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Hi fellow fish people,

I have some general questions,

First off, a brief run down of the tank in question, 120gal (4'x2'x2') 4x54w T5HO (Nova) and 4x55w PC (Odyssea) both about 6in above water line 8 hr total, 2 hour siesta with pc on for about 2hr burst in middle of each 4 hr period, 2x rena filstar XP3, pressurized CO2, EI doisng. Eco Complete substrate w/ heater cable. I dont often test parameters, I do however know im usually around 4Kh and 6.7 Ph.

So basically, I have kept low tech for many years (anubias, fern, swords and such, no problems) well now I am trying to do this higher tech thing so I can keep stem plants and I love the whole "Dutch" look. but I suck at stem plants.

Seems my plants always look great up top and the bottoms look like poo and usually rot requiring me to replant tops constantly. I have tried the let em grow, prune way back let em grow approach but to no avail, I tried huge slopes so the the back plants where higher up in a attempt to keep bottoms from rotting and nothing. I am not sure what I am missing. water flow? lighting not adequate for depth of tank? imbalance in ferts? or just general lack of knowledge on placement of scape?

I feel I am overcomplicating matters but perhaps Im being too simplified in my approach and should pay coser attention to testing the actual water parameters.

I guess my questions whould be does anyone see something way wrong in what I've mentioned above?
How much front to back slope do most people use when layoring stem plants? if its more than like a 6" difference how do you get it to stay sloped over months or even years?
Am I too anal in expecting stems to be pretty from substate to tops, I mean if I got bacopa behind some rotala should I expect leaves on the bacopa stems below the tops of the rotala in front of it? or is it all the illusion of the photography. In any case I assume I shouldnt have to replant tops once a month.
I also seem to have lost alot of the red color and seems plants are stunting in since i changed some bulbs. too much "green" spectrum perhaps? im not pleased with the bulbs so im looking for new ones and leaning towards geissman aquaflora/daylight for the T5 and not sure what to get for the PC that would be similar benefit/coloration?

Hopefully I am making sense, I will be happy to eloborate or entertain questions in order to get answers. I can provide pics but I'll be in and out of town and then plan a full rescape in the next week or two.

Sorry for the wall of text and thanks,
 

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Hi, I'm fairly new to taking the planted tank seriously. My experience has been to look after the fish, and replace the plants when they start looking bad. However, this forum has a ton of good information and my tanks are looking better.

Regarding stem plants, it seems they are just going to start loosing leaves at bottom as they grown taller. I've started trimming the top 4-5 inches once they get close to the surface, and replanting. If the mother plant doesn't bush out, I remove it at the next tank maintenance. I'm not sure my answer is much help, but if you do a search, you'll find lots of discussion about various plants and the best ways to keep them looking good.

Julia
 

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Once you move away from low light, CO2 becomes much more important. It has to be at about as high a concentration as the fish will live with to be as effective as it can be. You probably do have high light, even though neither of those two lights has the best quality reflectors.

If you have good CO2, non-limiting concentration of all of the nutrients, good water circulation, etc. stem plants will very likely need pruning twice a week. At that growth rate, the bottoms of the plants barely have time to lose their good leaves. So, yes, you should expect to have to prune heavily at least once a week.
 
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