Aquatic Plant Forum banner

1 - 12 of 12 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
41 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hey all,

I'm back after a couple of months trying to have plants in my tank. As a refresher I have a 58 gallon Oceanic fish tank that I would like to have live plants in without having an actual planted tank.

I have just the light fixture the tank came with which supplies only about 30W of light or about .5 w/gallon. I bought a brand new bulb and added plants. I have friends who have used this method with success but I am not having that kind of success. I initially tried an Anubias nana and a water sprite but both ended up rotting (slowly) and causing a huge nitrate spike that I was having trouble keeping up with. I now have a different Anubias Nana and java moss but have my doubts they are actually growing or surviving either. I've tried adding Flourish Excell for a few weeks with no discernible difference. My tank gets very little natural light.

I have a 125 gallon tank I will eventually move my fish and plants into within the next year so anything I do has to have that factored in. I am thinking I need to upgrade my light but I have no desire to mess with CO2 and as I mentioned I don't want a heavily planted tank, just live plants in my tank. I need advice on how to accomplish this. If it were your situation what would you do?

Some questions off the top of my head:

1. If I buy a new light for the 58 gallon it will be 36". Can I just add another to use on the 125 (72" long) when the time comes or should i just get a 72" light and forget trying to grow anything in the 58 gallon?

2. Do I need dirt? I just have gravel and don't really want dirt in the tank. I figured I'd mostly get plants I could attach to driftwood/decorations

3. Do I need to fertilize or can I get by with just the fish in the tank?

4. What kind of light would you recommend?

Thanks in advance for any help with this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
140 Posts
Hmmm it is pretty unusual for java anything or anubias to croak like that. Let's get some more pertinent information first:

Water Temp: ???
Water pH: ???
How long the lights are on a day: ???
Fish: ???
Snails: ???
Location of tank: ???
Water Hardness (dissolved minerals etc.): ???

It could be any number of things, but my guess is that it's a pretty simple solution. I've heard of a man having beautiful angel fish in a tank in their bedroom only last for a month and in the rest of the house their tanks are great...turned out the guy's wife was using hairspray every morning two feet from the tank and the tank had an open top.

To answer your other questions though:


1) Any amount of light you have will do for anubias or java ferns, from 5wpg down to positively dark.
2) Just gravel will do.
3) No, you don't need ferts.
4) If you still want to go the low tech route I would say a normal output fluorescent lamp...or a couple, depending on your tank. I like about 1wpg minimum, but I've seen java fern and anubias thrive in a tank with less light.

Also, try some watersprite, Ceratopteris thalictroides (sp). It is readily available and also very tough to kill, grows like a weed, and doesn't need any root feeding (no dirt).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
41 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
water temp is 81*
pH is 7.5
Lights are on 5 hours, off 2, then on 5 again (siesta for algae)
Fish are 4 clown loaches, 6 Boesemani Rainbows, a royal pleco, and a BN pleco
I do have MLB snails but they are diminishing with the clown loaches present
Tank is currently in the downstairs bathroom, seldom used, unfinished.
Not sure on the water hardness off hand
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
149 Posts
When exactly did you start this tank? The "base water" would still need to go through a "cycling" if necessary, however constant weekly water changes of 50% can have a positive impact on the plants as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
41 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
This tank has been up and running for several years now. I am quite experienced with keeping fish, especially cichlids but have never tried live plants before.

Tank is cycled. I use 2 Emperor 400's for filtration and change approximately 50-70% of the water once per week. Nitrates generally stay under 20 ppm at the worst.

My tank is near the utility room with the furnace, water heater, and washer and dryer. Only the studs seperate the rooms - would that affect anything? I've never had any issue with the fish and they are all doing great. It's been in this spot for the last 2 years.

I was thinking of bumping my lighting up to 1 w/gallon or 1.5 w/gallon. As I stated above I don't want to mess with CO2. This is still a fish tank to me, not a planted tank.

I also tried water sprite. It rotted away and caused a large nitrate spike until I got it out of the tank. I've heard water sprite and Java moss are impossible to kill and I have killed one and am on my way to killing another so i'm worried something is wrong in my tank
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
140 Posts
No light bump is needed unless this is a "tall" tank. I have a single 15w Normal Output fluorescent light on my 29gal and all the plants are thriving. I find that if you have low light, slightly longer photoperiods of about 12-14 hours work a little better.

81 is fairly warm in my experience...noticeably so to the touch. Are you using any chemicals in the tank? I sniffed around and found that high phosphates or iron might be to blame.

What general area do you live in? Are people around you having these problems?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
7,429 Posts
In my opinion it is possible to keep some plants alive with the very low light level you have, but not to keep them healthy and growing even slowly. If you want to keep plants in the tank, but not get into CO2 and regular fertilizing, I suggest you look at the el natural forum for one way to do that. Since you don't want dirt, you can try alternatives such as laterite as a bottom substrate layer, and fertilizer tabs in the substrate. But, you will need about 1.5 watts per gallon of normal fluorescent tubes or PC bulbs with average reflectors, to make that work well. If you use T5 bulbs with their great reflectors, you might do ok with even 1 watt per gallon. But, you are not at all likely to get any plants to actually grow with .5 watts per gallon, no matter what bulbs you use.

There are always people who are exceptions, for reasons I don't know, who manage to have nice tanks with conditions that none of the rest of us can make work at all. If you are really lucky you might be one of them, but the odds are not good.

There is one other way to live with the lower light level: keep all of the plants in the top one third of the tank, so they are closer to the light you do have. You can do that by attaching them to driftwood that raises them that high. Since the light intensity drops at nearly the inverse square of the distance from the bulbs, those plants will effectively see much more light intensity. I haven't tried this technique, but I have measured PAR values for lights on tanks, in the water, and in the air, so I have seen the huge increase in light intensity you gain by doing this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
41 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
I am not using any chemicals in the tank except Stress Coat to remove Chlorine at water changes.

I do have soft water, so the water hardness should be minimal. I live in southern Minnesota and I know of no other person that keeps fish in this area so have no idea if they are having problems.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
140 Posts
Huh, well...check out what hoppy posted and try that. I'm pretty much out of ideas as I've never had problems with this.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
8,540 Posts
I have a 125g and do use 2- 36" lights. One on each side of the tank. The only drawback to this is that the middle section is a little darker than the sides. I just put lower light plants there and it works fine. You could upgrade your lights and use just one for now. It would work. You just have to decide how much light you will eventually want on your 125G and if it's the same, then I'd say go ahead with it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
41 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
I've seen a 36" light that is 96 watts. That would give me roughly 1.5 W/gallon on the 58 gallon and two of those (192 watts) would give me roughly 1.5 W/gallon on the 125 so that would work. I think 1.5 W/gallon is the highest I want to go, I don't need a ton.
 
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
Top