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Old 10-20-2010, 02:16 PM   #1 
PinkDiamond
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To those with Java Ferns - Gravel Substrate, or something more?

So I'm taking the plunge into my first live-planted tank and am hoping to keep it as low tech as possible. I've picked out Java Fern as my starter plant (maybe some Anubias Nana later, as it seems to favour similar lighting/substrate conditions), and I'm hoping to not add any special supplements or fertilizers or new lights, if I can get away with it. My tanks currently have compact fluorescent lights that came with the tank hoods (they're Marineland Eclipse tanks, but I don't know the light specs offhand...) Anyway, here's my question:

To those of you who keep java ferns, have you simply planted them in gravel, or have you added a special substrate, like Fluorite or Eco Complete? I'm not entirely opposed to Fluorite, as it doesn't seem like it could have any negative effects on the fish or the water conditions (except that it's quite sharp, and my betta's sometimes like to dig at things in the gravel... I don't want them to injure themselves on it!!) My tanks currently have gravel only in them and I'm hoping to make as few changes as possible when adding the java ferns without setting myself up for failure.

Your input is so greatly appreciated! Thanks! :)
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Old 10-20-2010, 02:25 PM   #2 
Oldfishlady
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Your plant choices are great for low light low tech care=however, they all need to be tied to something to do best-like driftwood, rocks even decoration of some sort-planting the rhizome in the substrate can cause it to rot and die

Lights-most of the CFL are fine for low light plants-however, if the bulb is older than 1 year old you may want to change it
No special substrate needed for these plants-the waste produced from the livestock may be enough to feed the plants-just watch them for signs of low nutrients.
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Old 10-20-2010, 02:37 PM   #3 
ilovebunnies
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Java Ferns need to be tied to something, they cannot be buried in the gravel. Just tie the java fern to a rock or some driftwood. If you plan on using rocks, test them first by placing a drop of vinegar on it. If it fizzes, don't use the rock because it may change the pH in your tank. Driftwood needs to be soaked or you will have off colored water from the tannins. You can use fine fishing string or thread to tie the plant on. Eventually, the roots attach and you can cut off the string.

Right now, mine is floating in the bowl until I find something I want to attach it to. My fish likes to rest on the leaves at the top. So floating is always an option too.

Your light should be fine for java ferns since they are low light. If you think you need a different light look for 6500-6700 lumens or 3 watts per gallon should be sufficient.
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Old 10-21-2010, 01:51 PM   #4 
PinkDiamond
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That sounds great, thank you both for the advice! I'll use the vinegar test on rocks to be sure that they won't do anything funny to the water. As far as driftwood goes, I was considering using some as it would look great, but I don't think I'm ready to deal with the possible molds and things that can develop on it (or so I've read) over time, so I'll stick with rocks for now.

Sorry if I'm way off base, but I thought java fern could be grown in gravel, just not with the roots totally buried, as you said, or else it would rot. Any advice on that? Some of my tanks don't have a ton of rocks, just a couple as centrepieces, and I was hoping to put some java fern in/on the gravel around the rocks as well.

Thanks again!
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Old 10-21-2010, 02:36 PM   #5 
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Google is your friend. That said, most of the articles I have looked up on Java Ferns is they do better when their roots are not buried in gravel. Some hobbyist suggest lightly tying the root / plant around with a fishing line connected to a sinker to keep the plant in place and bury the sinker underneath the gravel for cosmetic purposes.
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Old 10-21-2010, 03:37 PM   #6 
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You want to keep the rhizome above the substrate-the secondary roots can be buried and they often will find their own way into the substrate when left long enough to grow in one spot.
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