Simple method for growing aquarium plants!
What you need to know!
You must have some form of CO2. Why?
CO2 is beyond comparison the most important of all plant nutrients and this is why it needs to be present in reasonable concentrations in planted aquaria. In general, the CO2 produced biogenically in respiration is insufficient to sustain the photosynthesis of aquatic plants that are strict CO2 users. Thus, some sort of CO2 fertilization is required in order to grow the more difficult and demanding plants. We recommend a CO2 level in the planted aquarium of 15-30 mg/L, although less will show positive effects with most plants.! It is often a much more difficult and expensive task to provide adequate light over the plant aquarium. Both fluorescent light and highpressure-quicksilver lamps may produce sufficient light if supplied with effective reflectors but in deep aquaria (more than 20 in.) is very difficult to offer enough light to small light demanding foreground plants. Based on proven documentation, we suggest commencing CO2 addition before any other action is taken! We believe that even at very modest light intensities you will experience a conspicuous change in plant performance in your aquarium.
Sources for CO2
You have several options for CO2, liquid CO2 being the cheapest in the short term. Two products that provide carbon in different ways are available; Seachem Excel is one, Natural Aquarium Vital is the other. Effective at lower light levels, as light increases the next option would be better. Plant Gro Co2 Natural System operates on tablets being added to provide CO2 to the water. Downside; you need to keep buying tablets. The next method is a sugar yeast fermentation system, you can make your own or buy a more sophisticated system like the Red Sea Biogenerator on our site. Downside; you cannot control output of CO2 evenly without monitoring levels and you must use sugar and yeast at a certain ongoing cost. The last method is the most expensive initially, but the cheapest in the long run which is CO2 gas system with a CO2 bottle, regulator with needle valve and solenoid (allows automatic on and off), and provides the most consistent levels of CO2. A 20lb. bottle will last 12 - 16 months (set it and forget about it) in a 55 -75 gallon aquarium and a refill will cost roughly 17 dollars. Contact me to help you decide which option is best for you.
Lighting is the second most important consideration for a planted aquarium. The optimum illumination time is approximately 10 - 12 hours for most plants. Most aquariums come as a set with standard flourescent lighting. These lights have very poor reflectors, and very low watts and light output. The second best thing you can do to start a planted aquarium is add more light. You cannot put a higher watt bulb in your existing fixture! You must purchase a new fixture, the best kind being the new T-5 fixtures with good reflectors with bulbs at 6500K to 6700K, higher light output, and reasonably priced.
Fertilizing Water Changes Our Help
Fertilizing is the third most important consideration for a planted aquarium. You must give the plants in addition to CO2 the macros; Nitrate (Fish waste is primary source), Phosphate (Fish food is primary source), Potassium, (comes in micronutrient liquid fertilizer like Tropica Master Grow)) and Iron (comes in micronutrient liquid fertilizer like Tropica Master Grow) Micronutrients (also comes in liquid fertilizer Tropica Master Grow). Without any one of these the plants go into a starvation mode and begin to put out ammonia which then attracts and "wakes up" algae spores and induces them to grow. Levels for nitrates should be around 10 MG/L or PPM's, levels for phosphate should be around 1 MG/L or PPM's. Iron at roughly .1 MG/L or PPM's, dose micros according to directions on bottle. If you cannot maintain these macro levels with fish food and fish waste then you can add commercial preparations like SeaChem's Flourish Nitrogen and SeaChem's Flourish Phosphorus. You can contact me atHELP for more information or help.
Water Changes is the fourth most important consideration for a planted aquarium. Change at least 25 per cent of the water at least once a week to help remove organic buildup and waste and also clean your filter in old aquarium water from the change every other week. Also clean up any leaf debris that is floating or laying on the bottom.
Finally, we are here to help you with your questions and to get started the right way with our beautiful plants and expert advice! Let us help you create your own underwater garden delight today. There is nothing quite like watching beautiful fish swim around and through a beautiful lush planted aquarium!
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