Don’t give up…

It’s sometimes tough with a planted aquarium and if you let it, demoralising. Your desired planted tank just doesn’t seem to get to where you want it to and you don’t know why. You try this, you follow that, you participate on forums and still you can’t get it right. Algae grows on your plants and to top it all off, you’ve spent a fortune!! So you feel like throwing the towel in but

DON’T, you’re nearly there…

I deal with a lot of customers who feel just like this and I know how hard it can be. I was there once too and only through perseverance did I make it. Don’t get me wrong, I felt like I wanted to chuck it all in and this was before the days of the internet too. Can you imagine trying to learn about planted aquariums before there were any books that were specialising on the subject? Believe me it was tough and the advice was very old fashioned, suggesting very lean dosing (no macros) lighting needed a siesta (what a load of rubbish!) and that if you didn’t have an under gravel heater your plants would fail. To top it all off, filters apparently needed a very slow turnover of water (hmmmmm). Fortunately things have changed. The internet was created and now in some ways hobbyists have information overload. But I digress a little as the subject of this post is Don’t give up… and there’s a simple reason for this. When you’re up against it and everything is going wrong, this is the time when you are learning the most. You probably don’t realise it but your mind is taking in so much information. Sadly, because it’s a very frustrating time (and hard on the brain), combined with the fact that you have spent a lot on the hobby, and you may be moaning to your other half about all the problems, it would be easier just to pack it all in wouldn’t it? But when is easier best?

Just around the corner is the answer, the trigger that will make the difference. You may only need to alter one aspect of your tank set up and the tide will turn. Plants will flourish and grow in front of your very eyes and you’ll look back at the time you had when your tank would never go right and then all of a sudden, BINGO. This invaluable knowledge is what you can then pass onto other hobbysist, because it feels good to share and help those in need.

It’s all about the experience, all about how you deal with the ‘problems’ that are confronting you. And don’t forget I can always help too, just drop me a line, call me or email me and we can sort your planted aquarium problem out together 🙂

12 thoughts on “Don’t give up…”

  1. I couldn’t agree more. The hardest thing for new hobbyists is to just leave things alone somethings. It’s tempting to always want to tinker with the parameters every day when something is exactly going as desired. Sometimes, the best recipe is to keep going, do the weekly water changes, and let the system balance itself out. I’ve had experiences in frustration where a tank just won’t get to where I want it. I dose, I pump up the CO2, etc. Then, I go on vacation for a week, with no dosing, no fish feeding [besides cherry shrimp snacks], etc. I come back and the tank looks great, better than when I tinkered with it. At this point, I slowly ramp up the dosing again, and thing’s are perfect. Sometimes, an aquarium just needs some time alone to figure out its problems. 😉

  2. Heh Kris

    You’re absolutely right and I think you hit the nail on the head saying ‘the best recipe is to keep going’. We all go through the same motions and emotions with planted aquariums and talking about these issues online is a great relief.

  3. My tank has just started to suffer from algae, it’s been set up and running smooth for months. I dose daily with seachem flourish and use the tmc co2 canister. All my parameters are fine except my tap water after treatment sits at 7.5ph is this too much?



  4. Hi David

    Your pH is a little too high for the plants – aim for 6.8 which is much better for growth. However, algae is caused by a few things:

    not enough ferts
    poor/unstable CO2
    poor water distribution
    lighting (if left on for too long)

    Yours will be one of these – which one do you think it is, then I can advise. I suspect it’s not enough ferts. If you’re using CO2 then you need more than Flourish as it only provides trace elements. Your plants need macro nutrients as well now.

  5. Hi,

    My tank is now running for a month and most plants are growing fine.
    Only the Alternantera Reinnecki and the needle grass have algae.
    On the Alternantera i have (still short) green hair algae on some of the leafs with some short white algae hairs on the edge of the leaf, it’s all on the same leafs and not all are infected. Probably i need to cut these leaves away.
    On the needle grass i only had white / grayish algae so i trimmed the needle grass in the hope it will disappear this time. Trimmed it already a couple of weeks ago but it returned.
    The above problems can get solved easy by trimming i hope because i think the algae grow on old leaves and the plants took some time to root in the initial stage and thus slowing down growth.
    Another problem is that i have the same green, short haired algae growing on my rocks. They are digged in deep in the gravel and due to the carpet of hemiantus Callitrichoides that has already coverd the gravel completely it’s impossible to remove them. I’m affraid that if i would use a toothbrush to clean the stones, the algae will spread trough the aquarium due to the water movement i will create during cleaning, and infect my other plants.

    Do you have any tips on how to remove them and on how to prevent them from growing there in the first place?

    PH: 6.7 electronic controlled
    GH: 9
    KH: 7
    Light: 4x 39W T5
    Fert. ADA Green Brighty Step 1 (10 pumps per day), ADA Brighty K (8 pumps per day) and Easy life Ferro (2 ml per day)

    Thanks already for the advise!

    1. Remember, as soon as any algae appears, your tank is giving you a clear message ‘I’M NOT BALANCED – PLEASE FIX ME

      I’ve written a detailed post on hair algae so I recommend you have a read of it

      In a nutshell hair algae results due to poor CO2.

      I would ditch the pH controller. What is important is your CO2 levels. A pH controller just causes problems and keeps switching the CO2 on and off. This is very disruptive for plants, and triggers algae. So sell it on eBay to someone who thinks it’s a good idea 😉

      For the moment, trim off all the algae you can, fix your CO2 levels and the problem will dramatically improve.

      Let me know how you get on.


      1. Thanks for your reply!
        About the Ph controller tough, i have my reasons to doubt what you said about ditching it.
        You say that the CO² levels fluctuate too much but to my opinion it is your way of supplementing CO² that is causing more fluctuations in the CO² levels. I keep adding it 24hrs a day, while you only do it 8-10 hrs a day. So i would think that your levels wil drop during night time and you need to build them up again each day when the lights go on, while in my tank the levels keep constant due to the switching of the controller each time the Ph rises 0.1.
        But maybe i’m wrong of course!

        1. Regrettably Jurgen you are wrong. Trust me on this 🙂

          But it’s up to you my friend. Trust the experts, or go with what you ‘think’.

          I know what I would do if I was in your shoes…

  6. I’m in complete agreement here. As much as I really want to be tinkering with my tank I make myself leave it alone as much as I can.
    I’ve had much better results like this. Sometimes things need to be adjusted but any changes should be made slowly so you can measure the results of the change. It’s also good to only change one thing at a time, otherwise how do you know which one worked?

    Great post Richard.

    1. Thanks Rob.

      Changes do indeed need to be made slowly and glad to hear things worked well for you. Identifying what works and what doesn’t is key to success as you and I both know all too well!

      Catch up soon 🙂

  7. I kind of gave up on this hobby but I really do enjoy the heck out of it. I had everything going the equipment and plants etc. I want to get it going again but I need concrete information that will help me out. Like for example a good substrate that I can use I’ve done eco complete but I want to use something different ADA stuff because of the different color options and obviously it’s benefits. Just something that will work. Also really wanting to buy a new light fixture nothing to crazy I’m willing to spend but not go broke

    1. Substrate is important and will give you a cushion in terms of ‘leeway’ so things won’t go wrong so quick. Your plants will get a lot of what they need from there. Try the Tropica substrate.

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