Help with plants not growing?

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Koenator

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I have a 36 gal planted tank and one issue I have been constantly struggling with is plants. No matter what i put in the tank it never seems to grow and most stuff just uproots itself after a week or two. I was told anacharis is one of the easiest things to plant and even that has been dying on me.

Its gotten to the point that my dead plants raised the nitrates in the water to dangerous levels and i lost 2 fish. I did water changes and it seems like things are better, but I really need advice on how to keep things not only alive but thriving!

So far I have tried crypto spiralis, wisteria, water sprite, java moss, java fern, penny / moneywort, cabomba, and amazon sword. The only things that have stayed alive are the wisteria which seems to be doing really well but still wont grow, and the java moss. My java ferns are still alive but the necrosis pockets have been getting bigger and its been slowly dying ever since I bought it.

A little background: I am using the stock light from the tank which i suspect is not bright enough, because the betta tank i set up is by a window and all the previously mentioned plants are growing in that tank. Also; my 36gal has fluval plant substrate.

Any suggestions for how to increase growth or just keep things alive? I don’t want to use CO2 because I dont have the money, but is this as simple as getting a new light and dosing ferts? If so what do you recommend?
 
First, you donot need CO2 to grow healthy plants, so don't waste money there. What you do need however is light that is not just the right intensity (this varies for different plant species) but also spectrum. In my experience, most "basic" light (LED now days) is lacking in the red wavelength but has too much blue. White light is composed of colour wavelengths--think of a rainbow, or a spectrum that breaks these colours apart. Red and blue, especially red, drive photosynthesis; adding green improves plant growth. This can be indicated by the Kelvin rating (a 4 or 5-digit number with the suffix "K") or the CRI (colour rendering index). I have always relied on the Kelvin. Light between 5000K and 6500K is very close to mid-day sun so no surprise that plants do well. Having said that, not all 6500K light for example is the same, it depends upon the phosphors. We may not need to get into that; can you give us the Kelvin for your light? This may be on the fixture somewhere, or the box/instructions, or check the manufacturer's website.

Once the intensity and spectrum are OK, duration factors in. Plants need the light but they also need 17 nutrients inbalance. Are you using any fertilizer, and if yes, which? The fish being fed and water changes do provide nutrients, but this depends upon the plant species and numbers and the fish load. Fast-growing plants need more light and nutrients for that reason than slow-growers.
 
First, you donot need CO2 to grow healthy plants, so don't waste money there. What you do need however is light that is not just the right intensity (this varies for different plant species) but also spectrum. In my experience, most "basic" light (LED now days) is lacking in the red wavelength but has too much blue. White light is composed of colour wavelengths--think of a rainbow, or a spectrum that breaks these colours apart. Red and blue, especially red, drive photosynthesis; adding green improves plant growth. This can be indicated by the Kelvin rating (a 4 or 5-digit number with the suffix "K") or the CRI (colour rendering index). I have always relied on the Kelvin. Light between 5000K and 6500K is very close to mid-day sun so no surprise that plants do well. Having said that, not all 6500K light for example is the same, it depends upon the phosphors. We may not need to get into that; can you give us the Kelvin for your light? This may be on the fixture somewhere, or the box/instructions, or check the manufacturer's website.

Once the intensity and spectrum are OK, duration factors in. Plants need the light but they also need 17 nutrients inbalance. Are you using any fertilizer, and if yes, which? The fish being fed and water changes do provide nutrients, but this depends upon the plant species and numbers and the fish load. Fast-growing plants need more light and nutrients for that reason than slow-growers.
I have about 80% the max fish load for my tank.

Just checked the light, i don’t see any K numbers on it or online. Here is the link to it on amazon, maybe you can find something that I can’t? I dont have the box because i got this off the side of the road: Aqueon AQ LED STRIPLIGHT 30IN https://a.co/d/fFt6ds7

I’m not using any fertilizer, but if I was to, do you have a brand / product to recommend (I live in the US)? I just want something that will stimulate growth, it doesnt need to be all intensive i just don’t want anything else to die on me.
 
I have about 80% the max fish load for my tank.

Just checked the light, i don’t see any K numbers on it or online. Here is the link to it on amazon, maybe you can find something that I can’t? I dont have the box because i got this off the side of the road: Aqueon AQ LED STRIPLIGHT 30IN https://a.co/d/fFt6ds7

I’m not using any fertilizer, but if I was to, do you have a brand / product to recommend (I live in the US)? I just want something that will stimulate growth, it doesnt need to be all intensive i just don’t want anything else to die on me.

Can you post a photo of the tank now, so I can see the plant species and numbers. This may help with ideas, or sorting out nutrients.

I found the Aqueon website, but they have no data on this light, so no help there. They do mention being able to add colormax, white, blue or something... but none of these are explained.

A complete or comprehensive plant additive is what you want, as these are balanced. You are in the USA so there is Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium, and Brightwell Aquatics' FlorinMulti. Make sure it is exactly one of these, whichever, as both manufacturers make several different products under the "Flourish" or "Florin" names and only these are complete. The liquid is needed for plants not rooted in the substrate, but also is effective for these too. Substrate tabs are good for plants rooted in the substrate like swords. When I see the tank I may have more on this. You do not want to be over-dosing as it affects fish and algae can become a nuisance.
 
Can you post a photo of the tank now, so I can see the plant species and numbers. This may help with ideas, or sorting out nutrients.

I found the Aqueon website, but they have no data on this light, so no help there. They do mention being able to add colormax, white, blue or something... but none of these are explained.

A complete or comprehensive plant additive is what you want, as these are balanced. You are in the USA so there is Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium, and Brightwell Aquatics' FlorinMulti. Make sure it is exactly one of these, whichever, as both manufacturers make several different products under the "Flourish" or "Florin" names and only these are complete. The liquid is needed for plants not rooted in the substrate, but also is effective for these too. Substrate tabs are good for plants rooted in the substrate like swords. When I see the tank I may have more on this. You do not want to be over-dosing as it affects fish and algae can become a nuisance.
Here is a bit of an older photo but it doesnt look much different than this now, maybe less plants. And thanks for info about the ferts, believe me I won’t add one mL more than whats required because I am very much on a budget.
 

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Here is a bit of an older photo but it doesnt look much different than this now, maybe less plants. And thanks for info about the ferts, believe me I won’t add one mL more than whats required because I am very much on a budget.

Those plants are not at all bad looking, let's see if we can make them thrive! The light is still the unknown here, and it does have a bluish hue, but you can try the fertilizer (the liquid here would be better) and it may do what's needed. Get the smallest bottle you can, you use very little and it can last a long time, but it can also "spoil" after a while; keeping it in the refrigerator once opened is said to help [talking the Seachem one, which I used for over 12 years).
 
First, you donot need CO2 to grow healthy plants, so don't waste money there. What you do need however is light that is not just the right intensity (this varies for different plant species) but also spectrum. In my experience, most "basic" light (LED now days) is lacking in the red wavelength but has too much blue. White light is composed of colour wavelengths--think of a rainbow, or a spectrum that breaks these colours apart. Red and blue, especially red, drive photosynthesis; adding green improves plant growth. This can be indicated by the Kelvin rating (a 4 or 5-digit number with the suffix "K") or the CRI (colour rendering index). I have always relied on the Kelvin. Light between 5000K and 6500K is very close to mid-day sun so no surprise that plants do well. Having said that, not all 6500K light for example is the same, it depends upon the phosphors. We may not need to get into that; can you give us the Kelvin for your light? This may be on the fixture somewhere, or the box/instructions, or check the manufacturer's website.

Once the intensity and spectrum are OK, duration factors in. Plants need the light but they also need 17 nutrients inbalance. Are you using any fertilizer, and if yes, which? The fish being fed and water changes do provide nutrients, but this depends upon the plant species and numbers and the fish load. Fast-growing plants need more light and nutrients for that reason than slow-growers.

On my 200 gallon, the tank came with 3 led lights, 2 purple and 1 white (I’m not sure about the kelvin in the purple light but the white seems to be around 4 to 6.5 k). The lights themselves are about 5 feet long, the tank is 6 x 2.25 x 2.1. I have 1 purple and 1 white set on a timer for 8 hours a day. There’s no way I can get those K5 lights on the tank. Do you think I should replace one of the purple lights with white light (or something else) to help the plants grow better?
 
On my 200 gallon, the tank came with 3 led lights, 2 purple and 1 white (I’m not sure about the kelvin in the purple light but the white seems to be around 4 to 6.5 k). The lights themselves are about 5 feet long, the tank is 6 x 2.25 x 2.1. I have 1 purple and 1 white set on a timer for 8 hours a day. There’s no way I can get those K5 lights on the tank. Do you think I should replace one of the purple lights with white light (or something else) to help the plants grow better?

This is a different situation from that of the OP in this thread, just to be clear. The purple light is probably useless. If the white light is in the 4000K to 65000K range, it should be fine. What makes you think the plants are not growing? Can you post a photo of the tank so we can see the plant species and numbers?

Also, it might be best to post this in your own thread, so we don't hijack this one further. I'll find you if you do, and we can continue the assessment. :good:
 
This is a different situation from that of the OP in this thread, just to be clear. The purple light is probably useless. If the white light is in the 4000K to 65000K range, it should be fine. What makes you think the plants are not growing? Can you post a photo of the tank so we can see the plant species and numbers?

Also, it might be best to post this in your own thread, so we don't hijack this one further. I'll find you if you do, and we can continue the assessment. :good:

Alright I’ll make a thread
 

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