Problems with 20 gallon - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 2 Old 04-30-2012, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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Problems with 20 gallon

Hi everyone, I have a 20 gallon planted aquarium that has been up and running for a little over 3 months. I have multiple species of plants in a fluorite substrate under a stock full spectrum fluorescent tube. Here is the tank (take note of the huge mass of algae collecting on the moneywort on the left of the filter piece):

So far the only plants that seem to be doing OK are the moneywort and red ludwigia. By OK I mean that they are growing and propagating, albeit slowly. Doing most poorly is the water sprite and micro sword. Both started off looking like this:

So both looked much, much better. In three months, the water sprite has almost entirely melted away while the micro sword has slowly disappeared as well. The other day during a water change I took a picture of the roots of the water sprite. New shoots do appear (you can see one here) however the roots are so dead they seem not to last very long. Here is the picture I took:

You can see the brown nothingness that the roots have been reduced to. Why has this happened? Possibly because I do not add fertilizers to the water and they are not anchored? Then how would the lack of growth of the micro sword be explained? Insufficient lighting?

These are my main issues. I am wondering if kicking up the lighting would improve the situation. Possibly adding a non stock 6500K or 6700K tube. I have posted in other threads with much less detail and so wanted to elaborate here.

On a related note, I have had an algae bloom get pretty bad lately. There seems to be brown algae forming all over the plant leaves and green algae, including the stringy type, on the moneywort. I am wondering how this could be related. I do not dose ferts yet but I will start when I have access to a store. Something else that should be noted is the hardness of my water. Tap is 25 dGH but I was using an API water softening pillow to bring it around 10-15. Not sure if I continue using it and fluctuating the water or if I should let it go which may be harmful to the fish (7 serpaes, 2 otos).

Here is a picture of all the algae:

It is worse on some of the moneywort. If brown algae hasn't covered a leaf, then thick green algae has. I have undertaken some measures to remove the algae from the plants like manually scraping and adding 3 Otocinclus' one of which can be seen in the background of the last picture. If you look to the top left of the picture, you can see some of the green algae on the moneywort.

Any suggestions, ideas or thoughts in general would be appreciated. Thank you.

Last edited by Malakh; 04-30-2012 at 09:50 PM.
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post #2 of 2 Old 05-01-2012, 11:16 AM
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Diatoms (brown "algae" as we call it, though it is not an algae) are common in new tanks that have not yet stabilized biologically, and 3 months is still within this time frame. Green algae is due to light; plants will use the light if all nutrients are available, and algae is in the back seat. Once the plants get going, this should not be an issue.

Related to the afore-mentioned is the nutrient issue. Enriched substrates are hit and miss. I have Flourite in my 70g for just over a year now, and it has been disappointing to say the least. You have stem plants and these derive most of their nutrients from the water column, as of course do the floating plants, so without a liquid comprehensive fertilizer this is not likely to improve, and I would suggest this is the cause for the lack of growth in 3 months. The good thing is that in this time period, the plants are still alive, and that means they have weathered the change in environment which is the first big hurdle that can claim plants. But now you need to feed them more. Flourish Comprehensive Supplement once a week should do it. Brightwell Aquatics' FlorinMulti will also work.

To the two problem plants. Microsword is very slow growing even in optimum conditions. It needs intense light, but before going down that road, can you tell us about the present light? Obviously fluorescent, but what manufacture, watts and kelvin? I can probably offer suggestions knwing this.

I would get a couple pygmy chain sword plants for the substrate; these do very well in moderate light and will quickly carpet the substrate. Wisteria is also higher light; I had it do the same for me, so I pulled it out and won't try it again. Combining plants is much like combining fish, not everyone works together. May have more when we come to the light later.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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melting , micro , planted , sprite , sword

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