Choosing Aquarium Plants For Soft And/Or Hard Water

Discussion in 'General Planted Tank Discussions' started by jaypeecee, 26 Mar 2020.

  1. jaypeecee

    jaypeecee Member

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    Hi Folks,

    I very recently got myself a copy of Diana Walstad's book, Ecology of the Planted Aquarium. In this book, Diana Walstad discusses plants that are suitable for soft vs hard water. Plant requirements on plant labels may specify lighting, temperature and CO2 requirements. But, they don't appear to say if a plant is suitable for soft and/or hard water. Tied in with water hardness is acidity/alkalinity. My understanding is that soft water in natural habitats is usually acidic (pH less than 7.0) and hard water in natural habitats is alkaline (pH greater than 7.0).

    Where can I get a list of aquarium plants that includes recommended water hardness?

    JPC
     
    Last edited: 26 Mar 2020
  2. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

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    Hi all,
    My guess woul be that most of the plants that are commonly sold by non-specialist shops (<"Tropica Easy Section">?) etc. are selected partially because they aren't too bothered about water hardness.

    I think Diana Walstad lists plants that can use bicarbonate as a carbon source? In that case they should all do well in harder water, if they can't they are more likely to struggle.

    There are a few threads on the site. Have a look at <"Windowsill nature"> & <"Windowsill Nature pt 2."> for plants that do well in hard water.

    cheers Darrel
     
  3. Matt @ ScapeEasy

    Matt @ ScapeEasy Member

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    I won’t get into the debate on how important water hardness is for plants etc and I also won’t vouch for how accurate this site I’m about to link to is but you can search for plants by recommended water hardness on here:
    https://en.aqua-fish.net/plants/
     
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  4. jaypeecee

    jaypeecee Member

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    Thanks, Matt.

    JPC
     
  5. jaypeecee

    jaypeecee Member

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    Hi Darrel,

    Thanks for your reply.

    Will get back to you again tomorrow.

    JPC
     
  6. jaypeecee

    jaypeecee Member

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    Hi Darrel,

    Yes, Diana Walstad does indeed list a selection of plants that can, and can't, use bicarbonates. It would appear that some plants prefer softwater, acidic conditions whilst others prefer hardwater, alkaline conditions. If that's the case, I want to ensure that I choose my fish and plants accordingly. As I'm starting afresh with this tank and I'll be using remineralized RO water, I can tailor my water properties to suit. It seems that some plants can use bicarbonates as a source of carbon instead of being wholly dependent on CO2. The following makes it clearer what's going on. I know you've referenced this several times but I include it here for convenience.

    CO2_HCO3_CO3_pH.jpg

    This is all very interesting stuff.

    JPC
     
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  7. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

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    Hi all,
    I'd just choose some plants you like the look of. The chances are that the majority of them will be fine in hard, or soft, water.

    If there are plants you particularly want? Have a look and see if there is any reference to special requirements in regards of pH or hardness.

    <"If there isn't?"> I'd try about <"4dGH/dKH">.

    As an example I've found that my rainwater (~120 microS and ~4dKH) is too soft for Vallisneria, but it grows well in our tap water (~18dKH), even with a low nutrient addition, so this looks definitely like a hardness requirement.

    We also have a lot of <"Rotala threads"> where the plants are showing clear signs of iron induced chlorosis, and I would take that as a pretty good indication that Rotala rotundifolia is much happier in softer water.

    cheers Darrel
     
  8. jaypeecee

    jaypeecee Member

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    Hi Darrel,

    But, where can I find this pH and hardness information? If sources don't mention pH or hardness, I can't automatically assume that pH and/or hardness are unimportant. Been there, done that, got the 'T' shirt.

    I run my tanks at 4dKH or slightly above this figure. 4dGH is very soft water but it's a possibility.

    Yes, V. spiralis is a plant on which Diana Walstad carried out an experiment. This plant was shown to distinctly dislike acidic soft water!

    Thanks for the link, which I'll check out a bit later. That sounds like the kind of information that I am trying to find. I still consider myself a beginner with aquatic plants - despite having been growing them with some success over the last few years. I can't understand why it's so difficult to obtain all the information needed to get off to a good start. I have had many failures with aquatic plants but it's not through lack of trying.

    JPC
     
  9. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

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    Hi all,
    A lot of members have hard water. @ian_m, @Zeus. @Tim Harrison etc. may be able to make suggestions? I've always used rainwater in the tanks, so I'm not the best person to ask.

    I use the "three strikes and you're out" rule for plants both for the garden and aquarium, they have to cope with what their given. If I really like a plant, and I think it should grow, it gets a maximum of three chances. <"Romneya coulteri"> is the one that really annoys me. Just up the road it grows with magnificent abandon, even coming up through the pavement, in our garden it just dies.

    That is partially why I have such a limited range of plants, the ones I still own have to have grown reliably with a certain amount of benign neglect.

    cheers Darrel
     
    Last edited: 28 Mar 2020
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  10. jaypeecee

    jaypeecee Member

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  11. Zeus.

    Zeus. Member

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    I copy Darrel, if I like the plant try it...... some dont even get two chances :lol:
     
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  12. Tim Harrison

    Tim Harrison Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm the same, as both Darrel and Karl. I pretty much choose plants to suit the conditions in my garden and aquarium. If they're determined not to grow I usually give up after a couple or three attempts,

    As far as soft or hard water plants go, most plants couldn't care less. Maybe some will be easier to grow in soft water and others will perhaps look a bit better. Conversely, some plants may do better in hard water because they can synthesise carbon from bicarbonates, plants like vallis, crypts, anubias and some mosses etc.

    At the end of the day though if I really like a plant I usually ignore other folks/experts opinions and try it anyway. Half the time they're just plain wrong or have confused cause and effect. I've lost count of the times plants have thrived or died when and where they "shouldn't" have.
     
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  13. Zeus.

    Zeus. Member

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    Take Bolbitis Heuelotii

    Bolbitis comes from West Africa, a fern with beautiful, transparent green leaves, 15-40 cm tall and wide. When planting, do not cover the rhizome because it will rot, and it is best to plant Bolbitis heudelotii on a root or stone. Keep the plant in position with fishing line until it has gained a hold. Easy to propagate by splitting the horizontal rhizome.
    Supply of CO2 will considerably enhance the growth, which is only optimal in soft, slightly acidic water.

    So popped some in my little crowded tank you can just make it out among the Anubis
    upload_2020-3-28_20-49-15.png

    Poor light poor CO2 forget to add ferts most of time, yet its growing fine, infact it looks better than in my main tank :rolleyes:
     
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  14. sparkyweasel

    sparkyweasel Member

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    That's a good plan. The important thing is; don't let your plants and fish read the books. :)
     
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  15. Matt @ ScapeEasy

    Matt @ ScapeEasy Member

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    As you guys know I have only low energy systems, plants like bolbitis also grow well for me when they shouldn’t - as do bulb plants such as aponogeton crispus and nymphaea lotus which supposedly need medium light. There are plants I’ve not been successful with though that I probably ‘should’ be able to grow.. cardamine lyrata grows but never lasts very long and rotala sp. have never really done well either.
     
  16. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

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    Hi all,
    <"Bolbitis heudelotii"> is also a <"good grower for me"> low tech., low nutrient.

    cheers Darrel
     
  17. Onoma1

    Onoma1 Member

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    I first saw Staurogyne Repens in one of the Green Machine videos and most see it as an easy plant, however, it just doesn't seem to grow in my tanks. I have always put this down to it not thriving in soft water.
     
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  18. Matt @ ScapeEasy

    Matt @ ScapeEasy Member

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    I believe it takes a long time to get going and to adapt to submerged growth... I don’t think I have it long enough when I tried it...
     
  19. Matt @ ScapeEasy

    Matt @ ScapeEasy Member

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  20. Conort2

    Conort2 Member

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    It does seem to take ages to get going, I’ve had a tissue culture version of this for months now. It now only really seems to have started to get going. It sat there for months doing hardly nothing except for die back. Saying that it’s still very slow compared to other plants in the tank.

    One plant that is supposedly easy but I can only grow with co2 is java fern! The stuff is supposed to be bullet proof yet I can only grow it with additional co2. Low tech it does absolutely nothing and fades away.

    cheers

    Conor
     

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