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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

I just tried to start a planted tank based on the non CO2 method by Tom Barr and now on day 7 my plants are starting to look unhappy.

The tank is a 54l/14gallon with an old 15w t8 18000K POwer-glo from when I quit the hobby a couple years ago.

Soil is two fists of boiled peat covered by 8 litres of some burned clay substrate that I don't know the name of.

Plants are:

Eleocharis parvula
Glossostigma elatinoides
Lilaeopsis novae zelandiae
Sagittaria subulata
Micranthemum micranthemoides
Isoetes sp.
Eleocharis acicularis
Echinodorus tenellus

I have mixed pmdd with
50g KNO3 in 500ml water
8g KH2PO4 in 500ml water
5g K2So4 in 500ml water
mixture of 25ml of micro+ in 500ml of water

micro+ is Fe 20g/l, Mn 10g/l, Cu 0.52g/l, Zn 2.9g/l, B 4g/l, Mo 0.75g/l

From this I have dosed 5ml of KNO3, Kh2Po4 and K2SO4 on day 1,5 and 7

Also dosed 5ml of Micro+ on day 5 and 7

Bacteria was dosed on day 3 from Easy-life Easystart

No technology has been used in the tank, no filter or heater. Could this maybe be the issue? Lack of water circulation?

I have not added any fish or shrimp yet, only plants.

The guy in the store said that the soil would create circulation through bacterial activity that would create warm water in the soil which would rise. It is also meant to work as the filter at that point, but it is maybe not very active now without fish and daily feeding?

Day 7 (Today):
PH around 7-7.5 two hours after lights on
KH around 2.5-3
NO2 around 0.1mg/l

Temperature is around 24C

Lights are on 9-13 and 15-20

I will try to get some pictures but until then the symptoms are:

Green color fades on some plants on the ends of the leafs or whole leaf.
Brown/red spots on some plants and in general the plants don't look as sturdy.

I would really appreciate your input on what the problem might be! If there is additional info that I have forgotten then just let me know!


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7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the responses! :)

The Substrate looks like something similar to easy care substrate but don't know the name. Micro+ might be something local to a swedish pmdd-shop called haack.
The break is to maximize the time that I will see the aquarium lit up :). I think Diana Walstad said that you can have a siesta without the plants minding.

The light like you both say, could sound like a reasonable issue considering the plants. I do have some sort of mirror tape behind it as something of a reflector but might not be the most effective one (see pic). Does this make any difference?

I added a circulation pump and could try to find a 2x15w light fixture not made for aquariums and have as a temporary solution.

Could the plants be kept in a low tech at all? If so, what type of lights would be best?
Looked a bit at getting a 15W 6500k and adding some reflecting tape or getting a reflector, or maybe ordering a 27x1W 6500K LED light?

Here are some pics (sorry for the quality):

Thanks again for your answers! :)

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7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Tom's non CO2 method call's for fertz once a week, or every two week's. (not every few day's).
Or at least it did last time I looked which has been three or four year's ago.
Agree with a couple bulb's 15 watt.
Might also consider plant's may have to adapt to completely submerged condition's after likely being grown in emmersed condition's.(root's below water,leaves above ).
This takes a few week's for low tech.
Yeah, I know, just saw that the plants didn't seem happy and wanted to see if it was because of the nutrients :).

That's an interesting idea aswell. I ordered the plants from ebay and think that they come from emersed growth. What are the effects of this adaption and is there something I can do to make the adaption easier? Maybe make water changes more often in the beginning or adding co2 (or light)?

BruceF said:
I use two 13w spiral bulbs on a 2.5 gallon tank without any circulation. Algae isn't such a large problem. I keep the tank full of plants and change 100% of the water once a week. It has developed quite a population of small creatures. Bacteria blooms are at times a problem. I add very small amounts of nutrients a couple times a week. Tanks like this can easily fail. Fish make them very difficult to maintain.

Of the plants you list I find dwarf sag and lilaeopsis to be the easiest in non co2 tanks. Though I have grown some eleocharis, I think it needs a lot of light
That sounds like a lot of light for such a small tank! Are you adding co2?
Interesting to hear! I checked out the plants on tropica's homepage and got the values below. It seems like many are having trouble with the eleocharis but on the homepage it seems like a really easy plant. :)

Light, Co2

Eleocharis parvula 0.25W/l 3-5mg/l
Glossostigma elatinoides >1W/l 15-25mg/l
Lilaeopsis novae zelandiae (0.50W/l 6-14mg/l)
Sagittaria Subulata 0.25W/l 3-5mg/l
Micranthemum micranthemoides 0.50/W/l 6-14mg/l
Isoetes sp. -
Eleocharis acicularis 0.25W/l 3-5mg/l
Echinodorus tenellus 0.50W/l 6-14mg/l

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The way I see your options are:

1) If you want to stick with your current plant selections, you'll most likely need to increase your lighting and start using CO2 + a balanced fert regimen to see them do well


2) You can stick with your current lighting, no CO2, and switch most of your plants out with hardier plants that are better adapted to lower light and non-CO2 conditions

Over the years I've run several 10gal tanks under your current fixture with the same T8 PowerGlo bulb and no CO2. Crypts, mosses, Java ferns, Sagittaria, Hygrophila, Hydrocoytle, Rotala rotundifolia, and sword species have all done great for me (usually didnt take more than a few months for the swords to need tank upgrades LOL).

Desperately trying to stay low-tech here, but really like the eleocharis species and the echinodorus tenellus. Right now I think the plan is to try to keep these plants alive and if I can't then make other plans later.

I switched the 1x15w power-glo to a temporary solution with 2x18w of sylvania warm-white. So it is more light, but not the best light. Will this cause new problems?

I'm thinking about trying to order LED stuff from ebay and try to fix a diy led fixture.

Here's how it looks now :D. very yellow!

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7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
In what kind of fixture? I'd have to look up those bulbs to be sure, but from the photo, I doubt those bulbs are a good spectrum for plant growth. Most bulbs in the 5000-10,000 kelvin range will support freshwater plant growth. Those yellow bulbs are likely much lower kelvin, though. You're likely better off with the 1x15 T8 fixture with the aged PowerGlo than that one.

Or you could possibly could get different bulbs...if the "new" fixture takes U-shaped CFL bulbs, you'll likely need CO2 to run along with it. If they're spiral CFLS, however, you're probably good without CO2.

Again... a LOT depends on the specific fixtures and bulbs in question!

Don't want to discourage you, but also don't want to see you waste money- you need to research LEDs very carefully before going the DIY route. Only very specific ones put out the type of light that will support freshwater plant growth.
It is 2x18w of sylvania luxline plus with 3000K. I think it is T5 and that it is these 830.jpg

Hmm, which ones are these leds that don't work?? I was thinking about getting some nonames from china, some 10x3w with a mixture of 6500K and 3000K. It's about 200-230lm per led

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
care to share the changes you made to get to this? :icon_smil
Hmm, well I have two 2x18W coldwhite T8 and two small aquael filters. I would guess that the gathering of stuff from the fish and shrimp and plants in the substrate over time has made a better environment for the bacteria and plants. For some time I used a bit of PMDD, but right now here is the summary.

Water changes I do rarely. I check the TDS sometimes and if it gets higher than I like then I do a 50% WC. I also top off the water when it evaporates.

I no longer add pmdd because my shrimp seem happier without it. Also with it, the plants grow faster than I want to maintain them :). I do sometimes add "AT Nano Plant tabs" in the substrate, which do not contain any phosphates or nitrates.

I feed the shrimp and the fish once a day.

I've added lots of new plants and floating plants, and I guess one species or two might have darwined out, but the rest seem pretty happy. Shrimp also seem happy and I have a couple of berried females.

Only problem is some algae that I've gotten.

Can't think of what more information I could give. If you have any questions just ask! :)
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