Live Plant Help

Silencedogood

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Hi Everyone!
I have been trying to aquascape my tank for several months but every time I try, the plants die. I have tried co2, leaf zone supplements, and different lighting. I use gravel as my substrate; would sand work better? ( The only plant that has done well is java fern attached to driftwood).

Any help is appreciated!
 

Deanasue

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Anubias and Amazon Sword are easy plants to grow. I tie my anubias to rocks instead of planting it in gravel.
 

mbsqw1d

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What lights do you have (LED, tubes..?) And wattage? And what size tank?

Gravel/sand both have their pros and cons but both should be able to grow the basics on their own (anacharis for example).

Have you tried any root tabs?
 
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Silencedogood

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I have LED lighting. Its a 5 watt hood and my tank is 30 gallons. I have tried anacharis and it did okay for a couple of weeks and then it turned brown and died. I haven't tried root tabs.
 
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Silencedogood

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I thought that too but when I asked my LFS they said no special lighting is required.
 

Colin_T

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Have the light on. Put your hand under the surface of the water and see if there is a decent shadow on the bottom of the tank. If there is a good shadow, there should be sufficient light for plants. If there's no shadow, then there is not enough light.

How long do you have the light on for each day?

Do you get any green algae growing on the glass and ornaments?
If not, there probably isn't enough light.

What plants have you tried?
A lot of plants sold as aquarium plants do not do well under water.

What sort of plant fertiliser did you use (names/ brands)?

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Most aquarium plants like a bit of light and if you only have the light on for a couple of hours a day, they struggle. If the light doesn't have a high enough wattage they also struggle. Try having the tank lights on for 10-12 hours a day.

If you get lots of green algae then reduce the light by an hour a day and monitor the algae over the next 2 weeks.
If you don't get any green algae on the glass then increase the lighting period by an hour and monitor it.
If you get a small amount of algae then the lighting time is about right.

Some plants will close their leaves up when they have had sufficient light. Ambulia, Hygrophilas and a few others close their top set of leaves first, then the next set and so on down the stem. When you see this happening, wait an hour after the leaves have closed up against the stem and then turn lights off.

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 Water Sprite normally floats on the surface but can also be planted in the substrate. The other plants should be planted in the gravel.

If you add an iron based aquarium plant fertiliser, it will help most aquarium plants do well. The liquid iron based fertilisers tend to be better than the tablet forms, although you can push the tablets under the roots of plants and that works well.
I use Sera Florena liquid plant fertiliser but there are other brands too.

Do not bother adding carbon fertiliser to the tank because they are not necessary.
 
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Silencedogood

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I have the light on for 8-10 hours a day. The tank doesn't get any shadow when I put my hand under the light.

I have tried API Leaf Zone, API co2 Booster, and Easy Life Easy Carbo.

I have tons of algae in my tank; on the glass, gravel driftwood, and rocks.

I actually don't know what plants they are; I had purchased them at my LFS and the guy told me that they will do fine in my water. He said they grow them there without issues.
 

Essjay

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Can you post photos of the plants, please. LFS workers are notorious for poor advice and you may have been sold high-light plants or even terrestrial plants (dracenas are often sold for aquariums when they do better in a pot on the window sill)
 

Colin_T

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Hygrophila ruba/ rubra, some Vallis and something else, they all look like good aquatic plants.

I am going to say there is not enough wattage from the light. You can try increasing the lighting times up to a maximum of 16 hours per day and it might help. Alternatively get a second light to increase the intensity.

Maybe try a different brand of fertiliser. I used Sera Florena and had really good results with that.
 

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The fact that the low-light requiring plant (Java Fern) is managing fairly well (from the photo) and the higher-light requiring stem plants and Vall are not would suggest light as the primary issue. I'll come back to this, after mentioning that the plant additives mentioned are not going to help, but do much the opposite. Both the API CO2 Booster and the Easy Life Carbo are glutaraldehyde-based so-called "carbon" supplements, are this is know to kill Vallisneria and hornwort. The Leaf Zone is iron and potassium, only two of the necessary 17 nutrients these plants need, and on top of this too much iron can hinder and even kill aquatic plants.

The best plant additivbes are the comprehensive supplements. Not knowing where you live, I will post three that I know are top quality (there may be others I have not used or seen). For any of these, make sure it is the exact named product, and the manufacturers make several products under the names "Flourish" etc.

Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planteed Aquarium.
Brightwell Aquatics' FlorinMulti.
The Nutrient Company's TNC Lite [this is in the UK only I think].

Substrate tabs (Flourish Tabs are the best I've used) are good for some plants such as Amazon Swords, but won't offer much for plants not rooted in the substrate.

To the light. You have two options. One is to replace the light with a quality plant light. These can get expensive. Much LED light is not suited to planted tanks because it is high in the blue (cool white) with little red (warm) light. When I was looking for lighting to replace my old T8 fluorescent I tried five LED units and all went back. There is good LED, if you want to do this other members can advise which units.

The other option is to stay with the light but go with Java Fern only , and maybe try somme floating plants. If this LED is minus the red, this probably won't get much better if at all. Inmcreasing the duration is not going to help, guaranteed. Plants need a minimum intensity of light in order to drive photosynthesis, and if that intensity is lacking, increasing the duration will not compensate, but only increase algae which is not as fussy. And it seems algae is present here, so this bears out what I've said.
 
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Silencedogood

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So do I need white, blue, and red LEDs? Or can I use just white and blue?

Also, is there a specific wattage of light that I should be using?
 

Byron

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So do I need white, blue, and red LEDs? Or can I use just white and blue?

Also, is there a specific wattage of light that I should be using?

Two things here. First, wattage is not the measure of light intensity unless you are comparing identical light sources. In the old days (some of us remember these, 1970-1980 era, lol) fluorescent tube lighting was common over tanks, and T12 was all there was. A 4-foot T12 tube was 40 watts. Two tubes would obviously provide 80 watts, double the light. Then along came T8 which was more energy-efficient, and a 40w tube was now 34 watts, but it produced slightly more light intensity than the former 40w T12. So comparing watts was no longer suited to intensity. LED is far more involved. Watts is simply the amount of energy a bult/tube/diode uses to produce the light it emits. Only when comparing identical bulbs/tubes/diodes will watts indicate less or more intensity.

Second thing is the colour. White light is made up of colour wavelengths; think of a rainbow or a prism. Shine white light through a prism and you see the spread of colours. Aquatic plants require red and blue light to drive photosynthesis. But just red and blue is not tyhe answer, because they also need green light. "White" light that is high in the red, blue and green will provide the best light for plants, and at the same time a more true colour rendition of fish and plants in the aquarium. Kelvin is one way to assess the colour spectrum of light. A range of 5000K to 6500K is ideal for plants; the lower the Kelvin number the warmer (more red, less blue) in the light, and the higher the Kelvin the cooler (more blue, less red) in the light. Mid-day sun is roughly in this range, so it is no surprise that it suits plants. I use T8 lighting because I understand it better than LED, and the tubes I use are primarily 6500K.
 
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Silencedogood

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Thank you for the explanation. Do you happen to have any LED brands that you would recommend?
 

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