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Old 01-16-2022, 11:50 AM   #1
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plants not doing well...help please

hi, new to forum and need some help. 20 gallon tank with 7 danios, 5 cories and 2 shrimp. planted with some limno, bacopa, and java moss. tank has been going for almost 2 years. added the live plants about a year ago. plants were doing great. but over the last couple of months really noticed that they've stopped growing. the limno needed trimming a few inches every week, and they've basically stopped. the bacopa is really leggy with very little growth. don't seem to be super healthy. java moss seems to be ok. don't use C02, clean it every couple of weeks (about 4 gallons removed). the tank lid light (stock white led with night function) has been the main light source.
last checked ph was 7, ammonia was 0, nitrite was 0, nitrate was 30-40. some diatoms in the tank, and on plants, but doesn't appear to be a major outbreak. thoughts?
would really appreciate some insights.
thanks!

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Old 01-16-2022, 07:18 PM   #2
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Hello, I myself am still a beginner after two years, however I do a lot of reading and recently came across info on different substrates and of course I read it all. It was probably the 5th time I read the information but something that struck me from your post was that the tank has been going for two years. My question is what type of substrate are you using? Given that you do not use co2 what do you dose with to compensate for no co2 injection. The substrate info I have been studying states that many commercial based substrates that are rich in nutrients have the problem of nutrients being used up from between 1 and 2 years of use. This could be the issue since your post stated that things seemed to be growing and doing well for most of the life of the tank. Your numbers look good and you did not share that your having any other problems like algae or such. Have you recently started using any new chemicals of any type?
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Old 01-17-2022, 11:06 AM   #3
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Hi, the substrate is natural coloured gravel a bit smaller than peas, and around two months ago I added seachem denitrate because my nitrates were a bit high, (around 40.) Before the plants stopped growing I started feeding my fish a bit less, (started off twice a day but lowered it to once a day because some of them were getting quite fat.) Because it's the winter the tank doesn't get as much light as it has been. That is all that's changed in the tank. Thanks.
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Old 01-18-2022, 01:17 PM   #4
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Hello gft, my thoughts on this are the decrease in light. Whats happening with them right now may be just a new transition phase. It maybe they are adjusting to a new need. From what I know and have experienced when light source is increased or decreased I always see a slight change in my plants especially if the changes happens and continues for a length of time. This could be a sign of this or possible change in nutrient needs. I dont want to make any suggestions other then have you tried increasing lighting time. I dont mean drastic change but increasing/decreasing will have an effect. its the question of how great an effect and how long will it take to be noticable to your eyes.
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Old 01-18-2022, 02:02 PM   #5
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I put a small lamp next to the tank, but then lots of diatoms grew on the plants, glass, and filter. I took out the denitrate because I had added that around the time the plants stopped growing. I just took out the bacopa and trimmed the stem off, then planted the tops hoping they will grow. The limno had a lot of diatoms on it so I tried to get some off. Could the diatoms on the leaves stop photosynthesis?
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Old 01-18-2022, 03:25 PM   #6
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From my experience, which recently was algae out breaks covering my leaves, I am going to say yes. When algae and black beard type started showing up for me I noticed my leaves were affected for sure. They did not look as lively and of course even the thin layer of coating on them seemed to affect them. I fight phosphates and dissolved solids in my water till i can install a RO system so I jumped on phosguard. Cleared it right up. Now my plants are coming back. Decreased my dark time as well after I added the phosguard. my tank is looking great currently. So I will say yes to your question. I try not to give advice that I am not sure about but yes anything that limits photosynthesis is going to affect them.
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Old 01-18-2022, 03:28 PM   #7
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Also any algae/diatoms are going to take good nutrients out of the water for themselves. So its kind of a double wammy on the plants.
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Old 01-18-2022, 05:45 PM   #8
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It sounds like you have had some kind of microbial balance upset to me. The diatoms make me think this. Diatoms occur at the beginning of a tank and only again if the tank has some kind of ‘reset’ trigger. Have you been a bit too vigorous cleaning the filter sponge or have you been disturbing the substrate by uprooting plants to remove all trim and replant.

Is your tap water considered hard or soft and how often do you change it? Have you increased the intervals between changes?
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Old 01-18-2022, 06:22 PM   #9
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My pH is exactly 7, and it has been for the two years the tank has been running. When I clean the tank I vacuum 4 gallons, scrape the sides of the tank, (I use a credit card,) and thoroughly clean the filter. I clean the tank every two weeks and test the water two days after a clean. I think that I do clean the filter to thoroughly, ( I clean the sponge and seachem matrix until there is no debris on it and I change the filter floss once a week,) and I vacuum the whole bottom of the tank. Occasionally I see the corydoras uproot a plant and move the gravel. The only algae I've had in my tank is brown algae and a tiny bit of black beard algae on the driftwood and gravel, (I took the few bits of gravel out of the tank.). Should I clean the filter and gravel less thoroughly? Thanks.
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Old 01-19-2022, 05:48 AM   #10
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It’s one of those really where consistency is key. Consistency usually brings stability. If you gravel vacuum frequently to remove debris then there will not be much time for a microbial assemblage to fully establish so the chances of upsetting the balance is minimised. Same with filter cleaning and water changes. If you go longer between substrate cleaning there’s a chance you can release ammonia and this can cause mini cycles and cloudy water.

if your water is hard and you feed well plants can usually do well without supplements. Probably reducing the feeding has impacted on plant growth. It’s amazing how much fish food can support plants but you can also trigger algae if you’re not careful.
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Old 01-19-2022, 12:30 PM   #11
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In that case, how often should I clean the filter, vacuum the gravel, and do a water change? Should I take out less water and not vacuum as deep? I might get 1 or 2 more fish so there is more nutrients for the plants. Do you think that would help? Thanks.
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Old 01-20-2022, 08:50 AM   #12
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For the biological stability of the tank (diatoms etc) you should not vacuum a planted tank in my opinion and you should clean the filter in dechlorinated water (or water removed during cleaning) when the flow rate starts to reduce.

For plants I would replace 50% of the water once per week and invest in an all in one fertiliser such as thrive or TNC complete.
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Old 01-22-2022, 09:57 AM   #13
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When I clean the filter media I use the water I have vacuumed from the tank. I will probably start doing water changes once a week but not vacuuming. Thanks.
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Old 01-23-2022, 01:15 PM   #14
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I went out and got two more danios to increase the nutrients for the plants. I managed to get some diatoms off the plants by tapping the stem with a straw. The limno is now growing, and the bacopa cuttings are starting to root.
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Old 01-23-2022, 01:18 PM   #15
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If it comes off by just tapping the leaf its not diatoms. Maybe its uneaten food or other detritus collecting on there.
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Old 01-23-2022, 10:45 PM   #16
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I like Danios! Have two of them currently along with three sunburst plattys. Of the three plattys one is a mickey, another a wag platty and I swear the third looks like hitler. Could be why the two go after it so much or its because it two males and a female lol. Maybe a bit of both. Had to throw the humor in there, I started with three Danios when I went from a 5 gallon tank to the 10 gallon. They survived a little over a year and went through every mistake I ever made. Very robust hearty fish. The plattys eat a lot off the bottom and they feed everywhere. They especially love cleaning up any stray algae. But I have noticed a spike in ammonia so they have added a definite bio impact on the tank but I have not seen any ammonia spikes over 1ppm and its been easily controlled and stable usually at .25 ppm to .50ppm. Danios are more top feeders from my observation but I like them because they look like stripped bass. Let us know how your tank is coming along gtf. The lamp next to tank may not be a great idea depending on the bulb type.
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Old 01-24-2022, 12:30 PM   #17
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The tank is doing great now I took the lamp away because the side of the tank was brown with diatoms. The new danios are doing really good, (one leopard and one choprae,) eating and schooling with the others. The limno has grown 1-2 cm. Along with the choprae and leopard danio, I have one kyathit, one pearl, one gold zebra, and four zebras.
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Old 02-13-2022, 06:48 PM   #18
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How are the plants holding up GFT?
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