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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

So, I'm not very experienced in the planted tank hobby compared to some of you, so coming here for advice.

Right now, I've got various rotella, swords, crypts, dwarf sag, and ludwigia in a planted 40 breeder lit with a single fluval 3.0 at about 50% power at 6 hours a day

-Right now I'm having a heck of a time with an ozelot sword that randomly is turning brown. It has been in there for 2-3 months. Root tab under there placed 4 months ago.

-I also have my largest stems of ludwigia red in there for about 5 of so months with ragged looking leaves at the lower part of the stem.

Also have a mess of hair algae I'm always battling and scooping out.

What is weird is I have super red/mini ludwigia in there and it looks great. Also have rotala, crypts, hygro and a few other swords in there that grow great. Dwarf sag is growing and sending runners, but the large, old leaves aren't all the healthiest it seems.

I EI dose with Thrive to the non-co2 level recommendation, water change once a week, and at that time I'm around 20ppm nitrate (sometimes maybe more?) I also have root tabs in the area of each of the root growers since early December. I currently don't dose co2, and would consider the tank well planted. Tank running for about 4+ months or so.

So I don't feel like it is a nutrient issue, but maybe? Is it actually possible to have a tank that is depleted in co2 without injecting (I didn't think it was)?

I'm at a loss why I'm getting weird growth only in some plants and the hair algae. Any suggestions to what I'm missing?


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Common causes of hair algae are stressed plants (overcrowding, over pruning,... etc) or build up of organic waste (overfeeding, old or dying growth, dirty filter...etc). I can't really tell from the photos, but it looks like there's some build up on and in your substrate, also dead leaves here and there. If that's the case I would address those and try a leaner fertilizer regime temporarily to see if that helps. Also consider thinning out the tank a little; it looks great super full like that, but you could always replant/propagate later. I've found that in many cases it's just a process of elimination and some patience that helps the tank normalize.
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Three things I would recommend.

1) Remove as much algae through manual removal as possible. I use an old toothbrush for this as hair algae sticks to the bristles particularly well.

2) Top your stems. Cut off the top half of the plant, cut the stem at the base where it enters the substrate, then replant the tops. Old leaves do not recover once they get a ragged look. In the wild most of these plants grow in such dense large clumps that only the tops of the plants are typically visible with the bottoms buried under all the rest of the plant mass so they have evolved not to regrow leaves down low. The decaying leaves is undoubtedly also providing a lot of nutrient release the algae is taking advantage of.

3) Increase your light level or photo period. The Fluval 3.0 has some nice features but its not particularly powerful. The par reviews I have seen indicate around 20 par at 24 inches with limited spread front and back. On your 40 breeder its probably around 30-35 par if it were at full power. So you are probably providing something in the neighborhood of around 15-20 ish par directly under the light at substrate (clearly higher the closer to the surface) and worse in the front and back of the tank. You can leave your light level where its at but increase your photoperiod to 10-12 hours or leave your photoperiod and increase your light output to maximum.

Hopefully this is helpful, good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Common causes of hair algae are stressed plants (overcrowding, over pruning,... etc) or build up of organic waste (overfeeding, old or dying growth, dirty filter...etc). I can't really tell from the photos, but it looks like there's some build up on and in your substrate, also dead leaves here and there. If that's the case I would address those and try a leaner fertilizer regime temporarily to see if that helps. Also consider thinning out the tank a little; it looks great super full like that, but you could always replant/propagate later. I've found that in many cases it's just a process of elimination and some patience that helps the tank normalize.
Great suggestions. Substrate is clean from ditrius, but you are right about the dead/dying leaves. I have one corner that collects them all throughout the week, and remove at the end of the week during water change. I'll keep a better job cleaning that out.

I have a canister on that tank since November, so it is probably time for a good clean anyways!

Good call on thinning out too. The damaged leaves on the ludwigia happen to be the longest stems in the tank and are due for a trim anyways.

Three things I would recommend.

1) Remove as much algae through manual removal as possible. I use an old toothbrush for this as hair algae sticks to the bristles particularly well.

2) Top your stems. Cut off the top half of the plant, cut the stem at the base where it enters the substrate, then replant the tops. Old leaves do not recover once they get a ragged look. In the wild most of these plants grow in such dense large clumps that only the tops of the plants are typically visible with the bottoms buried under all the rest of the plant mass so they have evolved not to regrow leaves down low. The decaying leaves is undoubtedly also providing a lot of nutrient release the algae is taking advantage of.

3) Increase your light level or photo period. The Fluval 3.0 has some nice features but its not particularly powerful. The par reviews I have seen indicate around 20 par at 24 inches with limited spread front and back. On your 40 breeder its probably around 30-35 par if it were at full power. So you are probably providing something in the neighborhood of around 15-20 ish par directly under the light at substrate (clearly higher the closer to the surface) and worse in the front and back of the tank. You can leave your light level where its at but increase your photoperiod to 10-12 hours or leave your photoperiod and increase your light output to maximum.

Hopefully this is helpful, good luck!
You might be on to something here... I cut my light back from full intensity to half, and went from 8 hours to 6 to battle the hair algae a month or so ago. I was getting loads of reds in all my plants, and have noticed the reds in the tank are fading. The hair algae was most prevalent where the light was most intense at the tops of the plants, so I assumed that was the issue.

That sword is in a corner somewhat hidden by some stems from getting super intense light too. So I wonder if it just isn't getting enough light now that I turned down intensity. Also may explain why I've seen no change in the crypt growth.

Also, I was totally unaware of how to properly top plants. I have cut and replanted the tops, but expected the mid sections to return to good growth. I also left the damaged leaves half of the stem in the tank and noticed new growth looks great, but the old part of the stem is still limping along with damaged leaves. The damaged leaves only seem to be the bottom half of my stems.


Sounds like I have some work to do! Few hours of cleaning dead plant mass, the filter, and algae, turn the lights back up, and some trimming!

With "Topping" is the objective to basically toss the damaged mid section, replant the top section, and leave the lower section planted in the substrate for future growth? If so, I wasn't doing it properly.
 

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It's not that the cut mid section won't grow eventually, but rather that it takes a really long time (comparatively) for that mid section to regrow a new tip and start growth again. Even then it won't regrow leaves lower down but instead grows new tips and all the growth happens on those tips. When I am trying to heavily propagate a plant I will cut a stem into multiple pieces and plant all the pieces even though rapid growth only happens on the tips. BUT then I know I am inviting algae on the non-tip parts and plan to clear them out as soon as I can when new tips take over.

Anyway the method I mentioned means you should cut the plant right at the substrate level so essentially nothing is visible. Most likely the roots will rot down there in the substrate (which is fine) but sometimes they will send up a new shoot and start growing. Its the easiest way to maintain stem plants. You could also pull the whole plant roots included but this is a bit of a mess even with inert substrates. Given the density of plant growth you probably don't need to worry about heavy propagation, just cutting the tips and replanting will get you where you want to be.
 

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For topping plants > if you want to increase the amount of stems, leave the bottoms and plant the tops around them. The bottoms recover quickly because they have an established root system, so they're great for propagation. Personally, once I have the amount of stems I want, I discontinue using the bottoms and only replant the tops. Makes for a cleaner look. Mr. Amano recommended using the bottoms up to 3 times and then discard them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ahhh got it. So if I'm not getting the leaves or color out of the bottom that I want, consider cutting them down at the substrate instead of pulling the whole thing is to decrease the substrate mess. They'll rot away, but not make a mess.

If the bottom stems look good still, top higher, and let the bottom stem grow in again. But the bottoms will not fill back in if already damaged (which I have noticed).

The stems I'm having the hardest time with were very established purchased from my LFS. And honestly, I think these established stems are how I got hair algae. I saw very little when I first put them in, but just assumed the plants would out compete the algae. I had plants in the tank prior to the few bunches of ludwigia red, and didn't have an algae problem. Also, I never had a problem with just sticking plants in. But if that is where so much hair algae was introduced from, I might now understand the importance of quarentining plants too.

I wonder if cutting the stems back more generously will reduce the algae naturally too because they'll be further from the light. I just like the full look.

I was origionally worried that with the amount of plants in there and ei dosing, I thought maybe co2 was the culprit. I never really believe co2 is nessisary for most tanks, but thought maybe I'd be changing my belief on that too because I just wasn't getting what I was missing.

Dimming the lights also explains why my of growth long sections of dwarf sag are struggling too. I heard the more light you give dwarf sag, the longer growth means higher lighting where more runners means lower lighting. So struggling old, long growth I would assume equates to your observations about lighting too. I'm getting healthy runners everywhere still.

Neat! It is all kind of making sense now!

Thanks for all of the thoughts on this! Learning lots!
 

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This is a co2 issue. Apologies if others have mentioned this and I missed it. BUT Hair algae and pretty much all filamentous algae scream inconsistent co2 in your aquarium. You are seeing it closest to the light because that’s where photosynthesis is occuring more rapidly and those plants are not being supplied adequate co2, the other part the equation. I read somewhere in your thread that someone told you to increase your lighting for your hair algae?? That makes zero sense. You’ll just be driving the demand for CO2 up more then. Increase your CO2 or raise your light at the surface more to slow down its growth after you remove the algae you can see.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Thanks for the feedback everyone. I gave it a good scrub down in the tank. I got most of it out minus some small strands on some buried leaves here and there. Gave the gravel a great vac, trimmed a lot, have turned up the intensity of of the lights to try and save the lower leaves.

Going to invest in co2 so I can keep high intensity lighting because I miss the color in the plants, and wife approved. Hopefully it is the right choice? Was thinking about going going more entry level and buying the co2art Pro SE inline kit to start.

Any thoughts?
 

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Hello all,

So, I'm not very experienced in the planted tank hobby compared to some of you, so coming here for advice.

Right now, I've got various rotella, swords, crypts, dwarf sag, and ludwigia in a planted 40 breeder lit with a single fluval 3.0 at about 50% power at 6 hours a day

-Right now I'm having a heck of a time with an ozelot sword that randomly is turning brown. It has been in there for 2-3 months. Root tab under there placed 4 months ago.

-I also have my largest stems of ludwigia red in there for about 5 of so months with ragged looking leaves at the lower part of the stem.

Also have a mess of hair algae I'm always battling and scooping out.

What is weird is I have super red/mini ludwigia in there and it looks great. Also have rotala, crypts, hygro and a few other swords in there that grow great. Dwarf sag is growing and sending runners, but the large, old leaves aren't all the healthiest it seems.

I EI dose with Thrive to the non-co2 level recommendation, water change once a week, and at that time I'm around 20ppm nitrate (sometimes maybe more?) I also have root tabs in the area of each of the root growers since early December. I currently don't dose co2, and would consider the tank well planted. Tank running for about 4+ months or so.

So I don't feel like it is a nutrient issue, but maybe? Is it actually possible to have a tank that is depleted in co2 without injecting (I didn't think it was)?

I'm at a loss why I'm getting weird growth only in some plants and the hair algae. Any suggestions to what I'm missing?


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For most red leaved plants, CO2 is a must in a highly planted tank.
 

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Thanks for the feedback everyone. I gave it a good scrub down in the tank. I got most of it out minus some small strands on some buried leaves here and there. Gave the gravel a great vac, trimmed a lot, have turned up the intensity of of the lights to try and save the lower leaves.

Going to invest in co2 so I can keep high intensity lighting because I miss the color in the plants, and wife approved. Hopefully it is the right choice? Was thinking about going going more entry level and buying the co2art Pro SE inline kit to start.

Any thoughts?
yup now you are on the right track. Wild that nobody mentioned that to you before in this thread. Of course it is the right choice as plants need co2 to grow. if you start experiencing filamentous algae like her algae do not increase your photo period or increase your light intensity. That’s like throwing fuel on the fire. if You limit co2 in a medium light tank then you are limiting the co2 required for photosynthesis...hence your hair algae. Yes you can grow plants in a aquarium without CO2 but that all depends on the amount of light that you are providing. Once you start adding a medium to high light source in your aquarium then you need to provide co2 as well as nutrients.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
yup now you are on the right track. Wild that nobody mentioned that to you before in this thread. Of course it is the right choice as plants need co2 to grow. if you start experiencing filamentous algae like her algae do not increase your photo period or increase your light intensity. That’s like throwing fuel on the fire. if You limit co2 in a medium light tank then you are limiting the co2 required for photosynthesis...hence your hair algae. Yes you can grow plants in a aquarium without CO2 but that all depends on the amount of light that you are providing. Once you start adding a medium to high light source in your aquarium then you need to provide co2 as well as nutrients.
I guess this makes sense. And full blast light helped the bottom of the stems stay red and not drop leaves too. Turning down the lights helped equalize, but then I was getting die back maybe due to the PAR not getting to where it needed to be?

Not sure if this helps, but I had small random puffs of BBA too down low on some of my plants. Is this also related to a co2 deficiency? I read somewhere BBA on plant leaves pretty much screams co2 depletion, but I don't know. All of my other tanks are slow growing root feeders, so co2 was a non-issue. Never had a problem with hair algae or BBA in my other tanks.

Just tested my co2 levels. Before lights
on, I'm at 3ppm co2 based off ph/kh chart. Not sure if this is too low or abnormally low, but just learned how to test for it.
 

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Just tested my co2 levels. Before lights
on, I'm at 3ppm co2 based off ph/kh chart. Not sure if this is too low or abnormally low, but just learned how to test for it.
3PPM is about right for a non CO2 injected tank, meaning that's about correct for a tank exposed to normal atmosphere levels of CO2. Sometimes home's interior air will have slightly elevated levels of CO2 because of how tight houses are built now days.

Minimum but optimum levels of CO2 for your present light would probably be in the 13 to 16 PPM levels, although it would take a while for the hair algae to disappear, so don't stop removing the algae.

It occurred to me that your sword plant is probably transitioning to fully aquatic leaves and the ones dying are the air grown or emergent leaves grown in the greenhouse before you bought the plant. Sometimes Swords will take a little while to adjust to a new water and tank.

I have some thoughts about In-Vitro or cup grown stem plants, as I've bought a Rotala Macrandra in a growth solution. This is my first experience with gel grown, cloned plants.

Was a little disappointed by the appearance of the plants as the shipping shook the plant gel all over the place and the plants looked trashed. But after 3 weeks of being in the tank the growth of the in-vitro plants has exceeded the emergent grown stems that came in the same shipment, and they're growing new growth from a lot of different places on their rather weirdly twisted stems. They're actually quite bushy right now compared to the single stem growth of each stem from the loose stem plants. Frankly I'm seeing so much new growth that the gel grown plants are a better deal by a big margin just for all the new stem growth. It's rather amazing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
3PPM is about right for a non CO2 injected tank, meaning that's about correct for a tank exposed to normal atmosphere levels of CO2. Sometimes home's interior air will have slightly elevated levels of CO2 because of how tight houses are built now days.

Minimum but optimum levels of CO2 for your present light would probably be in the 13 to 16 PPM levels, although it would take a while for the hair algae to disappear, so don't stop removing the algae.

It occurred to me that your sword plant is probably transitioning to fully aquatic leaves and the ones dying are the air grown or emergent leaves grown in the greenhouse before you bought the plant. Sometimes Swords will take a little while to adjust to a new water and tank.

I have some thoughts about In-Vitro or cup grown stem plants, as I've bought a Rotala Macrandra in a growth solution. This is my first experience with gel grown, cloned plants.

Was a little disappointed by the appearance of the plants as the shipping shook the plant gel all over the place and the plants looked trashed. But after 3 weeks of being in the tank the growth of the in-vitro plants has exceeded the emergent grown stems that came in the same shipment, and they're growing new growth from a lot of different places on their rather weirdly twisted stems. They're actually quite bushy right now compared to the single stem growth of each stem from the loose stem plants. Frankly I'm seeing so much new growth that the gel grown plants are a better deal by a big margin just for all the new stem growth. It's rather amazing.
Thanks!! This is super helpful! So it sounds like co2 is a needed point.

The sword has been in there a few months, so I figured it was done converting. Good to know it could take a bit of time.

I feel stupid because I made 2 threads back to back and didn't realize it was in the same category. I bought a reactor off a member on here. Trying to figure out which reactor to purchase in the other thread.
 

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I'm more of a newbie, but I'd like to add from what I've read, one should snip off badly damaged leaves, so the plant can concentrate its resources in healthy and new leaves instead of wasting it on trying damaged ones. I have a sword and whenever I see a leave starting to brown, off it goes. I've not added a root tab for it in a few months, and yet it's getting bigger regardless.
I learned a lot from the discussion above like the 3x rule for base stems. I'm going to make sure I follow that!
 
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