New to the Hobby need help with plants - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-05-2019, 07:08 PM Thread Starter
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New to the Hobby need help with plants

I just recently joined the forum because i am new to the hobby. I set up a low tech 10 gallon aquarium with dirt from my mothers back yard i baked it at 300 degrees for an hr. I also got some river rocks from the local creek that i also baked for an hr to kill off any bad bacteria. Anyways i do not have an algae problem yet and so far the plants i have are pygmy chain swords and amazon swords from petco. Recently ordered amazon frog bit from ebay and i should have that on monday or so. I have been cycling my tank without fish (process takes forever, its making me impatient lol) ive had it set up for a week now and my amazon swords melted... i had to completely cut off all the leaves because they were transparent and melting. My pygmys are also slow to grow after a week.. unless im just impatient ... what am i doing wrong?

Also my water parameters are

Ph 7.6
Ammonia 4.0
Nitrite 2.0
Nitrate 10.0

The colors are hard to match.

I have pothos in my HOB 5-15. Recently bought a sponge filter to add to the 10 gallon aquarium to help with cleaning the tank. The water is crystal clear now.. how long do plants take to settle in and how long does a dirted tank take to cycle?
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-05-2019, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
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My amazon sword 😞 i dont know what to do. And pygmy chain swords.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-05-2019, 07:17 PM
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Many plants are known to melt when being introduced into a new aquarium. Let them do their thing and you should see new growth in the next week or 2. With that said some plants will melt and die off completely.

One thing that has me a little concerned is you used yard dirt. When people refer to "dirted" tanks they are talking about using organic potting soil or compost. Not saying it can't be done with yard dirt. Using yard dirt gives you a higher chance of introducing pest, pesticides and many other unwanted things into your tank. Also you may not have dirt that is nutrient rich and therefore may not supply your plants with proper needed nutrients.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-05-2019, 07:43 PM Thread Starter
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Do you think I should start over again? Considering its only been a week? And my mom never used pesticide or anything for her yard. And i tried finding miracle grow organic potting mix and i couldnt find it at home depot or lowes.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-06-2019, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Nyghtrayven View Post
Do you think I should start over again? Considering its only been a week? And my mom never used pesticide or anything for her yard. And i tried finding miracle grow organic potting mix and i couldnt find it at home depot or lowes.

I also have not been able to find the potting soil that everyone keeps talking about. I am still looking in hopes to use it for one of the tanks I am setting up


When you say the colors are hard to match on the water test, are you using a liquid test or test strips? If the strips you are going to be told to toss them and get a liquid test. If you are using the liquid test try putting the test tube on top of the card and look down from the top of the test tube. It's much easier to read that way.

Tim Sapp
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 04:44 AM
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Sorry you canít read test kits like that, follow kits directions. If you look down through tube you looking through probably 4x as much solution. Transparent color is additive, youíll never get a correct reading doing it that way.

And quick strips are ok for a fast gauge of roughly where your at. I use JBL 6in1 and they read just exactly like my liquid tests.

OP what is you tanks GH and KH?
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 03:58 PM
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There are a number of [points that may be missed, so I might throw in some thoughts and questions. Big one is how the cycle is being done and what to expect when "finished". Are you doing a fishless cycle, adding ammonia to maintain a specific level? This is a way to build a large group of the bacteria and make the tank ready for a large increase in the fish load. There is a wide range of definition of "cycle" so don't get caught in doing a cycle which only leaves the tank prepped for a very low load and then suddenly fully stock it! I might think 4PPM of ammonia is a bit high if doing the standard fishless cycle where you control the level. Possible it is causing some plant problems?
Big point on cycle is that it really CAN take a month to do it properly! Planted tanks definitely do teach patience but it's like stopping for stop signs, we can do it right or rush it and may pay the price.
For choice of soil/substrate, I find it has to be a decision made after looking at the whole picture of what you want to do along the way. Using yard dirt can work, but the quality of that soil needs to factor in how you plant to feed the plants. Totally inert pool filter sand is often my choice as it fits me better with the way I dose ferts. If you plan for plants to live on the nutrients in yard soil, it has to be good rich stuff but not so much if you plan to add food as you go along.
I suggest reading/study the various methods of doing, choose one and try it for some time before trying to judge soil. I have gone with the EI method as easier than trying to figure what is in a bucket of soil as it lets me add what I find needed without getting into the chemistry of what any bucket of dirt might have. I know when I dump in a little spoonful, it is actually there. Looking at a handful of dirt leaves me totally guessing.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-12-2019, 03:23 PM
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Donít sweat it. Iíve killed lots of plants! Things do get better. Pm me and Iíll send you a bunch of different plants and you can use the spaghetti method of throwing them against the wall and see what sticks. Btw. Iíll pick up the tab. Welcome to the hobby!!!!


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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-12-2019, 03:36 PM
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Picture number 2 shows your plants are buried too deep. Non-rhizome plants ( Java ferns, anubias, ect...) should not be planted deeper than the crown of the plant. The crown is where the roots and leaves connect. For plants that have a rhizome like a Java fern, the rhizome should never be buried as the plant will rot and die.

If you are having problems with plants staying where you put them, plant weights can be purchased to help with this until the plant has developed strong enough roots to keep themselves where you plant them.

Plants from places like Pet Co and Pet Smart are usually grown emersed or out of water. It is normal for these plants to have leaves die off then develop new submerged growth.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-12-2019, 05:21 PM
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Small point that may make it easier and works just as well as plant weights is using small stones. Rather than wrapping lead type weights, I now just use super glue and put enough small rock on the bottom to hold it in the bottom. In that way, I can choose how much weight is needed and the weight can be picked up most anywhere for free and easy. Just be aware that one needs very little glue to hold just a few of the roots as it does turn bright white and will show really bad if exposed.
Super glue uses moisture to do the chemical reaction and that makes it really quick to put it on a damp rock as it sets almost immediately and can then be dropped in the tank safely. For random stem type planting, I find it quick and easy to add the rock, drop the plants in place and then move the substrate around them, rather than digging a hole to plant.
Being a bit lazy does save a lot of work!
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-15-2019, 07:50 PM
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This is my fist dirt tank. It took about a month to cycle with just plants. Definitely a fun hobby to get into.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-18-2019, 07:35 PM
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The reason people suggest using a specific potting soil & other substrates is because you have some idea of what you're getting in terms of nutrients leaching out, etc. Since you were smart & baked your yard dirt first, it shouldn't have any pests, and if pesticides etc were never used it shouldn't hurt anything. But it's hard to say how much nutrients it'll have for your plants. If if you're the patient type who doesn't mind experimenting, wait & see how it works for you. I used a non-brand organic potting soil I had on hand, and it caused an algae bloom, but was able to work through it. If it turns out your soil isn't giving your plants what you need, you can always stick in root tabs or Osmocote pellets later if needed. Most soils get depleted after awhile anyway, so you'd end up doing this sooner or later--unless you decide to tear it all down & replace it.

Yes, melting is part of the process. Just make sure you keep on top of removing the melted & dead stuff, or that could cause an algae bloom or green water. I added some cheap ghost shrimp to help clean up anything I don't see or can't get too if I'm away for a few days--seems to have helped. And they're fun to watch cruising around. Ditto for snails, if you don't mind having those.

Dosing fertilizers in the water is a whole other ball of wax--plenty of experts on here to help walk you through that if you decide to go that route.

Welcome to the world of low tech, and enjoy the ride!
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-24-2019, 04:57 PM
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Amazon swords need medium-high lighting and an iron rich fertilizer(I recommend root tabs). co2 injections are not necessary, but will make your swords grow much better. I highly recommend Anubis Barteri var. Nana. They are relatively cheap, need low light, do not need fertilizer(if you have fish producing waste), and are super hard to kill. Java fern is also good, needs similar requirements as Anubias, also pretty cheap. BTW, what kind of fish are you going to get? Or at least, what continents will your fish come from?
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