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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have had my 55g Cichlid tank running for over a year now. From the start, had the following plants ... java fern, annubis, and jungle val. The Vals were thriving for the first 9months and required lots of grooming to stay in check. But in recent months, everything seems to have slowed to a stop. I am still supplementing with SeaChem Flourish ... I feel like I am doing everything the same. Annubis seems to be getting eaten lately. Java Ferns are doing ok and have a bit of new growth. Vals dont grow at all and seem to be dying off.

Any ideas?

Thanks
 

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No CO2, right?
It sounds like the Vallisneria has possibly exhausted the nutrition in your substrate. Well-kept Vallisneria are nutrition pigs, and will require a lot of organic matter in the substrate - or CO2 - to thrive in the aquarium.
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Plus, it's possible that over a year's time, your lights have possibly lost some of their intensity or quality that was initially appreciated by your plants. This potential degradation in light quality will be invisible to your eyes - but, the plants will certainly be affected by it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Correct, no CO2. Should I start supplementing with something?

I have fluval aquasky led light. How often do you change out led lights? Would you suggest switching?
 

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Agree I ended up removing the vallisneria when I had it because it was too demanding of fertilizer levels. For a while I was testing and dosing nitrate and phosphate to achieve precise levels. When I lapsed the vals languished and I ended up with cyanobacteria. I had better luck with slower growing (thus less fertilizer consumption) plants.
 

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Definitely agree with DJRansome on this. Dunno what you're using for substrate... But without CO2 pushing those Vals, I don't think you're going to get sustainable growth outta them. And chasing your tail with those supplements gets really old - really fast.
NOTE: I am NOT a High-Tech planted tank aquarist. I've never used CO2 injection on any of my planted tanks. But, I will admit to having admired the aquatic plant-growing results people can achieve when using CO2. 8)
So, you've got some choices to consider, I guess.
- Probably the easiest way to go, would be to pull the Vals out and replace with substrate-growing plant species that will grow pretty well without the need for such heavy nutrition. Cryptomeria in all of it's varied forms, is definitely one such type that would work.
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- You could invest in the CO2 injection system needed to push those plants back to better/sustainable growth. And no.... the Seachem Flourish Excel (SFE=chelated carbon source) you're dosing the tank with now, will not cut it long term.
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- You conduct a re-work of the aquarium to maximize the low-tech approach. Here is a link to a C-f thread I put up for one of my tanks,

https://www.cichlid-forum.com/phpBB/vie ... 3&t=453821

Plant growth in that 150 gallon tank was truly rampant! And, I only used SFE (very carefully) to help the plants fight back against rare algae outbreaks. When slaying algae, SFE can be some seriously nasty stuff. :oops:
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As for your lights? Yes, it's possible yours are no longer pushing the same intensity as they were when new. If you are on a timed day cycle of 16 hours plus... yes, that could be happening, esp. if the lights were already close to the minimum intensity limit needed by the plants - when new. To check this, I would just get another LED strip light and add it to your existing light setup. If you see an almost immediate uptick in health and growth with the additional light strip? Then well, there you have it. :)
If not, well, you've got a backup LED light strip I guess, for that day you will need to replace the one you have in service now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Just to clarify some things ... I am using a sand substrate and I am only using Flourish Comprehensive (micro nutrients) to supplement ... not using their Excel stuff. Also have the lights on for about 9hrs/day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
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So just to recap .. sand substrate ... plant growth stunted ... brown algae. Just got one of those CO2 drop checkers and it shows low C02. Tempted to try out some of the Flourish Excel to see if it can bring back anything. I have heard it may hurt the Vals, but they arent doing very good anyways.
 

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I have been experimenting with plants also, and I see many of the same things that you do. Here are some suggestions that I've tried and that have worked well for me.

1. for the val, you could try root tabs to supplement. There's a major problem with this, and it's the fact that mbuna dig. If they dig up a Flourish root tab, it will release ammonia directly into the water. I agree with Auballagh on this one and say that chasing supplements is no fun, though, so I would not go down this road. (Swim up this stream...?)

2. Flourish Excel (no matter what pseudo scientific mumbo jumbo Seachem says) is just glutaraldehyde. It is a disinfectant. That's why at low levels it kills algae, and at high levels it kills everything. I bought and used as directed and it helped nothing in terms of plant growth. I now use it in increased strength at short periods to clean off green spot algae. Mix glutaraldehyde 1 part to 3-5 parts water in a spray bottle. Spray on anubias leaves and leave on for 30 seconds to a minute, then rinse, or put back in the tank. The algae should die off over the next couple of days. Works great on BBA on rocks. Here's the thing - it's poison. It's hard on the plants. So is Green Spot Algae, so... Leave it on too long or at too high of strength, and it kills the plant. Be careful. IME, it's not really worth messing with.

3. You have a lot of what looks like converting leaves on the java fern? Also, brown pinholes. The pinholes look to me like they could be a potassium deficiency...? I was convinced I had stumbled upon the "secret" that helped me grow plants. Potassium bicarbonate. It is both a carbon source and a potassium source for your plants. If a plant can survive at a pH of 8.2, rule of thumb says it can eat bicarbonates, because CO2 does not stay in the water for an appreciable amount of time at that pH, therefore, the plant must be able to do something else, and that something is get it from bicarbonates. I got some potassium bicarbonate from the home brew store or online. It's used to reduce acid in booze, so it's safe to put in your tank. I put enough in to raise the KH one degree and this puts about 7-10ppm potassium in the water. My anubias and java ferns all had massive growth within a week, it was probably the most gall-darndest thing I'd ever seen. Then I got anubias rhizome rot, and it killed about 30 plants in my main display. I had beaten the cichlids with plants thing, but then lost to disease. devastating.

4. What do you run nitrates at? I've found that between 20-40ppm kept my plants happy. If I went too low, they looked browned out and dying. This is about double what people tell you for fish. The fish will be fine.

5. HOW are your lights running? I ask that, because if you're running your lights just on a 9 hour straight period, believe it or not, this could be your problem. I am a big fan-boy of Diana Walstad and her book "The Ecology of the Planted Aquarium." One little tid-bit in there that struck me was that if your lighting period is not over 12 hours long, some plants can actually assume they are going into wintertime and try to go dormant. This usually presents as the plant "Dying." On her advice, I changed my lighting schedule to run from 7Am to noon. Then turn off until 4PM and then on until 9. Total of 10 hours of light, but it "tricks" the plants into thinking they're in the middle of a bright summer. Wake up early and get going, then during the "Siesta" the plants can rest and nutrients build back up in the water and allow the plants a second spurt of growth in the afternoon. This helps the plants grow longer, but avoid the extended periods of bright light that can cause algae to be able to take over.
 
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