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Advice on keep Amazon Swords?

Discussion in 'Plants Index' started by Cup o' Joe, Sep 30, 2017.

  1. Cup o' Joe

    Cup o' Joe New Member

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    I need advice on how to make my swords thrive. This is my first attempt at keeping plants. I have a 16 gallon tank with a standard light and filter. I bought special planted aquarium substrate and in addition have been using root tabs and plant growth solutions. However, while my anubias have been doing fine and the java ferns growing like weeds, I can't seem to get the swords to do well. They're surviving, but a lot of the leaves are turning clear. I heard it might have been a lack of nutrients at first but the root tabs and liquid supplements clearly aren't working. I just don't know what I'm doing wrong. The tank isn't too far from a window so there is plenty of natural and artificial lighting.

    I greatly appreciate any advice!

     
  2. SeanTrollope

    SeanTrollope Member

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    exactly what gravel did you get and what growth solutions have you added. also is your tank cycled and what are your water parameters.
     
  3. fluttermoth

    fluttermoth The current Mrs Treguard ;)
    Staff Member Moderator Global Moderator

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    How long have you had the plants? Can you tell us the hardness of your water?
     
  4. Byron

    Byron Member

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    As others have mentioned, we need more data.

    Light is you single most important factor. Anubias and Java Fern are both slow growing, which means less light intensity is needed, along with less nutrients. Swords are moderately growing plants (some even fast growing), so that means more light intensity and nutrients. Providing one factor while ignoring another won't do it, as all this has to be in balance. So if the slow growing plants are thriving, it may be the light is not intense enough, to drive the swords.

    The spectrum of the light is also important, because photosynthesis is driven by red and blue light, primarily red; adding green to the mix improves plant growth considerably, so that obviously plays into it. If you can detail your tank light, the type, number of bulbs/tubes, and any data about the bulbs/tubes, we should be able to help. Also, as others asked, what exactly are you using as fertilizer/additives? Also, what exactly are the sword species? A photo may answer this if you don't know.

    Swords in the genus Echinodorus along with the small chain swords now in Helanthium are not difficult plants. I have had great success with these for 20 years, better than anything else, but they do need basic good light and food.

    Byron.
     
  5. Cup o' Joe

    Cup o' Joe New Member

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    My bad, totally forgot to include tank parameters.

    Tank size: 16 gallon
    pH: 8.4
    ammonia: unknown
    nitrite: 0
    nitrate: 20 ppm
    kH: 300
    gH: 75
    tank temp: 80F

    The tank is around a month and a half old, have had the swords since day 3. They've basically been in this shape since then, no better no worse. I think the substrate was Carib-sea eco complete or something like that. I also used API root tabs and leaf zone. I dunno much about the lamp, it was the default one that came with the tank from Aqueon. It says it's a 20" fluorescent 120 volt 19 watt single bulb. That's all I know.

    The water quality has been relatively consistent except for one brief scare when the nitrite spiked due to medications, but I caught it and dealt with it before it passed 30 ppm.
    Standard disclaimer: I know the water is definitely on the alkaline side. It's just how my local tap is. I've been treating to lower pH, but it's a slow process. I got a bad first stock from the LFS it seems, as the fish have been having intermittent parasite issues since week 1. The LFS also has super alkaline water so I can't just start off with pH 7.0 water without doing serious harm to the fish. I hope to drop it to around 8 eventually but any lower isn't really feasible with my current setup. So I hope the pH isn't the issue but if it is I guess my tank just isn't suited for Amazon Swords (or whatever they actually are despite the LFS' claims).

    I have pictures below. I appreciate the help!
    (also sorry if this is against the rules but I have a more pressing issue under the tropical emergencies section that has been ignored in favor of this... so pretty please send help there first! thanks a ton)
     

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  6. Byron

    Byron Member

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    The pH is not the problem. And on the pH, do not mess with trying to adjust it. The pH is related to the GH and KH, especially the latter which serves to "buffer" pH and prevent fluctuations. Your KH at 300 [I assume the unit of measurement is ppm or mg/l with a number this high] is high so the p|H is not going to budge. This is more of an issue for fish than plants, but I'll leave that.

    The GH at 75 [again assuming ppm or mg/l] is fine, not a problem.

    Eco-complete in my opinion is useless, but it won't hurt the plants. However, it is sharp in texture and substrate fish may have issues. I'll leave that.

    Fertilizers. Root tabs are good for swords, but I would recommend the Seachem Flourish Tabs rather than the API. I cannot find out the ingredients in the API, other than they say "including iron, potassium and carbon." I'm a bit skeptical of how carbon could be in tabs...but regardless, there is no mention of the 14 other nutrients plants need. I would change to the Seachem Flourish Tabs. I do know that I have read negative comments on the API, including the mess they can make if disturbed. I've been using Flourish Tabs for years with no issues, and they do improve swords.

    Same holds for the liquid "Leaf Zone." It has iron and potassium mentioned, but nothing else. Here I would get Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium. It is complete, and the nutrients are in proportion to what plants require. I use this myself and have for years. Make sure it is exactly the Flourish Comprehensive Supplement..., they make several products under the "Flourish" name. You do not need any of the others.

    Light. Aqueon make three types of fluorescent tubes. I've had them, as a couple of my tanks came with Aqueon hoods with the tubes. The full spectrum is not bad, but not great either; the other two are useless. See if you can find a Hagen Life-Glo T8 tube in the same length, 20 inches. I'm assuming the fixture takes T8, most of the basic do, this should be printed at one end of the tube; T8 tubes will fit provided the length is the same, and the Life-Glo is the single best fluorescent tube for planted tanks, bar none. It is more intense, and has exactly the right spectrum. I use this on all my single-tube tanks.

    Temperature. Why is the tank at 80F? That is quite warm, and this will affect some plants, though that is not the issue here.

    Medications. Some of these can be devastating to plants, so this may not have helped.

    Nitrate at 20 ppm is as high as you ever want it for fish, and it would help to have it lower. Is this the nitrate in the source (tap) water? Or what occurs within the aquarium? Test the tap water alone for nitrate and see what it shows.

    The above should solve the plant issues.
     
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  7. Cup o' Joe

    Cup o' Joe New Member

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    Thanks a bunch for the advice. I'll make adjustments as soon as possible. The temperature problem is here to stay I'm afraid though :( I live in the south with a pretty weak A/C so it's inevitably going to be high during the summer months. It should drop into the upper 70s soon though.
     
  8. Byron

    Byron Member

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    That's OK. Hot weather is to be expected, and hopefully it is not permanent, and that is what matters. Keeping the tank warm with heaters deliberately is another matter. My tanks run at 75-76F normally, but summer weather usually raises the fish room temperature to 80F during the day (even with an air conditioner in this room) and the tanks naturally rise accordingly, but they lower back at night most days. Even if they didn't, it is still not permanent.
     

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