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Cheating but still losing?

Bradders

Member
Joined
11 Dec 2023
Messages
932
Location
United Kingdom
Hi All,

So I could get my feet under the table in a gravel-bottomed aquarium (low tech) and learn about plants, I bought some plants on wood - I don't have a decent substrate and am new to plants. i.e. can I even grow plants on wood?! (Yes, its a bit of a cheat, but thought it might be a good way to learn).

It's been a few weeks, and as you can see from the terrible picture (the only way to show the issue), some of the plant tips have algae growing on them—hair-like algae. At present, only dosing TNC lite and light intensity is very moderate. W/C twice a week, flow through the tank is good, and they do seem to be growing, but I am concerned that the algae already means the plants are weakening/dying.

Does this mean anything, and do I need to take action?

Regards,
Brad

IMG_1116.jpeg
 
The set up is a few weeks old or the java fern has been in for a few weeks?

At first glance I'd say the factors causing the algae are too much direct light, the plants haven't adapted to your tank yet, an immature microbiome, and a fairly high bioload. Those plants can be extremely happy with low light, so I'd let the floaters get pretty thick and then see how you're doing. You might want to consider adding more fast growing plants even if you don't plan on keeping them long term - I think the shade would be your friend right now.

Java ferns are tough and things go slow without CO2, so it's not an emergency situation. Keep an eye on how fast the algae is growing. If it's slow, I really wouldn't get too worried - things are out of balance, sure, but nothing crazy and it might fix itself over time. If the algae is growing very quickly then something more drastic may be warranted, but I'm not getting that vibe from your picture.

I find that a low tech tank isn't truly mature until all the plant material in the tank grew there. (Maybe that's also true for high tech tanks too?) It's a waiting game. In the long run you'll remove all the infested leaves and hopefully have tons of happy new growth to replace it.
 
Thanks, @ElleDee! Yes, the plants are a few weeks old, while the aquarium is about a year old.
  1. Should I remove those leaves now, or just be patient and let it all ride out?
  2. I will lower the light intensity a tad also.
 
Thanks again. Will do, Ill start with that and remain patient, too!
 
Just to check, you snip these plant leaves down by the rhizome?
 
If this is cheating we are 😔 guilty Plants on wood or rock are what most of us have and they will be there for years 😉 Get a few fast growing stems in and change to TNC Complete
 
If this is cheating we are 😔 guilty Plants on wood or rock are what most of us have and they will be there for years 😉 Get a few fast growing stems in and change to TNC Complete
Ahhh, yes. But I probably failed to tell you that I acquired the services of the wonderful Aquarium Gardens to actually stick the plants to the wood for me!! 🙂

My working theory was that 'let's see if I can grow these and learn on the way when they are already seeded in the optimum way'.
 
Get a few fast growing stems in and change to TNC Complete
Any ideas about what fast growing stems I can use? I chose the ones on the wood/rock from the selection avaialbe from AG but they all seem to be slow growers.

In terms of TNC, I elected the Lite version as I have 30 fish and my plants are not heavily populated compared to others. Do you think I am going to be asked for trouble by using Complete?
 
Do you think I am going to be asked for trouble by using Complete?

No - you'll be asking for more trouble if you don't. As @PARAGUAY suggests you need to use a complete fertilizer, TNC Lite contains no Nitrate or Phosphate - both are macro elements that are essential for plant growth and you can't rely on fish providing enough for your plants.

I will lower the light intensity a tad also.

It's always hard to tell from a photo, but it looks like you need to turn it down more than a tad. What lights do you have and at what settings? You have essentially only slow growing plants with generally low light requirements - I would consider halving your light output at least. Thread algae is a clear sign of too much light to me, and the only way I've been able to get rid of it (everything else being on point) is to balance the light correctly for the tank.

Any ideas about what fast growing stems I can use?

Any of the potted leafy stem plants from Tropica's 'Easy' plant list will be ideal - the Hygrophila species (e.g. 'Siamensis 53B') are common choices, though I persoanlly like the delicate leaves of Cardamine lyrata which grows rapidly once established. They will grow quite happily in your gravel, and your fish will appreciate the extra cover.
 
Any ideas about what fast growing stems I can use?
Limnophila Sessiliflora and Hygrophila Corymbosa 'Siamensis 53b' are my go to work horse fast growers for both high and low tech, the Tropica ones that come in like a sandwich packet (blister packs?) will take off better (than Tissue Culture) and be free of pests but as @Wookii has mentioned there are plenty of alternatives, Ludwigia Palustris 'Super Red' can also give you a bit colour. When these stems reach the surface they will also assist in diffusing the light as well as giving your fish an increased sense of security. I have to trim the Limnophila Sessiliflora in my 40cm cube Nano weekly otherwise it will just fill the tank.
 
No - you'll be asking for more trouble if you don't. As @PARAGUAY suggests you need to use a complete fertilizer, TNC Lite contains no Nitrate or Phosphate - both are macro elements that are essential for plant growth and you can't rely on fish providing enough for your plants.
I only went with lite as my tap water averages about 10-15 ppm Nitrate and contains phosphate.
It's always hard to tell from a photo, but it looks like you need to turn it down more than a tad. What lights do you have and at what settings? You have essentially only slow growing plants with generally low light requirements - I would consider halving your light output at least. Thread algae is a clear sign of too much light to me, and the only way I've been able to get rid of it (everything else being on point) is to balance the light correctly for the tank.
I have the Chihiros WRGB2 Pro on the standard stand (not hanging). I have the lights at around 15% for everything (WRGB) which feels low already, but it does throw out some light. Move down to 10%? I would say the light to the bottom of the substrate is around 55-60cm.
 
.... the fact AG put the plants on wood ,we won't tell anyone.
I must have really been accepted into the UKAPS mafia now. 😀
 
For the record, I don't think switching from TNC Lite is going to achieve anything. Like you said, there're a lot of fish in there, plus you are adding more nitrates and phosphates twice a week with every water change, and those are not particularly hungry plants. Do your floaters look okay? If they do, I really wouldn't worry about it at this time.
 
I have the Chihiros WRGB2 Pro on the standard stand (not hanging). I have the lights at around 15% for everything (WRGB) which feels low already, but it does throw out some light. Move down to 10%? I would say the light to the bottom of the substrate is around 55-60cm.

Hmm, okay that's fairly low then - as I said, it's hard to tell from a photo, but 15% should be fine. You'll just have to see if the algae starts to fade at the tank matures.
 
For the record, I don't think switching from TNC Lite is going to achieve anything. Like you said, there're a lot of fish in there, plus you are adding more nitrates and phosphates twice a week with every water change, and those are not particularly hungry plants. Do your floaters look okay? If they do, I really wouldn't worry about it at this time.
The floaters are new (under a week) and they were a little light starved and yellow upon receipt. Most of them are now greening up nicely (most, not all) so I am monitoring for that and also growth rates, greenness etc.
 
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