Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Gerardo756 07-12-2010 01:20 PM

Bubble Wall With Plants?
hi, i was just wondering if it would be alright to use a bubble wall with some easy to grow plants in a 10 -15 gal tank with a medium stocking density?

thanks in advance :thankyou:

fishfreak2009 07-12-2010 01:30 PM

I use airstones in my planted tank with no negative results, so I would say that it would be fine. Especially if you aren't using a CO2 reactor, just dose with a little flourish excel and plants like Amazon swords, cryptocorynes, Elodea, anubias, and java fern will grow just fine.

sik80 07-12-2010 02:44 PM

generally bubbled air isn't used in planted tanks because it reduces the concentration of C02 in the water, which can have a negative effect on plant growth. surface agitation should also be minimised for the same reason

redchigh 07-12-2010 03:12 PM

Actually the Excel brings up a good point-

An airstone will completely knock all the CO2 out of the tank. Many plants might stay green, but growth will be extremely slow if at all.

HOWEVER, many hard-water plants can use carbonates as an alternate source of carbon. Carbonates are completely unaffected by aeration.

If you want to go that route, You will probably need to set up your tank with an ideal ph of at least 7, and keep plants like
Ceratophyllum demersum, Cryptocoryne becketti, Echinodorus bleheri, Egeria densa, Elodea canadensis, and Vallisneria.

They are the real pros when it comes to using carbonates.

You could also just use flourish comprehensive, and use dolomite, crushed coral, or even chalk, to keep a good level of carbonates available.

Byron 07-12-2010 06:15 PM

In response to the initial question of a bubble wall in a 10-15g tank, I would say no. Several issues have to be considered.

First, the removal of CO2 from the water will raise (slightly) the pH. This is why planted tanks experience a diurnal cycle in pH (and hardness to some degree), with the pH falling during darkness and rising during daylight when the plants are photosynthesizing. There is a related change in alkalinity too. Gerardo756 didn't give us the pH and hardness of the tank water nor indicate the fish in the tank, so I can't surmise whether or not this might be detrimental to the fish. But it could be.

Second, not all plants can assimilate carbon from bicarbonates sufficiently to thrive. In her book "Ecology of the Planted Aquarium," Diana Walstad cites the results of certain scientific studies that clearly show many of our popular aquarium plants do not do well when carbon is available as bicarbonates and not CO2 (carbon dioxide). Mosses and liverworts cannot use bicarbonates at all, so they simply die if there is no CO2. Most amphibious bog plants show a marked preference (if given the option) for CO2 and grow much stronger and faster with carbon assimilated as CO2 rather than bicarbonates. As Ms. Walstad notes, this may be why such plants chose an aerial strategy (rather than bicarbonates) over the course of evolution to enhance carbon gain. Bog plants include the species of Echinodorus and Cryptocoryne, and these along with others like Ceratopteris, Ludwigia, Myriophyllum, Nuphar and Riccia do not use bicarbonates effectively.

Third, accepting that CO2 is going to result in better plant growth and health, there is good reason to ensure it is not lost but preserved for the plants. Freshwater aquatic plants experience difficulties in their uptake of carbon, and botanists believe this is why submerged aquatic plants grow 4 times more slowly than emerged aquatic plants. This is not because of low levels of CO2 (most natural waters contain three times more mg/l of CO2 than air), but because CO2 diffuses slowly in water, about 10,000 times more slowly than in air. This means the CO2 molecules do not contact the plant's leaves fast enough to meet the plant's needs. [This is also one reason why the flow from filters should be minimal in planted tanks.] Freshwater plants have developed enzymes solely used to rapidly capture CO2 when it is available. When CO2 is depleted, those enzymes "sit idle" so to speak, but they continue to use the same energy which must then be diverted from photosynthesis, resulting in still slower growth. The conclusion from all this is that removing any of the much-needed CO2 from the water via surface disturbance or rapid water movement is going to be detrimental to plant growth.

Having said that, some plants will manage; but some will be hindered. It is for all the above that I do not recommend airstones, bubble walls and surface disturbance in excess of what may be useful to control protein scum. The plants will respond better if they are not working harder to assimilate what little CO2 there is.

This obviously makes sense when one considers the much more rapid growth and vitality (depending how you view this) of plants in high-tech tanks where CO2 is added (along with correspondingly more light and other nutrients to balance). In a low-tech system where we are relying on carbon as CO2 from fish and bacteria to provide what the plants require to maintain steady growth, we should be very careful not to deprive the plants of what they absolutely require. The balance between light and nutrients--essential for good plant growth and health--will become unbalanced and when CO2 is the limiting factor algae readily steps in.

A last comment about Excel. I do not recommend this product. Some plants, such as certain species of Vallisneria, will rot with Excel. Interesting because Vallisneria is one plant that does very well in harder water because it is more proficient at assimilating carbon from bicarbonates. But aside from this, using Excel again sets up a different balance with light and the other equally-essential nutrients including nitrogen which also comes from the fish and biological processes. More than one member here has taken my advice to stop using Excel and noticed improved plant growth and declining algae growth. While my botanical knowledge is not up to explaining why in detail, I do know that it is very simply a case of establishing a more natural balance without Excel.


aunt kymmie 07-13-2010 12:25 AM


Originally Posted by Byron (Post 422584)
More than one member here has taken my advice to stop using Excel and noticed improved plant growth and declining algae growth. While my botanical knowledge is not up to explaining why in detail, I do know that it is very simply a case of establishing a more natural balance without Excel.


And I'm one of those member's who took that advice. Good thing, ever since I stopped the algae has faded into oblivion and I've got great plant growth. Anyone want a 2 liter jug of Excel? I'll let it go for cheap, lol.

redchigh 07-14-2010 11:32 AM

Wow, just goes to show you can't believe everything you read.

I found a web site that listed those plants as strong carbonate users, but I'd be willing to bet they aren't as reputable as diana walstead.

I really need that book. :P

eileen 07-14-2010 08:56 PM

I bought a big bottle of 16.9 fl. oz of Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for aquarium plants. This was not cheap at $16.49 a bottle. When I used the dose on the bottle. I noticed that I also had a high growth of algae as I did not have before adding it. Anyone know anything about this product. The Dose is 1 capful 95 ml) foe each 250L (60 gallons) once or twice a week. I have not used it since. Would using 1/2 or 1/4 the dose once a month be better? I've also noticed that it has Copper in it. I have Red cherry shrimps in one of my tanks. I know that some type of food has trace elements of Copper that do not bother dwarf shrimps or snails. What do you think? I may sell this on craigslist cheaper if this is not good for my tank depending on what input I get. Thanks ahead of time for your replys on this.

Byron 07-14-2010 11:07 PM

First on the copper, there is insufficient in Flourish Comprehensive or indeed any other legitimate liquid or substrate fertilizer to harm fish, plants or invertebrates. Obviously I cannot guarantee that, but that is what the Seachem folks tell me.

There may well be more in your tap water. Copper at levels of 1.3ppm is considered safe for humans; levels of 0.02 ppm can damage fish. Some Connecticut towns have had levels as high as 1.1 (1997). Thus we use a heavy metal detoxifying water conditioner. However, plants also perform this task, and probably better. Aquatic plants readily take up heavy metals, and this has little to do with the nutrient requirements; it is not an assimilation of copper as a nutrient (which it is) but a real absorption of the metal.

Last point on the copper; consider how much gets added to high-tech tanks daily. And many of these tanks have numerous shrimp and other invertebrates (Takashi Amano's setups for instance). Even at those elevated amounts initially added there is no problem.

Now, the issue of course, is not to overdose. My jug of Flourish says 1 capful (10ml) for each 500 litres/120 gallons. One capful of the smaller 16oz bottle can't be 95ml; regardless of that, I worked this out to 1/2 teaspoon per 30 gallons. This works for me as I have a 33g (1/2 tsp), 70g (1 tsp), 90g and 115g (approx 1.5 tsp) per dose. And I add it twice a week, or else my swords begin to yellow. Using it once or twice a month in my view would be a waste. Plants need a regular supply of nutrients, some 17 in total, and Flourish has most of these and in the proportion required by plants, which is why it is so good. But if these are not present, the plants cannot photosynthesize. Photosynthesis (by which plants grow) requires the nutrients in balance with light; plants will stop growing when any one of these is no longer available, what is termed the law of minimum. So providing light, nitrogen, CO2 but no minerals will not allow plants to photosynthesize. Everything has to be there.

Three times during the past year I experimented reducing my Flourish from twice to once a week; every time within 1 week of cutting back the larger swords began developing yellowing leaves; I went back to twice weekly, and within 1-2 weeks the yellowing ceased (in other leaves, the yellowing leaves never recover). So there is something in it that plants need.

There are many members here who have taken my advice on Flourish and I believe they will tell you their plants have exhibited increased health and growth.

Which brings me to the algae. Algae occurs when the light is more than what the plants can use in balance with the nutrients. Some may think that reducing nutrients (fertilizers) will combat algae; just th opposite in fact. Reducing light will combat algae. Otherwise the "blackouts" used in extreme situations and the "siesta" approach would not work to rid a tank of algae. Plants must have the nutrients available to them in order to use the light; otherwise algae will take advantage.

My former 70g had cyanobacteria (none of my other tanks has or ever had this). I cut Flourish down to once a week. It went rampant, even worse. When I increased to twice a week, the cyanobacteria began to dissipate (by which I mean it did not return half as quickly after being removed as previously).

Several months ago hair algae was increasing a bit in my two SA tanks; I cut back one hour on the light from 12 to 11 hours daily, no change on Flourish (twice weekly), the algae stopped appearing.

I would suggest something else may have caused the algae. Of course, various algae occur in different tanks without obvious reason. I remember Rhonda Wilson who authored the monthly plant column in TFH writing more than once that in all her tanks she found certain types of algae would be a nuisance in one tank but never in the others, and each tank had its own "brand" of algae and no other. Her conclusion is probably correct, that there are many things affecting this.

What type of algae is it? And was there any change to the light--including the age of the tubes? There is evidence that when tubes age past a certain point, algae quickly takes over; obviously any nutrients then added would only feed the algae more, since the light is insufficient for the plants.


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