29 Gallon Tank Better growth in a 29g


I've mostly stuck to small and relatively shallow low-tech tanks for my entire time in the hobby. 29g is the largest tank I've ever had. And, I've never had much luck with getting denser, healthier plant growth in there. Things don't *die* but they don't grow much either. Well, other than the tiger lotus, and it decided ALL its leaves must be lily pads for some reason.

Light- Finnex 24/7. I have it set so that it gets about 6-7 hours of the brightest setting, with the dimmer "transition period" light each morning and evening taking up about 2 hours total.

Substrate- Amazonia aquasoil, with blasting sand around areas with lots of hardscape.

No CO2

Substrate has made ferts mostly unnecessary, I just supplement with root tabs or potassium when I see the tiger lotus getting pinholes.

Filter is an aquaclear... 60?? I'm not home to check, I just know it's bigger than "recommended" for a 29.

Don't do water changes very often because the tank is barely stocked, only has wild-type cherry shrimp and like 2 celestial pearl danios.

Aside from the tiger lotus and the HOB filter, this setup is basically just a larger version of what I've always done, but none of the amazon swords, dwarf sag, or mosses I put in there have ever really took off. I suspect this might have been due to an excess of red root floaters (their roots formed a mass that occupied 1/3 of the tank at one point) and the other plants simply didn't have the nutrients or light to grow more vigorously. The RRF's are all gone now, but is there anything else I can do to encourage better growth in a low-tech 29g?
I'd also like to know what I can do to encourage the lotus to keep its leaves more in the mid-tank level rather than all lily pads.


I had two tabs open and accidentally posted on this one. Sorry!
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I think your correct to conclude your floating plants are at least partly responsible for the rest of your plants struggling. Floating plants block light to the rest of your plants, reduce the surface area where water and air touch (less CO2 to the rest of your plants), and strip the water of its nutrients (causing your other plants to starve). Your lily was ok, because it can send floating leaves of its own up the the surface.

How long have the red root floaters been gone? I would suspect the rest of the plants would begin to do better in their absence.

Have you considered water column fertilization? Personally, I like APT Zero for well stocked, low tech tanks. It may not be necessary, but there is less guesswork than relying entirely on substrate fertilization. I mean, it's hard to know just when to add root tabs and what not. Perhaps waiting for pin holes in the lily is good enough, but maybe the plants are struggling with that regimen.

If you don't want your lily to send floating leaves, you'll have to train it to stop. Trim off the floating leaves, and, every time it sends another one, trim it immediately. That should encourage it to grow underwater type leaves rather than floating ones.
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