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Old 04-13-2011, 06:55 PM   #1
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Back and frustrated

I've been a member here for a long time I love this place and I've just logged back in after a while away. (Kids) I used to work a 55g reef for years but had to sell it when my son was born.
I now have a simple 20g FW tank that I've had for about two years. It is planted and here is the scoop on it:
I have a 65w duel 6500k bulb running 3 inches above the tank. Swords, Anubis, and just a mixture of different plants, all of which have been dieing for over a year. I have cranked homemade CO2 into it. No good. I have used liquid ferts over time of all different varieties, root tabs, florish excel, you name it. I have varied my lighting times from 6 hours a day all the way down to 2 hours at night trying to get these plants to grow. I've used No Salt Phosphate additives, once again, no good.
I then set up a 10g tank for my daughter and after it is established I take the most dead plant I have and put it into her substrate with a factory 10g bulb on the top. That plant was about 1/2'' from the gravel when I planted it and it is now about 6'' tall and absolutely gorgeous. I have done NOTHING to her tank and its growing like crazy. She has a pleco, 3 small tetras, and 3 zebra danios.
My tank (as far as fish) has two tetras, one Angel, a bull-nosed albino pleco, ..... well here, I'll just attach a picture to save you the reading. (see below)
I then leave my tank alone with 2 hours of light for nearly 3 months and still nothing. All in all, this has been my struggle for almost 2 years. About 6 moths ago I scrubbed all of my substrate and went with eco-complete. Nothing. I mixed some other gravel I have in with the eco - nothing!
Where on earth could I possibly being going wrong here? Thanks for reading my rambling.... I'll sit back and read a bit myself now

--- Steve

In the Pix you can see mine compared to my daughters 10g. The plant in hers was the worst of the ugliness you see in mine.
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Old 04-13-2011, 06:58 PM   #2
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Hi Steve. WB.

The bulbs, how old are they?

Also, lets talk ferts and nutrient deficiency. Are you dosing anything with regularity? What are your nitrates testing at?
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Old 04-13-2011, 07:12 PM   #3
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Hi Fort The current bulbs are are about 3 months old. I have an old SW actinic/10000k bulb I used for a long time. Bought this one and have had it on for about 2 hours a night for about 3 months now. As far as ferts, I used florish excel regularly as suggested until one bottle was gone slowly watching the plants die. I then switched to nutrafin Plant gro, then to API leaf zone, no luck. I used a couple others including grocery store-bought "No Salt". I then switched to root tabs and ran through those for about 6 months. I was just getting ready to pull out some substrate and redo the bottom of the tank at about 1 1/2 inches deep. I was going to mix that with First Layer Pure Laterite. What do ya think?
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Old 04-13-2011, 07:16 PM   #4
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Woops,... all the specs of the tank check out perfectly on the scale. Nitrites, Nitrates, Ammonia, ect. I had stopped the dosing after lots of cash flew out my window with no results.
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Old 04-13-2011, 07:20 PM   #5
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OK bulbs should be fine.

I was leaning towards a possible nitrate deficiency. Your tank is not all that heavily stocked, so wondering how much nitrate is actually available for uptake? It doesn't have to be zero to seriously slow down the plants.

Have you had any algae trouble?

Do you have a PO4 testkit leftover from your salty days? If so, a PO4 reading would be beneficial as well.
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Old 04-13-2011, 07:25 PM   #6
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I'm sorry, I don't have a PO4 kit available... might be able to search and find one but not "readily" available. I'm going to go back in and check Nitrates right now and I'll get back to you on that soon. Do you think it would hurt if I don't have the PO kit to go ahead and redo substrate since it's been so long? And, what is your opinion on the laterite? LFS said it worked miracles for him.
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Old 04-13-2011, 07:26 PM   #7
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I don't think it would hurt to redo it, but not sure yet whether or will help. I have used laterite... it has worked well in my experience.
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Old 04-14-2011, 08:00 PM   #8
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Updated Tank Specs...

Ok Fort, I have my updated tank specs and was getting ready to go in and redo the substrate. I'll wait a bit and see how this goes. You had asked me about the nitrate levels. Here are the specs:

Ammonia - < .25ppm
Nitrite - 0ppm
Nitrate - 5.0ppm
High PH is at 8.0

This is all of the test kits I have. I will get more but good greif they cost a bit. Hope this helps a bit!
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Old 04-14-2011, 08:20 PM   #9
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Ok... I am going to recommend 2 things: Dose a K/trace mix, like API Leafzone, and dose N, like Seachem Flourish N.

I don't think you need to spring for any more test kits at this point.

I wouldn't worry about the pH, it should be ok.

Any algae issues at all?
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Old 04-14-2011, 09:04 PM   #10
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Thanks so much, Fort... you are so helpful. Pardon me for my noobness but when you say K and N, what am I looking for there? The algae shows but no problems with it at all. That Bull-nose just eats it up and even if he wasn't, a little scraping from time to time is all. Thanks for all you do in and out of the forum, bud.
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Old 04-14-2011, 09:14 PM   #11
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Thanks Steve.

What kind of algae is it? It could help us determine a nutrient deficiency.

K is potassium

N is nitrogen

I would try dosing the combo I recommended for about 2 weeks, and see if you get anything out of it. Something is bottoming out... I do not think it is light... I don't think it is (P)hosphorus (based on the light) so lets try and eliminate N and K (and trace elements).
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