Stick with it or upgrade? Help

Discussion in 'Aquarium Plants' started by theGrynch, Apr 12, 2010.

  1. theGrynch

    theGrynchNew MemberMember

    I was about to post this in the lighting forum, but since the post is really about my plants, decided to post it here instead. I apologize in advance if it's still in the wrong place! I also apologize for the length of the post, lol.

    Well, chalk it up to not researching QUITE enough. I've recently added a few new plants to my 55G planted talk, and would say it's pretty well planted at this point. I've got black flourite sand mixed with pool filter sand, mixed at about a 3:1 ratio, only because I love how it looks. I've got the tank a little overstocked but I'm not worried about it too much, since I do two weekly water changes.

    I've got Amazonian Swords planted, Rotala Rondifulia (I'm sure that's mis-spelled, I was told at first it was Rotala Indica but learned that's not quite correct), two Anubias on driftwood, a bit of Java Moss that I bought as two floating moss balls but cut apart and tied to various bits of driftwood. I've also got Wisteria and Water Sprite, both of which are growing quite well. The Wisteria had wide, flat, barely serrated leaves for a while, but I recently upgraded the lighting fixture from a "standard aquarium hood," to a 108w T5 fixture, and the leaves have started growing into a lovely, spiney type shape. Really cool. Oh! I'm also running a two, 3L bottle DIY CO2 system in and out of the Cascade 1000 filter I'm running on the tank.

    Now the sad part: I also have some HC (Dwarf baby Tears) "planted," and either I did a terrible job seperating it from the wool it came planted in, and an equally bad job planting the tiny bits I seperated it into, or I just don't have enough lighting. Although the bits of HC are growing UP, as in a bit taller, they're not quite spreading themselves out too much. I'm really, REALLY going for a lush, full, carpeted look in the aquarium, so if something else has to go for me to achieve that, then I'll make necessary sacrifices and move a couple plants to another aquarium if I have to.

    I've read that HC doesn't grow laterally very well without a relatively high WPG, which mine is sitting pretty squarely on 2 wpg. Should I upgrade my lighting fixture to something a little more beefy? Or am I just freaking out over nothing and I'll eventually have lush plants with the current lighting and CO2 system I'm using? If I DO upgrade, I'm looking at something like the 48" Coralife fixture that runs at about 260w. Is that too much WPG for my current tank/plants? I'm worried I'll be struggling to juggle the right amount of lighting with so much WPG, since I've read things like Anubias and the moss prefer lower lighting...

    Any suggestions, thoughts or advice to offer? Thanks a lot, guys!
  2. Nate McFin

    Nate McFinWell Known MemberMember

    I wouldnt upgrade. If you want to invest more money I would tend to lean toward a pressurized Co2 set up. It would give you more stable Co2 levels. I would also dose ferts if you dont already. Too much light without stable CO2 (and ferts) can really make a mess with Algae.
    HC can be tough to plant and it takes some time to get rooted. I would try another carpeting plant before I swapped lights. UG (utricularia gramnifola) would look great. Maybe a mat of Riccia? Blixa Japonica? There are loads of other options.
    Do keep in mind some tanks just really dislike certain plants. For some reason I can grow most everything I have tried but Hemianthus Umbrosum just wont grow in my tank. I have tried it several times...maybe my water parameters? Maybe allelopathy?
    Find one that works in your tank and still gives you the look your after.

    Best Wishes,

    PS where are the pictures???:D
  3. OP

    theGrynchNew MemberMember

    Wow, I didn't think anyone would make it through that wall of text! lol

    I dose Flourish weekly when doing the Sunday water change. I'll look into the other carpeting plants you mentioned, but unfortunately, once you like something, it's tough settling for something else...

    Upgrading the lighting also isn't SOLELY for the HC. I'm also really hoping to have the sword plants and Rotala take off, as well. I know that most carpeting plants don't carpet well without lots of light, and so far have found that the other plants won't do so without high light as well.
  4. Nutter

    NutterFishlore VIPMember

    Is your new fixture T5HO or T5NO? If it's normal output then lack of light could be a contributing factor along with insufficient/unstable co2 & nutrients. If it is a high output fixture though, I don't think light intensity is your problem & tend to agree with Nate's assesment that inconsistant or insufficient co2 & ferts are the problem. 108w of T5HO is roughly equivelant to 216w of standard T8 lighting, which sould be plenty for HC. Increasing the available co2 & keeping it more consistant will help avoid algae issues as will keeping up a good supply of nutrients. Having a nutrient deficiency will lead to algae much faster than an overdose of nutrients will. Keeping your low light plants in the shade of taller broader plants will also help keep the algae off them.

    I would start dosing your ferts at each water change to. If your only dosing once per week but are doing two water changes a week you will be getting inconsistant nutrient supply which can lead to slow/poor growth & then to algae. Maybe even daily fertiliser doses would be in order along with a better co2 supply.
  5. OP

    theGrynchNew MemberMember

    I'm pretty sure it's not a HO fixture, it's just one I got off eBay for dirt cheap. It didn't even come in a labeled box. One thing that's telling me it's not is the fact that some of the plants I got, namely the Rotala, were a deep red when I received them, but have since turned a greener color. And as I understand it, Rotala only turns red under sufficiently bright lighting.

    I'll be sure to take some pics tomorrow of the tank, the plants' growth (and lack thereof), and of the fixture itself. I was hoping I wouldn't have to upgrade the CO2 system because through a friend of mine I can get a really good deal on new light fixtures now, lol. If I'm dosing Flourish during every water change, or every day, as you suggested Nutter, then is that enough of a nutrient supplement? What else should I be dosing or adding that I may have been missing up to this point? I really appreciate the help, fellas!
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2010
  6. Nate McFin

    Nate McFinWell Known MemberMember

    Since your lights are T5ho you will not benefit from adding more light. If you do you will only be asking for algae.
    For nutrients I use dry fertilizers and make my own. MUCH cheaper as with commerical ferts 98% of what you get is water. Not they arent good products but just expensive long term.
    Flourish is a good product but is a good product but is a little short in nitrogen and phosphate. If your nitrate levels are good then you should fine. I would dose it twice a week as stated on the bottle. Cut back to one water change as well because as nutter said you are removing nutrients with each one. I use the entire Flourish line- Comprehensive (like you use), Phosphate,Iron,Potassium (my plants develope holes in the leafs quickly if the is short in supply), nitrogen, and trace. I also use "Equilibrium" during water changes as our water here is very soft and lacks Calcium.
    Any time plants stop growing or become stunted it is probabley missing a nutrient or not getting Co2. This also may allow algae to take hold as well. Red colors in plants can be lost as a result of lack of nutrients as well as Co2.
    Plants need Macro nutrients- (3 main nutrients for plants)
    Nitrogen- this can be nitrates from your tank if you have a high fishload. I usually go by my nitrate test kit for dosing nitrogen. We aim for 15-20 ppm.
    Potassium- I dont test for this but add enough every other day to be sure it is nonlimiting (Not limiting the plants growth)
    Phosphorous- again can come from fish food. 1-2 ppm is where I shoot for. (test kits are shakey with phosphates) err on the side of caution as having some extra wont cause problems to fish.
    In addition to Macro there are Micro nutrients.
    Boron, magnesium,iron,calcium,copper,zinc, etc.

    Here is a nutrient deficiency list-
  7. ilikefish

    ilikefishValued MemberMember

    I believe the OP said its not T5HO but T5NO... Anyways... If its growing up and not over I can tell you for almost 100% fact... that its not enough light... I bout two bunches of HC one in a low light tank (didn't realize it wasn't enough light) and one for a high light tank... The low light grew up and up and up until it began to turn yellow (and i believe it was on the verge of dieing...) so I moved it... While the HC in my other tank was imedietly growing sideways... It never grew taller than the first day I saw it... But I see the shoots poke out sideways and then new roots pop down out of the shoots... And I must say HC is gorgeous!! : )

    Oh and both tanks get ferts and CO2...

    Up the lighting and you'll see It will fix it... Your anubias should be fine even under higher lighting... I read once that they adapt to their lighting... supposedly they can even grow in incandescent lighting... Now your mosses (I'm not sure which ones you have) But I know Java Moss could careless what light it grows in... It grows... I have a bit in all of my tanks high light or no light (ambient light from other tanks) and it grows...

    Whatever you do Good luck!!... And that walls of text is nothing ; )
  8. OP

    theGrynchNew MemberMember

    Thank you guys very much! Yeah, the HC is definitely growing up, not laterally at all. The sprouts are getting quite tall at this point, 2 inches or so. I keep trying to push the sprouts down so they grow sideways, but... Doesn't change anything, lol! I took some pics of the tank so far, just in case.

    I'll look into getting a few more varieties of Flourish, and I'm definitely interested in a new light fixture, namely the Coralife brand as I stated before. Would having the Aqualight Moonlight that comes installed in the fixture be beneficial at all? As I understand it, moonlighting is really only for marine tanks?

    Thanks again, guys! You've all been a huge help!

    Here's a couple pics, too, of the tank and plants I mentioned. The water sprite's probably doubled in height since I got it a week or so ago.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 13, 2010
  9. Nate McFin

    Nate McFinWell Known MemberMember

    Great looking tank...the stump is quite a nice piece!

    I love the look of Moonlight. It isn't beneficial in terms of plants but it looks great at night.
    I know you said you could get a deal on Coralife right now, but I just purchased a light from these guys (after tons of research) They have great build and basically has the same housing as a Coralife. The difference is in the reflectors. They use very high quality individual reflectors (one for each bulb) I ordered this one and asked them to put the two outer bulbs on one switch and the middle on another. So you can use 1,2, or 3 bulbs at a time (You will really never use all three at once unless you want algae). With moonlight and flip legs brought it to 180.00 shipped. CALL to get the best price on add ons!
  10. ilikefish

    ilikefishValued MemberMember

    Nice tank!
  11. Nutter

    NutterFishlore VIPMember

    Nice tank.:;hf

    Seeing as your fixture is only normal output I agree with ilikefish that the problem is going to mainly be lack of light. That's why the first thing I asked is if it was HO or NO. I would still try to get the ferts & co2 more consistant. Probably not worth worrying too much about most of the products that Flourish put out, there's too many of them & you will only need a few. I recommend you use the Flourish Comprehensive & Flourish Root Tabs around any Swords & the HC. Keep Flourish Iron on hand in case you do need it but only dose when you do need it. Depending on how much fish waste is being produced you may or may not need to dose for nitrates. IMO nitrate levels alone give a very innaccurate idea of just how much nitrogen the plants are getting. The plants are consuming the ammonia produced by the fish very fast & it seems to me that if there are any nitrates at all, the plants are getting all the nitrogen they need from the ammonia & the excess is being converted to nitrates. I've never found a tank yet that need to be dosed with nitrates though it does happen. See how your goes & do what works for your system as far as nitrates go. Forget Flourish Potassium, it gets really expensive really fast. Your better off getting a bag or Potassium Nitrate (KH2PO4), from a garden supplies store or ordering it online. Seeing as you are doing two water changes each week you shouldn't have a problem with any trace element deficiency but if you do you can get some Flourish Trace to take care of that. Nate's right about the benefits of moonlight, they are for astetics only. They have no benefit to your plants. If you want a moonlight I would run it in a seperate fixture & run plant suitable tubes in an upgraded fixture.
  12. OP

    theGrynchNew MemberMember

    Wow, ok then. Perfect! Thanks, guys! I'll definitely look into all that stuff Nutter, as well as keep an extra close eye on the Nitrite and Nitrate levels in the tank. Nitrite's generally very low, and Nitrates do accumulate, which is why I was doing extra water changes. To further clarify, I usually do one ten significant water change each week, every Sunday, which is when I dose the Flourish, then generally in the middle of the week I'll syphon any accumulating fish waste and food that looks like it's been sitting and is starting to turn. That middle-week-water-change is only to clean up the sediment, I'll barely even start to fill a 5g bucket.

    Should I leave all that sediment or am I doing the right thing?
  13. Nutter

    NutterFishlore VIPMember

    I'd just suck up all the detrius during your weekly water change or do two equal size water changes each week vaccuuming the surface of the substrate each time. Doing the two changes a week will make sure the trace elements are in good supply. You would need to add the Comprehensive at each water change but that's no big deal. I do two changes every week in all my planted tanks & I get awesome plant growth & everything stays nice & healthy. Once the substrate is fully carpeted you probably won't need to worry about vaccumming very often if at all.
  14. OP

    theGrynchNew MemberMember

    Well, you've cleared everything up except I still have a few questions, lol, sorry!

    You said keep Flourish Iron on hand in case I need it... How do I know if I do? I was just about to order some of the Flourish products when I decded to go through this thread again. I'll get some Flourish Tabs, Iron, Excel, Trace, and Potassium. Is it ok to follow the reccommended dosing that I'm reading on Foster & Smith aquatics?

    If any of the leaves develop brown spot or become transluscent, should I prune them IMMEDIATELY? Or will the plants heal themselves after a time?
  15. Nutter

    NutterFishlore VIPMember

    Those links should help you recognise symptoms of each deficiency so that you know when it's time to add what. I've got another link somewhere but can't find it right now. I'll add it later when I find it so check here again later.
  16. OP

    theGrynchNew MemberMember

    Thank you for all of your help! I really appreciate it.