CO2 booster, injection, more lighting, and/or fertilizer for faster growing plants?
I've had a 5.5g betta tank established with a few plants (swords, willow moss, mondo grass) for a bit over a month now. The problem I'm seeing, however, is absolutely no plant growth at all. They are all alive, and seem fine, but have virtually stayed at their exact height.
My suspicion is that it's the water-- pH somewhat above 8, GH and kH both extremely high (kH>300, GH somewhere around 13). The water around here is basically liquid limestone. I have a 15w screw-in 6500k CFL above it and I run it about 12 hours a day, and it also receives light from a north-facing window.
My question is: how do I get them to grow? I know that my water is high in carbonate, and I've heard that will greatly decrease the available CO2, but I don't have the funds to always have soft water on hand instead (and all of my fish are doing quite well in this hardness, actually). What is your advice? I'm looking for a decent cost to production ratio, I suppose, but really I just want all of it to start growing in thickly to make my betta happier.
The rate of growth depends upon a number of factors. Plant species for one, some plants are slow growing, others faster. Adding more light and nutrients to balance may promote faster growth, depending upon species.
What species of sword do you have? These usually take a while to settle in, and once settled they do have periods of rest alternating with periods of growth.
Mosses are generally slow growing, though I am not directly experienced with willow moss. I know my Java Moss seems to take forever to start spreading, but it is certainly doing this now in one tank, but much less in two others.
Mondo grass is not a true aquatic, though it can live submersed for perhaps several months or longer. I don't believe it is particularly fast growing.
Your light sounds fine for the tank size. Nutrients are probably minimal if you are not fertilizing. A good complete liquid such as Flourish Comprehensive Supplement added once or perhaps twice weekly should provide all that is needed to balance the light.
CO2 is a bit tricky. Mosses do not use carbonates as a source of carbon, instead relying totally on dissolved CO2. And this occurs primarily from the breakdown of organics in the substrate by bacteria. In most of my tanks, I do not clean into the substrate, in order to keep this important activity.
Having said all that, some different plant species might be considered. Floating plants are ideal, being fast growing in all cases. This is because their leaves can take up CO2 from the air where it is more plentiful and the uptake is faster than from water. Water Sprite is a good floater for anabantids, check it out in our profiles in the Reference Material.
My water is 23dGH and my plants grow well. Crypts are natrally slow and sont just keep getting larger. Some mosses are slow but I see at least normal growth on everything and think that the plants do well in the hard water.
Seachems flourish comprehensive every week or so, root tab for the sword and LED lighting with lots of floating plants. If your plants are sprouting new shoots then all is well. I leave decomposing plant material in the tank to add some CO2 and ammonia and other crap.
Thanks you guys! I definitely will get some Flourish (especially since I need less than a quarter teaspoon per dosage for my tank). And I'll be sure to leave the bedrock alone (I'm about to introduce some RCS to my tanks to clean up any detritus, anyway).
I was looking and it says Flourish has copper. Does that mean I shouldn't use it in a tank that has inverts? Or should I say, pour Flourish in and then use something that removes copper (either a additive, or I've heard biobags filter out copper)?
Oh, and I'm not sure what swords I have. They were the "Amazon Sword" sold by Petsmart. Are either of you selling any floaters/fast-growers/ground cover? I can always use aquabid, but since you guys were helpful, I'd just as easily buy from from you. :P
The copper is so minimal it won't affect inverts, and plants suck it up very quickly anyways.
I dose Flourish 2x a week in my tank that has lots of cherry shrimp, and they're healthy as can be :)
The plants you mentioned are 'slow and steady' growers. I can vouch that my amazon swords take foreeevvvveeerrr to grow, but after a few months it's huge.
If you're looking for quick growing plants, go with floaters (frogbit, water sprite, dwarf water lettuce), and stem plants (bacopa, ludwigia, vallisneria, brazilian pennywort, hygrophilia).
Agree with others. Plants need copper as a micronutrient, and there is very little in Flourish; even dosing this three times a week for a while I didn't see any loss of snails.
Check our profile of the sword, if it is Echinodorus bleheri (the "common" Amazon Sword) it will get much too large in a 5 g. You need the pygmy chain sword or chain sword, they are both in the profiles too, all these under the substrate rooted plants section.
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