Helsinki water parameters and plants

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PurpleWorm
Starting Member
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Liittynyt: 02:35, 11.10.2021

Helsinki water parameters and plants

Viesti Kirjoittaja PurpleWorm »

Hello. Since trying to keep aquariums in Helsinki, I've noticed that water parameters in here are quite weird. Water is very soft (KH 3, GH 4), but pH is surprisingly high - 7.8! This is the opposite of what one would expect from soft water. Do you know what causes it? Also, despite using special plant substrates and fertilizers I've been struggling to grow most aquatic plants. This is quite a surprise to me as in the previous place I lived plants seemed to grow even with 0 fertilization. What experiences do you have with trying to grow plants in Helsinki?
GTX
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Liittynyt: 23:14, 01.01.2014

Re: Helsinki water parameters and plants

Viesti Kirjoittaja GTX »

In most cases natural fresh water in Finland is soft and slightly acidic and that is why water treatment plants raise pH to prevent corrosion in plumbing. Usually tap water pH drops a bit in aqaurium. Did you measure the pH 7,8 from tap water or aquarium water?

What fertilizers do you use, how often you add ferts and what amounts? Aquarium size, how often you do water changes and how much you change water at one time? Other water parameters NO3, PO4, K, Fe, Mg? What type of lighting? CO2 injection? What plants do you have? A picture of the tank might be helpful. Sorry about all the questions but it is almost impossible to otherwise analyze plant growth issues.
PurpleWorm
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Liittynyt: 02:35, 11.10.2021

Re: Helsinki water parameters and plants

Viesti Kirjoittaja PurpleWorm »

O, that was very insightful! Do you know what they use to raise the pH? 7.8 is what comes out of our tap. In my few months old 40 l aquarium it sits at around 7-7.2, but in my quarantine tank it's around 7.4.

I have two aquariums - 40 l and 90 l. Currently 90 l aquarium is undergoing re-start after a parasite infection that I couldn't eliminate, so I will mainly talk about my 40 l tank.
Fertilization:
I started with daily dosing of half a cap of Seachem Flourish Advance. Then after two weeks I moved to trying to dose 0.5 ml of Seachem Flourish 1-2 a week, but it didn't seem enough. Older leaves on plants were loosing color and melting away and at some point I also started getting pinholes on leaves characteristic for potassium deficiency. I realized that plants are probably not getting enough of macros and increased fertilization to adding 0.5 ml of Seachem Flourish + half a cap of Flourish Advance every second day. I changed to this schedule approx. 2 weeks ago and now I am waiting to see results.
In addition to liquid fertilizers under gravel I have a layer of Tropica substrate. Also a week ago below my Echinodorus plants I put Seachem root tabs.
Water changes:
I do 1/3 water change once a week, but on some weeks I have done 2 water changes per week. I sometimes do them twice a week, because I feed fish babies and they are hard to feed precisely - some food always sinks past them.
Water parameters:
NO3 barely ever reaches 5 mg/l. For other parameters I don't have tests yet.
Lights:
Twinstar 45B on 3/4 strength, 8 h a day (on timer).
CO2:
No CO2.
Plants:
Cardamine lyrata, Hygrophila difformis, Echinodorus cordifolius "Fluitans", Cryptocoryne X willisii (this one seems to be doing the best),
Bucephalandra sp. "Red", Anubias barteri var. coffeefolia

I can attach picture later when the lights will switch on :) Currently I just have pretty pictures from when I just set up the tank.
Polar
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Liittynyt: 16:22, 30.12.2007

Re: Helsinki water parameters and plants

Viesti Kirjoittaja Polar »

Do you know what they use to raise the pH?
"Alkalization can be done by aeration, chemical addition or limestone filtration. The quality of the raw water depends on the appropriate treatment method. Aeration removes acidic carbon dioxide from the water, raising the pH. Alkalization chemicals and limestone filtration, in turn, bind carbon dioxide to water to bicarbonate (= alkalinity). The chemicals used are lye (sodium hydroxide), soda (sodium carbonate) and lime (calcium hydroxide). In liming, the water is filtered through a layer of limestone (calcium carbonate)." (Wikipedia)

I think your problems with plant ingrowth may be due to something other than tap water. I have made the plants thrive without fertilization. Sometimes fertilization even makes the situation worse. It all depends on the balance of the aquarium.

By the way, your aquarium has a pretty low nitrate value for plants.
GTX
Senior Member
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Liittynyt: 23:14, 01.01.2014

Re: Helsinki water parameters and plants

Viesti Kirjoittaja GTX »

HSY uses chalk water (crushed limestone, CaCO3) to raise pH. Source https://www.hsy.fi/vesi-ja-viemarit/ved ... sprosessi/

You have made many good choices and you clearly know the basics what it takes to setup a nice planted tank. Lighting is more than sufficient for your plants and 3/4 strength, 8 h a day sounds just perfect. Water parameters pH, KH and GH are fine, no problem with these. Water changes are also fine.

Now there are only two factors left to consider. Nutrients and CO2.

I'm sure Seachem Flourish is a good fertilizer, but most of these all-in-one-bottle fertilizers lack or dont contain enough macro nutrients. Measure and maintain sufficient macro nutrient levels. This is what you already were thinking. I would aim for NO3 10-20 mg/l, PO4 0,1-0,5 mg/l and K 5-15 mg/l.

The third basic requirement for plants, besides light and nutrients, is CO2. If you still have problembs with growth after fixing the nutrient levels, then add CO2 injection. It will do wonders.
PurpleWorm
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Viestit: 4
Liittynyt: 02:35, 11.10.2021

Re: Helsinki water parameters and plants

Viesti Kirjoittaja PurpleWorm »

In my mums aquarium plants grow super well without any fertilization, but I guess the huge guppy population might be to blame :) I will try to raise nitrate level. I've been a bit hesitant with it, because when I was using Tropica Specialized Nutrition fertilizer in my 90 liter tank, I once got an ammonia spike after adding too much of it. Seachem flourish is probably fine in some tanks, but I think macros are better in Tropica's Specialized Nutrition (although apparently one has to be careful not to overdose). With Tropica's fertilizer I was able to grow very lush green cabombas in my 90 l tank. I guess I should not have switched to Seachem Flourish. Which brand would you suggest for PO4 and K tests? I don't know about these specific tests, but at least for ammonia tests I have encountered quite a bit of variation in how convenient they are. For example, JBL test has 15 min waiting time while Sera ammonia test requires you to wait only 5 min.

Thanks for the information on Helsinki water treatment! Very interesting! :)
GTX
Senior Member
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Viestit: 545
Liittynyt: 23:14, 01.01.2014

Re: Helsinki water parameters and plants

Viesti Kirjoittaja GTX »

Its funny how no two tanks are alike. Some do well without fertilization, others require more ferts. It all depends on tap water parameters, amount of plants, plant species, fish stocking, lighting, etc.

Tropica Specialized Nutrition has some nitrogen in it, but is it enough for your tank? You can try it and measure the nitrogen level.

I would continue using Seachem Flourish and get also some specific nitrogen fertilizer, such as Easy-Life Nitro or Seachem Flourish Nitrogen. This allows you to adjust and control the nitrogen level precisely.

For water testing I recommend JBL products. They are known for accurate results.
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