Do Planted Tanks Have a Fixed Life Cycle? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-27-2014, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
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Do Planted Tanks Have a Fixed Life Cycle?

I've been maintaining a planted tank for about 8 years. During that time, I've in essence restarted the tank about 3 times, meaning basically pulling out existing plants and restarting with fresh stock.

It seems to me that each time the tank goes through a cycle of plants getting acclimated, sustained growth, declining growth and eventual death. I believe that over time, I've gotten better at maintaining the sustained growth period but eventually things just seem to stop growing.

Over time I've gotten more sophisticated in my maintenance, to the point where now I have pressurized CO2 from the Fluval 88G disposable cartridges, daily fertilizer dosing using the PPS Pro method and Greenleaf Aquarium fertz.

My substrate has always been gravel. Twice I've added laterite to it, once when it was first set up and about 1.5 years ago when I had to break the tank down completely to move it.

Knowing that the substrate is inert, I do add root tabs for the strong root feeders. I have a Crypt and a Sword. The Crypt is the one plant that I've been able to hang onto for the long haul (it's about 6 years old, at least). My Sword right now is about 4 months old but has taken over the tank.

I find that it's primarily the stem plants that eventually die off but I've had other seemingly healthy swords and Vallisneria die off on my too.

I've been running CO2 and daily ferts, along with regular root tabs for the root feeders for about 3 months now and I'd say the tank is the best its ever looked, but is my success destined to be short lived? Will my plants eventually start dying off again?

I'm wondering if this is just inevitable for aquarium plants. Maybe some species just aren't supposed to live for years and years, or maybe I'm not maintaining them properly.

What are other peoples' experiences with tank life cycles?
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-27-2014, 05:32 PM
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Most plants should live longer than a few years. Stem plants and others can live forever as the old growth is discarded.

The problem you describe is known as old tank symdrome and is generally attributed to a build up (or depletion) of various things in the aquarium over time.

It has a very vague description and its causes and prevention are somewhat controversial.

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-27-2014, 05:48 PM
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I think the majority just don't keep the tank set up that long without changing out most of it over getting tired of the same look.
Trees live long periods of time but my exp/w plants is that they don't usually.
But new shoots keep replacing the older ones etc.
You did not mention water changes. Surface gravel vaccuuming and water changes help prevent build up of unwanted chemicals which will effect the tank.
The perpetual replacement I mentioned I don't notice in my tank(s).
I have one 10g for well since early 2012. But none of the plants are the same as original except for some java moss.
I think there is something else going on because as they grow up they also grow new side shoots either from the side of the stem or around the bottom.
My tanks have no original plants because the tanks have gone through my learning process of plant/tank care. I am about to start a third one which hopefully is mostly past these issues. And get rid of the first one that I did/still have.

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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-27-2014, 07:10 PM Thread Starter
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I generally do weekly water changes of approximately 20-25%. This varies somewhat based on the situation. There are times when I'm trying to get things in balance and will do multiple water changes in a week.

There are other times when life gets in the way, or there is a temporary lack of interest and water changes become less frequent. This may be part of the problem also - plant growth slows down and things are less exciting. This leads to less frequent water changes, which in turn hurts the long term viability of the plants.
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