View Full Version : Plant ideas?

10-24-2017, 07:18 AM
Alright the Congo tank... 55 gallons not biotope specific plants, and I need some ideas lol

What I can't grow in this tank:
Vallisneria - Synos literally love it to death, as in they crush smash and mangle it uproot it and it dies. I'm not spending any more money in vals lol sorry synos
Crypt Parva - doesn't die but can't make a go of the tank, slowly getting knocked into smaller and smaller bits that then cannot stay rooted again thanks to the synos, big fish small plant it just can't keep up with them.
Lily - thank you again synos, they beat the stems to bits flying through them like they're slolem skiing and have decimated all three. Bulbs might come back but for now the synos are soccer balling them and I can't keep them in the same place. They can hang unless they start rotting.
Swords? - I'm trying another batch, picked up some already fully submerged growth, they can't seem to transition in this tank, I'm thinking because they also get pounded by the synos but we're on round three since they are cheap for me here.

So I'm looking for:
Something short, prolific and hardy to replace the Parva for the front of the tank. It's gotta be short 3" or less preferable) without much maintenance and trimming. Must handle a fairly high flow rate and needs to root easily.
Something besides Anacharis that is tough enough to handle synos and grows quickly and tall. Anacharis doesn't live in my tanks here, it used to love me now it hates me. It's going behind the syno cave scape. They tear apart my Java fern back there leaf by leaf too so I'm not sure anything can survive them there but I'm open to ideas. Quick and tall are important as they'll beat it down if it's not lol
Something interesting, I figured lilies were easy and fast and different... But they are too delicate for drunken freightliners barreling through the tank at night.
Anything big and broad leafed other than Java fern if in fact the swords can't make a go of the tank? I'm not sure the synos are the issue but they just slowly get trimmed to nothing with very little submerged growth coming in and all submerged dying off while less than 4" tall.

Tank info :
Flourite red capped
Finnex Stingray x2 (with timers)
Root tabs where necessary
Seachem ferts (am going to move to dry eventually, likely nilocg, probably when I move to co2 injection)
Seachem Excel (am working up a plan for co2 injection, will be low rate co2)
Ph 8-8.2, kH 10, gH 15 temp 78
Fairly high flow rate where short plant will be, average flow through the tank otherwise.

Aponogeton and crypts (other than the Parva) are doing great.
Java Fern does not seem to be growing or dying. Anubias is suffering a deficiency atm but was doing fine before (phosphate I think, just removed phosguard and will return to elbow grease to control diatoms).
Crypt Spiralis was great currently melting might be doing its crypt thing as I changed my dosing schedule and removed phosguard but it can't survive behind syno caves they maul it.
I don't trust the synos not to demolish a crinum before it can adjust and root itself they sit dormant a long time adapting for me (like 4-6 weeks).

This is probably an impossible quest but I'm hoping one of you local plant geniuses will have some ideas to try!

10-24-2017, 04:34 PM
Have you tried any of the hygros? Hygro difformis (water wisteria) is very fast growing, as is hygro angustifolia and hygro corymbosa




For shorter hardy plants the only ones I can think of would be BLYXA JAPONICA and dwarf sagittaria but they may actually be a little taller than you want and I'm not sure they'll root strongly and quickly enough to withstand the fish you're having the issue with.



10-24-2017, 04:44 PM
Hmmm short long rooting plants.....maybe you could try dwarf sag. Mine says very short, no taller than 1 inch. The runners are sent underground, and sometimes from very deep I have found.

Sometimes, I'm not sure if what I have are chain swords or dwarf sag, but whichever one sends the runners under the substrate. The synos would just rip them up if the runners are on top.

I know what you mean about robust leaves. I can't grow some aponogeton types since even my BN plecos are too rough for them.

10-24-2017, 04:48 PM
Have you considered staurogyne repens to replace the parva? I grew it in a 55g with a Stingray paired with a 24/7. It grew fairly slowly so trimming wasn't all that necessary. It put down some nice roots but as with most plants the first couple of weeks are going to be difficult to keep down if you have animals that rummage in the substrate around plants. I had about a dozen cories and they would dig around the staurogyne but wouldn't really knock any out of the sand. I have no experience with syno cats, though, so I can't comment if the cats will give the staurogyne a difficult time.

10-24-2017, 05:01 PM
Another thing to posdibly try:
Planting your swords in weighted (glass) pots to keep them in place with root nutrients


Using large filter bio rings to anchor heavy rooters. I use a large bio ring, roll the base of the plant in a strip of floss to fit snug in the bio ring. Then bury the ring and all, allowing the roots to root into the substrate. Hope that made enough sense, I don't have a pic :(

10-24-2017, 06:05 PM
That's pretty ingenious!

10-24-2017, 06:09 PM
That's pretty ingenious!

Who me? Lol. I saw my LFS did that instead of wrapping stems in that pliable metal thing. I thought it would work perfectly to anchor plants that like to float up. It also works well to hold stems of plants like anacharis in bare-bottom tanks ;)

10-25-2017, 01:18 AM
I'm going to do some research on all the above suggestions tonight at work. Thank you so much everyone! I also have seen a couple scape with a plant that almost looks like a miniature cross between bamboo and a small tree. Looks to have a pretty solid trunk type main stem and medium width leaves that are similar in appearance to bamboo leaves.l, grows more upright like a tree rather than a bush. Anyone have any ideas? I'll try to get a decent snapshot of it tonight, maybe get some opinions on how hardy it is, maybe it'll do the trick. Could be one of the ones suggested above, I'm not sure, I'm far from a plant expert lol

10-25-2017, 01:47 AM
No, I think you're on to something. I think it's actually called a bamboo plant. I saw some I thought on the AC, hopefully someone will have some first-hand experience with them to help you out. Good on you for researching!

10-25-2017, 07:01 AM
Holy bats.... So I think I stumbled onto a deficiency issue with my swords, all of them some worse than others and very likely why they aren't getting enormous anywhere and probably why they are dying in the 55. Doh, I hadn't considered a deficiency as a couple are still recovering from my failure to dose excel for co2 in lesser priority tanks for some time and thought that was the issue.... Anyway, thanks Internet ADHD down the rabbit hole I went tonight.
So I (apparently wrongly) assumed with a gH of 15-16 Mg in abundance was a given... I KNOW much of my hardness is comprised of Ca, I also know that it's a crazy amount of Ca. What I hadn't considered was that with the higher light and full ferts that I well may not getting enough Mg as it's basically coming mostly from water changes as the amount in ferts may well not be enough... Frilly leaves in lots of various plants, leaves becoming transparent in various plants, and I often see the typical hook develop in any plant that decides to just growth spurt on me and shoots up, and that's all plants not just swords.... How did I not recognize it sooner, gah slap forehead. I should have realized months ago after ferts slowed but didn't stop it in plants where it's obvious that I had a deficiency. Anyway I'm fairly confident it's actually a bigger issue for the swords as none have thrived in any tank like I'm used to and I can't transition them in the 55 at all, runners won't even take off in the 55 either. Lame.

So, Epsom salt is the go to when looking for Mg alone from what little I've read. Is that my only option? Advice how to measure and dose appropriately? I'm going to journey through TPT and see what I find there also, but I love you guys and your straight up no hype advice lol

10-25-2017, 10:02 AM
SueD once again you nailed it. Hygrophila is definitely the bamboo thing I was trying to describe above. THANK YOU! I'm happy to see there are several varieties too, Corymbosa was what I had noticed.
BluewaterBoof the repens is an option to try, my sister has a bunch maybe I can get a few testers from her. Don't know if they will stand up to the bulldozers when they fly through they seem so dainty lol but free makes it an easy one to try. I was under the impression that she was keeping it short intentionally I didn't realize it was one that tended to stay shorter.

The synos are currently ranging in size from I try not to guess because it's huge (at least 7") and the smallest over 4". It's not that they rummage around so much as they annihilate anything green in their path during nighttime fish games... They just run into and over stuff tearing off leaves and shearing stems as they go. Crypts, anubias, crinum all survive well enough, hopefully solving Mg will get swords going I think they should live through the stampeding.

10-25-2017, 04:38 PM
IME....I have never had a Mg deficiency with swords, hate to tell you after all that Internet loopholing....and my gh is 2 in my 120g with like 12 amazon swords. But I can help you with growing swords.

Are we talking amazon sword? They are very very heavy feeders. That's why I provide a dirt substrate for them, they LoVe soil! But you could use any nutrient-rich planting medium or even try root tabs. Honestly, I have very soft water, 105 TDS on average and my A. swords area healthy. They use mostly nutrients thru their roots IME.

Try to get those swords anchored one way or another, then add root tabs under the plant. Or try planting them in a heavy dish (so they won't float up) with nutrient-rich substrate and bury the dish.

Just try not to bury the base of the plant too much, I give a final gentle pull upwards when I'm done planting to keep the base above the substrate (roots in the nutrients).

If you're talking about other sword types, like chain swords, than nevermind, but I've grown those too in very soft water when breeding my EB rams.

Are your fish ok with epsom salts added? They might prefer softer water.

10-25-2017, 04:43 PM
I was under the impression that she was keeping it short intentionally I didn't realize it was one that tended to stay shorter.

Oh yes, quite short. The stronger the light, the more compact they grow.

Here is my s. repens grown in a high-tech with about 80 PAR at the substrate:


Under weaker light the leaves will angle upwards and the stems will become more "leggy" between nodes.

10-25-2017, 04:44 PM
Just to comment on hygro angustifolia, this one can develop surprisingly solid roots. It surprised me trying to move them for a stem plant. And staurogene repens is one of my faves. It hardly needs to be trimmed, maybe once a month to stay short, and the roots are extremely long! Good suggestions.

10-25-2017, 05:23 PM
I love angustifolia. It was one of my first plants that I ever bought and I used them in almost every tank to some degree or another. As Kat said, very sturdy. Grew like weeds for me. Sold my trimmings to locals all the time for cold hard cash.


10-25-2017, 05:42 PM
Wow, that looks awesome André! I found my H.angustifolia grew much faster once I lowered the lighting. Too strong and it grows slow and short for some reason IME.

10-25-2017, 06:43 PM
Yeah I've noticed that with a lot of stem plants. The stronger light promotes compact growth, whereas weaker light encourages more height.

In my experience with angustifolia, the trimmings become more bushy with each new "generation" of trimmings. So like my original plants had only 2 leaves per node. Then as I trimmed the tops and planted those trimmings, they started sprouting more and more leave per node. After a couple of years of this, my new trimmings were sprouting 8-10 leaves at each node.

10-25-2017, 07:47 PM
Very cool. I like to replant the tips when I want to spread it, even the stems with no leaves will grow new shoots, it's a very easy beautiful plant. That is one non-SA plant I'll always keep.

10-25-2017, 08:13 PM
IME....I have never had a Mg deficiency with swords, hate to tell you after all that Internet loopholing....and my gh is 2 in my 120g with like 12 amazon swords. But I can help you with growing swords.

The swords aren't the only plants showing deficiency and the 55 isn't the only tank, it's just showing the worst in the world he 55. Even my anubias is growing pale leaves with green veins, crypts are thinner than they should be too. Other tanks are showing mild deficiencies and I won't be adjusting them just keeping up on tabs which I have a tendency to slack on in the past.

All my tanks have flourite at least, all get the same fert schedule, but this is the first tank I ever used flourite standard rather than the sand.

I just gave my new sword a second root tab and it's most definitely not buried too deep. It had a decent root to it but nothing like they get after a couple months I a tank. I put some larger and smaller stones around the base to keep the brat pack from sweeping away any loose substrate after I planted. When I pulled the stones to put the second tab under it, the flourite has settled down exposing maybe a half inch of the root ball under the plant part.

It's siesta time on the light and I'm on a short turn to be back to work, got off at 6am back at 2pm.... I'll get some photos tomorrow from the tank of the anubias see if you guys think it's something other than Mg deficiency. Maybe tonight if I get ambitious enough to deal with undoing timers and whatnot lol.

10-26-2017, 02:46 PM
Alright here's some examples of what I have going on.

Anubias both nana and I believe coffeefoilia, the narrow leaf and bartoli are also experiencing the same issue, only in this tank. 5385853859

A crypt I noticed while scrutinizing the tank last night after work, it doesn't show well in the photos but definitely has thin leaves and the second you can definitely see that hooked tip. First real hooked tips I've seen in any of my crypts though it has appeared sporadically in various plants was mostly fast growing plants, I thought, until noticing this. 53860https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20171026/90b97656b9227c58bdd50d701ae1dd21.jpg

Lastly, this is just a spot that was already existing on the new sword but is very similar if not the same as what the entire plant ends up looking like as it fades to nothingness in all the other swords I've had in the tank. 53861

Everything posted sideways, sorry, I didn't take the photos that direction I promise.... -_-

10-26-2017, 06:05 PM
Oooooh, that's odd, there are some deficiencies, for sure. Did you say you use root tabs for the crypts or only swords? What type of root tab? The anubias is a tough one, I've never seen it do that! So I see you do have deficiency or two.

Hopefully a plant genius can figure it out!

Here's my saved plant deficiency chart, I can't remember what it says!

I wonder if there's a potasium and iron deficiency as well. Were you using a fert for the water?

10-26-2017, 07:33 PM

I dealt with iron way back, it's actually why I ended up running the entire seachem ferts schedule with adjustments, I'm still adjusting. Fix one obvious issue and 12 others come up lol.

I don't NPK yet... I'm trying to decide which way to jump away from Seachem line, and have been using Trace instead which rounded out in general where I'm. majorly deficient and cured a Manganese issue lol. I have a K issue I one tank for sure so it definitely maybe playing a role here also but I really don't think it's the larger issue.

I removed my phosguard as I suspect P may be playing a part (a Java fern started going dark on me) and went back to manual diatoms removal but iron is not, at least not as in I need more... I actually think iron may be overly present for the anubias and contributing to the Mg now being so deficient there, but reducing iron lower than current almost immediately causes yellowing in everything else in the tank... The anubias isn't yellow its pale green, definitely green just pale and obviously dark veining. I've reference this site ( http://bigpictureagriculture.blogspot.com/2015/12/plant-nutrient-deficiency-leaf.html?m=1 ) for info as I think it's much more useful than one deficiency chart.... Deficiency charts are all over the board on who says which leaves are doing what for what reason. I have seen them describe what I have as a N deficiency problem... Definitely no way an N deficiency lol

So after finding out Mg is a huge player in the whole photosynthesis process started my whole tumble down the rabbit hole the other night (thinking about issues getting my garden outside, ADHD off the whole need a hardy plant topic). So after days of reading and reading... And to make an already long story as short as possible with what I have successfully cured in tanks here already and a process of elimination and knowing my hardness is mostly Ca in my water source I did a big loop and landed back on Mg being my tank issue and a list of items still likely at fault for garden dirt issues lol. Mg can contribute to the leaves slowly going transparent and is the main cause of the hooked tips on the crypts which are also presenting leaves thinner than they should be which again is the big factor in the swords. When looking at your chart Mg photo looks a lot like my Java ferns, like almost exactly like them actually. I hadn't thought they were noticeably affected without seeing your chart and they are picture perfect display of it based on your reference lol

I'm going to venture a guess that K is going to be my next ugly appearance. As that's about the only thing I won't be adding more of. And when I decide on my co2 (also a deficiency issue with my hard water, and I can maintain small tank size plants without but want BIG in this tank) I'm sure I'll have to sort through new deficiencies lol.

I want to get plants not deficient, then add my co2, then eventually move off seachem ferts as they are expensive for a big tank and go with something more practical cost wise.

So currently I have flourite original, seachem root tabs and dose iron, trace, comprehensive and excel. Root tabs on swords, most crypts and anything else classified as root feeders though more sparsely spaced than swords and crypts. Am adding Epsom salt for Mg theory and anticipate K won't keep up.

10-26-2017, 07:46 PM
I seem to remember magnesium plays a role with iron absorbtion, perhaps you are correct with the overabundance of iron not being able to be utilized by the plants. Calcium and magnesium usually go hand in hand, but maybe not all the time. That's very odd. Oh and Potassium is usually most depleated in aquaria. Just a guess. Sorry I can't be of more help. I hope someone figures it out with you!

10-27-2017, 02:13 AM
I seem to remember magnesium plays a role with iron absorbtion, perhaps you are correct with the overabundance of iron not being able to be utilized by the plants. Calcium and magnesium usually go hand in hand, but maybe not all the time. That's very odd. Oh and Potassium is usually most depleated in aquaria. Just a guess. Sorry I can't be of more help. I hope someone figures it out with you!Well I leave for four days vacation in Idaho tomorrow so I'm not dosing the Epsom salt today, I didn't have it on hand and got to thinking about it. I may even tip back the iron in tiny amounts instead of a ml at a time too before I add Epsom salt... I did some more reading about fe, ca and mg while my son was at the dentist and maaaaaybe its overabundance of fe... Give it a couple weeks see what happens.

10-27-2017, 12:43 PM
Have a wonderful vacation!

10-30-2017, 06:39 AM
OK SOOOooo, you guys were right. I think I still have iron issues.... Again reading and reading because it's like tug of war about it for me. And stumble on a couple gems that made me go back pretty solid to the iron idea.
Two things, first after I conquered iron issues the first time around then manganese I went forward with my additional light and setting up the timers. Then pops this issue. Well, it's the new growth only and I've learned a couple things. First iron is immobile so the new growth shows deficiency, magnesium is mobile so it shows old growth as it pulls from old leaves to support the new. Alright, got it, that's rock solid fact not opinion. Second, I discovered why my 55 clouds so obscenely when I dose iron... It's completely precipitating out within a couple hours (when my water is clear again) to ferric iron and is almost unavailable to the plants. So I have went ahead and ordered some chelated iron that should delay that precipitation and leave the iron available longer. This clouding ONLY happens in the 55 not my other tanks, the 55 has a higher flow rate and higher o2 levels both which increase the precipitation, AND I dose directly over my output, I had no idea, oops.
Second reason I'm solidly back on iron is knowing know what I listed above I went to see if we had a newer water report than the 2015 report I have for my local tap. Absolutely zero iron at the tap where as before it was read at .28 mg/l which would have been in a lower range and fine for most my tanks but likely not this one with the higher lighting. Stumbling through this higher tech than I previously ran in a tank tank I'm failing to consider things like this.

So if this chelated iron works I will have another thing to resolve before Co2 and that is my flow rate, I'll have to get that designed and dealt with or I'll basically throw the Co2 right out of the tank.

I also ordered some K2SO4 since I already know I have a potassium issue in another tank and already expect it to present here when I get whatever this turns out to be lined out.

Wish me luck, my goodness this has turned out to be a whole world more reading on ferts than I ever imagined possible lol.

And thanks for keeping on pointing out iron throughout the thread lol I may have just went on ahead in my typical bull headed fashion and caused more issues without you guys keeping on bringing it up! Thank you lol

Also, just cause it was originally the topic.... I ordered some hygrophila also tonight as Dustin's fish tanks had a two for one on it through midnight (9 my time, I baaarely made the cut off... I hope anyway lol) so I'll be giving that a go as well see if it'll stand up to my maniacal demo derby fish lol. I'll be going to lookup the smaller suggestions next! Thank you guys for all the help, amazing and super helpful polite genius advice to keep me going the right direction!