Colorful plants for low-tech tank? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-10-2020, 01:56 PM Thread Starter
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Colorful plants for low-tech tank?

Hi everyone,


I presented in another thread my new 55g tank, which is currently cycling. It will be a low-tech tank, with a Marineland LED strip light and no CO2. The substrate is pool filter sand and I am using Seachem fertilizer tabs. Here is a short video of the tank:





As you can see, I have the usual hardy plants in the tank: Anubias, Bucephalandra, Cryptocoryne, Echinodorus and Hygrophila. Let's see how they will do in this setup... They are doing well so far (8 days in the tank), but I have a question: Is there a hardy plant that would fit this setup and is more colorful? The current plants range from dark to lighter green. I was hoping to find something more colorful.


Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-10-2020, 03:33 PM
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You can add some color with ludwigia species and red tiger lotus. I also have some crypt Wendtii 'green gecko' that adds some color. The PFS can also tend to wash things out with white. You might want to break up the expanse of substrate more with either more hardscape or more plants. A 55 is pretty tall, so you have room to have a carpet of crypts without making the tank feel too small.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-10-2020, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunsen Honeydew View Post
You can add some color with ludwigia species and red tiger lotus. I also have some crypt Wendtii 'green gecko' that adds some color. The PFS can also tend to wash things out with white. You might want to break up the expanse of substrate more with either more hardscape or more plants. A 55 is pretty tall, so you have room to have a carpet of crypts without making the tank feel too small.

Thanks! Would the Super Red Ludwigia work? Looks beautiful.


The expanse of the substrate is intentional. I like the "island" concept and would like to leave some sand area for bottom feeders. It also facilitates maintenance. I like to leave an empty area to put a plate during water changes.


Having said that, I did not know carpet plants could be used in this low-tech setup. It would be nice to cover part of the open space with them. I assume you are referring to Crypt Parva as a slow growing, low-maintenance carpet plant. I might try it.


Any other thoughts?
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-10-2020, 11:00 PM
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Thanks! Would the Super Red Ludwigia work? Looks beautiful.


The expanse of the substrate is intentional. I like the "island" concept and would like to leave some sand area for bottom feeders. It also facilitates maintenance. I like to leave an empty area to put a plate during water changes.


Having said that, I did not know carpet plants could be used in this low-tech setup. It would be nice to cover part of the open space with them. I assume you are referring to Crypt Parva as a slow growing, low-maintenance carpet plant. I might try it.


Any other thoughts?
I'm not familiar with the super red, but if it'll grow in your setup, why not?

I get the design, I just think that the expanse of bright white can wash out green plants and make the different greens look the same.

I actually like when the crypt wendtii creates a "carpet" in the tank. It's not a traditional carpet, but they will generally fill the space you give them over time. It's taller than what is typically considered a carpet, but works ok in a taller tank. I have a decent expanse of crypts (with some fern mixed in in the middle front of my tank, and dwarf Sag on the left.

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2020, 07:38 AM
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Ludwigia and Rotala rotundifolia are my favorite low-tech red plants. And Cryptocoryne, there is a lot of reddish/brownish cultivars to choose from. Hygrophila polysperma also gets a bit pink under sufficient light.

As for carpets, I have good experience with Eleocharis. This is a no-tech Walstad bowl on my computer table. I like to dry-start the tanks, so the carpet really grows in before I flood it.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2020, 04:00 PM
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Rotala rotundifolia has always done well for me in low tech tanks, although I am not sure how it would fare rooting in pool sand.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2020, 06:32 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunsen Honeydew View Post
I'm not familiar with the super red, but if it'll grow in your setup, why not?

I get the design, I just think that the expanse of bright white can wash out green plants and make the different greens look the same.

I actually like when the crypt wendtii creates a "carpet" in the tank. It's not a traditional carpet, but they will generally fill the space you give them over time. It's taller than what is typically considered a carpet, but works ok in a taller tank. I have a decent expanse of crypts (with some fern mixed in in the middle front of my tank, and dwarf Sag on the left.

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Thanks. Beautiful tank! I will certainly consider a carpet of crypt wendtii.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baysha View Post
Ludwigia and Rotala rotundifolia are my favorite low-tech red plants. And Cryptocoryne, there is a lot of reddish/brownish cultivars to choose from. Hygrophila polysperma also gets a bit pink under sufficient light.

As for carpets, I have good experience with Eleocharis. This is a no-tech Walstad bowl on my computer table. I like to dry-start the tanks, so the carpet really grows in before I flood it.

Thank you for the suggestions. Wow, your bowl looks fantastic! I had no idea plants could thrive in them.

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Originally Posted by robmcd View Post
Rotala rotundifolia has always done well for me in low tech tanks, although I am not sure how it would fare rooting in pool sand.

Thank you!
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2020, 08:10 PM
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Any Ludwigia species (super red, narrow leaf and broad leaf) will do well and get some red in medium light, low tech. Rotala rotundifolia and Hygrophila polysperma will do well too but stay mostly green under medium light. Dwarf lily will give you red in medium light, but you have to trim off all floating leaves to maintain submerged leaves.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2020, 08:19 PM
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Rotala rotundifolia and Hygrophila polysperma will do well too but stay mostly green under medium light.
The Rotala in my bowl is quite red and Hygrophila is pink, and I'm using just a cheap desk lamp with a "warm white" LED bulb, no special aquarium light.

The second photo shows Rotala and Ludwigia. Yes, Rotala is really this red IRL. This is just a quick mobile shoot, not photoshopped at all. Ludwigia looks very green when viewed from above, the red shows mostly on the undersides of the leaves.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-11-2020, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by FishBR View Post
Thanks. Beautiful tank! I will certainly consider a carpet of crypt wendtii.




Thank you for the suggestions. Wow, your bowl looks fantastic! I had no idea plants could thrive in them.




Thank you!
It's probably a little more than a carpet, or at least shag carpet.

I have kept rotala rotiflundia in both pool filter sand and black diamond blasting sand with great results.

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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-12-2020, 12:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Baysha View Post
The Rotala in my bowl is quite red and Hygrophila is pink, and I'm using just a cheap desk lamp with a "warm white" LED bulb, no special aquarium light.

The second photo shows Rotala and Ludwigia. Yes, Rotala is really this red IRL. This is just a quick mobile shoot, not photoshopped at all. Ludwigia looks very green when viewed from above, the red shows mostly on the undersides of the leaves.
Amazing plants, they look really nice.
Do you know what the water column NO3(nitrate) readings are for your setup?

You said it's a Walstad setup, meaning capped soil.

Rotala rotundifolia is something that has thrown me through a loop trying to get it to turn anything but green (at this point I'm convincing myself that buceplant sent me rotala rotundifolia 'green' that was just yellow when I got it because it was emersed grown ).
The consensus is to have low no3 readings, but then I've seen some in higher no3 water column readings that aren't green.
Most, if not all the examples I've seen have had some type of soil setup, but including your example the light levels only determine how red it gets.

OP, low-energy plants that turn a different color than green: Ludwigia super red, Crypt Wendtii 'tropica'.
You could try your luck with some Rotala H'ra and see what happens, same with ludwigia Arcuata, but there's no guarantee it'll be anything but green.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-12-2020, 05:36 AM
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Do you know what the water column NO3(nitrate) readings are for your setup?
You said it's a Walstad setup, meaning capped soil.
I haven't measured NO3 but I'd say pretty low. The soil I used was just dirt from a nearby meadow, low in organics and high in clay. All floating plants I added (Salvinia, Limnobium, duckweed and giant duckweed) grew tiny, tiny leaves and then disappeared (yes, even duckweed just wasted away) which I think points to N deficiency. I haven't experienced any algae, bacterial bloom or surface film in this bowl.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-12-2020, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Baysha View Post
The Rotala in my bowl is quite red and Hygrophila is pink, and I'm using just a cheap desk lamp with a "warm white" LED bulb, no special aquarium light.

The second photo shows Rotala and Ludwigia. Yes, Rotala is really this red IRL. This is just a quick mobile shoot, not photoshopped at all. Ludwigia looks very green when viewed from above, the red shows mostly on the undersides of the leaves.
My Rotala and Hygrophila get a touch of red on top in a 20 inch deep tank near the light source. In a bowl that is half the height or less, getting the whole plants red is possible with focus light from a household LED bulb. Nitrogen limitation is another way to turn Rotala red in low to medium light.
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