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post #1 of 2 Old 05-27-2013, 03:15 PM Thread Starter
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Tank of spare plants: question

Hi, all. I had bought too many plants the last time I did so, and so I made up a dirt 10g, planted them in it, and put it on my office windowsill. It doesn't have any fish in it, and no filter, but I added a few nerite snails to control algae and thought things might go fine.

However, after several weeks, things are really not fine. The plants really don't look very healthy, and many are covered with black algae. I also have an outbreak of baby pond snails. I was wanting to use the plants in another tank eventually, but now I hesitate to do that. So, a few questions: 1) Should I just dip the plants for a minute in a 20-to-1 bleach solution to kill off the algae and snail eggs? 2) Should a spare-plant tank always contain a fish? 3) What is the best way to set up a tank for spare plants?
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post #2 of 2 Old 05-27-2013, 03:44 PM
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Hi, all. I had bought too many plants the last time I did so, and so I made up a dirt 10g, planted them in it, and put it on my office windowsill. It doesn't have any fish in it, and no filter, but I added a few nerite snails to control algae and thought things might go fine.

However, after several weeks, things are really not fine. The plants really don't look very healthy, and many are covered with black algae. I also have an outbreak of baby pond snails. I was wanting to use the plants in another tank eventually, but now I hesitate to do that. So, a few questions:
Before I respond to your questions, I'll just mention that this problem (algae) was due to the soil and light. The soil (if it is organic at all, which it would be unless it is "dead" soil) will often release lots of ammonia and possibly CO2, but nothing else, when first submerged. So the plants got two macros, but no micros. The light in a window is almost guaranteed to cause algae depending upon how it is controlled; I had a window tank for several months and found this out. In your case, the suddent explosion of ammonia and CO2 in all that light, with no other nutrients to speak of, would feed algae.

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1) Should I just dip the plants for a minute in a 20-to-1 bleach solution to kill off the algae and snail eggs?
No. Any "dip" strong enough to actually kill algae and snail eggs will harm if not kill the plant. To save these plants, I would re-build the tank and once that is done use a complete fertilizer like Flourish Comprehensive to get the plants growing, then trim off algae-encrusted leaves. Only then would I move them into other tanks. The algae on the present plants might not survive in the other tanks, but we can't be sure the balance is that stable and algae is always ready to take advantage.

Quote:
2) Should a spare-plant tank always contain a fish?
No. I have a 20g planted tank that I use to QT my new fish, but it sits without fish for several months, sometimes up to a year, and the plants manage fine. Growth is not as rapid as in the other tanks, but the plants survive. Interestingly, I never see any algae in this tank, ever. It has normal tank lighting (two 10w CFL 6500K bulbs) and receives Flourish Comp weekly just the same as the other tanks with fish. I have snails in it. And it gets a weekly partial water change of about 1/3 usually, sometimes 1/2.

Quote:
3) What is the best way to set up a tank for spare plants?
Sand or fine gravel substrate, sponge filter or no filter. My 20g has a dual Elite sponge filter because it is connected to 2 other tanks with same filters and the air pump easily runs the 3 of them. Heater is advisable esp in winter, as plants grown in cooler water may be fine but moving them into the heated tanks could melt them. Snails are advisable, the Malaysian Livebearing and bladder/pond types.

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 youíre going to take it under your wing then youíre 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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