Tropical Fish Keeping banner

Floating Plants and a Brownthumb

5187 Views 25 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Anduie
I've never had much luck with keeping floating plants. My last attempt at water lettuce ended with the roots falling off and the leaves yellowing. I got some water lettuce and fairy moss (I'm not sure if that's a common name for it) Friday and I'm supposed to get some frogbit in this week. More or less, I'm attempting to shotgun my covering.

I got the plants the floating plants Friday and there is not much in the way of bad stuff happening (although I just plucked off two worms), I'm more trying to be cautious and not repeating my errors and trying not to ruin my heavy investment of $2 on plants from a pond store. Also, I like the pictures I've seen of frogbit and I hope that I can actually provide a good home to it.

I have a spare plastic tub and a 1 gallon tank if either are sufficient to experiment with.

1. Tank size
30 gallons, 36L 12W 15(?)H
2. Watts and type of lighting
2 LED 5W strips. One came with the fixture, but I did not see anything discerning it from the other strip I have, so I'm assuming they are both the same. Aqueon 36" fixture (they claim they are 30" strips) with no mention of the color temperature other than "Day White." I do not see it on the strips themselves nor on the packaging or the website. Aqueon's website does advertise a "Daylight" 6700k T5, but that is too blue for what I'm seeing. Previously, I had one strip unplugged due to brush algae concerns, but I'm trying to increase the lighting for the floating plants.

3. Number and types of plants
Wisteria: recovering from a bout with brush algae, almost to the top of the water.
Java Fern: Eh, doing decent, nothing exciting going on
Banana Plant: Does not seem to be able to get more than two inches high before leaves die
3 Patches of Dwarf Hairgrass: got at PetSmart, not growing fast (I guess), but not dieing off.
X Fairy Moss: looks fairly green and healthy.
3 very small Water Lettuce: decent going so far (been in there since Friday), but I do see some yellowing and such.

4. Substrate type
Small grain gravel.

5. Age of tank
Since March, so seven months.

6. CO2 injection

7. Water Parameters
GH: ~60
KH: ~40
pH: 6.5
NO3: ~20
PO4: no test
NO2: ~0
Using an API 5 in 1 test
Changes treated with Kordon AmQuel and Seachem Discus Buffer
I'm starting a regiment of AquaVitro Envy
Thermometer is reading at 75

b. Right now, one hour and twenty minutes after the lights were turned on in the morning, two days after a 33% water change

8. Detailed description of plant problems
Frayed edges, yellowing of the leaves of the water lettuce is my big concern. I'm getting better at handling some of the brush algae, but adding the floating plants made me consider plugging in the second LED strip. Please see the attached photo.


See less See more
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
Hi and welcome to Tropical fish keeping!

First off I will say I nothing about LEDs soo I will leave that to others. There are few here that use them soo hopefully they will step in and give ya some advice on them.

On to the question I do have.
Do you fertilizers of any kind at all? Didnt where you mentioned if you did. All aquatic plants need a certain amount of nutrients to thrive. There are a couple out there that are a well rounded fertilizer. Seachems Flourish Comprehensive is one. I personally use this one as I can get it locally. The other is Brightwell aquatics florinmulti. I haven't used this one before but have heard it is just as good.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
often times algae are caused by incompatible lighting. The light stunts plant growth and allows algae to take over~ If a 6500k bulb seems too blue in comparison to your current light, then it is likely that the light is of an inadequate color temperature :) Fluorescent lights do wonders for plant growth. This doesn't even have to be a proper lighting fixture. A lot of people use 23w (100w equiv) 6500k bulbs with those $6 clamp lamps you find in home depot, it works wonders for plants ^_^

Sent from App
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Actually, I sort of have that contingency. I have a floor lamp with a reading light (just about the right height, too) with a 10W CFL. It's currently tied up with a quarantine tank, but it should be freed up Wednesday.

As for the color temperature, I've never really been too clear on the argument with LEDs. LEDs give a very focused light with a narrow spectrum band (from my understanding, I work with energy conservation and lighting is something I sort of handle but far from the level of an engineer and we never talk about the spectrum.) Is the issue with LEDs not the CT but the wavelength of light emitted?

I had a bad brush algae (I believe) issue when I had both strips plugged in. Do you think my optimism that the floating plants would reduce the lighting intensity at the lower levels is not warranted?
See less See more
I have three tanks and I keep dwarf water lettuce in all of them to varying degrees of success. It seems to me that water flow plays a major part in that my tank with the most water flow usually has the least thriving water lettuce. In my tank with the sponge filter (bubbles agitating the water surface) the WL produces tiny babies like crazy. I have to scoop them out constantly and toss them just to keep some surface open. In my tank with the HOB filter and gentle water flow, the WL does great, producing off shoots that will cover the surface in just a week or two. Again, I find myself pulling plants out to let some light through.
I was concerned about water flow. I have a Aquarium Filters BIO-Wheel Filter Saltwater Filter Freshwater Filter | Marineland and you definitely see water circulation. Would it be advisable, barring completely changing my filter, to somehow mute the flow? Any recommendations on how to do that?

An idea that crossed my mind was to "rope off" portions of my tank. Like, put up a floating barrier that would keep my plants away from the flow. I have absolutely no idea as to how to go about doing this.

Would the same concept be true for frogbit?
No, floating plants would help in the situation. Brush algae to my understanding is caused by too much light. Reducing the intensity will help or reducing the duration of the lighting period.

The fertilizer you are using *scratches head* I don't think that's really a good choice. It doesn't appear to have all the nutrients needed.

Plants use something like 17 different nutrients. They are broken up into two different groups Macronutrients and micronutrients. Marcos are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), sulfur (S), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg) and potassium (K). Micronutrients are iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), molybdenum (Mo), cobalt (Co), and boron (B). Light and Co2 (carbon source for the plants)
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Alright, looks like fertilizer is on my shopping list now.
Alright, looks like fertilizer is on my shopping list now.
The two I mentioned earlier are good choices for low tech tanks (no Co2 added or high lighting). If you get into high tech you will need to look into other types.
one of my LFS has lush forests of BBA in all their tanks. The tanks are in a little dimly lit room with no tank lights XD I've been convinced that light levels have nothing to do with BBA. BBA is a red algae, the same with staghorn algae, From what I understand they behave very differently from green algae or diatoms.

Sent from App
There is a LFS near me that is the same way Ao.

In those case I believe its different. They all have filtration systems that connect all the tanks together. So there is very lil Co2 in the water or a fluctuations of it (another cause of BBA.) plus lil to no ferts so the low light could still be too much for those situations (since they are on all day). That is just a theory of mine and probably way off bases but it makes sense to me.
Ah~ that could be a reason :D
I like to think the tanks are well fertilized due to the excessive stocking LFS tends to have~ I believe their tanks are running on separate systems, but I'll take a closer look next time and confirm for the sake of your theory :D

Sent from App
I know mine LFS has a filtration system for all their freshwater tanks instead of each tank having its own filter. As I have been in the back room to see it. Yours may not. If they don't then it could be that the waste is just feeding the algae if there is no plants in the tanks. Algae will be more then happy to thrive in these conditions. Remember this is just me thinking out loud and I am probably way off. LoL
In terms of the possible brush algae, I'm attaching a picture of the algae on my wisteria. You can see my pitiful banana plant in the background. If there is any particular way to handle it, let me know.

Beyond the plants, my stock is:
5 Platys
8 Platy fry
8 Ghost Shrimp (you guys make shrimp keeping look sexy, so I wanted a trial before I sunk any money into it)
1 Pleco

So, is the big take-home advice to be had in regards to my floating plants is check my fertilizers? I don't want to screw up on my frogbit. Is the flow concern brought up by KPainter something that warrants further investigation and a DIY solution?


See less See more
Sorry Anduie for getting off subject in your thread. :(

Fertilizer is going to help all your plants. As for the Wisteria is there any section of it that doesn't have algae on it? Like the top portion of the plant? If so I would cut it there and plant that part in the gravel and throw the other part away. This how you will have to trim it anyways when it does start to grow. Is the way for all stems.

The flow/current issue with your Frogbit is a concern if it is a lot. Most floater especially Frogbit and Dwarf Water Lettuce in my experience do not like to moved around alot.
Sorry Anduie for getting off subject in your thread. :(
Quite alright. It was a general question, really. I do admit I have a brownthumb and any suggestions help.

So, how would I mitigate the flow issue? Has anyone done this before without the solution being "change the entire filtration system?"
I know you can get rid of the bba by taking the plants out and giving them a bleach dip. I've never used the method, so I'm really cannot instruct you on how to do it :(

You can also try to float all your stems and see if they can combat the BBA with some extra growth as they will be able to have an advantage being closer to the light and atmospheric CO2. My method of baffling filters, is to get saran wrap (or in your case you might want to cut up a ziplock bag or some other stronger plastic). I then wrap this around the intake and using a needle, I would poke as many holes as I need for water flow. once the hob starts running, the plastic will immediately adhere to the intake tube. you can also use a sponge to acheive similar results :)
Sorry, I'm hearing something that I'm not used to hearing and runs a little contrary to what I'm used to doing professionally and what I've heard for a good portion of my life.

Are you saying that I should inhibit the uptake rather than attempt to redirect or slow the flow?

Would this limit the filtration capacity?
It certainly will! :) I don't know anything about filters or filtration because I've been using plants as a primary filtration source for as long as I remember. It all started when I was in highschool and knew nothing about keeping fish. I remember having a banana plant and an elodea in a very small candle holder with a two feeder mosquito fish. They lasted a while and even gave birth. After I learnt about proper fish keeping years later, I understood that what I did was fairly cruel, but the ability to create a mini eco system with plants never cease to amaze me ^_^

I have never cycled a tank in my life! The only reason filters exist for me is to provide some water flow in my tanks, it is purely aesthetic. ^_^ whatever amount of filtration you are cutting down, may be compensated by plant growth. although conditions will vary from tanks to tank. it is always adviseable to test your water frequently until you are sure the tank has stabilized :) you have floaters that should be growing like a weed! and if given the chance, they certainly will :)
See less See more
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.