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 Post subject: Plant dieback?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 12:58 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2005 2:09 pm
Posts: 135
Location: Medford, MA
I've had a planted 75g going for 2 years - lightly stocked with fish, filter is an overflow to wet/dry bioballs, 160W NO, fluorite/sand mix, no CO2, very occasional fertilization (I need to check the bottle for what's exactly in it) - pH 8.2, NO3 never more than 5 ppm, usually 0, dKH ~4. It was never a super looking planted tank (I assumed the wet/dry filter kept CO2 as a major limiting factor), but it was growing pretty well for the first year, vals really well, rotala and crypts ok, water sprite and lotus did really well for spurts, but in the last six months all the rotala died off and the majority of the vals died back. It wasn't all of sudden, and there was never any standing dead plants - the plants just slowly disappeared with the normal attrition of old shoots/leaves but no new growth to compensate, and the rotala stems seemed to uproot themselves due to root dieoff. Apart from getting lazy in the last year about water change frequency (although even at the beginning I was only doing 5-10% weekly wc's; NO3 was always undetectable), I don't think much has changed directly to the tank. I recently added back some water sprite, which is doing so-so, but the roots don't have the nice fur of fine rootlets that my water sprite had before.

Is this a common occurence as tanks age? Another idea is that my substrate became nutrient deprived, as I've never added any fert directly to the substrate. Any thoughts would be appreciated. I'm increasing my wc's (~25%/week), and adding liquid fert , to see if that increases growth with what little plants I still have left, before I add anything new (thinking java fern would be my safest bet).

Sorry for the long post. Thanks, Ryan


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 2:39 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 11, 2006 1:33 pm
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Location: Brookline
Ryan,
Try adding some laterite to your substrate. Not sure what kind of lighting you have. I would not use anything less than atleast P.C. ,65watt type of lighting for a plant tank. Sound like you have depletion of plant nutients. Good luck.

Wai


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 8:59 pm 
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where can I get laterite??? I know of a place that sells flourite for plants but is like $30 for a small dusty box.

I am planning on using clay plantpots with gravel and laterite or flourite for plants instead of doing hte entire substrate because I would have problems siphoning hte gunk out of the substrate if they plants spread too much.

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 Post subject: laterite.
PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2006 1:33 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 11, 2006 1:33 pm
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Location: Brookline
They have them in Doctor Foster &Smith catalog. If you want it, I could have them send one over,b/c I will order from them in a few days. Pm me for detail.


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 Post subject: Dying Plants
PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2006 9:14 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 6:23 am
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Location: Chelsea,Ma
Ryan,

I would bet that the lack of water changes had something to do with the
plants dying off.Check your p.h. again-8.2 sounds really high for an
esablished tank.

Eric,
The cheapest I've seen Flourite is $23 a bag at Skiptons.Most everywhere else is $25 a bag.
I also use Flourite in clay flower pots for stem plants.It has worked well for me.Plants can easily be taken out and pruned or moved to other tanks.I actually like the way the it looks too.


Tom


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 2:54 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2005 2:09 pm
Posts: 135
Location: Medford, MA
Thanks for all the input.

I have 4 x 40 W NO. I can't remember exactly which kind of bulbs I've used over the past two years, but they're mostly the cheap cool white ones from HD. I had considered replacing these with a 48" 2x65 W PC hood, with 6500K bulbs. This would reduced the total wattage a little bit, but I assume would put out a good bit more light than 160W NO.

Wouldn't be pretty difficult/messy to add laterite to an existing substrate without draining it? Are there other ways to increase nutrients to the substrate like root tabs?

The MWRA water is very soft but artificially high in pH (I think they add calcium hydroxide) - I comes out of the tap at about 9.0 but goes down to the low 8's in the tank. I have read that an increase in plant growth after water changes may be because the tank CO2 is very low and the tap water brings in more CO2. However, I assumed that the reduction in pH from tap to tank was probably caused by in a very low CO2 conc in the tap water, so there's something missing there. The artificially high pH in the MWRA is part of the reason (and cost) that I've been hesistant to do CO2 injection. I tried DIY yeast (I was up to 4x2L bottles), but I was unable to see any reduction in pH from it, so I couldn't really tell if it was working or not and gave up on the high maintenance of repleneshing the yeast culture.

Ryan


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 8:48 pm 
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Karen Randall had recommended Jobes plant sticks (palm variety) as a good alternative to fertilizer tabs, if I recall correctly.

I think Paul C had ordered a bunch and sold them at cost, since they are hard to find around here.

I've used regular Jobes sticks with no apparent problems, although I don't know if they actually helped me any.

I also forget if these were for iron or just general root-friendly fertilizers.

Eric - I was buying the Hagen brand laterite at Petsmart for about $15 for a box that is supposed to be good for 55g. Not sure if they still sell it or what the price may be now.

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Rich
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Part-time fishguy at Uncle Ned's Fish Factory (saturdays)
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Species I am currently keeping/breeding include :
Copadichromis borleyi "redfin"
Labidochromis caeruleus yellow labs
Aulonocara sp. "Lwanda"
Ancistrus cf. cirrhosus "Super Red Ancistris"
Xiphophorus montezumae Montezuma Swordtails
_______
(I'm in the middle of resetting and redesigning my fishroom - so things are kinda quiet)


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 Post subject: Have you tried . . .
PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2007 4:11 pm 
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Location: Brockton, Mass.
I've had some success using plain clay kitty litter. It is basically the same stuff - just much dustier. I used it as an underlayment for my gravel similarly to laterite. Make sure you don't get de-odrizers and such in it. Usually it's the cheapest stuff there - after all it's just basic clay dust.
'Worked for me; although I'd do a test tank to make sure.

-- front-fan

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There are 10 kinds of people - Those who understand binary
And those who don't


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 4:18 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 17, 2006 6:07 pm
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Substrate nutrients is not nearly as important as it's made out to be. Most plants feed from nutrients in the water column. Greg watson has a great website for ordering these nutrients at a cheap price. Just dose them directly into the water. You can buy a chelated iron fertilizer to dose iron safely into the water.

I have a planted tank set up with just a thin layer of peat under 3-5 inches of Soilmaster select. I dose the WC and plants grow TOO well.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 8:40 pm 
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As it turns out, I have jobe's fertilizer sticks in my house. I will try that.. the problem is that all my plants have died now... (Good thing that the meeting and auction is tomorrow!)

I also have some chelated iron fertilizer that I have used in the past but didn't help.. maybe this time if I use in conjunction with jobe's it will work better.

Now I need to budget money to get a new hood since the hood fell into the water and died...

Anyone have a 10 gallon hood with or without a flourescent light for sale? I don't want to dish out $40 at petco to get one. (I don't think I even have $40 now)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:46 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2005 1:40 pm
Posts: 152
Location: Upton, MA
Hey Ryan,

160 w NO over a 75 gal sounds OK - more than 2 wpg. You might want to change the bulbs if they're 2+ years old. The phosphors burn out, and the spectrum of light diminishes, even though its not visible to the human eye. This may be too little light for stem plants (and could explain the bottom of the plants dying back) but crypts, swords and vals should be fine with it.

pH of 8.2 is a problem. VERY few plants will be happy at that pH. Vals are the only ones that readily come to mind.

The "Palms" fertilizer sticks are highest in Nitrogen (N-P-K) so the first number will be highest. Many folks feel that increasing phosphates (the "P" number) can encourage algae growth.

Your filtration system with the BioBalls could be contributing to the problem, too, as the biological filtration is actually COMPETING with your plants! Plants preferentially take up ammonia, then Nitrite. In a heavily planted low tech tank, only mechanical filtration (for aesthetics and water movement) is really necessary. The plants act as a natural biological filter. If your fish stocking is light, could you try either eliminating or reducing by half the bioballs and see what happens? Check for Nitrites/Nitrates to make sure your fish aren't stressed.

Another good fertilizer is to make your own "laterite" balls from very red pottery clay - if you know anyone who has access to a high school pottery studio or such, a small handful of the red (cheapest) clay they use can be made into little balls, baked (30 min at 350) to make them hard, then used to give needed iron to heavy feeders like Echinodorus (swords). You can even wrap a piece of fertilizer stick in the clay, but don't bake it above 200 F to dry it out. Bury it in the substrate near the base of the plant. It will turn mushy after its been buried for awhile, and release the fertilizer more slowly.

A few questions - How deep is your substrate? The Flourite part of your substrate should be giving adequtate iron, but the sand part gives me pause. If you used a fine sand, there could be anoxic pockets in the substrate. These are more likely if the substrate is deeper than 2.5".

Also, is there any way you could acidify your water a bit? Long Strand sphagnum moss is great for this - soak a bit in some water (or boil it) and add this by teaspoons to the tank. It releases humic acids. This will bring the pH down, and may color the water a tinge golden (similarly to a weak "blackwater extract").

My last thought is that there *might* be a bit of chemical warfare going on. If your stand of Vals is/was large, dense and hearty, there may be a buildup of inhibitory chemicals released into the substrate which will discourage other plants from forming roots. It sounds like the rotala died from the bottom up, which indicates something was not right with the substrate. My first guess would be anoxic conditions, but the possiblity of species-to-species inhibition does exist.

Will you be at the Feb. meeting? I can bring you either some sphagnum peat extract (if I've boiled up a batch recently) or just some spahgnum peat itself, and you can make a peat "tea" to use.

Hope this helps,
-Jane

_________________
Dec. '09 - 10 gal Planted w/ Black Bar Endler's Livebearers, 10 gal Planted with "mini Mystery snails", shrimp & dwarf cray tank, 5.5 gal Planted w/Celestial Pearl Danios (and hopefully breeding soon!). 20 H planted temp housing for Danio choprae, Panda Cories, Dwarf Crays, Shrimp. 30 gal Planted community tank - under De- and Re-Construction. 10 gallon planted awaiting new shrimps!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 10:21 pm 
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I got some egeria densa from petco and after planting them into clay pots in my tank and adding half a stick of jobe's each, the brazillian waterweed (egeria densa) started to open up and they look very vibrant color-wise. Now I have to incrase water changes as jobe's is like pure nitrate.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2007 11:09 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2005 1:40 pm
Posts: 152
Location: Upton, MA
So Eric,

what are you using in the clay pots? Straight Laterite, or covered with gravel? I assume you buried the fert sticks in the substrate in each pot?

Yeah, Egeria densa can be really pretty when its happy. The bunches sold in Petco often look a little sad, but it really is a nice, easy care plant!
Nicely done!
-Jane

_________________
Dec. '09 - 10 gal Planted w/ Black Bar Endler's Livebearers, 10 gal Planted with "mini Mystery snails", shrimp & dwarf cray tank, 5.5 gal Planted w/Celestial Pearl Danios (and hopefully breeding soon!). 20 H planted temp housing for Danio choprae, Panda Cories, Dwarf Crays, Shrimp. 30 gal Planted community tank - under De- and Re-Construction. 10 gallon planted awaiting new shrimps!


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