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Re: Questions.

> From: "Shane M. Peter" <S.M.Peter at worldnet_att.net>
> 1) I have had the tank for 2 years, and since I planted all these
> plants, my amazons have shrunk in size considerably and just don't look
> real healthy. Even the anubias haven't done well. I fertilize the tank
> with every water change (I do 20% once a week) with Helena tabs, initial
> sticks, and florapride. What is wrong? What can I do to make the amazons
> flourish and get back to their huge, beautiful state?

It is difficult to determine what may be lacking without a description
of the plant leaves. I don't know enough about what is in the fertilizer
supplements you are using to hazard a guess as to what might be missing.

> 2) Am I running enough light?

Your light sounds adequate for swords and Hygrophila but you could use
more or even a metal halide unit or two. This is probably not the

> 3) Do I really need to set up a CO2 system?

It would help especially if your pH is climbing. You may be able to
maintain a low-tech plant with lower light levels without CO2 injection.
I believe this is commonly done using a soil substrate which helps
supply some CO2 at the roots.

> 4) Do I need to do something different with the substrate?

Other factors are much more important. Using a soil substrate is one way
to supply nutrients for your plants often used in the "Dutch Aquariums"
without getting too scientific about chemicals and nutrient
concentrations. I can't give you much advise on the low-tech approach
although I've done some experimentation with various soil additives for
the substrate.

> 5) I also have an algae growing in the tank that is mostly in the
> gravel, not on the plants. It is sort of in bunches clumping up little
> groups of gravel. The algae is 1-2 inches in length and is fairly black
> in color. How do I get rid of it?

You need to identify it. If it is brush algae, SAEs, platys or shrimps
may help to eat it. pH control via CO2 was very helpful for me to
overcome this algae when I started to have success with growing plants.

> 6) What is the deal with polishers like the diatomaceous earth things I
> read about?

Not critical to growing plants. Useful for dealing with cloudy water or
to get the water sparkling clear.

> 7) And, has anyone had any experience with under-tank heaters that
> supposedly help circulation to the roots of plants?

Most people don't use this; it's not that important for growing plants
IMHO. You should consult "The Optimum Aquarium" book by Dupla who
invented and market these devices. I think George Booth may have some
info on his web pages.

> I guess basically, what I am looking for is someone who can give me some
> advise on how to get this tank healthy. What would be a good plan of
> attack?

I would start by reading the FAQ and then browsing the Krib web pages
especially the subjects on lighting, CO2 and fertilization. We don't
tend to talk much about the low-tech methods of growing plants which do
not rely upon CO2 injection or dosing with chemicals but probably the
majority of aquarium plants are grown this way. If you increase your
lighting levels to grow a wider variety of plants, then it becomes more
important to worry about CO2, nutrients and substrates.

Try a few things, make some observations and come back with more
questions. This is a good strategy and will give you plenty of options
to work with.

Steve Pushak in drizzly Vancouver on Thanksgiving Eve watching scary
movies about Halloween!