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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm getting ready to buy this all-in-one tank, and I'm falling for the draw of those lush, smooth carpets you see in all the cool high-tech tanks. The catch? Here's the PAR data for the lights that come with my tank. Looks like a 50 at best.

Now, I'm open to replacing those lights, and even adding CO2 if it seems worth the trouble, but I'm still not clear on just how important those steps are: is the low-tech carpet an exercise in frustration, or is it just a matter of picking the right plants and pruning them frequently?

Here are the plants I've looked at so far, in order of aesthetic preference:
  • HC (yeah right)
  • Glossostigma elianitodes
  • Hydrocotyle sibthorpiodes (dwarf pennywort)
  • Hydrocotyle tripartita (pennywort)
  • Marsilea crenata (dwarf clover)
  • Staurogyne repens
  • Eleocharis parvula (dwarf hairgrass)
  • Cryptocoryne parva
  • Echinodorus tenellus (pygmy chain sword)

:icon_ques Will any of those (or something else) ever form a thick carpet under these stock lights, and if so then about how long should it take, and about how soon should I start to see signs of spreading?

:icon_ques If not, should I try out some stronger lights before I get into the CO2 business, or would that just be an invitation for algae?
 

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That tank is gorgeous. I'd love one.
Hc you'll struggle with,
But if you are considering supplementing with liquid carbon most of the others should be fine.
Tennelus will carpet in almost any conditions and quite quickly too.
Marsilea hirsulata is a nice low tech carpeting plant too but is quite slow.
Hydrocotyle sp Japan I've had great results with as a carpet. I just kept pressing on it lightly which encouraged it to creep across the substrate.
Increasing the lighting straight off with out co2 could be asking for algae but you should be ok with a few of your choices with what lighting it comes with.



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I just picked up some staurogyne repens at a plant auction last weekend to give it a try in my low/mid-tech tanks. I'm still very new at this... My plan is to allow it to grow some new roots and then cut it way back which will encourage the low thick carpet that I'm looking for. I was told you don't need CO2 to accomplish this, but it'll take time to see. I also have a single c. parva plant which completely melted when I added it, but is growing back very slowy (three leaves in as many weeks). I have medium light in my 20-gallon and I'm starting to see some of the plants stunted which I assume is because of the lack of CO2.

As the last poster said, high light and CO2 kind of go hand-in-hand which requires a nice balance between the two so you can't add one without the other (without problems). If you add CO2, you'll need more light for the plants to thrive. If you go with higher light, you'll need CO2 for the plants to thrive.

I've gotten to the point where I can only ask so many questions and get so many answers before I just need to try it out for myself and see what happens. Bottom line, get a bunch of stuff, try it out. If it doesn't work, move on to a different plant. That's part of the fun anyway! :D
 

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Hydrocotyle tripartita will grow well in lower light with no co2. The trick is to keep grooming it and steering it in the right direction. it has the tendency to grow up into a ratty bush, but if you keep pushing it into the substrate it'll eventually just take off like a runner. You can cut parts off of it and replant at will. It won't ever carpet like HC, but it'll give some good cover fairly quickly. Mine ran 1/3 the length of a 20g long, turned the corner and is halfway to the back wall, all within about a month.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So when you folks talk about "steering" or "pushing" you mean that literally? Just poke it under the substrate with your fingers, without actually cutting it?

Also does anyone have pictures of tripartita growing under low light, so I can see just how thin we're talking here? The more I learn, the more it seems like I'll just get automatically better results if I go with CO2.
 

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Yes, just rip it up from where it's headed, push a couple spots into the substrate and shovel a bit on top and it'll stay. It's extremely resilient. I constantly cut it up and replant it elsewhere. If the runner gets too long, cut it, rip it, stick it back in the main area and it'll continue to grow. I attached a photo of mine before co2. you can see the main mass on the right, and the runner taking off to whoknowswhere. After co2, the stuff grows like a forest fire. I had to start chucking large pieces of it because I ran out of room.

PS, nevermind the val in the foreground, it's just on vacation.
 

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Actually, adding CO2 will improve your plants ability to utilize the light you will be providing. High light without CO2 would definitely cause issues but 40 or 50 micro moles would do well with CO2. imho, think CO2 before going high light.

Tropica of Denmark has an article explaining:

http://www.tropica.com/en/tropica-abc/basic-knowledge/co2-and-light.aspx
 
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