Plant failure

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trigiver01

Follow HIM and be fishers of men!
Dec 16, 2008
231
2
18
Alachua County, FL
Hello all,

I am having the worst trouble with plants lately and I cannot figure out why. I'm hoping I can get some good direction from here.

I have a 55 gallon freshwater community (4 lady bettas, 6 h raspboras, 6 Cory cats, 1 albino bristle nose, 6 cherry barbs), gravel substrate, with 2 x Marineland penguin 200 HOBs. It's Florida so the water is softened, but pH 8.4. Ammonia and nitrites 0, nitrates usually hover around 5. Water is a good 78 degrees.

I use the beams work 6500K LED light (the 48" version, length of the tank). I dose the Aquarium Co-Op Easy Green (6 pumps daily) and 2 tsp of the Flourish comprehensive supplement twice weekly. This seems to get the plants to barely hang on, with very slow growth. The lights are on 6 hours per day. Any less and everything gets covered with the brown sheet algae, and much more and I get green algae.

The only plants that seem to be fine are my anubias nana, which I often have to cut and split because it won't stop growing. Ammania, dwarf chain sword, mayaca have barely clung to existence and seem to be losing the battle.

I also have an amazon sword that I'm pretty sure has bit the dust.

My two thoughts are the pH is too high, the lighting is too intense, or both. Our house gets lots of natural light but the tank doesn't get direct sunlight.


Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you!
 

dougall

...
Mar 29, 2005
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I would pay attention to hardness of the water, not the pH specifically.

I expect your water is softened by switching one salt for another.

I think you can lighten up on the easy green some.. until you have more plants that are thriving.

I'm not personally a fan of having lights on for less than 8 hours a day, others will argue, so it's your call.

Personally I would add root tabs to the mix, skip flourish or API and go for Thrive or Tropica. I would also personally move away from easy green if you can.. I have found that they favour paying as little for products vs having good QC. So what nutrients get added can vary from bottle to bottle.

For natural light, indirect is still light, so you need to hear that in mind when calculating how much you have.

Personally, I would look towards plants that prefer harder water and see how they grow, Valisnaria and hornwort spring to mind,and see how they fare.

You can also see if it's an option to change water from your water source before the softener, that might help too.

See if you can find a plant club close, and ask the advice from folks that have similar tap water, also maybe a cheap source of plants do you can try a variety and see what works well.
 

fishorama

AC Members
Jun 28, 2006
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SF Bay area, CA
I don't have LED lights yet or use your ferts, so I have no ideas on if they're an issue. What do your water parameters tests like (all of them)? Is your tap water softened with salt? That may cause trouble with both plants & many fish...

I don't have co2 & can't grow some of your plants well if at all. Big swords are happiest with root tab ferts with a heavy emphasis on macros (NPK) not micros that some have as a major component & very few macros. I have had some success with chain swords in some tanks but not all.

Anubias, meh, I think they're happy no matter what...but that's why we love them!

dougall has good insights as always. We disagree a bit on the lighting period but not too much. He's much better at ferts than I am, take his advice.
 

FreshyFresh

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Jan 11, 2013
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West Falls NY
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Joel
Just to add to the above advice, how long has this tank been up and running? New/newer setups can be a little rough on plants. Can we see a pics the setup?
 

trigiver01

Follow HIM and be fishers of men!
Dec 16, 2008
231
2
18
Alachua County, FL
Thanks, all!

I will look into local plant groups. None come to mind but I can check with the LFS. Also don't mind looking into other Fert products. A few friends had good success with those so I gravitated to them but I am open to all advice to get the plants going.

I suppose, though, that I don't want to add all of this stuff and increase the light to 8+ hours right away, correct? In my experience that's a recipe for algae at first...though of course I may be wrong.

I'll also look into higher pH plants. We do have a salt-softener for our well. I can always see if I can't find a way to get straight well water (look at pictures of north Florida springs and you'll see how high quality the water is) but the pH runs about 8.4 and the hardness anywhere from 8-12 generally (ours is 8 straight out of the ground).

Dumb question...do root tabs go under each plant or do you place them a few inches away from where you put it?


Thanks all, I appreciate the support. Happy to post a picture after a water change when it's a bit clearer. It's a touch clouded right now.
 

dougall

...
Mar 29, 2005
3,191
786
120
Plants don't know what the pH is. Nor do they really care.. they generally will thrive (or otherwise) in a range of KH values.. so it is important to know what your water is softened with or to read the KH value from your tap water and choose appropriate plants..

Personally I would increase from 8 hours of light and decrease the brightness (dimming fixtures or inline light dimmers are almost as important as timers)

You can also control algae to an extent by how much liquid fertilizer you are adding, too much for your plant mass can lead to algae also.

Root tabs are generally used close to the bottom of a plant, but not really touching roots, so a few inches away is fine.. the roots Doo need to be able to get to their vicinity though.. you certainly don't want one per plant with the exception of larger plants like your average sword.
 
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trigiver01

Follow HIM and be fishers of men!
Dec 16, 2008
231
2
18
Alachua County, FL
Thank you. To sum up:
- will switch to straight well water and check GH and KH levels​
- add root tabs, switch to Thrive (since pH is >7)​
- increase light duration to 8h, I'll look into dimmers​
- will look into plants that prefer harder water as well, once levels are known​
Look forward to posting progress!
 
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trigiver01

Follow HIM and be fishers of men!
Dec 16, 2008
231
2
18
Alachua County, FL
All right everyone...brief update. FreshyFresh, I'm sorry I didn't answer your question earlier. This tank has been up and running since October 2008. The albino bristlenose has been in there since 2010!

I was able to find a GH/KH test kit. I've also been doing partial water changes every-other-day, exchanging about 10% of the water with straight well water (0 ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH 8.4, KH 12 degrees, GH 11 degrees). The current tank parameters are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 5 nitrate, KH 12d, GH 9d, pH 8.3.

For comparison our straight tap water (NaCl softened) is pH 8.4, 0 all nitrogen agents, KH 12d, GH 0-1.

It's been a while since I've taken general chemistry, but with this information I imagine there was a good bit of Na floating around to soften 11 GH. hearing your advice and doing more reading I'm hoping it's the salt that has been causing my problems.

Added some hornwort from the LFS (center-back of picture) and ordered two Vals which came today so they'll be planted this weekend with the next water change.

Hopefully the rest of the plants will bounce back, too, so I can rearrange things and fill things out a bit more.

Thanks again, everyone!

Tank.jpg
 
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