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Sieta

Help with my low tech planted goldfish tank

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I have a 55 planted tank,

It's sand substrate, occasional dose of metricide, occasional root tabs, and this LED light

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NAFQ99I?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00 and I keep the temp at 70degrees F.

I have some plants that are doing great, like java fern and ludwiga ripens.

But I have some other plants like ludwiga peruensis, and one plant I forgot the name of that is just doing horrible.

I also have 2 amazon swords and 2 red rubens that I can't really tell how they are doing since they look so close to how they were when I got them.

I have been battling beard and staghorn algae for a month or so now.

Can anyone please give me some advice on what to do about the algae, (I already set my light on a timer for two 5 hour intervals daily) and I even temporarily borrowed two Siamese algae eaters from my other tank once I was desperate (but they don't seem to be eradicating the algae and are going back home soon)

Also could anyone give me some advice on the plants, if I should replace any with ones that would do better in this environment and what I should replace them with?

I'm definitely starting to think I made a couple of bad choices on my plants.

Here's a pic

IMG_20150602_114357_zpsfeqpocmu.jpg

Edited by Sieta

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It's a lovely planted tank. Plants and goldfish tanks are an interesting combination.  Is it anacharis that plant that I think I see that you think is doing poorly?  If so, they are salad to most goldies.  Afterthe "pond season" I bring the anacharis into my tank and they are consumed by week end.  Many of the others are slow growers.  All I really grow in my tank are anubias since they are not salad and very sturdy if slow growers.  You might try adding some of the liquid carbon products to help with the beard algae and boost growth.  There's Excel and API makes one.

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I like it.

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Beautiful tank!!!!

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Thank you! :)

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It's very pretty!

Be careful with your lighting. LEDs are difficult to get in a decent spectrum for plants, because by their nature they are very narrow spectrum. Mixing LEDs is the favorite solution to this, but the usable light is still fairly narrow compared to sunlight or even a daylight spectrum fluorescent bulb. Technology is improving, but an imbalance of light compared to fertilizer is the main issue at hand. Fast growers have different light needs than slow growers, and root feeders have different needs than water column/aerial feeders

Consider, too, that even though that has the red LEDs for plant promotion, the blue isn't ideal and could be contributing to your problem. Light is a funky monster that way ;)

With the algae issue, I would surmise you have too much excess nutrients and too much light for the demands of your plants. You would need to lower the light and plant more fast growers to out compete the algae.

How long, each day, are you running your lights? Ph? Hardness? It may even be temperature - 70 is a little low for Ludwiga, for example.

Edited by Arctic Mama

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My favorite prolific grower for Goldies, by the way, are the crypt species. They make beautiful coverage and do well with root tabs and aren't fussy on ph and temperature. They dislike wide swings in params and I've melted mine a good half dozen times in the last few years due to too aggressive of a water change with too low frequency, but they bounce back beautifully.

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Hi. Nice looking tank. 10 hours of light is a lot! What filters are you using?

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I missed the ten hours - whoops! I'd definitely suggest using timers to cut it to eight or even six, at least until your algae issue has cleared up (blackouts are the best treatment unless it is Cyanobacteria, with the least side effects). Then gradually bump the light up from 6 hours until you hit the threshold of happy plants but no algae overgrowth. It still seems like you need a larger quantity of faster growers in there, too.

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It's very pretty!

Be careful with your lighting. LEDs are difficult to get in a decent spectrum for plants, because by their nature they are very narrow spectrum. Mixing LEDs is the favorite solution to this, but the usable light is still fairly narrow compared to sunlight or even a daylight spectrum fluorescent bulb.

How long, each day, are you running your lights? Ph? Hardness? It may even be temperature - 70 is a little low for Ludwiga, for example.

Unfortunately this light is the newly purchased upgrade, so my husband would divorce me I think before he let me buy yet another one after the amount of money we have sunk into this tank lol. So whatever I do has to make due with this light. The tank does also get sunlight as well.

Ph and Hardness is around 7.4,and 7.2 and i run the light for 2 5 hour sessions a day.

One species of the ludwiga is thriving but the other one just hasn't stopped melting since I put it in.

And Thank you! :)

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Hi. Nice looking tank. 10 hours of light is a lot! What filters are you using?

Thank you ;)

I'm using two aqua clear 70s and a sponge filter.

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If you're getting sunlight as well I'd definitrly cut the tank lights. I like mine on the evening, myself, so I can watch my fish when the room light is lower.

The melting makes we wonder where your root tabs are in proximity to the plant? Some dislike closeness to ferts.

You may also try potting that particular species with some Eco complete or even dirt, and see if it was the sand, root rab combo that caused the problem. Hiding a small pot behind other plants isn't too hard :)

Edited by Arctic Mama

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I missed the ten hours - whoops! I'd definitely suggest using timers to cut it to eight or even six, at least until your algae issue has cleared up (blackouts are the best treatment unless it is Cyanobacteria, with the least side effects). Then gradually bump the light up from 6 hours until you hit the threshold of happy plants but no algae overgrowth. It still seems like you need a larger quantity of faster growers in there, too.

And yes it is Cyanobacteria, I have a colony of hitchhiker snails (ramshorn and MTS) that take care of everything else.

I did order some anacharis for fast growing plants would that be enough?

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My favorite prolific grower for Goldies, by the way, are the crypt species. They make beautiful coverage and do well with root tabs and aren't fussy on ph and temperature. They dislike wide swings in params and I've melted mine a good half dozen times in the last few years due to too aggressive of a water change with too low frequency, but they bounce back beautifully.

I do 50% weekly water changes, would that be too much of a swing?

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I haven't been super pleased with elodea and anacharis as nutrient mops. Hornwort, foxtail, the aforementioned crypts, and a number of sword plants seem to work better, depending on where the nutrient issue is (substrate or water column).

For Cyanobacteria I only eliminated it with a) getting rid of all fertilizers and b) nuking the tank with erythromycin. I tried everything else to no avail. The main issue in my case was too much iron in the substrate combined with too much phosphorus, and not enough fast growers. I lessened my fertilizers after it was eradicated and eliminated the trace minerals, completely. Once I used the antibiotics I had no more issues.

Other algaes are a different matter, but blue green? I go for the meds and am done with it.

Edited by Arctic Mama

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My favorite prolific grower for Goldies, by the way, are the crypt species. They make beautiful coverage and do well with root tabs and aren't fussy on ph and temperature. They dislike wide swings in params and I've melted mine a good half dozen times in the last few years due to too aggressive of a water change with too low frequency, but they bounce back beautifully.

I do 50% weekly water changes, would that be too much of a swing?

Unless your tap is very disparate from your tank it shouldn't be. In rare cases current can be an issue, but your tank sounds low current. Roots being disturbed can also cause an issue, which could be a culprit with the sand substrate.

Like I said, try potting it in dirt or other nutrient rich substrate instead of the sand and see if that solved things.

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Thank you so much for all the advice!

I will cut the lights to 6 hours.

Will the antibiotic/meds to kill the nasty blue green algae hurt my snails? I have grown rather fond of them.

The crypts....Any particular ones that you would recommend that would look the best in my tank?

As for finding out the root problem I'm just not sure how to do that.... I barely use the root tabs, and I only started dosing matricide because of the beard stuff...I do however have well water that is ran through a water softener in my tap so that may be extra minerals there.

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Try the erythromycin first, then the light, and if that doesn't solve the issue we will try other things. The maracide could be the issue, certainly, so discontinue that.

I'm almost certain the erythromycin is safe for inverts - API claims it is and I haven't heard reports to the contrary.

Edited by Arctic Mama

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How long has the tank been up and running?

 

I would definitely recommend you read Tom Barr's Non-Co2 Method. Minus the no water changes (I do 50% once a week), I follow everything he says and it has worked wonders on my low-tech tank. 

 

To me it looks like you might need more plant mass and nutrients on a stable schedule. Adding some fast growers would definitely help. I really like Vals, Pennywort, and tiger lotus because they grow like weeds.

 

I'm kinda surprised elodea isn't working out. Its very prolific and can grow in many environments! That what makes me think you might also have a nutrient problem. 

 

As for finding out the root problem I'm just not sure how to do that.... I barely use the root tabs, and I only started dosing matricide because of the beard stuff...I do however have well water that is ran through a water softener in my tap so that may be extra minerals there.

If you barely use the tabs and just started the matricide, you definitely got a spike in nutrients. Since you don't have many fast growers that can suck up those nutrients that could have cause the algae to take hold. And if you're not using the nutrients on a scheduled dosage... leads to even more troubles. The plants you have never get used to a schedule. Algae has a greater affinity to nutrients, carbon, etc. so it has a better fighting chance than the plants. But, the high quantity of plants, given the right amount of light, can out compete the algae.

 

Since you don't have any dirt, you could use the Metricide as a carbon source. Beware though too high of a dosage could hinder the plants instead of help. I would also add some macro and micros to your fert schedule. The tiger lotus that I recommended loves root tabs. I add my ferts after I do a water change. Macros and carbon the first day followed by micros on the second day.

 

Do you get the stag horn algae at the of the plants closet to the light and in the flow? If so you light might to too intense at the surface and you might need to raise it. 

 

Try not to worry about killing the algae but figure out what is causing it. Just my  :twocents. Because if you kill it but keep everything the same, it will return. Get a balance of nutrients, carbon, and light, Then prepare for battle on the algae. Or you might not have to, it could go away on it's own as you give the plant a better handle on the competition by providing that balance. 

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It's my newest tank,my first truly planted tank. It's only been running since March.

I started dosing the metracide as a carbon source because I already had the Blackbeard and staghorn algae so I know the metracide wasn't the cause. I researched quite a bit and found common causes for bba was fluctuations in co2. Since I do not want to deal with a pressurized co2 system the next best thing to try according to some of the research I was reading in a low tech system was to dose excel or metracide.

The root tabs I have replaced after three months as the instructions on the pack had said.

The Black beard and staghorn algae does seem to favor one spot in my tank and reappears there first (I've already killed it off once before with peroxide spot treatments.)

But then spreads. The spot it favors is right under the hob filter, both at the top and bottom of the tank.

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Tom Barr's website is very useful for low tech tanks such as yours. I dose fertilizers and excel using the estimative index method, similar to Miss Goldie. My led lights are on for six hour or less. I also have an albino bristlenose pleco who keeps the tank clean.

It took me many months to get the hang of which plants work and which don't, the right lights and photoperiod, and the right combo of ferts and liquid carbon. I just have anubias in my tank because my fish tore everything else up. I love it when a plant gets a new leaf!

You are on the right track. It is just one big experiment!

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Yeah there is a definate imbalance somewhere, I just have to figure out where.

I either don't have or see any other algae , just the stag horn and bba but the snails could be eating any other types. I can take plants out of that tank and put in my other tank without any kind of dip and never see any staghorn or bba in the other tank. Ironically the other tank I'm not even trying on I was just throwing spares in it and don't have any algae problems there.

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I'd say it's simply a matter of too much light. I know it has already been suggested, but you'd be surprised what reducing your photoperiod will do. You could try a floating plant too, I find these tend to help in low tech tanks. They block out light, grow rather prolifically and can help keep excess nutrients in check. Manual removal for algae like these is best in my experience. Blackbeard and staghorn are horrible, but they can be nipped in the butt with daily maintenance. Yes, this all a symptom of inadequate co2 levels, but required co2 is directly impacted by light levels.

You said they seem to start in a confined area? This isn't really beneficial in any way, but I'm always reminded of that post Hoppy (the wonderful member on the Planted Tank that did all those light/PAR experiments) wrote about hang on lights having too uneven a spread. He always noted that algae growth was confined to one area initially i.e. a hob filter, one corner of the tank, etc, but where one suspended the fixture, this almost never happened. I'm not suggesting you go out and suspend your fixture because I do think less light/muffled light with floaters will be your friend, but it is an interesting observation.

Just briefly regarding the ludwigia peruensis (ludwigia glandulosa), it can be a bit tricky to grow. It likes co2 in my experience and a lot of light. It's not the fastest growing stem either. I would try some other ludwigias like repens or most hygrophila species, I think you'll find they should do rather well.

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I do have the Repens already and they are doing fantastic.

So is 6 hours the photoperiod I need to be using?

Also does it matter what time of day I have the "lights on" period at? Before, during, or after the natural sunlight hours?

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Start at 5-6 hours and increase slowly every few weeks from there. It's all about incremental changes. If you run into a problem with algae, then you know you can't exceed that point/did it too soon. I wouldn't exceed 8.5 hours, but that's just me.

The time of day doesn't matter. :)

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