Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Boredomb 05-24-2013 03:25 PM

Lack of enough nutrients ....
My plants in my 29 gallon have always done ok but that's it just okay. I have been having problems with my floaters in this tank for awhile now. At the moment they are Water Sprite and Frogbit. They grow slow and the surface always gets surface scum on it. I can run an air stone in the middle and it helps with scum but the plants don't seem to like it.

This is only in my 29 tank. My other tanks have Water sprite and don't have an issue. All the tanks get the right amount if Flourish Comprehensive 2x weekly. Everything is the same except the fish load.

Soo I was thinking that's the difference. In the 29 its just 1 Dwarf puffer and some shrimp. The other tanks each have at least 10+ fish or dozens of snails to produce waste. Not to mention fish food. The puffer is target feed worms so no fish food is wasted. So this tank has very little bioload from fish or waste from food. We all know all that is transferred to plant food.

So my question is in this situation would it be better to add something like Seachems Trace nutrients or even do a Dry ferts regime??

I ask this cause that's the only difference I can see to why there would be a problem. Because in all honesty none of my tanks have surface movement but yet the 29 always gets surface scum. The Air stone helped with that like I said but I took it out cause it was moving the plants to much to my liken. I could throttle it down but then it defeated the propose altogether and I was back to square one again.

Any thoughts on the matter??

Boredomb 05-24-2013 03:37 PM

Forgot to mention Algae is a problem in this tank too!! It doesn't seem to matter how long the lights are on for or how much Flourish Comprehensive I add either. Soo it leads me to believe something is messing. Something that might come from fish waste or fish food breaking down.
Algae is never an issue in my other tanks. I can't tell ya the last time I had scrape the glass on them.
The 29 its weekly.
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Byron 05-24-2013 04:28 PM

John, am I correct to assume the light is a single T8 24-inch tube, 6500K? The Life-Glo, or UltraSum, or similar? And what photoperiod? This data I need to assess the nutrient balance, as I'll explain below.

While waiting for that, to the surface protein film. Over the years I have had this, in a couple tanks quite heavy for a time, in others never. I relate it to organics, same as cyanobacteria, and in my case if I have cyano I always have the protein too; but I do see the protein, lightly, without any cyano. But both are related to organics, according to my research. Fish foods esp if overfed can also cause it [not in your case;-)] as can infrequent water changes; the latter makes sense as not doing water changes will naturally allow organics to build.

I used to use surface skimmers that attached to my canister filter intake (Eheim canisters, they make these attachments) on my three largest tanks, but took them off because the plants kept getting pulled in, and I lost several small fish and some fry. Screening the skimmer didn't help because them the plants clog the opening and the skimmer doesn't work at all.

I never bother with the protein film now; if I see any at the water change, I invert the Python and draw it off. But this is rare.

The fact that you only see it in a tank with very few fish [fish and fish foods being the most prevalent source of organics] might suggest too much fertilizer is going in the tank. I would cut back to once weekly with Flourish Comp and after say 3-4 weeks see if that makes a difference. This might also explain the algae in this tank.

Each aquarium is biologically different, even if we think we have uniformity in fish, plants, foods, light, etc. I had to reduce Flourish from twice to once weekly in only my 90g to prevent brush algae on the plant leaves, yet this never occurs in other tanks.

Edit: In your second PM you mention the lack of snails, in a Puffer tank to be expected, and this might be part of it. Interesting, now that you've raised it, the only tanks I've had this is my tank with loaches, so fewer snails. Snails do "feed" from the undersurface of the water, I see my bladder snails doing this all the time.


Boredomb 05-24-2013 04:41 PM

Hey Byron thanks for the response,
The light is a 24" Zoomed Ultra sun Super daylight bulb bought this year. Its on for 8 hours a day.

Starting tomorrow I can cut back to 7hrs a day.
Next week I will also dose just once a week with the fertilizer.

Btw this tank along with my others get 50% water changes every week. In this tank I usually siphon the substrate as where the others I don't.
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Byron 05-24-2013 04:46 PM


Originally Posted by Boredomb (Post 2139697)
Hey Byron thanks for the response,
The light is a 24" Zoomed Ultra sun Super daylight bulb bought this year. Its on for 8 hours a day.

Starting tomorrow I can cut back to 7hrs a day.
Next week I will also dose just once a week with the fertilizer.

Btw this tank along with my others get 50% water changes every week. In this tank I usually siphon the substrate as where the others I don't.
Posted via Mobile Device

I would reduce the light, and once weekly with Flourish. After 3-4 weeks, post the outcome. Don't expect the plants to do anything, but the protein film and algae I would expect to lessen.

Boredomb 05-24-2013 05:06 PM

Will do Thanks Byron.
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redchigh 05-28-2013 12:12 PM

If there's no improvement after a couple months (try Byron's advice first, and give it a fair shake. It may take well over a month to have noticeable improvement), a secondary theory is there aren't enough macros. Flourish comprehensive doesn't have enough macros for fast growing stems, although root feeders thrive with the extra macros in root tabs combined.

What are your nitrates in that tank? In my experience, elevated nitrates are usually associated with excess organics.

If nitrates are extremely low, potassium nitrate provides potassium and nitrate, while mono potassium phosphate is a good source of phosphorus. Phosphorus is required as a macro, but very little is neccesary.

Even in a tank with nitrates present, I've had good luck dosing potassium nitrate: the nitrates didn't increase with dosing 1/4 tsp in a 10 gallon once a week, which made be believe that at least in my tanks, potassium was the limiting nutrient.

Boredomb 05-28-2013 12:41 PM

Its been awhile since I tested nitrates in this tank Red. In the past they were always low.. I am fixing to head out but when I get back I will test them and let ya know.

Boredomb 06-02-2013 12:48 AM

Soo I know we had talked about doing some changes with the fertilizer and the duration of the light period to see if it helps. I did those but I got stuck or hung up on "too much organics in the water." Over and over again I saw (here and other placed as well) where that can cause issues. Obviously my fish load didn't play a part in that but have heard feeding too much frozen foods can. Through I started target feeding a long time ago puffers are messy eaters. I once saw were someone compared a Dwarf Puffer's eating behaviour to that of a Oscar. So I cut out frozen foods altogether with him. He now gets nothing but live blackworms and snails. Another thing is I started thinking about is decaying plant matter. In a normal tank this usually isn't an issue as I know snails will usually help here but in a Puffer tank there are no snail that last more then a few mins to a few hours depending on how fast the puffer see them. Soo I decided to totally tear this tank and start over. There was tons of plant matter in there even with my siphon/vacuuming. Some of that came from my last plant addition Frogbit. It probably came from other plants as well I am sure. The filter wasn't too bad but the hoses had tons of muln in them.

Sooo I think this tank will get extra attention that my other tanks dont really get. I plan on going through the plants once a week picking out any leaves that look like they are melting/dieing. I do this in my other tanks but I don't necessarily go hunting for them as I will in this tank. I also think this tank will get 75% water changes once a week instead of 50% as it has been getting. I will still have my lights on for 7 hrs and dose once a week with fertilizer and see what happens.

I will post a video of how the tank looks tomorrow.

Boredomb 06-02-2013 02:44 PM

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