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Low tech, fairly heavily planted, heavily stocked - how much and when?

Muso1981

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Hi everyone,

I've got a 200l Fluval Roma, with quite a lot of fish and shrimp in it and I would say it's quite heavily planted and I'm not running Co2. I'm currently using the Tropica Premium once a week and using the recommended dosage as based on the bottle but I'm feeling that It's probably not enough. As I'm new to all of this and have been messing around with lighting, filtration etc I've decided to look at fertilisation next. I've got some fast growing plants which are growing and dying, in that the new shoots are constantly coming through but the larger leaves are decaying quite quickly.

I'm thinking I need to up the dosage and possibly dose more regularly than once a week. In my situation could anyone give me some advice?
 

PARAGUAY

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It is better with more info lighting substrate tank size etc IMO its difficult to rely on high fish load to determine how much nutrients they add . I have found my low tech does better with a full all in one fertilser such as Tropica Specialised dosed less of course than a high energy tank. With fairly good dosing instructions to suit any set up The Aquascaper from Evolution Aqua. More info and tank shots as said would help
 

Muso1981

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Hi, Sure I'll take some photos when the lights are on as it's not in a well lit room. Some more info:

Fluval Roma 200l, Tropica Soil Powder substrate, Fish and shrimps (3 gouramis, 1 molly, 2 zebra danios, 2 neon tetras, 3 cardinal tetras, 11 amano shrimp, 5 clown loaches, 3 black phatom tetra. They get fed 4 times a week). Fluval Plant 3.0, I have this set to come on for 8 hours a day on the planted default settings, within that 8 hours I have a 1 hour sunrise and 1 hour sunset. I have also upgraded from the internal Fluval U4 to the Extenral Fluval 407.

I decided to use the Tropica Premium nutrition due to the amount of fish I have in there. Currently Algae isn't my main big problem it was before when I was running a much lower powered light, with that old low powered light I got 0 plant growth, and loads of algae on the glass which I don't currently have.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I'm currently using the Tropica Premium once a week and using the recommended dosage as based on the bottle but I'm feeling that It's probably not enough.
The plants may just be nitrogen (N) (and/or phosphorus (P)) deficient. I'd get a <"complete mix"> and see what happens.

Personally I don't add a <"set amount of fertiliser">, I just <"watch the plants">.

I'm still using <"Miracle Gro"> as my fertiliser in a <"hybrid Duckweed Index"> approach, there are risks involved because of its urea and ammonia content.

cheers Darrel
 
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Muso1981

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Hi, photos as requested. I know it's all a bit of a mess lol, cheers 👍
 

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Muso1981

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Hi @dw1305 I thought because I've got quite a heavy stock of fish I wouldn't need N and P? This is why I've been using the tropics premium nutrition and not the specialist nutrition. Cheers
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I thought because I've got quite a heavy stock of fish I wouldn't need N and P
The problem is that we just don't know. I'd try "Tropica Specialist", it can't do any harm, and you can remove an unknown factor by making sure that nitrogen (N) and/or phosphorus (P) aren't <"Liebig's limiting nutrient"> and you can do this just by adding them. If growth improves one of them was the limiting nutrient.

Nitrogen and phosphorus are two of the macronutrients (along with potassium (K)) that plants need the most of. If you don't have plants the only sure way of reducing nitrate (NO3-) levels are water changes. If you have plants it is different and nitrate levels fall over time.

I can tell you, unequivocally, that plants are <"much, much more effective"> at removing nutrients than most of the <"aquarium based literature and forums"> acknowledge.

cheers Darrel
 

John q

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The problems in the pictures above will not be fixed by dosing more fertiliser alone. Reducing the light intensity however may help, imo...
 
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Muso1981

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Hi @John q I think you're probably right, before I didn't have enough light now I've probably got too much! I'm changing one thing at a time and giving it a couple of weeks. I will probably try reducing the light before messing around with fertilizers then. Cheers
 

John q

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Just to be clear I'm not disagreeing with darrel's suggestion of adding a complete fertiliser, I think in the long run that would indeed help.
 

Muso1981

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Hi all,

So I've followed recommendation and lowered the light settings. I found an old post on this forum with recommended light levels for a low tech setup similar to my own so have started using them. It's been a week since the new lower light settings and plants growth has really slowed down and also the decaying of the older leaves leaving me to believe I'm not adding enough ferts.
I'm going to try dosing daily as per George farmers recommendation in his video. He says 1ml per 50 l per day for low tech.

I'm going to give this a go with the tropica premium nutrition to start with as I'm worried about the tropica specialist nutrition hurting my fish.

Is what I'm doing logical? I've got some fast growing plants so it's quite easy to tell if something is working or not.

My plan is if after a week the specialist isn't doing much to dose 50% specialist and 50% premium.

The main thing I'm not sure about at the moment is how much of the fish waste is really fertilizing the plants? I don't have a phosphate test but my nitrates are never low as my tap water contains them.

Cheers
 

tam

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I used to feel like you, adding nitrate in ferts seemed like a crazy thing to do, when previously everything was about limiting nitrate for fish health. I eventually 'risked it' and the fish didn't notice at all. In fact, I've had them happily breed (corys and tetras) in a tank I dose it on and I keep shrimp in there too. When you look at how much you are adding, it's a tiny fraction compared to what a tank produces from fish poop too. My advice would be to just try the specialist. It won't do any harm, and you might see some positive improvement in the plants.
 

John q

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The main thing I'm not sure about at the moment is how much of the fish waste is really fertilizing the plants? I don't have a phosphate test but my nitrates are never low as my tap water contains them.
This is the great unknown, in theory a well stocked, heavily fed low tech tank will survive without nitrogen and phosphate, but in reality its a bit like predicting the lottery results, unless you're related to mystic Meg?
I've got some fast growing plants so it's quite easy to tell if something is working or not.
Yes but there is a lag, by the time you see any deficiencies you are a week or two on the back foot.
Is what I'm doing logical?
The facts dictate that your plants are suffering, if we want to apply logic to this situation then we need to start ruling out the causes of this. Adding a few mls of tropica specialised a day will not harm the fish, but it might help remove that unknown of "are the plants getting what they need"

Be bold muso, one giant leap for mankind and all that.
 

MichaelJ

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Is what I'm doing logical? I've got some fast growing plants so it's quite easy to tell if something is working or not.
Hi @Muso1981 Its always best to error on the side of being a little too generous with fertilizer (especially NPK). And doing more or larger water changes to remove toxins and waste - especially in a tank with a relatively high bio load.
This is the great unknown, in theory a well stocked, heavily fed low tech tank will survive without nitrogen and phosphate, but in reality its a bit like predicting the lottery results, unless you're related to mystic Meg?
Hi @John q I very much agree.. it's a beautiful idea though, but a total hit and miss to rely on the fish to provide fertilizer as you point out, and you still need to dose if you do, because the fish and food waste will only provide a subset of of the necessary fertilizers anyway.

Cheers,
Michael
 

Muso1981

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Thanks @tam @John q @MichaelJ you've convinced me, I'll give the specialised a go and sack off the premium nutrition. I will just carefully monitor the fish for signs of stress. Like you say from day 1 of owning fish you are taught to reduce nitrates, my local fish shop nearly didn't let me have any fish due to what they considered high nitrates.

Cheers
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Thanks @tam @John q @MichaelJ you've convinced me, I'll give the specialised a go and sack off the premium nutrition. I will just carefully monitor the fish for signs of stress. Like you say from day 1 of owning fish you are taught to reduce nitrates, my local fish shop nearly didn't let me have any fish due to what they considered high nitrates.

Cheers
There is plenty of scientific research that looks at the toxicity of the NO3- ion. It looks likely to be in the hundred of ppms for most fish. It is only really planted tank keepers who add nitrate, and that is because plants so effectively deplete it.

In non-planted tanks nitrate is often the "smoking gun" of previous high levels of ammonia NH3 and nitrite NO2-, so it can be cause for concern.

Cheers Darrel
 

MichaelJ

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you are taught to reduce nitrates, my local fish shop nearly didn't let me have any fish due to what they considered high nitrates.
Yes, its utterly bonk... Take this quote from a very popular PO4 Test Kit, for instance:
"Ideally, the phosphate level should be zero in saltwater aquariums and freshwater aquariums or ponds, including those containing live plants." ... Its like them saying, ideally your plants should starve to death... and of course if you do have above-zero phosphate levels they will sell you "remedies" to lower your levels.... preposterous.
Cheers,
Michael
 

MichaelJ

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Hi all,

There is plenty of scientific research that looks at the toxicity of the NO3- ion. It looks likely to be in the hundred of ppms for most fish. It is only really planted tank keepers who add nitrate, and that is because plants so effectively deplete it.

In non-planted tanks nitrate is often the "smoking gun" of previous high levels of ammonia NH3 and nitrite NO2-, so it can be cause for concern.
@dw1305 ... that is a very good point of course. I guess a way to look at it from a layman's perspective (such as myself), is NO3 you deliberately put in the tank for the purpose of fertilization is the "good NO3" ... and what the tank elevate by itself due to the conditions you mention above is the "bad NO3" as it could be a sign of something being out of wack. Of course, its tricky because NO3 is so hard to measure consistently as you have pointed out many times.
Cheers,
Michael
 
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Muso1981

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Hi just a quick update, the leaves decaying isn't decay. The Amano shrimp are eating them! I found a few other threads on here with exactly the same situation.
 

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