Turning my Plants Red?

Emyr

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I have some Rotala Indica in my tank + many others and recently added some amazing bright purple Alternanthera reineckii. However My Rotala indica is next to my rotala green and has turned a very green shade with a tiny element of purple in the lower leaves, you can tell the difference between the two plants but it is green and I want it purple like It was when I first bought it, nothing like as clear purple as when I bought it when it was a great contrast next to the rotala green. I am worries that my new purple Alternanthera reineckii will do the same and I really want them both to be a purply red colour.

6OL tank.
X2 T5 24W + Aquafx 15W LED 8 hours.
Pressurized co2
Rena xp4
seachem flourite black substrate
Seachem Flourish, Excel, Iron, Potassium, Nitrate, Phosphate, Trace

My LFS said that I should lower my PH to lower than 7 to roughly 6.5 or thereabouts as plants turn redish shades in slightly acidic water. More Iron as well perhaps? Im unsure on this one. Have read many theories.

Help with this one would be great, Thanks.
 

Alastair

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I've not heard of the lowering ph, but increasing iron helps I believe, and also having low nitrate levels makes them more red but then your other plants will suffer with less nitrate
 

clonitza

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Iron has little effect on reds, high CO2 and low nitrates works (and I think this is the only way) but I wouldn't advice you go that route especially after the BGA issues you had.

Mike
 

Emyr

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I think I need to revise my dosing scheme anyway, dont think im dosing enough Iron as I just had a look at the rough guide on the seachem website. I have a lime green drop checker. The BGA has all gone now. You think keeping nitrates at a good highish level keeps BGA down Mike? I may try reducing the nitrates slightly.
 

clonitza

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Clean tank with good flow keeps you away from BGA. High nitrates not really sure but definitely good plant health plays a big role, if they start decaying the algae will return on short notice, so, it's advisable to lower nitrates slowly so they can adapt to changes. Also try and lower intensity a bit, use just the two 2x24w t5s, more is not needed for red plants, actually you can achieve that with less.

As a final notice: if you want to turn certain plants red do that in a one plant species tank 'cause not all respond well to low nitrates and if satisfied with the results add another species and observe its evolution.

Good hunting,
Mike
 

Aquadream

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I believe you should do the following;

First reduce the light by one T5 or by lifting the luminary higher up above the tank. The amount of light you use is dangerously high for 60L aquarium.
Second. Alternanthera species does not do well in low nitrates. The Nitrates level should be 10ppm or more. Look that the phosphates are approximately 10 times less in ppm than the nitrates.
Iron definitely helps for colours, but in combination with nitrates and phosphates can be algae inducer. Carefully with it.
I agree with the lower PH suggestions. Alternanthera grows better in acidic conditions.

Those are my general observations on the subject, but the specifics of your set up should be taken into account first.
 

ceg4048

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Aquadream said:
...Look that the phosphates are approximately 10 times less in ppm than the nitrates.
This is not really true. PO4 levels can be whatever value you want without reservation.

Aquadream said:
...Iron definitely helps for colours,
The secondary effect of Iron is to prevent discoloration - not to enhance colors that are there by default. Adding more iron than is necessary has no additional effect on color.
Aquadream said:
...but in combination with nitrates and phosphates can be algae inducer. Carefully with it.
This is also completely untrue. You don't have to be careful at all because nutrients don't cause algae. Lack of nutrients cause algae, discoloration and other problems.

Aquadream said:
...Alternanthera grows better in acidic conditions.
Althernanthera does not really care about pH. What it cares about is CO2. When higher levels of CO2 gets added this causes a a greater drop in the pH, giving the illusion that a lower pH is necessary. Trying to manipulate pH in planted tanks is a mistake and should be discouraged.

Cheers,
 

Fred Dulley

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Aquadream said:
Iron definitely helps for colours, but in combination with nitrates and phosphates can be algae inducer. Carefully with it.
Hi.
If that were true then all EI tanks with fail 100% because the method focuses on dosing nutrients to an excess.
 

Aquadream

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ceg4048 said:
Aquadream said:
...Look that the phosphates are approximately 10 times less in ppm than the nitrates.
This is not really true. PO4 levels can be whatever value you want without reservation.

Aquadream said:
...Iron definitely helps for colours,
The secondary effect of Iron is to prevent discoloration - not to enhance colors that are there by default. Adding more iron than is necessary has no additional effect on color.
Aquadream said:
...but in combination with nitrates and phosphates can be algae inducer. Carefully with it.
This is also completely untrue. You don't have to be careful at all because nutrients don't cause algae. Lack of nutrients cause algae, discoloration and other problems.

Aquadream said:
...Alternanthera grows better in acidic conditions.
Althernanthera does not really care about pH. What it cares about is CO2. When higher levels of CO2 gets added this causes a a greater drop in the pH, giving the illusion that a lower pH is necessary. Trying to manipulate pH in planted tanks is a mistake and should be discouraged.

Cheers,

You seem to have a lot of empirical experience, but I am more interested in the academic side of things.
If you have well tested Redfield Ratio you would have seen the effects of that theory. PO4 been 10 times lower than NO3 is well explained there and I have extensive tests experience with it.
Higher PO4 levels can also work, but there are more factors to be taken into account then.

Iron does help enhancing colours when they are not at their best. And if in excess it will cause algae as will any other nutrient when added too much. Call Amano for advice on this subject.

When you talk about CO2 do you know what is the concentration of it in the natural South American waters where most Alternanthera species originate. Most of those waters are acidic IMO and no one there is pumping CO2.

The idea of CO2 huge needs in aquarium is no more than a fast growing cabbage theory and may be good for people that are so much in a hurry to grow plants, but it is completely different from any process in nature.
ceg4048 said:
Althernanthera does not really care about pH. What it cares about is CO2. When higher levels of CO2 gets added this causes a a greater drop in the pH, giving the illusion that a lower pH is necessary. Trying to manipulate pH in planted tanks is a mistake and should be discouraged.
It is precisely the adding of more CO2 that manipulates the PH in aquarium. Perhaps you can change or correct this statement of yours as it appears to be a huge contradiction.
 

Emyr

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The BGA problem is gone now, so dont think thats a problem as I have a very clean tank and good flow.

Surely high light is a good thing, as all pro and high tech tanks have high lighting and it is only just over 1W per litre which is the recommended amount, especially for plants that require high light such as HC, Hairgrass and stellata which I have!

So I need to reduce nitrates slightly while keeping the other nutrients at a good level, increase the amount of iron I am dosing to bring back the colour in the rotala indica and maintain the colour in the Althernanthera. I will continue with lowering the PH to just below 7.0. Keeping the co2 at the same level that it is at now which has a green drop checker and seems to be doing well.
 

Emyr

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So many mixed opinions on everything its tricky deciding which is the best thing to do. I think I will just go with what I said I will try in my last post. They seem to be the right steps that I need to take to get things back to there redish colour and keep them that way. More and other opinions always appreciated and will keep you updated as to how it goes.
 

Emyr

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Also, on the seachem websites recommended dosing chart it shows not to dose your tank after doing a water change and adding the Adic buffer. Instead it says to dose the following day.

Is this a good idea? the thought behind it maybe being time for the tank to settle after doing a water change? But surely you should put the nutrients back in the water after doing a water change to get them in there?
 

plantbrain

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Aquadream said:
You seem to have a lot of empirical experience, but I am more interested in the academic side of things.
If you have well tested Redfield Ratio you would have seen the effects of that theory. PO4 been 10 times lower than NO3 is well explained there and I have extensive tests experience with it.
Higher PO4 levels can also work, but there are more factors to be taken into account then.
Which is to say PO4 thus the ratio itself, is independent, thus does not matter in the context of aquatic plants,.

The RR is perhaps the single most abused concept in aquatic biology.
Charles on a Dutch site also abused this and made some poor assumptions and got caught.........but then did not correct the error when notified several times. He also made a mess and did not realize the difference between atomic rations and mass ratios. RR is an atomic ratio, not based on mass.

Plant ratios tend to be 7 N : 1 P or about 10 NO3 to 1 PO4.

This is what is found in nature, this does not imply what is best for horticulture and aquarium plants.

Iron does help enhancing colours when they are not at their best. And if in excess it will cause algae as will any other nutrient when added too much. Call Amano for advice on this subject.
I add nearly 2-3ppm per week of Fe, I do not have any algae management issues. This is a myth.
I have done this on many tanks over 15 years or more now.

Fe is a general co factor in enzymes, few of which help form reduced carbon chains that form the color specific pigments, but do help in general cycling and growth of many other factors. The red in the plants has no Fe in it.
Rocks do that are red generally, but not plant pigments.

As far as a research on Fe uptake Haller (1977) has the only known paper out on Fe uptake in submersed aquatic plants that relates to growth and max uptake:
8 ppm was the highest rate of growth, and 6 ppm was the highest rate of uptake for Fe.

Quite juicy.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar ... 7077900390

This is 80X what many aquarist seem to suggest, I am not one those aquarist:)

I suggest about 0.5-1.0 as proxy per dose and tend to dose 3-5x a week personally.

When you talk about CO2 do you know what is the concentration of it in the natural South American waters where most Alternanthera species originate. Most of those waters are acidic IMO and no one there is pumping CO2.
These plants are not underwater much, they are amphibious, thus do not require much other than the survive till the dry emergent period occurs, others, like Hydrill, Vals, Egeria , pondweeds etc, all have evolved bicarbonate methods for CO2 uptake.

It really depends on where you are talking and the density of the plant biomass etc, some places like Bonita spring, Mato Grosso are Full of plants, and the CO2 is quite high, over 20ppm all year all the time, same with many Florida springs in the USA, and in Australia and IndoChina.

This is where we find the optimal habitats we like, clear flowing waters full of fish and plants.

I've got lots of pictures of these places.

The idea of CO2 huge needs in aquarium is no more than a fast growing cabbage theory and may be good for people that are so much in a hurry to grow plants, but it is completely different from any process in nature.
Tell that to these springs:

This is Natural. I pose this question often in talks........not everywhere is rich in CO2, but plants can still manage, they grow, but grow slower. when they have less CO2, they start to strongly compete with one another, this is why we have little trouble a dozen or more species together in CO2 enriched tanks, but they do poorly except for a few species in a non CO2 tank.

Nutrients and light can easily be made independent in a non CO2 tank to test this also.
Support coems from Bowes , Haller and Van, 1976, light curves and the difference between say Hydrilla and say Cabomba are huge, Hydrilla will remove all the CO2 asap as light enters the pond/lake/stream etc. Cabomba has not even started photosynthesizing yet, Hydrilla is very aggressive, Egeria etc is as well. We have all these weeds in CA where I do management of invasive aquatic weeds.

SOB's they are too.

CA springs:
8c5fa4e0.jpg

CallludEellakeORresized.jpg

FL:
redludwigiaIch2008.jpg

Me in one such spring:
Fontenalislips.jpg


Rainbowriver1.jpg


Guess what this plant is:
Canonpic24-01-2007027100kb.jpg


It is not Ammania

Search Botina springs, Pupu spring on google for more, or San Macros River in Texas etc.........

Bowes, Haller, Van's paper, old but good and few are done like this anymore:
http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/58/6/761.full.pdf

Be nice if they did this for 200-300 species we cultivate...........

ceg4048 said:
Althernanthera does not really care about pH. What it cares about is CO2. When higher levels of CO2 gets added this causes a a greater drop in the pH, giving the illusion that a lower pH is necessary. Trying to manipulate pH in planted tanks is a mistake and should be discouraged.
It is precisely the adding of more CO2 that manipulates the PH in aquarium. Perhaps you can change or correct this statement of yours as it appears to be a huge contradiction.[/quote]

I can have a pH of 6 and 30ppm of CO2, or I have a pH of 7 and 30ppm....only the KH is changed......but the plant does not care....in both cases the plant has ample CO2.

In this case I moved the KH and pH, but left the CO2 the same in each case.
This is about 1 degree(17.86ppm) KH vs say 8-10 degrees, something close, you can look it up on the tables........if you wanna.
 

plantbrain

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Emyr said:
So many mixed opinions on everything its tricky deciding which is the best thing to do. I think I will just go with what I said I will try in my last post. They seem to be the right steps that I need to take to get things back to there redish colour and keep them that way. More and other opinions always appreciated and will keep you updated as to how it goes.
My advice is rather simple, I suppose Amano's is as well.
Focus on good generla growth of the plants and horticulture, then you can garden nicely.

One thing that is rarely mentioned, those nice Asian Red rotala domes you see? That's Rotala colorata, NOT, indica...........or rotundfloria or whatever the heck the spelling is for that. It is a very red variant of that plant and has a very different coloration, far far redder.

Things like that can confuse people and hobbyists and lead them to blame photoshop or think maybe they are doing something wrong. Perhaps some refer to it as a quite secret, they do not lie.........they just do not tell others their secret.
 

plantbrain

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Emyr said:
The BGA problem is gone now, so dont think thats a problem as I have a very clean tank and good flow.

Surely high light is a good thing, as all pro and high tech tanks have high lighting and it is only just over 1W per litre which is the recommended amount, especially for plants that require high light such as HC, Hairgrass and stellata which I have!
My light and ADA's is about 0.4 w/liter of tank and these tanks are 60cm deep and the lights are another 35 cm above the water minimum.

So I need to reduce nitrates slightly while keeping the other nutrients at a good level, increase the amount of iron I am dosing to bring back the colour in the rotala indica and maintain the colour in the Althernanthera. I will continue with lowering the PH to just below 7.0. Keeping the co2 at the same level that it is at now which has a green drop checker and seems to be doing well.
I have several red plants, all of which are much " so called harder to grow" and I dose the snot out of the KNO3, 45 ppm a week and dose a lot Trace mix and well, dose a lot of everything!

redonetrim1.jpg

topOct4th.jpg


redfronttankshotOct4th.jpg


2cae9c81.jpg


Here's hair grass, belem, the hardest type to grow really and the light is 96 total, the stand is 60cm and the tank is 65 cm tall.

1852cfe9.jpg


Somehow I mange to eek by:)

The P stellata grows very very fast in my other tank. When I have it in my 180, it got over 1cm stems and nice purple color. I keep it trimmed very short, so it does not get so large in the 120 Gal above.

resized38gal705.jpg


resizepan3.jpg


The Red luwigia sp "red" in those 1st pics is a nice plant and stays a nice deep rich red.
Get the right color variant and you'll get the look you want without the stress and micro management.
Then you can spend time gardening and doing the basics, which was likely your goal to start with.
 

clonitza

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Tom the red ludwigia you have I think is Ludwigia sp Pantanal.
Regarding rotala coloring you are not totally right, all become red eventually if you keep the nitrates low in the water column, there's no need for photoshop :). In order to keep the things safe one should use medium lighting, water hardness doesn't matter (they do actually well in hard water), CO2 should be optimal (the more the better), and either dose PPS style or have enough fish and dose only trace. On the funny side the nicest deep red rotalas I've ever seen were in the tanks of some people who knew nothing about macro dosing, they only dosed trace and injected CO2 (high levels in fact of both), but they did have issues with BGA so ... :)

Mike
 

plantbrain

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clonitza said:
Tom the red ludwigia you have I think is Ludwigia sp Pantanal.
Regarding rotala coloring you are not totally right, all become red eventually if you keep the nitrates low in the water column, there's no need for photoshop :). In order to keep the things safe one should use medium lighting, water hardness doesn't matter (they do actually well in hard water), CO2 should be optimal (the more the better), and either dose PPS style or have enough fish and dose only trace. On the funny side the nicest deep red rotalas I've ever seen were in the tanks of some people who knew nothing about macro dosing, they only dosed trace and injected CO2 (high levels in fact of both), but they did have issues with BGA so ... :)

Mike

If you have seen well grown R colorata in person....it is MUCH different even at the highest dosing rates.
It looks just like the nicer pics on line. The other difference is that my plants are 2-3x as large in diameter.
I've had R indica turn red and many of the Rotala and a few Ludwigia with N stress, I was the one that put that idea forth 15 years ago.

Stunted discus are not view upon with desire..........but aquatic plants are?
I'm not sure that is very rational. That's picking and choosing.

I was the one that put forth the N stress theory about reddening plants a long time ago(see APD digest), but mostly as temporary thing, it does not imply better growth, it implies LESS growth, and less chl a, which mask red color.
New growth has the least chl a, and at faster rates of growth, you express more area of undeveloped tip growth. As the leaves develop more, they turn greener. If there is not ample Mg or N, then the plant will try and modify and make the LHC(light harvesting complex) with more assessory pigments and less Chl. Some plants are better than others at this.

I have long tried to help people grow plants and not worry about adding the bare min amounts, one can do it, but many seem to think it is somehow "better" (implied or argued for)). I can grow these same red plants several times faster and larger at the same lighting intensity, but if that is too fast for management, I use less light, which I typically do, which is much less wasteful in terms of cost that using less ferts and it is easier management. One of the issues is that not all plants do well at progressively lower and lower N levels. Some species will do fairly well with N limitation, others......not so well. With less light intensity, these differences become more muted and easier to balance.

Stressing plants and jamming high light are not all peaches and cream. We see a few examples, not many.....where that is the case. Such personal habits are not required to have nice really red plants however. Nor is fussing over nutrients/ferts. I sure as heck don't, them days are long in my past.

Most folks like the ones you mention tend to watch the plants more carefully and do not concern themselves as much with the ppm's.....which is often good. I do not fuss over ferts myself, I do fuss with light, but that's a one time deal, CO2 I do till it's set correctly also, but like the folks you mention, I observe the plants, but not merely their coloration, the stem elongation, the leaf length, the crown diameters, the % relative to other species, the competition between species for light/CO2 etc, N..........

Mic umbrosum was one plant that tended to do poorly with lower N(< 10ppm NO3 with plain sand sediment), I've not found ANY plant that does bad at higher N. BGA is one sign/issue with low N, but most find that manageable also either way. PMDD did a lot more in this regard as did I, than PPS. PPS ripped off PMDD and claimed they developed it themselves, which is a big lie. Stealing other folks' stuff and calling it your own is none too cool in my book. This is small quaint hobby, that type of rubbish is poor behavior at it's worst. the target levels, the dosing etc etc, all are from PMDD.

http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/Fertilize ... onlin.html
http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/Fertilizer/pmdd-tim.html

This predated PPS curiously and was VERY widely available and searchable 7 years prior to PPS. Paul Sears states that the goal was to limit PO4 to about 0.2ppm, but not allow it to go much lower. As PPS states PO4 is dosed at 0.1ppm or thereabouts, this is a bit too close to call one's own, the other target ppm's are the same and the relative dosing methods are exactly the same.

This is old news. Folks have done that.

ADA and richer sediment methods also add very non limiting levels for ~~~the 1st year(maybe less, maybe more depending). They seem to do well, but as they age, you can see the signs of N stress, some tanks have ample fish loads, this can reduce the stress to a manageable level(Amano takes this view as do I, but I add some ferts as well).
I've seen this is the ADA tanks after 1 year or less in some cases. the diameters are reduced, other green plants become pale, smaller, BGA is more common, but still managable, Rdder, pinker coloration occurs, particularly if the plants top out at the surface.

It's a nice look, but it's a stressed tank. Green brighty lights is used to reduce this if you are an ADA fanboy.
Or simply add some KNO3. I think a fish load and one that's well fed can run such tank goals better myself than dosing ppm's and micromanaging. You still get some N, but it's all used up asap.
 

clonitza

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Tom I read that articles some time ago and tried the method, well, controlling fertilizers to control algae doesn't work, get a hungry plant and deprive it of nutrients and you'll get far more problems than you had initially. The best way is to provide a healthy environment like you said and a tank clean of detritus.

People usually fail in four areas:
- choosing plants (people don't know when to stop and how to combine them)
- managing the relation between light and carbon
- managing a good overall biological filtration (a high load of bacteria in tank and filter to break down the excess organic matter)
- managing the flow all around the tank

Fertilizing is actually easy, use a good all-in-one solution daily, nothing wrong with excess, you reset it weekly with a large water change. In fact it's easy to observe you are adding enough if the green plants don't get pale.

Back to our red plants, I think it's easy to manage the experiment if you choose the plants right, medium light required, plenty of CO2 also (no need for high lighting):

1. choose the plant you want to turn red and alongside a couple of plants that do OK in a low nutrient environment (mosses for example), rich nutrient soil not required, dose little macro and enough trace, observe and dose more macro if the plants have stunned growth.

2. choose a rich nutrient soil like amazonia, the red wannabe plant alongside with any plant that develop deep roots and deprive the water column of nutrients, you can try and uproot the wannabe red plant from time to time to force it to feed from the water column, dose only trace.

Anyway I prefer just a tint of color in my plants, I don't go for deep reds mainly because I mix a lot of plants.

Mike
 

ghostsword

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Very conflicting reports here.

I got red plants, dose lots of everything, lots of co2, twice week water changes and the plants are still red. I do overdose iron twice a week.

Maybe the plants are red because that is their type!? :)


.
 

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