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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've got a 55l planted tank and am getting frustrated with certain plants. The epiphytes are growing well and some of the other stem plant too but the Ludwigia super red and rotala wallichii all seem to be getting very leggy. (Losing the bottom 2/3 of the leaves) I dose TNC complete once a week and have co2 in the tank. Don't know what to do and hope you can help. Not sure what other parameters you'll need. The lighting is a 20w floodlight, 6500k and 1800lmn.
The pic is of how the super red looks.
1030693
 

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I don't know too much about this topic, but I'm attaching myself to stay up to date.

I wonder what your lighting is. Many times plant 'stretching' is an attempt to reach more light. If light is available, I think the idea is that it is more cost effective in terms of calories the plant can get if the plant produces more leaves, but if there's little light, investing in more stem height increases the likelihood the plant can get out from shade or avoid its top leaves from shading its own lower leaves.
 

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I'd try topping your stems and replanting. It will look shabby for a couple weeks but should grow back stronger. R wallichi I've found to be quite sensitive to low light conditions, I don't have experience with super red so I can't comment there, is there a possibility the plants are being overshadowed by something?
 

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Loss of leaves on the lower portion of stems can indicate a couple of things.

1. Lack of nutrients- plants will cannibalize themselves to get the nutrients needed to support new growth. This often shows up as good (mostly) healthy new growth but loss of old leaves. Given that you only dose once a week this is my first suspicion.

2. Lack of light- It takes energy and nutrients for plants to maintain leaves so if the leaves aren't getting much light plants will sometimes, but infrequently in well-balanced tanks, drop lower leaves to conserve energy and nutrients. See above.

What you'll normally see in stems that are getting sufficient nutrients, but not enough light, is "reaching"; meaning they put most of their growth efforts into reaching the surface. This presents itself as long spaces between nodes (where the leaves grow) but healthy lower growth.

Looking at the Ludwigia I see a couple different things:
1. Poor growth- there are very few leaves and the newest ones are stunted, this tells me there's a lack of nutrients.
2. No old leaves- again, lack of nutrients.
3. Long internodal length- the plant is reaching for the surface to get light.

Given the symptoms, it looks to me like you're not fertilizing enough for the Ludwigia and it may need to be moved into an area of higher light. Also, it probably wouldn't hurt to increase CO2 to make sure you're actually giving the tank enough; it's the Prime Nutrient after all. A good place to start is a pH/KH/CO2 chart. They're not the be-all, end-all, of CO2 supplementation, but they are a good reference to start with if you're not fully comfortable going by feel or using a pH-drop method.

I hope this helps,
Phil
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
@Phil Edwards I dose the required amount once a week, would it be better to dose daily?
This is my first attempt at using co2 and it's currently at about 3 bubbles/sec and the drop checker takes about 3 hrs to turn green. I'll have to be careful when playing around with the co2 cause I have tetras and Nerites. I'll look at that chart and see if I can make sense of it.
 

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Hello,

Try dosing twice per week to start with and see how things are after two or three weeks. As for CO2, bubbles per second gives you the rate of addition, but doesn't really say much about how much is actually dissolving into the water. If the drop checker's taking 3 hours to turn green, you may need to increase your rate. Try increasing to 4 bubbles per second and test your pH and KH. Those charts compare your tank's ability to resist acidification (KH) against pH to give a relatively good idea of how much CO2's dissolved in the tank since CO2 forms Carbonic Acid when dissolved in water. For starters, don't do anything different with your water, i.e., don't chase KH, just keep things as they are and adjust CO2 as necessary to get 25-30 ppm. Take it nice and slow; up gas (if needed) by 1 bubble per second every three days until you get the pH the chart gives you and your drop checker is light green by the time the lights come on.

Speaking of which, is your CO2 on a solenoid and timer? Those are very useful to have.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
That’s fantastic thank you. I’ll look at the charts and test ph and KH etc i have a solenoid and timer so that side of it is all sorted. It comes on 2 hrs before the lights on and off an hour before lights off.
 

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biOrb LIFE 45 L, planted, EI dosing, CO2 injected; ADA Cube Garden 45F, planted, EI dosing, low tech
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If the Ludwigia palustris mini 'super red' is growing well, it will grow 5 mm per day. It's normal in my experience for the older leaves closest to the bottom to be smaller and to get algae eventually; leaves at the top nearest the light are larger and brighter red. You can sort this out by replanting the tops that look good - there's no point in keeping the long bare stem pieces. Here's how I've done this with my super red: How to trim and replant aquarium plants | Fireplace aquarium
For what it's worth, I switched to Estimative Index ferts a year or so ago (Estimative index | Fireplace aquarium) and would never go back to liquid ferts. With injected CO2 and reasonable light (which I suspect you have actually) you don't want nutrients to be limiting, especially for a fast grower like the super red.
 

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That’s fantastic thank you. I’ll look at the charts and test ph and KH etc i have a solenoid and timer so that side of it is all sorted. It comes on 2 hrs before the lights on and off an hour before lights off.
From your picture, you can tell your drop checker is towards the blue side meaning its a bit lean on CO2. My experience from this plants, Is the portion that grow in lower light the leaves are green and while it grow towards the light, the new leaves are redish but they do not lose the green leaves at the bottom. So like @Phil Edwards said, it looks like some type of nutrient lacking. I think your light is fine enough, you may not get the super red colors but it should grow normally.
 

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I've got several LED flood lights like this and I think what you've got in your tank is a relatively low light situation. At least when you get below the top third of the tank. Even the Anubias are reaching up toward the light with their leaves - a sure sign of really low light. Even in my lowest light tanks, Anubias never grow like that. (Yours still look great, so don't change anything)

@Plinkploop and @Phil Edwards have hit the nail on the head. Combination of not enough lighting, not enough CO2 and a lack of nutrients.

This tank looks wonderful, though, so you may want to rethink growing higher demand red plants entirely. If you leave things like they are, stick with the other plants you've got going and give it some time, it'll be a real showstopper.
 
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