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Keeping my plants alive.

Discussion in 'Planted Chit Chat' started by welshie, May 5, 2019.

  1. welshie

    welshie Mostly New Member

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    Hi all, not been here for a while. I'm having a few difficulties with my aquascaped tank. It's not big and nothing special 60ltr with around 15 plants in and a few rocks to form a cave.

    I have success with most plants but theres always a few that i dont. I cant remember the names specifically but I can find them if it helps. My trouble is my plants melt. I can put them in my tank and about a week later they start dying off. Purple plants are the ones I've never been able to keep. I have a few red stem plants and there kinda bronze looking? They all start off fine. Most even put out new growth but then after a week or so they start to die off.

    I have a 15w 18000k aqua-glo t8 fluorescent light bulb. I dose weekly with ferts when I do a water change. I have root tabs and I have a simple co2 setup. Since changing to this new light my green plants especially my hygrophillia and confusingly my anubias nano have both grown exceptionally well. My Amazon sword isn't do to well either which started to raise alarm bells. Any help would be much appreciated. I have been keeping plants for a while and have reasonable knowledge on them I'm just at my wits end with keeping them alive.
     
  2. welshie

    welshie Mostly New Member

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    20190505_162212.jpg 20190505_162400.jpg
     

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  3. welshie

    welshie Mostly New Member

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    These are the most recent plants I added. Only the alternanthera is left in the tank but as you can see it's not doing so well.. 20190505_162948.jpg
     
  4. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    18000K is really high for plants. It has UV and blue light in it and isn't the best for aquatic plants.

    Sunlight during the middle of the day has a Kelvin (K) rating of 5500-6500K. This is the best range for plants. I use 6500K globes because the Kelvin rating drops over time.

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    Most red and purple plants are actually marsh plants and not true aquatics. A marsh plant is a plant that spends most of the year growing along the edge of waterways and their leaves are dry. They sometimes get submerged when it rains a lot but for the most part they have wet roots and dry leaves.

    When a marsh plant is put underwater, it will shed its terrestrial leaves and might grow submersed leaves. However, most don't grow aquatic leaves and the plants simply rot away.

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    A true aquatic plant is one that lives underwater all the time. True aquatic plants cannot support their own weight when removed from the water and will fall down. Marsh plants have thicker stronger stems and will continue to stand upright when removed from water.

    Anubias and Alternantheras are marsh plants and are often seen growing in people's gardens.

    Some good plants to try include Ambulia, Hygrophila polysperma, H. ruba/ rubra, Elodia (during summer, but don't buy it in winter because it falls apart), Hydrilla, common Amazon sword plant, narrow Vallis, Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides/ cornuta).

    The Hygrophilas and Sword plants are marsh plants but also do well underwater. The other plants listed are true aquatic plants. Water Sprite is a floating plant but can also be planted in the substrate.

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    The plants in the pictures have lots of sediment on the leaves. Try increasing the water movement and do regular gravel cleaning and water changes.

    I use Sera Florena, which is a liquid iron plant fertiliser and got better results with the liquid compared to the tablets.
     
  5. Byron

    Byron Member

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    I would say your biggest problem is the light. I have used (= tried) the Aqua-Glo and it is not good plant light. If you want to stay in the same Hagen tube series, the best tube is the Life-Glo. It is high in red, blue and green which has been shown in scientifically-controlled studies to promote the best response in aquatic plants.

    However, there is also the choice of plants. Red leaf plants even if true aquatics are more difficult to grow because they need more intense lighting that green plants. This is because the colour of the plant leaves is reflected light, so green leaves are reflecting green light and thus appear green, while red leaves reflect red light to appear red. Red is also the most important colour to drive photosynthesis (aquatic plants need red and blue, but red is the more important of tyhe two) so right away the plant reflecting red light is getting less red light, therefore it needs stronger light.

    Slow growing plants like Anubias require less intense light top drive photosynthesis, which is why they tend to do better (manage) in poorer light; they need less of it.

    If you compare the data on the tubes, the Life-Glo is double the intensity of the Aqua-Glo (comparing same size/wattage tubes). A 15w Life-Glo over this 60 liter (15 gallon) will be fine, though again the red plants like Alternanthera may or may not manage. I have tried dozens of plant species in my tanks over the years, and I just stay with the species that do well under thee light I am prepared to give them. Not all plants will manage under the same light.
     
  6. welshie

    welshie Mostly New Member

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    Thank you both for your feedback! I will definitely look into changing the bulb then. As for the sediment, before taking the pics I had just pulled alot of dead plants out the tank and with a soil and gravel substrate it kinda made a mess Haha. I do dose 1ml daily of seachem flourish iron but still no luck.

    Byron, what t8 bulb would you reccomend? I'm not bothered about brand along as it is good quality and reliable. But the glo range is the closest to me and probably the best price 20190505_191452.jpg
     
  7. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Do you have an iron test kit?
    You want the iron level at 1ppm. If it's higher it can harm the fish.

    I would get the Life-Glo 6700K globe
     
  8. Byron

    Byron Member

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    First on the tubes, I have used all of those except the Marine Glo. The Life-Glo is the best both for plant response and colour rendition. Over smaller tanks with one or two tubes, meaning any tank having a tube length less than 48 inches, the only tubes worth using are the good quality ones like these. With 4-foot tubes you can use the much less expensive Phillips and Sylvania 6500K and 5000K tubes, but I tried these in the small sizes (like the 18-inch and 24-inch and even 36-inch) and they were insufficient, and by comparison to the same size Life-Glo about 1/3 the intensity.

    There used to be a series of fluorescent tubes under the ZooMed name that were almost as good; I've used the two comparable tubes to the Life-Glo but these do not seem to be available any longer, at least not in NA. The Life-Glo is still the #1 best planted tank tube though, regardless (over low-tech or natural planted tanks).

    On the fertilizers, do not use Flourish Iron. This may well be part of the problem. I killed my floating plants in one tank using iron along with the regular Flourish Comprehensive. Iron is a micro-nutrient; 40 years ago one read advice to add iron, but this is not reliable. The iron in Flourish Comprehensive is sufficient and is balanced with the other 15 nutrients. Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium is the full name of the product you want. Another basically identical is Brightwell Aquatics FlorinMulti.

    Aquarium plant nutrition is a matter of providing all essential nutrients but in the relevant proportion to how the plants use/need them. Dumping too much of this or that can cause serious deficiencies. And it is bad for the fish, any excess that is not absolutely necessary to begin with. I will add photos of some of my tanks from the past few years; all have the lighting I recommend above, and all have only minimal dose of Flourish Comprehensive once a week.
     

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  9. welshie

    welshie Mostly New Member

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    Thank you both for your advice! I have decided to get a new bulb! however, I'm having difficulty sourcing one in my lfs.

    They have the jewel hi-lite range. I tried to read the box but it might aswell be in Chinese as I couldnt understand it. So I came home bulbless and done some googling.... Most of my plants are from tropica so I went on there website to have a look at what bulb they recommend...They dont! All they say is this.....copied and pasted.

    "That all depends upon which plants you have chosen for your aquarium. If you have chosen nothing but "Easy" plants, 10-20 lumen (0.25 to 0.5 watts) per litre is adequate. For "Medium" plants, we recommend 20-40 lumen (0.5 to 1 watts) per litre, while "Advanced" plants require more than 40 lumens (1 watt) per litre."

    Most of my plants are listed as easy but I have a few medium/advanced plants. The life-glo is only a 15w bulb, according to what is says above I need a 30-50w bulb but I cannot find one that size that powerful! I know the life-glo lumen is 960 but its only 15w. Am I looking into this too much or am I just confusing myself? It also states that the further away from the bulb (35cm) the more lumen/lux you need?

    My lfs stocks juwel hi-lite bulbs. The closest size I can find is 438mm
    Day-lite - 15w/6500k/560 lumen
    Warm-lite - 15w/3000k/630 lumen
    Colour-lite - 15w/11000k/310 lumen..

    All I can say is I'm extremely confused. Why cant they keep things simple haha
     
  10. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    You can visit your local hardware store. They sell globes and light units. You might be able to find a light unit that takes LED or compact fluorescent globes. I used a 24 watt compact fluorescent globe in a spotlight housing and hung it above a tank. It had a 6500K temperature and was very bright.

    You can also put a longer light unit above the tank and use a bigger globe to get more light.

    I have a triple tier stand with 2 x 18 inch tanks on each shelf. I have a 4 foot long double fluorescent light above each set of tanks and they grow corals and anemones.

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    Taller tanks do need more lumens to get the light to the bottom. If you can't find brighter globes, get 2 light units and have them on a timer. Have 1 light unit come on and an hour later the other can come on. At night one can go off and an hour later the other can go off.
     
  11. Byron

    Byron Member

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    There is some confusion here that I will try to explain. Watts is not an indication of intensity except when comparing identical tubes/bulbs. For example, a 36-inch 25w Life-Glo T8 tube will be brighter than a 24-inch 20w Life-Glo T8 tube. But neither will have any relation to an Aqua-Glo in the same sizes and wattage. Watts is simply the amount of energy a bulb/tube uses to produce the light it emits, but the intensity of that light depends upon the manufacture of the tube such as the phosphors.

    Another issue about fluorescent tubes is that each length comes in a standard wattage. The 24-inch is 20w and you cannot get a higher wattage in that length. The intensity can be increased with certain tubes, like the Life-Glo instead of Aqua-Glo, but the wattage is 20w only. The 4-foot tubes are either 40w or 32w; the difference here is simply the newer tubes are made better and emit the same or slightly more light for less wattage.

    If you are staying with T8 fluorescent which I assume is what you now have from the original post, then the Life-Glo T8 tube in that length is all you need. Again, as I explained previously, some plants require brighter light. So if you want this you will have to change fixtures. I have tried five LED fixtures and they all went back as useless. You need to know exactly what you are getting, and they are expensive. The "basic" cheaper LED are not going to provide sufficient light for plants aside from low-light requiring and algae.

    The fish must be kept in mind here too. The fish we keep in aquaria are not appreciative of bright overhead lighting, so keeping it less is always going to improve the health and condition of the fish. As I said earlier, I have tried many plants, and those that do well under my lighting I stay with, the others that don't I forget about. I keep fish, not an aquatic garden, and the approach must follow that goal.

    I know nothing about the Jewel bulbs/tubes. If this were me, I would only acquire one of these if I had the option of returning it within a week or so. Otherwise, it may be expensive and useless. I've no idea.
     
  12. welshie

    welshie Mostly New Member

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    Thank you! That certainly cleared things up for me. At the moment I have a moulded lid with the lit fitting being part of the lid. So yes I will stick with the fluorescent tubes for now, and look to change my set up/equipment over the next couple of months. Thank you both again. I think I confused myself and ended up looking to deep into bulbs and lighting!

    I'll post an update in a week or two with how things are going. I have also ordered a bottle of that comprehensive supplement too!
     
  13. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    That's easy to do considering how many different lights there are :)
     

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