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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I over planted my tank with a fairly wide variety of plants figuring that either they would all take off and do well or some would and others wouldn't leaving me with a selection of plants that will work in my aquarium without having played guessing games... the shot gun approach to plant selection basically.

It would suck to have picked the three initially that would not do well only to have to start all over again.

The list as it stands initially is as follows: (in no particular order)

Java Fern
Java Moss
Dwarf Sword
Brazilian Pennywort
Green Cabomba
Amazon Sword
Crypt 1
Giant Vallisneria
Ludwigia (red)
One other yet unidentified stem... of course it's the one doing the best so I'll find out today at the LFS what it is.

For my own benefit I like to write about some of what I do and I figured that I might as well do some of that here as it pertains to plants. Maybe someone else will get something out of it or even make a suggestion to help me with something that I stumble upon.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ok now you've done it!.... we need pics to see the progression. We're all addicted to that sort of thing you know!
Sorry, I thought I had some for one of the plants I was playing with as I was going to post one today... turns out they weren't on my phone.:oops:

Now I am heading in to pickup some fish so you won't see anything until earliest tonight.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
None of the plants you listed are out of the realm of doing well together. Placement is important. For example, shade low light plants ( Javas, Crypts) with moderate light plants. The highest light plant you listed is the red ludwigia. That should be in a position to receive plenty of light.
Yep, pretty much what I did. Ludwigia got front and centre, it was my wife's choice to break the green up.

I'm running LEDs so I don't think that my light levels will ever be too much for anything... only maybe a little low for a red plant type.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Tried planting duck weed but they ate it before it had a chance to grow.
Planting duckweed? It's probably good that they eat it. I understand that it is very pervasive once it's starts. Our LFS can't get rid of it and it keeps spreading from tank to tank. Messy stuff.

I need to play with the plants tomorrow, I uprooted most of it while water changing, which I might have mentioned, but some need some pruning and replanting now. Some of the stems really like to be partially emersed, which is interesting. I've got some stuff languishing and some stuff taking off. I'll get around to some picks tomorrow.

I'm really curious to see how the plants do now that there are some fish in the tank... I think that they need some ammonia. I'll test tomorrow and see if there is any accumulation, I doubt I will see anything though.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 · (Edited)
Amazon Swords

Here is my little batch of two Amazon Swords. It's a little confusing as there are also the Crypt 1 just in front... I think there are three or four of those but they are not in focus.

The swords don't quite look typical but I think that it because they are still fairly short. The blurry fish (hey, I was shooting plants, not fish) are about 1" long for reference... Cherry Barb s. Not so much emphasis on the "Cherry" apparently.

The brown spots have not spread, they came with the plants. Next time I am buying plants I will drive across the city to visit their other LFS branch first, the plants seem to be in much better shape and more to choose from... hindsight.

These I stuck in the sand and made sure that all the roots were tucked in as well. Nothing fancy. I just made sure that the roots were deep enough that the stalks were somewhat in the sand. At my last water change (75% preceding the addition of new fish and to clear the water of some of that tea coloured patina) I rubbed off the leaves to remove some particulate (crap) that had settled on them. I'm not certain but they seem to look just a bit better for it. It may just be that the deposits were reducing some of the green vibrancy or I increased the capacity of the leaves to take in nutrients and light.

I can't say that I have seen any growth on these plants yet.

It is worth noting that EVERYTHING looks slightly better since the addition of the new fish. I was hoping that the added ammonia production would give the plants a boost.

I recall the very first time that someone mentioned putting a sword in their tank... my thought process went something like this, "...a sword.... really? How tacky is that to put a little sword in a tank for decoration". Yah, you've got to start somewhere.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Parameters, Fertilization, odds and ends and some pics

My water parameters are 22 dGH and 23 dKH (test kit tolerances unknown), pH 7.8.

Temperature will be in the 77F to 79F range... right now it sits at 77.7F

Lighting provided by the Marineland Double Bright LED 24" array with 12hours of light per day.

Fish feeding is minimal.

Tank is a 37 gallon high, 30"L x 12"W x 22"H

Plant list as per OP.

Cleaned playsand substrate ranging from 3/4" up front to 3" in back

Mopani and Malaysian drfitwoods, some stones.

The overall picture is pre large water change, the floating matt is post water change plus a couple of days and the individual plant is the one that I call "oregano" for lack of taking the 2 minutes it would take to actually ID it properly, maybe you guys can tell me and save me the effort :roll: That oregano has grown nearly two inches since planting... I'm a little surprised. I added a slightly better contrast sword shot here as I cannot edit my original sword post now.

I plan on cutting the water with reverse osmosis water during water changes, I added 5 gallons at the last change but have not retested since... due today now that additional fish have been in for over 24 hours. I'd like to bring the KH and GH below 20 degrees which may reduce the pH to the mid to low 7's. While the GH and KH are predictable, I'm not certain how the pH is going to respond to my RO addition.

I planted all the plants as I thought they should be planted, I'll address each one separately later, then added a half a capful of Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive. It's been the most mentioned aquarium fertilizer here so, I figured why mess with what is reported to work?

It seems to have a decently comprehensive list of nutrients, I suppose it should, given the name.

I have added this three times since setting up the tank and cannot say that I noticed anything happening... not that I should expect to I suppose. Most of the plants, with one exception, honestly didn't look terribly healthy. I was looking forward to getting some fish in place to generate some much needed ammonia (nitrogen source) as I thought that might be the largest factor in the plants apparent flagging.

I should change that, I did notice a growth appearing on the mopani drift wood that is not an algae, probably some sort of fungus. It was not easy to dislodge but the new tiger snails seem to enjoy eating it... so I've left it alone. It stopped growing following the water change, I think I can attribute it's reduced progress to not fertilizing. If the snails don't clean it up completely I may scrub it off with a tooth brush and remove it with the next water change.

During the last water change (75% or better) I pulled all plants that didn't look to be doing their best and left them to float. I also did some pruning, but I'll address that individually as each plant seemed to need something different done to it.

Since adding the fish and playing gardener everything seems to be doing better, except the fungus or whatever it really is. I have a matt of plants sitting on the surface and they all seem to be doing fine up there. The red ludwigia has some new growth at the ends, which surprised me a little.

I have not added any fertilizer since the last water change. I am not going to add any more pending seeing a reduction in the plant vitality... I'm not a fan of adding anything for the sake of adding it. I think that it would be very easy for me to over fertilize as my water has a lot of mineral content right from the tap. I know some have water that NEEDS these nutrients added so this is probably not typical.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
I hadn't considered the width of the swords. I will probably push them farther against the back wall as width will also become depth, front to back. This should cause them to flatten with their widest on the wall.

I knew the leaves wouldn't get better... I haven't looked close enough to see if there are new shoots, I'll do that when I replant them.

Yes, that may be Hygrophilia, I thought that initially but thought that my leaves were wider. I forget the aquatic plants do not always follow exactly other specimens depending on environmental factors.

I liked calling it oregano though.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
With all these plants, and most being heavy feeding, I would dose Flourish Comp at least once a week. Weakening plants initially will not help them.

Byron.
True, I would suppose that by the time I see signs of less vitality it could pose problems. Once a week would be a good place to start.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Brazilian Pennywort... stem plant starter

"Just cut off the top and stick it in the gravel..."

OK, so much for the quick and dirty version, it's not quite that simple. Just like a regular plant, the node is important whereas the cut itself not so much.

I brought home most of my plants on the first trip and just stuck them in the sand figuring that the advice I'd received was fine. I wondered about the node and the stem beyond, I think I even posted something here about it.

Pic one is not as clear as I would like but I don't have another to chose from right now. That is most of the stem of one of the Pennywort's that I had.

Pic two is a shot of a healthy mid-stem node, lots of roots.

Pic three is the bottom node with some of the stem left below. Note the white and brown colouring, this is basically rotting below the healthy node. This is, more or less, what I was dealing with as all of the stems were just cut off where ever, lots of stem below each node so they were just rotting off at the bottom. They weren't staying put in the sand.

I haven't completed them yet but I will be trimming off all of the stems close to the node and replanting them in the sand. I expect that this time they will stay put and hopefully thrive... I just need to decide where they may be going first. I didn't yank the oreganos to check them as they are all doing well and, if I recall correctly, I did trim them closer before planting them.

What I am unsure of is, when I cut off the existing stems, once they get quite tall, does the lower section branch and split at the top node or is the idea to remove the lower section altogether? I would like to propagate them.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Yes, where you cut most stem plants and making sure you plant a healthy node is important. Most stem plants do branch out after they are pruned. If memory serves me well, pennywort doesn't react as well to frequent pruning as most other plants. Don't know the reason for this.
I suspect it is due to the single leaf with its own little branchlet rather than a terminal node with a few leafs sprouting right from the node and the relatively longer distance between nodes.... but that's just a guess or two.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Some LED Observations

You could replace the bulbs to boost the light levels, I understand that they have a life expectancy that is not just "burnt out", something around 9-12 months even if they look OK.

I was going to get some floating plants but the LFS has nothing specifically floating... other than duckweed. I would use some but I like a thicker surface vegetation than a batch of small leaves. Using the Pennywort as a floater might just be what I end up doing... good idea. Leave some of the ludwigia with it to fill it out a bit too.

Since pulling a bunch of my plants and leaving them float I have noticed different activity in the tank, besides the fish. I have had a snail motoring around in there, all the stems floating are doing better, specifically the red ludwigia I believe because now it is so close to the light. Now I have some little shrimp/insect things that flit about up there... I just noticed them this morning and have no idea what they are, I suspect some sort of shrimp. I'll see if I can catch one to have a closer look tonight.

On the light, it's surprising how much of a difference the light makes from one area to another. I went with a double bright LED array and went to the 24" for my 30" tank, the next size was 36". There are two rows of four bulbs... now I am wishing I had gone to the 36" and made it fit, or just gone to a 36" tank and fit it that way, more bulbs.

In the picture you can see the difference between two sets of stems, the left is just out of the light but not in shade per se, and the right ones are is directly in the light. This is the difference after 10 days as they all started out about the same. It appears that I will have to place higher light plants according to where the light arrives as opposed to just spreading them out in the central area. My original idea was to go with the single bright due primarily to cost at the time but also due to the 50+ bulbs in the array, much better light spread. I could have even doubled up on fixtures, as it turned out, but the intensity of the light affects the light at the bottom of the tank so I was better to go with the 1 Watt 8 bulb array than the 0.06 Watt 50+ bulb array... more light arrives at the bottom even if it is focused in smaller areas.

I might yet get a small single bright to provide more unfocused "top light" for the plants that have already reached that level.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 · (Edited)
Dwarf Swords and other observations on patience

I think that these guys need more light than I had allowed them initially. Where I placed them was spread around the large driftwood piece and not anywhere near the direct light from the LEDs. This is quickly becoming an issue that I did not fully anticipate when I considered LEDs... I probably wouldn't re-consider older style lighting as I like the LED profile and look so I will work with it's various limitations.

Besides, isn't that what this hobby is all about, working within limitations?

So, due to the LED setup I will be grouping plants closer together that need more light and place them directly under the more focused light areas even if only to get them to flourish and grow quicker now. I don't mind slow growth, and expect it as things get spread out over time, but I would like to be able to propagate some of these first batches of plants sooner.

Here is a shot of one of my four dwarf swords. One of the perimeter leaves has turned and I pulled it off after the shot was taken. As poor as the leaf looked it was still pretty well attached and tough. I am amazed at how thick and tough the greenery is on most of these plants... getting right in there and handling them sure makes me think differently of the plants. All of the dwarfs had at least one leaf that needed pruning. I haven't really looked too closely at the rest since they've been floating so now that I have a better idea of what needs to be done and a game plan, it's time to replant.

Considering adding some sort of fertilizer stick for these rooted plants but from everything that I have read the roots don't play a large role in nutrient absorption as long as the water path is flowing. More light, add a weekly water supplement then see what needs to go from there.

As Byron alluded to in an earlier post, the plants will flourish but only up to the single lowest factor. If that is light, then all the nutrients available will not be used until the light is increased. If it is a particular nutrient, then having great light will make no difference until that nutrient is supplied in at least some abundance. My first obvious detriment in the tank was lack of fish, I believe, so I waited until after the fish were in place to start making any further changes.

The trouble with not knowing what may be missing is that overdoing it with one factor can cause it's own set of problems either for the plant in particular or the tank in general. Adjusting each factor gradually and separately and having some patience while waiting for the results to either materialize, or waiting long enough to determine that the result is not going to happen and to adjust something else, can be frustrating. It feels like doing nothing is counterproductive, we all want to "fix it now" when doing nothing can be the best course of action... to a point. Monitoring everything to be able to notice when a change has an effect is as important, or is perhaps more important, than making any change in the first place and can feel like taking action on it's own.

I have to remind myself that this is only day 12 for this tank and day 3 for the 12 Barbs.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
Dwarf Hygrophilia growth and omnivorous fish

OK, So apparently my Barbs are salad eaters. I took the first shot last night... or yesterday sometime and the second shot this afternoon.

I have not seen them gnawing on this but I have seen them picking at other plants, swords and lower hygrophilia leaves and just picking off the top of the leaves. These were nice new shoots on the top so it stands to reason that they would be the easiest to nibble off.

I recall asking the LFS guy about some veggie food to supplement their diet but he said they didn't need it given the food that I bought has algae meal and spirulina after the krill meal and whole herring meal. Maybe he figured they would make a salad of my greens.

Probably giving them a more veggie option with the main source wouldn't stop them from grazing anyway, wishful thinking I expect.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
Maybe try the cucumber and blanched lettuce or spinach and see if that keeps them off the plants. I have a rainbow shark that is currently keeping all of the water sprites and water wisterias in his tank mowed down. Best of luck !
Although that is a great idea, (I happen to have some zucchini ends from supper stir fry... oh, composted already), I don't think that they a actually eating the plants so much as tearing the new leaflets while eating the "odds and ends" accumulated there. I want to actually see them eating them so I can tell for sure though. Elusive little pricks.... I mean.... Barbs:shock:

I'd like some water sprites, I'll have to go looking at other shops I guess.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Java Ferns and Dwarf Sword replanting

First off, I replanted my Dwarf Sword group under more direct light and kept them together rather than spread about the bottom as I had them before. Pic below.

My Java Fern bunch was just floating about on the bottom and seemed to congregate around the feeding rock (the rock just happens to be in the open area where I feed, I like to not have the leftovers dropping on plants and in nooks and crannies as it's easier for both the fish and me when it comes time to clean house).

Last night I did a 30% water change, mainly in order to have a less wet time of planting than any real need to change the water... I'm also curious about how the chemistry is reacting with the plants so it gives me more data to crunch. Oh, I determined that water changes are a weekend event, takes too much time out of the evening by the time I vacuum, prune, plant, play and refill. The fish seem really curious about the whole process, I thought they'd be more skittish than they are. Brazen little buggers.

Java Fern is not a typical plant, the roots are not supposed to be planted in the substrate even though they really look like they should be. These "roots" are really the stem of the plant, called the rhizome. The leaf pic shows that the leaf is attached to the rhizome in the same manner as a leaf on my Dwarf Hygrophilia or Ludwigia is attached to their respective stems. This leads me to consider that the leaf, as it is, is all it will ever be... the new growth will be apparent as the rhizome shoots off another leaf rather than the leaf getting any larger. It might be better had the LFS not cut the rhizome for each leaf but left all of the leaves onboard so the plant could be treated as one stem. I now wonder how quickly my fern plantation might fill in... or how slowly may be a better way to phrase the question, as the rhizome needs to grow another node and that looks like it will take some time to do.

Looking closer at the pic ( I blew it up with a different angle) it's more obvious that the green "root" is the stem and the root hairs are not the same as all the root hairs on a stem or substrate plant Their purpose is to provide anchorage to rocks and roots in a river, not to absorb nutrients from the substrate. This is basically a single node.

I have a nice holey piece of malaysian drift tucked in the corner that is perfect for a fern plantation, so that's where I stuck them. I didn't need to tie anything in place as it is the stillest part of the tank and the plant is slightly denser than water so it doesn't try to float away. See attached pic of the newly decorated wood. I like the look better than the Java Moss too but would like a more bunched appearance, I might buy some more and fill it in better. Looking at some online images of java fern it looks best with a matted rhizome/root mess and all the leaves together growing from the whole mess.

I included an overall shot here as well, it looks a bit different than it has... a little neater which wasn't really my initial goal. I still need to deal with the brazilian pennywort and the red ludwigia. Pennywort, probably going into the front left corner space, I will slide the lighting down that way as the Java Fern is OK with lower light... ludwigia is light needy so I may move the feeding rock a bit and go there in the light spot.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
Oh gawd, your tank is growing out so lovely. I love your idea to get a "holey" piece of driftwood for some of your plants. I may stealy this idea from ya ;)
Thanks. I actually drilled more holes in the driftwood after I got it. I thought that fish might like them as hidey holes but they don't do anything other than hide behind the whole piece... I'd need larger holes to make tunnels for that but the holes certainly make for more anchoring places for plants.

I was careful to make sure the holes looked like other holes, but in hindsight, it wouldn't be noticeable if stuffed with plant roots anyway. I thought the wood would be more of a center piece look than it is.

It also hides the heater, I used a black plastic cased unit rather than glass and turned the light to the side.

I have some rocks that I want to add but not sure where to put them now, they will make for more plant anchoring too.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #41 ·
The fish face was an accident... I thought it was cute though... Try to get that intentionally.... just trying to ge them still is hard enough.

I'm disappointed that the crypts aren't as obvious, I even forgot about them tucked in right in front of the swords. Seeing as they are low light and not very big I will probably move them over by the java ferns to display them a bit better.

I've gone from a "natural" idea of layout to a more display version. More people appreciate the display version and only I the natural, so that is where I am tending now I guess.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
The latest mods include a new plant, some dwarf pennywort looking plant, first pic.

I replanted the red ludwigia after letting it ride at the surface for a while, put it in a grouping more directly under one of the LED bulbs in the fixture and in the open. I may need to move them again as the swords expand.

I slid the 24" fixture off to the left to create a shade end and bright end of the tank without having to use floaters to get the effect.

Pennywort is back in the sand again, stems are trimmed properly, the node roots grew while it was floating so it will stay put better now and it is in the bright side of the tank.

Crypts are over on the shade side with the Java Fern.

I still don't like the look of the swords but they are not flagging, it's just the brown spots getting to me.

Pic of the current layout. Everything looks so staged, probably just due to nothing really spreading out yet, although I trimmed some of the Hygrophilia stems and planted the cuttings to fill the back in. Interestingly all of the new growth has larger leaves than the original growth, I think that may be due to lower lighting levels... produces larger leaf surfaces, very adaptable plant.

Oh, the tank, being a tall, probably lends to the seemingly barren look... more water space above the plants makes them look a diminutive. In hindsight, I would have gone for a 36" shorter tank. Next time.

I see in the picture (even in the reduced image) the snail tracks on the glass that aren't visible otherwise, I obviously need to give it a cleaning sometime.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
Looking very nice Jeff!!!
Thanks. I should have waited a day to take the pic, the water has cleared up nicely now... Still looks rather yellow (driftwood tannins), but clear.

Jeff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #46 · (Edited)
Same plant....

Looks great, Jeff. The plants will fill in nicely. Of course, you can always get more.
Oh yah. So far the plants are worth more than twice the fish... go figure.

Here is a pic of the group of Dwarf Hygrophila. I've already cut and replanted the top 10" or so. The large leaves in the foreground are some of the top stem that was replanted and the leaves are HUGE in comparison to the original stem, they are not out in front so it's not a trick of the camera. I have one more that is in need of pruning today... it's at the surface already. It won't be long before I am tossing these in the compost at this rate. Maybe I will start another tank...:shock:

I am assuming that the larger leaves might be due to a lower light situation than where the stems were grown, sort of an automatic compensation to provide more light receptive surface area for photosynthesis. I will plan on removing the original stems as they are looking a little haggard with the smaller leaves and more roots.


I did note that these appear to grow over night as well, not as much as during the day but definitely noticeable. Oh, the barbs have stopped munching on them now.

I notice a similar response in the red ludwigia, the new growth is green rather than red which indicates sort of the same thing, more green = more photosynthesis possible for the same surface area. I was concerned that these would languish in my light.

Jeff.
 

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