My plants aren't thriving...
Hello! Here's a brief overview of what I've got:
-30 gallon tropical community
-Aquaclear 30 HOB filter
-Driftwood with java fern attatched. One sword. Short sparse carpet of a val species. Three stems of moneywort. Three moss balls.
-Heater, 24 deg C (75 F)
-one 8000k Aqueon full spectrum daylight 24" fluorescent. (17 watts) currently on for six hours /day
-2.5 mL Flourish twice a week.
The plants that I have are green, but grow excruciatingly slowly, and it seems that they do not even sprout until they're forced to because they've dropped too many leaves. My algae is in pretty good shape, the driftwood and very old leaves have a thin layer. This tank has been up and running for three years now, and is well stocked.
How can I get my plants to thrive? Is it time to consider CO2? What do you think? (I read Byron's guide to planted aquariums last night and have subsequently reduced my filter flow to low.)
Most of what you've listed are slow growing plants (especially the moss balls).
The light is fine, but may want to switch to a 6500K tube. How old is the one you are using? Tubes only last about a year before losing intensity. Your eyes won't see it, but the plants will.
6 hours a day is not very much. May want to up that to at least 8, if not 10 hours per day (unless you run into algae problems).
The tube is about one year old. What would be a better tube for me?
You want "T8" tubes. That's the diameter of the tube is what it means.
Wattage isn't important, fluorescent tubes have a fixed wattage based on length.
What do you think of using a Life-Glo bulb? That would be 1470 lumen (grr, no Kelvin reading...) It seems balanced.
I agree it is most likely the light that is the problem. The Aqueon tube is very low intensity, I had one that came with my 29g tank (a 17w 24-inch tube) and it went out to recycling the next day.
Unfortunately you are going to have to go with one of the more expensive fish-store tubes here. I bought a GE Daylight for my tank, and it is not sufficient light. The Life-Glo that I had was much brighter, and the plants managed then.
I would get a Life-Glo, or an UltraSun by ZooMed which is basically the same but a bit cheaper (here anyway). Another option i don't normally suggest is the Power-Glo, also quite expensive but it does put out a bit more light; it has a purplish hue which i don't like, but if you are used to the Aqueon (it is similar in this respect) you might not find it odd.:-) Not sure it would be that much better over the Life-Glo or UltraSun though, to be honest.
This is the tank where a single T5 HO tube would be ideal. I'm thinking i should try to track one down for my 29g, meaning a new light fixture in T5. Even with a good tube like those suggested, I find the plants are just managing, sort of.
Thank you for the help, guys!
I did go and get the Life-Glo bulb. Now I need to get the light timing right. When I first got the bulb it was on for 10 hours, but I was seeing a increase in my black (red?) algae on my java fern and driftwood so I scaled it back to 8 hours and stopped dosing with Flourish Comprehensive. Now my algae population seems to be constant, but once again my plants haven't changed one bit. (I do understand that plant growth isn't instantaneous.)
Should I keep the light at 8 hours and start dosing 2.5 mLs weekly again? Does this sound normal? Do I need to change anything?
I also battle brush algae in some tanks, or periodically. And my Java Fern is prone to it, this is normal. The solution is to keep this plant in less light. Shade from floating plants usually works.
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