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Looking for plant suggestions, please!

This is a discussion on Looking for plant suggestions, please! within the Beginner Planted Aquarium forums, part of the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium category; --> My biggest problem is that I'm home all day surrounded by small children who LOVE LOVE LOVE the FISHYS! (and, um, I do TOO!) ...

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Looking for plant suggestions, please!
Old 03-25-2012, 12:45 AM   #11
 
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My biggest problem is that I'm home all day surrounded by small children who LOVE LOVE LOVE the FISHYS! (and, um, I do TOO!) They'll sit for hours at the tank - it's wonderful to see the wonder through their eyes... and I want to encourage their interest, naturally - but when I try to leave the lights off, they get grumpy with me, which is why I started switching them off at their bedtime. But MY prime fish watching time is after THEY go to bed at 7-8pm. Shutting the lights off early bums me out and kills my 'peaceful fishy zen' time, plus it's important for me to 'spend time' with the fish without the distraction of squealing children - just to make sure all is well in their world visually. :D

Maybe at some point it would be a good idea to change the light and have a try having a double bulb set up - then we could have lower light settings - not even necessarily daylight spectrum for the plants, just for viewing - and maintain a proper schedule with the 'good' bulb(s) for the plants. That really just might solve our problem perfectly! I wonder if I can get a same-sized replacement light for this tank without the expense of replacing the entire hood. I know nothing about it - it's a hand-me-down :) ... something to look into, for sure!

A timer is a great idea, but with kids and babies, my life is so scheduled that the only problem with consistency has been my own indecision of when to turn those suckers off! I'll work on that!

For some reason I have the idea that having more plants in the tank means you'll be more likely to have algae problems. . . of course, considering that I didn't have ANYTHING until I switched bulbs and added nutrients - this makes sense. Hopefully you're right, though, and that will be the extent of it :)

Still gotta figure out WHAT I can plant in there, though, LOL! This is so exciting! I really can't wait! *ish being patient*
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Old 03-25-2012, 10:42 AM   #12
 
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Originally Posted by Chesherca View Post
My tank is cycled, but not established/matured. . .What exactly will happen in there when it goes from sparsely planted to being much more dense? Will I be able to measure anything with testing (aside from possible slight Ph change due to driftwood) What should I watch for? Are there any serious dangers?
Sorry, it was late last night and I forgot to clarify exactly what I meant by this question. . . what I'm looking for is more information on how the added plants, driftwood, and eventually fish will affect the Ph in my tank, and with such soft water, and a low Kh, if I am going to put myself in a 'danger zone' for a Ph 'crash.' I'm not entirely sure what a 'crash' means, exactly, lol, but it sounds quite dangerous!

If I understand what I've read, a lowering of the Ph from my tap is an expected part of the cycle, due to the Co2 produced by the fish and the plants via their breathing and wastes adding another layer to the nitrogen cycle of carbonic acid. . . which lowers the Ph. Right? MY water is soft - I have a low reading in my tap water for Kh, which is what acts as a 'buffer' for the Ph. Having a lower Kh means that the Ph will be more easily affected by EVERYTHING, because it doesn't have as much 'protection' from it's wimpy Kh 'bodyguard.'

It is only logical to assume that the addition of more plants and fish make my Ph fall even farther than it is now - more fish/plants will produce more Co2 and cause the Ph to drop even farther. Still being new to the world of aquaria, I am NOT comfortable with adding anything to the water that I will have to keep constant between water changes. The whole idea of trying deliberately trying to 'change' the 'natural' state of my water makes me very nervous. I know that there are other things that can be done to increase hardness, certain rocks, coral, etc. . . is this something that I am going to HAVE to do? I'm more comfortable with the idea of adding a rock than most of the other options out there, but will be happiest if I can just let nature take it's course. . . so I need more information on exactly what to expect from nature, and if it will be dangerous!

About the wood. . .I chose Manzinata for several reasons, ONE of which was that it doesn't release as many tannins as other types of wood. I've boiled it withing inches of it's life, and the water has stopped turning brown. That said, I know it will continue to release some no matter what.

So... yeah! Is it dangerous to add so many plants and driftwood to a soft-water tank? Byron seems to have soft water, so obviously it can be done! I would love some more insight here!
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Old 03-25-2012, 01:39 PM   #13
 
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On the light. A regular schedule is best for fish and plants. Fish don't need overhead light at all, it is there solely for our viewing so we can manipulate it to some extent. But with live plants it becomes more crucial and two things are important: intensity and duration. If either of these exceed the balance with nutrients, algae will take advantage. And while algae in and of itself is not a bad thing in a fish tank, in planted tanks it can occur on the plant leaves and smother them and kill the plants. Thus, we aim to keep algae under control when live plants are in the tank.

Intensity depends on what you want to grow, plant wise. Generally speaking--and it is very general as there is overlap--we talk of low light plants (Anubias, Java Fern, Java Moss and some crypts are examples), moderate light (most swords, Vallisneria, Pennywort, Sagittaria, some Aponogeton, crypts) and high light (the substrate grass carpeting plants, red leaf plants except for the crypts, and most stem plants except the afore-mentioned Pennywort). [Floating plants will generally do fine under any light, since they are up there close to it, though with high light they can burn.] Mixing all three can be difficult. Low light plants will manage with moderate light, and even high light--but they will need "shade" to do it; sometimes floating plants work for this, sometimes large overhanging plants. All the plants in my tanks are low or moderate. I don't want more light for the fish, so I do not bother with high light plants. As in combining fish species, one cannot have some of everything, the specific requirements are just too different to suit everything in one tank.

A timer is best to keep the light regular. It can be whatever suits your schedule, but--here we come to the duration--algae may be the deciding factor. Plants need light (sufficient intensity) and 17 nutrients to photosynthesize (= grow). As soon as something is no longer available--and this usually is a nutrient--they slow and may even stop photosynthesis. Once this happens, if light is still present beyond this point, algae will take advantage and proliferate. So the light has to be kept to the max duration to balance the nutrients. It is fairly easy to add nutrients via fertilizer, except for carbon which occurs as CO2. So in a new tank, it sometimes takes a few months of experimenting to get the light period settled.

To the water hardness and pH. It is always easiest to go with what comes out of the tap. The less manipulating the better. It is easy to find soft water fish or harder water fish, but once cannot mix them, with some exceptions. I won't get into all this now. Plants tend to manage in what is given to them, provided it is not extreme either way, and again there are a few exceptions. Driftwood is not going to have too great of an effect on hardness and pH. The natural biological processes can, if the KH is low since this is what buffers pH. My article on hardness and pH may provide some background:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...quarium-73276/
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Chesh (03-26-2012)
Old 03-25-2012, 03:44 PM   #14
 
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What exactly is it that you have growing in there, though!!? Aside from the swords, that is! I love your floaty rooty things! *hates not knowing what I'm talking about!*
Forgot this question previously, so here as best I can tell are the plants in the photos in order top to bottom.

Photo 1. Pygmy chain sword but the "larger" species which I think is Echinodorus quadricostatus but now Hellanthium bolivianus perhaps [the "species" of the chain swords is a bit confused]. Also Sagitarria subulata (the very tall ones). The little swords in front are two Dwarf Swords and two different red-leaf varieties that were adventitious plants from the parent plants in the 70g. Low light is keeping them small, but they are managing. Java Moss, one Java Fern far left. Floating is Water Sprite.

Photo 2. Pygmy chain sword, some adventitious plants from Echinodorus bleheri, Brazilian Pennywort, and floating Water Sprite and Pennywort.

Photo 3. Anubias is the main plant; this I broke apart from a single plant that grew to 3 feet in the back of the former 90g. Water Sprite floating. Couple of crypts in front, not sure which those were. I don't have good luck with crypts.

Photo 4.Centre plants are crypts, C. pontderiifolia and C. balansae far right. Java Fern left and a Red Tiger lotus. WS floating.

Photo 5. Another version of #4, some of the same plants, with Aponogeton undulatus and crispus in back.

Last are all swords, floating Amazon Frogbit and Water Sprite, some Pennywort.
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Chesh (03-26-2012)
Old 03-26-2012, 09:04 PM   #15
 
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Fantastic! Thanks for the ideas, and the explanations. At least now I have some sort of starting point and will go from there. . .

What level lighting do I have in my tank? Is it considered low, or moderate? I think I remember someone saying that switching to the LifeGlo bulb would bring my tank up from low to moderate, but I just want to be sure before I even try a plant that requires moderate lighting

Also, does the brightly sunlit room have any effect on the plants within? Meaning should I even consider the light through the windows and the glass of the aquarium as having an additional light source for those plants that may end up in front!?
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Old 03-26-2012, 09:56 PM   #16
 
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Originally Posted by Chesherca View Post
Fantastic! Thanks for the ideas, and the explanations. At least now I have some sort of starting point and will go from there. . .

What level lighting do I have in my tank? Is it considered low, or moderate? I think I remember someone saying that switching to the LifeGlo bulb would bring my tank up from low to moderate, but I just want to be sure before I even try a plant that requires moderate lighting

Also, does the brightly sunlit room have any effect on the plants within? Meaning should I even consider the light through the windows and the glass of the aquarium as having an additional light source for those plants that may end up in front!?
I would say moderate is pushing it with just one bulb. You might be somewhere between the two. I would just stay away from most stem plants and you should be fine. Also I know direct sunlight makes a difference not to sure about indirect though. Byron will know I am sure.
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Chesh (03-27-2012)
Old 03-27-2012, 08:53 AM   #17
 
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I would just stay away from most stem plants and you should be fine.
Hmmm... stem plants get their nutrients from the substrate more so than the water itself, right? So then, even a low light stem plant like maybe a wisteria (I keep seeing it on the low light listings!) wouldn't do well in my tank because I have plain old simple sand - regardless of lighting. Is that right, or am I misunderstanding things?
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Old 03-27-2012, 11:31 AM   #18
 
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Hmmm... stem plants get their nutrients from the substrate more so than the water itself, right? So then, even a low light stem plant like maybe a wisteria (I keep seeing it on the low light listings!) wouldn't do well in my tank because I have plain old simple sand - regardless of lighting. Is that right, or am I misunderstanding things?
Before I answer this, back to your earlier post about your light being moderate and sunlight's effect. Your single tube will be fine for a majority of plants, all the low light and most of the moderate, and of course floating (always have floating plants, the fish will be more relaxed and brighter colouration, always). And ambient light from the room does make a difference, though sometimes (usually) by increasing algae. I have to keep my fish room blinds and thick drapes closed during the longer and brighter days of summer, or I get an increase fast of brush algae due solely to the additional light. This ambient light may not help the plants much, unless they are very close to the window or in direct sun, but algae will certainly use it. And last on direct sun, this can heat the water, so direct sun on the tank is best avoided on both counts.

All plants assimilate nutrients via their roots, and some through their leaves. The nutrients have to be dissolved in the water. This applies to land plants too; there is no nutrient uptake from soil, until the nutrients in the soil leech into the water and the plant can then take them up. Water in the aquarium is moving through the substrate, as it does in natural waterways, bring nutrients with it. You can place nutrients in the substrate via enriched substrates, fertilizer tabs and sticks, etc., which can be beneficial for heavy substrate feeders like swords, crypts, etc. Wisteria being a stem plant utilizes the leaves more than some other plants. And roots will develop from any of the nodes along the stem; nodes are the places along a stem from which leaves and/or roots grow.

Wisteria needs high light. I cannot grow it in my tanks. I would select different plants, among the stem plants Brazilian Pennywort is one that does very well with moderate light. It is the only stem plant I bother with.

Byron.
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Chesh (03-27-2012)
Old 03-27-2012, 03:33 PM   #19
 
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Ahh see I knew Byron would know the answer to that question. I have had Wisteria and I would not put it on a low list. It grew for me in my 55 gallon. At the same time I had a 29 gallon with just one light (Zoo Meds Ultra Sun Super Daylight bulbs. Its similar to.the bulb you have) and wisteria wouldn't grow in there. It might have if I had let it float.
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