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post #1 of 10 Old 09-14-2010, 02:57 PM Thread Starter
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Plants and Hard Water

Hey all.
I have a 10 gallon set up right now with whisteria, corckscrew val, pennywort(dying), sigitagria (I think its called) and some ludwigia. I have water that is on the harder side and am wondering if that has anything to do with my plant not growing/dying issue. I use flourish bi-weekly with the recdcomended dosages. I have 1x 15 watt 6500k light over the tank that is on for 9 hours a day.

My val is doing really good sending out runners and stuff but the other plants are slowly growing or dying. I heard people say on here that if your fish can handle it then the plants can adapt to handle it too. I have 3 neons, 2 rosys, and 1 glowlight tetra in there that are doing awesome. Tetras are soft water fish but are doing fine in my harder water. So, the plants should be adapting right? What am I doing wrong?

I do have some other fish in the tank right now. To be honest it is a little overcrowded but i am setting up my new 55 this weekend.

I'm using a 100 gph bio-wheel filter right now with the bio-wheel running.

Last edited by outpost; 09-14-2010 at 03:03 PM.
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post #2 of 10 Old 09-14-2010, 03:21 PM
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1. Does your filter produce a lot of disturbance at the water surface? If so, you don't have enough CO2 in the water level... Try to raise the water level as high as you can.

2. I'd raise your light regime to 10-11 hours a day. If algae appears, then turn it back down.

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post #3 of 10 Old 09-14-2010, 10:04 PM Thread Starter
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Yah there is a lot of surface agitation with the filter. The 100 gob does seem like to much flow for a 10 planted. When I get my 55 set up I will be using a whisper fluted which does not agitate the surface nearly as much.

The water level is as high as it will go. I guess I will have to deal with it. Things are growing slowly. Thanks for the help
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post #4 of 10 Old 09-16-2010, 11:21 AM
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I would suggest CO2 (carbon dioxide) is the issue as redchigh mentioned.

Carbon is a macro-nutrient for plants, and all aquatic plants normally assimilate it as CO2. CO2 comes from the fish and bacteria, and there is a fair bit available in most tanks. But any surface disturbance will drive it out of the water through the gaseous exchange, and the more disturbance the faster. This is dangerous for plants which are slow to assimilate it. [If you're interested in more background, I explain this is the series "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" stickied at the head of this section, especially in Part 3.]

The reason your Vallisneria does well in this case is because this plant is very adapt at assimilating carbon from bicarbonates. Vallisneria always does better in harder water for this reason. Most plants can use bicarbonates a bit, though they prefer CO2. Mosses cannot use bicarbonates at all. But Vallisneria is good at this, which is why I always suggest it for livebearer and rift lake cichlid tanks where the water must be hard and alkaline.

Be careful increasing the light and using Flourish. IF CO2 is in short supply, adding light and other nutrients will not help but hinder, as plants can only grow up to the nutrient in least supply, CO2 in this case. Algae however will exploit the weakness, esp the light abundance. Unless you can reduce the CO2 loss I would not increase lighting.

Filters that move the water around so much especially at the surface are not advisable in planted tanks; a gentle water movement is best, with minimal surface disturbance. You want to help the plants, not make it more difficult for them.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #5 of 10 Old 09-16-2010, 02:41 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you Byron. You are a genius. Do you have a degree in this stuff or something?

I'm going to put a whisper 40 HOB filter on my 55 planted that I'm setting up. When you raise the water level past the bottom of the waterfall tray (curved piece that goes down to allow water to flow into the tank) there is hardly any surface agitaion.

I didn't want to increase my light time because of the algea reason. By any chance do you know the clearance required for the whisper 40?

I have some ludwigia in my tank right now and it seems to be dying. do they not use bicarbonates at all?
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post #6 of 10 Old 09-16-2010, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by outpost View Post
Thank you Byron. You are a genius. Do you have a degree in this stuff or something?

I'm going to put a whisper 40 HOB filter on my 55 planted that I'm setting up. When you raise the water level past the bottom of the waterfall tray (curved piece that goes down to allow water to flow into the tank) there is hardly any surface agitaion.

I didn't want to increase my light time because of the algea reason. By any chance do you know the clearance required for the whisper 40?

I have some ludwigia in my tank right now and it seems to be dying. do they not use bicarbonates at all?
Stem plants can use both, though I understand most have a preference for CO2. Of course, there may well be other issues in this. I only grasped what immediately stuck out when I read your initial post. Ludwigia, if it is the red variety, needs slightly more light (intensity) and nutrients than green plants. But one has to be careful about increasing these, as I mentioned previously--the CO2 issue is going to override everything.

For filters, I do not recommend HOB in planted aquaria. It isn't only a matter of surface agitation, it is the flow through the tank. They are good filters, and in tanks where current is needed (for the fish, like those catfish or loach species that occur in fast-flowing streams) they are perfect. But preferably not for plants (most) or forest fish. This is not to say you can't do it, just that fish and plants will be just a little bit better (= healthier) without. And when you add up all the "little bits" you can have quite a difference. With plants there is also the issue of nutrient assimilation which can be affected by water flow, as I mention in the article series somewhere.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #7 of 10 Old 09-16-2010, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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So you are saying that it might be too much flow. The flow is adjustable on the filter I got. I could slow it down to way less than 100 gph
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post #8 of 10 Old 09-17-2010, 08:18 AM
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In addition what was already mentioned, I'd like to point out that 100gph turn over is a LOT filtration and I'd see to turn this filter down as low as it goes; all my tanks past & present had been set up with a turn over between 3-4 times/hrs (eg for a 10g - max 30gph).
For the hardness, I had a water if I recall right around 10d hardness at our old house and here's the link to the tank that has many of the same plants you listed Rainbow's 55g - 55 gallon Freshwater fish tank so you see that's not a problem.
Another thought that you may want to consider if you had not already, if you have such hard water but mainly want to keep Tetra's who need softer water, you may need to look into changing your water para's manually or exchange the fish for something more suitable for hard water as they will not thrive long turn in hard water (the fish will in fact survive for a little while, but not thrive and be healthy for a long time).

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post #9 of 10 Old 09-20-2010, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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In addition what was already mentioned, I'd like to point out that 100gph turn over is a LOT filtration and I'd see to turn this filter down as low as it goes; all my tanks past & present had been set up with a turn over between 3-4 times/hrs (eg for a 10g - max 30gph).
For the hardness, I had a water if I recall right around 10d hardness at our old house and here's the link to the tank that has many of the same plants you listed Rainbow's 55g - 55 gallon Freshwater fish tank so you see that's not a problem.
Another thought that you may want to consider if you had not already, if you have such hard water but mainly want to keep Tetra's who need softer water, you may need to look into changing your water para's manually or exchange the fish for something more suitable for hard water as they will not thrive long turn in hard water (the fish will in fact survive for a little while, but not thrive and be healthy for a long time).
Thanks. I just turned my filter as low as it will go and there is hardly no surface agitation. It is definitely under 3x the volume of the tank per hour. how long do you expect tetras to live for in hard water on average?
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post #10 of 10 Old 09-21-2010, 10:44 AM
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There isn't an average...

They might live a few weeks, months, or year, but they will likely be very uncomfortable, their color will wash out, and they will be vulnerable to fungal and bacterial diseases...

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