Byron - question re: spacing of plants
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Byron - question re: spacing of plants

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Byron - question re: spacing of plants
Old 07-14-2012, 10:20 AM   #1
 
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Byron - question re: spacing of plants

Hey Byron, remember 3 or so years ago when I said I would be doing a live plant tank in the future... well here we go! 180 gallons. I read everything you've written probably a dozen times in your plant articles and researched the profiles until I passed out at 3am every morning.

I can't find information on spacing. I see information on how tall plants grow, but I'm not finding width. I am attempting to draw my aquascapping on grid paper and don't know how much space to allow for how many plants.

Anubias barteri, Java Moss, Java Fern, Amazon Sword (A. bleherae), Cork Val (V. americana var biwaensis),Crypt pontederifolia, Sagittaria subulata.

These plants are my starting point, not at all my complete list. Can you help with the diagram? With my Amazon Swords, how many square inches of space should I allow between plants. I want 2 or 3 as focus points. Obviously other smaller low light plants will fill the space between, but how far apart do the Amazons' need to be planted?

What about planting of Cork Val. Is a 2 square inch space sufficient for the base of each plant, or do they need more space?

You see where I'm coming from. I'm just looking for general ideas concerning this topic.

Thanks. Yes, pics will come.
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Old 07-14-2012, 11:54 AM   #2
 
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Nice to hear from you.

Spacing is variable, as the intended density can factor in. Considering the plants mentioned, Anubias barteri, Java Moss, and Java Fern of course all attach to wood/rock, and are slow growing. Horizontal spread will be very slow, and once it gets past where you want it, just cut off the rhizome.

Amazon Sword (A. bleherae) can grow quite large. Light and nutrients affect growth. I had 3 or 4 plants in my 115g that quickly got to the surface (2 feet) as shown in the photos below; first photo was March 4, 2010, second photo June 3, 2010 when they had exploded with 2 or 3 inflorescences per plant. Then they had a nutrient issue (insufficient hard minerals) and declined over several months until they ended up as plants with 3 or 4 leaves about 7 inches total length. My current fertilizing scheme has them rebounding after about a year of growth so poor I thought they were gone.

They have very extensive root systems, out about a foot in diameter, comparable to the spread of the leaves if space permits. They will grow crowded to get a more dense "bush." In my experience they will grow to the aquarium height with a similar spread if allowed to. Our profile mentions up to 20 inches in diameter for the fan of leaves.

Predicting the size of this species is not easy. Cladistic and DNA studies have now proven what some botanists suggested in the early 1990's. This species is not distinct. It is actually Echinodorus grisebachii, and in fact so are E. amazonicus and E. parviflorus. Yet for decades these "species" have been considered distinct and in aquaria usually grow different sizes. But botanically, they are apparently the same species. Why they grow so differently is not really known. But this is not all that unique; all species in Echinodorus and the closely-related Helanthium (the "dwarfs") can be very variable depending upon growing conditions; and even in the same aquarium, two plants of the same species will grow differently. Another wonder of science.

Cork Val (V. americana var biwaensis) comes from Lake Biwa in Japan, and prefers sunny conditions so it is more demanding of light than the other variant of this species, V. americana var. americana. It grows narrow spirally-twisted leaves to a length from 5 to 50 cm. It will once settled begins sending out runners and adventitious plants will sprout everywhere in a few months. I wouldn't crowd it initially.

Crypt pontederifolia should be planted in groups, a couple inches apart. Once settled, it will send out runners quite prolifically. It does well in shade and will be taller, but with increased light it will remain short. I like this plant. It is not dense, so a "carpet" still looks thin and is ideal with substrate fish as it frees up the surface of the substrate.

Sagittaria subulata is very similar in growth habit to Helanthium tenellum, except the leaves can grow much taller, as it notes in our profile. This can be planted a couple inches apart.

Hope this helps.

Byron.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 115g Mar 4-10 - Copy.JPG (77.7 KB, 85 views)
File Type: jpg 115g June 3-10.jpg (63.0 KB, 85 views)
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Old 07-14-2012, 07:14 PM   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron View Post
Nice to hear from you.

Cork Val (V. americana var biwaensis) comes from Lake Biwa in Japan, and prefers sunny conditions so it is more demanding of light than the other variant of this species, V. americana var. americana. It grows narrow spirally-twisted leaves to a length from 5 to 50 cm. It will once settled begins sending out runners and adventitious plants will sprout everywhere in a few months. I wouldn't crowd it initially.
Thanks Byron. You see I know where to turn for the help I'm looking for.

In general, will the diameter needs of an Echinodorous be similar to its height?

I plan to run 3 florescent tubes, 2x6500 K and 1 true blue. Would you suggest I avoid the var. biwaensis of Cork Val and instead try to find the var. americana?

Switching gears... If I decide I can't live without Severums in my tank, which is very possible knowing my freshwater history, can you help me with a successful plant stocking list? Java Fern, Anubias, anything else that might have a good chance of not becoming food? Or is a Severum just out of the question?

And thank you for the help. Good to have a trustworthy source.
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Old 07-14-2012, 09:38 PM   #4
 
Byron, what did you do to make them grow that fast?
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Old 07-15-2012, 01:21 PM   #5
 
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In general, will the diameter needs of an Echinodorous be similar to its height?
I hadn't thought of this before, but yes. If left free standing, the number of leaves will be considerable and thus fan out, and about as wide as the height. Of course, light impacts the height too; less light can mean taller plants, and more light shorter. Ths applies to all Echinodorus, and many crypts and other plants too.

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I plan to run 3 florescent tubes, 2x6500 K and 1 true blue. Would you suggest I avoid the var. biwaensis of Cork Val and instead try to find the var. americana?
I must ask for more data. Tank is 180g, is this a 6-foot? And what length are the 4 tubes? And T8 or T5?

Quote:
Switching gears... If I decide I can't live without Severums in my tank, which is very possible knowing my freshwater history, can you help me with a successful plant stocking list? Java Fern, Anubias, anything else that might have a good chance of not becoming food? Or is a Severum just out of the question?
I've no direct experience with Severum, but my sources don't mention plant issues, and rather suggest these are fine in larger community planted tanks provided there are no small fish. So I would go with swords primarily, and Anubias and Java Fern attached to wood if you like. And floating plants of course.
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Old 07-15-2012, 01:27 PM   #6
 
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Originally Posted by Tigris View Post
Byron, what did you do to make them grow that fast?
Echinodorus are heavy feeders, so fertilization is mandatory. Liquid comprehensive fert will suffice, but if one adds substrate fertilizer as well, it will result in much stronger and vigorous growth. I keep my light less than some suggest, but growth is still good--and taller than with more intense light. They go through phases, as most aquarium plants do. After periods of intense growth, a rest period when few if any new leaves develop. In my experience, this cycle occurs 2 or 3 times in a calendar year. Inflorescences may appear during the periods of intense growth, perhaps once a year, sometimes twice.
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Old 07-16-2012, 05:47 AM   #7
 
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I must ask for more data. Tank is 180g, is this a 6-foot? And what length are the 4 tubes? And T8 or T5?
6' tank yes, but I will be using 48'' bulbs. A double fixture & single fixture. T8's. I decided on the 48'' bulbs because the overflows actually reduce the length by 18'' over the rear foot of the tank and it saves me a ton of cash.

I've never run a freshwater tank without a biological filter. Obviously, I have done so on saltwater tanks utilizing only live rock & a protein skimmer. After I add a full stocking list of live plants, I plan to add fish immediately. Stop me if I'm wrong on this. FYI, I am running a Magnum 350 canister as mechanical filtration only. There will be no additional biological or chemical filtration.
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Old 07-16-2012, 10:29 AM   #8
 
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Originally Posted by Pasfur View Post
6' tank yes, but I will be using 48'' bulbs. A double fixture & single fixture. T8's. I decided on the 48'' bulbs because the overflows actually reduce the length by 18'' over the rear foot of the tank and it saves me a ton of cash.

I've never run a freshwater tank without a biological filter. Obviously, I have done so on saltwater tanks utilizing only live rock & a protein skimmer. After I add a full stocking list of live plants, I plan to add fish immediately. Stop me if I'm wrong on this. FYI, I am running a Magnum 350 canister as mechanical filtration only. There will be no additional biological or chemical filtration.
The light should be OK. The "blue" tube in between the two 6500K parallel, if that is feasible, so the light will mix and disperse evenly. To the question on the Vallisneria, the Corkscrew Vallisneria (var. americana in our profiles) might be better choice.

Once the tank is planted fairly well, fish can go in. Go slow on the fish at first. I've done this so often I can estimate each time, but that is hard to put into words to explain. But in a larger volume of water, with lots of plants including fast growers like floating, Vallisneria, swords, there shouldn't be any problems.
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Old 07-17-2012, 08:24 PM   #9
 
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My 180 is on a sump system with overflows. Am I going to have issues with floating plants? Byron - I've seen you mention the importance of floating plants in multiple threads. Can you elaborate or offer alternatives?
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Old 07-18-2012, 12:03 PM   #10
 
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My 180 is on a sump system with overflows. Am I going to have issues with floating plants? Byron - I've seen you mention the importance of floating plants in multiple threads. Can you elaborate or offer alternatives?
The benefits of floating plants are:
  • Shade which is less stressful on fish since they do not appreciate overhead light; almost all our freshwater fish are forest fish that naturally inhabit dimly-lit waters. Obviously this aspect can be provided by hanging branches or houseplants above the surface, though with a cover this might get tricky.
  • Just having something up there on the water surface keeps them more calm. I have seen this over and over; if I toss a few floating plants in the tank, the fish do come out and relax more.
  • Water quality. Floating plants can utilize CO2 from the air, which is four times faster than from the water [one reason why floating plants grow so fast], and they assimilate nutrients and toxins from the water faster as a result, and produce much more oxygen through the dangling roots (also faster because of the faster photosynthesis).
There are no practical alternatives. There simply is no way to replicate all of this, and so simply.

I don't know how sump systems work, never having looked into them. I take it the issue is the plants getting pulled into the overflows?

Byron.
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