating?

I was intending to stock the tank with a honey gourami pair, school of ember tetra, school of galaxy rasbora, otocinclus (cocama if my wallet can take it - they are 35€ a pop here) and shrimp. Can these take it if pH drops to 5.5?
Yes. The true pH will still be 6.4 ish, with CO2 driving it down to 5.5 (again, completely safe because CO2 is not changing osmotic pressure or changing mineral contents). It creates carboxilic acid, thus lowering pH.
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Old 10-25-2019, 05:24 PM   #7
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Yes. The true pH will still be 6.4 ish, with CO2 driving it down to 5.5 (again, completely safe because CO2 is not changing osmotic pressure or changing mineral contents). It creates carboxilic acid, thus lowering pH.
Alright, thanks for the info. I'll stop buffering kh and measure it weekly, so it should drop to 0 and then I'll measure pH. People always warn about pH fluctuating if KH is low, and even talk about pH crashes. What is all that about, if it's not dangerous to livestock? I haven't looked into it but it seems to be a very common mantra.
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Old 10-26-2019, 07:58 AM   #8
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Melting, fuzz algae, ferts... my head is spinning

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Alright, thanks for the info. I'll stop buffering kh and measure it weekly, so it should drop to 0 and then I'll measure pH. People always warn about pH fluctuating if KH is low, and even talk about pH crashes. What is all that about, if it's not dangerous to livestock? I haven't looked into it but it seems to be a very common mantra.

What people originally attribute to ‘ph shock’ in fish was and is actually ‘TDS shock’. TDS shock is a very real thing.

Ph crash comes from the notion that in order for nitrification to occur there needs to be some KH and if you don’t change the water and your tank bottoms out on KH all kinds of nasty things will occur.

Fish can tolerate wide fluctuations in pH but they do require energy in order to buffer the change in blood chemistry. Their blood does still need to be within a certain pH range for them to function and they have mechanisms in place to do this. Should the fish not already be in a state of stress then they will be fine. Remember we are only taking very weak acids here.
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Old 10-26-2019, 04:12 PM   #9
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What people originally attribute to ‘ph shock’ in fish was and is actually ‘TDS shock’. TDS shock is a very real thing.

Ph crash comes from the notion that in order for nitrification to occur there needs to be some KH and if you don’t change the water and your tank bottoms out on KH all kinds of nasty things will occur.

Fish can tolerate wide fluctuations in pH but they do require energy in order to buffer the change in blood chemistry. Their blood does still need to be within a certain pH range for them to function and they have mechanisms in place to do this. Should the fish not already be in a state of stress then they will be fine. Remember we are only taking very weak acids here.
So in essence in my particular case do water changes pose a problem since my tap water actually does have some kh (roughly 2 dKH) and the pH is at 7.5-8? Aqua soil brings kh to 0 and pH to 6.4 over time (read this particular number in another thread on this forum), but does that affect TDS in any meaningful way, or can I do weekly 50% water changes as recommended when doing the EI fert dosing regime? Whether I buffer kh or I don't, both pH and kh change when I add tap water.

I'm planning on adding some livestock that is a bit harder (and expensive) to get where I live and I don't want to cause stress to the fauna if there is anything I can do about it.
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Old 10-26-2019, 09:47 PM   #10
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I wouldn't stress to much, my plants did this big time at first due to a few issues. First being the normal new plant melting but also the massive amount of ammonia from the ada soil. I honestly would use very little ferts until the ammonia drops and you can get cO2.
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Old 10-27-2019, 04:40 AM   #11
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So in essence in my particular case do water changes pose a problem since my tap water actually does have some kh (roughly 2 dKH) and the pH is at 7.5-8? Aqua soil brings kh to 0 and pH to 6.4 over time (read this particular number in another thread on this forum), but does that affect TDS in any meaningful way, or can I do weekly 50% water changes as recommended when doing the EI fert dosing regime? Whether I buffer kh or I don't, both pH and kh change when I add tap water.

I'm planning on adding some livestock that is a bit harder (and expensive) to get where I live and I don't want to cause stress to the fauna if there is anything I can do about it.

No you should be fine to do water changes as you will want a little bit of KH added back in.

As for fish and pH requirements my Intuition tells me to try to match the ph of your water and tap water as closely as you can for the fish you want to keep however, and this is a big however, chasing a particular pH value will cause nothing but problems and the chances are the fish will adapt to the water you have. Whether they will live as long is almost impossible to tell.

Buy yourself a conductivity (TDS) meter. They are about the most accurate tool we have. Although they don’t tell us what is in our water, they will tell us about changes in dissolved solids. Chasing pH will almost certainly cause unnecessary fluctuations in TDS. Estimative index can do the same until you have built up the consistency and remain consistent with dosing and changing water.

Best to train your eyes when it comes to keeping fish. When you watch them enough you will just know when they are not happy. When they are behaving normally you don’t really need to change anything about your tank management.
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Old 10-27-2019, 10:13 AM   #12
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No you should be fine to do water changes as you will want a little bit of KH added back in.

As for fish and pH requirements my Intuition tells me to try to match the ph of your water and tap water as closely as you can for the fish you want to keep however, and this is a big however, chasing a particular pH value will cause nothing but problems and the chances are the fish will adapt to the water you have. Whether they will live as long is almost impossible to tell.

Buy yourself a conductivity (TDS) meter. They are about the most accurate tool we have. Although they don’t tell us what is in our water, they will tell us about changes in dissolved solids. Chasing pH will almost certainly cause unnecessary fluctuations in TDS. Estimative index can do the same until you have built up the consistency and remain consistent with dosing and changing water.

Best to train your eyes when it comes to keeping fish. When you watch them enough you will just know when they are not happy. When they are behaving normally you don’t really need to change anything about your tank management.
Alright I'll definitely get one. The hard thing about starting is having absolutely zero reference points (what is healthy behavior and what isn't) - I'd hate to be the cause of my fish doing badly, but I suppose it is unavoidable to some extent when starting out.

As a bit of an excel geek I'm kinda intrigued about setting up probes and processing to constantly monitor certain values. EC/TDS probes are widely available and so are pH and temporary probes. Temperature alerts are straightforward and easy to act on but what about TDS changes? Seems to me as if RO water is the only way to maintain full control, but is that completely unnecessary if the water is very soft to begin with? Granted, I don't know the exact TDS of my tap water, but can't it be calculated from dGH?
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Old 10-27-2019, 10:19 AM   #13
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I wouldn't stress to much, my plants did this big time at first due to a few issues. First being the normal new plant melting but also the massive amount of ammonia from the ada soil. I honestly would use very little ferts until the ammonia drops and you can get cO2.
Yeah I already have root tabs in place too. I'll try a lower fert week after this week's water change. Now that a week of full on EI dosing has passed my moss doesn't look like it's doing so well. See how that works out.

CO2 is coming in 2-3 weeks - hate how small the market for aquarium equipment is where I live and how slow ordering is...
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Old 10-27-2019, 12:22 PM   #14
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Melting, fuzz algae, ferts... my head is spinning

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Alright I'll definitely get one. The hard thing about starting is having absolutely zero reference points (what is healthy behavior and what isn't) - I'd hate to be the cause of my fish doing badly, but I suppose it is unavoidable to some extent when starting out.

As a bit of an excel geek I'm kinda intrigued about setting up probes and processing to constantly monitor certain values. EC/TDS probes are widely available and so are pH and temporary probes. Temperature alerts are straightforward and easy to act on but what about TDS changes? Seems to me as if RO water is the only way to maintain full control, but is that completely unnecessary if the water is very soft to begin with? Granted, I don't know the exact TDS of my tap water, but can't it be calculated from dGH?

I come at things from a slightly different angle these days having formally been a bit of a chemistry nerd in the past (particularly with the planted side of things)

In my experience getting caught up in the chemistry of this hobby only leads to more issues. You do things with good intent because you think it will make things better and it actually ends up making things worse every time.

The only true measure of TDS is vapour distillation. Then once the h2o has evaporated you measure the weight of whatever is left.

TDS meters are actually conductivity meters because they measure conductive ions. If the solid does not contain charged ions it won’t show. Sugar is a good example of this. No ions but have you ever let a can of fizzy pop evaporate? Nasty stuff.

Most problems in this hobby can be prevented by ensuring high dissolved oxygen levels, preventing large, consistent swings in dissolved solids and keeping harmful forms of nitrogen to a minimum.

There is a LOT of scrutiny regarding the accuracy of hobby grade titration tests so I would take all results with a pinch of salt.

There are so many variables in an aquarium that it’s virtually possible to control.

Good luck.
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