Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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shootingstar26 03-17-2010 02:35 PM

Inquiry about Ligting Specifics
Good afternoon Forum

My question is about lighting: I have plants in my aquarium (Crypt., Elodea, and Vallisnera) and I was wondering about my lighting. I have one Coralife 15W T8 10000K fluorescent bulb. The other is a CoraLife Nutrigrow 15W T8 6500K bulb. Is this setup okay for ma plants?

oh, and this is a bit off topic - I actually have another plant, but all the leaves fell off and it's not just a root stump. It's been a month. Is it dead?

And I plan on buying one or two more plants - a java fern definitely, and maybe something else. Suggestions?

redchigh 03-17-2010 02:51 PM

Well I'd take out the 10000k bulb- it's really only for corals.
(lemme guess- you listened to the pet store employees... That's a no no!)

Also the plant that "died" and left you with a root stump.. Some plants do that when you buy them. (Swords...) Leave it in your tank and new leaves should sprout from the bulb/rootstock.
(It's caused by a change in water parameters... from the store/distributor tank)

And as for suggestions... I'm partial to stem plants..
(ludwigea is nice... I also like cabomba.)

How big is your tank and what are your water parameters?
(PH, kh)

The only complaint I've had with java fern is that it's a slow grower.
If you have several plants in optimum conditions, the java fern will soon be enveloped in other plants. (For me, anyway.)
If you do get java fern, "windelov" java fern is prettier to me.
Just remember, tie it to some driftwood or a rock.
I let mine grow on the substrate, but it's not recommended.)

Byron 03-17-2010 06:13 PM

What size is your aquarium (gallons and length)? I agree basically with redchigh, since the one tube may be actinic (the 10000K) which plants do not do well under. I might have ideas for a replacement tube when I know the tank size.

Do you know the name of the plant that lost its leaves? Was it one of the crypts by chance?

For other plants to add, consider the sword family (Echinodorus), there are several lovely species depending upon your tank size; some are covered in the Plant section of our "Tropical Fish Profiles" area of the forum, with photos of each.

shootingstar26 03-17-2010 10:40 PM

My tank is 18 gallons; W:20 x L:10 x H:20. Today I went to petco, and saw a "white stripe" I think it was called...I wanted to get it, but it was out of the water in those gel things, and looked suspiciously like those terrerium plants also called "white stripe," so I thought to put off the purchase until I double checked.

@redchigh well actually the light came with the aquarium. My LFS didn't sell the lamp individually to me, it was in the bundle. I can only tell you pH = 7.5, as I have not yet invested in those complete test kits to tell you kH. The plant that died started sprouting a little, but I think the sprout(s?) died...although I don't think I have the eye to really tell. A plant being a slow grower isn't really the problem for me, I just want it to LIVE.

@Byron To be honest I can't exactly place the species of the one that "died"...I looked up pictures and it certainly seems like it could be a crypt. I was looking for those liquid fertilizers you were telling me about and the only ones I could find were this: and this: I'll have to visit the store again and see if maybe I missed the others.

So. Today I bought a "natural sunshine" T8 15W 5000K lamp. Should I replace the fluorescent with this one?
I don't know if it's pertinent, but I have an Elodea, Vallisnera and another crypt. (or at least that's what it was labeled.) Are these lamps enough to support most plants or am I limited to plants that need low-light? Also: I think my Elodea needs trimming, but if I cut them they won't grow longer anymore - right?

p.s would a pygmy sword be okay? Those look nice. My LFS told me that Java moss would be a bad idea because it would grow all over the place...although he was telling me that that's what happened in his aquarium, and he probably had optimum conditions. Which I probably won't.

Byron 03-18-2010 11:56 AM

Right, lots of stuff here, so let's get started. First, the light.

Two tubes over an 18g is a lot of light. The natural sunshine will be good with the 6700K tube you have, so replace the 10000K with the sunshine and see what it looks like. Plants will like this combo, but the appearance is another aspect; I think the balance will be pretty good, and your colour rendition of fish and plants should be good as your combination is very close to mid-day sun.

As for the brightness of the two tubes, shading the tank with floating plants is the easiest way to handle this. Another method is to use a non-clear glass between the light and the tank. You want adequate intensity but not more than adequate, both for the fish (they will be brighter coloured and more at ease with less light) and the plants because more intense light means more nutrients to balance and algae finds it easier to take hold if there is more light than the plants can use.

Now to the plant questions. The stripe plant is not aquatic, is sounds like a species of Dracaena, commonly sold in pet stores as an aquarium plant, but placed under water it will (if lucky) last a few months then rot. Forget it. Rotting plants cause more troubles.

If the plant that lost its leaves is a crypt, leave it; this is called a melt. Crypts are very prone to melting when they are moved (sometimes even within the same tank so don't move crypts unless absolutely necessary) or if water parameters or quality changes enough they will melt. Usually the roots remain alive, and new leaves will appear sometimes within days, sometimes weeks; I read of one crypt that came back after a year.

Pygmy chain sword (Echinodorus tenellus) is a lovely plant; you can read about it in our plant profiles section. Just get one, it will quickly send out runners through or on the surface of the substrate and daughter plants will spring up. You can easily cut these off when they get more than you want. A very nice plant, I have it in both my Amazon tanks; the present 90g flooded Amazon forest has Echinodorus tenellus as the foreground plant, and in the 115g Amazonian riverscape it is E. quadricostatus (I think) on the right side, slightly longer and wider leaves than E. tenellus; both are chain swords, E. tenellus is the more commonly available.

Java Moss is lovely; it is used on wood and rock, so if you have a piece of wood or some rock in the tank, stick a piece of Java Moss on it (you can use thread, or just wedge it between the wood/rock and substrate) and it will grow and attach itself to the wood or rock. It is easy to pull bits off when there is more than you want. A nice plant for adding dark green on the bottom level of the tank, and fish like it for spawning and feeding (bits of food in the Moss). I encourage this to grow on my bogwood.

Last on the ferts. I have previously tried repeatedly to find out what exactly is in the Tetra PlantaMin without success. I am wary of anything that won't tell you just what "nutrients" it contains.

Kent Pro-Plant is described a bit here and it indicates that other products are needed to supply the missing iron, etc. I used to use the Kent "Freshwater Plant" it is called, and it was good. If your store carries Kent products, they might have the Freshwater Plant and I can recommend that. But I am not so sure about Pro-Plant.


shootingstar26 03-19-2010 09:33 PM

Byron - I returned the Kent thing and managed to find Nutrafin Plant Gro. I'll be using that now. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll leave the crypt in a little while longer, if it doesn't green...I might have to trash it. I replaced the light with the 5000K, so I hope they'll be doing well now. =]

My Elodea is growing reeeeeeallly long. If I cut the tips, it won't grow vertically anymore, right?

redchigh 03-19-2010 11:12 PM

Well the great thing about elodea, is that you can cut a few inches off the top (or I usually cut it in half) and plant the top part in the substrate.
It will grow.

If you cut it, the plant will branch... might send up 1 or 2 new stalks growing upwards. With time, trim them, etc until you have a forest of elodea. :)
(Also works well as a mulch/compost in the garden)

And that's the reason I love stem plants. :)
Even for my "foreground" I just planted stargrass sideways. It's spreading like a nice little lawn about 1/2-1/4 inch tall.
(but I have a ten gallon... so I want a tiny grass-like plant. The pygmy chain sword byron mentioned is great for most tanks, just too big for me. I got a dwarf sag thinking it would be a foreground plant... and it's way too tall for a foreground in my tank. Pretty midground plant though. :)

shootingstar26 03-22-2010 11:03 PM

oooh cool! Thanks for the comments/ideas =]

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