First attempt at planted tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-20-2016, 04:30 AM Thread Starter
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First attempt at planted tank

Hi everyone!!!
About 4 months ago I decided to re-start my 29 gallon aquarium. About 2 months ago I decided to give live plants a try. Admittedly, I have gone into this pretty blind with very little knowledge. My plants survive but never really flourish. I am using Flourish and Flourish Excel. Have recently started using a plant food formula from API. I am very frustrated.
My daughter has 15 gallon tall planted tank. She is using the same supplements and her plants are flourishing. This is double frustrating. If I could I would start all over but can't afford to do that. Not sure what I am doing wrong or could do better.
I am trying to find a book that provide good info for a planted tank newbie.
At this point in time I am looking to keep a low-tech planted tank.
I have a gravel substrate. Filtration is done with an Eclipse 3 system. Have one Floramax bulb and regular florescent bulb. My daughter uses Caribsea Floramax for substrate and runs an AquaClear filter. For lighting she currently uses an Aqua-Glo florescent bulb.
Any thoughts or suggestions appreciated.

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-20-2016, 03:09 PM
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The substrate could be a big part of it. Gravel doesn't feed anything. What kind of plants do you have? You could try adding root tabs. I improved my gravel substrate by adding safe-t-sorb (it can absorb some nutrients and release for the plants later).
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-20-2016, 04:15 PM
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I have noticed that you need a lot of root structure and deep substrate to use root tabs, or else they get into the water column and mess things up. So my advise is to be careful going the root tab route. Make sure you have very large root structure already, and once those tabs are placed at the very bottom of the substrate, don't root around the substrate replanting, etc.. Also, get the best root tabs money can buy. The cheaper ones fall apart too quickly. I got some API root tabs that fell apart within days and made my water deadly to fish and even plants. (Maybe I didn't have deep enough substrate?) I have never used any root tabs since. But I am sure there are others one the forum that have success with them and can give you more positive feedback.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-20-2016, 05:56 PM
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It could be that your daughters tank is more mature than yours. I just recently planted my 60g after getting a 48" Finnex Planted+ 24/7...however, my silica (pool filter) sand had been in there for a couple of years. After an initial algae breakout, things settled in and are growing well!
I dunno about your gravel. Dirt has it's own challenges, but I think fine gravels or sand is best...but then root tabs are a must for rooted plants in an inert substrate, with organic and liquid ferts supplementing the water column.
Finally, we need to be patient with newly planted tanks as it takes awhile for plants to take hold and to find the balance of light and ferts. Also, it's not uncommon for some plants to 'melt' after planting, but don't be too hasty and remove as I'm learning that they often come back and do really well.

Tank On, Mike-
60g Marineland Community, Finnex Planted+ 24/7, Silica (pool filter) sand.
10g, 29g, & 37g fry grow out tanks, 110g stock tank w/40g sump.


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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-20-2016, 06:40 PM Thread Starter
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Actually, my daughter started her tank a few weeks after I started mine.
I will certainly give root tabs a try.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by AWolf View Post
I have noticed that you need a lot of root structure and deep substrate to use root tabs, or else they get into the water column and mess things up. So my advise is to be careful going the root tab route. Make sure you have very large root structure already, and once those tabs are placed at the very bottom of the substrate, don't root around the substrate replanting, etc.. Also, get the best root tabs money can buy. The cheaper ones fall apart too quickly. I got some API root tabs that fell apart within days and made my water deadly to fish and even plants. (Maybe I didn't have deep enough substrate?) I have never used any root tabs since. But I am sure there are others one the forum that have success with them and can give you more positive feedback.
Thank you. I will try root tabs.

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Originally Posted by JJ09 View Post
The substrate could be a big part of it. Gravel doesn't feed anything. What kind of plants do you have? You could try adding root tabs. I improved my gravel substrate by adding safe-t-sorb (it can absorb some nutrients and release for the plants later).
Thank you. I really appreciate your answer.
I am really regretting going into this without researching first. That is not how I usually do things.
I will try root tabs.

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Last edited by Darkblade48; 06-21-2016 at 05:15 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-20-2016, 07:45 PM
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Well, I also jumped into fishkeeping without much research. My first setup was aquarium gravel and plastic plants. When I realized I wanted live plants, I simply didn't have the funds to replace the substrate with one of those nutrient-rich options. I started dosing dry ferts using the EI method (had foolishly thought fish poo could feed my plants alone- nope). Things got better. Then I added STS because someone told me it could help hold nutrients in the substrate. More improvement. I added MTS to help aerate and stir the substrate. I did a lot of tweaking of my photoperiod, light intensity and surface agitation. It took me an entire year to get things into balance, and I'm still learning how to do things better as I go.

I've done a substrate change once (from standard aquarium gravel to a finer one- almost could be called a coarse sand) and it wasn't too hard. But now that I have things working, I'm leery of making any more major changes.

Yes, root tabs can leach into the water. My substrate is 3 or 4" deep and I do have to be careful. I only add the root tabs when the water level is lowered, push them in quickly as deep as I can with tweezers, dry the tweezers between each tab (so it doesn't start to dissolve right away) and then immediately after they are all in, siphon out water to complete the water change and remove stuff the tabs that might have leaked as they went in. Even so I usually have a nitrate spike day after I put in tabs. Right now I add root tabs once every 2 months (used to be once a month) and on those days, I dose less dry ferts or none at all. I think I will gradually increase the interval to once every three months, as the plants get more established. I always shove one near the glass in the back, so I can see when they are dissolved away/used up by the plants.

My methods probably aren't the best ones, so definitely read around on here and see what else might work for you. You can look at my tank journal and see how awful my plants were doing at first!


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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-20-2016, 08:42 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you.
I am not new to fish keeping having done it successfully before. It is the planted tank aspect I am new too.
Would like to do a substrate change but do not now how to do it. I have fish and some live plants right now.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-20-2016, 08:57 PM
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I wrote out some steps on it for someone once. Will try to find that thread for you.


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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-20-2016, 08:59 PM
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The thing about root tabs is they're not all the same. I use Seachem Flourish tabs which I think hold together really well. I've read that the API tabs dissolve pretty quickly. Then there's the DIY osmocote gel cap tabs that dissolve very quickly and although osmocote is marketed as slow release, that's in soil not water. The 'trick' with some of these is to press deep into the substrate, which raises the issue of substrate depth. My own feeling is that approximately 3-4" is a good substrate depth for rooted plants. Actually even that's a shallow depth for rooted plants and the roots will quickly hit bottom and move horizontally throughout the aquarium.
.
I've been a serious organic vegetable gardener for some 30 years (my garden is 3000 sq. ft.).
Made tons of compost, vermicompost and grown green manures to till under...
.
Don't underestimate the power of organic waste (fish/plant waste and any uneaten food) as excellent organic fertilizer in the water column and upper layers of the substrate, but this assumes a sufficient bio-load relative to tank and filter maintenance. However, we are dealing with an inert substrate so root tabs are required for rooting plants even though some nutrients may be absorbed through osmosis.
Also, as mentioned, it does make sense that Malaysian Trumpet Snails will aerate the substrate and help to breakdown wastes into plant usable nutrients.
.
Footnote: I'm not lured by soil or the commercial 'nutrient rich' substrate materials....as they all become inert rather quickly and unless you're willing to start over in 6 months or so will still require root tabs and/or other ferts.
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Tank On, Mike-
60g Marineland Community, Finnex Planted+ 24/7, Silica (pool filter) sand.
10g, 29g, & 37g fry grow out tanks, 110g stock tank w/40g sump.


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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-20-2016, 09:09 PM
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I'm an organic gardener too- but only for eight, nine years here. I'm always adding compost and have become more and more particular about enriching the soil to benefit the plants where they need it most. I don't know why I didn't realize at first that plants in my tank would also need something rich to grow in!

I use the API root tabs. They do dissolve pretty quick. I tried the seachem ones first but didn't like how black clouds of it would come up into the water if I moved a plant. Could have been my substrate was just not deep enough back then, though.

Bump: Here's that post with steps for substrate change:
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/10...substrate.html


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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-20-2016, 11:07 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JJ09 View Post
The substrate could be a big part of it. Gravel doesn't feed anything. What kind of plants do you have? You could try adding root tabs. I improved my gravel substrate by adding safe-t-sorb (it can absorb some nutrients and release for the plants later).
Currently have in my tank: Vals, Amazon swords, Wisteria. Also have floating plants: water lettuce, frog bits and salvia.
I will try root tabs. Will check out safe-t-sorb.
Thank you.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by JJ09 View Post
I wrote out some steps on it for someone once. Will try to find that thread for you.
Thank you.

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Last edited by Darkblade48; 06-21-2016 at 05:15 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts
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