Alternate Grassy Plants for Vals? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-12-2018, 08:01 PM Thread Starter
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Alternate Grassy Plants for Vals?

I have a 60g tank, running for a year and a half, and the entire back corner is vallisnaria. I love my jungle val, but it grows just a bit too tall for the 24" high tank. I have about 12" of overhang shading one side of my tank, and I'd like to be able to grow more light-loving plants in more places.

Since my friend is planning to buy a 200g for her living room, I will probably give her the jungle val for her taller aquarium, as she wants easy-care plants that will be big and create a good backdrop for her fish.

This leaves me with a chance to put in something else.

I want something shorter, but there's a lot going for the val too, like the fact that the jungle val provides cover, the lovely wall of green, and I like that I don't have to top it and replant like stems. My angelfish female hides in there as her egg laying times approach when the amorous male gets too enthusiastic. The fry use it for cover. The cories use it to spawn.

What could I use instead? I'm considering just switching to spiral val, as it is nearly the same but shorter. However, I'm already using that in another tank, and I'd love to take the opportunity to try something new and different.

Other options I have mulled over included taller hairgrasses, tall/thin cryptocorine, sag, or even a couple specimins of a larger sword species (which the angels would love for spawning), if I can find one that would be tall enough without being too wide.

I want to avoid most stems, as the stand will be rather deep and tall, and I don't want to deal with the shed leaves on the bottoms, nor the frequent trimming required on that size of a planting. I don't mind controlling a moderate number of runners, as I do that with the val already, but the plant should top out between 15 and 22 inches tall to achieve what I want, or finish just a bit above that and tolerate a one-time trim.

Current other plants include a kliner bar sword, a green ozelot, a red flame sword, 2 small narrow-leaved swords of unknown species, marsilea, a few small crypt wenditii, and some stems and potted plants being grown out for another tank (rosette swords, java fern, hygrophilia, ludwigia, rotalla macranda and wallichii, and pennywort).

Tank gets micros 2x weekly, liquid carbon at 1/2 dose, and has an off-brand but decent LED fixture (couldn't tell you the PAR, but the rotalla is turning nice and pink). Substrate is a mix of flora-max and eco-complete capped with plain gravel. I don't dose macros, but everything is growing nicely with no indication of deficiencies. I'm ok with adding root tabs for very heavy feeders though.

I'd love suggestions from all the folks here who have had the opportunity to grow other species, especially since experience will tell so much more than what an online sale site would. Also, any experience with some of the plants I mentioned above as ones I was already looking into would be awesome, especially the tall hairgrass, which looks pretty awesome.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-12-2018, 08:03 PM
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helanthium bolivianum angustifolius
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-12-2018, 08:44 PM Thread Starter
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Wow. That looks just like jungle val, but a little shorter. Online data puts it around 18", which is right in my target range. Definitely a plant to investigate.

A quick search indicated it runners out like the val does; how has yours behaved in that area (is it prolific, slow, manageable, or super invasive)? Also, where did you obtain it?
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-12-2018, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by MissCris View Post
Wow. That looks just like jungle val, but a little shorter. Online data puts it around 18", which is right in my target range. Definitely a plant to investigate.

A quick search indicated it runners out like the val does; how has yours behaved in that area (is it prolific, slow, manageable, or super invasive)? Also, where did you obtain it?
A lot easier to manage compared to val, it runners out the exact same, but I keep trimming them off the mother plants, they they "learn" and send out less if you keep trimming them off. The single plant in my pic has not sent out a runner in over a month. Now, they can get bad if you let them be.... But for the most part they are certainly easier than val to keep under control.

I got mine as an unlabeled potted plant from petsmart believe it or not, I got it as immersed growth, I'll attach a pic, notice the old leaves have broad leaf tips.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-13-2018, 12:24 AM Thread Starter
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Oh, wow. No wonder they used to lump those in with echinodorus swords.

I'm going to have to keep my eyes out for skinny sword plants.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-13-2018, 12:27 AM
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Oh, wow. No wonder they used to lump those in with echinodorus swords.
It was sold to me as "some kind of sword" little did I know....

see here

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/33...-plant-id.html

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-13-2018, 12:48 AM
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Hi @MissCris,,

Helanthium bolivianum 'Vesuvius' on right side; looks like Corkscrew Val but doesn't grow as fast and no Excel problems

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-13-2018, 02:56 AM
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I have aponogeton capuronii in my tank which apparently you can train to a certain height. When the tallest leaf reaches the height you want, take it off and all the other leaves will never grow taller than that first one did. I'm trying this method right now with a newer bulb of it I got recently. It is a very pretty plant and not too overwhelming, but it doesn't spread as thick like vals or crypts will, doesn't send out baby runners. So you'd have to obtain quite a few to fill in an area...


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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-13-2018, 05:03 AM Thread Starter
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The area in question is a wedge with about a 10" radius, so whatever it is has to fill the space either by runners or by planted quantities. So non-spreading stuff would probably need a large number of plants.

I have looked into vesuvius. Looks pretty cool. How tall does it get in people's actual tanks? Good to know it doesn't burn on Excel. My val hates full-dose.

I feel like getting new plants is my favorite part of this hobby... It's so hard to go into a fish shop without walking away with a new green something or other.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-13-2018, 09:35 AM
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Alternate Grassy Plants for Vals?

Maybe Cyperus Helferi?


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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-13-2018, 01:34 PM
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I am in the process of replacing jungle val with Crypt balansae in my 90g. I've had vals for years, but several months ago I fell in love with Golden Sulawesi Rabbit snails and they're in love with my Vals. It's a love triangle. They eat the plants at the base then rootless vals go floating around the tank. As my rabbit snail population increases, my Vals decrease and I've been swapping them for the balansae for a similar "tall grassy" look.

Those helanthiums look amazingly like vals. They're probably your best option to keep the appearance the same. However, if you want to switch up for more textured leaves and a little darker color, the Crypt balansae would be my recommendation fwiw...

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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-13-2018, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KayakJimW View Post
I am in the process of replacing jungle val with Crypt balansae in my 90g. I've had vals for years, but several months ago I fell in love with Golden Sulawesi Rabbit snails and they're in love with my Vals. It's a love triangle. They eat the plants at the base then rootless vals go floating around the tank. As my rabbit snail population increases, my Vals decrease and I've been swapping them for the balansae for a similar "tall grassy" look.

Those helanthiums look amazingly like vals. They're probably your best option to keep the appearance the same. However, if you want to switch up for more textured leaves and a little darker color, the Crypt balansae would be my recommendation fwiw...
I second cryptocoryne balansae. I am growing this in place of vals as well and love it. You can trim the leaves on it to desired length as well without meltdown.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-13-2018, 04:33 PM Thread Starter
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I saw the crypts, but didn't know you could trim them. That's a plus for sure.

Soo many choices.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-13-2018, 04:34 PM
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I have two pro and one con suggestion.

Pro: Crypt spiralis, has thinner leaves than balansae, and Echinodorus martii (Ruffle Sword). My 2 Ruffle swords have leaves that have grown taller than my 75G, but not hugely so and the leaves that are somewhat less wide than many other swords; very pretty, but not a "grass" look.

Con: Giant Hairgrass apparently requires very high light or you get browning at the tip of the blades/leaves that slowly spreads down and eventually kills of the leaf. The same thing also happens should you decide to trim the top of the blade off. Additionally, in my tanks, despite the fact that it doesn't grow very well on top, it makes a rather large root system that makes the plant more difficult to pull out should you decide to remove it.
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