Does anyone have any tips on keeping live plants in tanks? I just got my first live plant today and I'd like to get some more, but first I'd like to know a little bit more about how to keep them alive! I'm just worried that I will kill the one that I bought today.
IME-For a successful planted tank-you need proper color temp lights.
What I use-"Daylight" 6500kelvin-The watts vary based on length of bulb and light strip specification.
Without the right color temp for photosynthesis-no matter how much plant food you add or how long you leave the light on- Some species of plants can't use it.
Proper lights don't have to break the bank either-I use the cheap shop light strips over my big tanks with the cheap "Daylight" 6500k 40w bulbs I get in the lighting dept-Total cost to light my 55g and 75gal-under $50.00.
Since florescent light bulb intensity is lost over time-the bulbs need to be changed out every 12 months. You can see the light and so can the algae-but the plants can't to use it for energy.
However, I am limited to some degree on the species of plants I can keep- to the low-to-moderate light plants. The more colorful plants will grow, however, the colors usually will fade and look more green-than the original pink, reds and purple-due to lower light and without injecting CO2. With that said, the high nutrient soil I use will maintain lots of different species of plants that thrive and reproduce fairly fast.
In planted tanks-its about balance-strong plant growth that will out compete algae and while some algae is normal and expected in a container of water that has both light and nutrients. This is still a closed system that will need some manual removal-but balance can help keep it in check so that it doesn't take over the tank.
Along with the proper color temp lights-you also have the correct photoperiod, light penetration, reflectors, light intensity, proper planting that are also important for successful planted tanks. Not to mention, problems with non-aquatic plants and aquatic plants going through emersed-v-submersed leaf change over-that can make it appear that the plant is not doing well or melting. A lot of healthy roots have been tossed because of this-when all that was needed was a little patience.
Non-aquatic plants being sold as aquarium plants can be a big frustration to hobbyist. Some stores can be really misleading with labels and that can make the hobbyist feel like a failure when the plant slowly rots and dies-You didn't fail...it was just the wrong plant to start with.
Improper planting can be another cause of plant failure.
Then you have nutrients or plant ferts-but as I stated-if you don't have the right color temp lights with some species of plants-ferts can't be used by the plants-but the algae can.
Photoperiod is important for balance too, most species of plants need 10-12h/day PP. Otherwise, the plant can be tricked into thinking its a season change and either go dormant, die or flower-then algae can take over. In nature you generally have 10h of intense light with an hour before and after of less light as in the sun setting and rising. Plants also need a period of darkness for respiration.
Go with what OFL says...she's our planted tank expert....
But, all that being said....let's start w/the basics:
1. Is this your first plant for a betta home? How many gallons, what's the setup?
If, like most of us, your betta resides in a posh 2.5gallon to 10gallon (i will never understand how someone can put just 1 fish in a 10g), you probably purchased a kit...so, the hood either has 1 light socket or 1 fluorescent long bulb about 1 inch in diameter. So, easiest way to get your plants light needs are:
Go to Walmart, home depot, etc and : if its a socket, look for 6500k, 10w bulbs (you know the spiral ones) and there you are! If it's a long bulb, you might be stuck going to Petsmart or Petco and buying a plant bulb which should do the trick.
2. Now, I expect from your avatar, that your bettas home has inert aquarium gravel for a floor...if that's the case, you don't have NPT (natural planted tank) just a regular tank which is just fine! But, you need to remember that your tank has little to no nutrients for your plant...especially if you clean it like suggested here in this forum :)
So, best bet would be to go to Petsmart or Petco and get a bottle of Seachem's "Flourish"....which will usually be enough fertilizer for most aquariums with just a few plants if you follow bottle dosing instructions. If your plant(s) is a colorful variety or a sword, you might need to buy iron tabs fertilizer as these varieties usually require more iron.
3. This last question is pretty important: what kind of plant did you buy? Did it come in a bunch or a basket?
Bunched plants should be planted separately...simply unwrap "lead strip" or rubber band and plant each stem into gravel as deep as possible as this will help them stay put until rooted...about 1 inch apart.
Baskets: some people say you can leave them in basket as purchased, but they have always died that way with me when I was first starting out. I would, gently remove from basket and then gently remove as much of the "rock wool" as possible and then plant in gravel pulling up gently when done so all green stem is above gravel.
Exceptions: java fern and anubias cannot be planted! Tie them to a rock or driftwood using thread or fishing line (i prefer thread)...
The rest is sort of learn as you go...research aquatic plants...get a good encyclopedia on aquatic plants with good pics!
My tank is a 3 gallon. No filter. No heater (yet). It doesn't have a light, but I try to turn my desk lamps on that are by the tank for now. I also keep the curtains open so that the natural sunlight can maybe, sometimes, hit the aquarium.
And I was wondering what kind of fertilizer I was going to need! Thanks!
The plant I bought came in a pot. I did take it out of the pot and place it in the tank and then place the gravel over it. I don't know the actual name of the plant though.
Here is a photo:
While gravel isn't the best to grow stuff, it is possible and lots of us do it :] Crypts tend to be more of a root feeder rather than a column feeder, which means your best bet is to slip a root tab under there.
Desk lamps are actually the best lights for small tanks, just pick up a CFL (compact fluorescent) they throw all the correct spectrum you need. Depending on how much light you use, you might not want to dose anything into the water because the crypt won't use it fast enough but the algae sure will.
Last edited by Oldfishlady; 11-29-2012 at 03:37 PM.
Reason: Link removed to another forum
Good points barbgirl! I don't use ferts because I am a dirt girl but you're correct in that crypts tend to be root feeders so a root tab would be good. Also with just one plant, any ferts you use are gonna let the algae in.
I was going to suggest turning on one of your desk lamps for the plant during the day with the compact fluorescent (spiral shaped bulb) ...6500k
I haven't been able to find your exact crypt...though I even have it in my tank!
Thanks everyone! I put some more plants in the tank today. I have two desk lamps. One is an overhead fluorescent one. The other is a plain brass desk lamp with a glass shade. It is lit with a soft light bulb.