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Problems with tanks in Corpus Christi

Hi all,

I spent the last year moving from Houston to Corpus Christi, TX. I was
commuting on weekends back to home in Houston but for the most part my
aquariums stayed in decent shape in 2001.  The reason I am giving this
history is that I have had quite a bit of difficulty reestablishing the
tanks in Corpus.

I had an established 7.5 gallon bow-front tank in my office in Houston.  It
had anubias nana, african bolbitis, and java fern.  I had a soil substrate
made from the local clay soil.  All I did was water changes and feed the
fish for the first 6 months of existence for this tank.  The bolbitis and
anubias flourished, while the java fern did OK.  The java fern reproduced
leaves just enough to replace the older blackened leaes but its size was
growing slowly.  At the end of the six months in May of 2002 the anubias
looked very lush covering the entire bottom.  At this time I moved this tank
to my office in Corpus on the mainland.  I drained the tank but left about
two inches of water in it.  I wrapped the top in saran wrap to keep the
humidity in during the 4 hour drive, and put the guppies in a gallon jar.

I had no problems restablishing this tank in my Corpus Christi office.  By
November of 2002 the anubias was beautiful, about 4.5 inches high and
carpeted the tank.  At this time I decided to bring this tank to our new
home, which is located on Padre Island.  This is part of Corpus Christi but
on a barrier island about 3 miles from the mainland.  I reestablished the
tank at our new home just like I had done previously.  The fact that it was
a 15 minute commute instead of the previous 4 hour commute from Houston made
me feel that nothing adverse would happen to the tank. The next day I
noticed bronze spots on the anubias leaves.  These were actually dead parts
of the leaves.  Within about a week all the anubias and bolitis leaves had
died.  The Java fern is growing so slowly that it is gradually getting
smaller as the new leaves are not enough to replace the dying ones.

I originally reestablished the 75 gallon tank at our new home in Corpus
Christi with a soil substrate as I had done previously in Houston.  But with
so many problems growing plants I decided to eliminate a variable and
reestablished it again with just the recommended amount of AP laterite and
aquarium gravel.  I am now using co2 injection using an Eheim diffuser.  I
am doing 80-90 percent water changes weekly and weekly adding 2.5 ml
Flourish, 2.3 ml Flourish plus Iron for .1 ppm Fe, 1.9 g kno3 to make 5 ppm
nitrate (Green Light stump remover), 7.3 g of muriate of potash to get K up
to 20 ppm, 10.4 g of Epsom salts to get 5 ppm Mg (please feel free to check
me on the numbers).

For lighting I am using a bank of 6 40 Watt standard 6500K Phillips
fluorescent bulbs 5 inches off of the glass covers (2325 lumens each). At
first I got green algae on the plants but after a bout of green water the
algae is gone. But the plants still lose their leaves and hardly grow.  The
leaves turn grey and fall off.  It is happening to my ludwigia, Bacopa,
Crypt. cilata, Amazon sword plant sagittaria, and Water Wisteria. My
Anacharis leaves are grey and translucent.  The formerly leafless anubias
nana rhizomes have a few small leaves on them now but the growth has been
very slow.  In Houston, I had no problems getting plants to grow in this
tank.  In fact my biotope in the 30 gallon won first place in the 2001 AGA

I have a call into the city to see if the water is different on the island
than it is on the mainland.  I assume they transport the water in from pipes
beneath the causeway.  Their web site shows the following, which I don't see
as unusual.

Bicarbonate 203 ppm
Calcium 69.8 ppm
Dilute Conductance 1,057 umho/cm
pH 7.8
Sodium 100 ppm
Total Alkalinity 166 ppm
Total Hardness 223 ppm or 13.05 grains per gallon
Chloride 140 ppm
Sulfate 83 ppm
Dissolved Solids 520 ppm
Arsenic  (ppb) 4.3
Barium  (ppm) 0.108
Fluoride (ppm) 0.5
Nitrate (ppm) 0.31
Selenium (ppb) 4.2
Gross beta emitters (pCi/L) 5.5
Bromoform (ppb) 6.2
Bromodichloromethane   (ppb) 13.4
Chloroform  (ppb) 7.6
Chlorodibromomethane   (ppb) 13.4
Lead (ppm) 1.8
Copper (ppb) 0.053

Does anyone have any suggestions?  My goal right now is to take it one step
at a time and just get some initial growth in the tank.

Also does anyone know of an LFS in the vicinity of Corpus that has decent
plants.  The one on Mcardle does not have a good selection of plants.  I
will be looking on the Nueces River and Lake Corpus Christi for plants when
the weather gets a little warmer.  I have even been putting hydrocoytle
which is blooming in my back yard in the tank just to replace the dying
stuff.  Here on the Island most of the ditches are salt water, the soil is
sand, hence the AP laterite instead of a soil substrate.

The tank water ph is 7.5 without co2 injection, 6.6 with co2.  My KH is
reading 4.  The GH kit is either defective or I have added a lot of Mg as I
can't get the reading to turn green.

I would appreciate any criticisms which would help me to get decent plant
growth.  I don't know whether my dosing amounts are OK, or what is lacking.

Thanks in advance,

Steve Pituch