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Old 07-14-2018, 07:31 PM   #1
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Plants not growing like they used to

Iíve been struggling on and off with algae issues then plant growth issues in my tank. The tank at the beginning of this year was doing pretty well, but then cyano bacteria attacked, which led to a complete tank restart. Since that, Iíve had little to no success with plant growth.

Tank Details:
- Fluval spec V (5 gallon)
- Finnex planted plus light (about 6 hours a day) (could a light age out to where it doesnít grow properly?)
- Flourite sand
- CO2 (1bps; on 2 hours before lights and off 2 hours before the lights go off)
- dose Thrive about 3x a week
- weekly 40% WCs
- 1 betta
- 1 Amano shrimp

In the past, I was able to grow a lush carpet of Monte Carlo easily along with Rotala indica and AR mini with doing the same routine. A little over two weeks ago, I restarted the tank again to a weird algae (not cyano) that I couldnít get rid of. I purchased a large portion of submersed growth Monte Carlo, octopus plant, Rotala magenta, and pearl weed. All of the plants looked pretty good, except the pearl weed was already a bit rough looking. After 2 weeks, the octopus plant is still looking great and everything else has died with the exceptions of a couple tiny bits of stems on the dead stems. I did get some Red Root floaters, and those are growing like crazy, but everything below water is doing the opposite. I understand that some melt and death will occur from shock of transplanting, but this is beyond that.

Here is the day I planted the new plants.



Here is a look at the tank from a few days ago. If you zoom in, you can really see the amount of dead stems.




Despite this bunch of plants failing over the last couple weeks, I havenít been able to get anything to grow super healthy in months. Does anybody have clues as to what my problem could be? Any help would be much much appreciated!!
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Old 07-14-2018, 08:06 PM   #2
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Plants not growing like they used to

I just tested the water to see if there is anything unusual. Here are the readings:
Ammonia-0ppm
Nitrite-0ppm
Nitrate-20ppm
pH- 6.4

So everything here is normal except my pH. My pH is usually 7.6. Could a low pH be causing these problems? The tap water still tests at 7.6. I know CO2 can affect pH, but would it swing it this much? This was tested after CO2 has been on for about 4 hours.
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Old 07-16-2018, 09:39 AM   #3
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You want at least a 1.0 drop in pH from CO2.

What is your kH and gH measurment? Ca and Mg deficiencies are quite common.

I would say the transition was enough to effect them, and another underlying cause is not letting them bounce back.

I would run CO2 up to 1 hour before the lights come on.
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Old 07-16-2018, 10:12 AM   #4
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You want at least a 1.0 drop in pH from CO2.

What is your kH and gH measurment? Ca and Mg deficiencies are quite common.

I would say the transition was enough to effect them, and another underlying cause is not letting them bounce back.

I would run CO2 up to 1 hour before the lights come on.

I just put my drop checker back in (my old one broke and I never got around to putting to the new one in) and the color is yellow. Wouldnít yellow indicate to high of CO2 levels? Would decreasing the CO2 flow until I get a pH of 6.6 be more stable and safe for the tank?

I donít have a way to measure kH and gH.

So having the CO2 go on and off 2 hours ahead of the light schedule is too long?
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Old 07-16-2018, 11:00 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by cherokeeluvr View Post
I just put my drop checker back in (my old one broke and I never got around to putting to the new one in) and the color is yellow. Wouldn’t yellow indicate to high of CO2 levels? Would decreasing the CO2 flow until I get a pH of 6.6 be more stable and safe for the tank?

I don’t have a way to measure kH and gH.

So having the CO2 go on and off 2 hours ahead of the light schedule is too long?
I'm not saying the 2 hours is the issue, but I would guess the last hour or so of the photoperiod is not at sufficient levels. That's the boogyman of high tech planted tanks, small errors can and will cause large issues.

My tank's drop checker will go yellow at about a 0.8 drop in pH, so no, a yellow drop checker does not mean you are at sufficient CO2 levels. Many planted tankers are in the 1.35 peak Ph drop from CO2, that would be a very very yellow drop checker

Why would you decreed the CO2 and only get a pH of 6.6? I drop my tank from 7.2 to 6.2. When running high CO2 its a good idea to run an airstone at night to replenish O2 levels, and to have a good amount of surface agitation at all times to ensure proper gas gas exchange.

What source of water are you using? I would boost gH by 2 degrees regardless to ensure you are supplying enough Ca and Mg...

How much Thrive are you dosing?
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Old 07-16-2018, 11:50 AM   #6
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I'm not saying the 2 hours is the issue, but I would guess the last hour or so of the photoperiod is not at sufficient levels. That's the boogyman of high tech planted tanks, small errors can and will cause large issues.

My tank's drop checker will go yellow at about a 0.8 drop in pH, so no, a yellow drop checker does not mean you are at sufficient CO2 levels. Many planted tankers are in the 1.35 peak Ph drop from CO2, that would be a very very yellow drop checker

Why would you decreed the CO2 and only get a pH of 6.6? I drop my tank from 7.2 to 6.2. When running high CO2 its a good idea to run an airstone at night to replenish O2 levels, and to have a good amount of surface agitation at all times to ensure proper gas gas exchange.

What source of water are you using? I would boost gH by 2 degrees regardless to ensure you are supplying enough Ca and Mg...

How much Thrive are you dosing?


Ok, Iíll have the CO2 run a bit later and see if that helps.

You said that the pH should drop 1.0 and my pH is normal at 7.6, so dropping to 6.6 would be 1.0. My tank, when CO2 is running, is going down to 6.4 currently.

Iím just using tap water if thatís what youíre asking. How do you boost gH?

I dose around 1/2 pump about 3x a week.
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Old 07-16-2018, 02:52 PM   #7
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Looks like you are supplying sufficient amount of ferts weekly (see photo).

Yes, the 1.2 drop in pH should be enough, how are you measuring the pH? Drop tests can be off slightly or a lot.

If you leave the CO2 on longer make sure to monitor fish for gasping.

Lighting is plenty.

How did you go about restarting the tank? Too much H2O2 / Excel / Metricide for killing algae can and will cause plant melt.

Other than that, the transition pains will take up to a few weeks to correct themselves.
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Old 07-16-2018, 07:55 PM   #8
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Looks like you are supplying sufficient amount of ferts weekly (see photo).

Yes, the 1.2 drop in pH should be enough, how are you measuring the pH? Drop tests can be off slightly or a lot.

If you leave the CO2 on longer make sure to monitor fish for gasping.

Lighting is plenty.

How did you go about restarting the tank? Too much H2O2 / Excel / Metricide for killing algae can and will cause plant melt.

Other than that, the transition pains will take up to a few weeks to correct themselves.


Iím using a drop test for the pH.

I emptied the tank of everything except the sand, rinsed the tank and sand out, bleached and scrubbed the rocks (then rinsed and left is heavily primed water), and then added everything back. I left the filter media in old tank water and it in after everything else was done. I didnít use any of the products you listed.
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Old 07-17-2018, 01:43 AM   #9
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Ample lighting, CO2, and ferts. Iím wondering if the new plants were subject to excessive heat while in transit and damage did not appear until well after planting.
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:32 AM   #10
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Ample lighting, CO2, and ferts. Iím wondering if the new plants were subject to excessive heat while in transit and damage did not appear until well after planting.


Itís possible, but that wouldnít explain why nothing has been thriving in the tank for months. Itís just frustrating, because it seems like everything is right, but nothing is growing well!
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