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  • New Tank setup advice

    Hello, look for some advice from a SeaChem rep here. Sorry in advance if this gets long winded, but I have some questions about setting up a new tank, using some existing plants from a smaller tank, as well as some new plants.
    First, the existing. I have a 4g all in one that has the following: Crypt parva x2, a slew of M. pteropus Windelov, 2 young H. bolivianum Vesuvius, 8 Anubias (barteri var. barteri, nanas, and nana petites), Bolbitis heudilotii diformis, 5 mini buce (red and black carpet, a dozen stems R. macranda mini, a couple small H. pinnatifida, and a small amount of Lilaeopsis mauritania. No Co2 injection in this tank, so I use excel along with a 5-4-5 light cycle to prevent bottoming out on carbon. The light is an ONF Flat Nano on a 40%/80% 1hr/4hr each cycle. All fert is flourish line, using your dosing schedule. ADA Amazonia soil with a couple root tabs by the Vesuvius and Crypts. Plants are healthy, but I have to dose more regularly with potassium or the epiphytes get angry. The only issue is that new growth on the Crypts are showing signs of iron toxicity on new leaves? But any iron is undetectable using multitest after the 30m, so it's all being used? Additionally, the macranda mini has curved stems, but is hard to tell if iron toxicity as it is very red normally. Any advice on this? Pictures attached.

  • #2
    So in the last two days or so, I'm noticing more changes, not to the good. Now I 'believe' I'm seeing a magnesium deficiency as well as iron toxicity? Does this sound right? Ran some tests yesterday using multitest kits ammonia and nitrite at 0. Nitrate at ~15ppm. Phosphate at ~0.1. today was day 3 of the SeaChem schedule using potassium, excel, and iron (just a bit less than recommended, more around 0.3ml instead of 0.4ml). Any SeaChem experts here? I would like to get this sorted before I move then in to a larger tank with even more plants. On a side note, Flourish Comprehensive is the only fert that has magnesium, right? Am I not dosing enough on Day 1 and 6?


    • #3
      Hello EpiphyteEnthusiast,

      Thank you for the pictures, that helps out a lot. Since planted tanks are wily beasts and their unique ecosystem makes things a bit more specific for each tank I'll do what I can to help. Please keep in mind that it may take some time for changes to show themselves so patience and small, incremental, changes will be the name of the game.

      The first thing to address is the idea of iron toxicity. While that may be a thing when using pre-mixed dry traces (though it's usually not since plants use iron in relatively high quantity), when used as directed, Flourish Iron will not cause issues. I've been keeping planted tanks for more than 20 years now and have never noticed signs of problems with the plants themselves when doing higher than recommended amounts of Flourish Iron to reach specific target concentrations. That leads me to believe there are other things going on.

      What immediately came to mind is your low PO4 concentration. 0.1 mg/L is awfully low, you'll want to get to a 10:1 or 5:1 NO3:PO4 ratio depending on the specific needs of your tank. I would start out with 10:1 and see how things go then increase PO4 if needed.

      The next thing to address is Ca and Mg. I highly recommend using Equilibrium to provide Ca and Mg for your plants. The additional K and Fe will help as well. I've been using it for almost 20 years now with great success. Since the Ca and Mg content are in ideal ratios it makes dosing easy. You'll want to keep the Flourish Potassium and Flourish Iron around to target dose as needed. I like to dose it to the equivalent of 4 dGH as a general measure and maintain it there. We're not using Equilibrium to target GH as a water parameter as in non-planted aquariums; rather it's now to be used as a source of Ca and Mg. The 4 dGH equivalence is just an easy way to find a baseline to maintain. By maintaining it we're also continuously supplementing Ca and Mg to compensate for what your plants are consuming. Make sure to add this to your list of stuff to add on Day 1.

      We've got some handy dosing calculators that you can use to figure out dosing to target specific concentrations. I've found these to be helpful as an adjustment to our standard dosing calendar as the doses recommended are for general use and should be modified to meet the particular needs of your plants.


      Something important to note is the use of the name Flourish Comprehensive. We don't have a product by that name. I understand planted hobbyists use it to differentiate Flourish from the other products in the Flourish line, but the use of Flourish Comprehensive can cause confusion and misunderstanding of the product itself and its intended use. It does contain a comprehensive range of plant nutrients, but in small quantities and is intended as a general supplement to be used in addition to the other products in the line, particularly our N, P, and K products, rather than a stand-alone additive.

      Something else that may be of use when using the dosing calendar; I mark Day 1 as the day I do a water change. If I'm doing water changes once a week on a regular schedule then that day would be Day 1. If I'm doing multiple water changes of 20% or more per week then each water change day will be Day 1.

      I hope this helps. If you have further questions or need clarification please don't hesitate to respond.



      • #4
        Thank you for the response, PE. Today was day 4 on the schedule (trace, nitrogen, excel, iron, phosphate). I added a bit of K2O (~0.5 ml) because I've noticed all the epiphytic plants respond poorly whenever I slow it down, and also some Advance. To get to 25ppm using 'nitrate equivalent' on the calculator from 15 I added the recommended 10ml divided by 5, and PO4 I added 3ml per the calculator to get from 0.1 to 1ppm. Everything else was per calculator. I will retest nitrate/phosphate when I get home to see where I landed (I fertilise before work right before photo period #1).

        ​​​​I don't have any equilibrium (probably the only product I don't have ) but I do use saltyshrimp GH+/KH+ during water changes and end up with 6/5 GH/KH. I have no idea what the mineral content is of it, however. As far as I can tell, Flourish and Advance are the only two products I have with known quantities of Mg. Will equilibrium be adequate for neocaridina shrimp?

        In regards to the schedule, I initially expected day one to be water change day as well but noticed all the products I would expect to see used during a water change listed on day 7. Starting Day 1 fertilization on wc day left me with only equilibrium, prime, etc on the day BEFORE wc day. Am I reading this wrong? Would I instead just use the standard excel/iron on day 7 as a 'rest day'?


        • #5
          Good morning,

          If you're already running 15 ppm NO3, go ahead and keep it at that level and only increase PO4 to the 1 ppm you're at now. Those are good starting concentrations in a good ratio. As far as the GH/KH booster, I don't know that product and can't speak to it. What I can say though is it's important to be able to increase water parameters, pH, GH, KH, and nutrients independently. If you use a combined GH/KH booster to maintain a specific GH in order to supply those divalent nutrients you're going to concurrently increase KH, which isn't a good idea. I would suggest using Alkaline Buffer to maintain KH and Equilibrium to supply Ca and Mg to your plants. Flourish and Flourish Advance have some amount of Mg in them, but they're not in high enough quantity to address the high Mg demand without adding a lot of a number of things you don't want a lot of.

          Healthy plants equals healthy fish and shrimp. By providing the proper amounts of nutrients for your plants at consistent levels you'll be creating a very healthy environment for your animals. I have yet to have a planted tank where at least one type of fish don't spawn and shrimp don't breed (unless I accidentally overdose something and make the shrimp angry, but that's all on me.). Using Equilibrium in a planted tank will do a lot to keep your shrimp happy. If you start keeping aquariums where the shrimp are the focus you'll want to use our Aquavitro shrimp products, but for a normal planted tank the Flourish line is best.

          Regarding the dosing schedule. It's a general baseline which can be modified to suit your tank's needs. Since the majority of people keeping plants aren't in what I would consider the "intense hobbyist" category, the calendar is perfect for them as a means of keeping nutrients up with a less frequent water change schedule than people more interested in keeping plants. I personally like to add all nutrients on Day 1 after a water change to make sure the plants have access to everything they need then dose accordingly throughout the week. Keep in mind, my personal tanks are high light/high growth, CO2 injected systems that get 30-50% weekly water changes so I've had to change things up a bit to suit. With the tanks here in the office I follow the dosing calendar more closely with dosing modified appropriately for the system as they get water changes every other week. The most important things to add on Day 1 are Excel (use daily), Equilibrium, and N, P, and K. There's a good amount of K in Equilibrium so you can consider that your Day 1 dose then use Flourish Potassium to supplement K as needed. Following the recommend schedule starting on Day 2 will keep up with the other nutrient needs as far as supplementation routine is concerned. If you want to make Day 7 a rest day it won't hurt anything as long as there's still sufficient nutrient concentrations available on Day 6.

          It's important to change one thing at a time then give it a couple of weeks to carefully observe how everything responds before making other changes. For the first round of changes let's include Equilibrium to the increase in PO4 and go from there.

          Last edited by Tech Support PE; 05-29-2020, 09:05.


          • #6
            Thanks again for your concise input! I can't emphasize how awesome it is to be able to have this level of conversation with the manufacturer of a product. I have been maintaining the schedule and obviously need more experience identifying deficiencies, so your help is greatly appreciated! I tested for results of yesterday's dosing, thinking it would give an indication of plant uptake. Nitrate was around 18ppm and it looked like phosphate increased to about 0.2ppm. I will pick up some equilibrium today as wc day is Sunday for me. Given the size of the tank, by the time I have cleaned all the fish/shrimp waste out it's about 50% even with a small siphon. I usually have to stop and leave some in to prevent an even larger amount of water change. I'm kind of amazed that I added what was a pretty large dose of flourish phosphate (comparatively) and only increased ppm by ~0.1.

            As I said in my first post, I will be changing the tank to a larger one with more plants, CO2 injection, and a very strong light so your help in understanding and interpretation is very valuable. Thanks again!


            • #7
              You're very welcome, I'm glad to be of help. You lucked out a bit as I'm an aquatic plant biologist and have been keeping planted tanks for a long time. I understand that plant tanks are a very different beast from a regular fish tank, how complex they can be, and how much misinformation is out there so I want to make sure anyone contacting us is getting proper information.

              If you end up having to do a larger than 50% water change on occasion to properly clean the tank it's not a big deal. You'll be replacing the minerals for the plants anyway so water chemistry will remain fairly consistent. To be on the safe side for the shrimp I wouldn't do that very often though. Here's a tip: every time you uproot plants, give that area a good cleaning so you'll end up rotating deep cleans throughout the tank rather than having to do the whole tank at one time.



              • #8
                I've been busy. I set up the new tank as I mentioned in my first post. I am currently mid-cycle and I have been thinking about how to establish a schedule for this tank. It is high tech as stated, CO2, strong lighting, canister filter, etc. It's loaded up with varieties of araceae (buce, anubias, Piptospatha, etc) and Cryptocoryne, Pogostemon, Proserpinaca, Hygrophila diformis/pinnatifida, Alternanthera, Helanthium, and more. So I'm interested in maintaining a good balance for the slow/fast growth. Below is what I'm thinking would work on a 3 day 25% water change schedule, with adjustments as I see necessary. Could you please tell me if I'm on the right track?
                Weekly dosage (roughly broken down for the 3 day schedule)
                Nitrogen - 5-12ppm
                Phosphate - 2-8ppm
                Potassium - 10-18ppm
                Magnesium - 2-6ppm
                Iron - 0.05-0.6ppm

                Water Change
                Equilibrium - 110 TDS
                Flourish Nitrogen @ 4ppm - 3.5ml
                Flourish Phosphorus @ 1ppm - 14.4ml
                Flourish Iron @ 0.2ppm - 3.6ml
                Fluorish Excel - 1ml

                Day 2
                Trace - 4.5ml
                Fluorish Excel - 1ml

                Day 3
                Flourish - 1.5ml
                Fluorish Excel - 1ml

                Am I missing anything? Also, every time I try to calculate for phosphorus, it comes up so high. 14.4ml for a 1ppm dose?
                Attached Files


                • #9
                  Good morning,

                  The tank's looking good! It sounds like you're in the ballpark but could use a few tweaks.

                  1. Try to maintain the following concentrations as closely as possible:

                  NO3- 10ppm
                  PO4- 1ppm (8.3 mL per 10 US gallons)
                  K- 10ppm
                  Ca- 15ppm
                  Mg- 5ppm
                  Fe- 0.5ppm

                  Even though you've got a decent amount of plant mass in there, since the majority of it is Aroids you're not getting a huge amount of nutrient uptake. It would be a good idea to completely fill the back right corner with fast growing stem plants as quickly as possible even if you end up replacing them in the future. Other than maintaining the above nutrient concentrations and adding the stems, I wouldn't change anything else yet. It's still a new tank and will need time to establish.

                  Keep it up!



                  • #10
                    Thanks again! Again. Hard to see now since they are young, but in the middle off the aroids is an opening almost directly under the light with a clump of 2" stems of H. diformis. Also there is some little baby Proserpinaca palustris near the A. lilacina. In a week or so, I have an Echinodorus aflame going in the back right corner under the lily pipe. A lot of it is TC so they are small now, like the Pogostemon helferi and the melted Crypt yujii in the middle (really hope these come back ). I'm hoping that in a couple months almost none of the substrate is visible. The Lilaeopsis mauritania is finally showing some growth with CO2 injection. Amanos and a couple Clithons going in in a couple days to keep the hair algae down that I can't get out manually.


                    • #11
                      Sounds good. Please keep us posted on your progress.