Advice for growing plants in gravel? - Page 3 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #31 of 37 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by atyshka View Post
Thanks, that advice helps! Do you have any specific recommendations based on the pictures I posted as to why my plants aren't doing well with NPK, Flourish, and glutural? I feel like it's lighting at this point but any more light leads to bad algae issues for me. I might get a BGA product but I feel like that's a band aid for an underlying problem.
The most successful BGA treatment I have used without going chemical route was a large 75%+ water change during which I removed as much BGA as possible, I did a gravel vac wherever there was no plants, cleaned out filter media (in a bucket of "clean" tank water) and completely blacked out the tank for 5 days.

When I finished the blackout I did another 75%+ water change, reduced feeding, reduced ferts and removed any dying/decaying plants. I would make sure any "mulm" from fish waste and decaying plant matter was removed, and increased flow. I kept an eye on all parameters and kept everything stable. I reduced photo period to 6-8 hours, and made sure no sunlight was getting into the problem (corners mostly) are of my tank.

After I started seeing no signs of it returning, I added new plants and began using small amounts of substrate ferts and dry ferts, slowly watching plant response, building up ferts until I reached a happy level of growth, with minimal algae/BGA growth.

Light alone is not why BGA outbreaks occur IME. Low flow and lack of NO3 is just as bad as too much light in terms of BGA.
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post #32 of 37 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 07:03 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Bananableps View Post
I agree with previous comments that you are probably deficient in nitrogen. The plants you are keeping are well within the range of what can be kept in an inert-substrate low tech tank fed with fish mulm, so dosing nitrogen isn't necessarily required. However, if you are having trouble balancing your bioload with the need to do water changes, then perhaps a little nitrogen supplement might be helpful.

I can't tell super well from the pic, but it seems the abubias you are growing as an epiphyte (cannot take advantage of substrate nutrients) is doing fine, and only the plants with the capacity of getting nutrients from the substrate are in need of assistance. That suggests to me that you could solve this problem while taking advantage of the benefits of substrate nutrients mentioned in my previous post. Root tabs that provide nitrogen might be easier for you than frequent liquid dosing.

It is my personal view that dirted tanks provide more benefits than an inert low tech setup, but with roughly the same maintenance costs; therefor, if you are going to go low tech, you might as well go dirt. I understand a full conversion would be a big hassle, but it is something to consider. You would not have to worry about nutrient issues like this (for the plants you are having trouble with).

Good luck!


EDIT:


I missed dukydaf's entire post on my first read of the thread. My bad! Just wanted to add that I support the above advice. Considering the size of your gravel, I would only add that you might want to pour some sand over the part of your tank you are dirt seeding to ensure you have a strong cap over the dirt.
Thanks, will definitely try that! You're right that the Anubias are pretty good, but the Java ferns are just terrible. New growth is very slow (takes several weeks for baby leaves to grow to an inch) and most new growth dies off before it gets very big. Most plants only have like two leaves per rhizome. Also, the leaves are crinkly and dotted with brown spots. I'm constantly struggling with algae on them too, I have to scrub the leaves every other day. Also, I don't know if this is normal for Javas feeding from the water column but the plants have very little roots.



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Originally Posted by Quagulator View Post
The most successful BGA treatment I have used without going chemical route was a large 75%+ water change during which I removed as much BGA as possible, I did a gravel vac wherever there was no plants, cleaned out filter media (in a bucket of "clean" tank water) and completely blacked out the tank for 5 days.

When I finished the blackout I did another 75%+ water change, reduced feeding, reduced ferts and removed any dying/decaying plants. I would make sure any "mulm" from fish waste and decaying plant matter was removed, and increased flow. I kept an eye on all parameters and kept everything stable. I reduced photo period to 6-8 hours, and made sure no sunlight was getting into the problem (corners mostly) are of my tank.

After I started seeing no signs of it returning, I added new plants and began using small amounts of substrate ferts and dry ferts, slowly watching plant response, building up ferts until I reached a happy level of growth, with minimal algae/BGA growth.

Light alone is not why BGA outbreaks occur IME. Low flow and lack of NO3 is just as bad as too much light in terms of BGA.
Thanks for the advice! Flow seems like a but of a problem for me. I have a full bubble wall against the back of my tank and a 60 GPH filter providing flow. However, I still get A TON of fish waste on the bottom of my tank. Is this normal? If not I probably have a flow problem which would explain some of the BGA. I just thought that between the bubble wall and filter I'd have enough flow.
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post #33 of 37 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 09:35 PM
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I started out same as you, I had basic aquarium gravel and plastic plants, decided one day I wanted live plants. I started EI dosing and to help my plants I added safe-t-sorb to my tanks. It has very high cation capacity. It does affect the ph at first but I soaked mine with baking soda to alleviate that effect. At first I just bought one bag, sifted out the dust and smaller particles, and sprinkled it into my tank (trumpet snails helped mix it with the gravel). My plants started to improve with this step.

When I started my second tank, I used mainly safe-t-sorb for the substrate, with some leftover gravel on top to hold it down (it is very light and easily disturbed at first).

Just an idea.


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post #34 of 37 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 10:38 PM
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For me BGA is about organics and your tanks ability to process. To process it you need a good bio-filter and healthy plant mass. You have pretty much no plant mass, large fish that are maintaining I think you said 10-20 Nitrate. That is considered a "dirty tank". I don't necessarily mean dirty to your eye, but dirty where algae/BGA will form.

It's also inaccurate to think BGA will only develop with too much light, I don't think your light is strong enough to "really" grow plants. It's a 36? That's a deep tank.

If it was my tank I would dose everything in the water column, make sure you do 50% water changes weekly (religiously) and use the 1st light you were using on a short cycle and see if things improve. Also get some more easy to grow fast growers like Wisteria that will help process the organics. Also if your tank is a 36G and you running a 60GPH filter with larger Angels that's not really a good way to go as well, but you could make up for it with the water changes.
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post #35 of 37 (permalink) Old 12-01-2017, 02:54 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by houseofcards View Post
For me BGA is about organics and your tanks ability to process. To process it you need a good bio-filter and healthy plant mass. You have pretty much no plant mass, large fish that are maintaining I think you said 10-20 Nitrate. That is considered a "dirty tank". I don't necessarily mean dirty to your eye, but dirty where algae/BGA will form.

It's also inaccurate to think BGA will only develop with too much light, I don't think your light is strong enough to "really" grow plants. It's a 36? That's a deep tank.

If it was my tank I would dose everything in the water column, make sure you do 50% water changes weekly (religiously) and use the 1st light you were using on a short cycle and see if things improve. Also get some more easy to grow fast growers like Wisteria that will help process the organics. Also if your tank is a 36G and you running a 60GPH filter with larger Angels that's not really a good way to go as well, but you could make up for it with the water changes.
Okay, I've been looking to increase my plant mass but my LFS doesn't have many options in terms of low light. I might order hornwort or wisteria off Amazon, but I've heard that most stem plants want CO2. What low light, fast growing plants do you recommend?
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post #36 of 37 (permalink) Old 12-01-2017, 05:31 AM
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I think houseofcards raises a good point. Your biggest problem is probably lack of plant mass. One rarely sees a jungle tank with algae problems. A thickly planted tank can suck up all the CO2 (as well as a good portion of nutrients) available in the water column during the peak of your photoperiod. Plants can store energy better than algae can, so these daily input fasts will routinely give plants an upper hand. This is how stagnant ponds and vernal pools in nature can manage to stay so clear, even in the peak of summer, if they have enough vascular plant activity.


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Originally Posted by atyshka View Post
Okay, I've been looking to increase my plant mass but my LFS doesn't have many options in terms of low light. I might order hornwort or wisteria off Amazon, but I've heard that most stem plants want CO2. What low light, fast growing plants do you recommend?
Both of those plants will do great without CO2. There is a sticky in the low tech subforum with a list of other low light plants. If you can't buy plants locally, you might consider checking out the trade section of this forum. Package deals on low tech plants are available here and on aquabid.
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post #37 of 37 (permalink) Old 12-21-2017, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by houseofcards View Post
@Nubster



You brought out some good concerns. I haven't seen a plant that needs to have a fertile substrate yet, as long as your feeding the water column. I've had swords for like 8 years, huge crypts, etc all in substrate lost most of it's nutrients or never had any. It's not to say that a plant doesn't get a boast from a fertile substrate like AS or even soil, but you can't rely on just that long-term anyway so the water column is the key.


I dose flourish excel and flourish every week. My java ferns are growing well. The anubias has some holes but new leaf growth. But my amazon sword is really sad a yellow, twisted, almost transparent. I noticed I should be dosing every other day. If I start that, when can I expect to see improvements in the amazon sword?


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