Help me help, my LFS set up plant tank

nwfishinfool

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Jun 22, 2007
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I have offered to help my LFS get their plant tank healthy. They have a tank they keep their plants in that they sale and it really needs help. I have offered to assist them set up a dosing regime so they can improve the quality and longevity of the plants they offer for sale.

The current set-up gets no fertilization and the plants are clearly nutrient deficient. The manager is honest with the fact this tank is low priority as far as maintenance and how they care for the plants. I'm hoping if they get the plants growing better and improve their sales, they will see the benefit of maintaining the tank.

The tank is:
48.5" long
45" wide
13" deep
Also has a 20gal sump underneath

Based on these measurments I calculated the capacity to be ~130g (including the sump. The tank has a single 250w metal halide over the center of the tank. They do have pressurized C02 set-up but the diffusion method is lacking. I am going to help them set-up a reactor to make that more efficient as well.

The plant stocking levels vary based on inventory and sales but typically it is heavily stocked. There are a few, less than 10, small fish in the tank. The substrate looks like a mix of inert gravel and red which I assume is laterite

I discussed the EI method of dosing with them and they like the dry fertilizer approach. They do have concerns they will be able to do the 50% water changes weekly.

Based on the EI guidlines (100 to 125 gal), the starting point for this tank would be:
1 1/2 tsp KNO3 3x week
1/2 tsp KH2P04 3X week
1/2 tsp CSM+B 3x week

Questions:

1) Assuming they only get the water change done once a month. What would be a good starting point for the micro and macro dosing? Is there a way to make the EI method work (minus the weekly water changes) or is this a disaster waiting to happen? Their plants look like crap andf I am hoping once they see the improvement in their plants, and sales, they will commit to putting more effort into the plants.

2) Since they do not consider this tank a priority in the store, I have concerns about them being consistant with dosing 3x per week. Would it work to have them dose the weekly dose of macros once per week and the weekly dose of CSM+B once per week?

I am not being paid for helping them but I have a good relationship with the staff.

Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Mike
 

Gerryd

Plant Guru Team
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Sep 23, 2007
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Mike,

1). Keep in mind that there will be a nutrient buildup between water changes. Maybe you want to start dosing 25-30% at first to see how it goes, plants respond, their WC scheduling, etc. Then you can increase/descrease as appropriate.

2) Since you are not doing weekly WC, I would think that a weekly dose may be okay, but the more frequent dosing the better IMO. Even 2X a week is better than 3X...

I would also suggest the following:

1. Replace the substrate with flourite or a good alternative and then cover with normal gravel for effect if desired. May as well give them a good substrate while they are waiting for a good home.

2. Ensure the bulb is new. 6500k temp I think is ideal.

3. Please manage your expectations. lol

4. Ensure no plant eating fish in the tank! Mollies may be good, as they will nibble algae and there will always be some young around to draw attention.

5. Snails are inevitable, but the ramshorns and pond snails esp are plant eaters.
The malaysian underground variety are pretty harmless IME.

Remember that plants do not generally like to be disturbed and these will be constantly moved around, displayed, stuck back in, etc.

Also, you will have many types of plants that have differing requirements in the same tank. This can add to the difficulty.

Keep an eye on them weekly at least to see effects on plants and the appearance. Try and drop by 2-3 times a week at first if possible. This will help you determine how much of YOUR effort they will match.

I applaud what you are doing, just keep in mind that this is a retail store, not your display tank.

Best of luck!
 

nwfishinfool

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Jun 22, 2007
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Gerry,

Thank you for the inputs, I appreciate the help. As I mentioned the store is not ready to put too much into this right now but I am hoping once they see some positive results they will be more willing to make it a higher priority. When I take them trimmings from my tank they are so impressed with the quality of my plants and usually seel them within a couple days. I keep telling them theirs could look just as good with a little more effort.

That said, I probably will not be able to get them to change the substrate just yet.

I think I will start them off with 25% of the EI recommendation and see if they can do that twice a week. If they can do that consistantly I'll start working on them to go to 3x per week and do more water changes.

Thanks again,

Mike
 

VaughnH

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Jan 24, 2005
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I doubt that getting the store's stock of plants all growing rapidly is a good goal. So, it might be best to concentrate on just keeping them healthy. And, a lower light, non-CO2, low fertilizer schedule would do that best. Bunch plants that are tightly bound with lead strips and stuck in the substrate will have a limited life no matter what you do, so it would be better to take the lead strips off, separate the plants and plant them individually, then sell them at 6 for $X, instead of as a bunch. Plants in little mineral wool containing pots can be stuck in the substrate as they are, and with light and very light fertilizing, they should look ok for quite awhile. Just a few ideas.
 

Tom Barr

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Jan 23, 2005
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Most LFS say this exact same thing and have the same constraints.

Imagine for a moment: they want to sell corals and reefs, but do not want to use skimmers.......nor use the right type of light, just shop lights......

Tom Barr
 

nwfishinfool

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Jun 22, 2007
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VaughnH;22206 said:
I doubt that getting the store's stock of plants all growing rapidly is a good goal. So, it might be best to concentrate on just keeping them healthy. And, a lower light, non-CO2, low fertilizer schedule would do that best. Bunch plants that are tightly bound with lead strips and stuck in the substrate will have a limited life no matter what you do, so it would be better to take the lead strips off, separate the plants and plant them individually, then sell them at 6 for $X, instead of as a bunch. Plants in little mineral wool containing pots can be stuck in the substrate as they are, and with light and very light fertilizing, they should look ok for quite awhile. Just a few ideas.

Hoppy,

I agree, the goal here is really just to improve the health of the plants and not to dramatically increase the growth. The MH light they have is suspended pretty high over the tank and they only have the single light so I don't think the plants are really getting exposed to that much light. Most of the plants they have in this tank are potted and not bound with lead.

I'm just hoping that if they follow a light dosing schedule and they see how much better the plants look, and sale, they will put a little more effort into it. I know when I take them clippings, they usually sell them within a day or two. It is so hard to find decent, healthy plants in this area. There is one LFS north of here that has beautiful plants but the drive time makes it difficult for me to visit very often.

Thanks for all the help guys. I'll post back after they get this going for a few weeks and let you know how it's going.

Mike
 

nwfishinfool

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Jun 22, 2007
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Baby steps......

Had a long conversation with the LFS Manager and he is showing quite a bit of interest in keeping his plants healthy. He is placing an order for the ferts and will accept my offer to help get this set-up properly.

Even offered to give me store credit for time spent assisting them. I told him I frequently plug his store on-line and would love to be able to tell people it's a great place for healthy plants. Hopefully I'll be able to do that soon!

More to follow.....
 

Tom Barr

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Jan 23, 2005
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I think low light CO2 enriched tanks lend themselves well.
But they often go whole hog and add too much light once they get CO2.

Then fail.

Or they neglect the CO2.

If you can get them to actually grow something, then stick with it, then it can work out.

I think overall, it takes a lot more work and pruning, water changes etc, than many are willing/able to invest the time in.

Reefs, set up right, grow in slowly and are stable and easy to care by comparisons, and make more sales.

Plants are sort of the step child that chains cannot do, but neither can most LFS's, although they think they can.

Only a very very few actually do and do so for a long period of time.

Regards,
Tom Barr