Plant Newbie Needs Help Help 

JGombs99

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Hello, all. As the subject heading suggests, I'm a relative newbie to plants, and I need help. I have one other thread in the plant section that I started awhile ago, when I was just considering live plants, through when I very first began with them. I hope to build off of the knowledge that I learned through that thread, and become more successful in keeping aquarium plants.

First, just a little history. When I first set my tank up, I had no interest in live plants at all. Because of this, I have gravel substrate, and a light that may or may not be great for growing plants (research I've done suggests it's good for low to medium light plants, but so far, my success has been low, at best, so I don't know). The light I use is the Fluval Aquasky LED, and I use it on a setting that has the white lights and red lights (because I was told this setting would be appropriate for growing plants). I really have no interest in changing my substrate, or my lighting, so if live plants aren't for me due to either or both of these, I understand, and I will stop trying to grow plants. I just need to find out if this is the case, or if my problem is something else, because if I can grow plants with what I have, I'd really like to. Lastly, I use Seachem Flourish. I'm willing to continue to use this, or to use something else, but I'd rather not use a lot of different chemicals, and I certainly have no interest in getting into a CO2 system, or anything like that. I really want to have a set up that's relatively easy and low maintenence. Again, if this isn't possible, I just want to know that.

I currently have Anubias Frazeri, and Hygro Augustofolia. Both plants are doing the same thing, which is that they're living, but they're not growing, or thriving. I understand the Anubias is very slow growing, but I've had it in my tank for 3-5 months, and it hasn't grown at all. It's got holes (some, not completely covered in holes) in the leaves, and although it's not completely brown by any means, it has more brown on it than when I bought it. The Hygro seems to have less holes, but it certainly isn't growing at all, and it is also turning brown (again, not completely brown, but more than when I bought it). The brown on the Hygro seems to be coming more from the bottom portion of the plant. I've had the Hygro in my tank for a much shorter time (not much over a month), but it's my understanding that this plant grows much quicker than the Anubias. My goal is not to have a heavily planted tank, but I do have a goal to have some nice looking live plants. I'd like enough plants to hide equipment, and to provide hiding places for my fish. And, again, another goal is for easy/low maintenence. My 100 gallon tank is the one I'm attempting to plant, so I have Blood Parrots, Severum, a few Syno Catfish, schooling fish, etc. Please feel free to check out the info about my tanks in my profile section for the exact stocking. Thanks so much for any suggestions or advice!
 

Dave125g

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Do you have any specs on your lights? Particularly the color temperature. 6500k is about what you want.

Gravel is not the best substrate for plants, but its doable. Roots will have tough time growing in it. Floating plants are also an option. Certain plants can also be tied to driftwood. Java fern comes to mind. Moss balls will do well too.
 

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For what you're looking to do I suggest wisteria and hygro compacta (temple plant.) Neither of them needs much, they aren't really root feeders, and they will grow fine in your setup. As a bonus you can carefully plant them in the gravel to hold them in place.
 

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My Anubias Nana is getting a new leaf stalk. It split off from the stalk of another leaf. My light is whatever comes in the hood for the TopFin Enhance 3.5 gallon tank. It has 3 LED's and can cycle through the colors automatically. I think the changing colors look stupid so I set it to be white all the time. The plant seems to like it. It's a deeper green and as I said, growing. I also have a Windelov Java Fern I just put in and it looks to be doing fine but not growing yet. These plants do well in just about any degree of lighting it seems.
 

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I think that driftwood with some plants like java ferns might do well. Sometimes it helps to put start them in another tank till they thrive and move them over.
 
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JGombs99

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Thanks for the replies! So, is it safe to say that I have the wrong plants for the substrate and lights I have?

From the Fluval website about the light: 18 watt LED bulb. 3000-25000k temperature rating for a customized light spectrum. 6500k white and tri-colored RGB LEDs. Not sure what that means, but hopefully it will help someone understand what I could do for plants with this light.
 

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JGombs99 said:
Thanks for the replies! So, is it safe to say that I have the wrong plants for the substrate and lights I have?

From the Fluval website about the light: 18 watt LED bulb. 3000-25000k temperature rating for a customized light spectrum. 6500k white and tri-colored RGB LEDs. Not sure what that means, but hopefully it will help someone understand what I could do for plants with this light.
You dont have the wrong plants. Some will just do better for you. The light range you want is 6 to 7k, with using as much green as you can to get there with the brightest available setting. I have no idea how to get you there with that light, but your lighting is fine. Adding a macro fertilizer will help. The flourish is mostly micros. Nilocg makes some super easy to use liquids (read not really cheap.) I use the 2 bottle setup and am having good results for a 2 foot deep 65 gallon tank.
 
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JGombs99

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Wraithen said:
You dont have the wrong plants. Some will just do better for you. The light range you want is 6 to 7k, with using as much green as you can to get there with the brightest available setting. I have no idea how to get you there with that light, but your lighting is fine. Adding a macro fertilizer will help. The flourish is mostly micros. Nilocg makes some super easy to use liquids (read not really cheap.) I use the 2 bottle setup and am having good results for a 2 foot deep 65 gallon tank.
So, my next step is to add green lights with mostly bright white, and get rid of the red...and, also to continue with Flourish but add a macro fertilizer, right?
 

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No. You can customize your current lighting set up, at least I thought you could. Turn the whites all the way up and then adjust the other colors to get the light a tinge green. The combination of the reds and other colors mixed with the white is just a slightly better spectrum. The white all by itself will do fine though for what you're needing.

Yes, continue the flourish but add a macro dose. If you dont get an all in one, I wouldn't bother getting a nitrogen. Be aware there are issues with all in ones. You cant be specific with your dose by type. It shouldn't matter with what you're growing though. If you add a root feeder plant, you need to add a root tab under the gravel near it and I'm not sure how well that will work out. Have you studied the nutrients plants need and how plant respiration works? It will also help you find ways to ensure your plants stay healthy and keep algae at bay.
 
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JGombs99

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Wraithen said:
No. You can customize your current lighting set up, at least I thought you could. Turn the whites all the way up and then adjust the other colors to get the light a tinge green. The combination of the reds and other colors mixed with the white is just a slightly better spectrum. The white all by itself will do fine though for what you're needing.

Yes, continue the flourish but add a macro dose. If you dont get an all in one, I wouldn't bother getting a nitrogen. Be aware there are issues with all in ones. You cant be specific with your dose by type. It shouldn't matter with what you're growing though. If you add a root feeder plant, you need to add a root tab under the gravel near it and I'm not sure how well that will work out. Have you studied the nutrients plants need and how plant respiration works? It will also help you find ways to ensure your plants stay healthy and keep algae at bay.
Thanks! I think we're saying the same thing, but just in a slightly different way with the light colors. I can customize it, I just need to figure out exactly how to do it. So, do I want red and green with the white, or just green and white?

I think I need to figure out more about micro and macro fertilizer, and decide what exactly I'll need. No, I haven't researched anything like that to be honest.
 

Wraithen

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If you have green LEDs on that light just turn them up a bit to make the light look a little green. It's difficult to tweak to just the right spectrum but if you google your light and then add plant setting someone has probably nailed it down pretty well.

The trick with lighting and fertilizers is to strike the perfect balance. I started growing 3 kinds of algae so I had to step back and tweak a bunch of things. Turns out the spring sun was nailing my tank all afternoon without my realizing it. (Stupid decorative half circle windows above the regular windows so I cant get curtains for it.)
 
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JGombs99

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Wraithen said:
If you have green LEDs on that light just turn them up a bit to make the light look a little green. It's difficult to tweak to just the right spectrum but if you google your light and then add plant setting someone has probably nailed it down pretty well.

The trick with lighting and fertilizers is to strike the perfect balance. I started growing 3 kinds of algae so I had to step back and tweak a bunch of things. Turns out the spring sun was nailing my tank all afternoon without my realizing it. (Stupid decorative half circle windows above the regular windows so I cant get curtains for it.)
Thanks! I'll check into this.
 

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@JGombs99
By no means an expert.
Just a relative newbie "Underwater Gardener," just slightly above an Algae Grower. LOL
I use the Aquasky #3999 on my 55. The specs are similar but higher wattage rating of 35 - basically double the leds. I experimented with all the bells and whistles finally settled on the whites with reds. I use a timer with the light on a schedule of 4 hours on 3 off 4 on. Started with the Seachem ferts, have moved to NilocG DIY EI dosing, Sounds complicated but its easy and less of a hit on the wallet. Also, use Root tabs. I have tried Anubias, it was a slow grower. I just re-scaped my 55 earlier this year. You can check out the link.
Hope this helps. Good Luck.
55 Planted Community Re-scape (jmaldo)
 
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JGombs99

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jmaldo said:
@JGombs99
By no means an expert.
Just a relative newbie "Underwater Gardener," just slightly above an Algae Grower. LOL
I use the Aquasky #3999 on my 55. The specs are similar but higher wattage rating of 35 - basically double the leds. I experimented with all the bells and whistles finally settled on the whites with reds. I use a timer with the light on a schedule of 4 hours on 3 off 4 on. Started with the Seachem ferts, have moved to NilocG DIY EI dosing, Sounds complicated but its easy and less of a hit on the wallet. Also, use Root tabs. I have tried Anubias, it was a slow grower. I just re-scaped my 55 earlier this year. You can check out the link.
Hope this helps. Good Luck.
55 Planted Community Re-scape (jmaldo)
So, I do use the white with red lights. I don't use a timer, though, and admittedly, I really don't have a regular lighting schedule. I also use only Flourish. I suppose my issues must lie in the lighting schedule and fertilizers.
 

Wraithen

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JGombs99 said:
So, I do use the white with red lights. I don't use a timer, though, and admittedly, I really don't have a regular lighting schedule. I also use only Flourish. I suppose my issues must lie in the lighting schedule and fertilizers.
You want 8 ish hours of lighting for your tank. Possibly more. If you dont have algae issues 8 to 10 straight hours of light is better for the plants than the split photo period. The split is good for preventing algae, but plants ramp up their growth from the lighting so they wont grow quite as fast with the split photo period.
 
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JGombs99

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Wraithen said:
You want 8 ish hours of lighting for your tank. Possibly more. If you dont have algae issues 8 to 10 straight hours of light is better for the plants than the split photo period. The split is good for preventing algae, but plants ramp up their growth from the lighting so they wont grow quite as fast with the split photo period.
What if I'm inconsistent with whether or not it's split? For instance, during the week, it's split because my light is on both before work and after work, yet during the weekend, the light is on pretty consistently throughout the day. This also means that the tank gets more light on weekends. Is this negatively impacting my plants?
 

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JGombs99 said:
What if I'm inconsistent with whether or not it's split? For instance, during the week, it's split because my light is on both before work and after work, yet during the weekend, the light is on pretty consistently throughout the day. This also means that the tank gets more light on weekends. Is this negatively impacting my plants?
Not really. As long as they get enough light, they will be fine. It's more about best and fastest growth vs growing ok. It's like not using dirt and co2. You aren't hurting anything, but for optimal growth, those 2 are required. For the record, I dont use dirt or co2. My tank is black sand with root tabs and I run 2 different led lights for a split photo period. After the summer equinox, I will run both lights at the same time for more intense light since the sun wont be hitting my tank.

On the positive weird side, I have a floating piece of driftwood held in place as a divider for my african butterfly fish, and it is growing a really nice algae. It looks like the moss that grows in a forest at the roots of trees only it's a very dark green. Sometimes algae can be pretty.
 
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JGombs99

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Wraithen said:
Not really. As long as they get enough light, they will be fine. It's more about best and fastest growth vs growing ok. It's like not using dirt and co2. You aren't hurting anything, but for optimal growth, those 2 are required. For the record, I dont use dirt or co2. My tank is black sand with root tabs and I run 2 different led lights for a split photo period. After the summer equinox, I will run both lights at the same time for more intense light since the sun wont be hitting my tank.

On the positive weird side, I have a floating piece of driftwood held in place as a divider for my african butterfly fish, and it is growing a really nice algae. It looks like the moss that grows in a forest at the roots of trees only it's a very dark green. Sometimes algae can be pretty.
Your tank sounds great, but to be honest, that's more than I want to do. I really do want very low maintenance. Hopefully my secret can be in finding better fertilizer and/or using root tabs.
 

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JGombs99 said:
Your tank sounds great, but to be honest, that's more than I want to do. I really do want very low maintenance. Hopefully my secret can be in finding better fertilizer and/or using root tabs.
Lol it's a mess right now. I'm growing all my plants out to see where I want everything.

After planting all I do is squirt ferts in once a day (6 pumps on a pump bottle with the nilocg stuff I got,) and add root tabs once every 6 weeks or so. Other than cutting off unhealthy leaves during water changes, I dont mess with anything. I think I spend more time shopping for plants and getting them to stay planted than actual maintenance. You'll see soon, it can get very addicting.
 
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JGombs99

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So, now that I know growing plants with my light and my substrate is possible, I'd like to ask if it's possible to grow any plants with either just Flourish, just root tabs, or a combination of both (and if so, what), or do I need the micro and macro fertilizers regardless? I was also told by someone at a LFS this morning that for my Anubias with partially damaged leaves that I should clip them back because the plant is working extra hard to repair these leaves. Does anyone know this to be true (or not)? Lastly, for my Anubias, I know it can be attached to driftwood, or planted, and I also know you can't bury the rhizome when planting. But, is either planting or attaching better than the other, or are they really the same?
 
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