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I recently set up this 55 gallon with a T8 shop light - as you can see a couple of the ludwigia stems are growing faster than the rest. I have seen some beautiful scaping in lots of tanks where the ludwigia looks lush and healthy. I am looking for some direction on how to achieve this.

I put this in red and as you can see the new growth is green (which is fine).

My question is - what is the best way for me to cut this to make it look good? Do I cut the tops, remove the bottoms and replant or just cut where a new offshoot is so I can have multiple shoots of the same stem?

This question is probably kind of elementary but honestly this is one simple part of keeping a planted tank that I have not been successful with in my large tank. Often in that tank I have lush tops, very skinny bottoms that grow algae. Could it be that the light isn't penetrating deep enough in these set ups? I don't spend enough aquascaping it either as it is a lot of work - working with this smaller 55 gallon set up is a bit easier.


 

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Trimming the tops and replanting them is the best way to get that lush look you want, but in the meanwhile leave the bottoms until you get enough tops as they will throw a ton of sideshoots, ludwigia's like your species are very fast growers.
 

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Some stems like Ludwigia can also be planted horizontally, then at each node a new stem should grow, it's an easy way to turn a few stems into a lot. As for trimming, Ludwigia is a hardy plant and as long as you leave around 40% of the plant in tact you can cut the rest away with ease and replant. There's no reason to remove the bottom portion unless you want to move where the plant is located, leaving them where they are will allow a good root system to be established.
 

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I am at this point also with my ludwigia, it reached the surface not to long ago. I'm not sure I like what happens when I trim. So far I have trimmed the tops or somewhere around mid/3/4 to the surface. Wherever I trim new branches shoot out. I'm happy for the new growth but makes the plants look odd/top heavy and not uniformly single straight stems. I may experiment with removing the bottom and replanting the tops, I'm not really looking to propagate just maintain a few nice looking stems for now.
 

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Good thing about this Ludwigia is it will allow you to practice a lot on how to trim and replant. Stuff grows 3-4" per week in my tanks and it is hard to keep up with. Looks awesome with nice fresh stems, but leaving the bottom is easy for this plant also. I try to keep the stems where I kept the bottom hidden by newer stems most of the time. It works for me.
 
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