Message Forums

faq | etiquette | register | my account | search | mailbox
# Message Forums
L# Freshwater Aquaria
 L# Planted Aquaria
  L# Planted tanks
 Post Reply  New Topic
SubscribePlanted tanks
Small Fry
Posts: 5
Kudos: 5
Votes: 1
Registered: 06-Mar-2015
ive been in the hobby for over 30 years but have never mastered the planted aquarium. i use good substrate, T5 lighting, flourish, and root tabs, but my plants still just seem to wither and die, what am i doing wrong ?

here is my latest attempt

Post InfoPosted 06-Mar-2015 16:17Profile PM Edit Report 
Posts: 5108
Kudos: 5263
Votes: 1690
Registered: 28-Dec-2002
male usa us-colorado
Hi, and Welcome to Fish Profiles.
You ask a good question, but, its also like taking a shotgun to kill a fly. There are dozens upon dozens of possible reasons why your plants wither and die.

Let's start with the substrate. There are books and hundreds of articles on that subject alone.

The purpose of the substrate is to give the plants something to anchor themselves to.

The roots grow down between the grains and also (for some plants) are the main way they take up nutrients. Many folks use regular aquarium gravel between a #2 and #3 grain size. This size is the most common, and the gap between grains allows the roots to grow through easily and also allows for water to circulate between the grains.

Without that circulation, the gravel bed will become anerobic, the bacteria that loves that environment will turn the gravel black, and the bacteria gives off Hydrogen Sulfide, a toxic gas. Regular vacuuming of the gravel in the non planted sections of the tank, along with weekly water changes will prevent this from happening.

That's the size. Now the next is what to use. You can use the gravel that comes with "plant friendly" nutrients included, or you can use the "regular" aquarium gravel that comes in all colors of the spectrum. The problem with many of the plant friendly gravels is that the nutrients don't last all that long. Once they are either used up, or leached out into the water and washed away in regular water changes the substrate becomes, well, regular gravel.
Some substrates, such as Laterite, are actually crushed clays and are rich in iron. The laterite gives off the iron in a form that plants love, and lasts for decades in a tank.
If you start your tank with regular gravel, there are no nutrients available for the plants, and you would need to suplement the tank with those nutrients until the bacteria within the gravel can begin to help. Even then, some plants need more of one nutrient than others. For instance, some need lots of iron, and others next to none.
A tank has to "season" so that plants have less

You need to know your plants.

Try to look up each plant, before you buy them, just as you would your fish. There is no sense in buying some fish just because its unique or a beautiful color, only to discover it does not live in the type water, or temperature, or with the other fish. It's the same with plants. Research the plants, or better yet, the fastest way is to look at web sites such as Arizona Gardens. They sell plants for specific types of tanks, such as an Amazon tank where the water is acid, or for a African Rift tank where the water is hard. Look at those lists see the plants listed, and purchase those that you like for your tank.

Know your lights. Plant friendly lights are, generally speaking, rated around 6700K to 8000K.
Know your tank, if it is over 18 inches high, then you will need to add a few more watts of power so that the light reaches down through the water column to the surface
of the gravel.

Flourscent lights should be replaced on an annual basis.
If you have, say, four bulbs, then spread the replacement out over a year, don't change all four at once. Over time
the flourscent lights shift frequency and the light shifts in color. The plants will adapt over that long period of
time, as best they can. Replacing all four at once would be like you putting on a blindfold, walking out into the summer time noon day sun and ripping off the blindfold.
Just as the sun would shock your eyes, the plants are shocked too. And, the plants take way longer to adapt to
the sudden increase than your eyes.

Check the "type" of Flourish you are using. Be sure that it is meeting the specific needs of your plants.
Root tablets are necessary for plants that are "heavy root feeders" such as the Amazon Sword Plants, most others do
not need them, and the excess of nutrients can cause algae and can become a problem for other plants.

Plants can be classed according to their light demands.

High demand light plants generally grow out in the open where they are exposed to the sunlight for long periods of time.

Medium light demand plants generally grow in areas where they receive some sunlight and some shade over the day

Low light plants generally grow in ares where they are in the shade all day long.

You can mix them by using the leaves of the high light plants to shade the lower demand plants.

Look at your lights, what "temperature" are they 6700-8000K. How old are they? How strong are they? Does enough light penetrate the water column down to the gravel?

Are your plants "comfortable" with your water chemistry"
What is your pH, GH, KH?

These are some of the things that you might want to look at. Growing plants is actually really easy, you just have to "stack the deck in your favor." Get some books on the subject from the library, or puchase some from a web site.

Hope these comments help and nudge you into deeper research on the various points.


-->>> The Confidence of Amateurs, is the Envy of Professionals <<<--
Post InfoPosted 07-Mar-2015 01:26Profile PM Edit Delete Report 
Post Reply  New Topic
Jump to: 

The views expressed on this page are the implied opinions of their respective authors.
Under no circumstances do the comments on this page represent the opinions of the staff of Forums, version 11.0
Mazeguy Smilies