Water Changes & Floating Plants -- also, lighting question - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-26-2019, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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Water Changes & Floating Plants -- also, lighting question

How does everyone handle water changes when they have floating plants? I don't mean a few plants, I mean when almost the entire surface is covered in frogbit. I have a 29 gallon tank that has frogbit that is transitioning from the high-fert life of my (few months old) 15 gallon dirted tank to this (years old stable) non-dirted, hardly fertilized tank. It seems that every week I am spending WAY too much time scooping out all the frogbit, doing my water change, and then putting it all back, flipping upside down pieces laboriously one at a time, and pulling off dead/dying pieces. Before I did this, it would all get messed up & caught in underwater plants, end up upside down from water pouring in, etc. etc. and kept mostly dying off.

Is this frogbit going to stabilize enough that I don't have to do this every week, or am I just kidding myself? Also, it is growing somewhat -- it is throwing new leaves regularly, and has spread so much that I'm almost out of space to dump in food for the guppies. The variance in colors of leaves is crazy though. Which leads me to wonder -- do LED lights wear out? It has a Finnex "AL H30DS" (output DC15V, 20 watts). This entire tank & set-up was gifted to me over a year ago, and I think it was 3-4 years old at that time. We literally drained most of the water, drove it a few miles across town, and then set it back up immediately. So is the light becoming less useful for plants as it ages? Is that even a thing? I read so much on these forums & elsewhere online that sometimes it all blurs together!

TL;DR

1. How do you change your water without destroying your frogbit (or other floating plants) in an almost-entire-surface-covered aquarium
2. Is the wide variance in leaf color of frogbit due to quality of LED lights, or availability of nutrients?

ETA: the frogbit is usually the dark green color when I bring it from my 15 gallon

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Last edited by Cinnamonamon; 12-26-2019 at 04:21 PM. Reason: title adjustment
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-26-2019, 04:13 PM Thread Starter
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-26-2019, 09:26 PM
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I don't have frogbit, but I do have fairly dense floating water sprite. I use a submersible pump that I insert by pushing the floating plants out of the way. The pump sits just off the bottom. I pump out half the tank, then refill. No issues.

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-26-2019, 09:32 PM
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That density of frogbit will quickly strip water of all nutrients, you will have to constantly lightly fert it.

Why are you bringing frogbit from other tank? Just thin it out to usable/manageable size colony in both tanks and throw excess in trash/compost heap. Reason you see it dying out is 2 fold, colony is crowding itself out and also completely depleting nutrients in tank causing a deficiency which in turn leads to unhealthy growth and premature death of plants. In a healthy managed tank with frogbit kept in check to say covering 1/2-2/3 water surface and proper replenishment of micro/macro nutrients it needs for optimal growth it can clean your tank water so well you almost won’t have to change water or vacuum unless your maintaining a large population of guppy and/or over feeding.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-27-2019, 05:11 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
I don't have frogbit, but I do have fairly dense floating water sprite. I use a submersible pump that I insert by pushing the floating plants out of the way. The pump sits just off the bottom. I pump out half the tank, then refill. No issues.
hmm...a submersible pump...very cool! Perhaps someday!

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That density of frogbit will quickly strip water of all nutrients, you will have to constantly lightly fert it.

Why are you bringing frogbit from other tank? Just thin it out to usable/manageable size colony in both tanks and throw excess in trash/compost heap. Reason you see it dying out is 2 fold, colony is crowding itself out and also completely depleting nutrients in tank causing a deficiency which in turn leads to unhealthy growth and premature death of plants. In a healthy managed tank with frogbit kept in check to say covering 1/2-2/3 water surface and proper replenishment of micro/macro nutrients it needs for optimal growth it can clean your tank water so well you almost won’t have to change water or vacuum unless your maintaining a large population of guppy and/or over feeding.
Very good to know! I keep putting it in this tank first, because I have so much from my dirted tank, and second, because this tank is often rather overstocked, so I'm looking to keep the water quality as good as possible. Right now the tank holds just 15ish male guppies, a couple oto's, a couple tetras, a few amano, a kazillion cherry shrimp, a few mystery snails, and a bunch of ramshorns (which were, of course, a mistake). Sometimes it has 10-20 mystery snails and up to almost 30 male guppies (we breed both in order to send them out in science kits for kids to observe). Honestly, I just want the tank happy & healthy -- if that means emptying some of the frogbit, and tossing the stuff from my dirted tank instead of putting it in here, I will happily do so!

As for tank maintenance, I usually remove about 5-6 gallons per week, gravel vacuuming just the open spots in the front, and occasionally at a spot in the center back. I guess I hadn't thought about the plants doing such a good job that I could change the water less! I should test the nitrate & see where it is after a week. Also, I do have some all-in-one fertilizer, but this tank is at work and I have to be careful how much of my own $ I spend on it (boss is not at all interested in spending budget money on extra plants). Generally I add a dose only once or twice a month, instead of weekly.

Thanks for the info on how the plants work -- I had not even thought about the possibility of there not being enough nutrients for that volume of frogbit! I will toss half of it tomorrow and see how it looks next week!

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Last edited by Cinnamonamon; 12-27-2019 at 05:12 AM. Reason: .
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-27-2019, 02:05 PM
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I just stick my siphon past thefrog bit. I drain half the tank and let the frog bit get caught in the wood. Just fill and it usually works it's way back to the surface. I'll scoop out a bunch and toss it regularly as well. I use it as a big nitrate soak to keep water quality up. But removing it so it can propagate more is necessary to continue growth.


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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-27-2019, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
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I just stick my siphon past the frog bit. I drain half the tank and let the frog bit get caught in the wood. Just fill and it usually works it's way back to the surface. I'll scoop out a bunch and toss it regularly as well. I use it as a big nitrate soak to keep water quality up. But removing it so it can propagate more is necessary to continue growth.
It's the refilling that I have issues with -- so much of the frogbit gets caught in the plants that I was thinking it wasn't making it back to the surface before it started to rot. Now that I'm hearing it may just be that the quantity I have is exhausting the resources, I will worry less about that. Also, emptying half of it out should give me more space to pour water in as well.


So...the LED light is not a problem? That would be a huge load off my mind!

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-27-2019, 07:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveKS View Post
That density of frogbit will quickly strip water of all nutrients, you will have to constantly lightly fert it.
And that's just fine since nutrients = pollution! light ferts is just fine.

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-27-2019, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Cinnamonamon View Post
It's the refilling that I have issues with -- so much of the frogbit gets caught in the plants that I was thinking it wasn't making it back to the surface before it started to rot. Now that I'm hearing it may just be that the quantity I have is exhausting the resources, I will worry less about that. Also, emptying half of it out should give me more space to pour water in as well.


So...the LED light is not a problem? That would be a huge load off my mind!
I can see where you could have potential issues with refilling. I guess I have enough flow/pesky fish to dislodge the plants. I suggest dumping quite a bit of frogbit regularly. I keep about 10% surface coverage and get rid of the rest once it covers 50%+ of the surface. It cuts down on the light and absorbs a ton of nutrients that my other plants need!


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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-28-2019, 12:00 AM
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Floaters like that have access to all the light they need at surface and because they’re floating on top they also have access to all the CO2 they want in air. Because of that their metabolism can outperform most submerged plants except for some stem plants in a CO2 injected tanks.

As pointed out above keep it thinned out and you can just push them out of way while cleaning. You really at most only need 1/4-1/3 coverage.

When they get as thick as what you got they start crowding themselves out and new growth will push older growth down into water where they will start dying and that actually contributes to excess waste in tank. Keep them managed and lightly fertilized and the growth will stay healthy and green with very little decaying plant matter dropping back into tank to clean up.
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