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Planting Techniques for Foreground Plants

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by digiSalero, Aug 15, 2008.

  1. digiSalero

    digiSalero Junior Poster

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    For a good amount of us in this hobby, attaining the picturesque aquascapes of the likes of Amano, Tom, and many others can be a desired and challenging endeavor. Often, it can be very frustrating to believe you're doing everything right but still not get the results you're looking for.

    In the short amount of time I've been in the hobby of planted aquariums I've noticed that of all the skills to be good at, patience seems to be one of the top three. Of course, research and sharing of information plays a big part in a successful tank and in this respect I highly value the wealth of information on this forum and the people who put this together.

    Onto the thread topic of planting techniques for foreground, carpeting plant like HC and HG among others. There is an excellent article on this forum about growing HC in particular, emmersed before filling the tank with water. Of course, this is wonderful if you're starting a new tank. However, there are many of us out there who have tanks that are already filled with plants and livestock who are looking for good techniques to introduce carpeting plants without the hassle of algae and uprooting.

    I hope that people out there who have been successful in this area will share their experience and techniques for all to learn from. I'll share an experiment that I am currently doing and will update my progress to this thread. I'm attempting to use the emersed technique with a custom setup I'll elaborate on.

    Here's my setup. I don't know if it will work or not but I'm optimistic. The plan is grow the HC in plastic cups emmersed using my current aquarium to provide the moisture and light. Once the HC is well rooted I'll transplant the whole thing to the tank. The netting is suppose to help me retain the gravel while I place it in the tank. I normally have a sheet of plastic covering the cups for humidity and moisture but I took them off to take the picture.

    TopProj.jpg

    Here are the tank specs:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    SIZE: 28 US gal. Bowfront. 19" (W) x 24" (H) x 12" (D)

    LIGHTING: 2x65W CF 6500K, although I only use 1 of the bulbs for now run 10 hours/day. 2.3W/gal.

    CO2: Pressurized. I'm kind of winging it right now. I haven't invested in a drop checker yet. I'm using ADA 30mm beetle ceramic diffuser and ADA basic bubble counter. I'm getting about 168 bpm. I don't know if it's too much or too little but I'm closely monitoring my fish, plants, and algae. I have the system on a timer and have it come on 1 hr. before the lights come on and off 30 min. before the lights turn off.

    FILTER: Eheim ECCO 2232

    SUBSTRATE: Combination of Eco-Complete and ADA Aquasoil Powder

    MISC: Powerhead that sits above the CO2 forcing water down onto the front of the tank. The idea being that the CO2 will be circulated with the water down to the lower tank area. 160W heater maintaining about 80 deg. F.

    DOSE: EI

    Saturday, Monday, Wednesday

    1/4tsp NO3
    1/16 tsp KH2PO4
    1/16 tsp K2SO4

    Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday
    10mL Flourish Trace (Recommended Dosage)

    Everyday (except Friday)
    5 mL Excel

    Friday
    50% water change + 15mL Excel
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I haven't done a whole lot of scaping. I do a little here and there to keep it looking nice. I'm just letting it grow in at this point and playing with different plants.


    The HC:
    HCTop.jpg

    I'm trying this technique with Lilaeopsis 'Mauritius' also:
    HGTop.jpg

    I'm doing the hairgrass the old fashion way:
    TopAngle.jpg

    I'd also appreciate any comments on my dosing strategy and setup. I know I'm missing a few things here and there (I'm working up to it). If there's anything obvious that I'm missing, I'd welcome the suggestions.
     
  2. digiSalero

    digiSalero Junior Poster

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    It's been about 1 month since I originally started and now I've transferred two batches to the aquarium. I had a little trouble with the netting and gravel and it didn't work quite as I hoped. However, the HC grew as a nice big patch and I just dropped the whole thing in the aquarium as shown. Hopefully they'll start to grow out and carpet. I'll give it 1-2 months to see some progress.

    DSC00784.jpg

    DSC00785.jpg

    The hairgrass seem to taking a while to get started. It's been spreading a little but the process is S-L-O-W. I'm not sure what I may be doing wrong.

    DSC00780.jpg
     
  3. digiSalero

    digiSalero Junior Poster

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    Here are some before and after photos of the HC growing emmersed in the plastic cups.

    BEFORE:
    DSC00766.jpg


    AFTER (1 Month):
    DSC00788.jpg
     
  4. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    That looks like a very good idea! And, it seems to be working. It could be that your CO2 concentration is way too low. A drop checker will help you a lot for getting into the right ball park with the bubble rate. Those plants are likely to grow very slowly unless you have around 30 ppm of CO2. You can get a very cheap, but still a nice glass drop checker here:Co2 Test Kit
     
  5. Chiya

    Chiya Prolific Poster

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    Hi digiSalero,

    I'm also learning from this forum and I'd like to share some of my experiences with HC / dwarf hairgrass.

    I planted my Dwarf hairgrass very thinly (1/3 of yours) and approximately 1inch apart. After the initial 2 weeks of getting used to being submersed, they began to grow. That was when I started pruning a bit and they wouldn't stop growing =)

    I'm guessing it's the same for HC. My latest try at HC is planting them about 5-8stalks and 2cm apart. Growth is way better than when I tried planting them by big bunches. Maybe someone can explain why?

    Please keep us updated of your progress. This method can sure reduce a lot of 'patience planting'.

    Regards,
    Ryan
     
  6. midazolam

    midazolam Junior Poster

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    how'd the Lilaeopsis do?
     
  7. digiSalero

    digiSalero Junior Poster

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    midazolam,

    When I first bought the Lilaeopsis I divided them into little bunches (approx. 5 from one standard pot) and planted them in the aquarium. All the water chemistry and dosing parameters haven't changed although I have increased C02 slowly over time to what I quoted in my earlier posts. VaughnH suggested a drop checker and I think it's about time I took the advice and just get one.

    To make a long story short the Lilaeopsis did not do well immersed. My main problem was black hair algae growing all over the blades. I finally removed them and put them in the cups emersed and the algae died right away. The Lilaeopsis is growing well emmersed but it is much slower than the HC. I'll leave it emersed until I get a good "lawn patch" and then see how well it does immersed.
     
  8. digiSalero

    digiSalero Junior Poster

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    Ryan,

    If you don't mind, share with me your lighting specs, dosing regimen, and CO2 concentration.

    I've read in many places that shearing the hairgrass promotes growth. I've done that and I've seen some improvement in growth. I think my main problem has been my lack of motivation in getting the drop checker to check my CO2 concentration. I've been winging it by just checking pH from a standard kit even though I know how inaccurate they can be. I'll check it in the morning and throughout the day to see how much it changes and it does turn from light sky-blue to a light green. Like I said, I'm winging it at best. :eek:

    I'm hypothesizing CO2 is most likely my main problem and I'll check that first before I move on to other factors.
     
  9. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    You can safely increase your CO2 bubble rate by about a bubble per second and check if that helps. Just be sure to have some surface movement of the water, a shimmering or very shallow rippling. That will help a lot in keeping the O2 level high enough for the fish to tolerate the CO2 better.
     
  10. Chiya

    Chiya Prolific Poster

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    Hi digiSalero,

    I have a 50G tank, dosing approx 2x EI and CO2's abt 25-40ppm.
    Lighting is 2wpg (T5 tubes) for 10hrs. (0915 to 1915)

    I believe I'm overdosing but I am still learning to better tweak the dosing quantity.

    Hope it helps =)

    Regards,
    Ryan
     
  11. Elinston

    Elinston Junior Poster

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    These are some really clear and informative pictures! I strongly agree that patience is the most important character for planning a plant tank. It almost kills me to watch my emersed grown HC staying pretty much the same everyday. Maybe I should have something else to draw my attention to and just let it be. Cause no matter how many times per day I check their conditions, it does not really change anything...BTW, when did your HC start to grow when you transplant? Mine is mostly melted, but there are still some green in it so I did not throw them away.
     
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