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Hey all!

My name is Hugo García and I live in Colombia, South America. I Have had aquariums since I was about 12 years old (30 years old now). At the beginning, no one in my family (least of all me) really knew anything about keeping fish and least of all about aquatic plants. Because of this, my results were at first a complete disaster. Then, as I gained more and more interest in fish and plants, I starting taking individual courses and reading a lot on the subject. My true interest in aquatic plants started about 8 years ago. I have read quite a bit during this period but I'm quite far from considering myself an expert. Recently, I finished reading Diana Walstad's "Ecology of the Planted Aquarium" which helped me to understand many of the confusing mysteries that had happened in my aquariums. After following her suggestion, I decided to join this community in order to share my experiences and learn more about this intriguing hobby.


Attached you can find a picture of my 140gal super high tech aquarium.
I call it super high tech because it has ALL the gadgets that are advertised in order to insure lush plant growth: MEGA high power LED lighting (a bit too much on the blue side for my liking. They are intended for marine aquariums), CO2 injection and under-gravel heating. I also plant small clay balls on the side of each plant in order to keep them well fed. I gave up on the under gravel soil about a year ago due to many algae blooms and even fish health problems. I guess that this was because the soil was going through its stabilization period...
I intend to build a bigger aquarium soon in which I plan to give soil another try. Maybe I will try to submerge the soil a few months ahead of time in order to bypass this nasty phase. Has anyone tried this?

Okay, moving on to some of the questions I have:
With my current setup, I have been able to obtain good/decent sustained growth and to keep alive many of the species that were formerly impossible for me. I still have minor algae issues but I guess there is no algae free aquarium right?
There are still however a few things that baffle me:
The first of them is the thin growth I get in many of the super easy stem type species (Cabomba, Hygrofila Polysperma, H. Difformis and H. Corymbosa)
As you can see in my other attached pictures, these plants grow very well on the top but start to "strech out" and loose their bottom leaves. I thought that this was caused by insufficient lighting, but the light intensity in my tank is quite high due to the new LED fixtures I have. However, my aquarium is quite deep though: 28inches from substrate surface to the top. Which could be the reason for this thin growth? What do you all think?

The second thing which worries me is that many of my big plants (various Echinodorus, banana plants and water lilies) become air addicts as soon as I allow aerial growth. At about the time that the fist leaf leaves the water, they seem to forget about underwater growth and dedicate themselves to live out of the water. This makes these plants become huge and not so attractive because they loose all their underwater leaves. My question is: Is there a way to interest these plants again in forming underwater leaves? I tried pruning the aerial growth, but after reading the literature and seeing the results from my former experiences, I realized that this is not the best way to try to convince them! Any thoughts?
Thank you all very much for your time, help and attention.
I'm really looking forward to learning and sharing everything I can with all of you!

Best regards,

Hugo García
 

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Hi Hugo, and welcome to APC! Your tank looks great.

The only way I've found to control aerial growth on the species you mention is to prune them. You are absolutly right--once they reach the surface that is all they want to do. A drastic pruning will usually result in production of only submerged leaves for some time.

I think your stem plants may be suffering from shading by surface growth from other species. Try to keep the water surface free from floating leaves. Also, try pruning the tops of stems and replanting them. This will make the clump more dense at the bottom, and the cut stems will usually put out several new growing tips.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Dear Michael,

Thank you for your answer and warm welcome.
I’m going to attack the aerial growth issue in two ways:
First, as soon as the plants seem strong enough, I will follow your advice and do a heavy pruning in order to try and force them to grow new underwater leaves.
Second, I will follow a comment made by Ms. Walstad: I will shorten the lighting period in my aquarium so that the plants don’t think its summer and slow down some. I will keep you posted on how it goes.

Regarding the thin growth: I think you are right. I have a combination of issues that are not allowing enough light to reach the bottom:

1-My aquarium is a bit too deep (28 inches from substrate surface to the top). This may be a bit too much for proper light penetration.
2- My vallisneria gigantea is getting a bit too big! It now has about 6 daughter plants and they are taking over the aquarium and its surface (see attached pics)
3- During my latest green water bloom, I added duckweed for quick nutrient uptake and algae competition. It did the job. It’s now turning into light and space devouring plague!

These three issues are surely the ones to blame for not enough light on the bottom and thin growth.
As you can see, I’m not that much of an “aquascaper”, but I will use my next big aquarium intervention to do an uprooting, re-organize everything and take some of the daughter plants out to get some more space for everyone.
Thank you for your help!

Best Regards,

Hugo
 

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