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898 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My recent trip to Houston to the DFWAPC Plant Fest,
was very educational. I, along with the others, came
back with information and ideas. Loads of them.
One of the things that struck me was the simple comment
by Luis.. '...just look at where that plant comes from'.
That just set my mind reeling! I realized with amazing
clarity that I have, in my tank, plants that are
from the softest waters in the Amazon, as well as
plants that originate from the hard waters of Austrailia.
Yet, I'm trying to grow a zillion plants which orginiate
from so many different locations in the same tank
with the same water chemistry.
Yes, plants are adaptable, but to what extent?
I'm sure that the capability of a plant to adapt
will also differs from one plant to the next. Some
will adapt - others will die.
You can distinctly see issues some plants have with
water chemistry - I can't grow Rotala macranda in
water with high NO3. Likewise, Elatine triandra
seems to like NO3 rich water. Toninia species
enjoy softwater, whereas it seems that the
Eusteralis species thrive in harder water.
Growing all these in the same tank will be a
tricky balancing act. Trying to figure out
what that moderate range of water chemistry is
in which all the plants grow well will take months.
And then - you add remove some plants and start from
square 1 again.

I think I need to pay more attention to where the plant
orginiates from. Use plants that are from regions with
similar water chemistry and then aquascape. Some plants
seem to thrive no matter what the water is like, but
I think I'm beyond most of those plants. There's no
point in aquascaping when I'm still stuggling with
trying to grow plants.

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899 Posts

This is almost identical to a story I read in a book, I think it was called Natural Reef Aquariums, in about 98, relating to reef tanks. I think it was by Tullock. Ever since that book, everything I try to keep in a specific tank has to be able to thrive in that tanks specific conditions. Doing that is what pushed me more to wards the Biotope aquariums. I think this is somewhat the natural evolution of an Aquarist. Trying to provide the perfect habitat for your inhabitants. Or maybe it's just me...

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2,072 Posts
I have found that plants can have generalized levels, I have never found any plants to be specific as far as water hardness as long as there's enough, some plants are less tolerant of lower levels of nutrients/CO2, but generally that can be dealt with by adding more.

I lost count at how many species I've had, so there is a general range. Some of these plants are mainly amphibous and may push the limits of a good permant submersed aquatic. If you are not statistfied with 300 species or so, you have Collectoritis. I've had up to 70 species in one tank. 50 species in marine tanks. There are generalized ranges that satistfy all species.
Yes, I have some of these so called tricky plants and have grown them to high health standards.

I do well with higher NO3 with R macrandra, softer water with Eustralis, Elantine seems to like more NO3, along with Mic umbrosum, or that B japonica is hard to grow(mine's 5x it's orginal size), Tonia has branched and I have 3x more. I think Tonia looks like Ergeria and Lagarosiphon, I'm not impressed with it personally but I'm over collectoris. Some newer plants I do like. Hairgrass is hard to grow etc.
I've never found any water to be particularly magic for certain plants, I can show you the same plant growing in 3-6 radically different environments here in FL. Salt, temp, hardness, nutrient levels, light, CO2, etc.

Getting your tank balanced and nutrients stabilized may take a few months. Balancing the varaiables such as fish and herbivore loads, feeding etc can be tougher.

Tom Barr

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898 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Some plants do grow just fine, and in cases, thrive, in almost any
kind of water and nutrient levels. Others seem to be more picky.
Luis cannot grow Tonina - his water down there in Houston is hard.
Always complained that it dies off really quick. I attributed this
to it shipping poorly or something. So on my trip, just before I left
for the airport - I took 6-7 stems out of my tank for him. I have
NO trouble growing Toninia. It's a 3 hour flight - and the first thing
we did when we got to his place was plant the Tonina. I was in
Houston for 4 days and the day we were heading back Luis showed
me the Tonina - it was starting to look a little funny. New leaves had
weird holes in them. I don't think anything was eating them - the
holes were too 'evenly distributed'. All he had in the tank were
Amano shrimp anyway. Very strange. I've never seen a plant go
downhill that fast in a tank. Everything else in his tank was doing well.

Maybe I'm looking at the symptom and coming up with the incorrect
cause. In which case, I cannot explain what I see in my tanks.
Did you see the picture of tank of the month from last month?
That picture is of my 75 a month after I moved. Bfore I moved,
I gave away 2/3rds of the plants in that tank. Then, due to the
plants being in a bucket for 3 days, I lost 50% of whatever I had
left. THe rest got planted and one month later - its a jungle!
Its not that my nutrients / light / co2 etc are lacking and I cannot
grow plants. I can grow them - but there are always one or two that
just dont seem to like what I'm doing. With some of these, like
Rotala macranda, Elatine triandra, Ranalisma rostarata I've been able
to figure out their preferential water conditions. Other's I'm still working
on. Maybe its that pesky mythical? allelopathy(sp?).

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1,673 Posts
Interesting topic. Maybe plants will adapt to certain conditions, but doesn't that affect their growth? Has anyone noticed different growing behavior of a particular species when grown in varying conditions? I don't mean about nutrient levels, but water chemistry in general. Would having a pH close to 7 bring out the best results in plants(assuming nutrient levels are correct)?

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506 Posts
Raul-7 said:
Has anyone noticed different growing behavior of a particular species when grown in varying conditions?
Yes, it is that 'behavior' that makes itentifying crypts so d*** hard. :)

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898 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Raul-7 said:
Has anyone noticed different growing behavior of a particular species when grown in varying conditions? I don't mean about nutrient levels, but water chemistry in general.
I've seen Ranalisma rostrata grow a broader leaf in harder water,
atleast that's what I think caused it. Can't be sure without a controlled
experiment. But in general - yes, I think plants do grow differently
in various water conditions not related to nutrient level - atleast not

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645 Posts
What about plants adapting to different light levels. Someone told me that when they put a certain terrestrial plant (I cannot remember) in their greenhouse with low light he cannet ever place it in high light again or it will deteriorate quickly. Maybe plants adapt to light levels and have trouble reverting back to different light levels. My Rotala Macranda green grows super small leaves when i floated Egeria above it. Only the leaves on the second half of the thicket (Unshaded) grew normal leaves. The shaded half was maybe 1/16 the size of the unshaded leaves.

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1,717 Posts
All I have to say is that I spoke with Luis Navarro on the phone a couple days ago and the topic of Tonina came up. It's not his harder water that is killing it. I have been growing it in Chicago for two weeks now with plenty of new growth --the GH is 12 and the KH is 8.

I don't know why Luis can't grow that plant, but it may not be water hardness exactly due to my Toninas growing just fine in water that's practically as hard as his.

Just a thought.


· Banned
2,072 Posts
I've always rejected allelopathy for a number of reasons, for one, it's NEVER been shown in a natural system ever to date to have any influence.

Not once.

OTOH, I've found some strong suggestions in tissue culture with Myriophyllum.

I can tell you it's pretty easy to remove the allelopathic chemicals by using carbon in the filter etc, or large water changes.

If this occurs, it's going to occur most significantly in non CO2 enriched tanks that do not get water changes for long periods.

As far as adapting to different light, hardeness etc, plants will also definitely adapt to different nutrient levels.

But measuring these adaptations and getting a good understanding with simply one species is tough, then try to expand this out to 300 or 400'll be a very long time........

Most of these species have never had any lab test done on them etc.
Some are merely described and habitat descriptions etc.

That does not tell much about horticulture.

There are plants that will pester folks for a few months or years but eventually you will all will be able to grow them later.

I felt likie many folks here about all this, I was looking for all these other issues, but it really does just get back to the basics, good light, nutrients, CO2 etc.

Don't give up after one try and don't do the same thing each time, try different things, add more nutrients, add more Ca/Mg, CO2, fish food, vary things around and I think you'll get it on your own.
Give the new plant plenty of room, plant another plant deep into hairgrass, another near the outflow and other slightly different locations in your tank, deep substrate vs shallow substrate etc, high light vs low light.

I've been ramping up my NO3 lately(20-25ppm) and love the results.
I also have smallto no fish loads in those tanks.

Tom Barr
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