Why are "easy plants" the hard plants in high tech? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-11-2020, 11:54 PM Thread Starter
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Why are "easy plants" the hard plants in high tech?

Since starting with a new tank and CO2 I have been amazed at how fast and robust stuff grows, especially things I could never grow well before in my low tech tank like dwarf grass, pearl weed, baby tears, etc... However the things that stick out for NOT growing well are java sword (narrow), java fern (narrow), and anubias. My java sword turned yellow/brown, although does not look withered, more like its on its way to a red color or something but got stuck as yellow/brown. But it has not grown an inch in 5 weeks. My java ferns look exactly like the day I got them, not one bit of growth at all. And my anubias appears to be just hanging on. It still looks ok but some of the leaves are starting to get holes. It gets algae on it although my algae crew keeps it clean. And like the java's, there is no growth at all in a month of time. I know its a slower grower but I would have expected something. Is it possible these "low light friendly" plants don't like too much light or CO2?
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-12-2020, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by ahem View Post
Is it possible these "low light friendly" plants don't like too much light or CO2?
Short answer No, as long as you are providing enough co2/ferts with the light they will grow faster just like any other plant. The designation 'low light' only mains they can live in low light environments. Pretty much all my tanks are dominated by 'lowlight plants' using good light / co2 and they are as healthy as can be.


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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-12-2020, 01:05 AM
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Hi @ahem,

This is a GREAT question! What does high "tech" mean? It means more energy in the system. More energy (in the form of light) drives photosynthetic rates. Those rates are then realized by nutrient availability. Of all of the nutrients, phosphate has the largest impact on growth rate + size. So, you pelt it with light, you give it all of the fuel with phosphates, and all the plant has left to do is grow. If any nutrient is deficient, it grows deficiently. So we give it all in excess (generally speaking) or just enough and induce a limitation via minimizing phosphates/nitrates - never CO2.

You are not referring to "easy" plants, you are referring to slow growers. Those plants are good long-term condition tank indicators. This means that your anubias that is unhealthy, is probably reflecting tank conditions from a month or so ago - has anything happened? An ammonia spike, a rescape, a change of flow-distribution, a change in CO2, a change in dosing regime? Was it just added recently?

If you lack water column dosing, maybe your substrate has run out due to the high light demand? This is unlikely - but still.

But what we are missing is photo oxidation. You mention something about the plant transitioning into "red" and then it died ... perhaps your PAR is so high at the surface of that plant that it degenerated its chlorophyll (that makes the plant look green) and revealed the pigments beneath - that is why plants turn red under high light ... it's not just nitrate limitation - at that point, it couldn't keep up and you melted it with light. Certainly that is possible - but only at high, high PAR. And I am running my a 65 gallon tank with java and anubias close to the surface with 2x freshwater AI primes at 100%, so it should be higher than that value.

I am assuming you dose EI and have good flow + distribution ... so why pinholes? Photo oxidation. Or not - we do not have any details of the tank layout etc.

Throw that anubias in a shady region and see if it comes back.

Why no growth yet? Has it throw roots? Has the rhizome changed? Growth is not always leaves.

Please give some more details so maybe we can get to the bottom of this!!!

Josh
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-12-2020, 02:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahem View Post
Since starting with a new tank and CO2 I have been amazed at how fast and robust stuff grows, especially things I could never grow well before in my low tech tank like dwarf grass, pearl weed, baby tears, etc... However the things that stick out for NOT growing well are java sword (narrow), java fern (narrow), and anubias. My java sword turned yellow/brown, although does not look withered, more like its on its way to a red color or something but got stuck as yellow/brown. But it has not grown an inch in 5 weeks. My java ferns look exactly like the day I got them, not one bit of growth at all. And my anubias appears to be just hanging on. It still looks ok but some of the leaves are starting to get holes. It gets algae on it although my algae crew keeps it clean. And like the java's, there is no growth at all in a month of time. I know its a slower grower but I would have expected something. Is it possible these "low light friendly" plants don't like too much light or CO2?
Baby tears goes well in my lowtech, i use rich soil and good light, they came from seeds. But thats my experience, i was growing them firslty in a water bottle with no lights lol

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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-12-2020, 06:43 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Tuister View Post
Hi @ahem,

This is a GREAT question! What does high "tech" mean? It means more energy in the system. More energy (in the form of light) drives photosynthetic rates. Those rates are then realized by nutrient availability. Of all of the nutrients, phosphate has the largest impact on growth rate + size. So, you pelt it with light, you give it all of the fuel with phosphates, and all the plant has left to do is grow. If any nutrient is deficient, it grows deficiently. So we give it all in excess (generally speaking) or just enough and induce a limitation via minimizing phosphates/nitrates - never CO2.

You are not referring to "easy" plants, you are referring to slow growers. Those plants are good long-term condition tank indicators. This means that your anubias that is unhealthy, is probably reflecting tank conditions from a month or so ago - has anything happened? An ammonia spike, a rescape, a change of flow-distribution, a change in CO2, a change in dosing regime? Was it just added recently?
Josh
They are all relatively new, tank is in it's 5th week. They were all planted on day 1.

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Originally Posted by Tuister View Post
If you lack water column dosing, maybe your substrate has run out due to the high light demand? This is unlikely - but still.

But what we are missing is photo oxidation. You mention something about the plant transitioning into "red" and then it died ... perhaps your PAR is so high at the surface of that plant that it degenerated its chlorophyll (that makes the plant look green) and revealed the pigments beneath - that is why plants turn red under high light ... it's not just nitrate limitation - at that point, it couldn't keep up and you melted it with light. Certainly that is possible - but only at high, high PAR. And I am running my a 65 gallon tank with java and anubias close to the surface with 2x freshwater AI primes at 100%, so it should be higher than that value.

I am assuming you dose EI and have good flow + distribution ... so why pinholes? Photo oxidation. Or not - we do not have any details of the tank layout etc.
Substrate has Seachem flourish tabs. Anubias is glued to wood (immovable unless I break from the glue). Par is pretty high. The anubias is probably 12-13 inches from the light and there are two Fluval 3.0 LEDs on the tank.

I dose lean, measure PO4 and NO3 every morning, which is usually close to 0, and dose accordingly for the next day. I currently put in about 1ppm N & .15ppm of PO4 each day (also add daily about 2ppm K, .15ppm of iron, and a tiny dose of trace since the flourish tabs provides that ... also adding Seachem Flourish Advance and Excel).

I have fish and inverts so I am getting bioload nitrates and phosphates, which is why I am currently dosing lean. I also notice that adding just a tiny bit extra of N (and possibly PO4) and I have GDA or GSA the next day. Dosing lean like I am doing I get pearling, strong growth from everything except those three mentioned, and a clean tank (or clean enough). I have had to trim an large amount so far and top stems.

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Originally Posted by Tuister View Post
Throw that anubias in a shady region and see if it comes back.

Why no growth yet? Has it throw roots? Has the rhizome changed? Growth is not always leaves.

Please give some more details so maybe we can get to the bottom of this!!!
Here it is front and center. The Anubias Nana in the middle was an "extra large" piece I glued on there along with a few smaller pieces/rhizomes. You can see the holes in the leaves. There were not there originally.

Also the Anubias Lanceolata at the back (with the RCS on it) is turning a lighter green on those three leaves. There really isn't any place to "hide" the anubias from the light.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-12-2020, 12:57 PM
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I have noticed this in my tank as well. For some reason I CANNOT grow ANY type of milfoil in my tank. Everyone else says it grows like a weed in there tank, yet every milfoil I've planted in my tank just withers away to nothing ! Surrounded by lush beautiful plants !! I just figured it doesn't like my parameters and just grudgingly leave it out , as I love seeing thick, lush Myrio Green in peoples tanks!!

Jim
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-12-2020, 02:14 PM
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They look OK to me. You just need patience to notice growth in Anubias and Java fern which are slow even in high tech setup. They grow horizontally by adding rhizomes, roots and leaves, not height as easily observable in stem plants. They will get denser and wider over months to years, not just a few weeks.

My high tech java fern and anubias setups take years to fill up densely, but the reward of slow growth is that I only need to prune infrequently.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-12-2020, 03:38 PM
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A lot of us wish our tanks looked that "bad"!

5 weeks is pretty new...
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-12-2020, 05:46 PM Thread Starter
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They look OK to me. You just need patience to notice growth in Anubias and Java fern which are slow even in high tech setup. They grow horizontally by adding rhizomes, roots and leaves, not height as easily observable in stem plants. They will get denser and wider over months to years, not just a few weeks.

My high tech java fern and anubias setups take years to fill up densely, but the reward of slow growth is that I only need to prune infrequently.
Lack of pruning is a reward. The biggest shocker after 5 weeks (1st "aquascape") has been the large amount of trimming required and that is with dosing lean and putting maybe 15-20ppm of CO2 in. Going forward it looks like I'll probably have to trim 2x per month to keep stems from overgrowing underneath and up top. The foreground plants like pearl weed grow a noticeable amount in a single day, I've had to shape and trim those back a few times already. I mean it is fun to do but you HAVE to do it. I can only imagine that with EI and full CO2, you would be trimming at least weekly, probably more often. Hats off to those folks for being able to keep up with it.

The ferns and swords haven't done anything but they have not died nor even look distressed so I think I'll be happy about that. The thing I missed in the beginning was properly planning/scaping for them based on their slower growth. You have to be mindful when placing them near faster growing plants. I can see why you might dedicate a tank to these slower growers like you have done, it would even out growth nicely. And what a great idea for a low maintenance tank!

As far as the Anubias, there is still concern about the leaves dissolving and lightening, researching that at the moment. It's said the Anubias is an easy plant. In some ways it is but in some ways it is not. It's shows distress and growth so slowly, you can miss what's going on until a lot of damage is done and then it takes a long time for it to over grow the damage. It seems like Anubias is actually not good for beginners but good for someone who can operate a tank to reasonably tight tolerances over a long period of time. For someone like that, it's an easy plant, since you mostly just glue/tie it and then watch, adjust on occasion.
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-12-2020, 06:20 PM
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Hi @ahem,

It may be nutrients. Those seachem tabs have no NPK in them (ok maybe some but not much at all).

Anubias is a great plant for anyone.

The moment we pour nutrients into an aquarium, pelt it with light, give it CO2, we drive photosynthetic rates. And we drive them to a unique magnitude per plant per tank per how much we putting in. So we are left to best guess all the time.

That said, you get GDA/GSA when you dose a bit more N/P - this means that the reason you have no algae is because you are starving the tank. The plants are going to win, as long as they have enough of everything, since they catch more nutrients + have access to the substrate (which lacks NPK) So when you dose the tank (just enough) your plants win - any extra and the algae takes advantage (I don't know why, but maybe the plant is not geared to high nutrients so it can't utilize the "extra-ish"). Your epiphytes have no substrate - this may be why they are dying. Maybe try putting some of their roots into your substrate -- a nice experiment, you could see if that epiphyte gets healthy or not.

But as @Tiger15 says, these slow growers takes months/years to really shine.

This goes back to @Asteroid, as long as you provide the nutrients/CO2, the plants should thrive.

I'd rule out too much light.

Your anubias are lightening, they may be moving nutrients around in their tissue to facilitate new growth. We are left in a place where we either stick the roots in the substrate or add more water column dosing. If you have more water column dosing, then up your CO2 - if your CO2 can't go any higher, then add more surface agitation, then up your CO2, then add your water column dosing.

Josh
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-12-2020, 09:09 PM
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5 weeks is still in the transitional period from emersed growth to submerged. If you see new green leaves and white roots, they are making it. Even with my established anubias, I am seeing one green leaf every 3 to 4 weeks.
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-12-2020, 09:16 PM
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It's always beneficial to trim off a few original leaves. This will free up resources to develop new submersed leaves. Not uncommon for some original emersed leaves to not grow well and take on algae, especially under good light. Java Fern is a very strong pearler with co2, a good indicator that co2, ferts and light are there.


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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-12-2020, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
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I just researched that the holes in the Anubias may be cause by low potassium, which is surprising because I thought I had been liberally dosing potassium at 2ppm a day. But the good news is that K can be added rather cheaply and without algal effect.

I wonder if Anubias will not do as well in a lean tank. Since it obviously absorbs nutrients slowly, it might get outcompeted by the fast growers, especially with the limited supply in the water column.

On second look at my Java Ferns, while they are the same size as when I planted, there is one difference. They have more of those green roots growing out of their leaf ends. So that's something. I wonder if it has to do with the Seachem Flourish Advance I have been dosing which is apparently good for root development.
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Does this look healthy for Java Sword? Again, they have not grown at all, kind of lost there in a sea of dwarf grass. I thought they would grow upwards more. At first I thought the transition from green to yellow and brown was it dying, but it has been those colors for a while now without decaying, I think its a coloration (perhaps due to N deficiency from my lean dosing). The two yellow leaves sticking up in the middle just behind the branch are part of it.
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Here is the full tank. A bit of a jumble, was going for a nature with a little influence of dutch. Have some tidying up as it grows out.
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Originally Posted by Tiger15 View Post
5 weeks is still in the transitional period from emersed growth to submerged. If you see new green leaves and white roots, they are making it. Even with my established anubias, I am seeing one green leaf every 3 to 4 weeks.
Is all Anubias we buy emersed?

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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-12-2020, 11:44 PM
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It's propagating itself. Those are little plantlets that will eventually get big enough that you can pop them off and plant them other places. I find that the leaf that grows the plantlets is not salvageable in the long term - the babies are sapping its resources. As for why this is happening, I can't find a for sure reason. Some plants go into reproductive mode when they are stressed, but it might just be a periodic thing or something that certain genotypes are prone to - it seems like Windelov does it a lot, but I have four different varieties of java fern and they all have done it at least a little bit.

This doesn't address your question, but hey - free plants!
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-13-2020, 12:08 AM
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To the subject line, my experience is 100% opposite from my own tanks. Anubias & Buce always grows slowly, but still much faster with ferts and CO2. And even really pretty stems and such I want for the splash of color go nuts in my CO2 injected tanks. Mosses, anything that starts with Java, etc. perform similarly compared to their low tech counterparts kept in the same source water. Biggest difference is the things that live (Erios, etc.) actually grow and divide, and Java ferns are weeds rather than something I wish would fill in. Admittedly I am prone to move my own stuff from tank to tank rather than purchase new plants but at the end of the day, if you are happy with the growth, health and color, it's a successful aquarium in my view as long as you're achieving those.
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