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-   -   What to look for on my plants? (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/beginner-planted-aquarium/what-look-my-plants-47586/)

Inga 07-21-2010 12:15 PM

What to look for on my plants?
 
Alright, as many of you know I just converted my tank from fake plants to real. I had a fit when planting the new plants because I was having such difficulty getting them to stay in the substrate. I am down to about 1/2 the original order but I have since added a few more swords, and 3 Anacharis plants. I am trying to get some thing tall as a visual barrier in the tank in hopes of saving both of my Gourami. Obviously, they start out short but will hopefully grow fast. From what I read, Anacharis is a fast growing plant.

I also planted some of the Pennywort in back because the giant ball of it floating around the top was tearing out my Rotala. I am sadly down to about 1/2 of that as well. The war of the Gourami has taken it's toll on that too, not to mention my lack of coordination in getting it planted in the first place.

What I am now wondering is how do I know if they are getting enough light and Fertilizer or too much of one or the other. My Camboba looks rough but I was actually hoping to get a few more of those as they will look better in groups and are supposed to get tall. That would be a good place for one of the Gourami to hide.

The problem with that is the annoying little Leporinus seems to enjoy nibbling on them. They also do not look real healthy. Bad color, kind of like a dying pine tree. They are said to be in need of high light which I do not have. I think I have medium now with 2 6700K bulbs. Only 15 watts each. Should I have a clip on light shining on the Combaba to stimulate growth? Should I skip getting more combaba and get something else? Maybe more Anacharis?

What do brown spots mean? I know that it is impossible to judge as my tank/plants are new and going through a transition process. I was just thinking if in the future, if I see brown spots it means too much light or if I see yellow leaves, not enough light or fertilizer etc.. Any easy hints or simple rules of thumb to follow to know what is wrong with plants in a tank?

JohnnyD44 07-21-2010 01:22 PM

Hi Inga,

I have had my 55G planted for about 5 and a half months now, and I've gone through all of the issues you've discussed. Fear not, most of them are natural with a new set-up and will disappear with time.


As for looking for a "tall plant", a great choice you've already made would be the pennywort, I need to trim my pennywort in my tank on a weekly basis almost. It grows like crazy, when I trim it, I clip it about 4-5 inches below the water level and replant the part I trimmed, this doubles the plant and gives it a "bushy" look since pennywort is like a stem plant. Growing these in the back of your tank, you'll see that within a few weeks, they'll be floating on top of the water, while remaining planted in your gravel bed :-)

As for knowing how much is too much lighting and ferts, or trying to find the balance between being equalized and over-feeding doing it, it's basically trial and error. If you start dosing too much, you'll start to see it in your tank right away. Lighting is the same way, too much lighting you'll start to see some algae.... There needs to be a good balance between, lights and nutrients available and the plant load. Obivisouly, you wouldn't give a tank with one sword plant in it two root tabs and dose it bi-weekly with liquid ferts, it would be bad for the chemistry in that tank....so it's trial and error, and you'll be able to tell when you have it right. Especially with your pennywort, I know when I add ferts, within 48 hours I can see a growth in them right away. You can see the pennywort in my avatar on both sides of my tank..."floating" on the water.

Your brown spots are mostly like diatoms, a form of brown algae. But don't worry they will eventually go away. If you can rub the leaf of your plant and have it float away, then it's a diatom which will be gone within a month or so maybe. It looks like cinnamon, you can simply rub it off the leaves and the walls of your tank and pick it up during a pwc.

As for yellow leaves, I'm not going to comment as my two sword plants seem to be having an issue staying healthy and I'm working on figuring it out myself...

As i said there generally isn't a "rule of thumb" for knowing the proper amount of fertilizers, but the bottles of stuff and root tabs, can give a pretty decent idea.

Here's my set-up and fert schedule(if you care, haha)
I have two 32W bulbs over my 55g tank which are on for hours a day.
I feed my Amazon sword plants root tabs, they imbedd in the gravel and last for a few months
I feed my stem plants liquid fertilzers twice a week (tuesday and friday).

I use Seachem for both the tabs and liquid ferts, I use the Flourish Comprehensive, and my tank is doing great.[

I hope some of this helps, others will be along to offer their advice

~ Johnny

Inga 07-21-2010 01:43 PM

Thanks so much Johnny. The brown doesn't actually rub off the sword, it is like each leaf has a few spots but a few leaves are totally tinged brown. I am wondering if the brown on the leaves is too much or not enough light or just stress from transplanting them.

I am noticing that the leaves that are lower in the tank seem to yellow so I am assuming this means not enough light is hitting them. I only have 2 15w 6700K 18 inch bulbs on my 60 gallon tank. I have been leaving them on for about 12 hours or a little more each day. I added root tabs around my sword plant and I did dose with Flourish comprehensive 2 times a week. Well, I am only officially on a full week with some of the plants but that is the plan to continue that unless otherwise advised.

I now feel even more stupid then I did. When people said "floating" their plants, I literally thought it meant tossed on top of the water not in the ground at all. That is what I originally did with my Pennywort. It kept getting smaller and smaller but also it kept floating around the tank and ripping out pieces of my Rotala. I planted half of it in the substrate but that part isn't doing well either. It seems to be shrinking quite a lot. The other piece is still literally just floating, not rooted anywhere. duh! No wonder I am not progressing with that. ha ha I will try to plant that piece in the back as well and hopefully make some progress in the form of growth.

Do you think it would be of any benefit to add a clip on light with a normal daylight bulb to shine through the glass on the tank for a few hours to try to add light to the camboba and maybe add a little light to the lower leaves that don't see enough of the top light? I really like the look of the camboba and would very much like to see it take off in my tank. It just seems to be struggling, like the others, maybe even worse.

Byron 07-21-2010 03:23 PM

Inga, did you really mean Leporinus in your first post? Leporinus affinis and L. fasciatus are the two species likely encountered in the hobby, and both get large, 10-12 inches and longer (in adequate tanks) and they eat plants being vasically vegetarian. They can also get quite nasty.

Inga 07-21-2010 07:11 PM

Yup! That is another one of the wonderful community fish that was sold to me knowing full well, I was then talking about changing my tank over for plants. Those are the ones that I went back to the pet store and told them that all I was reading about them was that they get huge and they told me they were a dwarfed variety and that they only got 6 inches at the absolute most.

I have read they were pretty good in community tanks but recently found something about them eating plants. Mine thus far, have not been caught in the act of that. They also so far are getting along well with everyone but I am very mad about that. They are the fish I am trying to re-home or take to a LFS. They are also the ones, I was told to just flush.

This is why I wish I could just start over and get guppies or something of that nature. Something friendly, plant loving etc... Still dreaming of that peaceful tank I was hoping for.

On a happier note, I did a larger water change yesterday, put a few more silk plants back in and Big Bertha, my Gold Gourami has calmed down some. Everyone has been calmer today. Here is to hoping. I am trying to talk my sister into taking one of the Gourami. As if I could ever catch any of them. I am so afraid that all you know what is going to break loose in my tank and all I will be able to do is sit back and watch and take the losers out. :(

Byron, I am also tossing peas and algae wafers in the tank. I have some cucumbers and it says they can eat fruit too. If I fill them up, maybe they will not get into the habit of killing plants? I can hope. I really hope I can talk the LFS into taking them for me. Petsmart won't take them back.

Byron 07-21-2010 07:37 PM

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I'm tempted to say the Gourami will seem like an angel of mercy if the Leporinus start showing their true colours.:lol:

I always think it is good to have a fish store locally even if not the best, and if you can do some business there and get to know them, they are quite likely to take fish off your hands.

Just for interest, here is a photo I took a while ago at the Vancouver Aquarium showing some of their shoal of Leporinus in a huge floor-to-ceiling tank. The fish above are Pacu, the largest characin; the bottom fish is an Arapaima, the largest freshwater fish in the world at well over a metre. This photo is also interesting to show the type of dim water that is common throughout the Amazon basin where many of our aquarium fish occur. Algae is growing throught this tank as the Leporinus feed on it.

Inga 07-21-2010 07:55 PM

Yikes! I wonder if they want 2 more to go with the shoal they have? lol Yeah, I was so angry that day that I almost swore off the store but they have always had healthy looking fish. The employees however, either do not know better or just want to make a sale. When I went back in and told them what I had read, they seemed truly shocked but the manager still swore up and down that it was a dwarf variety and that she has them in her tank and has for many years. I should have asked her if it was several hundred gallon tank.

WHY do stores like Petsmart even sell these kind of fish? Who in the world is going to buy them? They are absolutely adorable and to date, friendly but... I will definitely be working on finding a home. I fear they will have a short life. Why didn't I just do a species tank and get all electric yellow Cichlids? why? Why am I so easily led off the path to what I wanted in the first place? Aaaahhhh!

Inga 07-21-2010 08:00 PM

Byron, I will ask you because you are the plant master. :-D

Is there a sort of quick guide to knowing if plants need more light or less or
do they need more fertilizer? I mean, like, brown spots mean more light, yellow leaves Less light, clear or melting need more fertilizer. Something like that? Does that even make sense to you? I just need a aquatic plants for dummies guide. Make sure to include don't buy Leporinus for planted tanks. :shock::roll::-(

Byron 07-21-2010 08:36 PM

I have seen such guides but pay little attention to them because frankly a number of symptoms can mean several different deficiencies. I mean, I have yet to see a plant that is dying from whatever that has not had either yellowing or browning leaves. My colleague Tom Barr said one such guide was stuff and nonsense (my words for his expression) that better suited terrestrial plants and he is a highly educated aqua-botanist.

The light is actually fairly easy. If there is sufficient for the plants to photosynthesize, they will. If there is too much beyond the available nutrients they will not use it and algae will begin to increase. Too little light and they just won't grow, which can be similar to nutrient deficiency, so when this happens I tend to ask about the light specs and the fertilizing. Insufficient light is rarely the problem, but there are some plants that need more light. Most stem plants need more than most substrate rooted plants (swords, crypts, vallisneria, sagittaria, Aponogeton) or plants that root on wood and rock (Anubias, Java Fern, mosses).

Nutrients are usually the source of problems. Plants need 17 nutrients, of which a few are macro-nutrients (carbon, nitrogen...) and most are micro-nutrients (minerals like iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese, and others). And these need to be in rough proportion or balance, not too much of one or not enough of another. Sometimes an excess of one can cause the plant to shut down assimilation of another nutrient. The easiest way to administer these is through a comprehensive fertilizer like Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium. I believe Nutrafin's Plant-Gro is also good, it does not have all of the nutrients as Flourish does (only Potassium is not listed in Flourish, and I am inclined to think it is included anyway, another story) and other members here have good results from it. Flourish is my first choice and recommendation. If this is used once a week, or perhaps twice (the response of the plants to once a week will tell you this after only 2-3 weeks) under adequate light, the plants will probably be healthy. And it takes very little, 2.5 ml (half a teaspoon) for 30 gallons is the dose, once or twice weekly depending.

Plants that are moved, from tank to tank or from store tank to home tank, sometimes take a while to establish; and some leaf loss is to be expected, initially or later (as with many of the swords). Sudden changes in water parameters can cause some to react; crypts almost always "melt" at any change, be it hardness, pH or temperature, or even light. So never despair over newly acquired plants, provided new growth can be seen within a week usually for most (but not all) even though existing leaves may yellow either soon or later.

Byron.

Byron 07-21-2010 08:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Inga (Post 428479)
Yikes! I wonder if they want 2 more to go with the shoal they have? lol Yeah, I was so angry that day that I almost swore off the store but they have always had healthy looking fish. The employees however, either do not know better or just want to make a sale. When I went back in and told them what I had read, they seemed truly shocked but the manager still swore up and down that it was a dwarf variety and that she has them in her tank and has for many years. I should have asked her if it was several hundred gallon tank.

WHY do stores like Petsmart even sell these kind of fish? Who in the world is going to buy them? They are absolutely adorable and to date, friendly but... I will definitely be working on finding a home. I fear they will have a short life. Why didn't I just do a species tank and get all electric yellow Cichlids? why? Why am I so easily led off the path to what I wanted in the first place? Aaaahhhh!

I am not aware of a "dwarf" Leporinus species; it could of course be something completely different--any chance you could post a photo? You might actually have something wonderful.

I saw Leporinus in two different stores here recently; one was I think Petsmart. The tag said "6 inches" for max length. Maybe in too small a tank, it will stunt out at 6 inches and die sooner than it normally would. I've seen its lifespan given anywhere from 5 to 15 years; I haven't researched this fish thoroughly as for our profiles, but I would think the 5-8 year estimate is more likely accurate.


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