Re: Source for vermiculite

Dennis wrote:
>  > all the leaves on my Amazon swords were developing brown spots on them.
>  > initial water conditions before [CO2] PH 7.6 or higher 
>  > 2 20 Watt GE Full Spectrum bulbs 14 hours
> Well after 24 hours of CO2 from a bottle of yeast ph has dropped to a more
> reasonable 6.8 just before the lights went on for for the day.  However my
> yellow and brown spots are still growing bigger. 
> Should I increase the hardness to say 80 or 100 ppm?  Note 55 ppm relates
> to about 3.3 grams per gallon or a bit less.  And if so how much baking
> soda should I use for this?

Amazon sword plants don't require hard water so I don't think you should
increase the hardness at all. In fact, my book indicates they prefer soft
water more than hard.

The "Aquarium Plants Manual", (Ines Scheurmann) offers the following
optimal conditions for Echinodorus amazonicus:
Light: 50 watts per 25 gallons
Water: 72-82 deg F, 2-12 deg dCH, pH 6.5-7.2

My first impression is that you don't have enough light in this tank.
I realize that you are close to the recommended lighting level however,
This is a small tank which affects the efficiency that the light can
be used. Also, most 29 gal tanks are 18" deep and so I would recommend
a higher lighting intensity. Sword plants don't require the very high
light intensities but seem to grow much better given lots of light
and other optimum conditions such as CO2 & a good substrate. (I use
vermiculite & humus with gravel) They do seem to be bothered more by
brush algae at higher light intensities. Snails work well with these
plants which have tough, slow growing leaves. Perhaps some of the others
will offer more advise on optimal growing conditions for sword plants.

Are you getting new leaves being sprouted from your plants each week?
Ideally you should see that. The yellow spots are probably indications
of a deficiency of one or more nutrients, probably potassium. You
will need to use an aquatic plant fertilizer of some kind particularly
if you have a lot of fast growing plants. Regular water changes can
sometimes provide some (not all) micro-nutrients such as Fe, Mg and
Cu. It is advisable to use high quality, chelated mineral and macro
nutrient supplements such as Tropica Master Grow or the Dupla product.
Neither tap water nor fish food contains a sufficient quantity of the
most important supplement, potassium.

A word of warning: 7.6 to 6.8 pH change in 24 hours is a very drastic
change. It won't bother your plants much but can place a lot of stress
on your fish. When starting CO2 injection, I would advise beginning with
only 1 cup of sugar for a 2 liter container and about a half tsp of
yeast. As the yeast starts to grow and the pH begins to drop, you can
add another cup of sugar after a few days. I am experimenting with

> From: Nick Livingston <nickliv at halcyon_com>
> Subject: Plant Problems
> I've noticed small but increasing amounts of green 
> spot algae and a hairlike algae.  Also, my water wisteria has been losing 
> little bits of leaves, and holes are appearing in some of my other 
> plants.  I add the tetra iron stuff every water change because that's all 
> my budget will allow.  The affected plants are some of my oldest, so I 
> don't think its just that they're running out of stored nutrients.  
> However I could be wrong.  I already checked the FAQ on this and it 
> wasn't any help.  Lighting is two 20 watt FL, and pH is about 6.5.  The 
> fish load is fairly light.  Oh, and the water turns yellow too, although 
> this may be from the driftwood.  Any suggestions on how to get rid of any 
> or all of these problems?

Green spot algae will be eaten by most algae eating fish. You should ensure
that you have lots of fast growing plants when starting a new plant tank
in order to compete with the algae. Green hair algae can be a symptom of
too much iron (according to some knowledgeable aquaculturists). 

Water Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis) will grow much better under higher
light intensities. Some fish (plecostomus) and snails will eat the tender 
leaves of this plant.

You can remove the yellow water color using activated charcoal filtration.
This will also remove Fe and other minerals too so we don't advise using
carbon filtration continuously.

> Also, someone mentioned sandblasting gravel as a substrate.  Where does 
> one acquire this stuff?  Hardware stores just give me a blank look when I 
> ask.  Same thing with laterite, vermiculite, etc.  Fish stores have never 
> heard of any of it

Look for sandblasting material at an autobody supply shop. Call around.
You find vermiculite at a gardening supply (year round) or at large 
grocery stores and Canadian Tire in the spring time. You can also find
bagged earthworm castings from a gardening supply outlet. Laterite can
be only obtained from an aquarium outlet. Try mail order if your retailer
cannot find a source. Oh, you might find laterite just lying around on
the ground if you happen to live in Thailand or the Philippines ;-)
It is tropical iron rich clay of volcanic origin which has had been weathered 
to remove the calcium carbonates. It has a distinctive red color from the
iron oxides. Some people use micronized iron (from the gardening store) or
small amounts of iron wool (rusted). Does anyone know if you can add a
toxic amount of Fe by adding iron oxides to your substrate? Uncertainty
on this point was why I didn't use this in my substrate.

 - Steve