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Discussion Starter #1
Im posting a pic of my tank. This is a 75 gallon community tank. In it is 3 angels, 11 candy cane tetras, 8 black striped tetras, 2 sunset gouramis, 1 blue dwarf gouramis, 4 bolivian rams, and 2 platys. This tank is well established and has been running over a year. I am having issues with nitrates. They stay between 20-40 with api liquid test. The rest of the params are this ( all liquid api)

Ph 7.4 ( stable)
Gh 4
Amm 0
Nitrite 0
Dkh 7

My fish are healthy and my tall plants have been growing well. I replaced my t10 fixture with an marineland led about 2 weeks ago and they exploded. But i noticed dark spots and my short plants have been browning since ive had them in the tank about 6 months ago. They are alive but not triving. I added another marineland led fixture just now. I feel like the tank is well planted ( i wouldnt say dense, but well). I have been doin 20 gallon pwc every week to try to keep them low. Ive Never seen the nitrates over 40 no matter how long i go btwn changes but i cant figure out why the plants arent consuming them. I quit dosing ferts about 2 months ago. Any suggestions?
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Okay so, i did a comparison and tested it with a salifert nitrate tester that i use for my saltwater tank it and came in at 10. I feel salifert is a lil more accurate so maybe im paranoid, but still what gives with the brown spots and crappy growth with the substrate plants?
 

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either you don't have enough plants or the tank has not fully established itself yet. In the later case the plants are consuming ammonia instead of nitrates.

I would add more plants but that's just me.

you could also just let it go. The plants will expand and eventually nitrates will drop down.


my .02
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Beaslbob- its definitely not the later. This tank has been established for well over a year, was cycled via fishless cycling, and fish were added slowly. It has been stable every since, just thought that with 18 plants i wouldnt ever see nitrates very high. And the browning. What gives? Is it algae? ( i dont like putting my hands in the tank. The angels bite :/) im placing a close up of one of the plants
 

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Since your tank is fairly lightly planted, it is likely the plants dont take up ammonia fast enough, leaving enough ammonia for the Nitrifying Bacteria to process into nitrates.

It does seem like your plants are consuming the nitrates as you are claiming that they do not go over 40ppm. As long as you have fish in the tank, the cycle will be producing nitrates. In a regular cycled tank, the nitrates will build up. However, seeing your nitrate levels never go above 40ppm, it is highly likely the plants are consuming the nitrates as well. To get your levels down to zero i recommend panting the tank with more fast growing stems. Slow growers like anubias do not take up nutrients fast enough to make much of an impact on water quality :)


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Discussion Starter #8
Okay so the gist is, I really don't have enough plants to worry about it. Everything is normal. But why are my plants brown?
 

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well the last pic is a sword od some description, not an anubias :p The brown stuff looks like diatoms to me, are you able to rub it off?

swords are also a root feeder. They usually do better with root tabs, but i'm not too confident about putting root tabs in gravel as the gravel is not compact enough and may allow the ferts to leech into the water column


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Discussion Starter #10
well the last pic is a sword od some description, not an anubias :p The brown stuff looks like diatoms to me, are you able to rub it off?

swords are also a root feeder. They usually do better with root tabs, but i'm not too confident about putting root tabs in gravel as the gravel is not compact enough and may allow the ferts to leech into the water column


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I'm sorry I knew that was a sword, took a lot of pics and posted the wrong one but the answer is still the same lol. We have regretted that gravel since we put it in. It's just such a pain to change it out :(
 

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aww poor thing. I can't really tell what is what from that pic, but....I'm thinking maybe a little too much light for the anubias and not enough ferts for the sword plant allowed the algae to take over :(

do you gravel vaccum? that tends to take the nutrients out from the gravel.


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Discussion Starter #13
aww poor thing. I can't really tell what is what from that pic, but....I'm thinking maybe a little too much light for the anubias and not enough ferts for the sword plant allowed the algae to take over :(

do you gravel vaccum? that tends to take the nutrients out from the gravel.


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I gravel vac maybe 1/8 of the tank every 6 weeks or so. I'm not real adamant or meticulous with it. I thought maybe the t10's were just getting old and not penetrating down far enough, so I was thinking too little light. I was adding seachems comprehensive liquid fert every week, but stopped thinking it maybe adding to my nitrates. As you can see, my stem plants are growing rapidly, to the point where I am going to have to prune soon. The brown is really irritating me. I went ahead and bought a few mystery snails tonight to see if they'd eat the algae up. I only have to magfloat my glass like once a month, so it's not really growing on the glass much, but the left side of the tank does get some ambient sunlight because of the door beside it. Wonder if that's adding to the problem. I have my lighting schedule from 8am-5pm. Do you think I should adjust that? I really just want some big luxurious plants in my tank. I'm really to do whatever is necessary. Except CO2. I had a bad experience with that and lost a fish (RIP Sheldon).
 

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I gravel vac maybe 1/8 of the tank every 6 weeks or so. I'm not real adamant or meticulous with it. I thought maybe the t10's were just getting old and not penetrating down far enough, so I was thinking too little light. I was adding seachems comprehensive liquid fert every week, but stopped thinking it maybe adding to my nitrates. As you can see, my stem plants are growing rapidly, to the point where I am going to have to prune soon. The brown is really irritating me. I went ahead and bought a few mystery snails tonight to see if they'd eat the algae up. I only have to magfloat my glass like once a month, so it's not really growing on the glass much, but the left side of the tank does get some ambient sunlight because of the door beside it. Wonder if that's adding to the problem. I have my lighting schedule from 8am-5pm. Do you think I should adjust that? I really just want some big luxurious plants in my tank. I'm really to do whatever is necessary. Except CO2. I had a bad experience with that and lost a fish (RIP Sheldon).

actually it sounds to me like you're almost all balanced out. Hopefully if the plants continue growing things will just get better and betterer.

You migh try killing the lights for a few days to see if the brown dies off. Or possibily blocking the sunlight to the tank.

But overall it sound like you're almost balanced out.


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prune and replant the prunings
nitrates at 40 should be fine
a ph of 7.4 you'll have ammonium that plants will love, you'll have nitrates that the plants can consume as well

the brown stuff, ... diatomes would make sence as suggested except for the age of the tank, damn, so close yet so far off :(

cyano is a possibility
green dust algae (granted i've never heard of it on plants)
other algaes (pay more attention to the shape and growth than the color, the color is not as accurate. ... i think the only color i have not heard algae take is blue, ... but reds, oranges, browns, greens, even near black, ... thousands of different species out there.

let the plants grow, prune, replant, and repeat, till things get to where you want.
doze, tab, whatever you use for the substrate

if you want to change the gravel to something finer, ... might be a pain in the rear, might be worth the extra work, you'll know the answer to that (just don't layer sand or something overtop of the old gravel - very lazy, but a good chance to smother the bacteria, create an ammonia spike and remove the ability to process that ammonia ... all at once :) ... damn :( ... i've heard of people doing that,
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks everyone for your help! I really wish we had not went with gravel. Live and learn. Maybe one day we will change it out, but it wont be anytime soon ( i have stress fractures in both legs and am not suppose to be up on em). We changed it out in my puffer tank and it was a pretty long endeavor. Went well honestlu and the puffers love the new sandy substrate. I just dont want to disturb all the good things i got goin in my tank. I will follow all the advice given though and update in a week or so. Thanks guys!
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aokashi, ...
be careful about this

adding sand ontop can be dangerous

start on one side of the tank and slowly every few days (couple times a week) cover another foot or so as you go across the tank from one side to the other. ... you really don't want to smother the bacteria and deprive it of oxygen and create an ammonia spike as a mass of bacteria dies off. ... covering your substrate in patches will kill off some but allow enough to remain alive to continue the nitrogen process.

as this is done over the course of several weeks all is good, just takes a lot of time and patience.

or add just enough sand to mix in with the gravel without adding additional depth to the substrate
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I wouldnt mix them personally, mainly because i hate this blue gravel so if i were to add sand i would just suck it up and get rid of the gravel.
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Sorry, I should have clarified, I didn't mean for the sand to be covering the gravel, just used for filling the gaps and acting as a bottom layer of substrate.
Either way, sand, having the smaller grain will settle down to the bottom and eventually push the gravel ontop anyway :D

Black sand might not go so bad with the blue gravel :)


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