Specifically I am wondering about these plants: water sprite, hornwort, java moss, jungle val and duckweed. (Or any other plants that would be easy to keep alive.)
I have a ten gallon tank that will soon be a sorority tank and I've been interested in live plants for awhile but they seem too hard to keep alive :p I'm not going to do a full on NPT right now. The hood I have right now had incandescent lights but I think (?) I can put different lights in it :p I also have regular aquarium gravel from Walmart and a lot of silk plants.
So far, I have read many threads on live plant care and have even posted previous threads but I am still absolutely lost. I've never been much of a plant fanatic :p I am confused about the specific care of plants... Lighting and nutrient needs and such. I've heard that there are many low light plants that need little care and then I hear that these "easy to care for" plants are dying and turning brown and causing ammonia spikes and all this other stuff that is really making me want to stick to silk plants for the rest of my life, lol.
Specifically... What do I need to do for lighting? I can buy different bulbs for the tank good that would be good for plants, right? (Lol). Amount of light needed? Number of plants needed to keep them all healthy? (Like, I can't just stick a floater or two in the tank and expect them to live?) Any specific additives I need to add for the plants (using gravel substrate)? Will these plants (or other suggested plants) need to be trimmed often? Can I trim them and use the parts trimmed off in other tanks? How would you trim a plant, lol? I've also heard that some plant roots can grow into the sides of the tank and make holes in the sides 0_0 (that doesn't sound great to me!)
I'm sorry these are probably kind of stupid questions and there are a lot of them. I don't want to do a full on NPT at this point and I also don't want to get plants and have them die and cause problems and make me wish I never even thought about live plants :p
You need to go get some Compact flourescent lights, they have the aquarimax brand in the fish section of walmart, 10 watts a piece and 650k. That'd be the easiest way to get them, but if you want a better deal you can look around in walmarts lighting section, or any home improvement store for some CFLs. Try for minimum 2watts/gallon
8-12 hours/day of light
You can have the lowest amount of number you want, really, you could stick two floaters in the tank and they'd be fine, just dont expect them to do much for your water quality that way. Really you could also add as many as you'd like, just make sure you get fertilizer just in case the fertilization source (fish) in the tank isnt enough to keep them healthy.
You dont specifically need anything other than fertilizer, but sometimes you dont even need that, depending on how many fish you have in the tank.
I'd stay away from duckweed, that grows like a weed, I'd get amazon frogbit or water lettuce instead if you want a floater, the water sprite and hornwort could need to be trimmed often, but it depends on all the different factors going on in your tank and water and lighting. trim them like halfway up the plant and re-plant wherever you want. The val's spread runners so you dont need to mess with that, when leaves get too high just cut them like grass, you cant replant those. I have never heard of plants breaking holes into the side of tanks. LOL that'd be interesting, I think you'd need something with stronger roots, most of what you are looking at are stem plants and dont have major root systems.
water sprite is an awesome plant, it can survive through anything. I had it arrive to me dead a few months ago and all I did was put the bits and pieces into my tanks and they started growing new shoots.
hornwort is a floater that can also be planted, it sheds its needles in new water parameters so you'll want to have your gravel vac ready, but its a nice plant!
java moss - I love java moss! it can be grown in practically no light. I keep it in every tank I have just to help a little with water quality. Its a slow grower at first but when it takes off it can take over your tank, all you have to do is break off what you dont want in the original tank when it comes time to trim and transplant or throw out.
jungle val - the only rooted plant in the bunch - nice and easy to care for, doesnt do well with medications so you'll want to move those out if you have to medicate the tank, and it will sometimes melt in new water param's, but all in all a nice plant and I recommend.
and duckweed -- i dont recommend it just because it's hard to remove once it gets in your tanks
I would take out the bulbs in the 10g and replace with cfl 6500 bulbs. The are cheap, last long time and most important have a great spectrum for plants. Hornwort, java fern, java moss, moneywort and duckweed work well in my tank. I take long floating hornwort and put plant anchor in the middle to get it to grow to the surface. Looks like a planted in substrate but is not. easy to move around and gives vertical coverage. A few drops of Flourish 2x per week keeps the plants healthy.
Haha..edit. What the very knowledgeable poster above me said!
Yes, at petsmart and petco they have plant fertilizer either near the plants or the medications aisle. You want liquid fertilizer, I use flourish comprehensive, it seems to be the most recommended, kind of pricey but lasts FOREVER. for a 10 gallon you'd want to dose 2ml/week if needed at all.
Haha, a few more questions. When you QT plants, if I were to purchase them from someone on this site who gets them out of their already established tanks, is it necessary still to QT them? (If so, why?) I mean, if their tank isn't infested with snails.
And shipping plants in winter... I doubt I'll be able to find any good aquatic plants anywhere around here so I'll probably purchase them online, anyways, but it's freezing here right now (literally). Snow is still covering the ground from the 9 inches we got a few weeks ago and it has snowed more since then! And it also gets near 0 at night and usually no warmer than 20 degrees during the day. I'm assuming I should just probably hold off on ordering any plants?
I would still QT just to play it safe. I'm almost positive my columnaris rode in on an order of plants that I didnt QT, I could be wrong, but better safe than sorry, just leave them in a QT tank or bucket with good light for a couple weeks with un-treated tap water.
Most people will ship with a heat-pack, some say they dont want to and instead will insulate their plants very well before sending them off, I wouldnt worry too much about it. -- My weather is about the same as yours and plants have come in just fine to me! I would definitely pay extra for the heat pack if the seller offers them, or look for a seller that has them if they wont offer them though..
other than that I'm really not sure what else to tell you lol If you have any other questions though feel free to ask!
You wouldnt know if a plant has it or not, but from what I've read all those diseases and stuff cant survive in tap. I even qt my snails in untreated water if they are in a tank that a fish died in lol.
Anyways -- my favorites that I have are :: amazon sword, rotala (any species really,I have indica) bacopa, money wort, anarchis, frogbit, water sprite and wisteria, cabomba is a good alternative to hornwort, java moss, anubias, uhm...hmm LOL really, I love all of them. My suggestion is to get mostly stems and floaters, and only like 1/4 total of your order being rooted plants. In my 26 I have about 75% of the floor covered but only like 8 rooted plants in it.
does that make sense? lol