Q. Why won’t my plants grow?

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - Fishkeeping Answers -

I have the most hor­ren­dous luck with plants. They al­ways seem to die on me: yel­low­ing out, holes in leaves, melt­ing — if there is a way for plants to die, I’ve had it hap­pen to me. I’ve even man­aged to kill Anu­bias!

I re­cently did a strip down of my tank as I de­cided to fo­cus more on my Manaca­paru An­gels, and thought I’d2have one last at­tempt. I don’t use CO , but I have a Ecotech Ra­dion XR30 G3 light run­ning at about 25% bright­ness. I dose weekly TNC Lite aquar­ium plant nu­tri­ents and Plant Growth Pre­mium fer­tiliser from Trop­ica. The ma­jor­ity of the tank is sand sub­strate but in the corner that’s planted I’m us­ing Trop­ica Soil with JBL Root Tabs.

One month in and half of the wood-based Java moss is cov­ered in al­gae; the other is brown­ing out, my Val­lis is not grow­ing and my Ama­zon swords are de­vel­op­ing holes in the cen­tre of their leaves.

The tank is 100 x 40 x 60cm and I carry out weekly 75–100 l wa­ter changes us­ing RO + Seachem Equilib­rium. Please help! DAVID HILL, EMAIL


It sounds like your plants aren’t get­ting enough of what they need. This leads to a suf­fer­ing plant that at­tracts al­gae.

My ad­vice would be to plant heav­ily and then you can ben­e­fit from a com­plete liq­uid plant food rather than the two prod­ucts you men­tion. They are both very sim­i­lar to one an­other and do not con­tain the ni­tro­gen or phos­pho­rous that plants re­quire. Con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, in a healthy planted tank, ni­trates and phos­phates do not cause al­gae but pro­mote plant growth, which in turn helps to pre­vent al­gae. Con­sider a com­plete liq­uid plant food and dose daily rather than weekly. I have great re­sults with The Aquas­ca­per Com­plete Liq­uid Plant Food, which is an all-in-one prod­uct de­signed to be dosed daily for all types of planted tank.

The fact that your Val­lis is strug­gling is an in­di­ca­tor that you may need more light. I’m un­fa­mil­iar with the PAR out­put of the XR30 but I won­der if you have the spec­trum that is ad­justed for plants, rather than the ma­rine light­ing unit that’s blue-dom­i­nant.

I also ques­tion the use of RO wa­ter. The plants you keep, and prob­a­bly the fish, will be fine with tap­wa­ter. Tap con­tains more nu­tri­ents to feed the plants and is more eco­nom­i­cal to use with less waste and no need for re-min­er­al­i­sa­tion prod­ucts.

Con­sider stock­ing a lot of fast grow­ing stem plants as well, as this will help fight off al­gae.

If you do all of the above I’m sure you’ll have a bet­ter chance of suc­cess. GE­ORGE FARMER

Even the Java moss (inset) is strug­gling to grow in David Hill’s tank.

The Ama­zon sword leaves are at­tract­ing al­gae.

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