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Old 03-06-2021, 06:34 PM   #1
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How Long to Establish Plants?

Received a large order of plants from liveaquaria.com in early February. All chosen to work with local water conditions even though I intend to bring down the ph and hardness using a rainwater collection system I scored on closeout sale.

All planted in 2" plastic trays of various size using a varied and layered mix of high clay pond soil, coarse sand and smooth gravel. All currently in 75-gallon tank filled with fully conditioned water from the 160-gallon where they will be "planted". Only bio load is three juvenile Chinese algae eaters.

I trimmed the root of everything received bare root and carefully unpotted those received in pots with their filter floss "substrate".



Above is how they look now.

The Amazon and Oriental swords at the left seem excellent with new growth and new runners. Note the weights around the Oriental swords at the front as they were bare root with extremely little root structure and refused to stay planted.

The Anubias nana at left center [seem] good and better than received but I'm seeing very little new growth.

The 4-leaf clovers at front center came looking rather poor and while the original growth has nearly melted away there is substantial and spreading root growth.

The wisteria looks pretty good and again healthier looking than when received but little if any real growth.

The microswords at the front-right are putting out runners with some new sprouts from the roots.

The plants at the rear are not doing well. Two are "red pearl" one of which has almost complete dissolved with the other not far behind. There might be some new growth from the roots but I'm not sure.

The other three sword looking plants with big black spots on the leaves were received incorrectly. They were supposed to be water sprite and I've asked for but not yet received replacements. They actually look a bit better than when received but I really don't know what they are and don't see any sign of true growth.

Water chemistry is fine with ph of 7.5 which I know is at the top end of the "best" range for the plants. Rather hard water but again reasonable for the chosen plants.

Am using home-made PMDD using the original formula with HCL and added some root tabs to some of the plants a few days ago.

Higher full-spectrum light at the right front for the light-loving plants with a good old grow-lux fluorescent for general light.

---------------------------

Finally the questions:

How long should I keep the plants in this tank before putting into the large tank with a substantial bio load of adult fish? This will be a big-time reaquascaping of an established tank and I don't want to overstress the adult red parrots and other inhabitants. BTW the substrate in the big tank is pea gravel with lots of plastic plants that they have never uprooted.

Is the condition of the plants as you see and I describe reasonable for about one month?

Any comments and advice are greatly appreciated as I pretty much left the hobby for decades and the big tank is by far the largest I've ever had.

Can I "mow" the microswords? I actually want them a bit shorter.
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Old 03-06-2021, 10:17 PM   #2
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I did the same thing you did a year ago when I installed my tank, I had my plants in containers with nutrient substrate just before sending them to a larger tank. I think you should at least add some type of fertilizer like Fluorish from Seachem, I'm not sure your lighting is adequate, I'm also sure that leaving them in trays for a long time is not the best.
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Old 03-07-2021, 03:59 AM   #3
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Thereís a lot to answer here so bear with me.

Lets try to make it simple. Light, carbon dioxide (co2), nutrients.

These are the elements that are required for a successful planted tank. If you have a lot of light you will need more of the other two.

The good news is soil contains organic matter which when broken down will produce carbon and it contains nutrients. You donít need the PPMD at this point.

If you are not injecting carbon dioxide my advice would be to add an airstone. The increase in oxygen granted by the airstone bubbles breaking the surface will facilitate the mineralisation (microbial breakdown) of the soil releasing co2 and ammonia nitrogen. You may see faster growth.

Your light could be either too low in terms of intensity which is why some of the plants are responding slowly or it could be the lack of co2 and a lack of co2 will be exacerbated be too much light intensity. You need to find the sweet spot here.

The first thing I would do is add airstone and take in from there. One change at a time.

As for removing the plants from a nutritious substrate and placing them in an inert gravel, they may respond negatively.

You have given me and idea though. For soil, filling a grow tray with and inch of soil, capping with gravel and placing on the bottom of the aquarium before filling would make removal so much easier. You could add some handles made from fine rope either side so when you come to tear down the tank you just drain and lift the grow tray out
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Old 03-07-2021, 08:10 AM   #4
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I'll definitely add an air stone to get better aeration via water movement.

Their permanent home has 6' air wall along the back as well as a power circulator so there's plenty of water movement.

What problem with the containers? They're large for the size of the plants they hold and I drilled many small holes in the bottom and sides to ensure that water can move through them. I intend to "plant" the containers in the substrate of their permanent home.

With the rise of LEDs, aquarium lighting has changed greatly since the last time I had a planted tank in the 1990s.

It used to be X watts per square foot of surface for X hours but I'm clueless when it comes to LEDs. Their permanent home has all LED fixtures with 1 x 4' full spectrum LED for the "moderate" light area and 2 x 2" for the high lighting side. All of the lights were inexpensive but from what I could tell paying more money just got more control frills and gimmicks like color changing.
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Old 03-07-2021, 03:37 PM   #5
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How Long to Establish Plants?

Quote:

Their permanent home has 6' air wall along the back as well as a power circulator so there's plenty of water movement.
Sounds good.



Quote:
What problem with the containers? They're large for the size of the plants they hold and I drilled many small holes in the bottom and sides to ensure that water can move through them. I intend to "plant" the containers in the substrate of their permanent home.
Sorry, I didnít realise you were going to plant the containers. I thought you meant you were growing the plants out and establishing them in the containers then removing just the plants to your new tank. This is a great Idea.



Quote:
With the rise of LEDs, aquarium lighting has changed greatly since the last time I had a planted tank in the 1990s.



It used to be X watts per square foot of surface for X hours but I'm clueless when it comes to LEDs. Their permanent home has all LED fixtures with 1 x 4' full spectrum LED for the "moderate" light area and 2 x 2" for the high lighting side. All of the lights were inexpensive but from what I could tell paying more money just got more control frills and gimmicks like color changing.

Iím not familiar with how many watts per gallon equates to what level of lighting, high, medium, low etc. Modern advancements has seen Ďphotosynthetically active radiationí or PAR enter the scene. This is how many photons the fixture emits over a certain area per second. Itís important because itís the photons that trigger photosynthetic reactions which involves uptake of carbon molecules. The more photons striking the leaves of your plants the more carbon dioxide molecules there needs to be. Without a PAR meter you wont be able to tell how Ďintenseí your fixture is and they are expensive. This is why you will need to play around with the settings.
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Old 03-07-2021, 04:48 PM   #6
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Since wattage for a given light output will vary dependant on the type of tube, lumens per litre/gallon is a more common guideline.

Low 10 to 20 lumens per litre
Medium 20 to 40 lumens per litre
High 40+ lumens per litre

However for white LED lamps 1 watt tends to produce an output of about 60 lumens.
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Old 03-07-2021, 05:12 PM   #7
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Since wattage for a given light output will vary dependant on the type of tube, lumens per litre/gallon is a more common guideline.

Low 10 to 20 lumens per litre
Medium 20 to 40 lumens per litre
High 40+ lumens per litre

However for white LED lamps 1 watt tends to produce an output of about 60 lumens.

Edit. To add. PAR is much more useful than lumens, as lumens only measures a lights intensity and not whether it is useful light or not. If im understanding PAR correctly, PAR is a measure of useful light for photosynthesis. Im sure Caliban can correct me if im wrong or provide a better understanding.
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Old 03-07-2021, 09:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiken Drum View Post
Since wattage for a given light output will vary dependant on the type of tube, lumens per litre/gallon is a more common guideline.

Low 10 to 20 lumens per litre
Medium 20 to 40 lumens per litre
High 40+ lumens per litre

However for white LED lamps 1 watt tends to produce an output of about 60 lumens.

Edit. To add. PAR is much more useful than lumens, as lumens only measures a lights intensity and not whether it is useful light or not. If im understanding PAR correctly, PAR is a measure of useful light for photosynthesis. Im sure Caliban can correct me if im wrong or provide a better understanding.

Yes, unfortunately lumens isnít really a useful unit in the case of plant growth. Lumens is just the measure of how bright the light appears to the human eye.

Watts, lumens, spectrum peaks and colour temperatures are all fancy marketing terminologies used by companies to bamboozle unaware customers in to buying their tubes/LEDs. All that plants really care about is that the light spectrum falls between 400-700 nanometers. Because visible light falls around 380-750 nanometers this means if you can see it, it will grow plants.

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Spectral peaks and colour temperatures we can use as a guide to find out what is aesthetically pleasing to look at. Because the chlorophyll pigment reflects green and yellow light in to our eyes, the more peaks in the yellow and green, the greener the plants will look to us. Peaks in the red or blue areas will make our fish or hard scape Ďpopí better.

Colour temperature without getting too scientific and for our purposes ranges from a warm reddish hue to a colour blue/white. Companies will use a mixture of these properties when designing tubes or LEDs to try and cater to all these, claiming things like Ďfull spectrumí or Ďsolar tubeí but itís all marketing jargon.

My fixture has a high colour temperature, giving a rather white look, yet it has spectrum peaks in green and yellow so the plants look greener but can also appear Ďwashed outí when lacking some nutritional elements. Its also extremely powerful reaching what would be classed as entering medium light at its third setting. Lucky enough I found this that someone had measured using a PAR meter.

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Sometimes fixtures will give a PAR value on the box.
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Old 03-08-2021, 05:23 PM   #9
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Thank you all for your time and advice! Some good information. Rather stupid of me not to think of an air stone as it's the surface movement that increases gas absorption and CO2 is a gas!

I have never used nor have I seen putting the plants into permanent containers like this but it seemed a very good idea in the large tank (24 square feet of "floor").

1) I layered substrate in the trays in ways that seemed best suited to the species they contain.

2) The pond soil and coarse sand I used tend to cloud water when disturbed and the entire container can be removed if needed avoiding this problem.

3) The cost of those high quality substrates would be almost ridiculous for that big aquarium. It was nearly $50 just to fill the containers.

------------------------

Actually I think I overdid the lighting for a while (at least in duration) as after a couple days completely off when first planted I ran the fluorescent and two x 2' LEDS about 14 hours per day.

I only put in the root tablets about a week ago and even since I took the photo the red pearl plants that I read are slow-growing heavy root feeders have perked up nicely with (I think) signs of new growth.

The three splotchy looking swords? came looking like that and still look nearly the same but I did not order them and came instead of the water sprites that I ordered and are on the receipt.

Am still getting a fair amount of a dark, very fine, very long strand algae but am keeping it under control by regular hand removal something I want to avoid as much as possible when they get into their permanent home with the easily spooked adult red parrots. (And yes I know about their tendency to disturb substrate and uproot plants but they've never bothered the significant number of plastic ones.) I know they "like" sand substrate but they've been raised with medium gravel so never got the habit I suppose. All of the containers save the microswords have a thin layer of the same gravel. Sand on top for the microswords but they're already very dense and spreading.

--------------------------

Back to a couple original questions.

How long do should I wait for the plants to be truly established?

Can I "mow" microswords? For the aquascape I have in mind I'd like to maintain them somewhat shorter as they're currently about 6" tall.
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Old 03-09-2021, 02:39 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SwampeastMike View Post
Thank you all for your time and advice! Some good information. Rather stupid of me not to think of an air stone as it's the surface movement that increases gas absorption and CO2 is a gas!

I have never used nor have I seen putting the plants into permanent containers like this but it seemed a very good idea in the large tank (24 square feet of "floor").

1) I layered substrate in the trays in ways that seemed best suited to the species they contain.

2) The pond soil and coarse sand I used tend to cloud water when disturbed and the entire container can be removed if needed avoiding this problem.

3) The cost of those high quality substrates would be almost ridiculous for that big aquarium. It was nearly $50 just to fill the containers.

------------------------

Actually I think I overdid the lighting for a while (at least in duration) as after a couple days completely off when first planted I ran the fluorescent and two x 2' LEDS about 14 hours per day.

I only put in the root tablets about a week ago and even since I took the photo the red pearl plants that I read are slow-growing heavy root feeders have perked up nicely with (I think) signs of new growth.

The three splotchy looking swords? came looking like that and still look nearly the same but I did not order them and came instead of the water sprites that I ordered and are on the receipt.

Am still getting a fair amount of a dark, very fine, very long strand algae but am keeping it under control by regular hand removal something I want to avoid as much as possible when they get into their permanent home with the easily spooked adult red parrots. (And yes I know about their tendency to disturb substrate and uproot plants but they've never bothered the significant number of plastic ones.) I know they "like" sand substrate but they've been raised with medium gravel so never got the habit I suppose. All of the containers save the microswords have a thin layer of the same gravel. Sand on top for the microswords but they're already very dense and spreading.

--------------------------

Back to a couple original questions.

How long do should I wait for the plants to be truly established?

Can I "mow" microswords? For the aquascape I have in mind I'd like to maintain them somewhat shorter as they're currently about 6" tall.

Youíre welcome.

Yes, gas exchange at the surface is paramount for lots of reasons.

Itís a very good idea regarding the planters. Iíll definitely be considering trying this if I ever use soil again.

It does sound like you had a lot of light. The organic matter in the soil is likely breaking down and releasing ammonia right now. Ammonia coupled with high light intensities can cause the algae you describe. Especially in a new set up when things are still a little unstable. You could do some more regular water changes to keep the ammonia levels down.

I do like a longer photoperiod. Normally 12 hours but Iíve reduced to 10 just recently. With soil and root tabs (and if you add some aeration) I donít think you can go wrong here. More so just the intensity that you may need to tweak. You will notice a vast improvement in plant growth when you add the aeration, though there might be some more of an algae storm before the calm. As the plants begin to mop up the ammonia and the organic matter in the soil is broken down the algae should begin to subside. Algae outbreaks can take months to control though.

I would wait until the algae begins to slow right down and the plants are growing well. You donít want ammonia leaching in to the water column when you have fish.

It sounds like the swords you describe are actually java ferns? And the mini swords are type of eleocharis. Maybe acicularis. They absolutely thrive in soil and is a native grass here in the UK. Trimming is will help it to spread. It is used primarily as a foreground plant if you have the dwarf variety.

Some pictures of the plants will help us to ID them for you.

I havenít kept any of those fish so I have no idea how they will interact with the plants.
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Old 03-09-2021, 03:43 AM   #11
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Sorry, I notice you did put a picture up initially. I see lots of different sword varieties.
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Old 03-09-2021, 07:57 PM   #12
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Here's a picture of an unknown sword.


https://www.aquariumadvice.com/forum...ture72814.html

Checked water again with 0 ammonium, 0 nitrites, 25 nitrates, 5 Kh, 12 Gh.

The general hardness is very unusual as tap is currently 8. I wonder if the sand substrate is doing this.

I did score a closeout deal on an ideal rainwater collection system to be installed this week as rain for days is due so I'll soon have some to blend with the local water that's moderately hard and variable with deep, shallow and surface sources with some softening done by the utility.
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Old 03-10-2021, 08:34 AM   #13
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Trying to get the picture of the unknown plant to be embedded in the post.
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Old 03-10-2021, 09:58 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SwampeastMike View Post
Trying to get the picture of the unknown plant to be embedded in the post.

Looks like an Ocelot sword which still has the leaves that were grown above water.
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Old 03-10-2021, 12:28 PM   #15
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Forgot to mention that ph is 7.4

After a few days aeration and more cleaning of algae and dying 4-leaf clover.



The Amazon sword

https://www.aquariumadvice.com/forum...1&d=1615396959

The Micro Sword

https://www.aquariumadvice.com/forum...1&d=1615396959

Oriental Swords, Wisteria and 4-leaf Clovers. Have removed all the original 4-leaf clover leaves but growing very nicely from the roots.
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Old 03-10-2021, 12:56 PM   #16
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More photos. How do they look three weeks since receipt?
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Old 03-10-2021, 05:12 PM   #17
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The rainwater collection set up and ready for four days of rain.
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Old 03-10-2021, 06:35 PM   #18
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After relocating the outlet from the factory punched location. Now the inlet is on the side next to the gutter where it should be.
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Old 03-11-2021, 07:01 AM   #19
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I canít quite tell if there has been much change in the plants. Are you saying they are growing better or worse?

That rain water system is epic. Would really love one of those.
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Old 03-12-2021, 04:10 AM   #20
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The plants all look better. The root tabs, aeration and continued cleaning and all having positive effects.

Their quality was never much of a problem as the main thing I was curious about was how long to nicely establish these plants in their permanent container trays before "planting" such in their permanent home.

-----------------------------

The rainwater collection system worked perfectly! I watched the collector through the cleanout door and nearly every drop was diverted in light to moderate rain. Once the heavy rain began I started some a big water change. About 10 minutes later the air vents at the top of the 100-gallon rain tank were spraying water!

Golden water...fresh fallen spring rain, 73F (22C), ph 7.0

The red parrots were actually basking in the heavy stream of water from a large tub. By the third time I added the water they turned their deepest red when they saw me coming to congregate at the fill place. I've never seen them do that with tap water that has just been treated for chloramine use!
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