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Re: [APD] Spindly fronds
All three of the plants you mention - Bolbitis, Anubias, and Java fern - are slow growing plants that don't require a lot of light or attention, I grow mine in a 29 gallon tank with 30 watts of regular old fluorescent lighting. I do use fertilizer and CO2 in the tank because there's some hygrophilas and ludwigia repens in there, but the three plants you mentioned do fine in my 10 gallon, unfertilized, barely lit baby grow-out tank.
I think you might be making things harder than you need to. A 2 gallon tank with all those ferts, CO2, and so on, is much much harder than a 20 gallon tank. This is true for fish-only tanks with no additives, and even more true when you are dosing ferts and adding CO2. For example, I bubble CO2 into three tanks - a 10, a 29 and a 72. In the 72, I can make some fairly large adjustments in bubble rate with relatively little effect on the CO2 levels. A similar change in the 10 can have fish gasping at the surface and a through-the-floor pH. Similarly, a rounded measuring spoon vs. an exactly level one just isn't a big deal in the 72 - in the 10, it matters a whole lot. In addition, a tank with only slow growing plants and over 2 WPG of light is, IMO, much more likely to get algae than one with faster growing plants like Hygro polysperma, H. difformis, Rotala indica, and so on. You seem willing to put in a lot of time with your tank - maybe you could try some faster growing, nutrient-sucking plants to have an easier time of things.
I think you'd be less frustrated and more likely to have success with a bigger tank. In aquaria, smaller doesn't mean easier. I found it much easier to get a handle on ferts, etc, in my 29 than in a 10 - I can't even imagine trying to do it in a 2 as a starter tank. I wonder if you'll decide that you can't grow plants when you really could, if you were doing it in an easier way.
Just my $.02
----- Original Message -----
From: Gwmangen at cs_com<mailto:Gwmangen at cs_com>
To: aquatic-plants at actwin_com<mailto:aquatic-plants at actwin_com>
Sent: Wednesday, July 28, 2004 1:13 PM
Subject: [APD] Spindly fronds
Here are some questions to which I have not found answers in the archives.
They are common problems though. Reintroducing my two gallon tank: moderately
soft water ~80 mg/l CaCO3, Alkalinity ~5 dH, ~23 mg/l CO2, ~5 mg/l NO3, ~0.05
mg/l PO4, ~2.25 watts/gallon of full spectrum flourescent lighting, fertilize
with 4 drops TMG/water change, dose with K, growing java fern, Bolbitus h.,
Anubias n.. All three plants are responding to their current situation with
very little algea growth. I've been changing 25% of the water every three days
with reconstituted RO water. I've been working with this two gallon because I
have had bad luck (bad skill?) trying to grow plants in the past. The two
gallon is hard to work with, but I figure "if the plants can make it there they
can make it anywhere" and then I can move on to a bigger tank with the skill
I'm developing in the crucible of the two gallon aquarium. Besides I don't
want to spend money on a bigger tank if I can't grow plants.
1. Have I been making too many changes?
I mean since I started this about six months ago I've been making constant
changes to water chemistry, filtration, lighting and the arrangement of the
plants in an effort to make them grow. Wouldn't the plants be happier if I just
left them alone? A couple of days ago I went into a pet store and saw an
Anubias that was thriving on neglect! It was in a dimly lit tank with no CO2 and
probably no ferts. But this plant looked nice and happy. So I'm thinking
maybe I have been messing around in the tank too much and would be better off
working some neglect into my routine. Therefore instead of changing 25% of the
water every three days, I'm going to change 50% of the water every five or six
days depending on what the algae is doing.
2. Why are the fronds on my Bolbitus growing long, staggered and spindly?
For a long time the Bolbitus was not growing but it took off when I put it
under the water current of a nano power filter. It seems to appreciate the
current. However, unlike its old growth, the new leaflets coming off the fronds
of the new growth are more staggered and farther apart from each other. If I
were to hazard a guess, I would say the plant doesn't have enough nutrients to
keep up with the light provided to it. The Anubias has been dormant for the
last six weeks after most of its rhizome disintegrated and is now teasing out
the beginning of a new shoot. Growth on the java fern looks good to me
compared to the Bolbitus.
3. Could something important be missing from the RO Vital I've been using to
reconstitute RO water?
RO Vital is a proprietary formula for reconstituting RO water. The problem,
of course, is they won't tell you what's in it. I called to ask if it has
Potassium and they said yes. The label says it has every necessary mineral and
trace element. But the product was formulated for Discus who live in very soft
acidic water. Shouldn't plant water have more substance and alkalinity than
Discus water? If they want to play games and not tell me what it has, I could
have a sample analyzed. It would make dosing the tank easier if I could use
a decent premixed proprietary product. But they don't want me to know, so I
guess I'll have to respect that. I'm down to the last couple of grams of the
stuff and now I'm going to start rolling my own ingredients (sorry, I can't
tell you what I'm going to add because then I would have to kill you.) If the
plants respond better then I'll know the RO Vital was deficient.
I think I know good plant growth when I see it. The problem is, excepting
java fern, I haven't seen it yet.
On the threshold of success, George
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