Update and questions about my plants.


Finally, after over two months of waiting, my one corkscrew vallisneria has become two. I was just counting the leaves today (I think its finally growing them faster than its shedding them!) and I noticed a second plant poking out of the gravel! But- aren't vals supposed to be fast growers? I wanted to get a jungle val, but the ones at the LFS looked unhealthy so I opted for a corkscrew instead. But growth has been painfully slow. Are corkscrews just a slower growing species than jungles?

Unfortunately my amazon sword is looking worse every day, despite my addition of root tabs. It's most recent leaf was a rather bright shade of red (not a good sign) and every week, several leaves die and have to be trimmed away. I think next time I go to the LFS I'll get a nice water wisteria or something, and put the sword in the trash. It seems past the point of help now.

Does anyone have any idea why have had almost no success so far? Hornwort=died in the first week, corkscrew vallisneria=melted and is now coming back, but still loosing leaves, Amazon sword=is slowly but surely withering away, Anubias=hasn't grown an inch. My lighting is great, and I have recently added root tabs. Maybe I need liquid ferts? Maybe I need Co2? Maybe my pH is too high?? I really want some input, because I'm starting a biiiig plant tank soon, and don't want to have the same non-success as I've had with this one. Help?


I don't think you have enough light.


I have 2 watts per gallon of 6500K light? Shouldn't that be enough?

FishTank Maniacz

Ya that sounds fine. It must be something else.

Brandon Bennett

None of the plants you mentioned should be affected by high ph, I don't think I have all of them and my ph is 8.2

my corkscrew had a melt when I first put it in the tank but this is common with transplanting. It has since come back rather quickly.

I wonder about my Anubia, though they are slow growing. No new growth at all but not dieing.

I have Flourite substrate covered by gravel so I think this helps a-lot. Fertilization is important as well as good lighting.

My Amazon Sword is growing nicely but I have a micro-sword that seems sickly. Don't know what to think there.

I'm avoiding Co2 if I can help it but the idea was to have a nicely planted tank so if I need to do it then so be it.


Maybe its salt? My water contains trace amounts of salt (a little over 100 ppm) but I've read that levels up to 500 ppm are okay for most plants. But I dunno if the salt is causing problems or anything.

Also my sword's remaining leaves have brown spots, and veins of white. Any idea what type of deficiency that might be?

Brandon Bennett

I don't know anything about salt in the water but I do have some brown spots on my Amazon leaves and they're not algae.

I was told (big box pet store knowledge) that all I would need is the Flourite substrate. I would have to say that it's really good but certain plants are telling me not so much.

I just started the Flourish comprehensive and I'll order some Potassium and root tabs as well. None of these items are too expensive.

Perhaps the lights are staying on too long as well,,,,so trying to get that balance is a challenge...


With low light you are unlikely to see any significant improvement with CO2. I have never seen pH cause any major differences in plant growth, and I had 8.2 pH before I switched to RO. Switched for the fish, not plants. The only thing you should have to put in your tank is root tabs and liquid ferts such as Flourish Comprehensive.

Amazon swords are a borderline medium light plant and will slowly deteriorate with anything less. The same thing with microswords.

The corkscrew vals and hornwort should be growing, but the hornwort certainly needs liquid ferts (not sure about vals). Some plants like the hornwort will melt, and lose all their leaves when transplanted into new water and generally start growing again if you leave them be. But make a horrible mess in the interim. Anubias seem to grow in spurts, They may sit there when you first put them into your tank and then after a couple months start putting out leaves at a rather good rate, but they need liquid ferts as well. Also with anubias the rhizome needs to be out of the substrate, or they will die. Try some crypts with root tabs, they should grow well under that lighting.

Excel can help with some plants, but it kills vals and hornwort. If you use Excel you need to pick an choose your plants to avoid the ones that don't like it.

My 40 gallon tank is very lush and is low tech no CO2. Anubias, crypts, Amazon swords, all grow well, oddly I have some lace java ferns that aren't doing anything, growing or dying. Total mystery because they were growing in here before I split them up into smaller plants.


So it seems like liquid frets are the main issue? What brand should I get do you think? Is flourish comprehensive good? My LFS has loads of it.

Also, should I have a higher wpg on my new tank if lighting is causing issues for the sword? Like 2.5 or 3 watts per gallon? I will plant mostly jungle val, giant hygro, water wisteria, anarcharis, hornwort, and maybe some water lettuce in the new tank.


CO2 would definitely help the plants, but is not necessary with the light you have. If you get stronger lights, it would become necessary. For now, Flourish Excel is an easier alternative (but not quite as good as CO2 would be)

Since you don't dose fertilizers, this is most certainly the problem with your plants. So allow me to quote what I answered to someone else yesterday :

For a low tech tank, I suggest you dose Flourish and Flourish Potassium.
Plants need nitrates, phosphates, potassium, and trace elements. Fish and food waste product nitrates and phosphates (enough for most low/medium light tanks). Flourish provides trace elements. You need to add potassium (Flourish contains some, but really not enough)

But instead of buying Flourish Potassium, you can make it yourself with potassium sulfate. Mix 1.4 tablespoon of potassium sulfate in 500ml of water, and you get exactly the same thing as a bottle of Flourish Potassium, for 1/20 the cost. Then you can follow the recommended dosing for Flourish Potassium, just look that up on Seachem's site.

You can order potassium sulfate there


So it seems like liquid frets are the main issue? What brand should I get do you think? Is flourish comprehensive good? My LFS has loads of it.

Also, should I have a higher wpg on my new tank if lighting is causing issues for the sword? Like 2.5 or 3 watts per gallon? I will plant mostly jungle val, giant hygro, water wisteria, anarcharis, hornwort, and maybe some water lettuce in the new tank.

I agree with psalm. Leaves falling off is typically a sign of insufficient light. For plant deficiency, it's alway important to google the requirement of your chosen plant. I suspect a low light for the cause, over nutrients because you mentioned, recently putting fert tabs into the substrate. On that note, it'll be of your benefit to use a plant substrate. Unlike gravel etc, plant substrate are processed with natural elements and minerals which will help retain nutrients to be utilized by plants.

For your new tank, I would recommend a T5 low - medium or T5HO medium - high. Either will do but you will most likely need co2 injection with a high light. Watts don't tell you much on light intensity required for plant growth either than how many watts necessary to power a light.

I use flourish ferts as well as a few other brands but find flourish to have more concentration per ml than others brands.
For a complete fert, there's -
Flourish comp - which is basically a combination of macro and micro nutrients.
Flourish trace - which supplies trace elements or micro nutrients. Sometimes tap water provide enough of these trace elements but I would recommend to have flourish trace in your inventory in case of a mineral deficiency in your plants.
Flourish potassium and iron is also recommended as most common plant deficiency is a lack of either one of these nutrient/mineral.
You don't need phosphorous or nitrogen if your tank is stocked well, as these nutrients are provided from wastes.
Excel can be used as a carbon substitute for co2 injection but will not provide the same benefits of pure co2.


Good advice here, though I forgot to mention that the tank I'm starting will be as low cost as possible- so that means no high tech co2 reactors, no fancy plant substrates, and no specialized light fixtures that cost several hundred dollars. Getting even one if those things would consume my tank budget verrry quickly...lol. Gravel with root tabs, and clip on lamps from home depot for me.

So since I very much doubt they sell T5HO bulbs that fit in a normal clip lamp, I'm going to have to get "normal" CFL bulbs. So if wattage has got nothing to to with light output, what does? Do lumens measure light output, or is it a different unit, and what number am I looking for. If someone wants to give me a crash course in plant lighting, and how much/what kind I need, that would be wonderful.

Mmmm so yes if anyone knows of a good standard CFL light bulb that they sell at the stores that would be good for my new tank-in-progress (75 gallons or so), and could link it so me, I'd love that. Also if anyone knows how much light I should have (in watts or lumens or whatever is used to measure light these days). Basically, what should the light bulb box say on it.

Anyway, I'll pick up flourish comp and maybe a better bulb in the coming weeks, see how that works in the mean time.


If you look hard enough you'll find cheap T5 fixtures or just a second-hand fixture will do fine. You just need to replace the bulbs.

When it comes to choosing the appropriate lighting for your setup, it's as simple as knowing the lights available.... T12, T8, T5NO, T5HO, T5VHO, Metal Halide, Incandescent, CFL and LEDs. I didn't say, watts had nothing to do with light outout. What i'm trying to say is, you can't rely on watts for the right light for your setup for the fact that some lights like Incandescent use a lot of power for the same light intensity as a fluorescent light. Watts is important if you're looking at something that is more efficient.

Clip on cfl will do just find and it's probably the cheapest setup I know of. Here's a link that will help you chose a cfl bulb for your set up. Keep in mind that colour temperature does affect the par ratings of cfl bulbs so it's not just a matter of light colour of your preference.

You can determine the light intensity of your preference with this par graph and be aware of the fact that mounting it vertically or horizontally will affect it's intensity.

Lumens is how bright a light is to you or the measure of visible light. You can determine the efficiency of a light or how bright a light is by the lumens per watt. A fluorescent light will put out more lumens per watt than a incandescent which make fluorescent more efficient.

If know the tank dimension of your future tank, compare that to the information provided in the links above to find the appropriate light for your requirement. If you have trouble reading the graphs then give me the dimensions of your tank and ill help you Unless your tank is 15inches deep or less, cfl light are low light, period. Hope this helps.


I think my tank would be around 20 inches deep. But could that be remedied by placing the light fixture right on the rI'm of the tank, if I wanted to do medium light? Anyway, this info was very helpful, so thank you!


I think my tank would be around 20 inches deep. But could that be remedied by placing the light fixture right on the rI'm of the tank, if I wanted to do medium light? Anyway, this info was very helpful, so thank you!

No worries. According to the articles, anything over 70 - 150 par will put you in the medium light range.The only cfl that would put you in that range with a 20 inch deep tank, according to the par graph is a 55w cfl but that's a lot of power though. Taking substrate into account, I believe a 40w cfl will take you to the medium range and it's generally 1 cfl bulb per square foot of tank. If you're willing to put up with that much power for the sake of medium light then go for it. This is the light sitting on the tank by the way.

Also you'll generally want a bulb around the 5500k - 6500k range. Household cfl generally come in 2 colour temperatures, a warm yellow and cool white. Cool white is around 5500k - 6500k.

So a cool white 5500k - 6500k 40w cfl for medium light is what you'd want. Try and stick to Sylvania or Phillips brands etc

Here's link of a planted tank with a cfl setup - it's only 19w bulb and growth seems good
There's also a member, I think his forum name is SeattleRoy who has experience with cfl bulbs on a planted tank. Send a pm if you want.


Could you post a picture of your Sword?

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