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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The setup has been running for almost a week now and so far nothing seems to be growing yet..

The setup is a 48"x24"x22" that includes (to the best of my knowledge) Dwarf Hairgrass, Pearl Weed, Rotala Indica and some Corkscrew Vallisneria. It's lit with 3x 65w daylight CFLs and a 30w 48" NO fluorescent light as a kicker.





Not sure whether I'm doing this right though... Haven't had a chance to buy some proper test kits though so I'm not sure what my parameters are just yet...

I am however getting this algae growth though which I'm not what it is exactly.


 

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Well it looks great anyway, going to be a nice tank. What is going where the sticks are?

Is this a low tech set up? That could be why plants aren't growing yet. This is a very light planting, might want to add some temporary fast growing stems as well.

The red stuff looks like clay particles that dissolved and the stuff on top of the wood looks like diatoms, a usual inhabitant of newly set up tanks. What is the substrate? I would take an airline and vacuum it out if it is loose. Wipe it off if it is attached, I read that some use a toothbrush to scrub algae from rocks and wood.

Dwarf hairgrass tends to die back to the roots and grow all new stuff in my new scapes. Been a while but it has been reported here that vals do much the same. Perhaps that is true of the other plants in the tank too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, it is a low tech setup but I might add CO2 along the way, time and finances permitting of course. The substrate is a mix of sand and laterite since I don't have access to regular aqua soil. I will try your suggestion with the airline hose. The chopsticks are there to hold the screen holding the pearl weed to the substrate. I'm hoping that placing the pearl weed horizontally and holding it down with the nylon netting will allow it to run along the substrate.

I'm worried about the lights not being enough to sustain the plants needs actually. Will adding more make the plants grow better?
 

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I added up the lumens the sort of bulbs you are using might be giving off and it is close to what one of my metal halides gives which is way too much light. I know lumens isn't what plants use but that is what websites give us. I suspect you have more light than the plants can use with the carbon available.
http://1000bulbs.com/product/6052/FC65-S65.html

This post shows how much PAR you get in a tank probably 1/3 the depth of yours with bulbs 1/3 the wattage of yours.
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showpost.php?p=837592&postcount=21

Plants can deal with low light better than high light and no carbon source. I would try to reduce the need for carbon rather than increase the light. That said, I have found my plants are much happier with 8 hours of light than 6 so suggest not going below that length of day. If you don't want to or cannot find floating stems or floating plants then you can put down a layer of something to shade the tank or raise the lights instead. Around here window screening is perfect.

New plant growth can be very subtle especially with something like hairgrass. Mine tends to die back to the crown and at the same time sends out new runners which are very tiny. Look for old leaves growing taller in spots and those tiny new runners. Pearlweed does the same, look for bright green specks in the places leaves and stems meet while old leaves get tired and brown.

When I put laterite in the substrate the directions read to mix it with half the substrate then top with plain substrate. The clay is going to keep the water cloudy until the fines have been removed by the filter or water changes. I have had great success rinsing the top of my just replaced substrate by filling the tank part way, draining it below the surface of the substrate by digging a little hole then covering the tank with bubble wrap or plastic bags or newspaper and refilling very slowly. Might be worth a try to clear the water faster.

Pruning helps plants grow bushy as more stems grow from the nodes. As the plants grow through the mesh trim them back and replant the trimmings. You sure did a great job hiding the mesh!

For the algae snails and otocinclus work wonders but the tank needs to be safe for them first which means water testing.
 

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First. That has to be the coolest looking stump ever I wouldn't change a thing far as hard scape. The light housings look like glass wich I'm sure will not focus all the light u have into tank. As far as lights I have medium light and co2 if I crang co2 up to ridiculous I get pearling I gues because of my light idk really no grasp on the whole situation.
But please don't change the hard scape. It is awesome.
 

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first. That has to be the coolest looking stump ever i wouldn't change a thing far as hard scape............................
But please don't change the hard scape. It is awesome.
^+1!!!
 

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Ok my self givin a perfect piece of stump like that. I'm sorry just me. I love the lawns I cut with real short grass around exposed roots. Maybe dwarf tears or possibly anything that low. I think the right side of than can balance out the stump with mid tank level plant. Maybe 3/4 high. Meening any tall plant trimmed properly and maintained at a certain height. Maybe the grass but an ovel shape of lower growing plant around the stump. Kind of reverse of most like threw,the forest a meadow kinda thing. That stump has me crazy sorry.
 

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Love the tree stump piece!

I have learned patience (mostly!) with my tank.

It's low tech (just some excel) so my plants won't grow quickly anyway.

I have a red sword plant & some micro sword that both just "existed" for 2 years. They just lost leaves & replaced them - no real growth.

I figured it was the low light they were in.

9 months after I moved them to my 20 gal (with only a slightly better light) they both took off.

I did nothing different & have no idea why they took so long!
 

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What is it exactly that your asking?

Looks like you have rotten food laying around getting moldy, which can hurt Your water quality. If your getting algae its because you have an imbalance of nutrients/insufficient plant mass/lack co2. If your tank isnt cycled the excess ammonia will be eaten by algae as well.
 

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The bits are laterite, not fish food.

If this were my setup I would want to add real CO2. If that wasn't going to happen I would use Excel, dosed as directed. I would be adding a complete fertilizer that contains nitrogen and phosphorus as well as the usual potassium and micros once a week during a water change. I would have a day of 8 hours to start and increase by half an hour a week watching the tank closely and if algae developed at 8 hours I would shade the tank but not reduce the day length. Today I would completely drain the tank waving the substrate to get that laterite into the water column so it is mostly removed then put in a sheet of bubble wrap and very slowly refill the tank. I would go to the store with some pre water change tank water to get test kits and test there. If there was no ammonia or nitrite put in a crew of snails and otos to polish up the tank. While I was at the store I would buy a couple bunches of fast growing stems such as pennywort, Eleodea, hornwort, Hygrophilia sp. I would buy a couple varieties in case one flourishes and others don't.

Light can be an issue but I don't think it is here. I think you haven't been using fertilizer and your plants aren't the sort to grow 10x in a week and even if they double their mass there are so few plants in there it wouldn't look like much grew.

And add a generous helping of patience. If you check out my first journal it took 2 months to get from low density to the tank being half full and there were a lot of plants added, not just growing out survivors. http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?t=104747&highlight= And much worse, my second journal. All the plants melted after sitting in a bin for close to a week and it took 2 months to start looking like a planted tank again. http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?t=138403
 

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I agree with Kathyy take some water to your lfs shop for testing, if they won't test it then find a different shop. If they want your business they will be help full and happy to test and advise.

You did mention wanting co2 so as soon as you can get that going. You did not mention (unless I missed it) that you were feeding the plants so you should consider that soon.

By the way love the stump and lay out get you some fast growing stem plants even if its just to help out getting things going and balanced. You can always take them out and trade them for some store credit at your lfs or sell to a friend.
 

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I agree with Kathyy take some water to your lfs shop for testing, if they won't test it then find a different shop. If they want your business they will be help full and happy to test and advise.

You did mention wanting co2 so as soon as you can get that going. You did not mention (unless I missed it) that you were feeding the plants so you should consider that soon.

By the way love the stump and lay out get you some fast growing stem plants even if its just to help out getting things going and balanced. You can always take them out and trade them for some store credit at your lfs or sell to a friend.
+1 on the co2. You have a decent amount of light on the tank and with a nutritious substrate like the one you have and the type of plants you are attempting to grow co2 is going to be the key to getting them to really thrive.

Hardscape looks good, I agree that some taller stems and maybe some cryps or blyxia to transition to the carpet would give the aquascape a nice triangular shape that might be more appealing to the eye, but let it grow in and see where you think it needs to be beefed up.

Good luck with the tank, it looks good so far!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for all your inputs everyone! It really is helping me get on the right track to a proper planted tank!

Kathyy, now that you've described what the new growths looke like, I do notice tiny little spurts from the nodes of the pearl weeds, in fact, some of the older ones look taller now! The ludwigia repens (which i mistook for rotala indica) are growing new roots into the substrate, the only thing that I don't see any noticeable difference is from the dwarf hairgrass, i might trim it down more to encourage spreading, if i'm not mistaken at least.

I have covered the top of the tank with a translucent acrylic panel to reduce the light intensity and shortened the photoperiod to just 8 hours until i get a CO2 system, if ever i decide on one. The link you posted explains a lot about the CFL lamps but I can't relate it to my situation (most likely because I don't fully understand it yet).

The bits of brown on the subtrate are actually fish food! Someone in our home thought that sprinkling food in the tank would encourage the fish to come out *facepalm*

So far, all I've been feeding tha plants with are trace complete and chelated iron which the other LFS guy thought would help, I'm guessing they wouldn't? =b I'll review the dosing materials around the forum and find out which ones I need.

I'm letting the plants grow for a while until I do serious aquascaping to it. Was really lucky that the LFS gave me first pick to their driftwoods! I was toying with the idea of adding a smaller piece of driftwood to the right to balance it out. But that remains to be determined.

I will get on that test kits as soon as possible!
 
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