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post #1 of 63 (permalink) Old 05-03-2011, 11:52 PM Thread Starter
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Plants virtually dissolved ?

hi Can someone lend a hand please? I have read and read and read all the posts about planting a tank and keep finding conflicting views. Maybe I can get some answers from you guys? This is my first planted tank.
Im wondering if Im doing something blindingly obviously wrong here. I have a tall (28") corner pentagonal 30 gallon tank which is cycling at the moment with no livestock. Im using pure ammonia.
I really want this tank to look beautiful, with lots of colourful plants and a lovely lush green carpet - but apart from having no exp at all of aquascaping, Im wondering if my current setup is all wrong.
Basically theres only 2 x T5 light tubes each of 17watts and they are wired into a canopy. They came with the tank which I bought 2nd hand.
The plants I put in are:
hornwort - this has dissolved in2 brown mush that floats around the tank or gets stuck in the fluval filter claw. I cant get it to stay in the substrate so its now floating at the surface, shedding gunge balls like mad!
Amazon Swords - started small and lush green. 3 weeks on they have grown a bit BUT 2/3 of the leaves from tips downwards have turned browny yellow and there are brown spots over them. Its not algae. It doesnt rub off, I tried. Looks like burns or scorches? Or disease?
small crypts - well they arent dead but they havent grown at all. They Look exactly the same as when they went in. They are forever uprooting from the substrate and floating off to the top.
Foxtail - another plant which wont stay put in the substrate. They seem to shed their fluffy-spines all over the tank too, but are the only plant in there that has stayed green.
Vals - think thats what they are called? ( Very tall, willowy/narrow leaves which ripple nicely in the filter flow) Well these things started lovely but they have literally melted away! I knew to expect some meltdown but they have all nearly dissolved. The few that are left are going the same way - start nice and green, tips go soft and brown then whole stem breaks down and disappears into fluval-land.

I will say that I havent used any fertz at all except the Tetraplant 'completesubstrate' in the setting up. I originally layed the fertz to a depth of 5cm then covered with 3 inches of fine quartz gravel and topped off with a little black moonsand. After my clumsy attempts to plant in it, all 3 components are mixed together now -it actually looks better. There are some random piles of smooth pebbles with the swords and crypts planted in between them and a large piece of bogwood waiting to have plants on it.

So....are my lights adequate? I assume this is what is termed as low-lighting?
Did I pick the wrong plants? I have high nitrates in my tapwater so want plants that will help me there.
I feel sure I should be fertilizing the remaining plants? What should I use and how often?
What are root tabs?
Do I need CO2?
I want a lush carpet in the tank - what should I use? Is it possible to grow carpet plants 'up' the sides of the tank as well as over the floor? Ive seen some sort of mesh for carpet plants on ebay?
Some plants dont go in the gravel and have to have their roots exposed? Do they get anchored to rocks/wood/decors etc?

I know some people have said that i should be able to grow plants with the current lighting with no CO2 but so far only the swords have really survived and as I said, the leaves look diseased. Tank temp is around 80 -82 degrees and im keeping the lights on 12 - 14 hrs a day.
Im sure Im doing something wrong, but I dont know what.
Any help would be much appreciated. (photos are in my 2nd album)
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post #2 of 63 (permalink) Old 05-04-2011, 12:06 AM
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Sounds like some serious nourishement issues there. How much ammonia are you using to cycle? I wonder if its doing damage. Hopefully you'll get all the answers soon.
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post #3 of 63 (permalink) Old 05-04-2011, 12:13 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by psalm18.2 View Post
Sounds like some serious nourishement issues there. How much ammonia are you using to cycle? I wonder if its doing damage. Hopefully you'll get all the answers soon.
i know the feeling lol

I did kind go a bit OTT with the ammonia and it went up to 9...ooops. However, one big waterchange sorted the problem & its now back to zero. Nitrites are 5.
I now add about 1ml of ammonia to tank before I go to bed, leave it for an hour and test. Ammonia usually around 1 at this point. When I retest water the next morning ammonia is back to zero
yaaaaay...something is going right at least.

Think its the ammonia doing the damage then?
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post #4 of 63 (permalink) Old 05-04-2011, 12:27 AM
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Well with a 28" tall tank your going to want to worry more about intensity so you can pentrate all of that water. I would replace the 17 watt T5 lights with some 39 watt lights this is what I had to do with my first tank. My ballast was able to push that big of light so I'm going to assume that yours can also.

I know someone can back me up on your plants. I would assume that the level of ammonia has something to do melting your plants but I don't know if it is on the same level of co2 like excel dosing but I have no doubt that ammonia burns plant life.


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post #5 of 63 (permalink) Old 05-04-2011, 01:03 PM
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Some plants suck nutrients out of the water which is what you put liquid fertilizer in for and some suck them up with their roots. If you have inert substrate eg gravel, then root tabs (fertilizer tablets) can be pushed in to the gravel around the roots for plants that feed this way. It sounds like you have fertilizer already in the substrate you picked though.

I'm definitely no expert my way of working things out is to try a little of everything and see what grows I've had no luck at all with stem plants, but still have lots growing (no CO, minimal liquid ferts, low lights).

You can grow javamoss on mesh up the sides (search for moss wall), I also have javaferns growing up my walls on mesh. Both are low light. Java ferns are an example of a plants that prefers to be tied to a rock or bit of wood etc. Another is anubias, which you could also try.

It's good that your crypts haven't melted, they are slower growers generally and if they haven't got a lot of root it will take them awhile to get started, there are a lot of different ones though so if you find those grow for you then that gives you some more options.

I found valis a bit fussy, mines suddenly taken off - might do better if ou try again one your tank is finished cycling.
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post #6 of 63 (permalink) Old 05-04-2011, 02:24 PM
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oh yeah, lighting is definitely too low, T5HO's or LED or a MH Pendant light to get decent par at the substrate.

Also sounds like you're missing all your ferts.. I would get complete root tabs(like root medic complete, ect) for the swords, crypts, and vals. And then nitrogen/potassium/phosphorous + Trace & maybe some Iron and start dosing. (don't dose on a regime until you switch the lights out)..

I think with your current lighting, you don't need co2 at all.. but your current lighting isn't enough to grow the plants regardless i do believe.

Would also try and lower the temp a lil bit. 80-82 is a bit hot for plants, closer to 70 should do ya well.

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post #7 of 63 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 01:19 AM Thread Starter
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Well with a 28" tall tank your going to want to worry more about intensity so you can pentrate all of that water. I would replace the 17 watt T5 lights with some 39 watt lights this is what I had to do with my first tank. My ballast was able to push that big of light so I'm going to assume that yours can also.

I know someone can back me up on your plants. I would assume that the level of ammonia has something to do melting your plants but I don't know if it is on the same level of co2 like excel dosing but I have no doubt that ammonia burns plant life.
Thanks for your reply. Its a little confusing for me at the moment , so I very much apreciate your patience. Im still findng my feet to be honest. Is the ballast the powerpack or the fixtures that hold the light tubes?
Why do some people use CO2 and some not? Is it to do with their plant's needs or to compliment the lighting? Still a bit confused on that.
One thing Ive read over and over is that to increase oxygen in the tank you should agitate the surface with a pump/powerhead/airstone etc? Yet someone suggested that I shouldnt really put a Koralia Nano Powerhead in my tank as the extra oxygen could be harmful to the plants? Now im scratching my head lol
Thanks for your advice. Can you recommend a good online retailer to purchase some lighting please? Im in the UK.

Thanks again
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post #8 of 63 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 01:25 AM Thread Starter
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oh yeah, lighting is definitely too low, T5HO's or LED or a MH Pendant light to get decent par at the substrate.

Also sounds like you're missing all your ferts.. I would get complete root tabs(like root medic complete, ect) for the swords, crypts, and vals. And then nitrogen/potassium/phosphorous + Trace & maybe some Iron and start dosing. (don't dose on a regime until you switch the lights out)..

I think with your current lighting, you don't need co2 at all.. but your current lighting isn't enough to grow the plants regardless i do believe.

Would also try and lower the temp a lil bit. 80-82 is a bit hot for plants, closer to 70 should do ya well.

Many thanks for taking time to reply. Its all a little confusing - planted tanks seems to be a balancing act with many factors.
I thought my lights were too low. The guy I bought the tank from said he had live plants in it previously, but Im beginning to doubt it. (he also claimed to breed Angels in it too, which I KNOW is an outright fib lol) A couple of people have suggested T5 tubes to replace mine. How will I know if the current set up will be able to run them ok? Woulod I need CO2 with more powerful lights?
Im going to lower the temp also. Again, your right. I read somewhere that a tank will cycle quicker if the temp is raised, but its almost done now anyway, so I'll drop it back down. Thanks for that.
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post #9 of 63 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 02:47 AM
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Welcome to the world of planted tanks. You will get a lot of conflicting advice in this hobby. I'll give you a great link to a basic article that helped me tremendously when I started out. It is by Ben Bolton, and honestly I found myself reading this over and over, there are links to filtration, lights, nutrients, co2 and more. http://www.aquatic-plants.org/articl...ges/index.html I find it an amazing place to start on understanding the reason it all.

I am going to guess that the melting could be partly from the ammonia, heat, partly from the lights, some may be transitioning from emersed state (in particular the sword) and lack of co2. You don't need high lights to grow plants, you actually can grow some plants with that light. I would look at anubias, java ferns, crypts mosses, and marselia species for carpeting.
I would first turn down the heater to around 76 - 78 and remove all the bad leaves and any rotted plants. Get some root tablets if at all possible for the crypts and swords as they are heavy root feeders. I don't know if he sells over to the UK, but Over_Stocked (rootmedic) sells them and is a member here.

If you don't want to use co2, you can buy this: http://www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/fish/a...products/51139 It is the equivalent of Seachem Excel which is a liquid carbon. Just start out slowly to acclimate the vals to it.

Something like this might be good to start out with: http://www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/fish/a...zer/sera/81118

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post #10 of 63 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 03:18 AM
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So I have a few ideas that might help, but I can't guarantee that they will

First, I agree that it's possible part of the problem is too much ammonia, so maybe cut back a little on that.

My next thought is yes, foxtail and hornwort are notorious for not staying in the subtrate I would try just letting them float until they recover so they can get plenty of light for now.

The crypts, it's good they haven't melted (don't be discouraged if they do, that is their MO in a new tank, or if you move them, or look at them wrong LOL) BUT I will mention, make sure that only the roots are in the substrate, the rhizome (the thick stem like portion that runs on the bottom that the leaves are growing out of) need to be above the gravel because it needs light too for the plant to survive. So make sure that is showing above the substrate.

Also, as others have mentioned, I would suggest trying some root tabs under the crypts and the amazon sword for sure. Root tabs are solid fertilizer sources that go in the substrate under or right near your plants. I've never grown Vals so I don't know if they do better with roots tabs or not, maybe someone else can chime in. In my experience, crypts and swords really seem to benefit from root tabs though

You might want to consider picking up a bottle of Flourish (might have the sub name "comprehensive") as a fert source for the hornwort and foxtail (it is liquid fertilizer source). Once the tank is stocked, as long as it's not very lightly stocked, if you stick with low light, you should be able to rely on the fish waste to be your fertilizer

let's see what else.....oh yes, because your tank is so tall, you might consider adding an airstone (or bubble wall or similar) to increase circulation in the tank. Unless you are injecting CO2, the air stone will not be detrimental, in fact, in my experience (i run ONLY very low light, low tech tanks) the air stones seem to be beneficial

I don't know a lot about the physics of lights, but I'll tell you that I was able to grow plants in my 20H tank with 15w T8 light over it, T5 is more intense than T8 and you have just over 1wpg, I had .75wpg and grew crypts and moss with no problem, so if you want to test out how you like this hobby before upgrading your lights, I think you should be ok. The only thing you probably (almost certainly) will have a problem with without upgrading the lights is growing a carpet, unfortunately.

Anyway, those are the things that immediately popped in to mind as I was reading.

OH! one more thing, have you checked your pH?


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post #11 of 63 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 12:27 PM Thread Starter
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Well with a 28" tall tank your going to want to worry more about intensity so you can pentrate all of that water. I would replace the 17 watt T5 lights with some 39 watt lights this is what I had to do with my first tank. My ballast was able to push that big of light so I'm going to assume that yours can also.

I know someone can back me up on your plants. I would assume that the level of ammonia has something to do melting your plants but I don't know if it is on the same level of co2 like excel dosing but I have no doubt that ammonia burns plant life.

oops i typed the lighting wrong. The tubes are only 17watt T8's ( 24inch long, 26mm circum)
I understand its not possible to just just swap T8's for T5's as they wont fit the end stops.
Is a T5 tube better than a T8 of the same wattage? Someone said i need lights with 6500K and someone else said i need at least 10000K. I dunno lol.. I know that T5s are skinnier and shorter than my T8s
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post #12 of 63 (permalink) Old 05-05-2011, 12:54 PM
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Hi Lisa
T5HO lights come in 24" lenghts and are 24W and with good reflectors should provide you with enough light (Medium light level). do a search for "hagen glo t5ho 24w" the ballast should by around £35 and tubes will be around £15-20 each depending on type, the one you will need is the Life-glo rated at 6500k.
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post #13 of 63 (permalink) Old 05-12-2011, 11:45 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sewingalot View Post
Welcome to the world of planted tanks. You will get a lot of conflicting advice in this hobby. I'll give you a great link to a basic article that helped me tremendously when I started out. It is by Ben Bolton, and honestly I found myself reading this over and over, there are links to filtration, lights, nutrients, co2 and more. http://www.aquatic-plants.org/articl...ges/index.html I find it an amazing place to start on understanding the reason it all.

I am going to guess that the melting could be partly from the ammonia, heat, partly from the lights, some may be transitioning from emersed state (in particular the sword) and lack of co2. You don't need high lights to grow plants, you actually can grow some plants with that light. I would look at anubias, java ferns, crypts mosses, and marselia species for carpeting.
I would first turn down the heater to around 76 - 78 and remove all the bad leaves and any rotted plants. Get some root tablets if at all possible for the crypts and swords as they are heavy root feeders. I don't know if he sells over to the UK, but Over_Stocked (rootmedic) sells them and is a member here.

If you don't want to use co2, you can buy this: http://www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/fish/a...products/51139 It is the equivalent of Seachem Excel which is a liquid carbon. Just start out slowly to acclimate the vals to it.

Something like this might be good to start out with: http://www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/fish/a...zer/sera/81118
sorry for the delay. I feel very rude now.... ive been trying to keep away from the tank and just let it be, cus its so easy to mess around too much isnt it? I think I overworry sometimes lol. The links you gave me were invaluable, particularly the very first one. Thankyou. And you were spot on with your opinion and advice. I turned the heater down, plucked off all the leaves that looked brown or weak and since the tank got cycled I havent used any pure ammonia (obviously) and plants seem to have sprung back to life which has made me one happy girl I also bought a load of fertz from Seachem: 40 x Root tabs plus bottle os supplements from seachem (iron, potassium, phosphate, trace and the basic flourish) I already use the Prime and that has been great for making tapwater safe so I swallowed the price and went for Seachem fertz, but thankyou for the links to alternatives. It was a good guide for me. I havent used the iron supplement yet because the bottle confused me a bit. Instructions said to test first and Im not entirely sure how I would do that. I dont know if I even need to use iron in this tank, but its there now if I do.
Its only been a few days but already the crypts have responded to the root tabs and the swords have darkened a little. The hornwort has started sprouting new shoots and I dangerously bought a starplant which has flourished!!!!
I think lack of fertz, ammonia plus low lights+high temps was actually causing a big melt down. Now the only niggle I have is snails!!! Bloody critters have suddenly 'popped' out of nowhere in the last 24hrs. I spotted one yesterday and when I looked today there were 12!!!! Ive plucked them off but if left will they damge my plants or are they just annoying little things that multiply quicker than bunnies?
Ive pretty much given up with the Vals. They either dont like the water or tank set up or were from bad stock. Nothing has perked them up at all. One thing I was wondering....my Fluval filter has the middle basket filled with 1 carbon pouch and 1 anti-algae pouch. Could these cause plant failure do you think?
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post #14 of 63 (permalink) Old 05-13-2011, 12:05 AM
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Hi Lisa
What kind of snails have popped up are they long and pointed or short and round.
if long and pointed they are probably MTS (malaysian trumpet snails) short and round are pond snails Oh and if they are flat and spiral they are most likly ramshorn, and bunnies would have a hard time keeping up with any of them especially the MTS. they probably snuck in on the new plants you have a couple of options to control them 1. loaches they live for snails (not clowns they get too big and are messy) 2. Assassin snails (Clea helena) with reduced feeding they can keep the numbers down for you.
In the mean time crush any you see against the glass.
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post #15 of 63 (permalink) Old 05-13-2011, 12:24 AM Thread Starter
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They are tiny and round Rob. Very very tiny. But they seem to be everywhere! Start of like minature maltesers but grow proper quick!!!! I hate snails. I was gagging when I took out the last lot...uuuurgh...slimy buggers! Probably pond snails that hitched a lift in with the plants. They could be ramshorn, ikts hard to tell as they are so little. All I do know is when they are moved their slimy little antennaes pop out. Errrg. Gross! I wasnt going to get a loach as everyone says they get too big, but I cant be picking off snails everyday, i'll be sick. What do you mean by reduced feeding for the Assasin snails? I darent ask why theyre called assasins, but im guessing they are the aquarium M15....lol..
Yeh, some geezer from petsmart said to crush them. I know I dont like them but crushing them is worse than picking them off. uuurhg...i just hate slimey things
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