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Newman 10-18-2013 02:56 PM

What's wrong with my swordplant?
when i got my red rubin sword, it looked like this:

Then a bunch of snails and 70 pleco fry later, the swords were decimated and every leaf had numerous holes in it as the plecos and snails loved to eat them quite a bit.

But now, after maybe 10 months now, the swords have shortened overall, their leaves have become much thinner, and they still get holes in the leaves, but no where near as many as when there were many snails and plecos:

I want to know what's up? are they missing nutrients? light?
They are planted in play sand substrate and are given an osmocote tablet every 6 months. Additionally i dose about 2mL of iron once a week, and around 2.5mL of Kent Pro-Plant fertilizer once a week. There are 2x 5 gallon water changes twice a week. Plants are lit in a spotlight of 3x 3W Cree LEDs (cool whites) so i know they have higher lighting.
Tank is stocked very well with an angel, platy, plecos, neons, so they get a lot of CO2.
Please help?

Newman 10-18-2013 03:00 PM

I know there is a drastric difference between leaf length and shape from when i first got it to now. I think part of that may be because the plant may have been growing emersed when i got it and then i submerged it so it grew different leaves.

But look at those holes! the lesions. gross. what is causing this? what specific nutrient am i missing if any? osmocote pills have just about everything i can think of...
oh and there is also a thin layer of flourite substrate under the sand so the plants might get iron from there too.

overall they don't even look that red either?

Newman 10-20-2013 03:14 AM


Newman 10-20-2013 04:00 PM

cmon you aquatic plant experts, please help me out!

Italionstallion888 10-20-2013 06:42 PM

I load mine up with root tabs. These can be heavy root feeders. I put 3 directly under mine every 3 months.

pchnts8 10-21-2013 01:51 AM

Not sure about plecos but snails tend not to eat live plants, so while they were munching on the plant, its more likely the leaves were dying already, and the snails can then "suck it up".

It would be useful to know whether the ghostly leaves in the pictures represent what remains of the original leaves, or whether they were leaves grown since it was installed.

Also, have you tried uprooting one of the plants to check its roots?

From the pictures, the plants look light starved, since it seems to have the materials to put out leaves, but not enough energy to generate chlorophyll. Lack of red is also a symptom of a lack of light. I'm not familiar with 3W LEDs. Does that even put out 120 mmol/m2/sec? If its far above the tank and the spot is "spread" too much, light intensity drops off significantly. Your pictures look really dark, but hard to tell given light sources and camera equip.

I grow a small rosette sword (E Parviflorus) in my 10g nano, injected CO2, under 48w CFL, 2 dKH, 6.8ph, 1 ml of Seachem Flourish /wk, and it looks to put out a new leaf every couple days. New growth is a little transluscent but not sure if that is just a growth habit or a deficiency. It sort of fills in with the green in subsequent days.

Newman 10-21-2013 03:03 PM

yes, when i pulled all of these to replace the tabs last, i noticed that these do not have a big root system at all. not what i expected in a sword plant.

so you are saying to put more tablets under the roots?

how would i test the PAR on these LEDs? i do not have a PAR meter...

xxUnRaTeDxxRkOxx 10-21-2013 05:49 PM

In my opinion Osmocote Plus tabs should be replaced every 3-4 months, the listed "9 month" time period is based on them being placed in dry to damp conditions. Because we are using them in fully submerged water conditions means that they have a shorter release time period, which is why I replace mine every 3-4 months.

Newman 10-21-2013 09:16 PM

ok so how many do the sword need per plant?

Newman 10-25-2013 09:35 PM

I put in one more tablet under each main plant. i also trimmed off all of the leaves with holes. now lets see what happens.

jstehman 10-26-2013 01:53 PM

You could try adding a handful or two of some flourite or SafeTSorb under the sword. They are heavy root feeders and I don't think playsand has a very high nutrient holding ability.

Like you said in your post, the roots are small. Maybe the substrate is too shallow? The plant does not grow upwards because it has no anchor.

Newman 10-26-2013 05:06 PM

substrate is 2" and i do not add more because there are already air bubbles forming even at this depth of substrate. don't want problems.

there is already some fluorite substrate at the very bottom, beneath the play sand.
Each plant now has two Osmocote tablets under it. I will see what happens. getting some red leaves on one of them.

pchnts8 10-27-2013 02:46 AM

Sword plants grow an extensive root system naturally. The fact they are shallow means there is some substrate problem, likely lack of circulation, you've certainly put in fertilizer so it can't be a nutrient problem. Perhaps the playsand is too dense.

I'm not even at the stage of my tank acclimation yet where I can start root tab fertilizers. I've seen roots from my 4" plant extending out 6" in diameter (I'm in week 4 of my tank). Its on 2.5" of flourite substrate. When I initially planted it from the pot, I cut back the roots to about 1.5" so its been growing quite a bit.

As for lighting, without an accurate measurement its hard for me to give advice as I'm not familiar with LEDs. I would suggest an experiment, try shining another light-source against part of the plants, and see if it helps that part. Like if you had an old flourescent fixure, or replace a bulb on a standard light fixture to something more intense.

Zapins 10-27-2013 03:15 AM

The holes are 100% not nutrient deficiency holes. They are likely pleco or snail holes. Nutrient deficiencies would have a brown or yellow boarder around the holes and the holes would not have such neat margins like that and definitely would not be cut across leaf veins.

The growth difference you noticed from when you first bought the plant to how it looks now is probably the difference between when it was grown emersed and later converted to submersed growth. The way you see it now is typical of its underwater form. Though I have definitely seen red rubins with more color to them.

While 3x3 watt LEDs sounds like a lot of light it is unlikely to be "high light" conditions. Perhaps low-medium low light. The plant gets progressively redder in higher light tanks and the plant in the photos isn't very red. Also, CO2 provided by fish is not very much at all. Plants like swords are very nutrient hungry and do well with high amounts of CO2 which can only be achieved by adding CO2.

I don't think there is any obvious sign of acute deficiency in your plants. Though you can certainly add more light, CO2 and possibly nitrate and iron fertilizers to perk up its appearance.

Newman 10-27-2013 03:24 AM

@pchnts8: is your sword a red rubin sword? other sword species are very different and grow larger than this one. i am surprised by the lack of extensive root system. no the sand is not too dense it is very loose. water circulation in my tank is very good because i keep hypancistrus plecos in here now. i have two filters going, an AC 70 and a Tetra Whisper 20i. lots of flow and oxygenation for the plecos and the plants.

@Zapins: yeah there are still plenty of ramshorn snails around my tank. the ones that do not grow over 1" or more. reds, browns, blues, albinos, i have them all by now. they breed like crazy. totally out compete the bladder snails! I thin kthey were helping eat the sword back when the pleco fry were also indulging in the swords a bit too much.

prob because of the light then. definitely not high light, but its bright enough i think to grow these swords. i started with two big ones about a year ago and now i have around 6 plants. there were others that i threw out because i was clumsy and damaged them in replanting a few months ago. these are super fragile plants! crispy!

I'm just going to scrape by with what i have for them now and see how they do. if you think they are not deficient in any way. aside from higher light.

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