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Carpet not carpeting.

lilirose

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Hi all,
I am trying to grow a mixed carpet of Micrantheum 'Monte Carlo' and Marsilea hirsuta on Amazonia. The tank is 60x30x30cm (54 liters), has pressurized CO2 and a Fluval 2.0 light which is on 100% for 8 hours a day (no rampup or cooldown, all colours on full). It's unheated but I keep my house warm, so it's a steady 22 degrees.

I can't use EI dosing because I have Caridina type shrimp in the tank which cannot take large water changes, so I've been using an AIO weekly. It's been a struggle to keep the CO2 at a safe level for the shrimp, I've settled mostly on "drop checker just turned green from blue" or the shrimp start congregating in high spots in the tank, presumably to obtain more oxygen.

The Monte Carlo is extremely dense where it's growing, but there are huge bare patches rather than a carpet, and I have not needed to trim it. The tank has been planted since early August- I tried DSM in July but got mould within four days, flooded immediately and added several more pots of plants at that stage. I would have thought I would have a carpet by now.

Are the ferts my problem, or something else? Anyone have any tips?

Pics below. Sorry for the algae on the front glass! There's also some Pogostemon Erectus in the back in the first pic, which is doing well, nicely green, but I'd like to see more upward growth from that.
 

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Wookii

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Hi all,
I am trying to grow a mixed carpet of Micrantheum 'Monte Carlo' and Marsilea hirsuta on Amazonia. The tank is 60x30x30cm (54 liters), has pressurized CO2 and a Fluval 2.0 light which is on 100% for 8 hours a day (no rampup or cooldown, all colours on full). It's unheated but I keep my house warm, so it's a steady 22 degrees.

I can't use EI dosing because I have Caridina type shrimp in the tank which cannot take large water changes, so I've been using an AIO weekly. It's been a struggle to keep the CO2 at a safe level for the shrimp, I've settled mostly on "drop checker just turned green from blue" or the shrimp start congregating in high spots in the tank, presumably to obtain more oxygen.

The Monte Carlo is extremely dense where it's growing, but there are huge bare patches rather than a carpet, and I have not needed to trim it. The tank has been planted since early August- I tried DSM in July but got mould within four days, flooded immediately and added several more pots of plants at that stage. I would have thought I would have a carpet by now.

Are the ferts my problem, or something else? Anyone have any tips?

Pics below. Sorry for the algae on the front glass! There's also some Pogostemon Erectus in the back in the first pic, which is doing well, nicely green, but I'd like to see more upward growth from that.

Other more experienced 'carpet growers' will probably wade in, but I suspect it is a combination of fairly medium light output from the Fluval unit, and lower than necessary ferts and CO2. You must have achieved something of a 'balance' as you are getting largely algae free growth as far as I can tell.

However to achieve the thick carpets you see in many high tech tanks, I think you need more light, more ferts, and more CO2. That said, as you are getting some compact growth, and have some 'balance' going on, I would be tempted to just exercise some patience and let the carpet grow in more slowly. Whilst it won't give you the fast carpet you might have been hoping for, you might be thankful of the reduced maintenance further down the line.
 

lilirose

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Thanks @Wookii. None of the plants are actually struggling, and as you say, there isn't a serious problem with algae.

I thought the Fluval light would work well with a shallow tank- and the Marsilea is only growing tall by the wood, where it is in shade (this is precisely what I wanted it to do in that part of the tank). All my tanks have Fluval lighting as they are the best I can afford that offer a phone app- this is important as I have quite severe ADHD and don't want to be constantly hunting for lost remotes. I already wear a smartwatch exclusively for the "find my phone" feature!

My intention from the start was Crystal shrimp and I stupidly didn't look into whether that would work with CO2 and EI before I started this whole project, ended up barrelling ahead with buying the shrimp before letting it grow in fully. That was my biggest mistake I think, I could've blasted CO2 until I had a good carpet then turned it down after adding the shrimp. I got impatient, because I've wanted the shrimp for years...

Hopefully it'll carpet eventually, as you say. I just wonder if there is anything at all I can do to speed it up a little, without adding NO3- I know the plants could do with some, but the shrimp won't like it at all.
 

Wookii

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Thanks @Wookii. None of the plants are actually struggling, and as you say, there isn't a serious problem with algae.

I thought the Fluval light would work well with a shallow tank- and the Marsilea is only growing tall by the wood, where it is in shade (this is precisely what I wanted it to do in that part of the tank). All my tanks have Fluval lighting as they are the best I can afford that offer a phone app- this is important as I have quite severe ADHD and don't want to be constantly hunting for lost remotes. I already wear a smartwatch exclusively for the "find my phone" feature!

My intention from the start was Crystal shrimp and I stupidly didn't look into whether that would work with CO2 and EI before I started this whole project, ended up barrelling ahead with buying the shrimp before letting it grow in fully. That was my biggest mistake I think, I could've blasted CO2 until I had a good carpet then turned it down after adding the shrimp. I got impatient, because I've wanted the shrimp for years...

Hopefully it'll carpet eventually, as you say. I just wonder if there is anything at all I can do to speed it up a little, without adding NO3- I know the plants could do with some, but the shrimp won't like it at all.

I'm not sure if the nitrate thing with CRS is fact or myth, they just do better in softer water with lower TDS than Neo's. Check this thread: https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/a-guide-to-crystal-red-shrimp.19724/post-506818

If you are concerned about the 50% water changes, just do smaller more frequent changes.
 

Tim Harrison

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lilirose

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Thanks for that, @Tim Harrison! I've been taking pretty much all advice on shrimpkeeping from Marks Shrimp Tanks on YouTube, who preaches extreme caution and perfect water conditions, and pokes fun at aquascapers. Recently he's changed his advice drastically on several matters so I think that means I need to start paying attention to what other people say.

I'm disappointed with some other things in the tank- wish I'd sloped the Amazonia more and used substrate supports- but it's too late now, live and learn. Again, adding shrimp relatively early was my biggest mistake. I still want to keep the tank running for a year or so (and hopefully have a healthy brood of shrimp) before I rescape it.
 

Jayefc1

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Hi @lilirose I think your carpet looks healthy you just need to encourage it to grow out in stead of up I would suggest a good trim as if it keeps growing like it is it will just lift away its like all plants take the tops off and new shoots will appear obviously better co2 and ferts would help but its already growing so not really a issue from.the looks of it. carpet need to be trained when the light isn't maybe as good as they require so trim and then gently push it down with palm of your hand also the trim will allow the light to get to the new growth beneath
 

lilirose

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Hi @lilirose I think your carpet looks healthy you just need to encourage it to grow out in stead of up

The thing is, it's not actually growing up- are you sure you aren't looking at the Pogostemon in the back and thinking it's MC? There isn't much to trim unless I just chop off the leaves of the Marsilea. The MC is at most 2mm above the substrate level.
 

Jayefc1

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Pretty sure I'm not looking at the pogostemon lol 😅 my mc is probs about the same as your and I have trimmed the tops off twice and it is spreading and carpeting nicely
 

Wookii

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Pretty sure I'm not looking at the pogostemon lol 😅 my mc is probs about the same as your and I have trimmed the tops off twice and it is spreading and carpeting nicely

I suspect your MC is much thicker Jay, looking at your images in your “Two sides of the river bed” journal.

Its tricky to see on a phone, but the taller leggy leaves in @lilirose’s pictures are Marsilea Crenata growing in amongst the MC.
 

Jayefc1

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Ueah I can see the difference between the plants @Wookii and your right mine is thicker but started out just as @lilirose has its the trimming the tops of that has encouraged the thicker growth mine grow like that under a very under powered light for the depth of the tank
 

Jayefc1

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Im just trying to help but do feel like I have been insulted twice now not knowing the difference between Pogostemon and Marsilea Crenata when neither look any thing like Mc 🤔
 

Wookii

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Im just trying to help but do feel like I have been insulted twice now not knowing the difference between Pogostemon and Marsilea Crenata when neither look any thing like Mc 🤔

Lol absolutely no insult intended from me Jay, I only mentioned it as I made that exact mistake myself when I first looked at the images, and thought the longer leaves were part of the MC. I would defer to your far greater experience on this subject.
 

lilirose

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I suspect your MC is much thicker Jay, looking at your images in your “Two sides of the river bed” journal.

Its tricky to see on a phone, but the taller leggy leaves in @lilirose’s pictures are Marsilea Crenata growing in amongst the MC.

That's Marsilea hirsuta, not crenata. :) I agree that the stuff in the other tank is a whole lot taller than any of mine. However, if it got that way via a lot of trimming, then that's what I will do.


Im just trying to help but do feel like I have been insulted twice now not knowing the difference between Pogostemon and Marsilea Crenata when neither look any thing like Mc 🤔

Sorry, no offence was intended at all, @Jayefc1 - I do apologise if you felt insulted, I was just super puzzled at you saying I was letting it grow up instead of out, when I felt like I was seeing zero upward growth from the MC. That said, I'm going to take your advice and give it a bit of a trim. As I've been watching the tank every day since I planted it, I feel like I'm seeing no growth, but when I compare photos of today vs. six weeks ago, there's a massive difference. Again, no insult was intended and I hope you'll accept my apology.
 

lilirose

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Hi @lilirose,

As @Jayefc1 said, I would also suggest patience. Think about flow and shading. Get the co2 all around the tank. Some patches may always be behind others.

Al full tank shot will help maybe.

I assume the plants were Tropica tissue culture.

The MC was actually the XL Invitro line from Aquasabi, because they were better value. The plants were extremely healthy when planted. I tried to kill them when I treated some very early BBA on the hardscape with H2O2, but they recovered well from that.

As for switching to Neos instead of Caridina- I already have two dedicated tanks for Neos and don't want a third, especially not one that I have spent such a huge amount of money on thus far. I really had my heart set on Caridina in this one.

I apologise for being twitchy about giving a FTS. It has an aquarium bonsai, which I saw described by someone on these forums as "naff" in a way that suggested that all would obviously agree, and I'm frankly hypersensitive- I've felt very embarrassed about being the sort of person who would want something "naff", so I'd resolved to keep it to myself so I can enjoy it without someone making fun of me. I'm very embarrassed to admit that in the open, but there it is.
 

Siege

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Haha!

its not the scape people want to see, it’s the angle of the outlet stuff like that. Often the way other plants are growing give a clue to the problem.
Lost count of the amount of people that say this plant isn’t growing well. You see the FTS and nothing is growing well or they have a bloody great powerhead pointing at the carpet!

there are lots of people with tanks on here with pirate ships etc done for their kids.

Often bonsai trees cos people love the one in the shop etc. Doesn’t matter.

if you look carefully at my profile photo most of the Java fern is dead as I’d just blitzed it with liquid carbon whilst dry 😂
 

lilirose

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Okay- cringing over here, but I'll do it because you asked nicely.

A few small points:
  • I don't have the camera/lighting to avoid having the underside of the bonsai turn into a black hole in a photo. It's not that bad in person.
  • The CO2 ran out this morning, and though I have more, that glass diffuser is absolute rubbish with a low flow of CO2, and its replacement (an AquaRio Twinstar) is due to arrive tomorrow, so I got a bad case of the "don't bothers" about hooking up the new cylinder today.
  • When I look at this right now all I see is how awful it is and how much I didn't know what I was doing when I set it up, but I think I got the flow basically right. I do raise or lower the powerhead on the filter depending on whether the shrimp are acting as though they're oxygen-starved.
  • Mixing moss and anubias on the tree was, in hindsight, an awful idea when CO2 is part of the equation- the moss keeps trying to overgrow the anubias and it's extremely dense. Should have picked one or the other but they're well intertwined now.
 

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