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jentralala 11-18-2012 12:32 AM

Floating plants + circulation
Are there any floating plants that will do well with the top of the tank being pretty agitated? It's a 35 gallon with two HOB 60gal filters. I'm going to change one out for something a bit smaller, mainly because the filter itself is ridiculously loud. Anyways, the tank is a low/medium light, no Co2, moderately stocked. I've tried water lettuce, it just get tossed around and around and around, hornwort which I really didn't like, it kept "shedding", and duckweed which just scattered in every which direction. Is there a plant that can withstand the water constantly moving or is this just wishful thinking?

rhymon78 11-18-2012 02:25 AM


There are many posts about this subject somewhere in the archives here I am sure... its an age old quandary.

Unfortunately there is little you can do, any kind of small floating plant, the likes of water lettuce, salvinia etc will just either get swirled around constantly or get pushed up into one corner of the tank and pile up on top of one another (this used to happen to me all the time).

having HOB filters it's probably impossible to alter the cascade of water flowing back into the tank which is causing the turbulence. If your return comes back to the tank via a spray bar or return pipe/nozzle of some description then these things could be angled so as to not agitate the surface of the water too much.

Then there is the question of to agitate the surface or not? I asked this question of the knowledgeable folk on here ages ago as every fibre of my being was telling me it was a necessity to allow gas exchange etc, but there are different schools of thought on this subject and apparently in a heavily planted tank too much water agitation can be detrimental to available CO2 for the plants (there are many other factors involved here, most of which I don't understand) Anyway, when I had floaters I used to alternate between surface agitation and messy, swirling floaters and no agitation and lovely still full coverage with my floating plants. I didn't like having no surface movement though, just didn't feel right!

Anyway, there is a floating plant you could try called water sprite (Ceratopteris cornuta) if this plant does well it grows quite large, you get good coverage and may not spin and tumble as much as the smaller plants. or you could try a baffle of some description to cut down the flow of water coming from the filters. other than that theres not much else you can do.

As a side note, I used to be mad keen on floating plants but they just ended up being a pain and eventually all died off so now I don't bother with them. I just let my stem plants over grow and break off and float, this gives my fish a bit of surface coverage. I probably wouldn't go back to floating plants now, although there are guys that swear by them.

Hope this helps


Geomancer 11-18-2012 05:04 AM

Well. step one would be to have a single filter rated for the tank... not two filters each rated for nearly twice the size of your tank. Over filtration does not improve water quality at all, it actually stresses the fish unless you have river fish (but they need river water movement, not the tumble of HOBs).

I have two tanks with HOBs, a 20 gallon and a 10 gallon. Both have Brazilian Pennywort and Dwarf Water Lettuce floating in them just fine. The area around the HOB will of course never have plants as they get pushed away.

fish monger 11-18-2012 06:45 AM

Why not try just removing the loud filter for now and see how things work out ? If the other filter has a flow control, maybe turn it down a tad. You should then be able to have floating plants on at least part of the surface.

DKRST 11-18-2012 02:21 PM

Having floating plants should decrease the need for over-filtration. I have a similar issue, my spraybar outflow from my canister shoots floaters all over my tank. My solution? I cut two bars of acrylic and screwed them together with a piece of fiberglass window screen material pinched between. The acrylic bars are the exact width (front-to-back) of the tank, so it sits on the tank rim perfectly and the screen material hangs down to about 1" below the water's surface.
Result-> I can "corral" my floaters at the end of the tank away from my spraybar and shade my anubias so it doesn't get too much light . I have a low-light end of the tank. The surface barrier doesn't interfere with water flow at all, except right at the surface near the floaters, and the frogbit's much happier not being tossed around. I have frogbit in excess of 4" diameter currently in the tank.

jentralala 11-18-2012 06:28 PM

The reason I have 2 HOB filters is because I had read that it was good to have a lot of filtration on the tank. I also worry because my Pearl Gourami create quite a bit of waste and I'm hoping that 2 filters would be double the bacteria to break it down. My tank is still pretty new so I'm still very nervous about something going wrong. Will the tank be okay with just the one? I have been trying just using the Aqua Tech, to see if there is any difference in ammonia/nitrite/nitrate.

Thanks for the suggestions for plants! I've let few pieces of anacharis float to the top (it is a pain trying to get this to root when my loaches and gourami keep playing in it) until I can get my hands on some water sprite.

Geomancer 11-19-2012 06:46 AM

It will easily be fine with just one of those HOBs. A simple old sponge filter is more than enough for bacteria purposes.

X fish produce Y ammonia that results in Z Nitrates. The number or size of filters doesn't change any of those numbers, provided your filter is rated for your size tank (and you're not grossly over stocked).

A common misconception is that most of the bacteria is in the filter, this isn't true as it's really on every single surface of the tank with the majority in the substrate (just think about how much surface area there is down there...). A brand new tank may have more in the filter until the tank establishes, but still, only one appropriately sized is sufficient.

fish monger 11-19-2012 06:54 AM

It's good that you are keeping track of your water parameters. Most of the beneficial bacteria will be on the surfaces inside your tank...substrate, plants, decor. You should be fine running just one filter at an appropriate flow rate or devising a method like DKRST described. Some of our very knowledgeable members suggest that a slower rate through the filter is actually better for bacteria colonies.

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