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Old 12-29-2004, 12:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Greetings all,

I'm getting ready to start up my new tank (for a new year! ) and one thing hit me...

In my (albeit limited) experience, the best fighting strategy I've found against algae has been to fill the tank with plants. That's easy with a mature tank, but quite difficult in a new one when the bottom is sparsely planted.

So, I've been raising some easy-care "temporary plants" to stick in outlying areas until the growth in my target plants takes off. These plants aren't intended as part of the aquascape, just as a preventative measure against instability until the design starts growing (by drawing down excess nutrients from the system).

I've been collecting very low-maintenance plants, trying to avoid floaters (I don't want to block light), rooted plants (I don't want to disturb the growth of my target plants in the substrate) and small plants that might self-establish as weeds. Right now I plan to use establish plants growing on rocks (mostly java fern), algae balls, and a water sprite I've been growing in a flower pot. I plan to remove them before they become an obstruction for growth of my design plants.

Then I started looking at the pics folk post around here and on the net of setting up their tanks. It doesn't seem like anyone does this. Are there any bad consequenses (except making the tank a little wierd looking for a few weeks) I should be concerned about?

Best,
TG
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Old 12-29-2004, 01:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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When I started my 55 I began with fast growing stem plants, anacharis, hornwort, and moneywort. I gradually replaced them with other plants as my tank matured. I found that the hornwort was the best for this purpose as it grows fast and doesn't really put down any roots so it was easy to remove. While I admit that I couldn't wait to get these starter plants out of the tank I also didn't have any algae problems so I will use this method again when setting up another tank.

FWIW....I am not sure if the java fern and algae balls will do much good in this application as they are relatively slow growers.
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Old 12-29-2004, 02:46 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Anything from the Hygrophila, Ludwigia, and Ceratopteris genus should work. True aquatics such as Hornwort, Egeria sp. are good too. But remember you can help mature the tank faster by using mulm, gravel, etc. from an established tank, that should start you off on the right foot. If you don't have an established tank, then add some peat or ask someone to send you mulm.
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Old 12-30-2004, 07:23 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Then I started looking at the pics folk post around here and on the net of setting up their tanks. It doesn't seem like anyone does this. Are there any bad consequenses (except making the tank a little wierd looking for a few weeks) I should be concerned about?
TG,

(I laughed over your personal introduction, BTW. Thanks for the humour. This might be the tank that reveals who you are...).

This is a point I have been pondering as well. As you say, almost all the examples available on the internet show the aquarist starting an aquarium with plants he/she intends will be there for the long term (rather than short-term "fast growers"). Why could that be?

- The "target" plants are not available or are too expensive to aquire all at once? I think one has to figure in the cost of acquiring enough right plants to begin with and to set up a holding tub or tank to float/sustain them until the day of the set up.

- The "target" plants grow too slowly to out-compete algae? Most plants grow fairly quickly if allowed to settle in properly and given optimum conditions. Perhaps adjusting the lighting period down, not fertilizing for the first 2 or 3 weeks, etc can help in this period to avoid conditions in which algae can take the advantage. A good substrate would be something that helps to promote fast growth - see Ghazanfar's recent post on the subject.

There must be a certain advantage to leaving an aquarium environment to peacefully develop without making major changes by removing roots from substrate, by taking out plants that are consuming nutrients and therefore changing the water chemistry etc. That advantage can only be exploited if one was to plant the target plants from the start. That's my philosophy from now on.... (Resolutions are meant to be broken, of course... )

Andrew Cribb
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Old 12-30-2004, 10:42 AM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Thanks so much! All good points. I'm thinking more potted plants of the fast growing type. I'd heard that algae balls manage to eat up quite a bit of nutrients, but definitely came from the hearsay category. Still, I don't believe that they'll hurt anything, so I'm inclined to leave them. Yeah, the java fern may not be so good. Mmmm, hornwort...

My understanding (from regular gardening books) is that a transplanted plant's energy tends to get directed towards establishing new root connections to the soil. But this is not the normal energy distribution for a plant. Once established, the energy focus migrates to growth, getting more energy/nutrition and ultimately reproduction.

Getting a good substrate logically falls into this theory as a way to improve a plants survival (although reading online about this, there to be precious little consensus on what is best in substrates). But, to carry this on further, temporary potted plants also seem to be a way to improve the odds, since they won't need to establish roots and can suck out excess nutrients...

Still, I'll probably end up making a run (or 2 or 3) to get the last minute plants I'll need--a real pain in the patootsie, I must add. Bother will probably end up more of a factor than cost, though. Of course, I could, ahem, prune DH's tanks (a very low-bother approach, at least until he notices)...

Ok, babbled enough for this morning. TTYL and thanks!
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