View Full Version : Newbie Wants to Prune

04-14-2011, 08:33 PM
I am new to all of this, so please keep it simple for me. The one thing I have learned with confidence in these past few months is that good intentions are not enough. I want to clean up and clean out some plants, but I need to know if I am going to shock the fish or create other new problems by so doing.

I inherited a 20 year old planted 15gallon rectangular tank. The plants occupy most of the right half of the tank. I suspect the plants are at least ten years old, and I can't rule out the possibility that they are as old as the tank.

The tank sat on the counter with an ancient fluorescent fixture on 24 hours per day, WITH NO FISH, for at least a couple of years. The light does not cast much light these days. I've only recently added fish, and I am discussing those problems elsewhere.

The plants are all long and thin. I've seen the name "swords" for aquatic plants and wonder if maybe that is what I have. They are 'planted' in gravel.

A fair number of the plants are yellow, and many of the others have their share of black spots. I'd like to clean them up, but want to do so in a fish friendly way.

What I would like to is to pinch off all the yellow plants near the bottom in the hopes that some might grow back. As for the black spotted plants, I am not sure what to do. Can I scrape the spots off? If I can, should I, or would that do bad things to the water? Should I pinch them off as well?

Instead of pinching, should I pull things out by their roots, or is that going to risk adjacent plants?

How much pruning is too much pruning? If I clear out everything that does not look fresh and vigorous, I am not going to have many plants left. Should I be aggressive or conservative in my approach to this project?

Any and all advice will be greatly appreciated. I've located a timer that I will be putting back in the loop in the near future, as I realize 24hr lighting is not the best idea. Then again, this light does not have all that much light left in it. Lady Hobbs has suggested a T5 replacement, and if I can find one in stock at a good price, I will probably buy it, even though I am not sure I understand what T5 means.


04-14-2011, 09:43 PM
T5 is just a better output light. There are 3 main types of fluorescent bulbs, there are T5, T8, and T12. The T numbers are simply how efficient they are. An example is if you have say a 15W T5, T8, and T12 then the T5 is the most efficient and and gives off more light then T8 and T12. T8 is the second most efficient and then T12. T5 lights are also smaller in diameter(not that that really matters). Someone correct me if I am wrong.
As for the pruning I am no expert in plants but it is my understanding that leaves that don't look very healthy should be removed. If the leaves begin to rot they can foul up the water and be harmful to the fish. The black spots could possibly be algae or they could be dead spots. Also if I had to guess I would say that the plants might not grow very well with the light you currently have. If it is that old I doubt that it is giving off a sufficient amount of light for the plants.
Thats just my input =)

04-15-2011, 01:57 AM
OK, I have done some googling of this forum and elsewhere, and I have my answer. Dead plants do all sorts of bad things. They starve the living plants, and they also contribute to the huge nitrate levels this tank has. I've been changing like crazy, and while the numbers are getting lower, they remain unacceptably high.

Tomorrow night I prune like crazy. I need to order a new light as well.

04-17-2011, 09:25 PM
Nitrate levels are finally way down. I think the pruning was a major factor.

04-17-2011, 09:41 PM
Good to hear!thumbs2: I hope it stays that way for you

04-21-2011, 05:34 PM
I find my plants actually grow more the more I prune them. Plus everything stays green which is great :)