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novice aquatic plants questions
First of all, I can raise just about any plant in dirt outside but have
always managed to kill off aquarium plants pretty quickly. My success with
terrestrial plants I attribute to: knowledge of basics + above average
Midwest soil + Indiana weather. I suspect my biggest problems in raising
aquarium plants is light and the second is substrate and nutrition.
My initial goal is to have most of my aquariums nicely planted without
getting into CO2 injection systems, costly lighting systems or anything
A couple of years ago while I was on a field trip with the
<A HREF="http://www.nanfa.org/">North American Native Fishes Association</A>,
I spoke to a gentleman from Illinois who said all the tanks in his fish room
were heavily planted with a variety of plants. When I asked him what he did
to achieve that he told me nothing special: he was using cheap two bulb
fluorescent shop lights and bulbs from Walmart, stuck the plants in the
gravel and did not add anything in the way of fertilizer. Perhaps his plants
were all uncomplicated-and-easy-to-grow types. (Anyone have a suggested list
If he can do it, I figure I can too.
Now let me mention my success this year: I was given a bag of assorted, poor
condition plants that a local pet store was getting ready to throw out. The
only one I can ID for sure is banana plants (one of which is blooming), some
sort of emergent variety, and misc. others. I took clay pots, filled the
bottom with gravel, put the worse regional clay soil I could find in the
middle, inserted the plant, then put about 1/2" of gravel on top and placed
them in a 20" deep outdoor pond that only had Daphnia Magna, rainwater, a
little dirt and some composted manure in it (to promote algae growth for the
daphnia). I had also placed assorted marine and FW shells and some chunks of
limestone in the bottom. Old aquarium water and mulm has been added. Most
of the plants are doing great, a few died off, a few are mediocre.
In the next 60 days I need to get them moved inside. My intentions are to
keep them alive and thriving indoors.
My plans right now are to leave them in the clay pots and simply bury them as
deeply as they will go in the gravel in established and newly set up
aquariums, some of which have underground filters. The emergent plants I
intend to place near the surface in built up areas of the tank.
Most of the tanks have single bulb fluorescent or incandescent lights. Sizes
vary but most are 10, 29 and 40 gallon tanks. Some are heated, the ones with
native fish are not. Water is city water treated for chlorine, chloramine
and copper. Being an amateur, I do not know any other water details.
One of the things I am concerned about is the plants going in to shock from
being in mostly full sunlight to an indoor aquarium. One idea I had was to
float pieces of Styrofoam in the pond to reduce sunlight and then transfer
One of the other big concerns is the lighting. Are the single bulb
fluorescent lights going to be sufficient or do I need to go to double bulbs?
What type of inexpensive bulbs will probably be sufficient for success? Are
there incandescent bulbs available that are sufficient for plant growth or do
those also need to be replaced?
Even as an amateur, I am aware that you could write several large books on
these subjects, but I need some simple, 10th grade level answers if possible.
Along with the
<A HREF="www.nativefish.org ">Native Fish Conservancy,</A> I have set up a
native fish aquarium at an inner city library branch and am assisting some
generally poor, uneducated (and even more unknowing than me) patrons with
suggestions and extra plants in setting up their own aquariums.
All advice and help appreciated!
Indianapolis, Indiana USA