Aquatic Plant growing Guide
Plants need light to photosynthesise. Photosynthesis is a process plants take to produce energy from light to grow and repair. If light is taken away from them then the plants will use energy from which they have stored until this runs out. When the stored energy has gone they will die. The intensity of your lighting will depend on the types of plants your growing. You should always research the light requirement of any plant before attempting to grow it. If you decide to grow Hermainthus Callitrichoides and you only have low lighting levels, chances are this plant will have stunted growth and eventually die. This is because Hermainthus Callitrichoides require very high lighting in order to survive.
Many of the basic plant collections we sell here at Aquarium Gardens contain many plants with low to medium light demands meaning they tend to be easier species to grow, such as our 86 aquatic plant collection. Most collections will have a varied mix of plants so check your lighting is adequate enough to grow them.
Aquatic plants also only like to photosynthesise for 8-10 hours per day. You should not have your aquarium lights on for any longer. This will also help keep algae at bay.
Plants that take nutrients from the water such anubias or java fern will rely more on liquid fertilizers. It is wise to invest in a good branded liquid fertilizer. Be sure not to over feed as algae might take advantage of any excess nutrients. Follow the instructions carefully on the back of the bottle. If your tank is densely planted then your tank may require more liquid fertilization. in which case I would normally take the 'trial and error' approach by following the instruction on the bottle for the first couple of weeks and increasing the dosage if your plants look as though they require more fertz (i.e. yellowing leaves, stunted growth, slow growth etc.)
I would also recommend substrate nutrition in the form of root tablets. We sell these here at Aquarium Gardens - Buy Grow Tabs from our eBay shop. They are extremely useful for feeding plants at their roots. If you have plants that bed their roots into the substrate then by placing one of these tablets next to each plant will do them the world of good and ensures they get things like iron, potassium, magnesium, carbon, calcium among others.
Co2 is used during the photsythesis process by the plant. many people tend to overlook the importance of Co2. Without Co2 your plants will fail to photosynthesise properly and will have poor growth.
There are a few ways of providing Co2 in your aquarium.
1. Pressurized Co2
This method is the most effective for providing Co2. It is also the most expensive. However it may work out more cost effective for larger tanks in the long run. The rate of Co2 is consistent and you will find it easier to find the right balance for your aquariums Co2 needs. Many kits are available in the aquarium market today.
2. Yeast based systems
The yeast based system uses the fermentation process from mixed sugar, water and yeast, which produces Co2 for your aquarium.
You will find this to be a cheaper method, however the rate of Co2 is not as consistent as the pressurized systems. The Co2 rates will be higher during the initial stages of fermentation thus giving inconsistent levels of Co2.
3. Liquid Carbon
A great method to use if you can't afford the initial cost of the pressurized Co2 kit. Although I am sure this method is not quite as effective as pressurized Co2 methods, it has certainly worked for me in the past. Requires Daily dosing.
The Balanced Planted Tank
If your going to take in anything from this article then please take in this... plants need 3 main things to survive:
Plants require all 3 things to grow and if one of them is taken away your plants will not grow properly and will die. For example, if your supplying your plants with liquid fertz and high lightbut do not give Co2 in some shape or form then your plants will not grow very well at all. In order for plats to utilize nutrients and light there must be Co2 present.
If any of these 3 things are out of balance you will be sure to knwo i.e. stunted/slow growth, algae, browning/yellowing leaves, dead plants etc.
Although the main rule of thumb is to provide these 3 elements for your plants, it is not as simple as this. The amount of nutrients and Co2 you need to provide for your plants depends on two things:
1. The number of plants in your tank.
2. The amount of light you have.
So for a densely planted tank with high lighting levels requires high levels of Co2 and a generous dosing of nutrients.
Balancing these elements in your planted tank can be hard work, as when you get it wrong algae can take over. This is because of excess nutrients that are not being used up by your plants. For example, plants need Co2 to photosynthesise (unlike algae) and without the presence of Co2 plants will not utilize nutrients properly leaving excess nutrients for algae to thrive on. Likewise if you add too many nutrients for the amount of Co2 and plants you have, there will be some left for algae.
So where doe light come in? The more you increase the lighting the more your plants will photosynthesise. Therefore the more Co2 and nutrients they will need.
Getting this balance right can be troublesome for any hobbyist, but with practise and some 'trial and error' you will master the art of growing aquatic plants.