Newbie saying hi! and requiring some advice

Discussion in 'Plant Help' started by matt.g, 17 Nov 2008.

  1. matt.g

    matt.g Newly Registered

    Messages:
    6
    Hi all!

    I must say, I have been blown away with all of the tanks on here, something I will certainly aspire to in the coming months/years. I have decided to go for a jungle effect. I have been keeping tropical fish for many years and really wanted to try a big planted setup, so now I'm settled in the SW, I found a 6ft tank and went about setting it up. That was about 4 months ago and in the time I fishless cycled the tank and added a couple of large sets of plants from Plants Alive. I must say, whilst delivery was a little slow on some of the items - I have been by and large very pleased with the selection and plants. A couple of months on, I have only lost a handful of plants from several hundred and after a move around in the tank, I was very surprised to find so many roots within the substrate from the stem plants..

    Looking back, I think it was quite a good way to start as I've grown to like certain plants and now want to increase the density of these (one being the water wisteria - apologies, not up on the Latin names, much to the disgust of my land gardener wife!).. It's an excuse to get an old tank planted up on my desk in the office as I can transfer some of the plants I don't want into it :)

    Certain plants have grown very well, but one thing I have noticed is the amount of roots that are springing up from all over the plants trailing down.. Initially I thought great, they will root down, but no, they just hang there in the water and look, dare I say it, a little messy!!! (Should I worry about it in a jungle tank? I like neatness and order, but I'm not neat enough to maintain a pristine setup - I wish I was, but I'm not!!)

    Anyway enough waffle, what I would really like to know is, what should I do about the roots suspended in the water? I will try and get some pictures up... Am I being totally ignorant??? (Don't tell the wife, she'd have me strung up and shot!)

    Are those levels of Nitrate OK, or should I be looking to try and reduce the Nitrates any further, or leave them for the plants?

    My water parameters are (tested with an API kit) pH 7.0, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 5-10ppm. Nitrates are as it comes out of the tap. No mains water, just from a borehole. The substrate is black silica sand mixed with a small black gravel. Looking back I really should have gone with a specialist planted substrate, but it was going to cost more than the tank, and so I couldn't justify it.. (But boy I wish I had!!). I have added the root tabs into the substrate and I have fed with API Leaf Zone over the last couple of weeks, but with the size of the tank and the dosage levels, they don't last long.. Perhaps time for the EI method - but I think I need a little more experience for that!!

    thanks for reading the waffle, I hope there is enough info there!

    Matt
     
  2. a1Matt

    a1Matt Member

    Messages:
    2,498
    Location:
    Bromley
    Welcome to UKAPS :)

    I'd just leave the aerial roots as they are. There is nothing wrong with them :)

    I'd also not worry about nitrates, the new school way of thinking is that nitrates in themselves aren't harmful.
    It is the ammonia that you don't want in the tank. Sometimes high nitrates are a sign that there was a lot of ammonia (as it gets converted from ammonia > nitrites > nitrates) but usually in a planted tank they are there because they were added as fertiliser. If you aren't getting excess algae growth and the plants are looking good then you are doing fine!

    Hope that makes sense.

    EDIT:
    PS I have a healthy planted tank using plain old gravel! If money is limited investing in CO2, good filtration and ferts is more of a prioroty than a nutritious subtrate. Thats not to say an expensive substrate isn't a good thing, just that it is not an essential.
     
  3. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,953
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Hi,
    Welcome to the forum. :D It's not clear why you would find it surprising that stem plants grow roots in the substrate as this is what plants do. You'll find that even floating plants grow roots. The suspended roots that you observe are referred to as "aerial roots." Many species such as Ludwigia grow these incessantly and if you don't like it then you will spend the rest of your life removing them because as soon as you remove one then two other emerge. I find it very annoying myself but the only other alternative is to keep a higher percentage of rosette or lanceleote type plants.

    If anything you should be looking to increase the level of nitrates.

    I see no reason at all to regret this because you can easily grow plants by simply dosing the water column. A nutritious substrate is always better than an inert substrate but if cost is an issue then water column dosing is an acceptable alternative with little or no penalties.

    I see no reason whatsoever why you need experience to dose EI. If you can figure out how to dose your morning tea with sugar and milk then you can figure out EI. I mean, it's not as if one needs a degree from Cambridge University or anything like that. See this article Tutorials section for further information=> EI DOSING USING DRY SALTS The article assumes the tank is highly lit and is CO2 injected but this can be easily modified to address lower light non-injected tanks as well if that is what you have. The Tutorials section has a lot of other useful information as well.

    Cheers,
     
  4. matt.g

    matt.g Newly Registered

    Messages:
    6
    I think I was more surprised at the amount of some of the roots on the stem plants and the speed at which they had appeared.. (My wife has taken cuttings before and they have taken a number of weeks to root to the stage of some of the plants in the tank)

    Thanks - I hadn't realised this was the case, I will certainly look into the Rosette type plants, I do like the look of a dense patch of Amazon Swords, but am I right in saying these are much slower growing?

    You're talking to a tee-total, water drinking man!! Nothing else bar water, so I guess I fail on the morning tea bit...

    Thank God! Mine is from Oxford :)

    Many thanks for the link the EI tutorial, you obviously know your stuff and I will read with interest.. I think the first time I looked at the post, I saw pots of powders and chemical formulas and as you rightly point out, school chemistry immediately sprung to mind!!

    BTW - the last pic on the post is absolutely stunning, what is the spiky foreground plant on the left and the dark coloured plant on the right?

    I have a Co2 system which I am waiting to install (just waiting for a new O-ring between the regulator and bottle).

    thanks for the advice..
     
  5. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,953
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Hi,
    Yes, the speed with which roots grow is important in the wild, not only to optimize nutrient uptake but possibly also to ensure anchorage into the substrate in order to resist predation as well as to avoid being swept away by any currents. Amazon Swords, (AKA Echniodorus) can grow as quickly as any stem plant. Many associate growth rate with height but this is a fallacy. The true measure of growth is mass, so the root structure as well as the breadth of the leaf are equally significant. Echinodoruses can quickly grow to dominate the tank both above and below the substrate. It's worthwhile having a look at the Tropica website to get a feel for the various plant categories.

    The spiky plant in the foreground of the final image of the tutorial is Pogostemon stellata (re-categorized some years ago from, and sometimes still referred to as Eusteralis stellata). In fact it is definitely not a foreground plant but I had run out of room in the background so I just kept pruning it. It is in fact another obnoxious stem which can become a real hooligan if not kept under control, but if properly fed can exhibit spectacular variations of form and colour.

    The dark coloured plant on the right is Cryptocoryne wendetii brown which is very common and is sold in brown and in green versions.


    Cheers,
     

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