Are these plants good for "low tech"? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-12-2020, 09:29 AM Thread Starter
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Are these plants good for "low tech"?

Hi!
I am going to buy some new test kits and the site has some nice plants that aren't in my LFS. I am thinking about buying some of them, I did my research and I think they can survive in my tank conditions. I just want to be on the safe side. Excuse any mistakes, english is not my mother tongue.

I have two planted tanks - one with a better LED light (specifically plant light it says), one with a worse LED light (came with the tank). Chimeros and diversa. I think my lights are strong enough to grow the type of plants I usually buy. I use some fertilizers, liquid carbon (not the excel brand, but basically the thing that kills off algae) and I am going to use root tabs once the new plants arrive. I don't add CO2. I have ph around 7, around 10-15 kh, around 28 gh.

I have a bit of a trouble growing almost any plant. Basically the only ones thriving are nana anubiases (the bigger ones not so much), cryptocoryne wendtii, pistia stratiotes, salvinia minima pothos, moss balls and maybe limnophilla sessiliflora (but only 1 stem, once I cut it all but 1 die and the 1 thrives again, I don't know what to think about it). And then I have a surviving java fern, jungle val, hydrocotyle leucephala. I recently purchased red lotus and red tiger echinodorus, which are melting at the moment so I don't know if they will survive in my tank. I have "killed off" quite plenty of "easy and beginner" plants so I am trying my luck on some that aren't marked as that but that are still very easy. One problem that I run into is water temperature, it reaches as high as 32 degrees celsius in the summer and as low as 24 degrees celsius for the rest of the year (usually 25 is the standart temperature). Most plants can't survive temperatures that high it seems.

The plants that I am thinking about buying are - sagitaria subulata, staurogyne repens, lobelia cardinalis mini, rotala rotundifolia and maybe marsilea hirsuta (it's out of stock now though). What do you think?
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-12-2020, 11:07 AM
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Your water is crazy hard. This is why you are having trouble keeping plants. I would seriously look into an RO/DI system. Is the KH and GH for water out of your tap? Or is this the water in your aquarium? If its the aquarium, then test your water out of your tap. You need to know if you are fighting an uphill battle or something in your aquarium is contaminating your water.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-12-2020, 12:25 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply! Now I am really nervous about the readings... because I can't afford RO/DI system. I may be reading it wrong... I use dajana strips for ph, kh and gh (3in1) and the colors don't match very well. I took a photo of my test strips. I lost the manual which I believe said that you need to wait a minute or so for the ph result, but I am not entirely sure (so I will describe all stages). I tried testing my tap water and tank right now. The tap water test is acting differently than all of my other tank test strips ever did (ph - at first second is yellow, minute later pink, and brownish yellow when dry ; gh - very dark brown at first and yellow when dry - all my other test strips kept most of the color even when dried out).

Now the test strips show different ph for some reason? I tried all my 3 tanks the night before and all showed less than 6.4 right away (yellow) and managed to reach barely 7.2 (orange-ish with perhaps a tint of pink tone in the middle) in the next minute or so (and they have always showed the same result since I got the tanks).

Now both tap water and 1 of the tanks showed very pink tone - so maybe around 8 (pictures were taken earlier before that color change and don't show the color). Can time change results maybe? I usually do all my testing in the evening when lights are out. The pictures don't capture the color of ph part very well.

KH is the same as always for both tap and tank water - baby blue that isn't even one of the possible colors. Possible colors go from light green to greenish blue... So I'm guessing even more than 20 then?

GH is reddish brown in both... perhaps a bit less than 28?

So it seems my tap water is the culprit? I tested my sand with vinegar and it didn't do anything. In just one of the tanks I put cattlebone for snails but all my other tanks show the same results so those can't affect it. The cuttlebone is for rabbit snails that seemed to have problems with their shells, but that might be just from falling down onto the sand. I have driftwood in all of my tanks, plants, some rocks (vinegar tested) and that's all. So no plants for me...?

Except for the ph, the colors in the picture match reality quite well. The weirdly cut strip is my tap water, the straighter one is tank water.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-12-2020, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KonanPain View Post
Thanks for the reply! Now I am really nervous about the readings... because I can't afford RO/DI system. I may be reading it wrong... I use dajana strips for ph, kh and gh (3in1) and the colors don't match very well. I took a photo of my test strips. I lost the manual which I believe said that you need to wait a minute or so for the ph result, but I am not entirely sure (so I will describe all stages). I tried testing my tap water and tank right now. The tap water test is acting differently than all of my other tank test strips ever did (ph - at first second is yellow, minute later pink, and brownish yellow when dry ; gh - very dark brown at first and yellow when dry - all my other test strips kept most of the color even when dried out).

Now the test strips show different ph for some reason? I tried all my 3 tanks the night before and all showed less than 6.4 right away (yellow) and managed to reach barely 7.2 (orange-ish with perhaps a tint of pink tone in the middle) in the next minute or so (and they have always showed the same result since I got the tanks).

Now both tap water and 1 of the tanks showed very pink tone - so maybe around 8 (pictures were taken earlier before that color change and don't show the color). Can time change results maybe? I usually do all my testing in the evening when lights are out. The pictures don't capture the color of ph part very well.

KH is the same as always for both tap and tank water - baby blue that isn't even one of the possible colors. Possible colors go from light green to greenish blue... So I'm guessing even more than 20 then?

GH is reddish brown in both... perhaps a bit less than 28?

So it seems my tap water is the culprit? I tested my sand with vinegar and it didn't do anything. In just one of the tanks I put cattlebone for snails but all my other tanks show the same results so those can't affect it. The cuttlebone is for rabbit snails that seemed to have problems with their shells, but that might be just from falling down onto the sand. I have driftwood in all of my tanks, plants, some rocks (vinegar tested) and that's all. So no plants for me...?

Except for the ph, the colors in the picture match reality quite well. The weirdly cut strip is my tap water, the straighter one is tank water.
Definitely get a proper test kit. The strips are good for checking things at a glance but are not great at precision work. You need a liquid test kit. They are not terribly expensive and at a minimum you need a gh/kh test kit.

If your water really is that hard it's not that you can't grow anything, but that you will be severely limited in what will grow in your water. You will want to look at plants that can grow in both freshwater and brackish water I suspect.

Ro/di is the obvious choice if you want to open up your options. I haven't looked too much into that myself but I have seen advertised units for around 200 dollars. So something to save for if needed. Hopefully it's not necessary, to find out... Test kit.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-13-2020, 09:54 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks! I will buy the test kits with the new plants then. I hope my strips were off. One thing isn't right about the hardness though. I tried looking up plants that like hard water and it seems I had few of them. Except for cryptocoryne all died or are just barely surviving. 1 tiny java fern, hydrocotyle and jungle val are the survivors. 2 types of hygrophila, java moss, ludwigia repens died. And perhaps more. So perhaps my test strips are incorrect about the hardness? Well, I will see once I get the liquid test kits.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-13-2020, 06:06 PM
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I'm interested to see what readings you get with liquid reagents. A pH of 7.0 is near impossible with a KH of 15 without a lot of CO2. With your strips, the colors don't really correspond with any of the values, which is a big frustration people sometimes have with them. If you are on city water you should be able to get a municipal water report for your tap.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-13-2020, 10:19 PM
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How big are these aquariums?

Agree those test strips look worthless. Are you sure their not past expiration date?
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-14-2020, 05:58 AM Thread Starter
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The planted tanks are 15g and 30g, but my not planted 80-90g got the same result. I don't think they are expired, and they showed the same results right after I got them too. Maybe I got damaged package or something? I looked up my city's water distributor's site and it shows these parameters: GH 1.64 mmol/l , ph 7.4 , magnesium 6.9 mg/l , calcium 54.6 mg/l , and sadly nitrates 12.2 mg/l . And it says it's "moderatelly hard" (1.5 - 2.25 mmol/l ) (the scale goes like this - very soft, soft, moderatelly hard, pretty hard, hard, very hard and so on). I will try calling them about it, whether it really shows precisely what everyone's water in the city is or whether it can vary a lot.

I will post a picture of my rabbit snail's shell, as I thought few months back that I have too soft water for snails (before the test strips, I bought them because of it) - their shells look horrible. I feed them food high in calcium every week.

Do I need all 3 test kits or is gh and kh enough? Thank you all for the help!
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-14-2020, 07:42 AM
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Technically all freshwater aquarium keepers need... IMHO.

PH
GH
KH
Nitrate
Phosphate

If math in my head is right your tap is around 9dGH. Pretty hard.

Does water report give sodium levels?

Thing is java fern, moss, hygrophila should do ok in your water. There’s something else going on here, I don’t think the L. Repens should be dying on you.

What kind of filtering do you have on your tanks? Can your run a big bag of carbon on one them?
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-14-2020, 01:38 PM
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You mentioned that your water temps vary from 24˚C to 32˚C. So I'm wondering if the high water temps (that's nearly 90˚F) part of your problem, in addition to your hard water. Have you noticed that you lost a lot more plants during the summer when your water temps are that high?

It may be that the combination of your high temperatures & hard water will greatly limit your plant options. But there are plants that will do well for you in both hard & warm water. Many plant websites have lists of "discus plants" that do well in warm water, and some of the discus keepers on here may be able to provide some recommendations. My go-to plant website that lists hardness & temperature ranges is https://www.flowgrow.de/db/aquaticplants

One easy solution to help keep water temperatures lower is to direct a fan on your water surface to provide evaporative cooling. Some people mount small computer fans on the side of the tank, or you can just use a desk fan pointed at the surface.

Hope this helps.
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-15-2020, 06:41 AM Thread Starter
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I will get all the test kits then. Water report didn't give sodium levels. I will try to call them next week, perhaps I will learn more. I salvaged 1 tiny stem of the hygrophilla siamensis and I am trying to grow it emersed but it's not much of a grower in there, unlike my hydrocotyle leucephala (1inch bit grew like a weed in there and I will be trying to put a bit of it back into my tank soon). One thing that I don't get is the way my plants usually die. They go through an adapting stage when they don't grow at all. Then they grow quite a bit (my ludwigia grew from 2 6 inch stems to 10 or more stems of that length) before melting and dying. My anubias hastifolia is probably not going to last much longer, all it's big leaves melted away and only 1 tiny leaf is alive... I could run a bag of charcoal on my 30g's external filter, but I don't have many plants (just anubiases and cryptocorynes) in there at the moment so I would have to move them. My 15g has an internal sponge filter (it's just a powerhead with a separate big sponge to be exact).

If my memory is correct then all of my plants actually died (and were purchased) during the colder months. The only plant that died during the end of the hot summer was hygrophilla polysperma which just melted away slowly. But based on the date (based on my old photos haha) I think it was already below 28 degrees celsius when it died off. I tried the website with plants and I am already trying it to find some good plants, thanks for the recommendation!

I will try posting few photos. Maybe I do something terribly wrong?

The first photo was taken few years ago and has a big algae (black beard algae) problem which was solved when I added some new plants, which were bought to save the anubiases. The two tiny things below the driftwood are my cryptocorynes - you can see how light and unhealthy they looked for almost 2 years. Notice how there are 2 pieces of floating plants only, haha. 30g

The second photo is back to only anubiases and crypts with floating plants. The rest of the plants died off, and some of the survivors were moved to my 15g because then I bought my rabbit snails and didn't try to replant it again. The crypts suddenly grew enormously and here you can see only one of the original ones, and her "baby". Floating plants grew like crazy and I actually throw out quite a bit every month or so. But it's not like other people who say that they throw out handfulls of it every week. 30g

3rd photo is my 15g, when I first bought my plants. The thing next to the driftwood is one of the original crypts. On the left is already a melted form of my val that was bought 6 or so months prior to this photo. And 1 tiny floating plant. Btw, all plants in that are in here were also in the 30g.

4th photo. 15g. My betta jumped out... You can see the plants started melting a bit, which is normal I guess in the beginning. It was taken month or so after the 3rd photo. And still just 1 or 2 floating plants.

5th photo. 15g. Is a week ago. Echinodorus and lotus are completely new, and at the moment they are melting like crazy. And don't seem to be growing any new tiny leaves. All plants died off except for the l.sesiliflora which only survived in my 30g and was moved in here, the ones that were here died off. This one only grows 1 single huge stem and the rest always melts away. When you cut it, then 1 stem stays and the other melts away. You can notice I have some houseplants in there to reduce the bioload. They were added after all of the other plants melted so they are not the cause.

Excuse that the tanks' glass has water stains, I handfeed and I always fail to notice that I drip water everywhere.
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-15-2020, 08:15 AM
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Get a heater. They are not that expensive.
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-15-2020, 09:17 AM Thread Starter
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I don't want a heater for a completely different reason. It's not the cause anyway. My water never gets under 24 degrees celsius which is perfectly fine for the plants and the fish. But thanks for the advise.

Last edited by KonanPain; 02-15-2020 at 09:18 AM. Reason: Mistake, sent while writing
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-17-2020, 02:45 PM
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Maybe it's the lighting that's washing out the image, but it looks like your gravel might be Aragonite or some other Coral/Limestone based beach sand?

Your crazy high hardness could be from the substrate.

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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-18-2020, 12:09 AM Thread Starter
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It was sold as a fine gravel/sand with no other description.. I tried testing it with vinegar and it didn't do anything. Could it still be making my water hard?

I have 2 new plants (for a few weeks already) - red lotus which has grown at least 1, but I think 2-3 (not sure), new healthy looking leaves after melting quite a bit. Two pieces of an echinodorus green ocelot are almost melted away with almost no green leaves. They still have some white healthy looking roots though, so, fingers crossed, hopefully they will start growing soon. I also put in a bit of my emersed growing hydrocotyle leucephala today.
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