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How To Improve My Plant Health

Author Topic: How to improve my plant health  (Read 5609 times)

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Offline fcmf

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How to improve my plant health
« on: December 28, 2017, 02:17:39 PM »
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I've been attempting to keep live plants for 18 months, and use Seachem Flourish liquid fertiliser plus root tabs (previously API, currently Easylife root sticks). Plants survive for anything between a few days and a few months. Sometimes a plant almost seems to be thriving but a change in location in the tank or another plant overlapping it causes a demise. Sometimes a plant such as anubias can be perfectly fine kept in its pot but, when transferred onto wood, dies swiftly. Some plants have thriving top leaves but the leaves underneath look as though they're nutritionally malnourished eg manganese, iron, potassium, magnesium, etc, judging by the plant diagnosis charts. Other plants have lower leaves thriving but the upper leaves almost look as though they've been burnt by the lighting. Sometimes floating plants have a slight smell as though they've been singed by the lighting. Black beard algae takes a hold on many of the plants.

While flicking through some aquatic magazines lately, I noticed a couple of articles - one on substrates, one on using a pair of old tights to act as a plant pot. Apart from the plants which can be grown on wood, I keep my plants, along with their rock wool, in the black plastic containers which they come in. I was thinking that, if I bought a suitable nutrient-supplying substrate, I could perhaps attempt growing some plants in this inside the tights (fastened at the top with a loose cable-tie) and buried in the existing substrate rather than either changing the entire substrate and rather than continuing with the plants-in-original-pots route - this would give the plants a better chance than them being constricted in their existing containers.

Reading the article about substrates, it looks as though complete substrates contain a lot of nitrogen-based compounds including ammonia which would be a risk to my fish given that my tank is already stocked, as well as soil reducing PH ?and water hardness; would these also apply to Seachem Flourite and Caribsea Eco Complete which are not soil-based but instead fracted clay gravel? Layered substrates appear to be an alternative option, possibly better in my case?

Any views/thoughts on the above? Any potential problems, especially with my very soft water? No risks to my fish and snail are paramount!

Thanks.

[Subsequently edited to correct the name of my liquid fertiliser - for some reason, I keep calling it by the wrong name!]

Offline Sue

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2017, 02:25:11 PM »
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That's the problem with a lot of the plants substrates - they leach ammonia, sometimes for several months. Those are best used in new set-ups so the tank can be left without fish till they've stopped leaching ammonia.

The other thing is that after about a year, they lose all the plant beneficial aspects and become just another inert substrate.


Remember Richard W? he swore by using garden soil in tanks - but only garden soil that had never been treated with chemicals (fertiliser, weed killer etc). He does have a lot of posts so it will take a while to find those he made on plants substrates.....

Offline fcmf

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2017, 02:45:32 PM »
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Thanks, Sue - so this leaching of ammonia would apply to all substrates, not just soil? The one I'm "eyeing up" online is the Tropica Plant Growth Substrate which seems to be clay and sphagnum.

Yes, I do indeed remember Richard W's posts - I'll have a hunt around for those again...

Online Matt

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2017, 03:08:08 PM »
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The clay substrates don't inherently have a huge amount of nutrients (not in a long lasting format that are available to the plants anyway) but a high CEC and so absorb nutrients from the water (and you fertiliser dosing) making it available to the plant roots. 

If you are up for using garden soil I would suggest getting a pond soil which will have less nitrates and phosphates in it and hence reduce any risks to your livestock.

How are you using root tabs when your plants are in the pots they came in?  Rock wool is inert but enriched with a fertilized water when potted, I suspect this then leaches into the sale tank at the shop and so is inert when you get it.  It might be worth trying them in the substrate with root tabs beneath them first.

What I'm struggling to understand is the death of your anubias. I have been pretty brutal with mine and they have always survived... I've taken leaves off by accident and they have survived for ages too... I honestly can't imagine it dying in a couple of days... what did it look like?

Offline fcmf

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2017, 03:25:37 PM »
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Thanks for your reply, M.

I would rather no risks than reduced risks to livestock, so, even if effectiveness of the substrate is compromised, I'd rather try the clay (with the possibility that the plant situation might improve) than soil (with an increased possibility of the plant situation improving but a slight risk to livestock, even if small). If I've understood the relative risk accordingly, might the clay be worth a go then rather than the soil?

How are you using root tabs when your plants are in the pots they came in?  Rock wool is inert but enriched with a fertilized water when potted, I suspect this then leaches into the sale tank at the shop and so is inert when you get it.  It might be worth trying them in the substrate with root tabs beneath them first.
I'm lifting the plant-with-rock wool up and inserting a root tab in the centre of the little clay/terracotta ring (if it exists, or using an old clay/terracotta ring if the plant doesn't come with one), then replacing the plant-with-rock wool on top of that.

What I'm struggling to understand is the death of your anubias. I have been pretty brutal with mine and they have always survived... I've taken leaves off by accident and they have survived for ages too... I honestly can't imagine it dying in a couple of days... what did it look like?
It went a very dark shade and the leaves turned to slime, so that even touching them just caused them to slip off the wood in slimy mess.

Online Matt

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2017, 03:52:47 PM »
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Still can't explain the anubias but I'll do some googling later and see what it turns up - do you think it could have dried out too much when you attached it to to the wood?

I would take things a step at a time here because whilst the clay substrate will be better, I believe you will have significantly more success planting the plant into the substrate with root tabs at the base than you are having currently. The rock wool will not allow much of the nutrients from the root tab to the plant roots and will be largely inert itself. 

Give this a go then see if you still need the clay substrate.  This is truly the no risk approach as changing substrate will move beneficial bacteria out of the tank.

Offline Helen

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2017, 04:07:30 PM »
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What is your reasoning for leaving the plants in their original pots? Every time I buy / move a plant, I free up the roots, and trim them, usually to about an inch long. If the plant has come out of a pot, I still trim a little off the largest roots. And again I do this for plants that don't go in the substrate, like anubias. I do this because trimming the roots (or shoots) promotes growth in that area. If I want the roots to grow, I trim them; if I want the stems to grow I trim them.

So I agree with @Matt and think that your starting point should be getting all your existing plants out of their original pots.

Offline fcmf

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2017, 04:22:31 PM »
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Thanks, both.

This is truly the no risk approach as changing substrate will move beneficial bacteria out of the tank.
I hadn't actually intended to move any of the existing substrate out of the tank - just add in the foot of a pair of tights filled with additional plant substrate. Does that clarification make a difference?

What is your reasoning for leaving the plants in their original pots?
When I originally tried planting plants out of their pots, they just toppled over in the sand, either of their own accord or due to the water flow; the pots therefore serve the purpose of attempting to keep them upright. Also, as the plants either get upturned in the process of vacuuming the sand weekly and really need to be removed altogether to vacuum the sand properly, this involves having to replace the root tabs weekly ie more often than really ought to be.

Is there an alternative suggestion which might address the issues that I'm maybe not thinking of?

Online Matt

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2017, 04:43:19 PM »
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Plant the plants deeper if they won't stand up and you can push their roots through one of those ceramic rings in the bottom of the pot if it helps them stand. Or do you think they were floating out rather than falling - lead weights are the answer here. And don't clean the substrate around the plants as they will do this for you (apart from the surface) and won't want to be disturbed in this way.

I don't regularly gravel clean the planted areas of my tank (which is most of it!!) It just gets done once every month / couple of months.

Personally I would avoid tights of substrate - it would not look natural enough or tidy enough for me (personal view of course...) and I don't think lack of specific planting substrate is the issue you are facing, as the plants haven't been in normal substrate yet and able to access the nutrients in the root tab efficiently.

Sorry I feel like I'm forcing you down a route here... I really do believe you should try planting the plants though to allow them to grow more naturally, as they were designed. This seems to be the main difference between your approach and mine.  I have the plants planted in the substrate with root tabs underneath (I do have problems with them floating before they get established root systems, hence my earlier comment) and I dose a product similar to flourish.

Offline Helen

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2017, 05:33:19 PM »
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Sorry @fcmf, I'm going to agree with @Matt again. Plants need space for their roots to grow. The bit that you see above the substrate is supposed to only be half the plant. So if you restrict the roots, the rest of the plant won't grow very well.

But they also don't particularly like to be messed with. If you disturb the substrate by the roots, not only are you messing with the roots, but you're also removing the nutrients. 

Like Matt, I also don't disturb the substrate around my plants. I vacuum the surface around the plants, and only disturb the substrate where I don't want plants to grow. And I've got away without needing to use root tabs, so far.

How deep is your substrate? If you are struggling to stop your plants floating away, try clearing a patch of substrate, lay the roots on the bottom of the tank and pile the sand on top of the roots. Heap it more in the middle by the stems, and use any rocks you have to help hold it down till the roots can do that by themselves.

Offline Andy The Minion

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2017, 05:42:52 PM »
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@fcmf I'm no plant expert, but my guess is we must have fairly similar water conditions and I have managed to get things to grow by a combination of tweaking lighting, adding CO2 or dumb luck. If it helps this is what I do....
Base water for me is 6.7pH and 0.5Kh so CO2 is low at 3.1ppm however even though I have inert sand substrate the main planted tank raises the water Kh to 1.5. I measure Kh very accurately every week without fail as this is actually the controlling factor for CO2 with soft water parameters (for hard water its pH)
I use a timed yeast CO2 injection and lower the pH to 6.3 (22.8ppm CO2) and this has produced by far the biggest improvement in plant happiness of anything I have done.
There are two quite powerful LED lighting strips that are on for a total of 9 hours per day with a 5 hour rest mid-day. The tank is 60cm deep and gets a bit of daylight with the sun being so low in the sky at the moment and I believe this sunlight is currently triggering a bit of BBA growth, but I'm living with it.
I actively run my tanks at 20ppm NO3, they gain 7 or 8 ppm each week, and weekly water change just what is needed to get back to 20ppm I add 30ml of liquid feed twice weekly.
I have fertiliser tablets pushed under the strongly rooted plants, I don't have a real schedule for topping these up, just add more if I see any yellowing going on.
I think all my plants would be classed as low light and easy, probably a boring selection but they are growing well so I'm happy.

Offline fcmf

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2017, 07:16:25 PM »
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Thanks for all this advice, folks - much appreciated and very helpful indeed.

I think what I'll do is, rather than taking all of the plants out of their pots and finding myself facing difficulties of getting plants to stay upright / not floating off, I'll start off with attempting to re-plant two of the plants this evening and see how I fare with that - what's left of the vallis (the rock wool is actually disintegrating now as it's the oldest potted plant in the aquarium at 7 months) and a ludwigia (as I can see the roots sticking upwards out of the rockwool so expect it may start to have problems soon). I've probably least to lose by focusing on these two first. I have some small pebbles which I can weight the roots down with if need be. I'll get hold of some lead plant weights and progress on with the remaining plants, once I see how I get on with the first two. I'll probably do the hemiographis next (faring relatively well for the past 6 weeks since I got it but its roots are appearing above the rock wool which suggests it's compromised) and the ?crypt next (as it won't be so difficult to weight down due to its short stature). That then leaves the multi-coloured bunched plant and the two longer-leaved plants (possibly hygrophila) to last as they are likely to be the most difficult.

As for the tights in the substrate, my intention had been to squeeze that into the sand and scoop sand over the top of it so that it would be hidden and only the plant showing. However, if the above plan works out, it seems that this may not actually be required.

Substrate is half-full inch thick but rises to ~1.5 inches around a pot, to help keep it in place. I have plenty more in a bag, should I need it.

I haven't gone down the CO2 route yet although AtM's similar water suggests it may be a good idea, as might the "siesta lighting schedule".

I think I'm going to have to train myself to be less clumsy at water change time; lifting out the driftwood inevitably drags up / knocks over at least 3-4 plants, while attempting to siphon up stray leaves, fungused food pellets and often-fungused snail poo inevitably drags up / knocks over the remainder.

[Updating post with some pics  :-[. If anyone has any further suggestions based on what they see, apart from horror at how anyone could possibly have such dire plant-keeping skills, happy to take them on board.  :)]

Offline Sue

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2017, 07:42:32 PM »
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Do you use a typical siphon tube to do a water change; that is, one with flexible tubing attached to a wide rigid cylinder? I find it much easier with sand to use a wine making siphon. These are just a flexible tube with a rigid tube the same width as the flexible tubing. They do come with a sort of cup that slots into the rigid tube, but I don't use that, or the tap that is on the other end. The advantage for me is that being so narrow it will fit into tiny gaps without demolishing half the decor.
Like this http://www.wilko.com/homebrew-accessories+equipment/wilko-syphon-pack/invt/0022573

I start the siphon by filling the tubing with tap water, then carry it over to the tank with the open ends held upwards. Then I put a finger over the end of the rigid tube, put the other end in the bucket and the rigid end in the tank, then take my finger off the end in the tank.

Offline fcmf

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2017, 08:00:23 PM »
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...and the final photo which wouldn't fit in the previous post.

Of my numerous siphons, the one I found the best and have most control over (and least like to get a mouthful of tank water or drench myself or the wall in water if it twists) is https://www.jbl.de/en/products/detail/3504/jbl-aquaex-set-10-35, with the black grid part removed to ensure that all the gunk gets siphoned out. I did wonder if actually taking the cylinder part off might be a better option as it might guzzle up less water - currently a water change is 40-50%. On the basis of what you've said, that might be a good plan, and, if that doesn't quite work, I might just send off for the one you've linked to; thanks, Sue.

Offline Helen

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2017, 08:30:31 PM »
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You could probably add more sand to help keep the plants down, but there are a couple things you can try before then.

Are the pots sitting on top of the sand?

I would suggest choosing a couple of plants to start with (possibly not the Vallis or the crypt - I'll explain why for those in a bit). Take the plant you've chosen out of the pot and remove all of the rock wool. With a sharp pair of scissors, trim the tips of the largest / longest roots. I find that the best place to make a cut is just below where the roots branch. Then put the plant back in the pot and feed as many of the roots as possible through the holes in the pot / basket. Bury the pot in the sand of your tank until the bottom of the pot is on the bottom of the tank. Fill the pot with sand. If you have any gravel and / or plant weights try putting these in the pot. The lower down the pot they are, the more sand you can cover them with, so they don't show. Also make sure that all roots extending beyond the pot are completely buried under the sand.

By putting the roots through the pot, the pot won't be restricting the growth of the plants. And as well as weighting down the pots and plants, the gravel will also help increase the water space around the roots and therefore circulation.

The reason I've suggested not starting with the crypt is that they particularly don't like their roots being messed with and suffer something called crypt melt. This is a particularly dramatic version of something a lot of plants do which is to shed their leaves and grow a completely new set. With crypts they look totally dead and lots of people dig up the roots. But if you can cope with leaving the roots untouched, where they are, crypts will usually grow back and be fine.

I've suggested not starting with Vallis for a different reason. They propagate by sending out little runners that then root when they touch the substrate. With the other plants, putting them back in the pots should be fine. But if your Vallis sends out runners from the pot, you could well get into a tangle with the pot, roots and runners.

Good luck.

Online Matt

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2017, 06:12:43 AM »
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As for the tights in the substrate, my intention had been to squeeze that into the sand and scoop sand over the top of it so that it would be hidden and only the plant showing.

This is a similar proposal to putting gravel in the pot with the plant now I think about it... plants do best with a substrate with pieces 1-2mm big as this allows them to root effectively and allows for water circulation as Helen suggests.  I honestly don't think this is the limiting factor here though. Might be worth a try later down the line though. I also wouldn't do the crypt first.

I haven't gone down the CO2 route yet although AtM's similar water suggests it may be a good idea, as might the "siesta lighting schedule".

The siesta period is a good idea, its also a quick thing to do at no additional cost which will help your plant growth so win-win I would suggest. Though I recall your fish were initially scared of the light turning on - is this a thing of the past now?
Be aware that if you start doing smaller water changes you will likely increase your water hardness if you still have the piece of tufa? rock in the tank.

Offline fcmf

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2017, 04:30:36 PM »
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Thanks, folks.

Unfortunately, my attempts since a couple of evenings ago have gone rather awry.

I tried to re-plant a couple of the plants back into pots as per H's helpful suggestion, with the rockwool replaced by sand and some small stones I have - this resulted in broken stalks/roots, the sand leaking out from the holes in the pots (even although I chose the variation with the fewest holes) and a very cloudy tank as a result of moving and piling up so much sand round the side of the pots in an effort to keep them in the sand, upright and stop the sand leaking out. I ended up retrieving the discarded rock wool and have packed it back in to the pots to block the holes.

I also tried using a weight to re-plant another plant - rather than moving and piling up existing sand around it to try to keep it in place, I used new sand in the hope that this would avoid "cloudy tank syndrome" but it unearthed itself within seconds, causing the root tab to disintegrate and furthering the "cloudy tank syndrome".

My fish are not at all happy with me interfering with the tank, so, apart from "non-invasive" (ie water scooped out in a jug from the water surface only and no vacuuming) water changes to try to restore a clear tank, I'm going to give them a break for a while. The "siesta lighting schedule" will definitely have to go on hold as, while they've become accustomed to the current schedule and can pre-empt when lights are about to come on and go off and so prepare themselves accordingly by huddling together in shoals, I'm fairly certain that a change to that regime won't go down very well, at least not at the current time. On a positive note, though, I'm noticing that the latest addition of floating plants in a plant ring over the anubias is helping keep the BBA at bay. :)

I'm beginning to think I might be best to continue as I have been (despite the high turnover of plants) or else reverting to silk plants again...

Offline Sue

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2017, 04:36:45 PM »
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Fish do quickly become accustomed to when the lights go on and off, which is why they should always be on at the same time very day. Changing the lighting schedule has the same effect on fish as jet lag does to us.

Offline fcmf

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2018, 04:38:35 PM »
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With my new aquascaping toolkit, stacking a pile of ceramic rings (from the bottom of plastic plant pots) on top of one another, and hoe-ing sand up to a depth of about 3" high, I have somehow succeeded in planting two plants directly into the sand substrate!  Progress. ;D Time will tell if they manage to stay upright (tetras had better not get up to their 3-males-chasing-after-one-female antics!) and how long they survive for.

Offline Helen

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2018, 04:59:24 PM »
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Well done and good luck.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #20 on: January 13, 2018, 05:01:38 PM »
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 :cheers:

Offline fcmf

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2018, 05:35:28 PM »
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As mentioned in Thinkfish Daily News thread #995-997, I've now decanted all of my plants into the sand substrate - not an easy task! I'm hereby attaching some pics (one taken from the front and one more from above) - they ought to make fellow fishkeepers void of plant-keeping and aquascaping skills/potential feel better about their own efforts but may be the ingredients of nightmares for everyone else on here who will no doubt be horrified at my haphazard planting!

A little word of explanation to accompany the pics:
* the reddish tinge to the tank water is the consequence of the root tabs - hoping this will settle in time;
* filters are both on the RHS - the one at the back is a "waterfall" type filter and may very well uproot the plants there, while the one at the front has its outflow nozzle tilted to the right, sending the water circulating in an anti-clockwise direction round the tank;
* the taller plants (possibly hygrophila guensis) probably ought to be at the back and it may seem odd that they're on the LHS but they're very wiry and need propped up by something - the wood is ideal for this, and, in turn, the healthier leaves higher up on the plants reduce the growth rate of the BBA on the anubias attached to the wood, so this seemed the best location for them (and the wood looks best from this angle) - this hasn't been doing too well, with the lower leaves experiencing brown diatoms and many/most of the lower leaves dying;
* there is vallis at the back LHS (probably not visible in the photo) - it's the one that has definitely suffered since tampering with it, so I don't expect it'll survive much longer;
* there is hemiographis colorata also at the back LHS - what's left of it after a not-too-successful decant recently (lots of leaves detached from the roots/stalks when detaching it from the rockwool); once these die off, I'll probably buy some taller plants for that location, if there are any which can stand up on their own accord and don't need propped up;
* at the back on the RHS, there is echinodorus martii ;
* at the RHS, there is something small TBC which I can't seem to find the label for (but will update if I find it);
* at the front LHS, there is a new hemiographis colorata and a new alternanthera rosaefolia - probably too large for the front but there doesn't seem to be space for them anywhere else - they might be better moved to the LHS or the back LHS once those die off (and if the rosaefolia survives that long - I do like them but have had rather a lot of them in the past 19 months);
* at the front RHS, there is a cryptocoryne petchii and slightly behind it and to the side higher up, some very BBA-ridden anubias on the wood (although this isn't as bad as it was after I put floating plants in a fish feeding ring immediately above it - these have died off).

If anyone can bear to take a look at the pics, then comments welcome. In order to let the tank settle, I won't be doing any more re-arranging until just before the next water change, though. Incidentally, for some reason, the tank always looks far more bare in photos than it actually is - the fish seem to have very little swimming space in real life but the photos don't reflect this at all.

@Matt - you'll see the two scratch marks down the front of the tank if you look at the pics close up - so be careful with any algae magnet cleaners on your new tank (and any other new tank owners, for that matter!).

Offline Littlefish

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2018, 05:47:24 PM »
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I think that you've done well to decant your plants an put them directly into the substrate.  :cheers:

The plants themselves don't look anywhere near as bad as you've described, and once they've had a few days/weeks to settle in you can review them again.

As well as the root tabs, are you dosing any liquid fertiliser and carbon?

Offline fcmf

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #23 on: January 21, 2018, 06:03:44 PM »
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Aw, thanks for your kind words, @Littlefish. Maybe just as well the red cloudy tinge is there so that you can't see them too clearly! :)

As well as the root tabs, are you dosing any liquid fertiliser and carbon?
Besides the root tabs, Seachem Flourish is the only other product used. I'm terrified of using CO2, for fear of inadvertently overdosing - I seem to be particularly clumsy when it comes to fishkeeping and have so many mishaps during water changes (mouthfuls of water when starting off the syphon, water drenching the cabinet the fishtank sits on and the other items on that, wet sleeves and clothing, leftover water in the syphon decorating the walls and ceiling, not to mention the floor), that I don't think I'd trust myself with CO2 dosing. Mr FCMF carries the water buckets - probably just as well I can't do those tasks!  :)

Offline Helen

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #24 on: January 21, 2018, 06:47:38 PM »
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I think you do yourself an injustice with your descriptions. I've discovered that it's not easy to plant live plants into small grain substrate. And your plants are generally all larger leafed than mine, so I would expect them to be more floaty and therefore the job more difficult.

Don't be disheartened if you have to replant the odd one. I've already had to replant several of my larger crypts and I saw a smaller one, the other day, that's no longer in the substrate (which I subsequently seem to have lost!)

Offline Littlefish

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #25 on: January 21, 2018, 07:06:09 PM »
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Seachem also do Flourish Excel as their liquid carbon/alternative to CO2.
I completely understand the concerns about overdosing a tank. I too am a bit clumsy, and with the exception of mouthfuls of water (I use a syphon bulb thingy), I have been through all the incidents you list on several occasions.
I would still suggest using the Seachem products, but use a 7th of the dose (or less) each day rather than dosing weekly. I would also suggest trying the Flourish Excel, their version of liquid carbon/CO2 alternative. Even if you go with a 50% dose it will still help your plants, without the fear of overdosing. You'd be amazed at how much it helps.

Offline Sue

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #26 on: January 21, 2018, 07:10:25 PM »
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I don't like these liquid carbon products. They contain glutaraldehyde, a disinfectant. It may not kill my fish bvut it won't to them any good. And if it comes to that, neither does adding CO2 gas.

Unless the tank is high tech planted, these should not be needed. Fish breathe out CO2 and micro-organisms in the substrate break down fish poo, left over food etc to make CO2. It's only those tanks that are aquatic gardens with a few fish that need added CO2 in any form. Fish tanks with some plants don't need it.
And if CO2 is added, more intense light and extra fertiliser are needed to keep things in balance.

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #27 on: January 21, 2018, 07:17:30 PM »
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I wouldn't rule out the vallis just yet, it may loose a lot of its leaves but as long as a few remain green it could well bounce back.  I seem to recall they don't like their roots being disturbed much. It might also send runners out to grow new plants

I take it the echinodorus martii and  cryptocoryne petchii are doing ok? They certainly look to be  :D It might be worth purchasing different looking plants of the same species to replace any you loose if they are?  I have found some plants will just work and others will just not in my tanks, possibly something to do with the plants equivalent of water hardness for fish. There are lots of different looking echinodorus certainly which you could maximise on.

 It might be worth taking the anubias out scraping the BBA off with your fingers once the root tabs nutrients have gone from the water column to give this plant the best chance of survival and to stop the BBA spreading.

Can you raise the water level a bit to stop the waterfall effect from being so powerful?

I agree with @Littlefish about dosing daily and small doses of liquid carbon being beneficial. That's exactly what I do.

Thanks for pointing out the scratches... I will be careful!

What is under the wood on the RHS?

I hope some of that ramble helps...

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #28 on: January 21, 2018, 09:05:49 PM »
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Thanks for the kind comments and very useful/helpful replies and tips which I'll definitely take on board - much appreciated. Only able to type a short reply to M's questions so will be brief.

I take it the echinodorus martii and cryptocoryne petchii are doing ok?

Can you raise the water level a bit to stop the waterfall effect from being so powerful?

What is under the wood on the RHS?

Thanks, those two plants are only a week old or so, hence why still looking healthy.

Water level could maybe go up another 1cm but the waterfall effect tends to lose its power very quickly and decreases to a trickle as the filter media clogs up.

An Indian catappa leaf, with the nerite snail racing towards it in the second photo; there are also 2-3 smaller ones scattered around. There is also a terracotta pot on its side on the RHS where I place the snail's food so that the easily fungusable leftovers can be easily retrieved.

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #29 on: January 21, 2018, 09:19:44 PM »
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I wonder if your water is particularly tea stained and therefore restricting the light reaching the plants?

Offline Littlefish

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #30 on: January 21, 2018, 09:42:58 PM »
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I have echinodorus martii major in the river tank...it seems to cope with the water movement. Ilike the shape of the leaves, just something a little bit different than standard.

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #31 on: April 12, 2018, 07:13:56 PM »
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I'm resurrecting this dormant thread and re-inserting a pic I'd posted in the Thinkfish Daily News thread, plus also responding to a query from Matt as to what plants I currently have in my tank. Quote from Matt: @fcmf remind me what plants you have at the moment... and what lighting? I did a bit of research this morning into the two species of plants which are not thriving as much in my tank and I ended up turning up my lights as they both needed more light than the others... funny because one is labelled as 'easy' but actually requires the same levels of lighting as the medium plant...

This is probably a useful exercise for me too, as I'm not good at keeping a note of this! [Also, note to self: write on plant label the date on which I got the plant.]
  • Draped in various locations in the tank, with one end twisted around bogwood: Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum)
    Front - left to right: Hygrophila polysperma; Hemiographis colorata; Cryptocoryne beckettii; Vallis - 2 different types;
    Middle - left: Java fern (Microsorium pteropus)
    Back - left to right: Hemiographis colorata; Hygrophila polysperma; Hemiographis colorata; remnants of an Alternanthera rosaefolia; Echinodorus martii x2
    Oversized-for-my-tank plant, wedged in the bogwood to hold it upright and contain it: Echinodorus fancy twist. Also on the right of the bogwood: anubias, which struggles with BBA.
    Middle - right: Cryptocoryne parva.

Lighting is just the bog-standard set-up that came with the tank and I have a T8 Aqua-Glo fluorescent tube in it.

Offline TopCookie

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #32 on: April 12, 2018, 11:06:21 PM »
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Do you know what would look nice as a finishing touch there fcmf...  some sort of very short carpeting type plants right in the foreground...  Tank still looks great either way, nice and lush indeed...   :D

Offline Helen

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #33 on: April 12, 2018, 11:40:25 PM »
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The only thing with carpeting plants is that they are notoriously difficult to grow with a standard, low light tank set up. They might just reconfirm fcmf's fears that she can't keep plants. Just when it is becoming obvious that that's not true!

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #34 on: April 13, 2018, 12:01:11 AM »
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I have one grassy type plant in my tank:  Lilaeopsis brasiliensis

recently, when scouring countless sites selling plants, I came across one short grass like plant that looks just like the LB but is deemed far easier to grow... 

The LB I have is growing and spreading, but very slowly and to the point where I almost bought some of this other grass to supplement it - but for the life of me, I cannot now recall the name of the plant   :vcross: 

It was probably on the Aquarium Gardens site, or the Pro-Shrimp site, so I'll go and see if I can find it again so as to pop the info up on here... 

Not taking anything for granted though and fcmf might not want a grass type plant, nor indeed any such carpeting plants, but worth a look at though...  :)   (if I can find the little tinker...!!!)

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #35 on: April 13, 2018, 01:50:26 AM »
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Took some finding, but the grass like plant in question is:  Lilaeopsis Mauritiana

http://tropica.com/en/plants/plantdetails/Lilaeopsismauritiana(040B)/4461 

(There are loads of other options of course and not all of them grass like...  This one is just a grass like plant that appeals to me as much as anything else...)

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #36 on: April 13, 2018, 06:14:18 PM »
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Thanks for the suggestion, TC. I agree that something covering the substrate would look nice. However, my only experience of a carpeting plant - some time ago - was with an allegedly "easy level" Eleocharis Acicularis which turned yellow and died within a couple of days.

Currently, the tank is quite 'busy' with a lot of plants shading other ones. This has always been problematic in the past, resulting in the demise of those shaded, so I'm having to be very careful to try to ensure that this doesn't kill any of them off eg the Hygrophila polysperma seems to have shed a lot of leaves overnight and quite a few leaves have gone pale. For now, I think the best option is to try and keep the ones I have in the tank alive (preferably, longer than 3 months!) and thereby gain my confidence, rather than trying anything too complicated - H is 'spot on' in that regard. I've been close on several occasions to reverting back to silk plants but hoping this might be the start of me being able to keep the real ones alive for at least a spell of time.

The suggestion got me thinking, though, and I've consequently wrapped some of the hornwort round the base of some of the plants - meaning fewer plants are shaded while simultaneously having some foliage (if that's the correct term?) at substrate level.

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #37 on: April 13, 2018, 06:44:18 PM »
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You could always try some bucephalandra  ;D

These are low light plants which can be attached to decor, so if you attached some to a flat rock or piece of wood, that could be used instead of carpeting (and possibly high light) plants.

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #38 on: April 13, 2018, 07:03:43 PM »
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I could give it a second go; couldn't be any worse than the time I tried it before when it didn't even survive a week before turning into dark slime (cf Bucophalandra Fan Club thread post #54).  :'(

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #39 on: April 13, 2018, 07:35:18 PM »
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Ahhh, I missed that comment  :-[ I saw the bit about bolbitis though  ;D

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #40 on: April 13, 2018, 08:23:58 PM »
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How about something like this?
http://www.aquariumgardens.co.uk/vesicularia-dubyana-java-moss-wood-428-p.asp

I've always struggled to fix moss to things (which is why my latest attempt looks like knitting!) but it has always grown really well and I've previously had to take it out of my tank because it was taking over.

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #41 on: April 13, 2018, 08:36:39 PM »
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Thanks, H. I've had several bamboo sticks with java moss in my time but they've never done well at all. I'll see when I last bought some - if over a year ago, maybe worth trying things that didn't work back then.

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #42 on: April 13, 2018, 09:00:25 PM »
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I've never bought moss on anything, but bamboo doesn't strike me as the best wood for something like moss. Mainly because bamboo has quite a shiny surface, I would have thought that moss would struggle to get a hold enough to grow.

There are also various types of java fern that you could put low down in the tank on rocks or wood.

Or you could just use small bits of wood or pebbles without plants to fill the substrate.

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #43 on: April 14, 2018, 01:31:49 AM »
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Not (so far, at least) a fan of mosses myself...  I've seen too many photos/videos of tanks that have allowed Java Moss to get a solid foothold and spread in an invasive way...  To the point that they say once you introduce moss to a tank, you cannot get rid of it...!!!  I do think they look brill when properly maintained, but let that maintenance slip and mosses look set to take advantage in a major way...

Just curious fcmf if you have tried Anubias plants...?  I keep reading about how they should be planted in the shade, on the grounds that they are slow growing and can attract algae if planted in a well lit environment...  I don't have any experience to comment on this myself, but that does sound like they just might be an ideal candidate for a tank where there is a lot of shade...

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #44 on: April 14, 2018, 07:41:16 PM »
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The leaves of anubias will grow algae on them over time because they are long lasting and face the light directly. I have mine placed low in the aquarium as a result. When I had a large anubias which was consequently less shaded I had to keep taking the worst leaves off and ultimately the plant did not last as I was taking leaves off faster than it was growing them.

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #45 on: April 14, 2018, 10:23:28 PM »
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Thanks, folks - some good suggestions here.

I have some pebbles, and finally think my nerite snail has learned not to do so many acrobatics and keep landing on his shell, so perhaps I could get them out again.

Java moss never grew in my tank, unfortunately - it just turned yellow, died and kept clogging up the filter intake, although I haven't tried it recently and the tank may be more conducive to it now.

Anubias was actually the first plant I got and is somehow still alive albeit frequently covered in BBA (presumably because it is situated high up in the tank on some wood); I gave it a good scrubbing yesterday, though, and have Hornwort covering it currently in an effort to keep it BBA-free. Another mini Anubias melted very quickly within a couple of weeks of purchase, unfortunately. However, that's a good tip about having it lower down in the tank which I might do if I buy any more.

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #46 on: April 15, 2018, 06:46:37 AM »
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  • Draped in various locations in the tank, with one end twisted around bogwood: Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum)
    Front - left to right: Hygrophila polysperma; Hemiographis colorata; Cryptocoryne beckettii; Vallis - 2 different types;
    Middle - left: Java fern (Microsorium pteropus)
    Back - left to right: Hemiographis colorata; Hygrophila polysperma; Hemiographis colorata; remnants of an Alternanthera rosaefolia; Echinodorus martii x2
    Oversized-for-my-tank plant, wedged in the bogwood to hold it upright and contain it: Echinodorus fancy twist. Also on the right of the bogwood: anubias, which struggles with BBA.
    Middle - right: Cryptocoryne parva.

Finally got round to researching these plants for you @fcmf ...
Hornwort - will drop needles if not happy and creates a mess when it does but once it's off it's a quick grower. Grows faster in higher light
Cryptocoryne beckettii - no special requirements, obviously crypt melt can be an issue when newly planted.
Vallis - I've had mixed results over the yeara and have found its definitely a root feeder and benefits hugely from root tabs. Sends out runners to propogate itself. Quite fragile so avoid dammage during water changes etc.
Java fern - pretty indestructible, needs some form of liquid feet dosing but not much. Leaves will go brown and die off if they produce plantlets.
Hygrophila polysperma - I have found this plant to need a fair bit of light else it looses its lower leaves.  Benefits from liquid fertilisation.
Hemiographis colorata - I suspect this is not a true aquarium pant and would fair better in a. Terrarium... to be honest I don't this this would last long even in the best high tech setups.
Alternanthera rosaefolia - needs lots of light and iron fertilisation to do well - eg. Root tabs
Echinodorus martii - presume this is doing ok from what you've said... A root feeder so would benefit from root tabs
Fancy twist - couldnt find out a lot about this plant but likely ro be as above.
Anubias - aleady discussed and you have put in a shaded location to minimise BBA. Do you have any liquid carbon? Soaking the leaves in this for a while would kill the BBA off. You could wash the carbon off before replacing into the tank.
Crypt parva - stated not to need much light but that growth rate will increase with more light.

I don't know if any of that fits with your experiences or helps in any way??

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #47 on: April 15, 2018, 08:51:21 AM »
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Thanks, M. Most / almost all of this chimes with me, with the one exception of the Hemiographis colorata which has actually been one of my longest-surviving, best-faring plants. Thick-/broad-leaved plants always seem to do better in my tank, which is why this seems so well-suited. One of the two I've had didn't fare as well when I placed another plant behind it which shaded it, but this one has been very easy to care for. Helpful points such as ensuring that the vallis has root tabs underneath it, and I think I've learned a lesson to steer clear of the red plants for now as they just don't seem to last long (even with root tabs).

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #48 on: April 15, 2018, 03:50:00 PM »
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Just found this... looks right up your street @fcmf

 :cheers:

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Re: How to improve my plant health
« Reply #49 on: April 15, 2018, 04:25:10 PM »
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Indeed it does, @Matt - thanks for that.  :cheers:

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