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kim68048 06-18-2012 06:54 PM

New to live plants - having problems
 
9 Attachment(s)
Hi!
I set up a 10 gallon freshwater tank about 2 weeks ago. I have a male betta and 6 Pristella tetras, a couple of plastic and silk plants and several live plants. Water temp stays at 80 degrees. I have added Seachem Flourish Comprehensive Supplement twice a week. I have had freshwater tanks before but this is my first venture with live plants. As you can see from my pictures, they aren't doing very well. I understand the tank is cycling so there will be fluctuations with the water readings. Can anyone help me out? The first picture is the day I got the plants in the tank. The bottom plant in front center is fake as well as the silk flower on the log. I have also since added a couple of plastic ones in the top back right corner - suspended from top of tank. As you can see from the other pictures, I have a combination of things going on. There is green, fuzzy, slimy looking stuff, brown hairy stuff and brown spots. On the plus side, the fish seem to be doing well : ) Here are my water readings. (Sorry for the long post!). Any help would be greatly appreciated!
:thankyou:

6/3/12
PH = 7.6
High PH = 8.0
Amm = 0.25
NO2 = 0
NO3 = 0

6/5/12
PH = 7.6
High PH = 8.0
Amm = 0
NO2 = 0
NO3 = 0

6/7/12
PH = 7.6
High PH = 8.0
Amm = 0
NO2 = 0
NO3 = 0

6/9/12 - 50% water change after these readings
PH = 7.6
High PH = 8.0
Amm = 0.25
NO2 = 0
NO3 = 0

6/17/12 - 25% water change after these readings
PH = 7.6
High PH = 8.0 - 8.2
Amm = 0
NO2 = 2.0 - 5.0 (assume I have been overfeeding??)
NO3 = 5.0

6/18/12
PH = 7.6
High PH = 8.2
Amm = 0
NO2 = .25 - .50
NO3 = 5.0

Byron 06-18-2012 07:49 PM

Welcome to the wonderful world of planted aquaria.:-D There is good news and bad news. The good news is that the algae problems are normal and can be dealt with. The bad news is that some of the plants are not true aquatic plants but terrestrial, and will not last. It is frustrating that some stores still sell these for aquaria.

Taking the last point first. The dark green grass-like plant in the rear corners is Ophiopogon japonicus, commonly called Fountain Plant or Mondo Grass. This plant can last for a year or perhaps longer fully submerged, or it may not. It looks fine so far, but if it begins to rot apart, pull it out.

The plant in the centre at the back that has wider leaves up to the surface is another terrestrial, a species of Dracaena, the same genus that contains common houseplants. I would take this out, as it is not likely to last and it can create a mess as it rots.

The other plants are aquatic. Those attached to the wood, and one is in the gravel, are Anubias. The name shaded which means you can click on it for our profile of this species that will give you more info. One important point is that the rhizome should not be buried in the gravel or it can rot. This plant attaches well to wood and rock. If you lift the rhizome out of the gravel and leave the fine roots buried, it should be OK. The plants on the wood are fine [I'll come to the "problems" momentarily].

Photo 7 shows (I think) dwarf baby tears, but if someone else has a different opinion I won't argue as I do not know these tiny plant species well. Not usually easy to grow, as it requires more light and nutrients. It also will do better in a smaller-grain substrate like sand.

To the last photo, of the two small plants; the one on the right is I think a crypt, the left looks like either a Dwarf Sagittaria or possible a dwarf form of the Mondo Grass.

Now to the problems. New plants take acclimating to a new environment, so yellowing of existing leaves which will die off is to be expected. However, plants need nutrients, so of which occur in the tap water (the "hard" minerals like calcium, magnesium, etc) and some occur in fish foods. But in new tanks especially nutrients will be minimal, so...are you adding any plant fertilizer, and if yes, which?

Light is the single most important issue. Can you detail your tank lighting? Be specific.

To the algae and related stuff. Diatoms (brown algae) is common in new tanks, so that is not a concern, but wipe it off the plant leaves during the water change. The greenish could be hair algae or fuzz algae. This is due to an imbalance between light and nutrients, so you data on the light and ferts will help us sort this out.

I would lower your tank temperature, 80F is at the warm end for the Pristella Tetra, and the Betta can manage a tad down too. Around 77-78F. This combo may have issues, combining tetras with male Betta is not the best. The tetras may decide to fin nip. And as they grow, the 10g will be cramped space. Check our profile.

Byron.

kim68048 06-18-2012 09:08 PM

Thanks for the quick reply Byron! I have removed the large plant in the center as well as the dwarf baby tears. Turned the temp down a bit. Pulled the Anubias that is attached to a rock out from under the gravel. What should I do about the two small plants? Leave them in or remove? The only thing I am adding is the Flourish Comprehensive Supplement. Should I continue with it? I am not adding any separate fertilizer. Any suggestions on what kind? Sorry - forgot about the lighting. I have an Aqueon Full-Spectrum T8, 15W, 18" bulb. I was told at Petco it is 6500K which I thought was appropriate lighting for the plants. Do I need a different bulb? As for the tetras, I thought I had done my research on compatible tank mates for the betta that could handle cycling. Some posts I had read on the betta portion of this site had said they would be good with a 10 gallon. I haven't noticed any problems so far but will keep an eye on them. The betta's fins seem to be in good shape still as well. Will keep my fingers crossed and not add any more. I am also reading conflicting info what to do to keep the algae in check and not get out of control. Some recommend the nitrate snails and others say they would rather clean the algae vs. messing with cleaning up after the snails. What are your thoughts? Any recommendations on other plants? I love the java moss but can't find any locally and would need to order it online or drive about an hour away to get some. Moss balls? Duckweed? I hear the duckweed can get crazy and might drown out too much light??? I really want to do this right so thanks so much for the advice!

Byron 06-19-2012 02:00 PM

Quote:

What should I do about the two small plants? Leave them in or remove?
Leave them. Once we get the algae issues resolved they should be OK. You can leave the baby tears too, it might be fine; I was just comenting previously that not everyone has success with this plant, but you never know.

Quote:

The only thing I am adding is the Flourish Comprehensive Supplement. Should I continue with it? I am not adding any separate fertilizer. Any suggestions on what kind?
Flourish Comprehensive Supplement is fine, once a week the day following the water change (a conditioner that detoxifies heavy metals might render some of the minerals in Flourish inactive, so we tend to wait a day). Nothing else is needed.

Quote:

I have an Aqueon Full-Spectrum T8, 15W, 18" bulb. I was told at Petco it is 6500K which I thought was appropriate lighting for the plants. Do I need a different bulb?
This sounds fine. How long each day is the tank light on?

Quote:

As for the tetras, I thought I had done my research on compatible tank mates for the betta that could handle cycling. Some posts I had read on the betta portion of this site had said they would be good with a 10 gallon. I haven't noticed any problems so far but will keep an eye on them. The betta's fins seem to be in good shape still as well. Will keep my fingers crossed and not add any more.
A Betta is fine in a 10g, but I am in the group of aquarists who do not consider Betta to be good community fish. They should be on their own, in a 5g planted tank. There is just too much risk of issues. While things may seem fine now, the fish are all new and in a new environment, but that can change. There is also the issue of tank size for the Pristella, they are rather active fish (which is another anti-Betta issue) and need swimming space which a 10g does not provide, esp as they grow.

Quote:

I am also reading conflicting info what to do to keep the algae in check and not get out of control. Some recommend the nitrate snails and others say they would rather clean the algae vs. messing with cleaning up after the snails. What are your thoughts?
I was waiting for your info on the light and fertilizer(s) before going into the algae, and now I want to know how long the light is on. From what you've told me, reducing the duration of the light will probably handle this, and I can suggest how much when I know the present duration.

Quote:

Any recommendations on other plants? I love the java moss but can't find any locally and would need to order it online or drive about an hour away to get some. Moss balls? Duckweed? I hear the duckweed can get crazy and might drown out too much light??? I really want to do this right so thanks so much for the advice!
You're welcome. I would get a pygmy chain sword, check our profile for info and photos. Dwarf sword would be another. The larger swords are just that, large for a 10g. These are easy plants. Crypts are nice and small, but can be fussy; check the species in our profiles. For floating I suggest Water Sprite, or if you can't get that then Brazilian Pennywort, a stem plant that does well floating. Both will be excellent for a Betta that needs floating plants. Duckweed has its uses, but as the main floating plant it does reduce light which is fine but it has no "depth" and the other two suggested plants have this. Click the names for the profiles.

kim68048 06-19-2012 02:48 PM

I hadn't really given much thought to how long the light is on.....now I'm realizing probably wayyyy too long. Probably 15+ hours per day. How much should I cut it back to? I'm going to start watching for a larger tank to move the tetras in to. Thanks!!

Byron 06-19-2012 03:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kim68048 (Post 1122133)
I hadn't really given much thought to how long the light is on.....now I'm realizing probably wayyyy too long. Probably 15+ hours per day. How much should I cut it back to? I'm going to start watching for a larger tank to move the tetras in to. Thanks!!

This is likely the source of the algae. As long as all nutrients are available, plants can use the light to photosynthesize, but once the nutrients become used up, as for instance carbon (CO2) will likely be after a few hours of light, then photosynthesis slows or may even cease. And the light continuing past this point then provides algae with the advantage.

I would cut the light duration back to 10 or so hours. It is best to have this regular each h day, so one of those timers that you get get in a hardware store for lamps and such works well. You can have the "daylight" period whenever you want it, so you are there to enjoy the aquarium. The main thing is a regular period of daylight (10 hours to start) and darkness, which must include total darkness (no ambient room light for several hours). There should be light in the room when the tank light comes on and goes off, to avoid excess shock to the fish.

The duration that will work depends upon the aquarium's biology, so it is a matter of trial and error. The aim is to have the light on as long as possible without increasing algae (what is already there won't go away, but if it stops increasing you are fine), so light becomes what we term the limiting factor.

You might find some background info on this in the series "A Basic Approach to the Natural Planted Aquarium" stickied at the head of this section, and my article on light [http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...r-fish-81982/].


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