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Struggling with "easy" plants

danielb

New Member
Joined
20 Jan 2021
Messages
4
Location
London
Hi

I’m really struggling with some plants, so any pointers much appreciated.

Plants that have worked: frogbit (floating surface plant); anubias bateri; marimo moss balls; anacharis (elodea densa) all doing very well.

Plants that haven’t survived at all (despite in some cases having been replaced several times):
  • None left of any of the following: Vallisnera spiralis (have planted at least 40-50 stems); water wisteria (Hygrophila difformis) and water sprite (Ceratopteris aka indian fern)
  • Java moss (a few remnants), java fern (2 leaves left), 53B (a few stands left). The photo shows the tank before most of the plants disappeared. I subsequently added some more (e.g. 53B), but that has also largely gone. My guess may be the light is too low and/or too short, but I thought some or all of these plants ought to be ok in relatively low light conditions. The frog bit was only introduced maybe 6 months in (after this photo was taken), so the light would have been stronger before that.

The tank is now c. 1 year old, but plants have been an issue throughout.

2 photos shows the tank within maybe a few weeks of the introduction of plants (initially vallis, ferns, etc), then the 53B about a month or two ago. I've also included a current photo (with only a tiny bit of the 53B left).

I've just ordered some Easy Life Profito, as I'm guessing it's the lack of macro nutrients that's a big part of the problem. I've also since learned that Flourish is best dosed daily or every other day, as it doesn't last long in the tank in a way that can be taken up by the plants.

NB. I gather it's not possible simply to swapped out the T5s (or T8s) in the Juwel unit for LEDs - you have to buy a whole new lighting unit for c. £140. I rather avoid that if possible. So I guess I'm either looking at replacing bulbs annually (though that also adds up), or finding another way to replace the tubes with another (cheaper?) light. Timing duties are via a smart plug, so no programming needed.


Ferts: Dosing about once a week with c. 2.5ml Seachem Flourish. Some root tabs.
Substrate: Tropica Aquarium Soil (3kg) and c. 2kg Fluval Stratum volcanic soil for planted or shrimp aquarium (c. 2 kg), capped with c. 12kg of fine white sand. Some of the soil has come up on top of the sand.
Tank/lighting: Juwel Rio 125 litre (33g), with “pimped” biogravel filter. Low tech, relatively low light (given floating plants). Lights (T5s I think) are on for 6.5 hours a day. I bought the tank second hand, so I suspect the fluorescent tubes are fairly old (certainly >1 year). The tank is fairly well stocked.

Water: London tap, so pretty hard (DH13), pH c. 7.5. Changing c. 50% every week or so.
I have another 19L/5 gallon shrimp tank (blood mary/RCS and bamboo/wood shrimp) and am having the same issues there (Fluval Stratum substrate).
 

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Hufsa

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22 Aug 2019
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-
Seems like you are on the right track with what youre thinking. (Obligatory) im not an expert, but my first thing to try would be a complete fertilizer with NPK. I would thin out your floaters a bit too to give your other plants a chance at some of the nutrients. Looks like there might be a lot of duckweed, if you toss out the majority of that you will give your plants more light while simultaneously reducing NPK demand a bit. Give it 4 weeks with NPK to see what changes. It strikes me that your survivors are all aggressive weedy plants, except anubias but this one is bomb proof. Its possible that the ones you have left are simply the ones that competed the best. If the first changes dont fix it enough then you could start looking at more light. But id sort the plant food first :thumbup:
 

GHNelson

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14 Dec 2008
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4,989
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Hemel Hempstead
Hi
Easy Life Profito.....is basically a Micro/Trace fertilizer!
You are adding Seachem Flourish which is also a Micro fertilizer you don't need both.
As Hufa stated you need NPK.
 

John q

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6 Jan 2021
Messages
424
Location
Lancashire
Hi,
Regards the lights i think there's far to much emphasis put on having to have super high wattage/par bulbs simply to grow basic plants. Sure growth will be slow and plants probably won't bush out the same but simply keeping them looking healthy and alive with low lighting can be done.

Obviously I can't comment on the state of your bulbs and yes they could well have deteriorated over time, I also don't know the wattage of them.

For rough comparison until recently I managed to grow some low light and low to medium ranged plants in a 1200mm by 500mm high tank with a bog standard fluval aquasky led (24w). As stated above they weren't perfect specimens but grew fairly well and needed monthly pruning sessions.

I've now added an extra light into the mix to see if I can try and take things to the next step, my high end lighting is now a total of 33w. Lol.
 

dcurzon

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4 Jul 2020
Messages
375
Location
Essex
the t5's in my rio125 are at the very least 8 years old... hmmm... I probably should replace. The big problem I have in that one is what seems to be permanent diatoms for some reason... and the occupants (tiger barbs, Pakistani loach, red tail shark) make it hard to get a clean up crew in there

IMG_20210120_162219.jpg
 
Last edited:
Joined
28 Dec 2020
Messages
25
Location
belgium
Speaking for myself i would replace the lights with new ones first thing. In pictures it's hard to tell but the light seems off, depleted. A very long time ago i had a similar juwel tank with T8's, at a certain point i bought a new tank and used the old juwel as a 'farm' tank in my basement, i replaced the T8's with fairly cheap 'non aquarium specific' bright tubes instead of going the 'red spectrum' way, back then. I grew some really easy plants like hygrophila but growth exploded, i remember it well.

You also state doing +- 50% weekly wc's and have hard water in your area, i'm in the same boat, what do you use to prepare your tap water before or when it is in the tank?
 

danielb

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Thread starter
Joined
20 Jan 2021
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4
Location
London
Many thanks for all the helpful responses, and sorry for the delay replying.
Hopefully this addresses the points but do holler if I've missed anything:

- Removing some of the frogbit (was virtually completely covered), upping the hours of light (currently 8-9 hours/daily) and using the EasyLife Profito instead of the Seachem Flourish seems to have helped a bit as far as I can tell (e.g. some yellowing anubias is now a better colour, some more growth on the 53B). That said, I'm keen to fix this / be sure I've fixed it before buying (and potentially killing!) more plants. In my other 19L tank, the one piece of indian fern has really taken off since dosing with Profito.

- Prepping water with Seachem Prime, matching tank temp as closely as possible (c. 24.5/25'C)

- I've also added some DIY reflectors to the underside of the lid flaps and behind the tubes with tin foil/aluminum foil. Though I'm now paranoid that this might cause problems (toxicity) for the fish, as inevitably there's condensation which drips back into the tank... I should probably just buy the official Juwel ones! (Else replace the fluorescents with the LED strip, though that's £130 odd [more than I paid for the whole tank] ... Worthwhile/cost effective in the long term?)

- Flow is reasonable - definitely some surface agitation.

- Will try to photograph the frogbit. Most of it is pretty tiny, with a few large ones. Grows back very quickly when skimmed off.

- Argh - hadn't realised ProFito was another micro fert. I'd meant to buy a complete one. Any thoughts on what I should get instead? Or to compliment the Flourish/ProFito (seems a shame to waste them)
 

danielb

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Thread starter
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20 Jan 2021
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The newer growth anubias is a shade lighter/slightly yellower
20210204_170038.jpg


Mixed sizes of frog bit, but the vast majoirty is very small. Looks pretty healthy to my inexpert eye. There have been times when it was more consistently larger; but at the moment (and for the past few months) there seem to be a lot of babies, and not so many of the medium to large ones.
20210204_165923_HDR.jpg


Some black/dark patches on my one surviving java fern leaf
20210204_170009.jpg


Sorry - left the feeding fork (and thread) in, which I use for feeding courgette to the pleco (Mr Brickles, as christen by my daughter - she meant it to be Mr Bristles, but Brickles stuck and I prefer it!)
20210204_165939.jpg
 
Last edited:

Libba

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12 Jan 2021
Messages
73
Location
Australia
Many thanks for all the helpful responses, and sorry for the delay replying.
Hopefully this addresses the points but do holler if I've missed anything:

- Removing some of the frogbit (was virtually completely covered), upping the hours of light (currently 8-9 hours/daily) and using the EasyLife Profito instead of the Seachem Flourish seems to have helped a bit as far as I can tell (e.g. some yellowing anubias is now a better colour, some more growth on the 53B). That said, I'm keen to fix this / be sure I've fixed it before buying (and potentially killing!) more plants. In my other 19L tank, the one piece of indian fern has really taken off since dosing with Profito.

- Prepping water with Seachem Prime, matching tank temp as closely as possible (c. 24.5/25'C)

- I've also added some DIY reflectors to the underside of the lid flaps and behind the tubes with tin foil/aluminum foil. Though I'm now paranoid that this might cause problems (toxicity) for the fish, as inevitably there's condensation which drips back into the tank... I should probably just buy the official Juwel ones! (Else replace the fluorescents with the LED strip, though that's £130 odd [more than I paid for the whole tank] ... Worthwhile/cost effective in the long term?)

- Flow is reasonable - definitely some surface agitation.

- Will try to photograph the frogbit. Most of it is pretty tiny, with a few large ones. Grows back very quickly when skimmed off.

- Argh - hadn't realised ProFito was another micro fert. I'd meant to buy a complete one. Any thoughts on what I should get instead? Or to compliment the Flourish/ProFito (seems a shame to waste them)

Green Aqua have a macro only fertiliser
 

dw1305

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7 Apr 2008
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nr Bath
Hi all,
Mixed sizes of frog bit, but the vast majoirty is very small. Looks pretty healthy to my inexpert eye. There have been times when it was more consistently larger; but at the moment (and for the past few months) there seem to be a lot of babies, and not so many of the medium to large ones.
They look healthy, you actually have two different plants, the larger one really is Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum), but the smaller plant is Common Duckweed (Lemna minor).

As you've found it is a very good grower.

cheers Darrel
 

PARAGUAY

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13 Nov 2013
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EA The Aquascaper has all plant nutrients and you dose according to to your tank . If using pressurised CO2 eg you would use more than a low energy set. Could be a good option for now
 

danielb

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20 Jan 2021
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London
Thanks for the comments.

No CO2 - low tech setup.

The floaters have always looked healthy - the issue has always been some of the things underneath - Vallisnera spiralis (have planted at least 40-50 stems - all gone); water wisteria (Hygrophila difformis - all gone) and water sprite (Ceratopteris aka indian fern - all gone), Java moss (a few remnants), java fern (2 leaves left), 53B (a few stands left). These were struggling/dying long before I got the frogbit.

It seems the duckweed hitched a lift in on the 53B, since there was none until that arrived, just a good covering of frogbit. I'm assuming there's no way to get rid of the duckweed now...! But ideas welcome if there are any tips and tricks (the shrimps hang out in it, so I'm always nervous I'll accidentally purge some of them whilst thinning it out).

Any thoughts on EA The Aquascaper (or some other complete fert - recommendations welcome) vs using what I have in combination with a macro only, if that's needed? Seems a shame to waste the two bottles I have, but I'd rather not make things any more complicated than I need to!
 

PARAGUAY

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I suppose you could look at it thisway no matter what packaging claims etc food for plants is the same . Top names ensure these nutrients are there mostly in micros and macros and you could make your own plenty of how to on UKAPS .George Farmer with Evolution Aqua to develop the Aquascaper fertilser to suit any aquarium so its proven performer and if you prefer a less hassle free way of ensuring your plants get everthing
 

dw1305

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7 Apr 2008
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nr Bath
Hi all,
The floaters have always looked healthy
Very strange. It might be light, could you try a longer light period? <"I have a 12 hour day"> on all my tanks.
I'm assuming there's no way to get rid of the duckweed now...!
You need a cheap plastic strainer from Wilko etc. Teas strainers are really useful, they are like a net but rigid.

Half fill a washing up type bowl with tank water (white is best colour for the bowl, but any light colour will do).

Scoop out all of the floating plants with an aquarium net, it will take a while. After every scoop tip the Frogbit/Duckweed/Shrimp into the washing up bowl, swirl the net around to make sure any shrimps have been dislodged, then wash the net under the tap to get rid of any adhering Duckweed. Repeat until you've got all the Duckweed out of the tank.

Take out Frogbit plants from the washing up bowl and wash them gently under the tap, the place them back in the tank. Use the teas strainer to mop up any stray Duckweed plants you've inadvertently transferred back to the tank.

Once you've put all the Frobit back in the tank, carefully skim the Duckweed from the bowl with the teas strainer. Inspect each scoopful for shrimps. If you think you have some shrimps, tap the teas strainer into a white china mug (or glass) of tank water, if you can see a shrimp carefully tip the Duckweed away and then return the shrimp to the tank.

Once you skimmed off all the Duckweed carefully run the water through the net to pick up any shrimplets.

Keep the strainer to hand over the next couple of weeks and every time you see a new Duckweed frond skim it off.

cheers Darrel
 
Last edited:

DaveyC

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7 May 2018
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Gloucestershire
I've had similar problems with floating plants. You could ditch all the floating plants, get a Juwel EccoSkim to improve gas exchange, direct the filter outflow to the back to create surface movement, locate a small internal filter on the left hand pane to create a circular water movement, fill with easy plants like Ludwigia repens, hygrophila difformis etc. Just one tube on for 9 hours a day I.e. place a reflector on the back one and turn it so it's blocking the light completely. The Day tube is the most attractive so have that one at the front. Easycarbo every day. Fertiliser every day. If 50% water change isn't working, try 25% every week, paradoxically you might get better results and could reduce your dosing. Remove all dead leaves and detritus as soon as you see it. For almost guaranteed success you need remineralised to and pressurised co2, however.
 

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