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Discussion Starter #41
I'm updating way too often to have anything useful to say, but I wanted to jot some ideas down regarding getting rotala to grow in an aesthetically pleasing manner. I'm going to be focusing on rotala rotundifolia "pink" because I have had it under all sorts of different conditions. It has the honor of being my favorite plant so I've kept it every tank I've owned so far.

I suppose first I should define what I consider to be the ideal growth form. This is from my low tech tank, with lean fertilization and a substrate of wom castings and osmocote capped with BDBS.

Notice the bright pink tips with a pleasant orange-pink color through the rest of the stem. The nodes are dense, regular, and evenly spaced and the leaves are uniform and healthy.

Compare this to the same plant in a medium-high light tank with injected CO2, EI fertilization, and the same substrate.

Notice how it stretches sideways, is a much paler yellow green color, and has wider spaced internodes. The same pattern is showing up in most recent tank, with the rotala "pink" on the left. This one still has high water column ferts due to leaching substrate, and nosebleed CO2 levels.



The fact that the low-tech, low light tank version has better color indicates to me that nitrate limitation is very important to develop reds in Rotala rotundifolia (not a new idea by any means). The main question I have is what is causing the long internodes and creeping rather than vertical growth pattern.

The creeping growth could be explained by the higher light, but the rotala is also planted more densely in the high-tech tanks so you would expect it to grow up to avoid competing with neighbors.

Internode length might be related to a few things. It could just be higher growth rate causing the greater internode length in the nutrients rich tanks. I think the color spectrum of the lights might also have something to do with it. On my low-tech tank the lights look to be around 7500-10000K. On the other tanks I lean more towards the red and yellow side of the spectrum to make the reds pop more. I read an article that suggests that light in the blue spectrum can INHIBIT vertical growth, thereby causing decreased internode length. I don't know if it's true but I'm going to try adding more cool light and blues to the spectrum to see what happens.

There are also chemicals called plant growth regulators (plant growth retardants or PGR's in this case) that can be used in hydroponics to slow or arrest vertical growth. Many of these are carcinogenic though so I'm not going to be the one to experiment with their effects on livestock.

My challenge is that I don't want to decrease CO2 or light since the other plants like it, but I still want that short spacing between nodes and reddish color. So I'm going to experiment with natural methods like topping, different fertilization regimes, and different light spectrums to try and see what helps. Any suggestions are appreciated

In the picture below, guess which side of the tank is closest to the window?


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Discussion Starter #42
Updates:
Stocked it with 9 Trigonostigma somphongsi, added two more otocinclus, and a SAE.

I gave it the first trim on Sunday. New growth looks more dense and colorful so maybe the blue light is working, or maybe it's just because I trimmed it

There is a little staghorn on the rocks and I saw the first hint of hair algae and BBA on the rocks as well. Nothing in the plants as they are all growing pretty well. I'll treat the rocks with hydrogen peroxide this weekend as a preventative measure. There's still some diatoms and GDA as well, but I'm hoping the Otto's will keep it in check until the stool stops leaching (probably soon).

I always suspected algae on the rocks would happen. Despite the high plant mass, only about 50% of the substrate area is actually planted.


I'm thinking of adding a carpet in the front section to prevent algae on the substrate. Possibly some hydrocotyle tripartita mini on some of the rocks and some buce in the lower light areas. I think it will help stop algae, but will also be higher maintenance in terms of trimming.

Anyways, FTS below.


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Discussion Starter #43
Update on the actual 12 g long:

I think I'm going to rescape it. Already. I know it's only been a month, but there are a few things that make me want to shake things up:

1. The mixed "carpet"/ plants are my favorite part, and I rarely see them due to how high they are in the tank
2. This scape is mostly hardscape focused. I don't think there is much I can do plant wise to make it look better. I tried adding more buce and anubias nana petite, but quite frankly I don't think it helped. I could try adding more weeping moss, but I think it would take over the spider wood and ruin the look.
3. I didn't leave enough room between the hardscape and the front glass so maintenance is a bitch
4. Culling shrimp is impossible due to the rocks
5. I want to use this tank to separately condition the female somphongsi rasboras I'm trying to breed, but catching them out of this tank will be damn near impossible

Probably gonna take a "final shot" in the next few days and tear it down.


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Discussion Starter #44
A few changes since the last update: I got a new intake (surface skimmer broke) and some new plants, namely a bunch of buce. I left for a week without trimming and came back to a wall of plants.



There was pretty bad shading and the fish had very little room to swim, but everything looked healthy regardless. I took out significant plant mass, and replanted some tops. Most rotalas were fine but the Manipura looked like the bases were dying back, so I thinned it out a bit.



The good news is algae is still not a thing and the myrio Guyana has recovered and is growing well. I'm thinking about removing the pearl weed in favor of more rotala green, since the pearl weed grows absolutely out of control.

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Nice! I just re-scaped my 12 long. I went for a non-dirt-ADA-LaPlata-gravel-wabi-kusa-pea-puffer-tank lol. By far my favorite scape so far!! The pea puffers are definitely the most interesting fish I’ve had so far.

I’ll be adding Christmas moss along some of the branches and Buce assortments in middle area (looking for a good red one). Right now just has a few Anubias Nana Petite and 1 regular Anubias. Wondering what it will look like once it spreads and grows on the wood.




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Discussion Starter #47
Nice! I just re-scaped my 12 long. I went for a non-dirt-ADA-LaPlata-gravel-wabi-kusa-pea-puffer-tank lol. By far my favorite scape so far!! The pea puffers are definitely the most interesting fish I’ve had so far.

I’ll be adding Christmas moss along some of the branches and Buce assortments in middle area (looking for a good red one). Right now just has a few Anubias Nana Petite and 1 regular Anubias. Wondering what it will look like once it spreads and grows on the wood.




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Nice. You should start a journal! I just took everything out of the 12 g to use it as a breeding tank, so it looks pretty rough right now.

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A few changes since the last update: I got a new intake (surface skimmer broke) and some new plants, namely a bunch of buce. I left for a week without trimming and came back to a wall of plants.



There was pretty bad shading and the fish had very little room to swim, but everything looked healthy regardless. I took out significant plant mass, and replanted some tops. Most rotalas were fine but the Manipura looked like the bases were dying back, so I thinned it out a bit.



The good news is algae is still not a thing and the myrio Guyana has recovered and is growing well. I'm thinking about removing the pearl weed in favor of more rotala green, since the pearl weed grows absolutely out of control.

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That's nice growth, really look cozy for the fish to hide in.

Bump: Wait, there's no fish or shrimp?
 

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Discussion Starter #51
Love these tanks so much and have enjoyed following your journal. I fear it's nudging me into setting my 12gal long up again instead of selling it.

What's the sand-like substrate you're using? It's nice and dark-ish - way nicer than pool filter sand.
Thanks! It's Sakrete medium graded multi-purpose sand that I got from Home Depot. It's not very well graded so I suggest a lot of washing if you use it.

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Thanks for letting me know what it is!

I'm gonna go on a hunt for it at all the stores this weekend. Home Depot, Lowe's, Menards. Surely I'll find it somewhere.

Thanks! It's Sakrete medium graded multi-purpose sand that I got from Home Depot. It's not very well graded so I suggest a lot of washing if you use it.
 

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Fantastic tank first of all, thanks for sharing. May I ask what filter you're running? I also have a 12 long and was thinking about an Eheim 2215 which is rated at 164GPH. Do you think this is enough to get good flow from one side to the other? I’m worried that if I step up to the 2217 which is like 200+GPH it may be too much for fish and substrate.
 

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Discussion Starter #55
Fantastic tank first of all, thanks for sharing. May I ask what filter you're running? I also have a 12 long and was thinking about an Eheim 2215 which is rated at 164GPH. Do you think this is enough to get good flow from one side to the other? I’m worried that if I step up to the 2217 which is like 200+GPH it may be too much for fish and substrate.
The 2215 should be plenty. I was probably running at around 120 gph, any more and it just pushes your fish around too much.

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@desantes: Could even use a 2213 or Ecco 2232 if you have a spray bar.

Don't want to hijack the thread but I document one method in my 12gal journal. It could be classed way up by using better material than I did.

I think a better grade than the bar I used - with a nicer end cap - would look much better than mine. Having a background on the tank would also help.

Here are some photos of mine:






Even after a couple years, I still had so much flow with a smaller filter that I had to slow things down.
 

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Discussion Starter #57
I don't think I've given an update on the 12g long in a while. I tore out all the lava rock and the amount of mulm was outrageous. Currently it is aging with a bunch of low-tech plants, waiting to become a fry tank. My plan is to only have low plants that I can easily catch fish around or rhizome plants that I can move.


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Discussion Starter #58
Haven't done an update on the 22 in a while. Things are going smoothly, started to see some BBA crop up so I'm upping the CO2. Overall I've been able to keep it looking good for a few weeks so I think I have a good idea of the kind of maintenance it needs. The H'ra is still not looking as red as I'd like, but the color does seem to deepen with each trim. Unfortunately it's almost indistinguishable from the rotala rotundifolia "pink."

Also, here is a little Wabi kusa I made. No idea what I'm doing, I pretty much just stuck a bunch of things there to see what grows.


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Discussion Starter #59
I've been trying to take out the pearl weed where I can. It just grows too fast. You'd think I would have guessed that from the word "weed" in the name, but I'm not a smart man. I also picked up two juvenile longfin albino bristlenose plecos. They're beautiful little fish. I'll have to try and get a photo, but they are fairly shy.

Ferts: I'm adding 20 mL of easy green and 3/4 tsp of Seachem Equilibrium for every 5 gallons of water changed. I know it's not scientific at all, but it seems to be working and I'd like to use up the easy green before mixing more dry ferts.

I have been trying to work on making the plant groupings more distinct. I'm not sure if it looks better, but I'd like to do a dutch tank next so it's a skill I want to practice. There are a few pictures below, in no particular order.


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Discussion Starter #60
The rotala was getting too dense, so I pulled it all and replanted tips. Unfortunately this dredged up a bunch of the raw soil and caused a major hair algae outbreak. Here is the tank a week after replanting:


And some of the green algae I'm dealing with:

I'm sure that morning sunlight is part of the reason. I'll probably end up pulling that S. Repens, it's just too covered. I'm also noticing some interveinal chlorosis, so it's time to up the easy green dosing!

Two weeks ago I was gone for the weekend, and the Fluval 3.0 stopped working. I came home and one of my somphongsi rasboras was already skeletonized. I immediately aerated the water and the rest of the fish started to recover. A week later another rasbora who hadn't been eating well passed away. On Sunday I went over to a guy in the local club and traded the rest of my rasboras (he has a school already) for some interesting plants. Time for some plant pics:

This Blyxa alternifolia has been in the tank for months, but now that the rotala has been cut back you can start to see the pretty new growth. Definitely a slow grower, but no algae on this stuff!

Camomba furcata. Already turning a nice red in higher light.

Hygrophila polysperma "Sunset."

Bacopa caroliniana "red". This one is new to me. I'm excited to see what its emersed growth looks like, it would be cool to find a Wabi kusa plant that stays reddish!

Finally, I've noticed that I have two different forms of Rotala "Manipura." One has narrower leaves, like Rotala rotundifolia, and the other has thicker leaves, like Rotala macrandra. I though at first I might have some green form Rotala Macrandra, but the stem of the wide leaf form is thick like the other Rotala "Manipura". I might try growing the two emersed and see if there are any noticeable differences. In the picture below the wide leaf version is at the bottom.


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