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Re: Setting Down Roots & Vegetarian Guppies

Good Morning Everyone,

Dave Phillips has been having trouble keeping his plants anchored in the

> 	I've currently got two 20 gal tanks, one all guppies, and another
> guppies, tetras, and catfish.  I've some live plants in both - Cabomba,
> something floating, Lloydella, Red Ludwigia, and Valisneria.  
> 	Is it normal that the plants uproot themselves on a regular basis,
> and require re-planting?  Some of them do grow quite well (esp.
> Lloydella), and often require trimming also. 

No, it is not normal for plants to uproot themselves. But it DOES take some
time for newly planted ones to "set root" and become resistant to
uprooting. This period of time is variable and depends upon both the
individual species and the conditions in the tank. Usually, a week or two
after planting, sufficient new roots have been formed and sent out into the
substrate to anchor a plant in place. During this time you have to be
careful not to disturb the plant or the substrate. This disturbance might
come from maintenance tasks, gravel vacuming, overly strong current from a
filter or digging fish. Guppies have never caused me any grief in this
regard but catfish quite often can "root" around in the substrate enough to
dislodge freshly planted shoots.

There are a couple of things that you as an aquarist can do - wait for a
couple of weeks after planting before introducting any fish with a tendancy
to dig in the gravel, place pebbles around the base of new plants to
prevent the substrate from being disturbed in the first place, go easy on
carrying out system maintenance tasks around newly placed plants, and keep
strong currents away from the plants until they have had a chance to "set

One thing you didn't mention, but might be very critical to finding a
solution, is the condition of the lower portion of the uprooted plant stem
both when you planted it and when it floated free of the substrate. 

When you planted the plants in the first place were you careful to trim
back any overy long and/or dead roots already on the plant? If they were
cuttings, did you make a clean cut just below a leaf node and did you
remove any leaves which would be below the gravel surface? Failure to do
either or both of these steps could lead to decay and cause the plant to be
unable to grow fresh roots. 

Also, when the stems became uprooted what was the condition of the portions
which were under the gravel? Were they soft and mushy, with dark
discoloration, or were they plump, healthy and white (roots)? If the former
condition was noted I would begin to suspect that there is something wrong
with your substrate or your planting methods. If the root system looked
O.K., the cause is more likely a physical disturbance.
> 	Someone was mentioning kitty litter or other soils as substrate.
> What substrate or other tricks are there to keep the plants stuck to the
> bottom??  :>  

Pebbles can be a godsend. I won't even touch the kitty litter debate at
this point in time.

>  	Another problem I have now that my guppies are breeding like crazy
> is that they're eating all the plants.  If I were to set up a plant-only
> 10 gal tank, would I need anything other than gravel and light?  Is it
> beneficial to keep the light on 24 hours a day?

Guppies will nibble on some soft leaved plants, its natural for them to do
so. But they shouldn't cause major damage. I have had guppies and other
livebearers in tanks for years and have never had them cause me any grief .
You might want to give them something like floating Water Sprite which has
leaves Guppies (in MY experience) particularly like, but which grow fast
enough to be able to withstand the damage.

Plants and fish go together like (to coin a phrase) love and marriage. Both
do better when the other is present. It is certainly possible to have plant
only tanks but then you are going to have to use supplemental fertilizer.
Please don't give up on your guppies.

Both plants and animals are living organisms which are sensitive to light
and to light cycles. The natural day/night cycle is both beneficial and
natural. Turn your lights off at night. Failure to do so could cause your
fish to go off of their breeding cycle.

Good luck. 

James Purchase
jpp at inforamp_net