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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was going to cut down some of my bigger plants and was wondering if I could leave some of the roots in the substrate after I cut the plant from them. I am trying to avoid a serious dust storm/ tank crash by bringing up unwanted stuff from the soil. Will the dead rotting roots create a problem? Should I just pull up all the roots? I would rather not... I am new to this stuff so any help is appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The substrate is eco-complete. The roots are really large and its only a 15 gallon aquarium so I am worried about creating a sand storm or mini cycle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I appreciate your input but why is this the case? Do you have any experience with this? Why would leaving them in be harmful?
 

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I usually try to pull out the big roots, but I never sweat it if I miss a lot of them. As far as I know that has never caused me a problem. No matter what you do, big vigorous rooted plants will leave behind a lot of roots. Crypts, for example can cover the whole bottom of the substrate with roots, as can big sword plants.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you Hoppy. I appreciate your help. Actual experience in answering a question is always a big help. I'm still very new to planted aquariums. I kept a 10 gallon as a kid for years but it had neon blue gravel and plastic plants so I am still learning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
No, I don't have any experience in purposely leaving plant material to decompose in an anaerobic environment.
I'm sorry but your post comes off as a little arrogant. I was simply asking a question. If you don't have any experience, then why post your opinion? Were all here to learn.
 

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I'm sorry but your post comes off as a little arrogant. I was simply asking a question. If you don't have any experience, then why post your opinion? Were all here to learn.
If you weren't going to be happy with any answer that disagreed with you, why ask? You should take any rotting material out of your tank that you can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If you weren't going to be happy with any answer that disagreed with you, why ask? You should take any rotting material out of your tank that you can.
Its not that I disagreed with your answer, I was just asking for some experience on the matter. You answered my question with a 9 word response. Not really much help there... Then you came back with a response that was neither personal experience nor a fact. I'm sure your opinion would be appreciated on something like aquascaping but my question required more fact than opinion.
 

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Alright break it up. On a side note I like chicken marsala. Thanks for your time. ;)
 

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I pulled a couple melon swords 3 weeks ago that I was giving away so I pulled all the roots that would come with it.
One regular sword towards the front of the tank had taken over the center of the tank. When I tried pulling it up it was lifting the substrate in 1/2 of the tank and the large DW. So that one I just trimmed the roots at the base and left everything else in place.

I don't see how the slow breakdown of those roots is going to cause problems. It is after all just organic material being returned to the substrate. That's all JMO but nothing bad has happened since I did that.

SteveU
 

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Several months ago I recall reading that it was recommended to cut off big rooted plants, rather than trying to pull them out by the roots. Unfortunately I don't remember the source of the recommendation, but I believe it was related to the use of Aquasoil. Until then I always tried to pull out as much of any plant I removed as I could. I never did have the nerve to just cut off the plant and leave all of the roots behind. Logic tells me that eventually that could be troublesome if the substrate was left loaded with non-living roots. However, logic isn't always right and in this hobby it has a reputation for being wrong at least as much as right.

If anyone here actually does cut off plants instead of removing them, as a standard practice, I would love to hear how it has worked for them.
 

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I pulled a couple melon swords 3 weeks ago that I was giving away so I pulled all the roots that would come with it.
One regular sword towards the front of the tank had taken over the center of the tank. When I tried pulling it up it was lifting the substrate in 1/2 of the tank and the large DW. So that one I just trimmed the roots at the base and left everything else in place.

I don't see how the slow breakdown of those roots is going to cause problems. It is after all just organic material being returned to the substrate. That's all JMO but nothing bad has happened since I did that.

SteveU
This is like what I do. They all get intertwined, so I pull them up and cut off what I can. I would never leave the center bulb area.
 

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I have pulled lots of plants and left the roots behind with no ill effects.
A field of Cabomba with the most insane root system I've seen, it was like a mat. Pulled out what I saw, left alot behind...no problems
I also pulled out a huge bunch of crypts and left roots behind, with no problems. Some of the roots actually grew new plants, I suppose I left runners too!
So I guess get out what you can, and don't worry about it.
 

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I can't see under the substrate nor do I really know much about plants. Do some parts of the root structure have a life cycle much like the growth above the substrate? If so then there would be some root die-off occurring continually as a normal process.

SteveU
 

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From what I understand about anerobic conditions, the issue would occur if there was a sizable amount of decomposing organic material in an area without active (live) roots. The live roots continue to release o2. Without the o2 it changes the chemical process and hydrogen sulfide is released which can cause problems.

So if you have a large root ball with many plants inter mingled it shouldn't be a big deal, but if you have a lone sword whose rootball is half the tank and you remove the plant and leave all roots without any other live plants in that section you could be in trouble.
 

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Swords of one type or another have outgrown every tank I keep up to 75g at some point. The roots will pull half the tank with the plant trying to remove them all. Working the plant up out of the substrate I remove the root ball but leave all the trailing roots behind without issues to date. I've removed over grown swords this way for years.

As far as the remaining organics creating anerobic problems I see them as feeding the other plants as they break down not a problem. This year I started a soil substrate tank along Diana Walstad's style of tank keeping and the sub is slap full of organics.
Of the eight planted tanks I'm keeping it requires the lowest maintenance effort and least amount of water changes. The first month was bumpy but the tank settled right in and is still gassing CO2 along with other less pleasant gasses that are not hurting the fish or plants at all.

Leaving roots behind when removing plants (IMO) and experience has been without issue.
 

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So if you have a large root ball with many plants inter mingled it shouldn't be a big deal, but if you have a lone sword whose rootball is half the tank and you remove the plant and leave all roots without any other live plants in that section you could be in trouble.
That makes a lot of sense. Some roots by themselves is not a big deal, but it contributes to the total amount of decaying organics in your substrate. If you already have alot of other decaying organics, leaf litter, fish food, general mulm and gunk, then the decaying roots just adds more decaying mass.

I don't know which is worse. Ripping up very long and massive roots creates a huge mess. Its not just dust from the Flourite or Eco complete, but its all the detris, mulm, gunk, nasty crud buried in the substrate that you let loose in the water. Do a big water change and siphon up as much of the crud as you can.

I have pulled up big swords and other plants with massive roots, but the worst was common aquarium dwarf water lilies. In a 100 gallon tank, the main trunk root ran from one end of the tank to the other and had a network of sub roots coming off it it. Two plants produced enough roots to practically cover the entire bottom of a 100 gallon aquarium. I pulled it up very slowly to try to minimize the affects, but I basically ended up having to remove all the plants to get to all the roots and start over.
 
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