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The Pursuit of Better Plant Growth

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Steven, Sep 27, 2011.

  1. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Hi, it's been a while since the last time I posted but I keep reading hehe...

    Ok, my tank has been running for almost 5 months now and many has been improved except for several species aquatic plants that won't grow no matter what way I tried to change the system, are Ludwigia arcuata and Hemianthus micranthemoides, strange...

    Ok, here's my tank's specifications :
    • Tank size : 90x45x45cm.
    • Fertilization : KNO3, KH2PO4, K2SO4, CSM+B and Seachem Flourish.
    • Lighting : 3x39watt T5HO (too much light? I know, I know...but please read on).
    • CO2 : Pressurized @6, 7 or maybe 8-9 Bps via reactor.
    • Substrate system : ADA Amazonia I, Bacter 100, Clear Super, Tourmaline BC, Tetra Initial Sticks and WonderGro Root+ Tab.
    • Filtration : JBL e1500 (1500L/H) and Eheim Pro3 2073 (1050L/H).
    • Chiller : Resun CL-450.
    • Hardscape : Seiryu stones.

    Water parameter :
    • pH : 6.0-6.8.
    • kH : 4-6.
    • gH : 4-9.
    • Temp : 24-26C.

    Flora :
    • Hemianthus callitrichoides "cuba".
    • Pogostemon helferi.
    • Staurogyne sp.
    • Blyxa japonica.
    • Rotala sp. green.
    • Ludwigia brevipes
    • Hemianthus micranthemoides.
    • Micranthemum umbrosum.
    • Ludwigia arcuata.

    Fauna :
    • 40+ Paracheirodon simulans.
    • 11 Otocinclus affinis.
    • 20+ Caridina multidentata.

    May 02, 2011.

    [​IMG]
    First day setup, tank temp was around 28-29C and using 4X21watt T5NO. The left background plant was Rotala nanjenshan, no Ludwigia arcuata yet.


    June 16, 2011.

    [​IMG]
    All plants were growing fine and just adding downoi,
    HM here was growing too, look like HC was spreading but the leaves were small and rather black and the root was somewhat looked floating between substrate rather than grow deep inside the substrate.
    Lower leaves of downoi was rotting and falling off.
    Algae was very hard to found. Everything nice and clean except some major issues with certain plants above.


    July 28, 2011.

    [​IMG]
    Here, Rotala nanjenshan was replaced by Ludwigia arcuata for I don't like the nanjenshan, sorry.
    HM was apparently rot at lower stem and leaves after the first prunning I found out that most of their stem was floating and almost had no root and after 1 week of trimming or so, the remaining HM was died completely too.
    HC was melted too and wasted away, I found the dead leaves stuck in my intake strainer everyday but the pictures above was taken right after replanted freshly.
    The leaves of Downoi look like shrinking from day to day.
    About 2 weeks later from this date, I bought myself a chiller unit and set the temp to 24-26C but also changing the light to T5HO 4x39watt at the same time (extremely plenty of light? I want to know if the HM and arcuata which rot at its lower stem was due to not enough light or something else, CO2? But...again but...I quite didn't think so). I also increased the CO2 here.

    September 04, 2011.

    [​IMG]
    I kept replanting new HM but history kept repeating itself.
    Here, Ludwigia arcuata also have similarity history to HM, after it reached surface and be trimmed and replanted, 50% of them will rot in a week especially the upper trimmed stem part not the lower part.
    The algae started to showed, BBA, cladophora and GSA besides BGA that occured from about 1 month after the first setup day at front of the glass below the substrate until this right moment but hardly reached above substrate surface, I always had BGA each time I used ADA Aquasoil no matter how hard I adjusted the flow and added a lot of nitrate. So action was taken, spot excel treatment and reduced 1x39watt to 3x39watt although the 1x39watt was turned on for 4 hours/day only. Now I'm using 3x39watt for 9 hours/day look stable enough with very minimum of algae.
    But HC from here was seem to started grow nicely and spreading.
    Couples stem of downoi was replaced to new one because they are stunting since the last time.


    September 21, 2011

    [​IMG]
    The left part of HM was replaced by Micranthemum umbrosum.
    HC kept growing nicer and spreading bit by bit although very slowly, could it due to better tank temp since I added a chiller?
    Newly planted Downoi was also started to grow bigger but the old one was seem to still stunted, hard to recover. Chiller effect?
    The light was still the same 3x39watt 9hours/days.
    The leaves of Rotala sp. green here turned out to be smaller not like before, what's wrong?
    Algae was under controlled once again since last time excel battle.

    Oh yes, I also had my tank water tested at lab at the day of my routine 70% WC weekly and apparently the seiryu stone is raising both the kH and gH over time. My water source has a pH, kH and gH of 7.1, 1-2 and 1-2 after I let it sat for 48 hours and my tank water tested result has the pH, kH and gH of 7.7, 5 and 9 at the end of the week after I let it sat for 48 hours too. If I read from the kH/pH/CO2 table, I have around 100+ppm of CO2. Mostly right after the CO2 is off at night, the pH will reach around 5.9-6.1 and the next morning before the CO2 is on again, the pH is around 6.8-6.9. Drop checker is deep yellow 3-4 hours after the CO2 starts and I have tried to placed several different spot and the result was quite the same.

    In case you wonder what kind of the CO2 reactor I'm using :

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Water is feed in the side hole from output of canister filter and then being forced to spin the valve and CO2 at the same time through the way down of that reactor chamber, spinning to find its way back to tank from bottom. The tile from the pictures above is 40x40cm. My CO2 rate is high enough that the CO2 gas accumulated at the top of that reactor as much as the two fan valve like pictures above. Please don't tell me that I have CO2 defeciency, still...

    Sera is also make this kind of reactor
    http://www.sera.de/en/products/technical-equipment/co2-fertilization/co2-duengesystemkomponenten/sera-flore-co2-active-reactor.html

    After I replace the the T5NO to T5HO, stem plant grow more bushier and the HC and Downoi grow at last but at the same time I also add the chiller so I don't know if the light or chiller that make they grow but again the HM and arcuata still fail to grow.

    My dosing regime is like this :
    KNO3 : 30ppm.
    KH2PO4 : 3ppm.
    K2SO4 : 30ppm.
    CSM+B : 0.5ppm.
    Seachem Flourish : 0.25ppm.

    At the end of the week before conduct water change, I had my tank water to be tested on lab and the result was :

    Colour : 25 ppmPt-Co
    Turbidity : 1.25 NTU
    TDS : 307 ppm
    Organic matter : 5 ppm
    Bicarbonate : 170.8 ppm
    Total hardness : 170 ppm
    Calcium : 56 ppm
    Magnesium : 7.2 ppm
    Chloride : 35.5 ppm
    Chlorine : --
    Iron : 0.3 ppm
    Silica : --
    Manganese : 0.0 ppm
    Nitrite : 0.10 ppm
    Nitrate : 5.0 ppm
    Sulphate : 19.1 ppm

    Unfortunately there is no Phosphate and Potassium reading, could it be that my hard water lead to arcuata failed growth?

    Any kind of help and advice will be appreciated before and thank you very much for reading the so long thread.
     
    #1 Steven, Sep 27, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 27, 2011
  2. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    Well, what seems to me is you have a.......CO2 deficiency. I don't mean total ppms, which seem to be enough. You have to ask yourself "Is it possible to provide the plants with enough CO2 with this amount of light"? Probably not. So even if you add more CO2, maybe it still won't be enough. The other option is even less light. I also grow L. arcuata but it's like a weed with no signs of rot or melting. When I get it anyway, I already know CO2 is off.

    Your tank is not very high, mine is 26 inch (65 cm) and also has T5. And I'm not even using reflectors. The arcuata grows very well, but when I use more light it leads to melting, growth stagnation and algae.

    What I would try is using only 2 x 39 Watts and let CO2 the way it is for now. Very simple. If the result is not what you want, you just flip the switch. Be a bit patient, the plants might need up to two weeks to adapt.
     
    #2 dutchy, Sep 27, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 27, 2011
  3. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    My oh my, yet the same answer I got from my last failed tank hehe no offend dutchy.

    Too much light and not enough CO2? Say that I have CO2 problem but why the HC and downoi is growing, don't they considered the most CO2 demanding foreground plant? CO2 competition among plants? The HM and arcuata were out of competition-ed then? Dead spot? Not enough CO2 distribution/flow?

    The farm which I usually buy my aquatic plants just raise those plants in a man made pool flowed by well water, no fertz is added and by using direct sunlight, how's the plants balanced the CO2, light and fertz here? They are growing in that pool.

    I think I will be reduce the light to 2x39watt 2 more weeks later because next week I'll be out of town for 11 days and fearing that returning just to find my dead plants hehe...for now, everything look pretty stable but instead I will add more CO2 until I come back then reduce the light first to 2x39watt and have the third bulb 1x39watt on for 4hours/day only to see if there's improvement, how's that sound?

    If I look at the hoppy's chart, I know that 3x39watt for my tank height, it is stated "too high" but I wonder how much micromols at the base substrate? How much micromols consider low, medium and high? 80 high? Do you think that every single species of aquatic plant has a minimum of PAR? Are they the same? How are they grow in low and high light tank, are their leaves size different or etc? The way the stem plant grow will automatically over shade their lower leaves and if I have low lighting, will this be a worse combo? How much micromols in that shading area?

    Thank you.
     
    #3 Steven, Sep 27, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 27, 2011
  4. Matsyendra

    Matsyendra Junior Poster

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    Some of my reading: Tom has mentioned 25 - 40 Low, 40 - 60 Med, 60 - 80 Med/High, 80 - 120 High

    The "Massaged PAR Data" thread has a chart that shows you the micromol levels at substrate, with only 1 T5 light (the wattage is not so much of a factor) at various heights. I think you will find you have a lot of light there.
     
    #4 Matsyendra, Sep 27, 2011
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  5. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    None taken ;)
    Every plant has it's own CO2 demand. If one grows doesn't mean the other will grow too. Also CO2 competition can play a role when the properties of these species vary a lot.

    Arcuata also grows without CO2. But it's enzymes will have adapted to taking its C-source from the KH. But if you add CO2, the plants has adapted itself to use this, because it's easier. A deficiency will cause growth stagnation. So you can't really compare these two different situations

    I'd just use two bulbs for now.

    Matsayendra has already answered part of this..... My personal experience is that 90 micromol is about the maximum that's still managable, but only just. I reach 90 micromols with my bulbs 20 inch above the substrate and no reflectors. Can you imagine how high yours is? Every plant also has it's own properties about low light, a crypt can withstand much lower light than other plants, although going lower than say 30 micromol won't make plants grow much. it's easy though to see what the individual needs of plants are. A classic sign is loss of lower leaves, although shading plays an important role. With that said it's hard to give a standard recipe for light, because it depends on multiple factors. A PAR meter is really the only thing that can make it clear. Another sign you can look for is plantleaves getting bigger. A stem plant allows you a view into the past. If the leaves get bigger than before, the plant is showing you it's getting good CO2. Using this, I've grown very big plants. At the moment I have Limnophila aromatica in my tank that grows up to 5 inches in diameter. The arcuata gets up to 3 inch wide.
    I've struck a good balance between light and CO2 in my tank. I also found out in the past that I could sometimes grow bigger plants with less light. (less CO2 demand!!)

    So play around with it, you will find a balance where there is enough CO2 and enough light to grow the plants you have, without loss of lower leaves but also without melting or algae.

    you can also read this: http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/6972-The-light-limiting-growth-management-method
     
    #5 dutchy, Sep 28, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 28, 2011
  6. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    My tank have high kH = 4-6, will the arcuata use the kH as its C-source when CO2 is not enough?

    I surely will try your advice because you sound reasonable but I will do this once I've returned from assignment from out of town fearing that if I do this now only to find the dead plants when I'm back. From my last experience when you suddenly decrease the light to plants, they will cupped at their tip and then melt or uprooting, I have experienced this several times in the past but frankly speaking, I also have some major deficiencies too at the same time so I think I will not take this chance but when I'm around and aware of the situation every single day, I can handle this melting (if it arises) better than when I'm not around. Anyway, ,my tank now is in very controllable state.

    Another question, when I look at the winners of aquascape competition tanks, they always have very high light yet have lush, healthy growth plants, namely HO lights to MH, I just wonder how they master the CO2 here?

    That's it, I initially used 4x21watt T5NO and I think it's almost has the same PAR to 2x39watt T5HO, isn't it? HC was melted, Downoi loose its lower leaves, so as the HM, now you suggest me to lower the light to 2x39watt?

    Thank you very much.
     
  7. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks Matsyendra, I've re-read the thread and now I see the PAR value hehe...
     
  8. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    What I'm really suggesting is to try different light intensities to check where you can find the balance between lowest possible light and good CO2 while maintaining good plant growth. What eventually will be the right setting, is something to find out.

    Winner aquascapes on AGA and IAPLC are often just made weeks before the event, having fast plant growth and nice colours. Not always tanks that are maintained over years. Sometimes these pics are enhanced artificially. I know someone that scores high every year, and..... he also has algae.

    Sometimes you have to make choice between good growth and pretty colours. They don't always make a good combination. Plants with pretty colours can possibly look ratty while the plant that grows well will be green(ish). Nice colours is not a guarantee for good health.

    Another way is to raise your lights. Raise them 2 inch at a time and see what happens.

    Anyway I can grow very pretty arcuata......with less light than you are using ;)
     
    #8 dutchy, Sep 28, 2011
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  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I still think this is manageable, but you'll likely need to crank the CO2 slow and carefully, keep enough surface movement and do more water changes(2 a week, 50-80%).

    If you do not like that, try less light.

    Or a little of both.
     
  10. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Thank you Tom and dutchy.

    Today I decide to lower the light intensity from 3x39watt for 9hours/day to 2x39watt for 9hours/day and 1x39watt for 4hours/day in the middle of photo period. Leave it there and see if there's improvement once I come back from out of town because this morning I just found out that the newly grown Micranthemum umbrosum start to show smaller tip leaves compare to before. At this moment both the Rotala sp. green and MU have smaller leaves size and I start to feel that maybe CO2 here is just not enough and I don't think I can't increase more again but comes in mind to add a second CO2 canister and reactor or either just the disc diffuser but will cost a lot to me so why not lowering the light a bit? I plan to reduce further more the '1x39watt for 4hours/day' to only 2x39watt but I will do this slowly like before when I started to got algae from 3x39watt (9hours) and 1x39watt (4hours) to just 3x39watt (9hours) only and didn't have melting plants but algae was successfully eradicated with only 1 time excel spot treat and water change.

    But Tom, may I ask why do more water changes here? Thank you.
     
    #10 Steven, Sep 29, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 29, 2011
  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Seems to mitigate CO2 related issues and drives the growth a bit faster/cleaner tank overall etc.
     
  12. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Ok I see...Thank you Tom.
     
  13. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    After lowered the light from 3x39w to 2x39w(9hours/day) and 1x39w for 4hours/day only for almost 2 weeks, I see stunting growth and new dwarfed leaves growth on Rotala green, Umbrosum, macandra narrow and the leaves of HC become smaller too so does downoi but the downoi is sending many new shoots. I become real confused now, I didn't touch the CO2 and the fertz were all remain the same, I only reduced the light.

    [​IMG]

    HC are growing some how but after I trimmed it, some of the patches that remain have floating brown root and I think it will die very soon. I think I will again raise the light to 3x39w like before.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Any changes in light and/or CO2 will require a couple of weeks for the plants to adapt. Unfortunately it's not an immediate thing. You may find the HC grows back with a vengeance.

    -
    S
     
  15. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    I really hope so. Thx.
     
  16. samh

    samh Guru Class Expert

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    Hi Steven

    How have your results been with the changes?
     
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