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> 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?
So did you plant the tank 2 years ago, or have you had it for 2 years and
plant it recently?
If the huge beautiful state you have in mind is the state that you bought
the swords in then be aware that "sword plants" are usually sold in an
emersed form. The submersed leaves it grows when transplanted to your
tank are different - usually smaller.
The water change is fine, but if you're doing that fertilizer routine on
a weekly basis, then you're probably doing too much.
> 2) Am I running enough light?
I can't see your tank from here, but judging from the wattage and size of
tank, your lighting level is marginal - insufficient for a large number of
plants. I don't know what an "actinolite" is, but if its an actinic
light, then it probably isn't worth as much to the plants as other lights
that might cost less. If you can, try upgrading to 6 40-watt flourescent
lights to get 2 watts/gallon.
If you do change the lighting, be ready to see your algae problem get
worse. You might also see another problem or two that you don't have
now. The more you increase the lighting, the more it will promote other
> 3) Do I really need to set up a CO2 system?
No. That will probably accelerate the plant growth in your tank and some
plants seem to require it, but it will also increase your cost and
maintenance. CO2-or-not depends on where you want to go with the hobby.
You can have a beautiful tank without it. You can have a beatiful tank
> 4) Do I need to do something different with the substrate?
You don't say what the substrate is. If you have plain gravel with Tetra
Initial sticks scattered about and that's been set up for 2 years, then
certainly you can upgrade it, but I don't think that's your primary
problem. Of course, if you've read APD for any length of time you know
that there are lots of different opinions about substrates.
> 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?
Revert to a minimal feeding and fertilizing routine and get algae eating
critters. You don't say what you have in the tank now, so its hard to say
what more you should get. Many live bearers - particularly mollies -
are inclined to munch on some algae. Bristle-nose plecos and siamese
algae eaters (not *chinese* algae eaters) are good control for some kinds
of algae. Ameca splendens and rosy barbs have been reported to eat hair
algae. Some shrimp graze on algae (but these might be hard to find and
still harder to keep) and there's always snails. No doubt there are other
> 6) What is the deal with polishers like the diatomaceous earth things I
> read about?
They're for getting squeaky-clean water.
> 7) And, has anyone had any experience with under-tank heaters that
> supposedly help circulation to the roots of plants?
Lots of info on heating cables is available at the Krib and in the archives.
> 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 appreciate any and all input. Thanks.
There's a wealth of good information at the Krib:
I'd suggest reading Richard Sexton's "Super FAQ" on lighting and some of
the introductory material - I particularly like Earl Hamilton's planted tank
Also, the APD archive at
provides a searchable database with lots of information and maybe more
opinions than can really be sorted through.