Indian Red Sword Advise?
Any tips on getting an Indian Red Sword to leaf out a bit more? The leaves are healthy, they just aren't growing as expected. All other plants are growing to, or beyond expectations.
PH is 7.5 - 7.6
KH/GH is Unknown, but with the alkalinity I can only assume fairly hard.
Temps are kept 76 to 78
I haven't measured Ammonia/Nitrites/Nitrates since my Ammonia leveled off. With the amount of plants I would wager they are fine.
Substrate is about 1-1.5 inches of soil capped with 1-1.5 inches of gravel. It has red clay mixed in to provide Iron.
I have 4 Bulbs of T8 6500k watts with 2x4hr photo periods with a 2 Hour break between the two and then 14hrs off time. Was going iwth 2x6hr but started to get some thread/hair algae growing on the substrate in places so trying to kill it off.
I do not dose any ferts at all, nor any CO2. With all of the other plants doing fine I'd rather not do any ferts at all. I may eventually, but with the amount of growth on my Vals, Crypts, Red Tiger, and Flame Moss I'd rather keep it as is. CO2 is straight out of the question. I would be willing to try some flourish if you think it would help.
The only other idea I've had recently is possibly getting some of my terra cotta clay I had left over and making a 1" ball to place directly in the root system of the sword? Anyone ever tried this? Since the terra cotta is rich in iron and swords are iron sponge plants it seems crazy enough to work.
Yea, the Salvinia Natans is blocking off my light. This stuff has took off in the past week. It will be culled back soonish.
If it was me I would try dosing Flourish Comprehensive 1x a week and see what happens
If you already have iron mix into your soil I wouldn't add anymore. Too much of one nutrient is/can be a bad thing. Also why do you have 2 light periods? This is probably adding undo stress on your fish as it is unnatural.
Basically there are several theories behind using a split photo period.
Hiscock suggests that some forms of algae require longer sustained lighting than most plants as plants can adjust and begin photosynthesis pretty rapidly while it takes a bit longer. (Can't find a citation on line, but it's in the book)
Barr and Walstead have both theorized that a siesta of 2 to 3 hours between photo-periods allows some CO2 build back up in the system from natural plant respiration for non-CO2 injected tanks.
Barr (Last Post)
Aquatic Gardeners Association • View topic - Siesta w.r.t. Lights
Walstead (Last Post)
Lighting-Siesta & CO2 - Page 7 - El Natural - Aquatic Plant Central
Other than the reasons mentioned above, I work a long schedule and it gives me a good hour before and after work on the days I'm at work to enjoy the tank. Ideally I would rather have bulbs come on individually say like 1 - 12 - 123 - 1234 - 234 - 34 - 4 but my lighting isn't set up to accommodate that. Or even Turning on 1&2 then 3&4. All 4 bulbs are tied to the same cord and timer, but that's neither here nor there.
In the years I've been keeping a tank, I've always had a 2hour break in my lighting when using live plants, and I've never had a bad outbreak of any form of algae, even when throwing dual T5s over a 55 w/ no ferts or co2 injection. While that doesn't necessarily mean it's the reason I haven't had one, I tend not to mess with a system that's worked for me for years. I'm not even suggesting anyone else do it. It just works for me for the reasons mentioned above.
As to the effects on the fish, they don't seem stressed at all by it. Their colors are pale naturally when the lights first come on at 1530 in the afternoon, however when lights out at 1930 rolls around and then back on at 2130 they are still colored and active during the black out period.
There are 2 serp tetras and 2 emp tetras and 1 amano in the salvinia in that picture... out of 9 serps, 6 emperor, 3 pearl gouramis, 10 amano shrimp, 3 clown plecs and 8 bandit corys. The others are in the Val where i had just tossed a thawed cube of bloodworms. The salvinia is also covering about 60% of the surface of the tank so yea there are going to be fish under it. Giving the fish a shady area to get out of the light was the whole idea behind putting it in there in the first place.
Has this forum degenerated to being this judgemental without even inquiring? You don't like my setup or lighting? Fine your business vs mine. What I will not argue with is that I suck at taking pictures of fish tanks because I don't have the lens filters or setting for a SLR camera that doesn't flood the exposure with light, and since the room the tank is in has no overhead light, I don't have a way to balance it out.
When I tell you my fish are displaying no signs of stress (active schooling, vivid coloration, healthy appetites, relaxed breathing, and no fin clamping) how exactly can you argue otherwise? Do you want me to upload a video? It's a 75 gallon tank. Taking one snapshot from the front gives you no perspective of what is going on under the driftwood or in the masses of crypts and wall of vals. Let's try this pic instead where non of the fish are in the salvinia? I just didn't use it because it was taken with a cellphone and didn't focus as well. Also if you would have asked... the first picture was taken with no flash in a pitch black room so the lights appear much brighter than they are due to no filtering on the lens and no other light to balance it out or give a reference.
You are in TN as well it looks like. If you would like to reserve your judgement and come observe the tank in person, let me know. I don't claim to know everything either. I do however know what I see with my own fish on a daily basis.
In any event, I didn't come here to argur the Pros and Cons of a dual photo period setup or how one picture tells the entire story of a tank. I was looking for advice on a plant that I don't have much expirience with... I know swords prefer water a bit on the hard side and that since I am not running high light or CO2 injection it will not red out as much as it would otherwise. Do I need to prune leaves back and let them regrow, or would adding water column fertilization really make that much of a difference seeing as how much nutrients I am giving it via it's root system?
I agree with Boredomb on the dual light periods as I will explain, but first to answer your initial question;-) there is a combination of issues affecting the Echinodorus.
First is light, it is in shade and that is going to seriously affect the growth of red-leaf plants which need more light intensity than green-leaf plants. This is because red and blue are the light colour plants must have to photosynthesize, and the leaf colour is reflected light, so red leaf plants are reflecting red light and thus need even more of it. The intensity overall has been proven to provide this, rather than adding red tubes or something. So first I would try to get the floating Salvinia balanced throughout the tank. There should be some over the open area to protect the fish, something i will come back to when I discuss the light question.
Second, the nutrients. CO2 is as you have surmised (with your dual photo-period) likely the nutrient being depleted first, as it is in most natural setups. Encouraging it by not touching the substrate helps. The other nutrients may or may not be lacking, depending upon the substrate soil and fish foods. All the necessary nutrients will occur from fish food, but obviously not in great quantity. My tanks are fairly heavily stocked, and I know from 15 years experience that the fish food does not provide sufficient nutrients without some form of fertilization. The easiest and usually most sufficient is a complete balanced product like Flourish Comprehensive Supplement or Brightwell Aquatics' FlorinMulti, either dosed once a week.
And this brings me to the balance, the all-important issue in planted tanks. Light must balance nutrients. At the risk of also being criticized for commenting without all the facts, since I don't know the length of the four T8 tubes, I would suggest from the appearance in the photos that they are 48-inch; the light reflected in the tank is very bright. This is double the intensity needed to balance your nutrients. And no matter what photo periods, this is not going to work. Your comment on algae occurring supports this--if the light is balanced with nutrients, there willnever be algae issues in a planted tank; these only occur when the balance is somehow out. The dual photo-period addresses the CO2 issue but not the others if any of them are lacking. Plants will photosynthesize to the max with sufficient light intensity--provided all 17 nutrients needed are available. As I've noted above, this is not likely to be occurring, or to perhaps put it more correctly, the light is greater intensity than the plants can possibly use because the nutrients are limiting them. If I have correctly assumed 48-inch tubes, removing two of them is strongly recommended. This plus adjusting the floating plants would almost certainly change things.
Now to the dual photo-period. I appreciate that this was not the question asked, but please understand that this is a forum for the exchange of ideas and advice, and when any member sees something mentioned that he/she feels is likely to cause problems, it makes no sense to ignore it. We are all free to accept or reject this or that view, fine. But there are issues with light and they should be recognized.
Walstad and Barr are plant people, not fish people, and this should be borne in mind. Some time back I raised this very issue of a dual light period on one of their forums, and there was no scientific evidence provided to refute my views. Light has an impact on fish, significantly. Forest fish occur in very dimly-lit waters, few of which are ever exposed to direct sunlight; and if they are, the fish invariably remain under branches, floating vegetation or overhanging terrestrial vegetation. There is good reason for this, but rather than repeat what is written in my article on light, I will post the link; please have a read of it, it may help to explain this:
The specific issue of dual photo-period is not covered, so I will briefly comment. The circadian rhythm described in the article is internal in all animals. The stress of going through two periods of day during 24 hours cannot logically be denied. Fish are captive to the conditions we provide in the aquarium, and any form of departure from the norm will affect them, because they cannot escape it. I go into this more in my article on stress, so I'll end with that link:
I hope this may have helped to explain things.
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