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Every stem plant I've tried in a lowtech setup has slowly lost its leaves and died. When I say stem plant I'm not talking about things like egeria densa, guppy grass or hornwort; I mean plants with lobed leaves. Ludwigia, Hygrophila, Rotala all suffered the same fate.

I adore the look of these plants, nothing looks better to me than a beautiful group of hygro or rotala swaying gently in the current. But I'm beginning to think that growing plants like these in a lowtec setup is just impossible. I altered the lights, duration and ferts many times but to no avail. There's one thing these plants crave that I couldn't provide; Co2. The poor ludwigia had to breach the surface in order to grab some, only the emersed section of the plant was healthy.

I suppose I'm just dejectedly venting, but also hoping for some success stories, or maybe some other stem plant suggestions that fair better in a Co2 deprived environment.
 

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I've had good success with Bacopa caroliniana and pearl weed and fair success with Ludwigia repens in my low tech tanks. The genera you've listed can be fairly diverse though and only some species in each would be worth trying in a low tech tank. For instance Rotala rotundifolia is supposed to be easy, but I hear Rotala macandra is pretty demanding even in a high tech tank.

But I think stem plants can trip people up even when they are growing the right species. It may help if you can get local trimmings (or check out the Sale forum here) so you can start with stems that are already growing submerged. The conversion from emersed growth is very demanding on the plant and you might have better luck if you can skip it. Pearl weed grows great for me now, but most of the plant material I bought didn't make it through. I propagated the bit that did and I have more than enough now.

Stem plants aren't everything though! If you have healthy rooted plants that is something to be proud of too. Low tech is all about embracing the inherent limitations and appreciating the tough plants that do manage to thrive in such a tough situation.
 

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I've probably become abit cynical when it come to stems. I definitely do appreciate the plants that I can grow well, crypts, anubias and sagittaria all thrive, though crypts can be dramatic.

My local store has a section for aquarium plants, I could try the ones that have been there awhile and seem to be doing well, since we share the same slightly acidic water. Not really sure why that never occurred to me...

I'm rescaping an older setup soon, so i'll try out some new ones then. Thanks for the advise, it's nice to see things from a different perspective.
 

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I found it difficult to grow many stems even in high tech medium light set up. I failed to grow AR, Limno Hippo, Hygro pinnatifida, Rotala grandiflora, and even easy Bacopa Carolina. I think high light as much as CO2 is essential to grow stems. If you don’t have enough light, you can cheat it by placing plants in pots high up on rock which works for me for some stems.
 

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I did manage to grow rotala and pearl weed under very high light, but without Co2 the algae just overtook them. High light without Co2 is just asking for trouble. The growing plants in pots thing does help, but isn't really worth the look imo.
 

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I did manage to grow rotala and pearl weed under very high light, but without Co2 the algae just overtook them. High light without Co2 is just asking for trouble. The growing plants in pots thing does help, but isn't really worth the look imo.
I hide the pots behind rock, so it looks natural.
 

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You should be able to throw Egeria in your gutter and watch it take over.

I would suggest posting as much info about your tank as possible. That way, we can all get a look and hopefully see something that might help. The type of info that is useful, follows.

- How long has the tank been setup?
- Light (make & model): ideally, PAR and PUR reading at the substrate and photoperiod?
- Current NO3, PO4, GH, KH, pH and TDS readings and which test kits/devices are used for each?
- What you are dosing (product and quantity), in terms of ppm, and how often?
- Substrate type and how long has it been in place?
- What is your filter setup?
- Cleaning regimen (filter and water change frequency and amount)?
- Circulation: surface rippling and are all plants gently moving from top to bottom?
- What is your water source and do you use a water softener?
- What is your tank size?

Please look up each of your plants to determine what, if any, special needs they may have. With this, you can see better if you are meeting the needs of the plant. Here is a website that may help: https://www.flowgrow.de/db/aquaticplants?filter[fulltext]=Ludwigia+repens
 

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I have a plant tank with high lighting and no CO2. CO2 is over-rated in my opinion.

If I were you I would

1) double-triple the lighting (buy some cheap LED flood lights from your local hardware supermarket to save money rather than buy an aquarium light).
2) reduce lighting period to 6 or 5 hours per day.
3) try 1mL per 20 litres (5 gallons) of a 50-50 mixture of Seachem Flourish and Advance. Dosed daily.

If you don't get an improvement within two weeks I would be surprised. I use ADA Amazonia V2 aquasoil, but that would be too difficult for you to alter your tank with.

I originally used CO2 but found it redundant after the first 4 weeks (tank has been without CO2 injection for 3 months now). I get slower growth but as you can see the tank is perfectly OK without CO2 and intense lighting, almost no algae. The only algae I have is on the glass and it is very little.

My advice is break all 'the rules' - the rules are rubbish imo. If I had followed the rules I would not have the tank I have now.
 

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I have a plant tank with high lighting and no CO2. CO2 is over-rated in my opinion.

If I were you I would

1) double-triple the lighting (buy some cheap LED flood lights from your local hardware supermarket to save money rather than buy an aquarium light).
2) reduce lighting period to 6 or 5 hours per day.
3) try 1mL per 20 litres (5 gallons) of a 50-50 mixture of Seachem Flourish and Advance. Dosed daily.

If you don't get an improvement within two weeks I would be surprised. I use ADA Amazonia V2 aquasoil, but that would be too difficult for you to alter your tank with.

I originally used CO2 but found it redundant after the first 4 weeks (tank has been without CO2 injection for 3 months now). I get slower growth but as you can see the tank is perfectly OK without CO2 and intense lighting, almost no algae. The only algae I have is on the glass and it is very little.

My advice is break all 'the rules' - the rules are rubbish imo. If I had followed the rules I would not have the tank I have now.
Interesting advice but you're basing it on your "high lighting" setup. I could be way off but I think you're overestimating your light levels. The OP's issue is growing stem plants. No offense meant, but your example doesn't look like a very healthy stem plant even with it's access to CO2 from the atmosphere.
 
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