Success With Plants Re: Aquatic Plants Digest V1 #9

>>From: "shaji (s.) bhaskar" <bhaskar at bnr_ca>
>>Daily dosing with fertilizers is probably the least time-consuming of
>>the chores involved in keeping a plant tank.  It takes only an
>>additional half-minute to add the fertilizer while you are feeding
>your fish. (Or do you have that part automated as well?  If so, you
>>you could look into automating fertilization.) Missing an occasional
>>day will not matter.
>>But honestly, I still have this nagging feeling that you are 
>>under-estimating the effort that is needed to keep a Dupla-style tank

>Okay Shaji, I'll bite :-)

>I'm getting this feeling that you're referring to some deep dark 
>maintenance nightmare secret of plant tanks here, and for the life of 
>me, I can't think what it could be.  What all do you consider involved 
>with keeping a Dupla-style tank going?  My guess would have been (once 
>established) mostly water changes, cleaning prefilter, pruning plants, 
>plucking out dead leaves, feeding fish, testing water (iron and KH, 
>generally), fertilizing, and every now and then changing bulbs on the 

>If it helps any on providing a baseline, I currently maintain a 75 
>gallon reeftank, a 20 gallon "jewel tank" reef, a 100 gallon marine 
>fish tank, a 58 gallon and a 30 gallon mbuna tank and a koi pond 
>(roughly 1000 gallons).  The ~130 gallon tank that's heading for plant 
>tank was full of mbuna 2 weeks ago, and my 30 tank
>cichlid hatchery is currently shut down...  I also garden, keep 
>parrots, work a full-time+ job, and handle 3 net.businesses on the 
>side... I used to work staff on CI$ Fishnet, edit the newsletter for a 
>regional cichlid club, and write the occasional article for the 
>magazines, before having a massive burnout on hobby "side activities" 
>a few years ago.  I'm just now getting back into seriously enjoying my 
>aquariums, mostly by doing new stuff (marine, koi, and now plants). 
>I've not had a full year without owning fish for about 30 years now 
>(got my first tank when I was about 6).

>And then =after= lunch...  (just kidding)

>Just re-read the above.  Yuck.  I didn't mean to provide a complete 
>fishkeeping resume, just trying to establish where common ground for 
>conversation might be - I'm not new to keeping tanks, or even to 
>keeping them correctly, for the most  part :-)  I'm just new to 
>(hopefully) serious plant tanks.  I've had "so-so" plant tanks over 
>the years, and am just looking for the opportunity to do one 
>more-or-less right.

>Back to the topic, to be honest, at least half of my objection to 
>going to the Dupla fertilization system is Dupla.  I've always 
>resented their pricing, their approach, and for a large part their
>publications-as-thinly-disguised-advertising. Currently in N. Dallas 
>(not exactly a fish-store haven), none of the five or six shops I 
>frequent carry Dupla, so that leaves me down to mail-order, with it's 
>attendant delays and requirements that I plan further ahead in my 
>materials inventory than I know I'm likely to do.  I'm more the "oops 
>- out of Amquel, gotta run to the store" kind of guy.

>- - Chuck
>  clawson at onramp_net
>  http://rampages.onramp.net/~clawson/fish/


I am with you!  And like you, I am way overextended in terms of my time 
commitments to a variety of family, home & job requirements.  Quite 
frankly, I question all of the effort some put into their plant tanks.  
I currently have five tanks, two of which freshwater plants/fish tanks. 
I do not test the water in my two freshwater plant/fish aquariums for 
anything.  I believe the key to success is primarily related to 
ensuring that you have sufficient light, providing supplemental micro- 
nutrients, and completing frequent water changes.   

My procedures for the two tanks I maintain is as follows:

    1)  4 watts of lighting per gal.  Fluorescent bulbs are changed     
    once a year.  I suppose I should gradually change them to ensure a  
    more uniform light intensity, but this way is less trouble.
    2)  Semi-weekly (i.e., twice a week) water changes of 25 and 50%.
    3)  Providing daily additions of micronutrients from one of the     
    three following products: Kent's Freshwater Plant Supplement, K.R.  
    Schoeler Enterprises Natural Gold, or SeaChem Flourish.  I figure   
    among these three products, I should be hitting all bases in terms  
    of plant nutrient needs.
    4)  Use of laterite and Seachem Flourish tablets in the gravel.
    5)  DIY CO2 injection.

Obviously, I am probably not providing the optimum environment, unless 
it is by pure luck.  But I am able to grow successfully virtually every 
species I have tried (i.e., multi species of: Aponogeton, Bacopa, 
Echinodorus, Hygrophila, Ludwiga, Rotala, and Sagittaria).  The one 
species I just cannot get to grow is  Hygrophila polysperma (figure 
that one out). Generally, I have to thin out, prune, etc. once every 
two weeks. 

While I certainly do not condemn those who use more elaborate  
equipment, test for everything under the sun, and probably have 
increased plant growth, I just do not believe it is not necessary to 
achieve a high degree of success with plants.  My current challenge is 
to try and figure out the requirements to successfully grow Aponogeton 

Bob Hoffman
Huntington Beach, CA