Plants... How Do I Do This?

Neleono

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Hello friends!
I got a 29 gal tank about 8 months ago now and with it I made a goal to myself that I wouldn't have, at any time, more plastic décor than I do living plants. I was thinking that if I was to keep fish, I wanted to make it as natural as possible. I started off with 2 Top Fin "Ribbon" plants and 2 small bush like plants (Cant remember the names or find online but they look like the anubias plant from top fin). Those grew for a while but started to die, I threw out one of the bush plants and one of the ribbons because they were pretty much dead and added a fern plant. I also bought 3 moss balls a while back, two of which just disappeared one day (If anyone has any idea what happened to them I would love to know) leaving me with one. Other than that, I have a large coral decoration in the middle that the algae eater likes to hide in and a little Christmas tree too. With all of that aside, I have a few main points. First, is it bad to have an all living plat aquarium? Should I put in some plastic ones to mix it up? Second, randomly one plant seems to just rapidly die all of a sudden, even though the other plants and fish are fine, anyone know why that is or how I could fix that/how can I help them to grow stronger/better? Third, every time I clean the tank with the vacuum, push the plants down into the gravel and put the top back on, the next day, they have all floated to the surface! Every time! I constantly have to rebury them just so I can have a few hours of a pretty tank before they all float away... how do I fix this? And finally, whenever the plants all float to the top and all tangle together in the corner, the fish like to just sit in them and swim through them, as if they are playing in the cover of the plants. That of course makes me think that they would like some grass like plants to play in and things like that. Any recommendations? I'm so sorry this thread is kind of all over the place and messy and if any clarifications are needed please ask! Any recommendations are so much help as i am very new to the whole live plant thing, thanks!
 

Utar

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Hi there, I will help as much as I can. First to help keep you plants down where you want them you can pick up some lead wraps, these wrap around the plants. (click on the name for a link)

You need to be careful with plants and make sure they are fully aquatic plants and not semi-aquatic. Semi-aquatic plants have only their roots systems submerged while the rest of the plant has to grow up out of the water. I say this because this is a mistake I made. Fully aquatic plants grow fully submerged under water. I had ribbon plants and found out these where semi-aquatic. People with turtle tanks and terrariums use semi-aquatic plants.

Even many fully aquatic plants are grown by the seller out of the water, so when you or I buy them and plant them in our tanks they will die back and then grow new leaves for under water. You might think they have died until one day you start to see new leaves.

Plants must have the right nutrients to grow, rooted plants need root tabs and non-rooted plants need a good fertilizer added weekly to the water. There are several good choices to choose from except stay away from API Leave Zone it is a waste of money. It does not have all the nutrients plants need or so little of them that it doesn't matter. I like Thrive and I use Thrive C in my tank and my plants love me for it. There are different variations of Thrive, for shrimp tanks, high tech co2 systems, etc. But Thrive C is an over all good liquid fertilizer that has all the nutrients and right amounts needed for your plants. Check the link here.... Thrive Aquarium Liquid Plant Fertilizer.
 
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Neleono

Neleono

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Thank you so much for all of this great info! It will be so helpful for my plants. Only one question, are the lead wraps made of real lead? Isn't that like... highly toxic? Thanks again.
 

Colin_T

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I cant read first post, no paragraphs makes it hard for brain to focus.

Yes lead weights are actual lead. However, after a short period of time exposed to air or water, the outside of the lead oxidises and turns dull grey (instead of shiny silver from new lead). The oxidising stops lead leaching into the water.
 

mcordelia

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@Neleono it might also be helpful if you post some pictures of your fish tank, we might be able to help you figure out what kind of plants you have and what kind of plants might work for your setup. In general (very very general) plants that are good for beginners are called java fern, java moss, and some species of cryptocoryne and anubias. For floating plants (you are right that fish often like to play in floating plants) you can try plants called hornwort or frogbit. There are many many other plants but I am not an expert in planted things so I will leave further advice to more experienced fish keepers!

oh one more thing: hornwort is supposed to be very hardy, so you should have very good luck with it. If it overtakes your tank, you can take part of it out and leave only as much as you want to keep. Beware not to dispose of it through flushing or in the sink gurgly, since it is an invasive species and must be disposed of through the trash (or any other method that actually kills it) so that it doesn't pollute your local waterways.
 
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Neleono

Neleono

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Thanks for all of these suggestions, ill post a pic under this
IMG_6169 (1).jpegIMG_6168.jpegIMG_6167 (1).jpegIMG_6166 (1).jpeg
 

essjay

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If the the plants in the middle are anubias, they should not be planted in the gravel. (I'm not sure if #3 is an anubias or if its Bolbitis heteroclita, but that too should not be planted in the gravel). Ferns like java fern and bolbitis species; and rhizome plants like anubias should be grown attached to decor. With anubias, the rhizome is the thick root like thing that the leaves grow out of and it rots if it's put under the gravel.



I could never grow live plants but I always admired those tanks which looked like jungles. I finally managed to find some plants which would grow for me.
I have mainly plants attached to wood - java fern, Bolbitis heudeloti, several species of anubias, and more recently a few species of bucephalandra. These are all slow growing plants and if the light is too bright they get algae growing on them. So I also have floating plants on the surface to reduce the light lower down in the tank (and the fish like cover over their heads). I had salvinia years ago but one summer it all died. Then I had water sprite but that got very tangled so I've recently swapped it out with Amazon frogbit.
I used to have hornwort stems wound round some branched wood but that grew and grew and started to strangle the other plants so it had to go, I'm afraid. But this is another option which can also be grown as a floating plant.
I am currently experimenting with some plants that do grow rooted in the substrate - a couple of low light cryptocorynes. I can't say yet how successful they'll be.....


Plants growing on decor get their fertiliser from the water so something like Seachem Flourish Comprehensive Supplement or Brightwell FlorinMulti are ideal. For those plants which feed via their roots, Seachem Flourish root tabs are one of the best as they don't release nutrients into the water.
 

Retired Viking

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I have mostly anubias and different ferns attached to various items and some sword plants. I also have salvinia, moneywort, pennywort and anacharis planted and floating in my tanks and all are easy to take care of. Like @essjay I use flourish comp. These are pictures of my 55 gallon tetra tank. I leave the tank low so my floating salvinia get plenty of light.
 

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Kyle E.

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Viking, I am getting amazon frogbit and want to leave the water low for that reason but then it makes my HOB filter very splashy. Is there anything I could do about that? I assume your tank isn't using one but I thought I would ask anyway.
 

Retired Viking

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Viking, I am getting amazon frogbit and want to leave the water low for that reason but then it makes my HOB filter very splashy. Is there anything I could do about that? I assume your tank isn't using one but I thought I would ask anyway.
I wish I knew what could help you , I am using a sponge filter it does work out better than a HOB when you have floating plants and a lower level of water. If you come up with a way not to have the extra splashing let me know.
 

raylove

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Hi, just following on from something Utar said earlier - I find the APU Leaf Zone is the only fert that works for me!

My plants grew well enough but I read that Leaf Zone didn't contain much, so I switched to Flourish but immediately had a massive algae problem. I tried varying the dosage but lost most of my plants. I replanted but still had problems. Maybe I had the balance between CO2, light and ferts wrong but nothing I did improved things until I switched back to Leaf Zone. Plants all doing well again now!

I think part of the explanation might be that much of what plants need gets introduced via fish food, and it follows from this that stocking levels will effect the amount that gets introduced this way. Accordingly, different tanks will need different nutrients from ferts. Leaf Zone seems to provide all I need and anything else results in an excess.
 

Kyle E.

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Viking, I will let you know if I find a solution. I am thinking about trying to find something that would extend the output "ramp". I then worry if it will not create as much surface agitation though because of the energy lost going down the ramp (I don't know if that's what would actually happen or not). I rely on my filter to oxygenate my water and it is working great but I need to make sure I keep it like that. The Frogbit should get here on Tuesday so I guess I will see then but the aquarium is in my bedroom so it's kinda a big deal to me to keep it quietish.
 

mcordelia

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@Kyle E. oxygenation would be happening as the water traveled down the ramp too, so depending on the distance of the ramp you might be able to make up for the loss of disruption of the surface when the water does hit it. If you are really concerned, you could make the ramp "bumpy" or with ripples, but then you will be trying to strike a balance between noise and oxygenation :D Adjusting the angle of the ramp would also allow you to control how much surface agitation occurs when the water comes off the ramp into the aquarium. If the ramp is 100% vertical you get the most agitation possible as well as the most noise, and if the ramp is fully horizontal you get minimum noise and no agitation (until the ramp overflows haha). maybe something like a 30 degree angle relative to the water might be a good spot to try (honestly, just pulling that number out of thin air, it's somewhere to start and you can tweak up or down from there as necessary)
 

Kyle E.

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I have always thought that you don't want it pointing more down for more oxygenation. In my opinion that creates less actual surface disruption and just makes noise and a lot of bubbles in your aquarium. If it is at a lesser angle then the force is directed less down and more in line with the surface and agigates the surface more instead of driving the force down deep into the tank where it is not useful for oxygenation.

I am not sure if any of that made sense.
 

mcordelia

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No makes total sense. From a physics perspective, it comes down to how much energy you lose by making it an incline vs removing all possible sources of drag / friction. Water over this kind of distance probably doesn't have a lot of friction/drag/resistance losses, so it's probably reasonable to conclude that for all intents and purposes you're just changing the direction of the water impact (to an extent, of your thing is basically horizontal then you are also decreasing the speed of impact).

I guess the way I would look at it is bottom line, your goal is to increase surface area as much as possible,whether it be on the ramp itself or by causing "wrinkles" in the water. You're right that if you just point a nozzle straight down you wouldn't cause as many ripples/waves as if you were to point a sheet of water straight down, which then again wouldn't cause as many waves as if you pointed a sheet of water at an angle.

If you widen your ramp and put many obstacles for the water forcing it to spread over a large surface area, you would then get a lot of oxygenation happening on the ramp itself but a lot of the energy in the water due to the height difference would have been used up by the time the water made it to the aquarium surface (water would have slowed down by the time it got to the surface), causing less surface disruption. But the question here is actual vs theoretical, since it's a low drag/low friction situation so it's hard to have intuition about this unless you've played around with it.

Honestly, if you have 3 hours and some yogurt container lids/ sour cream lids / milk jugs / etc and rubber bands or something, you could test different types of ramps and get the best idea that way.

I have a friend who is a fluid engineer, I'll poke his brain about this if I remember!
 
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