I don't see the pictures, but I'll take your word that the plants aren't doing well.
Not surprising. Gravel substrates cause the slow death of aquarium plants. If you want a low-tech setup and decent plant growth, you have to have a soil underlayer.
Fertilizing the water isn't good enough. Even if it provides plants with what they need, you're also providing algae with what it needs. And algae is far more adept than plants in taking up water nutrients. With soil, you provide rooted plants with a reservoir of nutrients that algae cannot tap into.
Moreover, some nutrients (e.g., iron, manganese) require the anaerobic environment that soil provides in order for plants to take them up. Plants can't take up iron from the water, because the iron is all oxygenated. Then, you have the decomposition of soil organic matter that provides precious CO2.
All this and more is provided by soil. Clean gravel provides nothing for plants. People complain about the problems and mess of using soil, but those problems pale in comparison with trying to grow plants in a gravel substrate.
My Local store had most of their tanks with gravel bottom and they assured me that the plants would grow fine in this as well, initially I wanted a tank with some kind of planted tank substrate with a gravel top. Anyways, I don't want to tear this down now, and will try for few more months before throwing in the towel.
Originally Posted by germanblueramlover
If you have 0 nitrates, there's nothing for the plants to use. That's quite a lot of fish though, so I'm surprised nitrates are nonexistent, especially if plants aren't doing well... how big are they? Is the tank quite densely planted? A picture would be very helpful if you can get one
I would say that I have a medium planted tank and not a fully planted tank, even I'm not sure why the nitrates keep reading 0 and the plants are dying. I'm planning to add around 4 corys and a couple of rummy nose in the tank as it seems a bit empty now, hopefully this might bring up the nitrates a little bit and help the plants.
Adding the image links below, hope this should give some perspective.
Not sure why pics not showing up.
Your swords were grown with leaves out of water, spoon shaped, once you submerge plant those will die off and be replaced with leaves that look more like this. Thatís just what naturally happens when a plant transitions from emergent growth to submerged. Looks like what is happening to hygropila difformis as well. I would cut your light back to about 6 hrs a day or put a dimmer on it and bring it down to about 60-70% intensity until plants transitioning is done.
The hygrophila corymbosa in that pic is showing signs of complete lack of micro (trace) elements, if your fish store had a macro solution they probably would have had a micro solution as well. You only got half of the ferts you need to grow plants. Seachem comp should take care of that. Your macro is probably just NPK, you also need iron, Ca, Mg, zinc, over a dozen elements to make a complete fert. With amount of fish you have most of the NPK you need will come from fish food/waste, which is why they separate those macro and micro, so you can adjust them for you specific tanks needs. Your tank has very undemanding, easy plants so you should only be dosing probably at 1/3-1/2 of the recommend rate until tank turns around and growth accelerates.
Amount of light and amount of nutrients needs to be in balance with the tanks needs. To much light and/or to much fert while your plants are transitioning/stagnant growth will just get you a bunch of algae. But at same time you donít want any fert element to be in complete depletion (see yellowing/chlorosis of corymbosa leaves) it looks like the one plant thatís trying to grow but itís showing a complete lack of iron and other trace elements.
And as I stated above during transitioning and while your tank is completely deficient in micro nutrient you need to cut your hrs or dim your lights. Your just going to grow algae and quicken the death of your plants if you donít.
I'm guessing the're amazon swords based on the shape, but to be honest, I'm not completely sure that they are the amazon swords.
Unfortunately this is a all in one unit aquarium and I do not have the option to dim the light intensity, surely I'll reduce the lighting period now that I've started dosing Flourish Comprehensive.
If we see any improvements using Flourish Comprehensive, I'll go ahead and order the Flourish Iron and Flourish Trace, does that sound like a good plan?
I have grown plants in many tanks with just gravel substrate . I used root tabs and liquid ferts . The biggest problem I ever had was trying to keep plants in the gravel till they rooted . Others expieriences may vary . I agree with DaveKS , follow his advice and see what happens . Just remember that nothing happens fast in this hobby .
Sure, I agree and I hope I'll stay with this hobby for the long run