Bottoms of plants keep dieing

userdan06

Member
well I have a semI planted tank maybe 4 bunches worth of plants not sure what they are, I had it written down but I lost the paper

well my problem is that the bottom 2 inches of leaves keep dieing off, I wouldn't say the plants are too close together, at least 2 inches between each, all low light plants.

they were recommended as beginner plants, low light, by a fish store I frequent. I trust them to be honest, I have seen them refuse to sell fish that they had quarantined, and refuse to sell plecos to people who have said they only have a 10 gallon tank. I drive about 35 miles to go to this store because they are honest and the owner takes care of his customers (I know two other people who drive almost as far and refuse to but aquarium products anywhere else). basically I'm saying the problem is somehow caused by me or my tank parameters somehow since I really don't think its something that was wrong with the plants when I bought them.

The tank is sand and gravel, where the plants are is primarily gravel with a little sand and "First Layer Pure Laterite"(API product) mixed at the bottom(maybe an inch deep) then gravel about 2 inches. the plants have been in my tank about 18 days. lighting is 30 watts of florescent aquarium grow bulbs.

The plants all seem to have yellowed a little, they are still nice and green, but just not as deep green as they were before.

parameters are 0,0,less than 5 ph about 7.4 temp 75-76.

any advise? possibly just stress on the plants? could my kuhlI loaches be doing damage somehow?

attached are pics of the tank, sorry for the crummy cellphone pics.

thanks
dan
 

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Beeker

Member
How many watts per gallon do you have? Do you add CO2?
 

Nutter

Member
Either 1wpg or 1.5wpg depending on where you read but that is pretty much irrelevant. WPG is the most useless rule ever created in aquarium keeping.

From what I can see you mostly have plants with higher light requirements. I believe I can see either some Rotala or Ludwigia but it's hard to tell from the pics. Both require pretty decent amounts of light. The plant in the pot appears to be either Japanese Rush or Sagittaria. Again hard to tell from the pics. japanese Rush is not an aquarium plant at all & needs to be growing right out of the top of the tank. Sagittaria requires pretty decent lighting as well. The only plant I can see that is low light would be what I think is Water Wisteria in the background & even that does better in more intense lighting.

I would suggest that it is a combination of not having intese enough light & the available light not penetrating far enough through the plants. The brown stuff appears to be diatoms which are very common in new tanks. The diatoms will pass eventually & are usually caused by lighting that isn't intense enough or is not on for long enough. They can choke the leaves of the plants if you don't clean them off every few days. How long do you have the lights on for each day?
 
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userdan06

Member
lights are on from 9am to 10pm.

No co2

I should have added that the japanese Rush hasn't been a problem, bought that when I first set up my tank, and its been fine. I found out shortly after I bought it at petco it isn't actually an aquarium plant, I figured I would just toss it when I died, and it just hasn't died(its almost doubled in size since I got it.).

My tank does have a good amount of diatoms, but they are on the decline lately, last week and a half they have been slowly disappearing.

can you recommend a reasonably priced lighting setup? or is it cheaper to build one? I'm pretty sure I can find an empty hood in a day or to, and strip out a florescent light fixture and wire it into the hood, throw in a fan to keep it cool.

could a liquid fertilizer help? or would that just boost the diatoms?

I guess we found the downfall of my preferred fish store. oh well, I guess I'll do more research before I buy plants again.
 

ilikefish

Member
Don't hate your lfs right away... You have dark substrate... many low light tanks have a different color substrate which reflects some light which helps the plants get every last bit of light... your dark substrate just absorbs it...

Also... you should cut off the dying plant leaves right away... this will let your plants focus their energy into growing right away instead of fixing hopeless leaves...
 

Nutter

Member
There probably isn't much point in adding ferts to your tank without enough light intensity to generate energy for the plants to use those added nutrients. I like DIY stuff so if you think you can get a hood & do your own aquarium safe light fixture, by all means do so. Probalby easier to see if you can just fine another light identical to what you have & add that into your existing hood or see if you can get a dual fixture to replace your single one. You should remove the dying leaves as ilikefish mentioned. They won't regenerate & they will only cause water quality issues if left to rot. The colour of the substrate makes a big difference in low light tanks to the lower foliage as ilikefish mentioned to.

The Japanese Rush might be ok for now but it will die if left submerged. Left submerged it will last for up to 8 months but then it wil rot & die. There's nothing can change that. If you let it grow right out of the waters surface it will continue to grow for many years but not fully submerged.
 
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userdan06

Member
thanks for the info, dead leaves have been removed. I was getting tired or grabbing 2-3 dead ones every day.

I think I remember seeing a DIY for pvc pipe as the housing, and compact florescent bulbs as the light source. pretty sure it was on here, ill see if I can find it tonight, compact florescent bulbs would be easy to get and cheep.

Any advice on what color lights to get? I have 4 that are 6500k I be-leave. pretty sure I can fit 4 in the 22 inches the housing has, if I angle them I could probably get 6 or 7 of them in.

here are my questions:
what color bulbs are best?
are compact florescent bulbs ok?
what is the wattage I should be shooting for?

The japansese rush, if the top inch or two is out of the water that should be enough for it to keep going? if it is I'll just drill 2 holes in the clay pot, use the top hole to hang it, and the lower to attach a suction cup and keep the whole pot near the top. hmm or I could move it into my fry tank(endlers), its a 5.5 so I could just put another clay pot upside down and set it on top, that would keep the top out.

ok thanks for the help
 

ilikefish

Member
"here are my questions:
what color bulbs are best?
are compact florescent bulbs ok?
what is the wattage I should be shooting for?"


What color is best is around 6-10k... 6.5 is perfect (most people use this) I personally don't like the yellow tint so I go with 10k (bad logic I know but hey... lol)

Compact flourecents are not good unlesss they are full-spectrum aquarium bulbs... they are about 4.95 per 10watt bulb at walmart... The reason you can't use regular compact bulbs is because the gasses in them get exhausted in 2-3 months and then the bulb continues to light, but it doesn't help your plants grow.

As far as your third question I'm not to sure... is your tank a regular 20g? If it is then I would probably aI'm for about a total 45-55watts... But you may wan't to wait on nutter for answers to that...
 
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userdan06

Member
ok thanks I'll wait a few days see if nutter chimes in before I start my project

my tank is a 20 gallon high I believe, about 24 x 16or17 x 12 inches.

whats the difference between an aquarium florescent and a regular florescent? just the gases?

i'm hoping to find some reasonably priced lighting. maybe 60-70 bucks tops. I just can't see spending 100+ for lighting at petco or something similar and have to use 30+ dollar tubes if I can make something that will use cheaper bulbs and have more output.

not to mention the feeling of satisfaction once the project is done and you have something functional that you've made yourself ;D
 

ilikefish

Member
whats the difference between an aquarium florescent and a regular florescent? just the gases?

From what I understand it is just the gasses... normal florescent puts out the same spectrum as aquarium bulbs do but it just fades just in 2-3months vs 9-12 months...

Check eBay... for a 20 gallon tank you can get a nice cheap setup! : )

Goodluck!
 
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userdan06

Member
I just checked out ebay and found this



I know this should probably be in the lighting section now, but any opinion? seems like a great price. won't fit on my current cover, but I just got a 15 dollar gift certificate to foster and smith aquatics. and they happen to have a glass cover for 14.99 so shipping would only be like 9 bucks. seems like it was meant to be lol

I don't think I could rig up a 100 watt light for that price(65 bucks+shipping) not to mention its already got a few LEDs in it. if I get it ill probably add another 10 or 12 for moonlighting.
thanks
dan
 

ilikefish

Member
nice lighting system... but if you do that you will definitely need CO2 and ferts or you will have crazy algae...
 
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userdan06

Member
well, I emailed the seller on ebay, the light can be ran as 2 or 4 bulbs.

I think I'll get it, run it on 48 watts and see what happens, then if I do decide to get some plants that need more light, turn it to up to the full 96. If I don't get more plants for a while then at-least ill only have to change out 2 bulbs at a time.
 

Nutter

Member
I think that light will serve you well. Bear in mind that even two tubes on that fixture running is roughly equivelent to 96w of T8 fluorescent light. Even with two tubes running you will need to run some form of carbon enrichment & fertilisers. That's not half as difficult as many would have you believe though.

You probably need 6" or so of the Rush out of the waters surface for it to grow properly.
 
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userdan06

Member
thanks for the advice,

the japanese rush has been moved to my fry tank, its about 1/2 out of the water.


can you recommend a thread or website, or book to check out, as to what I will need to do for ferts. what do you mean by carbon enrichment?

sry, i'm very new to keeping live plants, I had originally hoped that it would be as simple as plant them, and keep the light on a little longer lol, oh well, pipe dreams

thanks. i'm going to order the light tomorrow morning, or tonight if I finish my paper.
 

ilikefish

Member
CO2 (what you were referring to as "carbon enrichment") is what people add to their tanks via DIY project... And for fertilizers you could use Excel Comprehensive. It should cover your bases. Also I would use gravel so the nutrients can get to the roots...
 

Nutter

Member
For the Rush that is growing out of the water you won't need to worry about co2. It is worth noting that Flourish Excel & Flourish Comprehensive are two different things. Excel is a liquid form of carbon, Comprehensive is a nutrient based fertiliser. If you use Excel you will still need to use Comprehensive. For your tank though I would make a diy co2 rig. There are several threads in the DIY section of the forum with details of how to build these.

Here's a link to some articles that you may find helpful:
 
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userdan06

Member
thanks for all the info, ilikefish and nutter, you two are great!

I ordered the light on Monday should, arrive Friday, as well as a glass lid.

I've been trying to find ceramic air stones for co2 but I haven't had any luck so far. Two more stores to try. both are about 45 minutes away and unfortunately in opposite directions, gives me an excuse to go wander threw the shops though. co2 will be a DIY rig (3 liter bottle) and hopefully a ceramic air stone will be enough.

I've got a few questions about co2 though, maybe someone can answer them before I get around to reading the two books I got from the library.

why does co2 cause a ph shift? is there any way to avoid it?

co2 shouldn't be ran during lights off, but what do I do with it? gang valve enough to seal the bottle? do I use a 3 way connector with a gang valve and let it purge into the room?

are there any ways to test the co2 in my tank to make sure it doesn't hit toxic levels?

and finally, do I really need to run an air pump at night?(I'm not a fan of listening to bubbles pop in my sleep)



As for fertilizers I ordered "Flourish Liquid Plant Packs" from foster and smith(got my cover from there too). I bought the fundamentals kit. as well as the flourish root tabs. I'll see if one works better than the other. hopefully I don't poison my fish.



and that is how I spent my bonus +some. lol guess I can't complain, 100 dollar bonus is better than none at all.

thanks again, and I'll post pics once everything arrives.
 

Nutter

Member
I'm not sure of the chemical reason of why co2 lowers PH. I try not to hurt my brain by wondering why. I just settle for knowing it lowers the PH & how to take measures to avoid that becoming a problem. It is wise to run an air pump & stone on a timer so that they come on during the lights off hours. The idea is that the extra surface agitation helps to gas off the extra co2 that is being produced by the plants at night. After a couple of hours you probably won't even notice the air pump running. If the pump is too noisey for you try sitting it on an old mouse pad or even inside a cheap foam cooler to keep it quiet. The other alternative is to have a pressure relief valve that you can open when the lights go off but you either need to hook one up through a solenoid for it to be automatic or you need to have a really good memory & never ever forget to open it at night to release the extra co2. DO NOT just seal off the bottle altogether. The pressure can build up so much that the bottle can literally explode spraying yeast mix everywhere. I don't know how air tight gang valves are but if you want to try it I suggest using a brass gang valve as it is more likely to seal against the pressure when you want the co2 directed at the tank. If you use the airstone on the timer, you can just leave the co2 running into the tank 24/7. That's the way I do it & have never had an issue. Which ever way you decide to go just work out how to stop the co2 levels rising at night so that the PH doesn't drop so far that it becomes dangerous for your fish.

Many people use KH/PH charts to try to judge how much co2 is present in their tanks & if you google PH/KH chart you will find plenty of these charts you can work from. Personally I don't bother with them as I find they are not all that accurate. There are liquid test kits available but they to are notoriously inaccurate. I prefer just to watch my fish carefully. If I see an increased gill rate or fish hanging out at the surface that wouldn't normally be there, then I know I'm bordering on having too much co2 & I either create more surface movement ot gas off the co2 or I work out a way to not diffuse the co2 gas so efficiently.
 

ilikefish

Member
userdan06 said:
why does co2 cause a ph shift? is there any way to avoid it?
I'm not sure why but you can avoid this by leaving an airpump on at night. (only at night though because an air pump will ,long story short, "take" the CO2 out of the water and leaving it on during the day would be redundant.) A timer would help you control this... turn off the airpump 1 hour to thirty minutes before the lights go on.

userdan06 said:
co2 shouldn't be ran during lights off, but what do I do with it? gang valve enough to seal the bottle? do I use a 3 way connector with a gang valve and let it purge into the room?
If you use a ceramic airstone not a "bubble smasher" then
you could just leave it on at night with the air pump I mentioned above ^


userdan06 said:
are there any ways to test the co2 in my tank to make sure it doesn't hit toxic levels?
If you get a kh test kit (eBay or aquarium store) and a PH test kit then you can cross-reference the two with this chart.


userdan06 said:
and finally, do I really need to run an air pump at night?(I'm not a fan of listening to bubbles pop in my sleep)
I recommend it... Otherwise your PH WILL crash... I learned the hard way : (
 

ilikefish

Member
Nutter said:
After a couple of hours you probably won't even notice the air pump running. If the pump is too noisey for you try sitting it on an old mouse pad or even inside a cheap foam cooler to keep it quiet.
You could also get a tetra Whisper air pump...They are completely silent! And they look like ... but you will always have the issues with the bubbles popping... sorry
 
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userdan06

Member
well.... light lid and fertz shipping has been delayed, ups and fedex. won't arrive till monday or tuesday now. that's not a big problem...

however I can't find ceramic air stones anywhere. I really hate to pay 7 or 8 bucks shipping on a 3-4 dollar item. I wish I ordered it from foster and smith when I ordered my lid...

any idea where I might find one in the US? petco and dave's soda and petfood city don't carry them. the 5 small fish stores that are within reasonable driving distance don't carry them. and my prefered fish store can order them, but his price is 7 dollars each for a 4 inch stone, nothing smaller is available to order, and he has to order 24 at a time. he can't sell them in a reasonable time period(he said last time he ordered them he had to sell them at a loss to get rid of them) so he doesn't order them anymore.

I have a HOBO filter so I think if I ran the bubbles into the intake the co2 would just dissipate when it returned to the tank. would it work to have the bubbles just come out of a regular air stone directly below the return of the filter, so that the current helps break up the bubbles?

i'm kinda stumped on this but I want to have everything ready to go for tuesday. any ideas?
thanks
dan
 

Nutter

Member
Yes a regular airstone under the filter inlet would be ok.
 

ilikefish

Member
This doesn't seem pricey and you get 3!

Also, running it through your HOB filter would smash the bubbles... buttt the surface agitation from the water returning to the tank would possibly make it worse than just sticking the airstone in the tank... I'm not sure nutter may be able to help more...
 

ilikefish

Member
Could you tell me what amperage and millicandles it is?
 
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userdan06

Member
amperage and millicandles on the light? lol no idea, if that's what your asking about I'll post pics/info when it arrives.

thanks for the links. I'll order the ceramic airstones and give them a try. I think just buying those will be easier than finding a place with disposable chopsticks. the take out Chinese place in town gives spoons and forks.

Thanks again
dan
 
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userdan06

Member
lid and fertz arrived yesterday! light will arrive tomorrow.

I had to throw out a few plants today, the bottoms had rotted away to slime.
 

Nutter

Member
Best to trI'm off any dying leaves before they rot right away like that. With many plants you will be able to cut the top off & replant it so that it grown into a new plants & remove the bottom section of the plant altogether. That way you will have fully healthy plants with foliage all the way to their bottoms.
 
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userdan06

Member
thanks,
the light should be coming in sometime today, I think I will replant the plants already in the tank, pull them out, remove any dead vegetation, rub any diatoms off the leaves, and try to replant them all.

The ceramic diffuser won't arrive for a few days yet but I grabbed a 3ltr bottle for a DIY co2. i'm going to run the output from that bottle into a small .5ltr bottle 1/2 full of water. the inline will be under water and the outline will be 1/2 inch inside the cap. that way if the yeast mix gets bumped or foams up it will be caught in the small bottle and no alcohol/yeast will feed threw the lines into my tank. that make sense or am I just being paranoid?

thanks again
dan
 

ilikefish

Member
Its good as extra precaution but not going to lie... I haven't done it yet...
 

Nutter

Member
It makes perfect sense. I do the exact same thing. The catchment bottle doubles as a bubble counter to when used with the water the way you are. A tip is to use a check valve above the catchment bottle & one between the generator & the catchment bottle. That way when you want to make a new yeast mix or empty the catchment bottle, you don't lose all of the pressure in the co2 lines.
 
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userdan06

Member
well, the light arrived,

looks good but there are no instructions or information with it.

the mounts are nice, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to attach them without removing my lid. the last thing I need is my nerite snails taking a stroll to lay eggs somewhere in the room...

emailed the seller and haven't gotten a reply back yet

i'll post pics of it in a few.

my double bottle co2 idea was a flop I think. the 2nd bottle with water was too much resistance, or maybe I had a leak that I couldn't find. it generated co2 but there wasn't enough pressure to bubble in both the small bottle and then clear the water in the tank line.

the mix was 1 cup sugar 1/2 tsp bakers yeast and 2ltrs of water. even after 4 hours there wasn't enough pressure to clear the lines.

was the mix wrong? not enough yeast maybe?

even with just a regular air stone and straight line, the bubbles are only entering the tank if I swirl the bottle. I'm guessing the mix isn't right...
 
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userdan06

Member
just got a reply back... the light's mounts cannot be used with a lid unless you cut out where the mounts go. I wish they had listed that in the auction
 

Nutter

Member
Sounds like you have a leak in your collector bottle. Let the pressure build up until there are bubbles going into the collector bottle & then submerge it in a bucket of water. That should show you where you are losing the co2 from. Collectors can be a bit tricky at times. It took me a couple of gos to get mine right as I have 2 in lines & 1 out.

With the light, perhaps you can just support it with some timber blocks. If not a quality glass cutter is only about $15. Could be a pain if your not just trying to cut an edge off the glass though. Cutting squares out of glass is delicate & high risk of breaking the lid.
 
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userdan06

Member
I'm going to give the co2 collector another try on Wednesday. I picked up a few check valves to try it like yours is.

I think I will make a pvc stand for the light. if I cut the glass lid it would ruin the lid, the lights mounts are big enough that they come from the back of the tank all the way to the hing, so the back would just hang in the water.

oh well nothing can be as simple as we hope.

thanks again
dan
 

ilikefish

Member
userdan06 said:
oh well nothing can be as simple as we hope.
dan
true that... :'(
 
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userdan06

Member
ok so it took 3 bottle caps to get it right but I have a functioning, leak free bubble counter.

so co2....check
fertz.......check
overkill lighting.... check
more functional light stand.... next project.



the light seems to waste a lot of light, being so high up, and it gets too hot to sit directly on my glass cover.

so my next project is a stand for it. i'm thinking a rectangular box with no top or bottom, paint the inside white, and outside black. put an 80mm PC cooling fan on each end and rig up an adapter and I think that will be it.

then just set the light on top and maybe rig up some sort of latch to lock the light to the box.


anyone ever make something like that? would I be better off with wood or pvc/abs plastics? fiberglass(think I have a few gallons left from my last sub-woofer enclosure project)?

thanks
dan
 

ilikefish

Member
PVC and heat don't go well together and over time the PVC will bend and warp I don't suggest it... wood sounds good and paints well... good luck...
 
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userdan06

Member
nods, heat won't be an issue once the cooling fans are in it. figure an 80mm case fan pumps about 30-32CFM, using one to force air in and one out.

resistance will effect it, but a space that is less than .5CF (24x6x4 inches) will give me a complete air exchange at most, every 4 seconds.

so temperature really won't be an issue. your probably right though, wood would probably be the simplest. should I seal the wood once its panted? or will the paint be enough of a seal? since its sitting over water, I don't want it to absorb moisture.


oh and the cap for the bubble counter is leaking again, co2 seeps between the cap and bottle, no leak near the tubing. going to search for a small rubber seal/gasket that might fit inside the cap.
 
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