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RE: light and red plants
>At 80 watts over a 29 gallon tank, I've been contemplating recently how I
>could add more light. I figured this would be enough lighting on setup, but
>recently added some plants that aren't coloring as well as they should for
>example, red cabomba, rotala macranda and rotala wallichii. In a flourite
>substrate with iron & fert. tablets I don't get near the coloring I've either
>1) seen in pictures or 2) seen on the plants when they arrived from other
I have nice red Cabomba and Rotala at 2 watts a gallon. 2x40 watt bulbs over
a 40 long tank.
Cherry red all the time. It ain't da light. Neil has some blood red Rotala
macrandra at the same amount of light.. possibly less. I have wallichii at
about the same lighting that you have.
Back off the NO3 levels and see what happens. I suspect you'll get better
colors. Several folks have been finding this to be the case in different tap
water types(very soft with added KH/GH to about 4 each and my water which is
KH5/GH9). Both tanks have less light than you have.
PC's will add more light for a reasonable cost. 2-55 watts would do plenty
for your needs. Check out A&H for more info.
As far as NO3 levels, I just add more food and no KNO3 but still add K2SO4.
Growth is slower but better looking colors. Perhaps its the NH4+/NO3 ratio
but its a complex cycle I'm betting.
I think a lower NO3- level and a higher NH4+ might help this. How much on
either? Likely 1(or less perhaps)-3 ppm on the NO3 and it would be hard to
get any NH4+ tested since the plants get it first I would bet. I'm not
certain about this idea as of yet but enough to fiddle around.........
But its not your light/substrate. I also noticed that lower fish load tanks
tend to have the redder plants as you can over feed these without fouling
the tank and also be NO3 limited but not absent. That can be a fine line
between absent and a little NO3 so be wary.
I'm glad you want better quality out of your plants and aspire to get the
picture perfect look out of them. Don't stop trying to achieve this!