What's new

Are Ferts Sufficient?

FishFinatic77

Fish Crazy
Joined
May 16, 2019
Messages
330
Reaction score
83
Hi everyone,
I've decided that I'm going to attempt a carpet in my aquarium. I was thinking maybe a pygmy chain sword, or something similar that looks like grass. My question is, I already have substrate, so I can't switch to anything with nutrients, and I'm hesitant to start a dirted tank because I have heard it is hard to maintain. At the moment, I am using Seachem Flourish fertilizer to add nutrients into the water. Is this enough to sustain a carpet? The substrate I'm using is a common gravel, so I'm thinking the nutrients should be able to get to the roots. Am I right? If not, should I try to dirt the tank?
Thanks!
 

utahfish

Member
Joined
May 5, 2004
Messages
701
Reaction score
348
Problem with gravel for carpeting plants isnt so much nutrient availability but plants that send out runners like a pygmy chain sword have a difficult time getting through the gravel. Which is why most planted tanks are on specialized plant substrates or sand. Dirted tanks are super easy to maintain atleast it was for me problem with dirted is the soil like most organic soils reach a point where they are stale and need to be replaced every 2 years or so. Plants get their nutrients two ways to their roots through the substrate and from water column through leaves, swords are heavy root feeder best way to get nutrients to roots in an inert inorganic substrate like gravel or sand is root tabs. Even then it still comes down to a balance of available light and nutrients. Plants need macro nutrients NPK and micro nutrients and carbon, light is the engine for photosynthesis that causes plants to utilize nutrients, its a tricky balance but for what you are wanting to do the first thing youll need is root tabs.
 

seangee

Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2008
Messages
2,486
Reaction score
672
Location
Berks
Do you recommend a certain brand of root tabs?
I use Seachem Flourish tabs. There are others but avoid the so called time release tabs in dissolving gel capsules. I have never had any joy with those.
 

Retired Viking

Fish Herder
Joined
Nov 22, 2019
Messages
2,180
Reaction score
1,111
Location
north woods
I also use Seachem Flourish tabs and Seachem Flourish Comprehensive Supplement and so far it seems to be working fine.
 

Byron

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
11,454
Reaction score
1,972
Location
CA
The substrate is not the most important aspect (except in the matter of grain size, that is significant), it is light and nutrients. And this depends upon the plant species.

You mentioned pygmy chain sword...common names can be misleading, but if this refers to Helanthium tenellum (which may still be seen in some works as Echinodorus tenellus) this is a plant that does not need intense light nor CO2 diffusion. There is a very similar plant that grows a bit taller, Helanthium bolivianum. And a newer described species, Helanthium zombiense. All three are identical in basic shape (growth size being the external difference) and requirements. Inert sand is the best substrate for these, and a comprehensive liquid fertilizer will provide sufficient nutrients. Substrate tabs can be used if you prefer. Moderate light is adequate. These plants grow very well in all of my tanks.

Attached photos are of Helanthium tenellum, which will grow slightly different (leaf width) depending upon conditions. The first two photos are of submersed plants, the third photo is the emersed form of this plant; Helanthium species, like their close cousin Echinodortus, are marsh or bog plants that grow emersed and submersed with different leaf structure depending upon this.
 

Attachments

utahfish

Member
Joined
May 5, 2004
Messages
701
Reaction score
348
The substrate is not the most important aspect (except in the matter of grain size, that is significant), it is light and nutrients. And this depends upon the plant species.

You mentioned pygmy chain sword...common names can be misleading, but if this refers to Helanthium tenellum (which may still be seen in some works as Echinodorus tenellus) this is a plant that does not need intense light nor CO2 diffusion. There is a very similar plant that grows a bit taller, Helanthium bolivianum. And a newer described species, Helanthium zombiense. All three are identical in basic shape (growth size being the external difference) and requirements. Inert sand is the best substrate for these, and a comprehensive liquid fertilizer will provide sufficient nutrients. Substrate tabs can be used if you prefer. Moderate light is adequate. These plants grow very well in all of my tanks.

Attached photos are of Helanthium tenellum, which will grow slightly different (leaf width) depending upon conditions. The first two photos are of submersed plants, the third photo is the emersed form of this plant; Helanthium species, like their close cousin Echinodortus, are marsh or bog plants that grow emersed and submersed with different leaf structure depending upon this.
Heres one too
Scientific name: Echinodorus quadricostatus
 

Byron

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
11,454
Reaction score
1,972
Location
CA
Heres one too
Scientific name: Echinodorus quadricostatus
Yes, this is actually Helanthium bolivianum though one may still see it under the synonym E. quadricostatus. As you brought this up, I can provide some explanation, as it gives me a chance to deal with taxonomy which is a passion of mine. :yahoo:

The various chain swords have long been classified in the genus Echinodorus, and Rataj (2004) lists nine species as such; the explanation for the recent reclassification is given below. The subject species Helanthium bolivianum was Echinodorus bolivianus, and the species epithet is changed to bolivianum to agree in gender with the genus name Helanthium. Plants under names like E. quadricostatus are now deemed to be the subject species [more below on this too].

The group Helanthium [the spelling Helianthium with the first "i" is incorrect] was described by Engelmann, Bentham and Hooker in 1883 as a section in the genus Alisma. In 1905, Engelmann and Britton erected Helanthium as a distinct genus and they assigned to it the dwarf chain sword species from Echinodorus. In 1955, Fassett reversed this and considered the species within Helanthium as Echinodorus; however, he divided the genus into two subgenera, Helanthium and Echinodorus. Helanthium held two sections, Nymphaeifolii (containing one species, Echinodorus nymphaeifolius) and Tenellii that contained the several closely-related species with E. tenellus as the type species. The subgenus Echinodorus held nine sections containing the remaining species within this genus. In his recent revision of the genus Echinodorus, Rataj (2004) followed Fassett (1955).

In phylogenetic analysis (Lehtonen 2006; Lehtonen & Myllys 2008) Echinodorus was found to be polyphyletic [=the last common ancestor is not included in the genus] and in order to obtain a monophyletic [=a clade (here genus) consisting of the last common ancestor and all descendant species] circumscription of the genus, the classification proposed by Pichon (1946) was followed by Lehtonen. E. nymphaeifolius was transferred into the genus Albidella, and E. bolivianus, E. tenellus and E. zombiensis were transferred into Helanthium. A number of prominent botanists and institutions including several suppliers of aquarium plants are now accepting this reclassification, including the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew (a major authority among botanists) and the International Plant Names Index.

Aquarists who propagate aquarium plants have always recognized that while the various species in Echinodorus will readily hybridize, some even naturally--producing the many new red, spotted, and marble leaf forms--the chain swords have resisted hybridization with species in Echinodorus; this lends further credence to the view that the two genera are distinct.

The species now in Helanthium are those former Echinodorus species that have traditionally been considered within the generic common designation of chain sword plants (because they reproduce in aquaria via "runners") and are smaller than the true Echinodorus species, though leaf length can vary greatly depending upon conditions in the aquarium. The same species grown in two aquaria can look different, and within the same aquarium two plants of the same species may appear slightly different. The number of species varies according to author, from 3 (Lehtonen) to 9 (Rataj). They are distributed from the temperate USA down to Argentina, and all species are amphibious bog plants that grow emersed and submersed. Regardless of whether they are cultivated emersed or submersed, these species propagate vegetatively via runners up to 50 cm in length from which plantlets arise at intervals of 2-5 cm. They also produce inflorescences when growing emersed which produce flowers but adventitious plants are rare.

Turning now to "E. quadricostatus." Lehtonen & Myllys (2008) proposed three species for Helanthium, based upon their phylogenetic study of the plants' DNA, with the other "species" deemed synonymous to one of these three. These are listed in The Plant List under the three accepted species, H. tenellum, H. bolivianum and H. zombiensis. There are 15 "species" now accepted as H. bolivianum. This is the direct link to that page:

Here are the references for the above:

Fassett, Norman C. (1955), "Echinodorus in the American Tropics," Rhodora, Vol. 57, No. 677 (May 1955).

Frank, Neil (2000), The Chain Sword Plants: History and Nomenclatural Perspectives, Aquatic Gardeners Association [online].

Lehtonen, Samuli (2007), "An integrative approach to species delimitation in Echinodorus (Alismataceae) and the description of two new species," Kew Bulletin Vol. 63, No. 4, pp. 525-563.

Lehtonen, Samuli and Leena Myllys (2008), "Cladistic analysis of Echinodorus (Alismataceae): simultaneous analysis of molecular and morphological data," Cladistics, Vol. 24, No. 2 (April 2008), pp. 218-239.

Rataj, Karel (2004), "A New Revision of the Swordplant Genus Echinodorus Richard 1848 (Alismataceae)," Aqua--Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology, Special Publication No. 1, March 2004.
 

utahfish

Member
Joined
May 5, 2004
Messages
701
Reaction score
348
Byron wow, thats a lot maybe its why aquarium stores just say chain sword ill have to pay more attention in the future to what im actually purchasing
 
Last edited:

Stan510

Fish Crazy
Joined
Dec 10, 2018
Messages
272
Reaction score
128
Iron gluconate is all the additive I'm using..and I'm trying -and I am getting- a carpet of star grass,Heteranthera zosterifolia. Its not like other carpets...its has to be "mowed" (pinched) to keep in the 3" and under size. I have a tall tank,24", so its short enough to look like carpet..maybe disco shag carpeting..but that's ok.
No Co2,nothing but IG...but,its indispensable in my opinion.
IMG_1574.JPG
 
OP
F

FishFinatic77

Fish Crazy
Joined
May 16, 2019
Messages
330
Reaction score
83
Wow, I guess there's a lot more to aquarium plants than I originally thought. I'm going to research the different types of chain swords a little more and find out which one would be best for my aquarium. Is there a certain type that grows better in gravel?
 

Byron

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
11,454
Reaction score
1,972
Location
CA
Wow, I guess there's a lot more to aquarium plants than I originally thought. I'm going to research the different types of chain swords a little more and find out which one would be best for my aquarium. Is there a certain type that grows better in gravel?
No problem. All of the "chain sword" species will grow much the same whatever the substrate, within reason. Pea gravel is as large a gravel as you want, as anything larger brings the problem of slower decomposition by bacteria regardless of plants. Of more importance is the fish species, if any have substrate special requirements.
 
OP
F

FishFinatic77

Fish Crazy
Joined
May 16, 2019
Messages
330
Reaction score
83
My gravel is definitely smaller than pea gravel.
The only fish that lives on the substrate is the pleco, which I don't think has any special substrate requirements. If it does, please let me know. Thank you for all your help!
 

Byron

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
11,454
Reaction score
1,972
Location
CA
My gravel is definitely smaller than pea gravel.
The only fish that lives on the substrate is the pleco, which I don't think has any special substrate requirements. If it does, please let me know. Thank you for all your help!
That's OK. I mention this because if you intended substrate fish like cories or loaches, it would be better and simpler to change the substrate now rather than down the road. Plecos do need real wood to graze; they do not "eat" it as nutritional food, but something in it does affect the good bacteria in their digestive tracts and it is needed.
 
Top