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Rotala Kill Tank

Discussion in 'Journals' started by Pikez, Oct 21, 2016.

  1. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    ROTALA KILL TANK


    Starting a new journal to document experiments on Lythraceae family of plants.


    Lythraceae include Rotala, Ammannia, Nesaea, Didiplis, and Cuphea.


    Those of you who have followed my other journal are familiar with the struggle that I (and countless others) have had with this family of plants. People usually don't know that these genera are closely related. Once you know that fact, then suddenly you will connect the dots and say - Hey! They all stunt for me! Or you'll start seeing similarities in growth behavior and patterns.


    As a rule, this family is prone to shoot tip stunting and curling. Many people grow them well under EI conditions (rich ferts) and others grow them well in lean conditions. Why do the tips stunt and misbehave? No one knows for sure. But I suspect it has to do with nutrient imbalance and CO2. Potential secondary causes may be other aspects of care or other environmental causes. Call it Factor X.


    As a rule, if you solve the tip stunting problem for one species, you will solve it for others. There is hardly a case where one species never has issues and another does. Some species like Ammannia (old Nesaea) pedicellata or Rotala Red Cross are very sensitive to this Factor X, while the dozen of so species in the Rotala rotundifolia family are not as sensitive. The fine leaf Rotala species of the wallichii group are somewhere in between.


    As a rule, light does not seem to be involved in this behavior. Of course, lower light has a way of slowing down all processes, so demand for resources become less acute. It is fair to say that many of these plants will do better in light-limited tanks. Low light tanks may not produce brilliant colors, but generally, they also have far fewer growth issues.


    As a rule, old school, low-tech tanks seem to have fewer issues with tip stunting.


    As a rule, KH does not seem to matter much. Near 100% RO water tanks can have lots of issues while other high KH tanks have none. Many of those plants have a reputation for being difficult in high KH water. But I'm finding these plants to be very forgiving with water hardness.


    As a rule, these plants (especially Rotala) are not aggressive consumers of CO2. They like higher than typical CO2 levels if in a crowded high tech tank. Dark, soil-bottom tanks with no CO2 at all grow these plants just fine too. But if you going the EI way, don't skimp on CO2.


    In my tanks, these plants do better with high light, high CO2, rich substrate, EI level macros and low micros. By 'low micros,' I mean 20-30% of typical EI levels. But this belief is based on several experiments on my Dutch style 180 gal tank. YMMV.


    I plan to test several of these beliefs in my new 60-gal Rotala Kill Tank.


    Purpose of the Kill Tank:

    1. Remove experiments from my Dutch tank, so I can focus the Dutch tank for, well, Dutching.
    2. Keep mostly Lythraceae plants in the Kill Tank, so I can poke, prod, punish, reward the plants to see how they respond.
    3. Maintain 20-25 Lythraceae varieties in one small tank that can be altered easily.
    4. Easy change of conditions that will vary from coddling to merciless over the months and back to repeat and re-test.
    5. Kill tank has the luxury of being ugly. No need to be pretty. It's a farm. Nothing more than an experiment. If you think the tank ugly, find inner strength to deal with it.
    6. I plan to explore nutrients first. Why? Easy to do. I am starting the experiment with a high macro + low micro formula that burr740 has tremendous success with. After that, I will try high macro + moderate micro, followed by high macro + high micro.
    7. After that, whichever nutrient combo does best will remain the default setting and then I will experiment with lower light. Followed by lower CO2.
    8. Trimming should take 5 minutes. Everything will get hacked down to 6 inches.
    I have created a somewhat non-ideal tank on purpose. It's tough love. Throwing the plants in the deep end of the pool, so to speak. As much as the 180's husbandry approach is modeled after Tom's, this tank is modeled after burr - high light+CO2, inert substrate, high macros + low micros. The Burr Method. Over the last year or so, I've shipped burr dozens of species of plants and he grows them all without much drama. He has also supplied me with an endless stash of Rotala Sunset for me to kill.


    So I'm starting with the Burr Method and will expand out from there. This is not a controlled experiment - no placebo, no double-blinding or crossovers. It's just a tank that I'm going to throw various conditions at. If low-micro works, great. If high-micros work better, great. This is neither a trace tox experiment nor a nod to the mouth-breathers who spew hate on social media. I'm just starting the experiment with low traces levels because it works so well for burr. But I will definitely try high traces. I will try both nosebleed-CO2 as well as low-CO2. I may even add a MonsterRay to the already-bright tank to push it over the edge, at near 200 PAR at substrate.


    Nothing is sacred.

     


    I will try very hard to question my own beliefs and prejudices. I may not like the outcomes, but I will learn a thing or two. And hopefully you will too.



    SPECS:


    Tank: old 60-gal, 4-foot tank. Tank is in garage, on the floor, in a corner. Was used to raise cichlid fry or a quarantine tank for pike cichlids.


    Water: Los Angeles County tap water - liquid rock. KH is around 8. GH is, well, I don't know. It's hard water, that's all we need to remember.


    Light: two 4-foot Finnex FugeRay Planted+ that puts about 150 PAR at substrate.


    Substrate: inert small-sized gravel. Nothing nutritious in the substrate at all.


    CO2: pressurized. 2 bps reacted in-tank with Sera Flore 1000.


    pH drop: my tap water is usually between 7.8 and 8.1. pH in tank is 6.4, so let's call that 1.5 to 1.6 drop.


    Flow: one powerhead


    Filtration: one 'pre filter' for powerhead + one AquaClear hang-on-the-back filter.


    Fish: no fish at the moment. I suspect that fish will gasp from too much CO2.


    Macros: 6 - 0.75 - 6 as nitrate-phosphate-potassium ppm every other day.


    Micros: 0.015 ppm Fe from CSM+B; 0.01 ppm Fe from Gluconate; 0.01 ppm Fe from Fe DTPA (Total Fe = 0.035 ppm) every other day


    GH: none added as my tap seems to have plenty of both Mg and Ca. May add Ca + Mg later as an experiment version.


    Water change: 90% twice a week. Easily done with a large sump pump out onto the lawn. Takes no time at all.


    IMG_0067.jpg


    IMG_9830.jpg


    IMG_9831.jpg


    Rotala sp. Red Cross. Completely stunted in the 180 and planted here.


    IMG_0059.jpg


    Ammannia pedicellata. This is the hideous condition of the stems I shared with Tom a month or two ago. His plants are now stunning, gorgeous, and flawless.


    IMG_0060.jpg


    Another view of the completely stunted A. pedicellata. This and Red Cross are the toughest plants that I encountered in my Dutch tank. Virtually every other Lythraceae species is easier than these two. So the focus will be on these two species. Red Nesea (Ammannia praetermissa) is supposed to be a very difficult plant, but I find it much easier than these two.


    IMG_0077.jpg
     
    AquaMatt, DutchMuch, nicpapa and 4 others like this.
  2. burr740

    burr740 ~~ Lover of Micros ~~
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    Very nice! Great write up too. Im very much looking forward to learning a thing or ten here. As Im sure many others will too.


    Thanks a lot for taking the time and effort to document and share everything.
     
    #2 burr740, Oct 21, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 21, 2016
  3. rajkm

    rajkm Article Editor
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    Looking forward to see how it evolves.
     
  4. Jason King

    Jason King barrreport.com
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    looking forward to this Vin


    Thanks for sharing your information, we learnt alot from your last thread :)
     
  5. jbs47

    jbs47 Lifetime Members
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    Thank you PikeZ...great way to learn.
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Feel free to nab my pics as needed of the same plants. The Red cross did poorly in the low fert tank out in the garage, I moved it to the 120. I had 2 stems, I have 4 now and the species lower down are sprouting new nice tips with good color. It'll take awhile, longer than A pedicillata. It's a slower grower for sure.


    I would NOT discount the ADA AS or similar vs the plain gravel sediment differences.


    I am trying to think of plants that do not do better in the ADA AS vs plain sediment.


    I cannot think of any. They are equal are worst and most are better.


    Both locations.


    On one hand you can argument less confounding issues/better isolation.


    But.............plants generally do better in most all cases.


    R sunset will do well at the higher KH's. They have a certain look and shape even vs the softer KH.


    An old pic from a stump:


    [​IMG]


    Deeper darker red, more upright form, less branching with higher KH's, and no issues post trimming.


    I sort of doubt you will have much issues with the traces as suggested................but can you add more to this tank later.........


    without issue. At that KH, I'd not use any Fe Gluconate. Just the CMS+B(maybe a different batch of of it, I got 25kg) and DTPA vs just DTPA alone.


    Try over say 8 weeks basically. DTPA Fe only, CMS+B only, and the combo.


    Oh, old A pedicillata from the 1990's, tank tap was 5.5 dKH. Grew well. Plain sand with RFUG. Old aged sand bed, about 4" deep.


    I had troubles with Rotala macrandra till I lowered the KH, same for wallichii, but could have been just not quite enough CO2.


    Grew A gracilius is pretty hard GH and KH though.
     
    jlau28 likes this.
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Also, LED vs T5's.
     
  8. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    Yes, Red Cross is a slow grower. It's coming back to life after being stunted for a couple of months in the 180. Lovely plant if you can grow it. I will succeed with it. Someday.


    Red Cross have really nice, big root systems even though the shoots are all stunted to hell. Whatever bothers the shoots does not bother the roots. Zero stem melting or any necrosis with Red Cross ever, in either tank. The plant simply will not die, no matter how stunted it gets. So it has that going for it.


    Red Cross has huge scaping potential. It is bright and red and grows vertically. It's like a Rotala trying to be a Mini Red Pantanal. What's not to like? Besides stunting. :) Sean Bartlett hassome, I think. He grows them emersed in 100% humidity. (whenever a known aquarium plant grows well emersed and not submerged, think CO2 because that's the biggest difference - atmosphere is unlimited 400 ppm CO2. Hydroponics and pot farms pump CO2 into atmosphere up to 1200 ppm CO2. And we are piddling along at 30-50 ppm. I can grow the snot out of Aciotis acuminifolia in the back yard emersed, but in the tank, the leaves are nowhere near a big or vibrant.)


    Aquasoil is without a doubt better. Any of the new clay stuff is better.


    I chose sand for a few reasons: no CEC, no fert contribution, I can vacuum the heck out of it to remove organics. Far fewer variables with inert substrate. What I add to water is the ONLY thing the plants get because there are no fish. I scoop out all dead and floating leaves before it decomposes, so nutrients are tightly controlled.


    And frankly, i wanted to give the plants a difficult environment. I want to learn. I am not trying to grow pretty plants in this tank. I want to know how far I can push these plants in several directions.


    If the plants die, well, they die. But I will have learned a few things before they die. Fortunately, nothing has died. Not one stem. It's only been 2 weeks since I set this tank up and already, I have learned so much. Will share.
     
  9. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    Couple of weeks after set up. I've already trimmed the plants once. So easy. Take scissor and mow everything to 5 or 6 inches. Flat and brutal. Done in less than 3 minutes. Scoop out stem tops and feed to Etroplus suratensis (cichlids). There is not much filtration, so I have a green water problem. It'll probably go away on its own, but I'm not too worried. Hint of algae on front glass, but again, not at crisis levels.


    [​IMG]


    Left side of tank. Nothing is melting. That's good. Some minor stunting, but overall, far less stunting than in the 180 Dutch.


    [​IMG]


    I left the front right corner of tank empty so I can put a big sump pump there to empty tank a few times a week.


    [​IMG]


    Four tough plants coming back to life.


    Rotala Red Cross sporting nice red tops, but recovery is very slow and not out of the woods.


    Ammannia pedicellata is no longer stunted. But does not have the gorgeous colors that Tom's stems have. But at least they are un-stunted. But still far from pretty. Very slow growth.


    Ammannia praetermissa. No stunting or issues whatsoever. Growing REALLY well. some leaves are over 2" long. But the color is pathetic. Just pathetic. I need to send some to Tom to see what color is possible. But I have to repeat: not even a hint of stunting! This plant did OK even in the 180, so not much of a surprise. APC Plantfinder says it is a very difficult plant, but I'm not finding it to be the case: http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/plantfinder/details.php?id=97&category=genus&spec=Ammannia


    [​IMG]


    Yes, that's un-stunted wallichii in the back. And Pantanal growing JUST FINE in KH 8 water. But keep in mind that I have 150 PAR at substrate and very rich CO2.
     
  10. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    Ammannia gracilis starting to sprout nice, un-stunted tops. But what am I doing with A. gracilis in a little tank like this? This is a monster plant that once it has taught me a few things, will have to be removed for sake of room. In the next few top view shots, you will start seeing some iron deficiency symptoms - pale, whitish leaves.


    This should not be surprising given I am barely fairy-dusting traces into this tank.


    I suspect that I will have iron deficiency with current trace dosing levels. But I will continue for a couple of months. Despite my feeling that I am grossly under-dosing traces, I will see it to its end, unless, of course, the plants die on me.


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
  11. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    Ludwigia Pantanal in KH 8 water. It has already been trimmed twice after reaching the surface. Color is not great, but not terrible. Water softness may not be an issue if you provide it with enough light and CO2. Color will probably be much better with more traces or aquasoil substrate. But then again, burr is able to get great color with inert substrate, hard water, and super-low traces. This plant is capable of handling wider growth conditions than we generally give it credit for.


    Besides one stem of this plant, i have a couple of stems of Proserpinaca palustris in the tank too. Only non-Lythraceae species in the tank. Tossed in Proserpinaca here because it was having stem melts in the 180 Dutch. No stem melting here for mermaid weed.


    [​IMG]
     
  12. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    Ammannia praetermissa (Red Nesea) growing really well. But color is unimpressive.


    [​IMG]


    Rotala mexicana Goias. This plant never stunted in the 180 Dutch, but it was smallish and not growing well. Did not creep along surface despite high CO2 and high light. In this new hard water tank, leaf size has doubled, there is a little more color and a lot more vigor. But still not growing along substrate like it was supposed to. Overall, this species like this tank's environment much more.


    [​IMG]


    Cuphea anagalloidea. It did Ok in the Dutch tank, with about 50% of stems showing some stunting. But it never melted or died. In this tank, there is far less stunting. Overall doing much better in terms of leaf shape and size. But color is meh.


    There is a trend developing - less stunting, better leaf shape, but poor color.


    [​IMG]


    Note the lone half-dead Rotala Sunset stem on the top left? Well, it almost died from droop like it has a thousand times before. EXCEPT! It did not die! It is clinging to life! I trimmed off all dead and droopy sideshoots. But there is one small healthy shoot all the way at the top. I have NEVER seen this plant recover in the Dutch tank, where once it drooped, it was toast. No toast here!
     
  13. burr740

    burr740 ~~ Lover of Micros ~~
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    Pikez I recently ditched the gluconate in favor of more dtpa, keeping roughly the same overall level. It's been about a month. Some colors are better, nothing dramatic. One significant change has been with Oldenlandia. For the longest time it's shown a slight Fe deficiency in the form of abnormally pale new growth. This has slowly corrected itself after a couple weeks using more dtpa in place of gluc.


    Your KH here is a bit higher than mine (5.5) so you may be getting even less from the gluc than I was - just some food for thought.


    Also I spike the Fe mixture with additional Mn to keep the ratio in the neighborhood of 3:1 Fe:Mn. Not that the ratio is necessarily important, but dosing such small amounts of traces, having a little added Mn seemed like a good idea.


    When I first started the additional Mn, probably 6 months ago, in the 75 I noticed a significant increase in the size of certain things, Rotala Sunset became 2 1/2 inches wide plus. However, I did not see the same affect in the 50 gal. In that tank nothing really changed that I could notice. Those Sunsets were already prime specimens, but they didnt widen in size like in the 75.


    Anyway that might be another small tweak you could try down the road and see what happens.
     
    #13 burr740, Oct 23, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 23, 2016
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  14. macek.g

    macek.g Junior Poster

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    Can help


    the interdependence between the elements constituting food for plants


    A-antagonism


    B-locked, or immobilization


    P-precipitation joint


    S-synergism
     
  15. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    OK - I will spike my solution with more DTPA - the same amount that Gluconate was meant to provide.


    I'm going to leave out the 3:1 Fe: Mn ratio. Last I checked, unless the ratio was really skewed one way or another, it did not matter to soybeans. I think. Don't remember the ratio in CSM+B, but from memory, the ratio was not troublesome. Here, the issue may be not enough of either rather than the ratio per se.
     
  16. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    I've seen this before. But I don't know how to apply this theoretical knowledge into practice.
     
  17. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Yes, I think those with the higher KH's of 4 or more ought to swap over and not mess with Fe Gluc at all.........


    DTPA is much more appropriate. CMS+B has the ETDA which works better in softer KH's also.
     
  18. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    3.5 ratio in CMS+B.


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


    I'd try the DTPA sub for Gluc.


    I'll gladly take some of that pre adapted Ammania
     
  19. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Also note, when PMDD was developed, we had many 30-50 species available. Today we have 500. So as we get more species, we also will run up against some that are poorly suited for culture.


    No one really has done that much there, just calling the plants difficult. I've had little trouble with many, I might screw up and not change out a CO2 gas tank etc, and cause the demise of something, or not enough current, light, too crowded, not enough ferts(garage tanks), but generally they all grow in the same similar conditions.


    Lower KH's are better, mid level GH's are good, but they can be low if you add GH booster also.


    I do not use K2SO4, all K+ comes from the KNO3/KH2PO4.
     
  20. brrrpr

    brrrpr Subscriber

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    Pikez, nice experiment with these plants that generally have a lot of requirements. I do not understand why you don't measure the GH and the proportion of Ca with Mg. I red an interesting article where the proportion, which normally is 4-1 or 3-1, should be reversed in favour of Mg for soft water aquatic plants like the Lithraceae. This is what I red not my opinion.


    Normally I keep these chemical paramethers well checked for my own tanks before the set up in the attempt to undersatand what's going on inside if something goes wrong.


    The detailed chemical analysys of our water is provided by our municipality aqueduct on the water bill, so we don't need to do complex analysys ourselves; we can also check it online from the municipality internet site, where we can also monitor the seasonal variations of the water. For instance here in my area we generally have GH12, KH8 in summer and GH16, KH12 in winter with many more important paramethers like the amount of Sodium which can have a very negative influence on micro absorption. If you don't know the value of Sodium in your water and the value is very high, it may be the cause of some leaf tip curling and stunting.


    Check if you also have the aqueduct analysys in Los Angeles provided by the local water provider.
     
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