planning to convert to planted. Should I go all in at once or a little at a time? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-17-2019, 02:10 AM Thread Starter
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planning to convert to planted. Should I go all in at once or a little at a time?

Hello my fine fish friends!

So after much thought & SOME research, I'm thinking about converting my 55 gallon (fish only) tank to the easiest plant suggestions from the aquarium channels on youtube. I had a Rainbow planted tank that I set up 10 years ago and finally pulled the plants after two years of trial and error. This was before I ever thought of using the interweb as a resource. So, after being on this forum now since Feb, I think I might try my hand at some plants that I have seen on some aquarium youtube channels as foolproof, can grow anywhere plants. These will be planted in gravel and just using the LED lights from my 55 gallon starter kit. Of course I'll need some sort of liquid fertilizer too.

Here's my list:

Italian Val for background

an Amazon Sword as the centerpiece

Dwarf Lilies in the front corners

Bacopa Carolina, Bacopa monnieri, and Lugwigia Repens in the front and middle.

My question is, should I add these slowly as to not "shock" my ecosystem (just like everything else in the hobby) or because we are dealing with roots, should I go in all at once? Shipping costs sure make me want to go in all at once, but I readily admit, I can talk freshwater fish care all day, but I will be entering "aquarium plant care" as my 2nd try & as a novice. Maybe I should start with the background plants 1st, then start with the others after they are established? I will also have to start testing Phosphate levels, something I've never done. I will buy that test kit before buying any plants to see what I'm working with, but (at present) my tank generally has high nitrates (with my stocking level nearly maxed) but everything else is very good (no ammonia, no nitrite, PH 7.5 to 7.8, KH 2-4, GH 5-8). I do add peat moss to the filtration to try and keep the PH close to 7.5 for my Cardinal Tetras.

Thank for any advise,
Tom
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-17-2019, 04:30 AM
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Please take your time on this. Do you have the space to setup a second tank from scratch? That would be ideal. Then figure out substrate, lighting, filters, plants, livestock, etc.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-17-2019, 10:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sittinglynx View Post
Italian Val for background
an Amazon Sword as the centerpiece
Dwarf Lilies in the front corners
Bacopa Carolina, Bacopa monnieri, and Lugwigia Repens in the front and middle.
All excellent choices of beginner plants, hardy and can adapt to different conditions. Are you planning to keep it low tech or adding CO2?
What about the lights?
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-17-2019, 12:25 PM Thread Starter
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@Streetwise "Do you have the space to setup a second tank from scratch?" No space for a 2nd tank. "Then figure out substrate, lighting, filters, plants, livestock, etc." I have a tetra tank filtration is overkill, but I need to look into what wattage lights I got with my 55 gal starter kit. They are 4 24" LED lights and don't give off a lot of heat, but I'm sure they are just designed to be display lights. Here's my tank journal if you want to check out more ttps://www.plantedtank.net/forums/12-tank-journals/1291299-55-gallon-up-graveyard-take-2-a.html

@sudhirr "All excellent choices of beginner plants, hardy and can adapt to different conditions. Are you planning to keep it low tech or adding CO2?
What about the lights?"


Thanks. From what I've watched and read, these plants can grow with regular LED display lights. That's what I have, but I would certainly consider upgrading the lights over time. No plans for CO2 at this point. Again, I know these won't grow like weeds without CO2, planted in gravel, with liquid fertilizers but from what I've read, & watched, these will work.

I'm just not sure if I should add one species at a time or if it's better to just get them in at once so they can all grow together. I also need to read up on testing Phosphate levels, and how to control them.

Thank you both for your responses.

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-17-2019, 01:18 PM
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Not sure where you got the phosphate idea from, but it's not something most planted tank owners pay any attention too.

I'd recommend some root tabs as you are using plain gravel and a couple of the plants you list are heavy root feeders e.g. the swords/lily. Root tabs also give you a good backup if you forget to dose.

You could start with trace/micro ferts only for your liquid if you wanted - that's everything accept NPK (Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) a.k.a the macros. You may find your tank produces enough of those itself if its heavily stocked, but with good plant growth often you have to add extra so you might need to swap to an all in one that contains everything. I wouldn't play about with individual bottles for different nutrients for your first go - just get a mixed one.

I would just go for it, buy the lot, plant it and we can help you tweak if you have issues. You've chosen a good selection of plant that are pretty hardy and should work well.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-17-2019, 11:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you @tamsin for explaining the difference between Macro and Micro/Trace fertilizers. I have viewed a little on this between the difference of API & Seachem Flourish Root Tabs. With your comments, now what I watched makes sense.

Looks like what I'd like to have on hand for a mix of micro & macro ferts is Flourish Root tabs for the Swords and Dwarf Lilies. I imagine you place one a few inches away from the roots/bulb of each plant. As for the liquid, maybe start with Seachem Flourish Trace (I'm guessing weekly dosing), and maybe after a month or two some Aquarium Co-Op Easy Green for a monthly substitute for the liquid trace for a macro fertilizer dose.

I'm reaching out to "That Fish Place" hoping a few hour drive can save me on shipping, otherwise I'm looking at "Planted Aquariums Central" as my shipped source. If anyone can suggest an east coast (US) supplier that does an awesome job, it may save me good money on shipping. Thanks again for everyone who took time to give me a pointer or two.

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-17-2019, 11:29 PM
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Sounds like a plan to me - the tabs will come with instructions on location/frequency but yes that's the usual guide. You want to bury them as far down into your gravel as they'll go.

You should be able to assess the growth to decide if/when you need to 'upgrade' to the easy green - pale leaves, holes and growth that just doesn't look fresh and healthy is a good guide. As your plant mass increases the amount of nutrients they use up increases too so you may find that easy green becomes your standard.

I think a lot of people (me included) find it very weird to be adding nitrate etc. to a tank! But ferts only add a few ppm and it hasn't come from decaying waste so it's not a big issue. I now dose an all in one as it's easier to just know everything is in it and I don't have a high fish load. Nothing wrong with working your way up to it though and seeing what your tank needs.

You can split doses into daily or weekly based on convenience. I think pump bottles are nice as they make it very easy to do quick, so then whatever works for the amount you need e.g. a dose every other day or three after each water change etc. depends on your routine/tank size.

Good luck!
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-23-2019, 04:42 PM Thread Starter
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@tamsin well I did it. Pics on the OP of my Journal if you'd like to check it out: "55 gallon up form the graveyard (take 2)"

Anyway, thanks again for your help, Tom

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-23-2019, 05:38 PM
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It looks like you have already ordered. I will still drop my two cents in...

Two comments on plants. I think Val’s have a tendency to have some issues unique to them. For example, seachem excel seems to be hard on them and has been known to cause some pretty heavy melting when used. The other thing is the sword. It is a VERY hardy plant. It will be EXEEDINGLY easy to grow. (Notice caps). I loved my Sword because it was an incredible centerpiece .... until it took over the entire tank!!! They have strong root structures and will multiple like rabbits. The bigger / healthier the faster. I’m not saying don’t do it. Just be away of the monster that will be lurking under the gravel surface. I would suggest water wisteria. It is a weed. But will give you the much needed plant mass to make sure the plants beat out the algae. By that I mean it wasn’t until I took Dennis Wong’s advice and pushed my plant mass to well over 60% coverage. It was crazy how quickly things began to stabilize. In other words going all in was def the right thing to do. Finally be sure to keep everything clear above the replens. They need light like everything else and can easily be too dark in the shadows of some of the taller plants.

Liquid ferts are an easy no fuss way to start but start familiarizing yourself with feet schedules like PPS Pro and EI. LOTS to read on the site. :-). There are a couple of mail order places like nilogc for example that sell the powder to make your own ferts. $30 for a yrs supply. Liquid can get pricey. I would also suggest taking a gander at advancedplantedtank.com. Dennis has done some great work compiling a lot of this info in a simple to understand format. It doesn’t replace our forum here but helps you to make sense of a lot of things and gives you some really great must dos

Good luck and welcome to the wonderful world of plants!!!!!


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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-23-2019, 06:16 PM
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If you haven't done it before, you are entering a new world. Since you used the word: "ecosystem", I would treat it as a new ecosystem. This means looking at the whole picture, not just a few details, such as; this plant, that plant, this nutrient, etc. Since you are not injecting CO2, I would strongly recommend making the investment in Diana Walstad's book: "Ecology of the Planted Aquarium." you will avoid many pitfalls and will move much more quickly up the learning curve once you digest this bible-of-the-low-tech-planted-tank.

As far as supplies, "That Fish Place" is certainly loaded with products (it's a big warehouse), although I don't recall how good their plant selection is. There are certainly many low-cost e-tailers, not least of which being the big A.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-23-2019, 11:21 PM Thread Starter
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@diverjoe & @Deanna thank you both for your input.

Right now, I've started with seachem trace and placed a root tab for the sword (about 4" from the roots). It's funny that you suggest water wisteria, because that was my 1st thought. If this turns out to be a mess, That's my plan B. Thank you for the link suggestions and book suggestion. I would like to read up on what I'm doing instead of just surfing youtube channels and reading stuff online.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-24-2019, 12:24 AM
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Hi, Tom! I find adding all the plants upon setting up the tank to be pretty darn ideal, and would do it more often if I could find what I want at that given moment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sittinglynx View Post

Here's my list:

Italian Val for background

an Amazon Sword as the centerpiece

Dwarf Lilies in the front corners

Bacopa Carolina, Bacopa monnieri, and Lugwigia Repens in the front and middle.

My question is, should I add these slowly as to not "shock" my ecosystem (just like everything else in the hobby) or because we are dealing with roots, should I go in all at once?
Thank for any advise,
Tom
I'm a fan of each plant you've named, but Bacopa and Ludwigia can grow pretty darn tall for front pieces, I've had each of your named 3 and they get at least near a foot tall. I'm using lots of microswords these days in my low tech tanks for stuff to put in front. If you can't find them, let me know and I'll send you a healthy patch for free. I'm currently trying to grow lots of it to move to my new shrimp tanks, and it grows like duckweed with a little CO2, so I'm sure I'll have more than I need. Otherwise something low to the ground like crypts might be a better choice. Just a thought, but you may not want tall plants along the front glass.

-Chip
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-24-2019, 03:58 AM Thread Starter
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@Blue Ridge Reef 1st off thank you for the offer, that's very very nice of you. I did place half the Bacopa and Ludwigia in the back corners to cover the filter apparatus, heater, etc.. However I did place some in mid-range and around the ornaments. My thought process was to let every thing grow high & take root, except around the sword as not to block it from getting light. Once the plants start reaching surface, trim the middle stem plants down to maybe 8 inches and the few in front down to 6 inches. I'm working with a 55 gallon tank, so some height in the middle and from will be OK. From what I understand, these plants get their nutrients more from their leaves as much or more than their roots, so maybe keeping these guys trimmed down isn't such a good idea? If that's the case, I only bought two bunches each, (I got Lemon Bacopa instead of Caroliniana), so I can just move them into the four corners and mix them into the background with the jungle vals and maybe move my Dwarf Lilies into the mid ground and labor to keep them trimmed low. These, of course are the thoughts of a novice, but I'm having fun and learning, lol!
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