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Goldenhero

I Need Some Serious Planted Tank Help!

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First off the tanks I need help with are tropical planted tanks so if I posted this in the wrong area I apologize!

I've been trying to do the whole planted tank thing (Low light, no Co2) for a while now and I've been struggling. Most my plants have problems. For example, almost every single stem plant I've tried has died. There's a lot of yellowing and transparent leaves, pin points in leaves, weird brown dots on my banana plants, black patches on Java Fern...no good! The two plants I have decent success with are Anubias (Never lost one of these) and Amazon Swords but everything else is iffy. :(

I keep trying more/different fertilizers to try to battle the issues but if anything I think what I'm currently doing is contributing to the yellowing of certain plants. I just ordered some root tabs that I'm going to try. Hopefully they will help.

THE TANKS: 20 gallon tropical planted tank. Inhabitants are 4 platies, 1 molly, 1 female betta, 1 bristlenose pleco, and some bladder snails that hitchhiked in. They don't bother me so I leave them be. Fish are thriving. Substrate is Eco Complete but it's been in there for over a year. Temp is around 75 degrees. Filter is a weak old Aqua Tech that I plan to upgrade to a Fluval C3 soon. Weekly water changes around 50%, water dosed with Prime. Two of these bulbs for lighting. Lights are on a timer, 10 hours a day. For fertilizer I use Seachem Flourish, Seachem Potassium, and Seachem Flourish Trace. I currently dose once a week.

I know the lighting situation for this tank is bad. I definitely plan to upgrade (I would love suggestions!) but considering I'm off work from my main job during the summer I would like to put this off until fall or winter.

10 gallon betta/snail tank. Inhabitants are 1 male betta, 2 nerite snails, and 2 mystery snails. Temp is around 77-80 degrees. I use the same bulbs, light/water change schedule, filter, and fertilizers as the other tank. Substrate is black sand. There's not a lot of plants in here at the moment because stuff died off and I didn't want to spend the money on more until I got more successful at keeping them.

Here's a link to a Photobucket album I made with some examples of my plant issues. I was too lazy to resize them and post directly, lol. I hope that's ok. If not I'll fix it. :)

Thanks for reading all that! I welcome all and any suggestions! There's so many members on here with gorgeous planted tanks.

Edited by Goldenhero

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It may be the light... Everything else seems fine. But lighting is a little low, even for low light. Only 1wpg.

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You could look for a dual 24 inch fixture (a 20 is 24", right?) and that would give you 36 watts if you use T8s.

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You could look for a dual 24 inch fixture (a 20 is 24", right?) and that would give you 36 watts if you use T8s.

Yeah that would work for her 20 gallon

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Still would be under 2wpg, but it'd be a lot better. Even better would be a T5-HO fixture.

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Still would be under 2wpg, but it'd be a lot better. Even better would be a T5-HO fixture.

Yeah that would be better but then she would probably need Co2

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Thanks for the ideas guys! I absolutely agree the lighting is bad so I definitely want lighting suggestions. I want to keep the set ups low tech if possible. I'm fine with simpler plants and slower growth.

The 20 used to be a 10 and of course I currently have the betta tank. The plants don't/didn't do well in those either, where the wpg is higher. I should mention that the 20 is a 20 high so that makes the lighting situation even worse. :(

Considering that do you really think my only problem is the lighting? That would be nice if better lighting was the magic fix, lol.

Edited by Goldenhero

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Thanks for the ideas guys! I absolutely agree the lighting is bad so I definitely want lighting suggestions. I want to keep the set ups low tech if possible. I'm fine with simpler plants and slower growth.

The 20 used to be a 10 and of course I currently have the betta tank. The plants don't/didn't do well in those either, where the wpg is higher. I should mention that the 20 is a 20 high so that makes the lighting situation even worse. :(

Considering that do you really think my only problem is the lighting? That would be nice if better lighting was the magic fix, lol.

Honestly, you may need more WPG because it is a high tank. I would seriously consider getting a T5-HO lamp. I know Jess has them on several of her tanks. They are much brighter than T8s. Other than that, I don't know what else could be wrong. Maybe the root feeders are dying because there aren't enough nutrients in the soil. The root tabs should fix that.

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Unless you want algae, don't use a T5HO fixture. It's beyond overkill on a tank that small without carbon dioxide.

For anyone using watts per gallon as a measurement, please stop. It's a terrible way to determine the amount of light in a tank. On a 10 gallon tank compact fluorescents are a good choice. If you want to upgrade the lighting on the 20 gallon, look at one of Finnex's fixtures. Everyone always assumes light is the biggest problem, usually it has a lot to do with carbon dioxide and flow. Pin holes are usually caused by insufficient co2 and/or potassium.

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Try reading the post by Tithra on PAR - it's very enlightening (haha, I just made a pun :rofl). How tall is your tank? That plays a big part in determining how much light you'll need.

Agree that if you increase your light too much you'll need CO2. I have a 50 gal tank with a Marineland Double Bright LED and my plants are thriving so far (except my banana plant, but that was killed by my fish :)), but I also use Excel for CO2 source as well as root tabs and Flourish micronutrients. I also have Activ-Flora substrate, which provides additional micronutrients through the roots. I think you will need root tabs for the root feeders, but will also need something in the water column for plants that absorb nutrients primarily through the leaves.

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Unless you want algae, don't use a T5HO fixture. It's beyond overkill on a tank that small without carbon dioxide.

For anyone using watts per gallon as a measurement, please stop. It's a terrible way to determine the amount of light in a tank. On a 10 gallon tank compact fluorescents are a good choice. If you want to upgrade the lighting on the 20 gallon, look at one of Finnex's fixtures. Everyone always assumes light is the biggest problem, usually it has a lot to do with carbon dioxide and flow. Pin holes are usually caused by insufficient co2 and/or potassium.

I looked up Finnex fixtures. I'll keep them in mind. By flow do you mean the filter moving the water around? My current filter is definitely underpowered for the tank size (I upgraded the tank and haven't done the filter yet) and I've wondered if that could be a factor. Of course, I plan to upgrade regardless.

If I have a low tech tank can I get away without Co2? I currently dose potassium but I'm not sure if it's helping.

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Try reading the post by Tithra on PAR - it's very enlightening (haha, I just made a pun :rofl). How tall is your tank? That plays a big part in determining how much light you'll need.

Agree that if you increase your light too much you'll need CO2. I have a 50 gal tank with a Marineland Double Bright LED and my plants are thriving so far (except my banana plant, but that was killed by my fish :)), but I also use Excel for CO2 source as well as root tabs and Flourish micronutrients. I also have Activ-Flora substrate, which provides additional micronutrients through the roots. I think you will need root tabs for the root feeders, but will also need something in the water column for plants that absorb nutrients primarily through the leaves.

Haha I like your pun! I'll give that a read tomorrow. :) I know that increased light = more CO2 and I don't need to grow insanely picky high light plants so I do want to avoid anything too crazy. My 20 gallon is a 20 high so it's fairly tall. I didn't have room for the 20 long unfortunately. :( I used to use Excel a long time ago. I forget why I stopped. I'll look into using it again. I dose Flourish Trace which I believe is the micronutrients. I should be getting my root tabs in a couple days so hopefully that will help! I'll still do the liquid fertilizers either way. I use Flourish on my goldfish tank for the Anubias. That's sadly the only tank I have that currently looks decent, lol.

Edited by Goldenhero

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I looked up Finnex fixtures. I'll keep them in mind. By flow do you mean the filter moving the water around? My current filter is definitely underpowered for the tank size (I upgraded the tank and haven't done the filter yet) and I've wondered if that could be a factor. Of course, I plan to upgrade regardless.

If I have a low tech tank can I get away without Co2? I currently dose potassium but I'm not sure if it's helping.

Yep, I mean movement of water. More movement, more chance for nutrients and carbon dioxide to spread. Even low tech tanks have co2 in them. The difference being you're not actively pumping it in, it's just there. All plants photosynthesise in aquaria, it doesn't matter whether you have a low tech or high tech tank. You more than likely won't see plants pearl though. That tends to require pressurised co2.

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I have 1 single 5 foot tropical daylight t8 tube on my 6 foot tank with a reflector behind!... My plants thrive and pearl!!!...no other added help at all....very simple set up!...hope this helps. :-)

http://interpetcatalogue.com/index.php?id=993

Edited by fingers

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I, too, have simple, inexpensive lighting on my tank (90 gal). I have a Shop Light with plant light tubes that I got at Home Depot pretty cheap! They come in all lengths!

It really does not look bad. I have decorations that sit on top of it....it is hardly noticable really. I have PLENTY of plants including Anubias, Java Fern, Lillies & some I don't even remember the name of. But they are all doing really well & have been in there quite awhile!

You don't have to spend a fortune! :thumb:

Edited by Jeana727

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Try reading the post by Tithra on PAR - it's very enlightening (haha, I just made a pun :rofl). How tall is your tank? That plays a big part in determining how much light you'll need.

Agree that if you increase your light too much you'll need CO2. I have a 50 gal tank with a Marineland Double Bright LED and my plants are thriving so far (except my banana plant, but that was killed by my fish :)), but I also use Excel for CO2 source as well as root tabs and Flourish micronutrients. I also have Activ-Flora substrate, which provides additional micronutrients through the roots. I think you will need root tabs for the root feeders, but will also need something in the water column for plants that absorb nutrients primarily through the leaves.

Haha I like your pun! I'll give that a read tomorrow. :) I know that increased light = more CO2 and I don't need to grow insanely picky high light plants so I do want to avoid anything too crazy. My 20 gallon is a 20 high so it's fairly tall. I didn't have room for the 20 long unfortunately. :( I used to use Excel a long time ago. I forget why I stopped. I'll look into using it again. I dose Flourish Trace which I believe is the micronutrients. I should be getting my root tabs in a couple days so hopefully that will help! I'll still do the liquid fertilizers either way. I use Flourish on my goldfish tank for the Anubias. That's sadly the only tank I have that currently looks decent, lol.

Do you have a measurement of how tall your tank is? This will greatly affect the lighting you'll need because it will require stronger light to reach the bottom of the tank. What you would normally consider medium light may in fact be low light for your tank. This is why PAR is a much better measure than WPG - it takes this into account. I have a somewhat tall tank too (I think it's 24 inches), which is why I went with the fixture I did. My goal was similar to yours, low light and no pressurized CO2.

Here's my setup - proud of it so far! The Marineland LED has a beautiful shimmer effect. It's a pretty high upfront cost (I paid $117 online at Drs. Foster & Smith), but monthly electricity savings and no need to replace bulbs - they last for years.

a8e8ena4.jpg

Edited by *Amanda*

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Just something for you to think about--You may also do well by sticking a root tab under those heavy root feeders. I imagine that your planted substrate is worn out, after being in there for such a long time.

Edited by yafashelli

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I agree. The Anubias may be doing well because they aren't heavy root feeders. Lack of nutrients in the soil may well be a part of the problem with some of the plants :)

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I have 1 single 5 foot tropical daylight t8 tube on my 6 foot tank with a reflector behind!... My plants thrive and pearl!!!...no other added help at all....very simple set up!...hope this helps. :-)

http://interpetcatalogue.com/index.php?id=993

It does help! I appreciate all the lighting suggestions everyone's giving me. :) That looks really nice and simple!

I, too, have simple, inexpensive lighting on my tank (90 gal). I have a Shop Light with plant light tubes that I got at Home Depot pretty cheap! They come in all lengths!

It really does not look bad. I have decorations that sit on top of it....it is hardly noticable really. I have PLENTY of plants including Anubias, Java Fern, Lillies & some I don't even remember the name of. But they are all doing really well & have been in there quite awhile!

You don't have to spend a fortune! :thumb:

I wish I could do a shop light but I don't have a lot of space over my tank. The piece of furniture it's on has a shelf 6-8 inches over the top of the tank. That's a great idea though and definitely something I would consider down the road. Avoiding spending a fortune is always good!

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Try reading the post by Tithra on PAR - it's very enlightening (haha, I just made a pun :rofl). How tall is your tank? That plays a big part in determining how much light you'll need.

Agree that if you increase your light too much you'll need CO2. I have a 50 gal tank with a Marineland Double Bright LED and my plants are thriving so far (except my banana plant, but that was killed by my fish :)), but I also use Excel for CO2 source as well as root tabs and Flourish micronutrients. I also have Activ-Flora substrate, which provides additional micronutrients through the roots. I think you will need root tabs for the root feeders, but will also need something in the water column for plants that absorb nutrients primarily through the leaves.

Haha I like your pun! I'll give that a read tomorrow. :) I know that increased light = more CO2 and I don't need to grow insanely picky high light plants so I do want to avoid anything too crazy. My 20 gallon is a 20 high so it's fairly tall. I didn't have room for the 20 long unfortunately. :( I used to use Excel a long time ago. I forget why I stopped. I'll look into using it again. I dose Flourish Trace which I believe is the micronutrients. I should be getting my root tabs in a couple days so hopefully that will help! I'll still do the liquid fertilizers either way. I use Flourish on my goldfish tank for the Anubias. That's sadly the only tank I have that currently looks decent, lol.

Do you have a measurement of how tall your tank is? This will greatly affect the lighting you'll need because it will require stronger light to reach the bottom of the tank. What you would normally consider medium light may in fact be low light for your tank. This is why PAR is a much better measure than WPG - it takes this into account. I have a somewhat tall tank too (I think it's 24 inches), which is why I went with the fixture I did. My goal was similar to yours, low light and no pressurized CO2.

Here's my setup - proud of it so far! The Marineland LED has a beautiful shimmer effect. It's a pretty high upfront cost (I paid $117 online at Drs. Foster & Smith), but monthly electricity savings and no need to replace bulbs - they last for years.

a8e8ena4.jpg

Your tank is lovely! My tank is a 20 high which Google is telling me is 16 inches tall. I'll go check for myself later but that sounds about right. I'm ok with spending around $100-$130 on the fixture if it's high quality and the bulbs last a long time so that sounds great! Thanks a ton for all the info, I'll definitely look into the Marineland.

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Just something for you to think about--You may also do well by sticking a root tab under those heavy root feeders. I imagine that your planted substrate is worn out, after being in there for such a long time.

I agree. The Anubias may be doing well because they aren't heavy root feeders. Lack of nutrients in the soil may well be a part of the problem with some of the plants :)

Thanks guys, I got my root tabs today (Today was water change day too, good timing!) and added some. Hopefully that will help. Yeah, I'd imagine the Eco Complete isn't helping me out too much at this point, lol.

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Just something for you to think about--You may also do well by sticking a root tab under those heavy root feeders. I imagine that your planted substrate is worn out, after being in there for such a long time.

I agree. The Anubias may be doing well because they aren't heavy root feeders. Lack of nutrients in the soil may well be a part of the problem with some of the plants :)

Thanks guys, I got my root tabs today (Today was water change day too, good timing!) and added some. Hopefully that will help. Yeah, I'd imagine the Eco Complete isn't helping me out too much at this point, lol.

Watch your root feeders for about a month, and let us know how the new growth comes in. I bet those swords will perk up quite soon. :)

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