Plant compatibility
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Plant compatibility

This is a discussion on Plant compatibility within the Beginner Planted Aquarium forums, part of the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium category; --> So I just got several plants on order for my 20 gal tank that I am setting up, and I kinda made an noob ...

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Old 01-02-2011, 10:13 AM   #1
 
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Plant compatibility

So I just got several plants on order for my 20 gal tank that I am setting up, and I kinda made an noob boo boo.
I found some plants I like and bought them. After they were on order I came to my senses and realized that like fish, I bet plants differ in as well in the way that you keep them. I have a bright Coral life 15 watt bulb (more info when I get home and can read the package) But it is what the LFS said is their best Plant light. So we will see if you guys agree. Anyways, here is what I got coming:


Vals, Corkscrew (Vallisneria americana)
Amazon Sword
Java Fern (Microsorium pteropus)
Ambulia (Limnophila indica)

From the quick research I have done I know that the swords, and the Ambulia need high amount of light and Rich substrate, The Val needs med light, and the java fern needs low light.

I imagine I won't be able to keep my java fern and swords + ambulia both healthy in the same tank, but what about the fern?

The 20 gal has fine sand substrate which I have just found out is not the best for plants due to compacting. Will it be ok if I just poke at the sand when I do my weekly water changes?

If none of these plants are ok for this tank I have 5 other tanks with gravel substrate and various fish that I can distribute them amongst. Also if there are better plants that would work in this tank, please let me know. thanks for the help!
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Old 01-02-2011, 11:07 AM   #2
 
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I have low light plants and high light plants in my tank. I have some floating plants that put some shade down on the low light plants (Mini Water Lettuce). I was just cautious about where I put them all. For example, I put cryptocoryne underneath a giant hairgrass, so that the hairgrass gets lots of light, but the crypt doesn't.
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Old 01-02-2011, 02:05 PM   #3
 
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Most aquatic plants are far more tolerant of varying light levels than some might have us believe. With a few exceptions, none of the standard aquatic plants occur in what we would consider bright light in their habitats; most are under the canopy of forest trees and little direct sunlight gets through, or if it does, it is for brief periods as the sun moves across the sky.

Terms like "high light", "moderate light" etc. are quite subjective, and thus mean different things to different aquarists. For instance, just from the plants you mention, swords (Echinodorus species) and Vallisneria are both moderate light plants. I have several species of Echinodorus in my two Amazon tanks and I have corkscrew Vallisneria in my Asian riverscape tank, all under what most would consider moderate to even low lighting, and they grow like weeds.

The red-leaf plants do need more light than the green-leaf; this is because plants need mainly red and blue light to photosynthesize. But as you probably know, we perceive colour due to the colour of light that is reflected off the surface of what we are looking at; so with plants, if the leaf is red then red light is being reflected off to make it appear red, and as plants need red ight, those with red leaves need more of it because much is reflected off. Plants do not use green/yellow light, which is why they do so well under full spectrum or cool white light: they can reflect off the green light, use the red and blue to photosynthesize, and thus manage with less intense light than otherwise. Among the green-leaf plants there are also some that have a higher light requirement, mainly fast-growing plants which includes the stem/bunch plants. And substrate plants that are far from the light source often need a bit more intensity in order to receive adequate light. This is all very general, there are always exceptions--substrate plants like crypts do very well under shade, as that is natural in their habitat.

Quick comment on your light: a 15w tube over a 20g is perfectly adequate light for the plants mentioned; if you could give me the Kelvin rating (this is sometimes on the end of the tube, or on the package if you still have it) or link to a site with this tube shown, I can offer more. The spectrum of the light is actually the most important criteria, although the intensity needs to be sufficient too but as I say that is OK.

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Old 01-02-2011, 02:32 PM   #4
 
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Thanks Byron, the tube says coralife 50/50 50% natural daylight 6000K 50% Actinic 06 Blue 360 degree Output 15 watt Fluorescent.
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Old 01-02-2011, 02:47 PM   #5
 
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Originally Posted by cbirk View Post
Thanks Byron, the tube says coralife 50/50 50% natural daylight 6000K 50% Actinic 06 Blue 360 degree Output 15 watt Fluorescent.
I will say that should work. Not the tube I myself would get, but from what I have seen of it elsewhere I don't see a problem.
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Old 01-02-2011, 04:00 PM   #6
 
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Awesome, out of curiosity, what would you recommend?
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Old 01-02-2011, 05:47 PM   #7
 
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Awesome, out of curiosity, what would you recommend?
A full spectrum tube with a kelvin around 6500K provides the necessary red and blue but with some green which gives true colour rendition of fish and plants. This is about the closest to the spectrum of mid-day sun that one can get. One has the choice of using "aquarium" tubes which as you probably know are quite expensive, or what I call "hardware store" tubes; GE, Sylvania and Phillips make these, and they are available from hardware or home improvement stores for a few dollars--much less expensive than "aquarium" type tubes and just as good.

On my larger (two-tube) aquaria I presently have one Life-Glo 2 6700K and one Phillips Daylight Deluxe T8. I have the Life-Glo because I got them for 1/5 cost from a fish store closing out, otherwise I would be using the Phillips alone. For years I used Sylvania but Home Depot here no longer carries them, only Phillips. All T8's need replacing every 2-3 years, so long-term the cost savings for the "hardware" tubes is significant.

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