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Aquarium Plant Growth Plant growth is affected by a long row different factors among which the most important

are listed below. Water The first consideration would of course be the water in which the plants will grow. The kind of water you that you have and the temperature in you aquarium all play an important part in your plant life. Most aquarium plants found in marshes do well in warmer temperature, and 75 degrees Fahrenheit is usually the ideal temperature for most tropical plants. It is seen that plants flourish even better if the heat generated is from the bottom so that their roots get enough heat. This can be achieved by placing a submersible heater right at the bottom of the aquarium where the water meets gravel. Another way to keep your plant life healthy is by leaving their roots undisturbed. When you are cleaning your aquarium or changing water, care must be therefore be taken that the roots do not get disturbed. The reverse is true in case of the leaves. Plants seem to do well when their leaves move more. Therefore, regularly aerating your water using bubblers is a good idea. Just like fish, plants also need fresh supplies of water frequently. This is one more reason for making frequent water changes, but keep in mind that you should only change small parts of the water at a time. Lighting Since photosynthesis takes place in the presence of light, light is a necessity for healthy plants. Natural sunlight is made up of a number of light waves that have different wavelengths. The plant pigment chlorophyll will absorb only certain light waves. Sunlight will promote the growth of algae. Long exposure to sunlight will also heat up the water. Artificial light is therefore more advisable for plants growing in an aquarium. Full spectrum or broad spectrum fluorescent light is best suited for plant growth. Aquariums usually need about 1.5 watts of light per gallon of water and about 12 hours of light per day. Of course, if your aquarium is deep, you may need additional wattage, and need to keep the light on for longer hours. Using light colored gravel is a good way to create a light bottom for a deep aquarium. The wattage of light required for healthy growth in plants is also species dependent. Some plants, like the Anubias, Java Fern and Java Moss, require only low to moderate lighting. So, a single fluorescent tube will give enough light for these plants. The Water Wisteria, the Indian Fern, the Water Lily, and the Waterweed are some plants that need bright light. These plants will require at least one additional fluorescent tube to survive and flourish. Some species like the Bacopa and the Cabomba require extra strong light. These plants are of course not very suitable for beginners. Plant Substrate In nature, plants are continuously receiving nourishment from their surroundings. Aquarium plants derive nourishment from the substrate. There are different varieties of substrate available now, but for the beginner a substrate that is low maintenance and stable is the ideal choice. A substrate that needs constant watching and gets messy is not recommended. Similarly, a substrate that is capable of changing the water chemistry is also something to keep away from. This kind of substrate will require constant monitoring of the water. Organic substrates, rich in nutrients, will mess with your water quality and give out excess nutrients. Since the substrate lies at the very bottom of your aquarium, it is difficult to change it once the aquarium has been established. So, in many cases you are stuck with your substrate for a long time. That is why you need to be wise when you choose it. Ideally, you should select a substrate that is inert and that will not alter your water chemistry. The perfect substrate will also have a high Cation Exchange Capacity. The Cation Exchange Capacity refers to the ability of the medium to absorb nutrient ions. Simply put, this means that your substrate will hold on to the nutrients and make them available to plant roots.

In this respect, sand is a very poor substrate. It has none of the qualities described above. It can be used only as an anchor for your plants. Gravel will usually also have a very low Cation exchange Capacity and some types of gravel will alter the water chemistry. Fluorite is a great substrate. Though it is a bit expensive, it is very nice looking and nutrient rich. It will not get soft when in water. It also has iron and other trace elements that are good for your plants. Vermiculite is a soil additive that is very rich in nutrients, but it is also very light and needs to be placed below a layer of heaver material. Otherwise, it will start floating around and make your water cloudy. Using suitable additives in your substrate will be beneficial to plants. Commercially available products help to induce plant growth. Some of these are to be mixed in with water, while others need to be pushed in near the roots of the plant. You will find more detailed information about plant nutrients later in this e-book. Do NOT use peat moss, bagged potting soil or compost in your substrate. These will decay after some time and prevent root growth in plants. A soil that has only a little organic matter and has a higher concentration of fine clay particles is best suited for plant growth. Plant Nutrients Both micro and macro nutrients are required by plants for growth. Macronutrients include nitrates, sulfates and phosphates. The plant requires these in large quantities. If you introduce a lot of macronutrients to your aquarium, it can lead to an undesirable 'algae bloom'. Micronutrients are nutrients required in trace amounts. Nutrients like iron, copper, zinc and calcium are some of these. Excessive amounts of these can prove harmful for the plants. Carbon Dioxide is the most important nutrient that a plant needs. Sometimes, fish alone are not able to provide the optimum levels to support adequate plant growth. Carbon dioxide injections for your plants are an easy but pricey way out. Carbon dioxide levels in your water should be between 5-15 Mg/l. If you go any higher, your fish will be harmed. Using commercially available tablets that dissolve in water and provide a lot of nutrients for your plants is also a good idea. Unless you feed your fish a lot, they will not provide all the nutrients that your plants need. And even if the fish produce enough nutrients, these are available to the algae and other microscopic organisms too. Plants can have a hard time getting it. That is why using additives in the substrate as well as tablets in the water really assist plant growth. When using additives, take special care that they are not harmful for your fish. The use of aerators is also a factor in the growth of your plants. Constantly keeping your air pumps or bubblers on will deplete the carbon dioxide levels in your water. On the other hand, you need the aerators to keep your water rich in oxygen. The easy way out is to turn on the bubblers only for a few hours a day, preferably at night. This will provide enough oxygen for your fish while not depriving your plants of the vital Carbon Dioxide. Keep in mind that plants require oxygen too. Plants will suffer when there is a deficiency in the nutrients. A deficiency in nitrogen and sulfur is indicated when the leaves turn yellow faster than usual. If the leaves seem to be very brittle, you probably need more iron in your aquarium. Over fertilization may lead to problems too. The leaves getting yellow spots can indicate an excess of iron, zinc or copper. Filtration Almost any kind of filtration system will do for plants. Only a few things have to be kept in mind. Constant use of aerators should be avoided. Use a filtration system that will filter out floating particles. These particles will block sunlight and also form a deposit on plant leaves. The filtration should not produce too much of water disturbance, as this will deplete Carbon Dioxide levels. On the other hand, the filtration must create some currents in the water, as this will help easy circulation of nutrients.

How to grow & care for aquarium plants Lighting Different plant species have different requirements when it comes to lighting, and researching the species you are interested in is therefore really important. Many aquarists claim that planted aquariums are really difficult to keep, since they purchase plants that look good without putting any effort into learning how these plants should be cared for. It is not hard to understand why these plants rapidly wilt and die in the aquarium, and why the aquarist believes that planted aquariums are impossible to keep. Strength As a rule of thumb, planted aquariums should get 0.5-1.0 watt of fluorescent light per liter of water. Generally speaking, a 50 liter aquarium with standard dimensions will therefore require 0.5 watts x 50 = 25 watts. This rule has to be modified if you keep really high demanding or low demanding species, if your aquarium is very deep, or if your aquarium is really densely planted. Incandescent or fluorescent? Incadenscent lighting is still quite common, especially among beginners. There are many low demanding plant species that will do well with nothing but incandescent lights, but the problem is that incandescent lights tend to become really warm. This will affect the water temperature in your aquarium. Incandescent lights also consume a lot of energy and do not last very long. Investing in fluorescent lights can therefore save you money in the long run. Color temperatures When purchasing fluorescent lights from a well stocked lamp store, you may stumble over a wide range of different color temperatures. Different color temperatures are good for different purposes. If you are a novice plant keeper, stick to bluish (white) and yellow (warm) lamps. Day length Try to mimic the natural day length in the environment from which your plants hail. Many popular aquarium plants are tropical species and are therefore used to 12 hours of light per day. If you keep temperate species, give them at least 14 hours of light each day during the summer and no more than 10 hours per day during the winter. Keeping the lights on 24/7 will only aid algae growth and may also disturb your fish. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Without carbon dioxide, plants cannot perform photosynthesis, the process where they turn light energy into energy that they can use (sugars). Most plants will do well with the carbon dioxide produced by breathing fish and other animals in the aquarium, but there are of course exceptions. Some aquarists use CO2 injections to promote plant growth. This can produce wonderful results when balanced with sufficient lighting and necessary nutrients. Even plants that would survive without any additional CO2 can start growing much more rapidly when they receive extra CO2. CO2 can come from fermentation or from a gas cylinder filled with liquid CO2. Fermentation Producing CO2 through fermentation is actually quite straightforward and can be carried out even by aquarists on a limited budget. You will need a 1.5-2.0 liter plastic bottle.

Poke a hole in the cap and let an airline tube run through it. (The attachment must be airtight.) The airline should ideally have a non-return valve. Fill half of the bottle with water. Shake in cup of sugar and teaspoon of baking yeast. Secure the cap and wait for the fermentation process to start. It should be up and running in no time, just like when you bake a loaf of bread. When gas starts to evaporate through the airline, attach an air stone to the tube and place it in the aquarium. The fermentation process will normally provide the aquarium with plenty of carbon dioxide for at least two weeks. Nutrients Just like terrestrial plants, you aquarium plants need nutrients to survive. Macro nutrients: Nitrogen, Phosphate, Potassium Other nutrients: Boron, Iron, Nickel, Zinc In addition to the elements mentioned above, plants need trace elements of many other elements as well. If you fail to provide your plants with all necessary nutrients, it can lead to stunted growth, yellow leaves or even prove fatal. So, how can nutrients enter the aquarium? Nutrients are present in tap water and well water. Nutrients are present in fish food (and will therefore also be excreted by fish). Nutrients are present in potting soil and aquarium substrate. You can purchase special fertilizers intended for aquarium use. Before you decide on using fertilizers, keep in mind that simply filling your aquarium with a lot of fertilizers will not aid plant growth. Fertilization must always be balanced with light and carbon dioxide. It is also very important to purchase a special aquarium fertilizer, since fertilizers for terrestrial plants contain too much nitrogen which will cause algae growth and injure the fish. Substrate Some aquarium plants must be planted in the substrate or in pots, while others grow attached to rocks, driftwood etcetera. There are also floating plants and plants that can grow in several different fashions. If you want to keep plant species that need a substrate to grow in, ideally chose a substrate where the particles are 1.5-3.0 mm. There are naturally exceptions to this rule, but many plant species can not tolerate finer substrates since their roots cannot handle anaerobic conditions well. When the particles are 1.5 mm or bigger, it is easier for water to circulate which prevents clogging. When it comes to substrate depth, the requirements vary a lot from species to species. The popular Amazon Sword (Echinodorus bleheri) will for instance grow quite big and need to be rooted in at least 8 cm of substrate. Preventing disease Only buy plants that look healthy.

Do not buy plats from aquariums where the fish seem unhealthy. Plants can carry malicious microorganisms and infect your fishes. If you want to be even safer, sterilize the plants before you place them in your aquarium. You can for instance use a dilute solution of potassium permanganate (provided that you have plant and fish species that can handle traces of potassium permanganate). Keeping a plant in potassium permanganate for 10-15 minutes will kill most malevolent microorganisms. Remove all damaged leaves before planting. It is better to remove a lot of leaves than allow them to decay and pollute the water. Do not panic if most leaves die, turn yellow or dissolve after planting. The shock of being repotted can make plants lose their leaves, but they will grow new ones.

How to Grow Beautiful Aquarium Plants (cheap)! or How to Build a Soil Substrate Aquatic plants receive carbon dioxide (CO2), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg) and calcium (Ca) primarily from the water. They can also receive nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), sulpher (S) and several other trace nutrients (Fe, Bo, Mn, Cu, Zn, Mo) from water however these can also be absorbed by roots in the substrate. Retaining phosphate and iron sources in the substrate helps to limit availability of these nutrients to algae. This is the secret to growing beautiful plants without serious algae problems! In fact, most aquatic plants grow much, much better when they get nutrients from the substrate. In order for iron to be available from a substrate, you need to use a clay, soil or iron containing substrate additive together with a small amount of organic material such as peat. The organic material provides nutrients for anaerobic bacteria to reduce insoluble iron (ferric) to soluble iron (ferrous). It also releases humic acids which are natural chelator chemicals which lock onto positively charged chemical ions like Fe++ and make it available in the water. These humic acids also help to buffer the pH in your aquarium to a good value. The downside is that humic acids interfere with many test kits which measure CO2 and carbonate hardness. This method shows you how to achieve adequate CO2 and carbonate hardness without relying on test kits. Substrate Here is a substrate design which is highly effective for me. Bottom layer, iron rich clay, Micronized Iron or subsoil. This may be mixed with sand. (New) About 2% Micronized Iron by weight is probably plenty. Iron fertilizers containing iron sulphate such as Ironite are not suitable. Pottery clay is a bit difficult to mix with other materials unless its in powder form so chop it into bits and soak it in water for a week stirring often until its nice and soupy. I like subsoil, it's easy, probably as good as anything and cheap. I sometimes add a little F-T-E, fritted trace elements; (New) about 10 small granules for each square foot of tank bottom (2" depth) are about right according to the suggested usage on the package. Be careful because it's easy to use too much. 10 small granules of F-T-E weighs about 0.12 grams (120 milligrams). That's about 1/70 of a teaspoon! Middle layer, (New) 1 inch depth of mixture of garden soil mixed 4 parts to 1 part of fluffy sphagnum peat moss by volume. Since garden soil is about 20 times heavier than peat moss, this is a ratio of 1.25% by weight. This should be one inch deep NO DEEPER!! (see notes). Mix a handful of Micronized Iron with this if you have it to ensure that the soil has sufficient iron. Iron is present in most soils especially if the soil in your garden is good for growing plants. You can also mix the soil with sand if it seems to be too rich. Top layer, 1 inch depth regular 2-3 millimeter aquarium gravel.

Put a large plate or flat plastic on the bottom weighted by a rock and slowly fill the tank with water allowing the water flow to gently flow onto the plate. If you disturb the water during filling, you will get a lot of cloudiness. If you do, siphon the waterout and refill again more carefully. Plant your plants after the water level is a few inches deep. Plant densely. Use fast growing plants initially. I suggest between 2 to 3 watts per gallon of tank capacity of either fluorescent or metal halide lighting. Good lighting and plenty of plants are important to the success of an soil substrate. Change 25% of your tank water frequently on initial set-up. Initially the peat will release a lot of humic acid and this will color the water yellow. Activated carbon filtration will also reduce the yellow color and help to remove excess iron from the water. At each water change, dose with fertilizer according to the volume of water you drain off and replace. Later as the peat releases less humic acids, you can reduce the frequency of water changes. Water change frequency can be much less often then; I think there's enough nutrients to last several weeks especially if you add some NPK fertilized clay balls once or twice a year. Nitrate and phosphate test kits are handy but not essential. If you have used a rich organic material or a rich soil then you may need to be concerned about high levels of nitrate, phosphate or ammonia initially. Watch the ammonia concentration closely for the first month because ammonia tends to be released from rich substrates. Over time a over-rich aquarium substrate will become manageable especially if you remove the excess algae and growth from fast growing plants. A high quality iron test kit may also be useful. The peat and iron substrate can release enough iron to cause minor problems with algae for the first few months. That's why regular water changes are a good idea. Fertilizer For fertilizer heat 3 cups of water to boiling in a large jar or measuring cup. Add the following and stir until dissolved: 1/4 cup of potassium sulphate 1/4 cup of epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) 1/8 cup of potassium nitrate (salt peter) Put this into a 750ml bottle and keep in a cool place. Sometimes crystals may form if its in the fridge so I add a half tsp of muriatic acid and store it on my shelf. Add 1 tsp of this for each 5 gallons of aquarium water on startup. Each time you change water, add 1 tsp of this for each 5 gallons of water you replace. On startup, add 2 tsps of calcium carbonate for each 10 gallons of aquarium water. SKIP this if your tap water is over 4 GH general hardness. Each time your change water, add 1 tsp of calcium carbonate for each 10 gallons of aquarium water you replace. SKIP this if your tap water is over 4 GH general hardness. See notes on GH. Note that the fertilizer contains no trace nutrient additions. These are provided primarily by your soil. HINT: mix the calcium carbonate with a jar of water and add this at night around lights off time. It will stay cloudy for several hours. A light layer will also be deposited on the plant leaves but this dissolves slowly by the action of dissolved CO2 in your water. CO2

CO2 injection is VERY important for the success of a high light tank. I prefer stronger lighting and CO2 because I want the plants really actively growing in order to maintain the dynamic balance between nutrients, light and CO2. Use CO2 injection, either yeast method or compressed tank with regulator and micro-flow metering valve. I'm not going to repeat the excellent information already available elsewhere on the world wide web about CO2 and lighting. See the Krib for more information on CO2. Try to get 1 bubble per 4-6 seconds. I like to inject CO2 using a powerhead. See the pictures of powerhead CO2 injection in the Hallway of Pictures. I like a sponge filter on the powerhead inlet and no other filters to disrupt the water surface. For small tanks of size 27 gallons or less, I'd aim for 1 bubble every 8 seconds. For larger tanks, 4-6 seconds per bubble is adequate. The powerhead helps to introduce current into your water which exercises the fish and greatly improves the rate of CO2 transfer to the plants. Lighting Sufficient lighting is VERY important for the success of a high growth tank. I'm not going to repeat the excellent information already available elsewhere on the world wide web about CO2 and lighting. See the Krib for more information on lighting. The examples of aquariums on my web pages typically are more strongly lit than is necessary or optimal for algae management. I use the MH systems because of their convenience and because I don't have to build or buy a hood. If cost of operation is a concern and you want to keep the extra heat to a minimum, I suggest you use efficient T8 lights such as GE-SPX-50 together with electronic ballasts designed specifically for these lamps. For a typical 18" deep aquarium, the watt per gallon rule is a good indication. For Crypts and Swords, you should use about 1.5 watts/gal. For faster growing plants, you should use about 3 watts/gal. More light does not translate into more growth especially if the available nutrients are limited. Often a dose of calcium, or potassium in the water, CO2 injection, or a few clay fertilizer balls is all you need to induce a tremendous boost of growth even with your existing lighting (assuming that you've met the watt/gallon guidelines) Please visit the Krib for TONS of information about lighting! Remember, strong lighting is not essential for growing Crypts and beyond a certain point, does nothing to increase growth rates. Spectrum and intensity may affect the coloration of some kinds of Crypts. Crypts also have a tendency to melt in very strong lighting however I have found that regular additions of calcium seem to help Crypts to resist melting! This may be especially true if peat or leaves rich in humic acid are used in the substrate. Enriching the Substrate To enrich the substrate fertility for heavy feeders like sword plants or large crypts, prepare 1/2 inch clay balls with about 10 granules of 14-14-14 fertilizer. Dry these until hard and place 1 or 2 into the substrate near the roots of heavy feeders. Repeat as necessary if growth rates become low (about 6 months). It takes about 1/2 a teaspoon of clay to make a 10 mm (1/2") ball of clay. Each ball of clay will have about 70 mg of nitrogen which is the equivalent of 300 mg of nitrate and about 70 mg of phosphoric acid (P2O5). (Estimates based on 113 granules per teaspoon, a teaspoon weighs about 5.7 grams) Notes GH or general hardness is a measure of the amount of calcium and magnesium found in natural water. I use this measure because there are test kits available which give readings in GH. One degree of GH is the equivalent of 17.9 mg/L of CaCO3. Thus if you have close to 70 mg/L or 70 ppm of CaCO3 in your tap water, you won't need to add any calcium. Expressed as calcium concentration (what really matters) this is equivalent to about 30 mg/L Ca. One level teaspoon (5 ml) of calcium carbonate weighs 4 grams. 1 tsp for 50 litres of water gives you 80 mg/L. Other sources suggest that 1 tsp of CaCO3 / 50 L should give about 40 mg/L so it may be that the sample I weighed is heavier because it has absorbed water from the air. Check back at a later date for more info. Sources for chemicals:

Bigger gardening centers carry many of the chemicals and things like Micronized Iron and F-T-E fritted trace elements. Drug stores carry epsom salts and can order many kinds of chemicals for you. Pottery supply outlets carry large bags of calcium carbonate See your yellow pages for chemicals. Hydroponics supply stores carry all the fertilizer chemicals. See the PMDD section of the Krib Sources for F-T-E and Micronized Iron The use of Micronized Iron together with peat should be considered experimental as the iron is concentrated and in a highly available form. My experience over a 4 month period indicates that humic chelated iron is being released from the substrate but not at a level to create serious algae problems. The plants which I grow (Cryptocorynes, Hygrophila polysperma, Bacopa, Rotala, Aponogeton crispus, Saggitaria, Echinodorus, Heteranthera zosterifolia) do not show indications of iron toxicity. I suggest using ordinary soil first without Micronized Iron. If you use Micronized Iron, use it sparingly. I take precautions to ensure that filamentous algae are not introduced into my aquariums. See the Krib bleach information at: http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/Algae/bleach.html Organic material and fertile soil is only used in a thin layer (1") close to the surface because a deeper layer will receive less oxygen diffusing from the surface and will become too low in reduction (redox) potential thus creating toxins by the action of anaerobic bacteria. A one inch layer is sufficient to provide enough reduction potential to ensure a long-term supply of reduced and soluble iron. Refer to the technical article on substrate materials for further discussion of redox potential. Soil and/or peat substrates have been in use by many folks for extended periods since the beginning of aquatic plant keeping so I consider them proven. I've been successfully using a variety of soil substrates for 3 years. Paul Krombholz has been using soil and peat preparations for several years. This article is intended as a detailed procedure on how to safely setup a productive soil tank. Although we know people have been using soils of all kinds, we don't have good information on how to repeat the successes. Bear in mind that soils do vary in composition somewhat. It is always a good plan to keep careful notes and measure the quantities of materials you use for later reference. Notes on regular measurements of ammonia, nitrates, phosphates and iron concentration will also be very informative. If you keep logs like this I would appreciate the information if you are willing to share it. When is a soil too rich? I do not recommend you use any compost or soil treated recently with manure or other fertilizer within the last year. (New) The bagged soils which you purchase at garden centres are NOT suitable; they are too high in nutrients and organic material. The best dirt for your first try is stuff you dig up out of the ground from a well drained location where there's been grass growing for years. It will be well leached of soluble nutrients. If you really want large crypts and growth, you can use more fertile mixtures but you may have to deal with algae problems. Ammonia is also released from very fertile substrates for about a month after submergence. If you feel that the local soil is simply not suitable and you decide to use a packaged soil despite the high fertility, then you should mix this with a larger volume of sand. Note that the fertilizer contains no trace nutrient additions. These are provided primarily by your soil. Sometimes a local soil may entirely lack a mineral like manganese, copper, molybdenum, boron or zinc but these soils are very rare. Your local gardening experts will be able to tell you if the local soil needs a trace nutrient supplement. In these cases a small amount of Fritted Trace Elements (a tsp) well mixed into the bottom layer should be safe and sufficient. Less is better than more. If you have hard water and are not adding the initial dose of calcium carbonate, practice regular water changes to ensure enough calcium. Peat soaks up calcium. Regular water changes also helps to prevent a build-up of humic acids and humic chelated iron in your water which may occur in the first few months.

If you know your tap water contains over 10 ppm of magnesium, you can skip the epsom salts in the fertilizer. The same is true for nitrate (+10ppm) and potassium (+10ppm). Calcium levels over 50ppm (as Ca) should be sufficient. Some soils also contain calcium carbonate or calcium sulphate as well as magnesium. These are limestone soils and are quite alkaline. You can test a sample in water for pH or using the acid test for fizzing. Your gardening center experts can also advise you on this condition. With peat, such soils should not be a problem since the humic acidity of the peat will provide a stable pH and help to absorb excesses of soluble calcium and magnesium. Such soils are more prone to lack iron. Initially, for the first two months, some soils will release a significant amount of nutrients such as nitrates, ammonia, phosphates and iron. Nutrient release is highest at 4 weeks and declines rapidly until it is nearly stable after 10 weeks. This can cause a few problems with algae such as green spot algae on plant leaves. Some of these problems can be avoided by keeping the soil sample in a 5 gal bucket with water for a few weeks to release the majority of nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients. Drain the soil well before mixing it with the peat and Micronized Iron . The peat can also be treated by the same method to reduce the levels of humic acids released during the transitional period. When using such wet mixtures, you should probably fill the tank with water and drain it once before refilling and planting since the wet soil and peat will contain nutrients which would be released quickly. Weigh the peat when its dry since it is the dry weight ratios which are important. The mineral nutrient method described above can still be used if the substrate does not contain iron and organic material. In this case, 1 tsp of chelated trace element mix should be added to the mixture (3 cups of water). This is amount will produce approximately 0.1 ppm of chelated iron when dosed as directed. It may be necessary to prepare a separate solution of chelated trace nutrients (mainly iron) which are added more frequently according to the PMDD methodology. The mineral nutrients do not need to be dosed frequently since these nutrients are not lost over time. Chelated iron is lost from solution by the break down of the chelating compound however EDTA and DTPA are the most stable chelating compounds. For a more information on chelated trace nutrients and sources see the PMDD section of the Krib at http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/Fertilizer/. Refer to my detailed substrate article for more information on soils, precautions and other substrate materials.

AQUARIUM PLANT CARE (Planted Freshwater Aquariums): By Carl Strohmeyer OVERVIEW This article is intended as a basic to advanced article for Freshwater Aquarium Plant keeping with SEVERAL outside references for more in depth information (such asLighting) that I strongly recommend reading for advanced plant keeping in particular. A little background to this article; My experience in keeping planted aquariums is based many successful planted aquariums I maintained for my aquarium maintenance clients. I maintained these planted aquariums in a way that achieved results that were both cost effective and simple, very similar to what is now called the "Walstad Method", which in the end is what pleased my clients. What was not desired by most of my clients were the high tech methods that were more time consuming and more expensive (if only for the cost of time), so my experience with these methods is more limited, however I do provide outside resources for these methods too. What I am not is a planted aquarium "Guru", but based on my emails and other communications much of what is contained in this article will help at least 80% of readers and the others may still glean helpful insights from reading this article and many outside resources. Much of what is contained in this article is based on my observations and methods I used as well as learning from others in forums, etc. and outside research.

Please follow links to outside reference for further explanations of more in depth information such as Advanced CO2 Systems, Lighting, Algae, etc. As well we provide links to excellent online places to purchase plants (these are not affiliated with us in any way, we only provide these resources as a reader service & because we believe these businesses are worth while visiting) For healthy plants you will need; FILTERS (Filtration): Admittedly "best" is a loaded word, as there are many filters that will work, however as you read further in this article you will see that some filters can and will effect chemistry, parameter, ferts, etc. more than others, thus having a positive or negative influence on your aquatic plants. So what you want is a filter that will keep ammonia and nitrites at absolute 0 while preserving some bio available minerals, nitrates and CO2. This filtration capacity must occur even when organic wastes may suddenly spike (such as due to plant deaths, fish deaths, over feeding, temporary blackouts, etc.). For this reason Wet/Dry, many HOB, and even many canister filters are not always the best choice for planted aquariums (especially for the "Walstad Method"). Wet/Dry in particular will strip CO2, as will many canister filters (although proper set of your canister filter products such as Matrix or Purigen along with limited water spray in return can help). As per the "Walstad Method" (basically a twist on was known by old timers as the "German Method"); this method depends upon the plants to do most of the work for maintaining the aquarium chemistry (as for as the Nitrogen Cycle ONLY) while the aquarium keeper only provides circulation and cleanings ONLY when necessary. My personal experience and knowledge of aquarium chemistry suggests that at least a simple Sponge or more advanced FB Filter should be used for best results if using the "Walstad Method". HOWEVER, this depends upon your fish, shrimp, etc bio load versus the amount of plants. In a heavily planted aquarium with a low bio load, basic water circulation may be all you need if following this method. Please see further in this article as per the "Walstad Method" and Aquarium Chemistry as it pertains to: Basic planted aquarium water parameters. Back to Filters: Based on my head to head controlled tests in the 1990s, I found Quality Sponge Filters and Fluidized Filters met the requirements of aerobic bio filtration that best fit a planted aquarium environment. While other filters may work fine (for those of you questioning this who have other filters); the facts of low CO2 stripping along with high aerobic bio filtration volume and response to sudden spikes placed these two filter types ahead of others.

It is also important to compare apples to apples if you are considering a sponge filter over say a canister filter. For instance a low quality sponge material Lees #13390 Sponge filter is not going to come close to say a SunSun 402 filter for a 60 gallon aquarium, however a high volume Hydro Sponge #5 will compare reasonably well without some of the draw backs (the Hydro Pond #2 or a stacked Hydro Sponge #5 will actually out perform the before mentioned canister filters). Throwing the better yet for planted aquarium Fluidized filter into the comparison; the smallestTMC Fluidized Filter; the model #600 will easily outperform the before mentioned and similar canister filters. Similar comparisons can be also made to many HOB filters as well. An Internal Filter (or two) such as Multi Stage SunSun HJ-952 can be added to compliment your Fluidized Filter (or Sponge filter). The Sponges in most such as the HJ-952 can be removed for adding carbon, Purigen, etc. for added chemical filtration (Purigen can be used to remove water yellowing tannins if necessary). Obviously I am pushing Sponge and Fluidized filters, however this does not mean you cannot keep a very successful planted tank without these filters; nothing could be further from the truth if this is assumed from this article. What I am saying is to consider these two filters, their simplicity, effect on water parameters, and the many professionals/hobbyists that use these with top notch results. The Sponge Filter is especially worth considering if you have shrimp in your aquarium as many planted aquarium keepers often do. Unlike most all other filters, the sponge filter cannot "suck up" juvenile shrimp. If a sponge filter is used with shrimp present, I suggest the air powered method, not a powerhead, as it is possible for the power head to accidentally become disconnected and then be a danger to the shrimp (an air pump also provides a more gentle vertical current that is better for shrimp). Please reference these articles: *Sponge Filtration; Facts & Information *Aquarium Filtration, Filters *Freshwater Aquarium Filter Suggestions *Do Bio Wheels Filters work as Claimed? Water Circulation is a related aspect of your planted aquarium. By default most filtration also provides circulation, whoever some filters provide more than others and circulation many not be fully adequate with some filters (such as a Fluidized Filter). Consider too that most of the natural environments we are duplicating with our planted aquariums (which often include fish such as Discus or Cardinal Tetras) do not have constant heavy circulation. I have had better experience with these aquariums by providing many "dead" spots with little (or even no) water current. Contrast a planted/Amazon River aquarium with a reef aquarium which should have much more water current. A relatively new water pump "Type" is the propeller pump, which is my choice for planted aquariums (especially with Ram cichlids, Discus, and similar South American fish). This design provides a much softer widespread flow versus the more common high focused current of popular power heads. As well this design will not drive out CO2 as much as other pumps if positioned lower in the water (although traditional power heads can be optimized as well, just not as readily IMO). As a side note, propeller pumps or traditional power head pumps MAY not be a good choice for planted tanks

with shrimp, especially since juvenile shrimp can get sucked into the intake screens. *PROPER LIGHTING: 3-4 watts per gallon is a VERY basic principle for which modern lighting technology has out dated, however it is still a reasonable starting point as long as the other important factors are considered as well Although with high end LED lights this lighting parameter is basically useless (please note I mean "high end" LEDs such as the AquaRay, not the cheapie LEDs such as Rio Mini Sun or Marineland Double Brite as well as many others) Besides watts per gallon these other factors are also quite important: Lumens per watt, PAR (often easiest determined by Kelvin output), this is an area of lighting along with "Useful Energy" where the old "watts per gallon" rule/guide really falls apart, especially with modern LED lights. Lumen focus & Restrike Useful Light Energy (not wasted in yellow/green light spectrum that green plants and zooanthellic algae reflect) Output in relation to bulb length (this is where LEDs and to a lesser extent T2s and T5s excel). Lux, I generally only consider this parameter in deeper planted freshwater aquarium to determine if I am getting the proper light where it needs to be. The watts per gallon is part of the lighting equation as stated above, however it is highly inaccurate when taken by itself. Many in the aquarium hobby industry still go by this outdated generalization which leads me scratching my head with all the advances in lighting technology. Taken together, the first FOUR points (plus Watts Per Gallon) are the most critical, but no one of these should be a sole determiner of the lights. The watts per gallon formula was based on older T8 & T12 lights, many of which were not of optimum PAR/Kelvin and are severely lacking in the area of lumens per watt. As well useful light energy is something that is often missed and is an area where new generation LED light cannot be beat, although the new generation T2 and to a lesser degree T5s are also relatively strong in this area. Lumen Focus and Restrike is an area that the LED and Metal Halide are the kings of with almost all light energy directed where the light needs to be, in your aquarium. For MUCH more expanded information about lighting (including more in depth explanations of the above subjects), please read this article: AQUARIUM LIGHTING, Information & Facts Time: Generally around 12 hours per day of lighting is best (if multiple lights are used, time on and off can be staggered such as 12 hours for half and 10 hours for the other half of lights), I recommend using a timer as well for more reliable lighting on/off time. Suggestions for Lighting your Planted Freshwater Aquarium: The relatively new SHO (Super High Output) CFL use 65, 85, & 105 watts however these awesome bulbs put out the equivalent of 325, 425 and 525 watts respectively (pictured to the left and below in a photo shop example of placement)! Honestly for any aquarium plant keeper who is remotely handy in DIY projects, the SHO lamps are hard to beat, especially for tanks over 50 gallons. Many in the Green house industry have already discovered this lamp for its plant growing capabilities, which for the price there is simply no equal for planted aquariums (the aquarium hobby/industry is much slower to catch on in so many technologies and this light is a major example of this)! Bluntly this is the lamp that should be used by any serious planted freshwater aquarium keeper.

For example in a 5-6 foot long 125-150 gallon aquarium, four 85 Watt 6400 K SHO staggered in four separate incandescent single sockets will provide ample light in the correct PAR for healthy plant growth. I would also stagger the time on/off time for half these lamps with two on for 12 hours and two on for 10 hours. The advantage of this light system besides high lumen and PAR light output is the low set up cost compared to most other lighting systems. The negative is these lights are not as consumer ready for applications and require some DIY to install either incandescent sockets or a pendant. Please click on the picture above to enlarge for a better view of the diagram displaying approximate SHO lamp placement in a planted freshwater aquarium. This shows four lights, although for aquarium 4 feet or less in length, two lights is generally adequate (only one light for 2 feet or less in length). Better yet is mounting via a reflector Before I seem to be over hyping the relatively new SHO technology, there are other excellent planted aquarium light choices as well. The new generation T-2 lamps/Fixtures are also great plant lights with over 70+ lumens per watt, lower wasted light energy (less wasted than SHO & other CFLs) and very compact size. For example two 13 Watt 6400 K T2s are excellent for a 20 gallon with high light requiring plants. Multiple T2s can be interconnected for larger aquariums so as to require just one outlet so that for instance you could have four 13 Watt 6400K T2s for a 60 gallon with medium light requiring plants. I should also note that there are also many excellent T5 fixtures available for planted freshwater aquariums, although T5 technology is not quite as good as T2 in lumens per watt (they are a slightly older technology), the T5 is still vastly superior to most available T8 and T12 lights still available. The newest technology yet would be the LED light such as the newest technology TMC Aqua Ray with latest generation (patented) CREE XB-D Power LEDs. Although initial cost is high (but much lower than they were a year prior to this update), the 50,000 hour lifespan and lowest energy usage pays for these lights in the long term. Couple that with the highest lumens per watt, the lowest wasted light energy and the highest focused lumens and you have a real top notch planted aquarium light that requires only .6 watt per gallon for high light requiring plants! My personal recommendation is a GroBeam Natural Daylight or a combination with the Marine White LED Fixtures (for deeper aquariums, mixed with GroBeam). For instance just two GroBeam 600 Strips can create enough light for a 60 gallon low/medium light planted aquarium (I would add 3-4 GroBeam 600s or 2 GroBeam 1500 Ultimas for high light plants). The picture to the above/left shows a 60 gallon aquarium hood with (4) 6400K T2s and (4) GroBeam LED Lights on the top and a 40 gallon with JUST ONE GroBeam 600 LED (please click to enlarge for a better view) . Other "high end" LED options include: *A single Mini 400 is excellent for "high light" planted aquariums under 20 gallons. *The TMC Colour Plus for low to medium light planted aquarium or high light when used 1 to 1 or 1 to 2 with the GroBeam. The Colour Plus brings out the color of fish and plants better than any other LED available, without as much potential of unwanted algae growth due to the over use of blue emitters by some competing LED Lights. Another option in LEDs for those looking for plant capable output is the PAR 38 self ballasted screw in lamps. It is noteworthy that not all PAR 38s are created equal as per newer generation CRee emitters at exacting 6500K daylight. The PAR 38 LED Light pictured here has a newer generation CRee emitters and is placed over one end of a 40 gallon planted freshwater aquarium and is simply installed into a standard incandescent light fixture. Obviously two are necessary for this size tank (36" in length), but this picture is meant to demonstrate the output of just one of these PAR 38 LEDs. Finally for reasons of simplicity and economics the CFL lights are also an excellent choices for low to medium light planted freshwater aquariums. Both these light types come highly recommended for planted aquariums

under 45 gallons. *SUBSTRATE; This is provided by a good sandy base and careful cleaning so as to not disturb this. The roots are support symbiotic bacteria that aid in Nitrate assimilation and other processes. For healthy plants I would suggest any of the following; a substrate of #1 sand mixed with Flourite, Onyx Sand, ADA Aquatic Substrates, or maybe Eco Complete about 3-5 cm deep with a layer of #3 gravel on top about 2 cm deep or simply mix with #0 sized sand. This combination works well for plant roots, ease of vacuuming the top layer ONLY (where plant roots are), and for better bio filtration. The total depth of sand, plant substrate or any combination there of should be about 3-5 inches for most rooted aquarium plants. For an old DIY method I have used for a substrate on a budget, one can substitute Eco Complete or similar with a DIY sandy top soil/compost, by preparing the soil thus; Gather aged compost mixed with a sandy top soil (although not good a source of iron, adding a nail or similar to this compost as it ages can add some iron), then add water then rinse and strain to remove large debris until the water runs relatively clear (do not over rinse or you remove nutrients). I then will let it sit in the open for a few days (A 10:1 bleach solution can be used, although some recent experiments of mine suggest this will destroy valuable organic nutrients, although this will not affect mineral nutrients). The sand that is left is what you mix with your plant roots, please note that although an inexpensive route to go, this homemade plant substrate is not as good as Flourite or similar substrates. Another substrate suggestion is SeaChem Onyx Sand, this product is carbonate rich with high amounts of Calcium and Magnesium and is specially suited for plants that prefer large amounts of these minerals such as Anubias or in tanks that are supplied by a water source that is very mineral poor (the use of Wonder Shells and Buffers can help as well).

Please be careful when vacuuming with many plant substrates as it is easy to suck these up vacuums and many will mistake these often lighter than gravel substrates as waste (this is especially common with inexperienced aquarium keepers, sadly many of these inexperienced aquarium keepers make statements at Yahoo Answers or YouTube that this substrate represents a "dirty" aquarium often confusing others that do not know better). Not all substrates are light but many are, so extreme care should be exercised with these light substrates such as "kinking" the tubing from the vacuum bell or simply avoiding areas of plant substrates. (See "Aquarium Cleaning") Other sands for use as a substrate for planted freshwater aquariums Pool Filter sand and play sand are commonly recommended and used for planted aquariums as well. There is a lot of mis-information both pro and con as to the use of these sands for planted aquariums. To start with these sands are primarily silica sandwith play sand being more dusty. Some have stated that silica sand is unsafe for use in either freshwater or saltwater, however nothing is further from the truth as silica sand is 99.0-99.9% SiO2 and is considered "totally insoluble" in water according to the US MSDS. The fact is that your aquarium glass is made primarily made from this ingredient and would also be dangerous to your fish if this were true. The second aspect of the use of these silica sands (the con), that is often promoted by advocates is that these sands provide nutrients necessary for plant roots. This is definitely not true as well and is NOT a reason to use pool sand or play sand as already stated these sands are primarily SiO2 and do NOT have other minerals such as iron that are important to plant roots! Please reference this article: Pool Sand Composition *Another method is to use product that is already a primary gravel/sand substrate such as the use Baylee's Better Bottom substrate. This is similar to my method of using #1 sand mixed with clean compost or #1 sand and/or #3 gravel mixed with Azoo Plant Grower Bed, Flourite or similar. The advantages of this product are; inexpensive, it looks nice (since it is primarily rock), and it is simple to use with many nutrients already added. The disadvantages is the amount of nutrients is lower than the use of the before mentioned plant grower substrates, as well adding additional nutrients would obviously be necessary at some point (although one can use Baylees Substrate and then add Plant Grower Bed or Flourite later)

Transplant: Transplant is an important consideration in keeping healthy aquarium plants. The environment (pH, GH, KH, nutrient mix, light conditions, etc.) are not going to be similar in your aquarium as where his plant was uprooted (without much care I suspect too). Extreme shock and sterile gravel are going to play havoc with the initial transplant in to the aquarium. This shock can last a long period of time (this varies by plant, water environment, and transplant method), after this period the plant will eventually start to grow new leaves and begin to grow. *BIO AVAILABLE CARBON; CO2 and a Proper Gas Exchange:

Gasses such as Oxygen and CO2 are added/ subtracted from the aquarium via surface agitation. Generally speaking it is oxygen that is added and CO2 that is subtracted. CO2 is organically (naturally) added via fish respiration or other biological activity/decomposition. Often many "Hands On" advanced aquarium keepers will utilize the most advanced Pressurized CO2 system (as well as complicated Fert delivery). While this might be the way to go for certain hobbyists, from my experience (as well as other experienced pros) many of these time extensive and expensive methods do not have a big payoff with results when time and costs are factored in. In fact, as a generalization just utilizing good lighting, filtration, and basic ferts as well as simple natural CO2 generation methods will produce at least 70-80% of the results of much more advanced methods! As well, if your intension is only low to medium light plants, at most I have found only liquid products such as Flourish Excel to be necessary, but usually nothing more be added in a healthy aquarium eco-system for these plant types. Liquid CO2: You can add to the bio available carbon/CO2 as noted above through a product calledSea Chem Flourish Excel (probably the most simple way in my experience) or a CO2 generator/system, which vary greatly in cost and CO2 delivery. This is where there is a lot of misunderstanding, the key is bio available. This why I find Flourish Excel CAN be a useful product as this is bio-available organic carbon when used in conjunction with good lighting and ferts (fertilizers). However, my experience as well as others experience with Flourish Excel has been mixed, with SeaChem Flourish Excel rating a 6 on scale of 10 when compared to a professional CO2 injection system at a 10 in his scale. However for those who want a simple way to boost CO2 without the hassles of any type of CO2 system especially with low/medium & even high light plants, this product is hard to beat (use with a drip system is also a consideration). For more information about Flourish Excel from a Sea Chem question and answer fact sheet, please follow this link: SeaChem Flourish Excel FAQ Flourish Excel Drip System Example: Another way to utilize SeaChem Flourish Excel for bio available carbon (CO2) in a better staggered way than all at once is a calibrated drip system. In this experiment I was able to get 20 drops per minute. I measured 20 drops and this was equal to a tsp. So 4 minutes would equal 1 tsp. There are 6 tsp in one fluid ounce. So at this rate you will go through a ounce in 24 minute. Add the correct dosage for your aquarium size then add the water (RO or DI water is best to mix with Flourish). Example: For a 50 gallon planted aquarium you would add one capful (5 mL) Flourish Excel, then depending upon how long you would like to

stagger the drip would determine the amount of water. For this example I would suggest 20 oz. of water to mix for 8 hours of drip (24 minutes per ounce x 20 ounces water/Flourish Excel solution). With larger containers, longer dosing times can be achieved, however even though Flourish Excel can remain active for 24 hours, from my experience I would suggest 8 hours for best results (keeping mind that CO2 is not utilized after dark). Please see the picture above for an example of this DIY Organic Carbon Drip System. Natural CO2: CO2 is also provided by fish and other aquatic inhabitants through respiration, however true nitrifying bacteria use carbon dioxide (CO2) for their source of carbon thus depleting CO2 in the aquarium (please reference this article for more: Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle). You can tell if aquarium plants are photosynthesizing by observing the plants. When small bubbles form on the leaves of plants it is a sign that photosynthesis is occurring. This is commonly referred to as pearling. To Increase CO2: Add a CO2 system such as the basic Jungle Fizz Tabs, Floramat System, Hagen, DIY yeast, or a more advanced CO Reactor system I personally do not care for the yeast based CO2 system as they are often no more effective than the Fizz Tabs or Floramat with a lot more hassles. For a more advanced system with a reactor, diffuser; a Pressurized CO2 is the next step up. Utilize bicarbonates or carbonates such as SeaChem Alkaline Buffer, Baking Soda or similar KH Buffers; then either allow for SeaChem Acid Buffer (which utilizes proprietary bisulfate salts which are superior to methods that utilize phosphates) to immediately stabilize pH & counteract the KH Buffers and produce CO2 as part of the chemical reaction. Slow acid production with Pillow (Frog) Moss, Almond Leaf, Peat, or Driftwood can also be used to stabilize pH & counteract the KH Buffers and produce CO2. If ample acid buffers exist, often just the additoin of an Alkaline (KH) Buffer will react with the Acid Buffer and produce CO2. Below describes the production of CO2 when Sodium Carbonates (KH Buffer) are combined with Sodium Bisulfate to produce CO2: >NaHSO4 (Sodium Bisulfate), Na2CO3 (Sodium Carbonate/Baking Soda) >(HSO4) (Sulfuric Acid) + H2O -----> (SO4)2- + (H3O)+ >2(HSO4)- + (CO3)2- (Carbonate)-----> ? >CO2 and H2O will be formed. Often this above chemical reaction is naturally occurring in planted aquariums with little aquarist intervention, as long as the aquarium is well balanced with alkaline & acid buffers both natural (such as Pilliow Moss for Acid) and added (such as SeaChem Alakline Buffer for Alkaline). The result renders the use of CO2 generators or products such as Flourish Excel unnecessary. Add Flourish Excel Flousish Excel can be quite simply dosed along with other liquid "Ferts" (fertilizers/plant nutrients) by figuring your weekly dosage mixed with water and adding to upside down soda or water bottle with an air line that has a control valve so that you can regulate the speed of the drip into your aquarium. Generally I use a quart of water with the variable being higher amounts of Excel and Ferts in this mix as per the aquarium size and plant demands (see also the "Ferts"/Nutrients section of this article). Cut back on surface agitation, especially power head venturis or air stones. These however can be set to go on at night by using a timer when plants use oxygen, not CO2. Keep in mind that circulation is still necessary just watch the surface agitation where CO2 is exchanged for oxygen.

Be careful of organic buildup that can deplete CO2 via nitrification. Thorough and regular water changes are a must for more reason than this alone. Some bio filters can add to organic build up (Under gravel, and poorly maintained Wet/Dry & Canister Filters). As well many bio filters such as Wet/Dry can "wear off" your CO2. For this reason the use of Sponge Filters or better yet, Fluidized Sand Aquarium Filters(or both) is advised in planted aquariums utilizing additional CO2.

Effect of light on CO2: If the light is very intense and there isn't a corresponding larger amount of CO2, the light can harm your aquarium plants such as rough deposits on the leaves known as biogenic decalcification. Too much CO2 without a corresponding amount of light will affect your aquarium plants ability to photosynthesize, and can also harm your fish (fish will be gasping at the surface due to poor oxygen/CO2 ratios in the aquarium). A balanced tank will generally have more plants than fish. Further Biogenic Decalcification Information: Biogenic decalcification is also problem in systems with high carbonate hardness where there is insufficient CO2 in solution. Adding Peat or Almond Leaves can help with this aspect of biogenic decalcification, as well cut back (but do not eliminate) sources of minerals such as Ferts of Wonder Shells. A number of species of aquatic plants (such as Elodea/Anacharis) can absorb the bicarbonate ion, keep the CO2, and excrete hydroxide. They tend to live in crowded conditions where there is not much flow-through of water, and, in good light, they can raise the pH to 10. They often precipitate calcium carbonate on their leaves. Effect of Aeration (air stones etc.) on CO2. Aeration whether it be air stones and/or breaking of the surface tension via the splashing effect of a HOB filter is essential for fish to provide necessary oxygen, HOWEVER this can also drive off important CO2 that you are adding to your tank for plants via a CO2 generator or even via normal respiration of fish. CO2 Time The other problem is since plants themselves use oxygen at night, this can be deadly to fish when photosynthesis of plants ceases, so here are a few suggestions: Whether or not you add CO2 to your tank, in heavily planted aquariums the addition of a timer for the control of an air pump running one or more air stones that is set to turn on when the lights go out can help greatly with this problem. I would NOT recommend placing a filter on a timer as this can cause destruction of nitrifying bacterial colonies, so if these filters are creating too much aeration that drives off CO2 during the day, I would suggest changing the configuration until your CO2 levels are where you want them and then use an air pump to regulate CO2/Oxygen levels. For high end CO2 units, these too should be set to no longer add bubbles of CO2 to your aquarium after your light go out. For the High end DIY CO2 system pictured below, I would either physically turn of the CO2 at night or purchase a valve (similar to those use in irrigation) that closes the valve on the CO2 canister using a timer. With high end systems combined with high end lights such as SHO (Super High Output) Lights I recommend running have the lights for 12 hours and the other half for 8-10 hours. At the same time, set your pressure valve to diffuse some CO2 after the first lights turn on and then open further after all lights are operating (the amount of CO2 needed will need to be determined by testing and trail and error). For more basic CO2 units such as the Floramat (or Jungle), simply only diffuse CO2 into the mixing chamber early in the day so that it is depleted or if using the bubble method, the air pump used here can also be on a timer. Yeast based CO2 systems are more difficult to regulate in my experience, but depending on your yeast based system, adding yeast (or tablets such as the Jungle system) early in the day should allow for enough time for CO2 generation to cease by late in the day.

CO2 GENERATORS, Basic, DIY, Professional: As for CO2 generators, there are many ways of going about this; a DIY, a store bought CO2 generator/ reactor, or a CO2 bottle unit. Entry level Planted Aquarium Co2 Systems include: Sanders Floramat CO2 Generator . For newbies (and even advanced aquatic plant hobbyists) I find the Sanders model the most foolproof (although currently unavailable due to aerosol shipping restrictions). *Jungle Fizz CO2 System; this system uses fizz tablets instead of the CO2 canister as in the Sanders Floramat. As with the Floramat, agitating water under the pure CO2 bell will increase the rate of CO2 absorption. Better though is to utilize the Sponge Pre-Filter method shown in the next section which works well with the Fizz Tabs. *Hagen Natural Plant CO2 system; this system is popular with many plant keeping aquarists, however (in my experience/opinion) this system is over rated & over priced (for a yeast method). The "steps" used in the diffusion process of the Hagen unit do not increase CO2 absorption any more than the other basic CO2 kits/systems such as the Sanders Floramat or Jungle system (especially if the DIY diffuser noted in the next section is employed with the Jungle Fizz or even a homemade yeast method). As well, these steps tend to clog with algae and even small snails in some instances. In my opinion this is a more gimmicky device (the ladder that is) and is not as reliable in CO2 delivery, however that does not mean that this CO2 system does not work either, as it does. As a positive, although I have not used a different diffusion method such as the DIY method noted later in this article, this type of DIY diffuser could likely be added to the Hagen CO2 system in place of the ladder/steps and although expensive when compared to DIY yeast methods, the Hagen yeast packets are quick and simple (but then so are the Fizz Tabs by Jungle too) *Homemade Yeast Methods; There are many ways to produce CO2 via the use of yeast and sugars which includes a another method that utilizes Jell-O (Gelatin) for CO2 production. With these yeast methods the traditional method of diffusion utilizes air line tubing and a limewood air stone or ceramic air stone and for even further/better diffusing of the CO2, the limewood (or ceramic) air diffuser is placed inside a sponge (as pictured in the Diffuser/Reactor Section following this section) This method of diffusion can be used with the Jungle Fizz tabs too, although it generally diffuses better than with a traditional diffusion bell/chamber by the manufacturer Further Information about the Gelatin Method. Please see this pdf download: Gelatin CO2 Method For a DIY yeast powered CO2 Unit: DIY Yeast CO2 Advanced CO2 Systems;

The Water-Plant CO2 system with Disposable cartridges is a definite step up from the previously mentioned CO2 systems and DIY methods, yet without the hassle and expense of the professional CO2 systems. This system has a pressure regulator, and top notch diffuser as with many pro systems, but is much simpler. Probably the best choice for all but the most die-hard of advanced planted aquarium enthusiasts.

Professional CO2 Systems: For more advanced/Pro plant aquarists (especially larger aquariums over 100 gallons), I would not use a yeast based system; I would go with an Advanced CO2 reactor that utilize pressurized CO2, CO2 reactors, diffusers, pumps with a venturi and filters such as a canister filter. Please click on the picture to the left for a better view of such a system.

is a top of the line professional planted freshwater aquarium by a company not affiliated we recommend this type of COs a more advanced plant keeping sold by this website or those

The CO2 system to the left system for advanced keepers. This product is sold with this website, however system for those who desire CO2 System that are not affiliated with us.

CO2 DIFFUSERS/ REACTORS There are many ways to diffuse CO2 into your aquarium from ceramic air stones, limewood airstones, CO2 bells/chambers, as well as DIY gravel vacuum conversions or converted Pre Filters as pictured here. This Sponge Pre-Filter method was introduced to me by an aquarium plant enthusiast friend in 2007, but I forgot about it until Sept. of 2011 (after a similar method reminded me about this and I thought I would put one together myself). This utilizes a Filter Max #2 Pre-Filter, with a small hole drilled to add a Lees air line control valve, then an airline check valve as close to the airline control valve as possible. From the check valve the airline goes to the source of the CO2, whether a Jungle Fizz Tablet Bottle (which is what I used to give it a try), Yeast CO2 generator, gelatin, or in my friends case a fully pressurized CO2 tank with a regulator. You then connect a relatively slow pump such as the Rio 200 (138 gph) to what would normally be the pump pick up, but in this case, the flow is directed downward so as to trap the CO2. While as of this article update, I have not used this method of much consequence, my friend has and has noted marked increases in his CO2 using the same generator method, with the only difference being this DIY diffuser. Further Commentary as per CO2 Systems: CO2 Generators can greatly improve your planted aquariums growth and over all plant health. However I also do not want beginners to feel these are a must, as with many devices in aquarium keeping (such as UV sterilizers or Protein Skimmers) these are a useful tool. What is frustrating to me is the misinformation though both for and also against. One argument against these CO2 units is that running CO2 on planted tanks is not natural. This is the same arguments against UV Sterilizers (which I can boldly say I have researched VERY extensively). The aquarium is a closed environment and in this environment it sometimes necessary to use artificial means to achieve certain results such as strong plant growth with CO2 units or disease prevention, healthy Redox, and unnaturally clear water with UV Sterilizers. Some plants such as Rotala Macrandra are nearly impossible to grow without CO2 Units. CO2

Units also help with flattening plant growth within the aquarium where otherwise some plants grow only to the surface with thin stem to seek out CO2 in the air. Another advantage of CO2 units (of any type) is that they will help with weaknesses in other areas of plant care such as low organic carbon and other nutrient availability. The bottom line is I recommend them (or at least a supplement such as Flourish Excel), but they are not essential. If you are a beginner and these devices seem overwhelming, try products such as Flourish Excel and follow some of the tips earlier in this article as to raising CO2. Also the Jungle CO2 Fizz Tabs is a reasonably good CO2 unit for beginners to intermediate plant keepers, however for really serious planted aquarium keepers the CO2 Reactor systems (many BETTER systems can be DIY) are hard to beat. MORE ABOUT CO2 Of coarse there are dangers as well of diffusing too much CO2 into your aquarium, which can be dangerous to your fish, as levels over 30 ppm should be avoided! 3 ppm of CO2 is standard (as an established scientific fact), 10-25 ppm CO2 is considered optimum for the use of CO2 Units. This of coarse is a subject of ongoing debate, here is an outside article discussing optimum CO2 levels: The Krib: CO2 Concentration You can calculate CO2 levels (which can only be controlled by adding or subtracting CO2 produced by your CO2 unit, not by kH or pH) using this formula: CO2 (in ppm) = 3 times KH (as measured in degrees of carbonate hardness ONLY, not Phosphates!) times a factor of 10 deviation (+ lower/ - higher) form a PH of 7.0. Example: a KH of 1 with a pH of 6.0 would produce a CO2 level of 30 (1 * 3 * 10 = 30). A KH of 1 with a pH of 8.0 would produce a CO2 level of .3 (1 * 3 * .10 = .3) For conversion of KH; 17.9 ppm = 1 dKH. Please note that the presence of ANY phosphates will make this calculation fail. One more note, pH will climb during peak photosynthesis, especially in tanks with low hardness (yes hardness, not KH!) Another way to test CO2 is with CO2 test kits (as well as droppers discussed below). Here are the recommended levels for a planted aquarium with different KH levels. *10-15 ppm (mg/L) at 5 dKH (90 ppm KH) *15-30 ppm at 10 dKH (180 ppm KH) *30-40 ppm at 15 dKH (270 ppm KH)

Here is an interesting CO2 Chart and Calculator for the relationship between KH and pH as it relates to CO2 in planted aquariums: From http://www.csd.net/~cgadd/aqua/art_plant_co2chart.ht m CO2 Drop Checker; Here is an excellent article about another more accurate method of checking CO2 when your aquarium water column has other sources of alkalinity such as high phosphates, or if you use products which are high in phosphates (like phosphate plant fertilizers, pH-up or pH-down, which have phosphate buffers): The Drop Checker by Walter Reed For a balanced discussion about CO2 generators, I recommend this group: Everything Aquatic

*PROPER NUTRIENTS OR FERTS (including minerals):

Brief Overview; Plant nutrients include nitrogen and phosphorous from fish food and waste and potassium that we add through the addition of nutrients or "ferts" as many planted aquarium hobbyists refer to these nutrients as. Some trace elements including calcium, magnesium, and iron are also essential. In the case of Iron, too much in the water column can and often will cause algae problems (I prefer Iron to more available in the substrate. Nutrients (Ferts) can be added to the substrate water or both. Deficiencies in Calcium can cause leaf curling or growth deformations. Here are basic planted aquarium water parameters (and some suggestions for these elements/nutrients): Let me first note with the popularity of the "Walstad Method" method of aquarium keeping, that there is one mistake/misconception is that the plants in a closed environment will sustain all chemistry with maybe a water change a few times per year. This misconception often leads to depletion of essential KH Buffers and equally if not more important Positive Mineral Ions. Without the addition of KH Buffers and mineral supplements your fish' health WILL BE COMPROMISED, despite claims of some (read a Aquarium Chemistry and Aquarium Redoxfor a better understanding of WHY). *GH: 100 ppm or sometimes higher (this is more important than many realize for planted aquariums; during photosynthesis, a rise in pH can occur in low alkalinity water (20 to 50 mg/L) or in water with moderate to high bicarbonate alkalinity (75 to 200 mg/L) that has less than 25 mg/L hardness). This is an often misunderstood aspect of aquarium plant keeping as so much anecdotal information that is out of date with more current aquarium/plant bio chemistry information. Not only do plants need many of the minerals found in GH, but just as important potentially dangerous pH upward swings can occur if your GH is much below 50 ppm during plant peak photosynthesis. For example, I observed a pH of 6.8 in the morning and then a pH of 7.4 in the afternoon when GH is low or almost non-existent. Please see the link lower in this section for a University Study about the subject of GH/pH stability during photosynthesis. *KH: 50 100 ppm; important for good CO2 assimilation. I recommend Sea Chem Alkaline Plant Buffer in combination with Sea Chem Acid Buffer for use in planted aquariums that tend towards low KH. Please note, an acid buffer is often not necessary in planted aquariums due to natural buffers already present. See: Aquarium Chemistry; KH Buffers (very important) *CO2: 20-25 ppm; Sanders Floramat CO2 Generator and diffuser or other CO2 unit, Sea Chem Flourish Excel *NO3: 5-30 ppm; Fish waste/food and proper aquarium maintenance procedures, Potassium Nitrate (KNO3) *K+ (Potassium): 10-30 ppm; SeaChem Flourish , fish food (adequately fed) *PO4: 1.0-2.0 ppm Anything higher can feed algae more than plants; for this consider products such asPhos-Zorb or NPX Bioplastics (which must be used in a Fluidized Sand Bed Filter) *Fe (Iron): 0.2-0.5 ppm; Supplied by Azoo Plant Grower Bed or similar, Plant tablets such as Jungle, or best by specific iron supplements such as SeaChem Flourish Iron. Symptoms of iron deficiency in plants can be chlorosis (yellowing) of the tissue between veins and short and slender stems (most often in new growth). Plants such as Rotala and Ludwigia will often not display red colors when iron is lacking (clay/laterite substrate can help in the case of these plants). *Ca: 100 ppm +; Wonder Shells, SeaChem Equilibrium, water changes, SeaChem Flourish *Nitrates; .10 to .15 ppm is the general consensus for nitrate levels in a planted freshwater aquarium so as to allow for adequate nitrates for plant growth, but not too much for high algae growth. Although I have not performed controlled tests, my observations are that too low of nitrate levels will stunt plants and possibly even encourage certain algae (such as Green Spot), while higher nitrate levels will encourage algae to out

perform plants and take over an aquarium. Methods to Introduce Nutrients to your Planted Aquarium: There are many such methods and so I will not provide anything close to an exhaustive list, rather provide a few suggestions as well as an excellent outside resource. (1)Many nutrients can simply be supplied by products such as Flourish Root Tabs (or other brands). These provide most important nutrients directly where most plants with established root systems need them. In the case of trace elements, Wonder Shells can be a simple source. (2)Liquid Nutrients; these can be the simple regular dosing of Flourish (which as with root tabs is a non specific basic over nutrient supplement) or a bit more complicated with individual nutrients such as Flourish Iron, Potassium, etc. For simplification, especially when using multiple specific nutrients/ferts as well as Flourish Excel, a simple dosing system where by figuring your weekly dosage mixed with water and adding to upside down soda or water bottle with an air line that has a control valve so that you can regulate the speed of the drip into your aquarium. Generally I use a quart of water with the variable being higher amounts of Excel and Ferts in this mix as per the aquarium size and plant demands. The picture/link to the left gives an example of a control valve I use As an example for a 60 gallon aquarium using Regular Flourish & Flourish Excel, I would 5 ml of Flourish and 40 ml of Flourish Excel to this quart of water, then establish a drip rate for one week. Generally establishing the drip rate is the most difficult aspect of this method and I usually experiment 4 to 5 pounces of plain water (one days worth) until I get it about where it is empty in a day. I personally think this dosing system works as well as any other system and is worth while at least giving a try. (3) PPS Pro (Perpetual Preservation System); this system is very easy to use and is designed especially for aquascapers who want a system that is performing well, does not need much testing and tweaking and also works with all lights and substrates, little or no water changes and large water changes. See this much more in depth article: Perpetual Preservation System Further, More in Depth Explanation of Aquatic Plant Nutrients & Methods: *Maintaining a moderate level of GH (100 ppm >) is not only important for fish, it is important for plants as well. Calcium and Magnesium which are both found in GH are very important to plants. Deficiencies in Magnesium will inhibit the plants ability to produce Chlorophyll causing pale leaves. It has also been shown that carbonates produced by plants during hours of peak photosynthesis can raise pH substantially which can be harmful to fish present, however this is modified by an adequate GH level. Source: Interactions of pH, Carbon Dioxide, Alkalinity and Hardness Also KH (Carbonate Hardness is important for proper assimilation of CO2 as I have observed in many of the aquariums I have maintained. When the KH has dropped below 50 ppm (3 dKH) Carbon Dioxide use goes down which results in retarded plant growth (an often increased algae growth). Baking Soda can be used in a pinch here, however I recommend more complete buffers such as Sea Chems Alkaline Plant Buffer. Although, not directly about aquarium plants, this article has good information about the very misunderstood topic of positively charged minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and their bio availability: Ions, Nutrition and all that Scary Chemistry For more about Calcium and Magnesium, as well as KH, please read this article:CALCIUM, ELECTROLYTES, AND MAGNESIUM IN AQUARIUMS or for more information about the often misunderstood relationship of

GH to other aspects of water chemistry, including photosynthesis, please read this outside source: Interactions of pH, Carbon Dioxide, Alkalinity and Hardness *I need to emphasize that feeding a proper fish food (one based in aquatic ingredients, less cereal, and less "by products") will help in that there will be more minerals and other nutrients available for the plants after the fish is through with digestion. A good example is Spirulina 20. For more about quality fish food ingredients, please read this article: Quality Fish Food (Proper Aquatic Nutrition); What ingredients are needed for proper fish nutrition, growth and health. *Use of Activated Carbon and its possible effect on plant fertilizers. This is an often controversial subject, however the simple facts are that only chelated nutrients such as iron or minerals that have lost their positive charge can be removed by activated carbon. Please see this in depth article for a much better understanding of the positives and negatives of activated carbon use: Aquarium Answers; Activated Carbon *Cleaning; When cleaning your planted aquarium, do NOT over vacuum (this differs from a non planted aquarium despite some rather uninformed YouTube comments I have read, where by many do not understand that many planted aquarium methods/traditions require different, little, or no water changes). Try and leave some organic mulm behind for eventual nitrate production. Also do NOT rinse your bio filter media such as sponges as thoroughly as you would in a non-planted aquarium as again this will aid in necessary nitrate production. A planted tank will also tend to consume more of your KH due to bio decomposition and the resulting acid production, so keep a close check on this parameter (GH is not depleted as readily, but still gets used by plants and de-composition) *Filtration & Nutrients/Ferts: Some filter types also effect nitrates and in the end plants; Fluidized Filters are about the most efficient aerobic bio filters bar none without some of the side effects of some bio filters such as UG Filters or even wet/dry of increasing DOC or organic mulm. The Fluidized filter (as well as a Sponge Filter) do not strip CO2 as many bio filters can, especially wet/dry filters. For this reason I have found the Fluidized Sand Bed Filters followed by Sponge Filters to be about the best filters to use for planted freshwater aquariums in part due to lack of these problems while supplying adequate nitrates to plants. For more about nutrients, please refer to our Algae section further down in the article.

*OTHER FACTORS:

*Good water circulation is important for gas exchange (CO2, Oxygen). Water circulation is also useful to avoid stagnant spots. This said too much surface agitation can drive off necessary CO2. However often a timer is recommended that turns on an additional air stones at night when plants will use oxygen and NOT CO2. This is especially important if your aquarium has a CO2 system that continues to add CO2 at night which can be poisonous to fish at night as the plants will not use this CO2. *I also recommend algae eating fish to control the inevitable algae. I recommend Otos for small or community tanks or Plecostomus for larger aquariums. *A pH of between 6.5 and 7.8 works best in my opinion. *NEW PLANT DIPS: It is always a good idea to dip your plants prior to addition to your aquarium to prevent addition of strains of algae, disease, and unwanted snails. Flourish Excel which contains aldehydes can be used in a 20 minute dip at 20 ml. per 40 L (10 gallons). This is effective for algae, many diseases and somewhat for snails. Bleach used in a 20 parts water to 1 part bleach for 2-3 minutes for delicate plants and 4-5 minutes for broad leaf plants; followed by a quick dip in sodium Thiosulfate or other de-chlorinator/ water mixture. Potassium Permanganate in a solution of water and enough Potassium Permanganate to turn you water pink for 20 minutes is also effective for many algae, diseases and usually snails. POPULAR AQUARIUM PLANTS (Some to have and NOT to have).

Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demerson) - Easy to grow fully aquatic plant, aids in nitrogenous waste removal (they are literal "nitrate sponges". Hornwort prefers neutral or alkaline waters. The one negative with this plant is that the Hornwort commercially available is not a true tropical plant and needs to be adapted slowly for aquarium use. This plant can be either floated or planted (weights are useful for initial planting). In the Tropical version (which is not commonly available) this plant is

considered a strictly a floating plant. *Low to moderate light requirements This is also a plant that MAY be kept with Goldfish as goldfish tend to not bother this plant. The needles of this plant are usually too spiky for the goldfish to eat

Java Moss (Vesicularia dubyana) - Easy to grow, tropical (from SE Asia), low light plant. A little goes a long way. The thinner this plant is spread over rocks and driftwood, the better it will root itself and the healthier it will look as it grows on your decor. This can take over your aquarium substrate in particular. *Low to high lighting requirements (high is necessary for strong growth, especially if used in breeding environments or Amano tanks) *Java Moss has wide tolerances as well; growing in temperatures between 64 - 86 F (18 - 30 C) & pH between 5.0 - 8.0

Dwarf Anubias (Anubias nana) - Easy to grow, tropical (from West Africa), any light, prefers a rich soil (sand) base. Dwarf Anubias is one of the easier plants to grow. This plant is so hardy that it can even survive out of water. Dwarf Anubias needs very little light and isn't very specific about water conditions. The only negatives are that they grow quite slowly and are vulnerable to beard algae. As in all Anubias species, they are grown from a rhizome (horizontal stem of a plant that often sends out roots and shoots from its nodes). *Lighting Requirements low *Anubias Nana have wide tolerances; growing in temperatures between 70 - 86 F (21 - 30 C) & very wide pH between 5.0 - 8.6

Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus) Easy to grow, tropical (from SE Asia), prefers low light, needs no soil. The Java Fern is quite undemanding and simple to cultivate, even doing well without extra nutrients or Carbon (CO2). The Java Fern is also an ideal plant to use in aquariums that have burrowing fishes, as these fish will usually not bother this plant. This plant should not be buried in the gravel (which also makes them ideal for UG filters), but rather placed on rocks and driftwood, leaving its roots loose in the water column. Java Ferns reproduce by daughter plants that are born on the edge of the leaves of the mother plant and grow off of this. Another possible plant for goldfish

*Low to moderate light requirements (depending upon the species of Java Fern with the common Microsorum pteropus requiring only very low light while the Philippine version requires moderate lighting) *As with Java Moss, Java Ferns have wide tolerances as well; growing in temperatures between 64 - 86 F (18 30 C) & pH between 5.0 - 8.0

Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides) Easy to Grow, tropical (from Tropical Regions), does well in average light and simple substrates (sand/ gravel). A great plant for removing excess nutrients in the water, new leaves unfurl from the base of the plant into lacy fronds. Needs regular trimming to stay looking nice. Be aware fish love to munch this plant, but it grows fast. *Will survive in low light, but thrives in moderate to high light

Anacharis/Elodea (Egeria densa) Relatively easy to grow plant that is a good beginner plant. The Anacharis has branching stems covered in bunches of linear, slightly curled leaves. The Anacharis can be anchored in the substrate by its roots or will also grow when floating freely. This plant does well in both cold and warm water and is excellent for livebearers, although caution should be used with goldfish as they often will nibble at Elodea/Anacharis. The Anacharis does best in moderate lighting with added nutrients and added CO2 (Flourish Excel is often adequate), under optimum conditions this plant will grow rapidly and added much oxygen during hours of photosynthesis.

Amazon Sword (Echinodorus

amazonicus)

- Moderately in difficulty to grow (from Brazil). Amazon Swords require high lighting and rich substrates (such as Azoo Plant Grower Bed ). These plants are relatively hardy and take root easily once they adjust to the new tank. Amazon Swords can be potted (like house plants, in an aquarium) and in aquarium gravel, as both ways work very well. They have large root systems that can overwhelm other aquarium plants.

Narrow Leaf Sagittaria (Sagittaria Subulata) - Sagittaria Subulata is an easy to grow rosette plant that will thrive in most planted freshwater aquariums. The plant typically grows to a height of 8 inches (up to 16 inches in high light aquariums). Narrow Leaf Sagittaria will grow quickly and propagates via runners which will form a dense grouping producing 2 - 3 leaves and one runner per month. To achieve strong growth the substrate should contain iron and with strong lighting less of a factor. Use of products such as Flourish Root Tabs is an easy and reliable way to provide a healthy substrate with proper nutrients. * Sagittaria Subulata will thrive in a wide range of pH and water hardness, including brackish aquariums. These plants originate from South America & the Eastern U.S.

Dwarf Lily (Nuphar stellata) - Easy to moderate difficulty to grow (patience is required for these). These are usually sold as bulbs as there are true lilys that have leaves that vary from green to brown to shades of red. The growth of these plants parallels Banana Plants (which is another type of Dwarf Lily). Often these Lily bulbs are sold by stores such as Walmart as Assorted Aponogeton Bulbs (usually dry) and many will never sprout (usually anywhere from 1/5 to may not sprout). These are actually better to keep under low to moderate light, otherwise you will end u with large green common lily that looks more appropriate in a pond than an aquarium. Also Plecostomus do NOT do well with lilys (they will usually eat them faster than they can grow. These bulbs should not be planted, although plant soils such as Azoo Plant Grower bed can be added to the area around the bulb to aid in nutrients for the sprouting plant.

Wendtii, Red (Cryptocoryne wendtii) - Easy in grow (from South-east Asia). These are excellent beginner plants that only require low light, tolerate soft to very hard water, and very wide pH range 6.0 9.0

Aquarium Banana Plant (Nymphoides aquatica) - Easy to moderate grow (from SE USA). Banana Plants require moderate to high lighting with no special substrate requirements. Usually an easy plant to grow and to take care of. Banana Plants adapt to most water conditions. Do not make the mistake of burying these plants too deep. Banana Plants send leaves up 8-12 cm high approximately every 4 to 5 days it will also grow replica plants. A good plant for the beginner or serious hobbyist.

Rotala Macrandra Moderate to difficult to grow (from the Far East; Laos, Vietnam, ECT). Rotala Macrandra requires strong light, soft water (pH 5-7), CO2, and pruning to thrive and look their best in aquariums. Without CO2 these plants will tend to send thin stems to the surface and never really fill out.

Cryptocoryne lutea ( Giant Mother Plant) Moderate difficulty to grow (from Southeast Asia), Needs to be planted and fertilized. Many have had success with this plant in regular gravel. Crypt Lutea may go through a period of die-off when first planted, but recovers after a couple of weeks. This plant spreads its roots very far, so if you remove it, be careful to not pull it too hard or you will may destroy the root structure. Crypt Lutea tolerate wide variances in temperature, hardness, pH and lighting which makes this plant easy to grow in many different tank environments. As noted earlier, transplant & ferts are the more difficult aspect of this plant.

Plants I generally recommend not to have; Any terrestrial plant adapted to aquariums (plants that can't be grown submersed indefinitely) such as Mondo Grass, Purple Waffle, Aluminum Plant or Peace Lilies. I will make the exception that the above plants make excellent bog plants when the roots are kept under water (absorbing nutrients for better tank health) while the leaves are out of the water. One more exception would be the use of Dracaena (Dracena) when properly prepared and potted, please see this outside article: Planting a fish Tank with Unusual Plants (Terracotta with Terrestrial)

Other plants I do not recommend are Cabomba as these non-tropical plants have high light requirements and tend to be difficult in warm aquarium environments which often results in this plant breaking apart and causing a mess. PLACES TO PURCHASE LIVE PLANTS ON LINE: We now currently no longer have any website we can recommend to order plants online from, however any suggestions and why are welcome!! ALGAE CONTROL:

When it comes to algae control in a planted tank this is also noteworthy as even though added carbon (CO2) will often help plants out compete algae, thus retarding unwanted algae growth, if algae grows out of control as soon as added carbon is removed, there are likely other problems contributing to this, including; *Unusable/ unavailable nutrients (micronutrients and macronutrients). Here is a list of important nutrients (listed in recommended added solution, not ppm as stated earlier in the article): Potassium (often available as Soluble Potash)- .37%, Iron- .32%, Sulfur- .27%, Sodium- .13%, Calcium- .14%, Magnesium- .11%, Nitrogen- .07%, Nitrogen- .07%, Available Phosphate- .01%, Boron- .009%, Cobalt- 0004%, Copper- .0001%, Zinc- .0007% Molybdenum- .0009%,. Here are a few sources: Sea Chem Flourish, PMDD , Regular Wonder Shells, Jungle Plant Tabs . Not all these sources have all the required nutrients many can be mixed as you find your own success. Much has been published lately about the addition of PO4 (phosphates) to control algae, however I believe this is only partially correct and based on some false assumptions; PO4 along with NO3 and Potassium are important Macronutrients that need to be in balance. I have found that simply changing water will (assuming proper mineralization of new water) will control algae by adding all these macronutrients. What is happening is that algae are much better equipped than higher plants to compete in conditions of low nutrients, however the addition of these nutrients allows much better competition. Adding only PO4 does not bring these macronutrients into balance and even though many claim this solved their problem, they have not run a control group to see if this was only part of the equation. *Poor substrate for healthy plant growth (only certain plants!). Make sure your substrate is rich in Iron (Fe). Iron is the most important trace element; your tank substrate should contain a reasonable amount of Iron. Liquid iron will, if over dosed, favor Hair algae. It can be added through tablet Iron rich fertilizers and through substrates like Azoo Plant Grower Bed , Laterite and Fluorite *Important! - Poor lighting that does not allow plants to compete with algae. Although when more light is added more nutrients including CO2 are needed. I do not agree with the method of darkening a tank for a few days as plants often have higher light requirements than algae (in part due to their complexity), this only gives the algae more time to out compete plants!

As well poor or low lighting encourages Brown Diatom Algae and too much actinic light can encourage the growth of BBA algae of plant growth. It is noteworthy that strong blue light will cause plant growth to be more compact and bushy and will also tend to promote algae growth. So for the best plant growth with the lowest green algae growth, it is best to balance 2/3 red to 1/3 blue light emissions. *High or too low Nitrates. Nitrates should be above 15 ppm for plants, but not above 40 ppm as I have seen in many aquariums with excessive algae growth (although high nitrates is rarely a problem in tanks with healthy plant growth). Too low and plants will starve for this important macronutrient. * Aquarium Cleaning Frequency. Often increasing the frequency (even twice or tree times per week) will improve conditions in the aquarium so as to allow plants to out compete algae. In part this improves the macronutrient balance as discussed above (as well as improvements in Redox and lowering DOC). I however do not recommend increasing the amount of water changed. *Trim plants of dying, decaying, or algae covered leaves, even if this removes much of your plants. This is much like pruning in your garden. This forces plants to generate new and healthy leaves that will often do better at out competing algae. *Algae Eating Inhabitants Red Cherry and Amano Shrimp (among others) can reduce many types of algae (including BBA). As well Nirite Snails are excellent for many types of algae, including Brown. Finally Oto Cats and many different algae eating fish such as Bristlenose Plecostomus are excellent for some types of algae. See the section further in this article about algae eaters. *Dip your new (or even established plants, although this will cause a temporary shock to established plants) in Sea Chem Flourish Excel , this product can be used as a quick dip solution (about 30 seconds) for plants to kill algae. I recommend diluting with about 5 parts water with 1 part Flourish Excel, however I have not established an exact dilution as of yet, so any feedback from readers is appreciated. Also the dosing of Flourish Excel in your aquarium can be effective for algae control as well. Flourish Excel contains a polymerized isomer of glutaraldehyde trademarked aspolycycloglutaracetal by SeaChem and is the active ingredient in this product, which is a fertilizer for aquatic plants. It is claimed that it provides a bioavailable source of carbon for higher plants that is not available to algae. Though not marketed as such due to federal regulations, the algaecidal effect of glutaraldehyde kills most algae at concentrations of 0.5 5.0 ppm. Hydrogen Peroxide can also be used as a dip/bath (or even added directly to the aquarium), this can be especially effective for the control of BBA (Black Beard Algae) & Cyanbacteria. When added directly to the tank, this is best at a rate of 2 oz. of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide per 10 gallons. HOWEVER this is best done without shrimp (such as Cherry Shrimp) present, as this will generally kill them. As well many fish are sensitive to Hydrogen Peroxide, such as Cory and Oto Catfish, so my preferred use is as a dip/bath. As well Corkscrew Vallisneria are sensitive to Peroxide and killed. For plant baths, I would recommend about 4 oz. of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide for approximately 30 minutes. For a 30 second dip, about a 5 to 1 solution of Hydrogen Peroxide applied by basting the plants with the solution (this solution can be increased if results are not satisfactory). Please see this outside article for more about the use of Hydrogen Peroxide as an algaecide: The Krib; Hydrogen Peroxide as an Algae Treatment As well please read this article for about the use and risks of Hydrogen Peroxide:Hydrogen Peroxide If you have any questions/reservations to the use of Hydorgen Peroxide as a plant dip/bath, etc. for algae, I would recommend using the Flourish Excel mentioned earlier as although not as effective for killing the algae, it is also much less harsh on certain plants or fish either. As well for certain algae I have simply controlled using other methods noted here or in more depth in this article: Aquarium Algae *Improper GH and KH levels (or mineralization, especially GH). Here is a quote: The release of carbonate converted from bicarbonate by plant life can cause pH to climb dramatically (above

9) during periods of rapid photosynthesis by dense phytoplankton (algal) blooms. This rise in pH can occur in low alkalinity water (20 to 50 mg/L) or in water with moderate to high bicarbonate alkalinity (75 to 200 mg/L) that has less than 25 mg/L hardness. Source: Interactions of pH, Carbon Dioxide, Alkalinity and Hardness *A poor Redox Potential which is often improved by better and more frequent water changes and proper mineralization such as Calcium, Magnesium and sodium as stated above. Also the addition of UV Sterilization Here is a common algae in Aquariums Black beard algae is a form of "red algae" in the genus Audouinella that commonly attaches to edges of plant leaves or drift wood and is more common in low CO2 water conditions, that are low in minerals, carbonates, and pH (although these algae will also grow in alkaline, high pH waters as well). As stated above, many good aquatic husbandry methods will aid in combating this algae Physically removing rocks and wood that have these algae on it and then scrubbing it off will also give plants a better chance of utilizing nutrients and over coming these algae. The use of Sea Chem Flourish Excel has been shown to be effective for some in control of this algae. The reason behind this is that Flourish Excel formula is Aldehydes based which are effected by oxidation which is another indicator of the importance of VERY regular but often small water changes (as much as 5-10% per day) to bring about a healthy Redox (among other methods of Redox control). This admittedly is only a theory at this point, however I have observed vastly better algae control (all sorts of algae) in ponds where the Redox is stable. I will finally add that most true algae (not Cyanobacteria) compete with plants for the same nutrients and light, so battling algae is often very difficult, however from my experience with ponds in particular it is often a war than cannot be totally won but certainly can be checked by keeping nutrients away from algae (such as substrate nutrients) while providing them to plants and understanding that algae are more simple life forms than plants and have less complicated needs, so addressing the more complex needs of higher plants will allow them to out compete (sometimes this is as simple as removal of as much algae as possible to give the plants a foot hold, although this can also be a much more difficult task). For further reading in the subject of algae, Please see this Aquarium Answers Article (post): Aquarium Answers; Aquatic Algae I also recommend this outside article: Aquarium Algae POPULAR PLANTED AQUARIUM ALGAE EATING INHABITANTS; * Shrimp- such as cherry shrimp. The Red Cherry Shrimp (also known as cherry red) is a popular shrimp in the aquarium hobby. Picture is of a "berried" female carrying eggs. This shrimp is one of the better fresh water algae eating shrimps. Red Cherry Shrimp are fairly easy to care for. As with most shrimp, they are very sensitive to ammonia and nitrite, so it is of great importance that the aquarium they are in has been established and cycled for a while. They prefer water around 70F-80F but it is reported that they can survive in water as cold as 50F (not recommended). Most pH ranges suitable for aquarium fish will also work well for the Red Cherry Shrimp. For more Cherry Shrimp information, I recommend reading this article: Cherry Shrimp - Neocaridina denticulata sinensis

*Oto Catfish (genus Otocinclus) Popular non destructive algae eating catfish that usually mixes well in a planted community tank. Oto Catfish tolerate a wide pH range of 5.2-7.5 and prefer a temperature between 68 to 82 F (20- 28 C). Otos grow to 1.5 (4 cm). This page has a video of Oto Catfish being caught in the wild: Aquatic Videos

Snails:

Apple Snails Apple Snails can live together with most fish species and they can be used to keep the aquarium clean of algae. Not all apple snail species are a good choice for aquaria as their voracious appetite for aquatic vegetation will often result in your aquatic plants being decimated.

A Better choice for planted tanks: Nerite Snails Nerite Snails are an easy snail to keep. I would recommend you keep them in water with a pH above 7.0 and a GH over 150 ppm is best for these snails being that these are snails that breed in marine or brackish water (Wonder Shells are good for this). Even if these snails lay eggs in your freshwater tank, they will not hatch unless you provide brackish or marine water which keeps these snails from over populating. Nerite Snails almost exclusively eat algae and do not seem to harm plants at all and can clean up very heavy algae growths in a month or two. For more about snail identification, please see this site:Various Freshwater Snails SUMMARY: Please be careful as to anecdotal and faddish advice in the care of aquatic plants and this is an area of aquarium keeping (along with reef keeping) that has a lot of advice floating around that is based more on opinion than facts or true research. This is also not to say this article is the only way to keep plants, that is my point there are many successful ways of keeping aquarium plants, just be careful of statements such as yeast based CO2 generators are the only way to go when in fact less glamorous methods such as Floramat works quite well (and is used by many in the aquarium maintenance community where it is more important uses economical methods that work over popular methods). Also nitrifying bacterial cultures do NOT survive in liquid form at room temperatures well at all. This why I know more in the Aquarium Service community that use Azoo Plant Grower Bed over Eco Complete as this is an un needed gimmick not to mention Azoo Plant Grower Bed is cleaner and more complete (although the complete statement itself in anecdotal based on mine and others in the service communities experience). ALSO as to CO2 or carbon, this is ONLY ONE ingredient in healthy plant growth (and algae control as well). This point is often missed even well funded terrestrial plant studies have shown that added CO2 will not increase plant growth without proper nutrients, substrate and light (the importance and what constitutes good Aquarium lighting is often misunderstood). Added carbon in the form of SeaChem Flourish Excel will also improve the effectiveness of a CO2 injection system or eliminate the need altogether (depending on other variables).

FURTHER READING: Here is an excellent article about a CO2 drop checker: *The Drop Checker by Walter Reed Recommended Forum for Plant Keepers: *Everything Aquatic Here is an interesting Blog I recommend reading: *Aquatic Eden Another excellent resource (I do not agree with 100% of the conclusions, but this is a well written and educational article): *www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/lighting/38014-lighting-spectrum-photosythesis.html As noted in the "Overview" section of this article, plant care is not my aquarium specialty (my expertise is more in Aquarium electrolytes, UV Sterilization, filtration, diseases and disease prevention). That said, a person (many consider a Guru) made ridiculous, inflammatory, & simply incorrect remarks about Redox. I have spent many years of research about Redox and its effect on fish and the aquatic environment in general. It was brought to my attention that he has made rather anecdotal and misinformed statements about this subject rather than engage in informed debate (typical of the aquarium industry to shoot itself in the foot this way), so while I still think his site is useful for plant care, my opinion of his other aquatic knowledge has taken a major hit and I would advice others to be wary as well.

Lighting Spectrum and Photosythesis The most common mistake people make with planted tanks is to not understand photosynthesis and the visible spectrum of lighting that affects plant growth. Most people choose lighting solely based on the Kelvin temperature of a bulb. This tells you very little about what type of light within the spectrum is being emitted and at what strength. Visible light is on a scale in nanometers (radiated wavelength) from 400nm (violet) to 700nm (red). Simple matter of photosynthesis: plants can only utilize light that is absorbed. Bright light is essential yet only a portion of this white light is used for photosynthesis. The blue and red zones of the visible spectrum are the most beneficial to plants. Green plants appear green because it is reflected light. How "bright" a light appears has more to do with how much light is output in a given area visible to the human eye, with "brightness" being at a maximum in the green spectrum (middle of visible spectrum, or around 550nm).

Lighting for a planted tank should not be chosen on color temp alone. It is true that 'full spectrum' bulbs are referred to as bulbs between 5000 Kelvin (K) and 6500 K and are considered to be best for planted tanks. Yet this does not indicate what wavelength in nanometers the bulb is actually emitting. If you want to optimize plant leaf development (blue light) and stem elongation and color (red light) you need light in both the blue and red spectra

for photosynthesis. You need a mix of blue and red for your plants, and green for you (brightness as perceived by humans). If your lighting looks extremely bright and your plants seem ultra-green, it means that you have lighting that outputs strongly in the green spectrum. Do not equate this with good lighting for your plants, because plants don't use light in the green spectrum for photosynthesis. Sunlight peaks in the blue spectrum at 475 nanometers (nm). This is a shorter wavelength than red light and is used by both plants and algae. As light passes through water the intensity decreases. The shorter wavelength blue light penetrates water better and more quickly than red, which is slower and absorbed more quickly. Chlorophyll, the photosynthetic pigment used by plants traps blue and red light but is more efficient with red light at 650 675nm. Blue is used at the same rate as red because it is more available for reasons mentioned above. For green plants the lighting peaks that are most important: Chlorophyll-a: 430nm/662nm Chlorophyll-b: 453nm/642nm Carotenoids: 449nm/475nm Red pigmented plants use more light in the blue area of the spectrum.

Beyond choosing lighting that is optimal for photosynthesis, as above, you should choose lighting with the color temperature that best suits the aesthetic goals of your tank. So, don't obsess about color temperature beyond how you want your tank to look. From a color temperature standpoint, blue-colored light will enhance blues in your fish. Green-colored light will make the tank look bright to humans and enhance the green color of your plants. Redcolored light will enhance the reds in your fish, and any red plants. Lux is lumens/square meter, so they are similar. They are both defined in terms that are meaningful to human perception of light not plants. They stress the amount of energy in the green band to which humans are most sensitive not plants. Artificial light sources are usually evaluated based on their lumen output. Lumen is a measure of flux, or how much light energy a light source emits (per unit time). The lumen measure does not include all the energy the source emits, but just the energy with wavelengths capable of affecting the human eye. Thus the lumen measure is defined in such a way as to be weighted by the (bright-adapted) human eye spectral sensitivity.

Lumen ratings are usually available, but when you use them you have to keep in mind what they mean. Lamp A can have a higher lumen rating than lamp B and appear brighter to you, while lamp B provides more useful light for plants. Compare the lumen ratings for cool white and GroLux bulbs of the same wattage and you will see what I mean. A 40-watt cool white bulb is rated at 3050 lumen; a 40-watt GroLux bulb (not the wide spectrum) is way lower at 1200 lumens. The big difference is because GroLux lamps provide very little green light and cool whites provide a lot of green light. I have found it best to provide a mix of lighting to a planted tank. The GroLux bulb is perhaps the best plant bulb available but it has very little green light so the visual effects of your tank will look dim and purplish. Yet if you add some other lighting such as a Philips 6500K the effect is more pleasing to the eye and still beneficial to the plants. I find that the GroLux along with a GroLux wide spectrum (89 Color Rendering Index) has a great effect for use as dawn/dusk lighting. (A Sylvania rep. told me it was best to use both together.)

Kelvin rating and lumens does not equate for plants. The Kelvin scale is more of how your tank will look to you/us and is totally subjective. It is true that the lower Kelvin ratings like 3000K will have more red light and a 10,000K will have more blue light. Lumens are meaningless for plants, as green plants do not utilize green light for photosynthesis. A higher lumen rating at the same wattage often means greener light. Lumen is a rating weighted entirely towards human perception. It has little to do with the value of a light for either growing or viewing plants. The Kelvin rating is an indication of color temperature. The higher the temperature, the more blue the light. Here's a rough scale:

- Reddish/Yellowish Endpoint Incandescent Light: 2700K Daylight: 5500K Blue Sky: 10,000K - Blue Endpoint

Don't be fooled by color temperature as an indication of what wavelength of light may or may not be present. The emitted wavelengths of light for two bulbs with the same color temperature could be wildly different. Therefore, color temperature is not what you should use to determine useful light for growing plants. It will, however, give you an idea of how things in your tank will look. For example, the sky has a color temperature of 10,000K and looks blue. Lighting that has a higher color temperature, indicating that it is bluish, does point to the fact that blue wavelengths are dominant. This, in turn, just means that it will activate green plants in the blue range, which is a good thing, and enhance blue fish. Red photosynthetic pigment is less efficient at utilizing light and requires stronger light as a result. The less efficient red carotenoid pigment must rely on blue and some green light as well as more intense lighting. There are some plants that that are able to change the pigment they use for photosynthesis depending on available lighting. We see this in red-leaved plants that turn green if the lighting is too low, not enough blue and/or green light. Alternatively, some green leafed plants produce red foliage when closer to the light source or with overly bright lighting. The Kelvin color designation of a particular bulb is not always true to the black body locus line on a CIE Chromaticity map. This is why some 5000K bulbs look yellow and others white, especially when trying to compare a linear fluorescent with a CF or MH. This is where Kelvin ratings of bulbs can fall prey to marketing schemes/hype.

The standard measure that quantifies the energy available for photosynthesis is "Photosynthetic Active Radiation" (aka "Photosynthetic Available Radiation") or PAR. It accounts with equal weight for all the output a light source emits in the wavelength range between 400 and 700 nm. PAR also differs from the lumen in the fact that it is not a direct measure of energy. It is expressed in "number of photons per second". The reason for expressing PAR in number of photons instead of energy units is that the photosynthesis reaction takes place when a photon is

absorbed by the plant; no matter what the photon's wavelength is (provided it lies in the range between 400 and 700 nm). In other words if a given number of blue photons is absorbed by a plant, the amount of photosynthesis that takes place is exactly the same as when the same number of red photons is absorbed. This is why it is so important to get the spectral output of a bulb before deciding if is a 'good plant light'. You may need to add/mix bulbs to get a lighting that has good visual effects for the human eye and proper light for plants because 'plant bulbs' tend to be purplish. There is an additional term called "Photosynthetic Usable Radiation" or PUR which takes in to account blue and red light only. I don't understand why people insist on distinguishing between lamps on the basis of their color temperature. No lamp renders color correctly or looks natural unless its Color Rendering Index (CRI) rating is very high. When CRI is over 90 the color temperature shouldn't make much difference; colors rendered accurately will always look about the same regardless of the Kelvin rating. Many bulbs render red and orange colors poorly and give you a look with very flat color contrasts. Other bulbs produce a lot of green light and don't render either blue or red very well at all. CRI or Color Rendering Index is an indication of how close the light is to daylight (full spectrum) on a scale from 0 to 100 with respect to how it makes objects appear. In the case of the Philips PL-L 950, the CRI is 92, so it has pretty good color rendering properties. Two bulbs with the same Kelvin temperature but different CRI ratings can produce very different appearances. Compare a 5000K that has an 80-something CRI with a 5000K that has a 90something CRI. The 80 CRI bulb is very bright, but it renders greens with a distinct yellow cast. The 90 CRI bulb is dim, but it renders rich colors across the whole spectrum. Whether or not a bulb looks "natural" to you is totally subjective. It depends in part on what you're used to. If you only see the world under cool white fluorescents then that is probably what looks natural to you. If you live somewhere with frequently hazy or overcast skies then you may be accustomed to "natural" light having a color temperature near 7000K. If you live somewhere with clear skies and infrequent cloudy days then your natural light might have a color temperature closer to 5000K. If you are used to north skylight then maybe a color temperature close to 10,000K seems more natural. In any case of actual natural light the light will render colors pretty well. That is usually not the case for fluorescent lamps with a high Kelvin temperature rating. If you want a high K lamp that does render colors accurately then you might try finding the Philips C75. It has a 7500K color temp and a 90+ CRI. It could be hard to find and a bit pricey. Plants will grow with ordinary bulbs as they tend to have both some blue and red emissions. The problem is that they also have wavelengths between 500 and 600nm, which algae likes. Green algae and green plants use the same pigments for photosynthesis (chlorophyll a/b & carotenoids). So, light that helps one helps the other. The algae that are different are the blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), which contain Phycocyanin and absorb light heavily in the low 600nm (orange-red), which is unfortunately present in most standard fluorescents. In the planted aquarium artificial light should ideally peak (or be stronger) in the red area of the spectrum. The tanks appearance can be compensated (balanced) with blue light and some green light for brightness to the human eye. Strong blue light will cause plant growth to be more compact and bushy and will also tend to promote algae growth. So remember to balance 2/3 red to 1/3 blue light emissions.

Bulbs sold as generic plant/aquarium bulbs usually have OK energy in blue and not much in red. A bulb sold as a generic "sunshine" bulb may or may not have some useful red, depending on the bulb. You can put any fluorescent lighting on your tank and do OK, but if you want to maximize plant growth, it's best to compare lighting options and, if possible, try to find the graphs/data for spectra output, rated life and output decay over time. Unfortunately, CF bulbs havent caught up with linear bulbs in the ability to offer light (tri -phosphor type) in the proper areas of the spectrum. Fluorescents lose efficiency over time. Some lose more than others - some bulbs may only suffer 10% drop in output, while others may drop 30% or more in the same time frame. The less the drop over time, the less you have to replace them, depending on your application. Linear fluorescent tubes should be changed out every six months and compact fluorescents every year. Fluorescent bulbs marketed for aquaria are often more expensive and not necessarily better than generic versions. They are also not necessarily marketed correctly. Many bulbs offer spectral output graphs. However, many of these graphs are measured in relative power on the Y-axis rather than a known reference like watts per nanometer per 1000 lumens. All that 'relative power' lets you know is that 100% is the highest peak at a given nanometer and all other peaks are relative to this. So, don't be fooled by nomenclature and packaging (marketing hype). Aquatic plants quickly respond to changes in light conditions and are more highly evolved than algae and are able to regulate photosynthesis more quickly than algae, which are biologically less advanced. Therefore, creating a siesta period in the middle of the lighting period is effective at curbing algae. Plants are able to start photosynthesis once there is sufficient light. Algae need a long and uninterrupted lighting period to function properly. Intensity and duration will also be detrimental to algae growth. Create an hour dawn/dusk lighting period at the start and end of the lighting period to simulate natural lighting with the siesta period in the midd le of the intense lighting period. Duration depends on many variables such as type of lighting, size tank, intensity of the lights, etc. The point of this is to say that algae prevention is not a black art that involves estimation of color temperature. There are a few specific things that cause algae, mostly including excess nutrients (phosphate, nitrate) combined with light that is useful for photosynthesis. Fix the water chemistry and you should be able to get rid of the algae without impairing the total light available to your plants in areas of maximum activation for photosynthesis.

Sunlight From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia "Sunshine" redirects here. For other uses, see Sunshine (disambiguation).

For natural lighting of interior spaces by admitting sunlight, see Daylighting. For solar energy available from sunlight, see Insolation. For other uses, see Sunlight (disambiguation).

Sunlight shining through clouds, giving rise tocrepuscular rays. Sunlight is a portion of the electromagnetic radiation given off by the Sun, particularly infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light. On Earth, sunlight isfiltered through the Earth's atmosphere, and is obvious as daylight when the Sun is above the horizon. When the direct solar radiation is not blocked by clouds, it is experienced as sunshine, a combination of bright light and radiant heat. When it is blocked by the clouds or reflects off other objects, it is experienced as diffused light. The World Meteorological Organization uses the term "sunshine duration" to mean the cumulative time during which an area receives directirradiance from the Sun of at least 120 watts per square meter. Sunlight may be recorded using a sunshine recorder, pyranometer or pyrheliometer. Sunlight takes about 8.3 minutes to reach the Earth. On average, it takes energy between 10,000 and 170,000 years to leave the sun's interior and then be emitted from the surface as light.
[2] [1]

Direct sunlight has a luminous efficacy of about 93 lumens per watt of radiant flux. Bright sunlight provides illuminance of approximately 100,000 luxor lumens per square meter at the Earth's surface. The total amount of energy received at ground level from the sun at the zenith is 1004 watts per square meter, which is composed of 527 watts of infrared radiation, 445 watts of visible light, and 32 watts of ultraviolet radiation. At the top of the atmosphere sunlight is about 30% more intense, with more than three times the fraction of ultraviolet (UV), with most of the extra UV consisting of biologically-damaging shortwave ultraviolet.
[3][4][5]

Sunlight is a key factor in photosynthesis, a process vital for many living beings on Earth. [edit]Composition and power

Solar irradiance spectrum above atmosphere and at surface. Extreme UV and X-rays are produced (at left of wavelength range shown) but comprise very small amounts of the Sun's total output power. See also: Ultraviolet, Infrared, and Light The spectrum of the Sun's solar radiation is close to that of a black body with a temperature of about 5,800 K. The Sun emits EM radiation across most of the electromagnetic spectrum. Although the Sun produces Gamma rays as a result of the nuclear fusion process, these super high energy photons are converted to lower energy photons before they reach the Sun's surface and are emitted out into space. As a result, the Sun does not emit gamma rays. The Sun does, however, emit X-rays, ultraviolet, visible light, infrared, and even radio waves.
[7] [6]

Although, as mentioned, the solar corona is a source of extreme ultraviolet and X-ray radiation, these rays make up only a very small amount of the power output of the Sun (see spectrum at right) and will not be discussed further. The spectrum of nearly all solar electromagnetic radiationstriking the Earth's atmosphere spans a range of 100 nm to about 1 mm. This band of significant radiation power can be divided into five regions in increasing order of wavelengths:
[8]

Ultraviolet C or (UVC) range, which spans a range of 100 to 280 nm. The term ultraviolet refers to the fact that the radiation is at higher frequency than violet light (and, hence also invisible to the human eye). Owing to absorption by the atmosphere very little reaches the Earth's surface. This spectrum of radiation has has germicidal properties, and is used in germicidal lamps.

Ultraviolet B or (UVB) range spans 280 to 315 nm. It is also greatly absorbed by the atmosphere, and along with UVC is responsible for thephotochemical reaction leading to the production of the ozone layer. It directly damages DNA and causes sunburn.

Ultraviolet A or (UVA) spans 315 to 400 nm. This band was once held to be less damaging to DNA, and hence is used in cosmetic artificialsun tanning (tanning booths and tanning beds) and PUVA therapy for psoriasis.

However, UV A is now known to cause significant damage to DNA via indirect routes (formation of free radicalsand reactive oxygen species), and is able to cause cancer.
[9]

Visible range or light spans 380 to 780 nm. As the name suggests, it is this range that is visible to the naked eye. It is also the strongest output range of the sun's total irradiance spectrum.
6

Infrared range that spans 700 nm to 10 nm (1 mm). It is responsible for an important part of the electromagnetic radiation that reaches the Earth. It is also divided into three types on the basis of wavelength: Infrared-A: 700 nm to 1,400 nm Infrared-B: 1,400 nm to 3,000 nm Infrared-C: 3,000 nm to 1 mm.
2

Sunlight in space at the top of Earth's atmosphere at a power of 1366 watts/m is composed (by total energy) of about 50% infrared light, 40% visible light, and 10% ultraviolet light. At ground level this decreases to about 11201000 watts/m , and by energy fractions to 44% visible light, 3% ultraviolet (with the Sun at the zenith, but less at other angles), and the remainder infrared. Thus, sunlight's composition at ground level, per square meter, with the sun at the zenith, is about 527 watts of infrared radiation, 445 watts of visible light, and 32 watts of ultraviolet radiation. [edit]Calculation To calculate the amount of sunlight reaching the ground, both the elliptical orbit of the Earth and the attenuation by the Earth's atmosphere have to be taken into account. The extraterrestrial solar illuminance ( Eext), corrected for the elliptical orbit by using the day number of the year (dn), is given by
[10] [5] [4] 2 [3]

where dn=1 on January 1; dn=2 on January 2; dn=32 on February 1, etc. In this formula dn-3 is used, because in modern times Earth's perihelion, the closest approach to the Sun and therefore the maximum Eext occurs around January 3 each year. The value of 0.033412 is determined knowing that the ratio between the perihelion (0.98328989 AU) squared and the aphelion (1.01671033 AU) squared should be approximately 0.935338. The solar illuminance constant (Esc), is equal to 12810 lx. The direct normal illuminance (Edn), corrected for the attenuating effects of the atmosphere is given by:
3

where c is the atmospheric extinction coefficient and m is the relative optical airmass. [edit]Solar constant Main article: Solar constant The solar constant, a measure of flux density, is the amount of incoming solar electromagnetic radiation per unit area that would be incident on a plane perpendicular to the rays, at a distance of

one astronomical unit (AU) (roughly the mean distance from the Sun to the Earth). The "solar constant" includes all types of solar radiation, not just the visible light. Its average value was thought to be approximately 1.366 kW/m,
[11]

varying slightly with solar activity, but recent recalibrations of the


[12]

relevant satellite observations indicate a value closer to 1.361 kW/m is more realistic.

This radiation is

about 50% infrared, 40% visible, and about 10% ultraviolet at the top of the atmosphere. [edit]Total (TSI) and spectral solar irradiance (SSI) upon Earth

[3]

Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) the amount of solar radiation received at the top of the Earths atmosphere was earlier measured by satellite to be roughly 1.366 kilowatts per square meter (kW/m),
[15] [11][13][14]

but

most recently NASA cites TSI as 1,361 W/m as compared to ~1,366 W/m from earlier observations, based on results from a series of NASA and ESA satellite TSI monitors the ACRIMSAT/ACRIM3, SOHO/VIRGO and SORCE/TIM observations. continuing today with
[16]

This discovery is critical in

examining the energy budget of the planet Earth and isolating the climate change due to human activities. Furthermore the SORCE Spectral Irradiance Monitor (SIM) has found in the same period that spectral solar irradiance (SSI) at UV (ultraviolet) wavelength corresponds in a less clear, and probably more complicated fashion, with earth's climate responses than earlier assumed, fueling broad avenues of new research in the connection of the Sun and stratosphere, troposphere, biosphere, ocean, and Earths climate.
[17]

[edit]Intensity in the Solar System

Sunlight on Mars is dimmer than on Earth. This photo of a Martian sunset was imaged by Mars Pathfinder. Different bodies of the Solar System receive light of an intensity inversely proportional to the square of their distance from Sun. A rough table comparing the amount of solar radiation received by each planet in the Solar System follows (from data in [1]): Planet distance (AU) Solar radiation (W/m)

Perihelion Aphelion maximum minimum

Mercury 0.3075

0.4667 14,446

6,272

Venus

0.7184

0.7282 2,647

2,576

Earth

0.9833

1.017

1,413

1,321

Mars

1.382

1.666

715

492

Jupiter

4.950

5.458

55.8

45.9

Saturn

9.048

10.12

16.7

13.4

Uranus

18.38

20.08

4.04 3.39

Neptune 29.77

30.44

1.54 1.47

The actual brightness of sunlight that would be observed at the surface depends also on the presence and composition of an atmosphere. For example Venus' thick atmosphere reflects more than 60% of the solar light it receives. The actual illumination of the surface is about 14,000 lux, comparable to that on Earth "in the daytime with overcast clouds".
[18]

Sunlight on Mars would be more or less like daylight on Earth wearing sunglasses, and as can be seen in the pictures taken by the rovers, there is enough diffuse sky radiation that shadows would not seem particularly dark. Thus it would give perceptions and "feel" very much like Earth daylight. For comparison purposes, sunlight on Saturn is slightly brighter than Earth sunlight at the average sunset or sunrise (see daylight for comparison table). Even on Pluto the sunlight would still be bright enough to almost match the average living room. To see sunlight as dim as full moonlight on the Earth, a distance of about 500 AU (~69 light-hours) is needed; there are only a handful of objects in the solar system known to orbit farther than such a distance, among them 90377 Sedna and (87269) 2000 OO67. [edit]Surface illumination The spectrum of surface illumination depends upon solar elevation due to atmospheric effects, with the blue spectral component from atmospheric scatter dominating during twilight before and after sunrise

and sunset, respectively, and red dominating during sunrise and sunset. These effects are apparent in natural light photography where the principal source of illumination is sunlight as mediated by the atmosphere. According to Craig Bohren, "preferential absorption of sunlight by ozone over long horizon paths gives the zenith sky its blueness when the sun is near the horizon". See diffuse sky radiation for more details. [edit]Climate effects Further information: Solar variation, Solar dimming, and Insolation On Earth, solar radiation is obvious as daylight when the sun is above the horizon. This is during daytime, and also in summer near the poles at night, but not at all in winter near the poles. When the direct radiation is not blocked by clouds, it is experienced as sunshine, combining the perception of bright white light (sunlight in the strict sense) and warming. The warming on the body, the ground and other objects depends on the absorption (electromagnetic radiation) of the electromagnetic radiation in the form of heat. The amount of radiation intercepted by a planetary body varies inversely with the square of the distance between the star and the planet. The Earth's orbit and obliquity change with time (over thousands of years), sometimes forming a nearly perfect circle, and at other times stretching out to an orbital eccentricity of 5% (currently 1.67%). The total insolation remains almost constant due to Kepler's second law,
[19]

where

is the "areal velocity" invariant. That is, the integration over the orbital period (also

invariant) is a constant.

If we assume the solar radiation power P as a constant over time and the solar irradiation given by the inverse-square law, we obtain also the average insolation as a constant. But the seasonal and latitudinal distribution and intensity of solar radiation received at the Earth's surface also varies.
[20]

For example, at latitudes of 65 degrees the change in solar energy

in summer and winter can vary by more than 25% as a result of the Earth's orbital variation. Because changes in winter and summer tend to offset, the change in the annual average insolation at any given location is near zero, but the redistribution of energy between summer and winter does strongly affect the intensity of seasonal cycles. Such changes associated with the redistribution of solar energy are considered a likely cause for the coming and going of recent ice ages (see: Milankovitch cycles).

[edit]Past variations in solar irradiance Space-based observations of solar irradiance started in 1978. These measurements show that the solar constant is not constant. It varies with the 11-year sunspot solar cycle. When going further back in time, one has to rely on irradiance reconstructions, using sunspots for the past 400 years or cosmogenic radionuclides for going back 10,000 years. Such reconstructions have been done.
[21][22][23][24]

These studies show that solar irradiance does vary with distinct

periodicities such as: 11 years (Schwabe), 88 years (Gleisberg cycle), 208 years (DeVries cycle) and 1,000 years (Eddy cycle). [edit]Life on Earth The existence of nearly all life on Earth is fueled by light from the sun. Most autotrophs, such as plants, use the energy of sunlight, combined with carbon dioxide and water, to produce simple sugarsa process known as photosynthesis. These sugars are then used as building blocks and in other synthetic pathways which allow the organism to grow. Heterotrophs, such as animals, use light from the sun indirectly by consuming the products of autotrophs, either by consuming autotrophs, by consuming their products or by consuming other heterotrophs. The sugars and other molecular components produced by the autotrophs are then broken down, releasing stored solar energy, and giving the heterotroph the energy required for survival. This process is known as cellular respiration. In prehistory, humans began to further extend this process by putting plant and animal materials to other uses. They used animal skins for warmth, for example, or wooden weapons to hunt. These skills allowed humans to harvest more of the sunlight than was possible through glycolysis alone, and human population began to grow. During the Neolithic Revolution, the domestication of plants and animals further increased human access to solar energy. Fields devoted to crops were enriched by inedible plant matter, providing sugars and nutrients for future harvests. Animals which had previously only provided humans with meat and tools once they were killed were now used for labour throughout their lives, fueled by grasses inedible to humans. The more recent discoveries of coal, petroleum and natural gas are modern extensions of this trend. These fossil fuels are the remnants of ancient plant and animal matter, formed using energy from sunlight and then trapped within the earth for millions of years. Because the stored energy in these fossil fuels has accumulated over many millions of years, they have allowed modern humans to massively increase the production and consumption of primary energy. As the amount of fossil fuel is large but finite, this cannot continue indefinitely, and various theories exist as to what will follow this stage of human civilization (e.g. alternative fuels, Malthusian catastrophe, new urbanism, peak oil).

KELVIN AND LUMENS04.04.11 To make the best, most intelligent choice, a consumer should first be aware of the importance of Kelvin and lumen measurements in determining which light bulb to purchase. Most people assume that the brighter the light bulb appears to be, the more lumens it must put out and the less energy efficient it is. In fact, this is not the case when talking about CFL lamps.

The Kelvin(K) (absolute) temperature scale describes the color temperature or the whiteness of incandescent lamp light. By convention, yellow-red colors are considered warm and blue-green casts are considered cool. In reality, higher Kelvin temperatures(3600-5500K) produce cool tones of white, while lower color temperatures(2700-3000K) produce warm colors. The whiter the white, the more brightness is perceived in a given space. Cool light is preferable for rooms in which visual tasks are performed such as warehouses, outdoor spaces, offices, a studio, library or kitchen. Warm light is preferable for most indoor living areas such as dining rooms and bathrooms because it is more flattering to skin tones. A chromaticity or color temperature of 2700-3600K is recommended for most indoor use and task lighting applications. We recomend 5000K CFLs for hotel room bedside lamps, offices, and fabric rooms areas for furniture stores. Of course, if youre still confused, call us today and one of our knowledgeable sales team members would be glad to assist you in choosing the correct light for your space!

Definition: A lumen is a unit of measurement that describes how much light is contained in a space or the brightness of a light source. A 26 Watt 2700K CFL will be a warm tone and put out up to 1800 lumens, just as the 26 Watt 5000K CFL will product the same amount of lumens at up to 1800 with a daylight color. IE The higher the Kelvin, the whiter it gets. However, it does not mean it will be brighter.

To make things even more confusing, some of this info pertains solely to CFL style lamps. When looking for LEDs a higher Kelvin Temp will ussually increase the lumen output. IE The higher the Kelvin, the whiter and brighter (higher lumens) the lamp will produce.

The best way to choose the right CFL for a particular lighting need is to remember this rule of thumb: Divide the wattage of a current incandescent by four. In other words, a 100 watt incandescent bulb is equivalent to a 23 -26 watt CFL. CFLs are energy-efficient and cost-saving tools which produce the same amount of light at one-quarter of the energy consumption. CFLs with higher Kelvin temperatures produce a whiter, brighter light than standard incandescents at a greater cost savings. CFLs are referred to as pig tails, spirals, twists, and energy savers. Priority Lighting has an energy-star logo approval indicating that its lighting products have gone through strict performance standards testing so are far superior to the CFLs found in the big box stores. Call today to get help choosing the energy-efficient bulbs for your retail, commercial, industrial, or residential needs. 1 800 709 1119

UNDERSTANDING KELVIN, LUX, LUMENS, PAR, AND PUR JULY 18, 2012 BY ORPHEK LEAVE A COMMENT UNDERSTANDING KELVIN, LUX, LUMENS, PAR, AND PUR

KELVIN The descriptor Kelvin is often used as a measure of color temperature of light sources. Color temperature is based upon the principle that a black body radiator emits light the color generated at the temperature of the radiator. Black bodies with temperatures below about 4000 K appear reddish whereas those above about 7500 K appear bluish. Color temperature is important in the fields of image projection and photography where a color temperature of approximately 5600K is required to match daylight film emulsions, thus producing true colors. It is interesting to note that Kelvin is in direct opposite of nanometers as far as color is concerned. A 20,000K lamp appears violet/blue whereas a lamp that peaks at 425nanometers (on a scale of 400-700nm) would be very close to a 20,000K lamp which is also violet/blue in appearance. Nanometer wavelengths differ from Kelvin as the nanometer is the term used to measure the visible light of electromagnetic radiation and not color temperature. Visible light is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye and is responsible for our sense of sight. Visible light has wavelength in a range from about 380 nanometers to about 740 nanometers. The visible light range is located between the invisible infrared which is found at longer wavelengths, and the invisible ultraviolet which is found at shorter wavelengths. For our purposes we are interested in the visible light which falls between 400 to 700nm. This is the spectrum that PAR meters are generally calibrated to as well as the spectrum which aquarium lighting falls into.

freshwater plant growth, Orpheks LED technology 14K white For freshwater plant growth, Orpheks LED technology has proven that 14K white, plus red and blue LEDs of the correct wavelength are considered to be the best as they emit peaks in the chlorophyll A and B range which is very beneficial for plant growth. The 14K lamps also provide excellent growth for SPS and LPS corals. Supplemental actinic (420-480nm) are often used with these lamps to provide a more pleasing appearance of the corals and fish and to fill in this needed spectrum. Saltwater absorbs slightly more light energy than freshwater due to the higher density (specific gravity) of the water and in this regard, 6500K normal output fluorescent lamps are not a good choice for SPS and LPS corals kept more than twelve inches from the surface. The 9,000 to 10,000K lamps generally produce very good growth rate for soft and LPS corals but slows down growth of SPS corals. The 14,000K lamps which are popular with metal halide and LED lighting will penetrate the water better than the above lamps and still provide a good PAR level for all corals including SPS. This lamp choice is recommended for tanks 15 to30 inchesin depth providing the intensity is there to achieve a good PAR level. The 20,000K lamps are noticeably bluer than the 14,000K lamps and will bring out all of the fluorescent pigments found in many corals. The drawback is that when used alone, SPS growth will be slowed or even stop completely. For this reason, these lamps should not be used as the only lamp in reef tanks if one wishes to keep SPS corals. This is why 18,000K lighting that can provide the spectral range (PUR) needed by corals is most desirable. Fortunately, these are available in the form of LED lighting fixtures but not available from every company that produces LED light fixtures. Violet Indigo Blue Green Yellow Orange Red 400-420nm 420-440nm 440-490nm 490-570nm 570-585nm 585-620nm 620-780nm

Color comparison with nanometer range

Do not confuse the color a lamp or LED emits with a particular nanometer range as light in several nanometer ranges can be used to develop a specific Kelvin temperature lamp, much the same as 1+3 and 2+2 both equal 4. Many manufacturers will do this to provide the necessary wavelengths needed for coral growth while still maintaining the desired color temperature. LUX/LUMENS Lux is a measure of the intensity of light, one Lux is equal to one lumen per square meter. One must keep in mind that a Lux reading only measures light intensity to which the human eye is most sensitive (green) and a Lux meter will not measure wavelengths over 580nm. This can still be a useful measurement for freshwater plants and some corals in reef aquaria. Some studies have shown that the minimum light intensity should be no less than 3,000 Lux at the deepest part of the aquarium. I personally feel it should me much higher than that and somewhere around 15,000 Lux. Lux on a tropical reef has been measured to be between 110,000 and 120,000 at the surface and 20,000 to 25,000 one meter below the surface. The difference between Lumens and Lux is that the Lux takes into account the area over which the luminosity is spread and for our purpose, is a more desirable rating than lumens. A flux of 1000 lumens concentrated into an area of one square meter lights up that square meter with a luminance of 1000 lux. If the same 1000 lumens were spread out over ten square meters it would produce a dimmer luminance of only 100 Lux. A lux reading on inexpensive lux meters available for the aquarium hobby can be converted to Lumens by use of this formula. 1 lux = 1 lumen per square meter. This is equivalent to: 1 lux = 0.0929 lumens per square foot. PAR/PUR PAR is the abbreviation for Photosynthetically Active Radiation in the spectral range of 400 to 700 nanometers. This is the range that is needed by plants and symbiotic Zooanthellae algae which live in the tissues of corals, anemones, clams, and other photosynthetic life. Without the presence of Zooanthellae these animals would die as they produce 90% of the food requirements these animals require. Most photosynthetic life do not utilize the full spectral range that PAR covers but respond best to light in the PUR (Photosynthetically Useable Radiation) range. This can be confusing to many as there are light fixtures and lamps that are advertised as high PAR systems but do not provide a spectrograph to see the spectral range at which the PAR level was derived at. Photosynthetic invertebrates respond best to light that falls into wavelengths between 400-550nm and 620740nm which is the PUR range. A PAR reading of 300 and higher isnt as good as it appears if this reading is derived from wavelengths produced throughout the entire PAR spectral range (400-700nm) as much of this energy is not needed by photosynthetic animals and is wasted energy. This is one reason why it is very important to view a spectrograph of a lamp or LED fixture before purchasing. This will allow you to view the wavelengths of which a PAR meter will actually measure. A PAR reading of 150 at the deepest part of a tank will promote growth of all but the most light loving corals provided the lamp or LED falls into PUR range stated above. A common misconception with many hobbyists is that they will say my new LED light isnt as bright as my old metal halide light. LED fixtures tuned to the PUR wavelength use wavelengths of light that are the least sensitive to our eyes in terms of brightness even though these wavelengths are intense to corals and other photosynthetic life. This is a good example of why you do not want to look directly at a UV germicidal lamp. It does not appear bright to your eyes because of the wavelength, but the damaging rays are very intense and can have a negative impact on your vision.

The Apogee MQ-200 Quantum Meter is a good tool for measuring PAR. If you have a sizeable investment in your reef tank, this meter is a worthwhile purchase as it will indicate when lamps need to be replaced and is a useful tool for coral placement in the system to insure that a particular coral is getting the required amount of light. Editors note: Orphek LED lighting products have fulfilled all of the above requirements in each and every one of their products and can demonstrate this with spectrographs and Lumen output.

The outside tank (article - english) Sbado, 4 de febrero de 2006 This article was wrote about March-2005 and translate to english from original in spanish by Monica. You can see all images here.

The outside tank

Introduction

Vista general del patio Since I grow aquatic plants, I have considered light as one of th e most fundamental and limiting factors for plants development. Limited space or economic constraints always meant that I could never have as much light for my plants as I wanted. If algae grew, or nitrates built up, or a plant did not become red, it was due to lack of light. When there was no more room on the lid of the tank to attach fluorescents tubes, and still light was insufficient, my persistent question became: how to increase the amount of light that my tank received? During the summer I had dismantled my tank. Taking advantage of this fact, I decided to install a base for the tank in the area of my houses courtyard with the longest hours of sunlight, and I took the tank outside. Instaling the tank

The dimensions of the tank are 100x30x40 cms. This means a total volume of around 120 litres (31 gal). To measure the amount of fertilizers, I nevertheless consider the tank to have 100 litres. The substrate is a mixture of little gravels used in previous tanks, with some clay, humus, roots and other organic rests. Later on I added some litres of Flourite Seachem. The water filtration system is an engine at Fluval 104 filled exclusively with Perlon. Every 30 or 40 days approximately I change completely the old material with new one. This way, the filter only works as a mechanical filter. Since the installation of the tank, I have entrusted both plants and substrate to do the chemical and biological water filtration. To input CO2 I use a CO2 bottle connected to an electrovalvula AZOO plus a digital temporizer. The gas is dissolved by using a ceramic diffuser situated next to the source of water supply. This way, the filter dissolves the gas into the water completely. I keep the levels of CO2 as high as the tank fauna allows me to. Water temperature was initially kept stable with a 100 w thermostat. However, I soon realised that this power was insufficient to avoid that water temperature fell to 15-18C overnight. Currently, I use a 300 w thermostat, which allows me to keep water at a temperature of 22C overnight. This temperature rises to 26C when sunlight hits the tank directly. I use ordinary tap water to fill the tank. I adjust the levels of water lost by evaporation (around 3 litres every day) with reverse osmosis water. Water quality and hardness vary slightly during the year, but according to the latest tests, it has a general hardness of dGh 24, dKh 8 y ph 7,4. The latest chemical analysis done by the water supplying company (to which I had access to) showed a complete absence of nitrates and phosphates (data for 2001). I change around 20 litres of the tanks water every 7 to 10 days. When installing the tank, I put a pierced pipe at the bottom of the tank. My aim was to introduce the nutrients through the pipe, in order to avoid both the water column and the algae. I have used and I still use this system regularly, although I have not observed particular benefits or damages from its use. The tank is exclusively kept with sunlight. It is situated in an area of the courtyard that receives, at the very least (in December), two hours of direct sunlight. Due to the orientation and situation of the courtyard and the surrounding buildings, the hours of effective sunlight is restricted from 9am to 5pm. In the attached diagram it is possible to observe the light intensity the tank received during the month of January. Fertilising With the help of a dispenser, I fertilise with a homemade solution of Potasium nitrate P. Sulfate P. fosfate so to get a concentration of 2-0,1-3 mg/litre. Every two or three weeks, just before changing the water of the tank, I usually test the concentration of nitrates and phosphates. Until now, the results of these tests have been practically the same: nitrates 0 mg/l and phosphates 0,25/l. I am aware of the fact that the concentration of nitrates might be excessively low. However, when I have increased the concentration, green algae has started to appear almost immediately. Lowering the levels of nitrates meant nutrient deficits for the plants. Phosphate concentration is calculated so to avoid the appearance of spot algae; when I decrease the levels of phosphate levels, these algae emerge. I aim at keeping low input of iron and microelements fertilisers. To do this, I watch out for the appereance of clorosis in the plants. Currently, to avoid clorosis, it is enough to add 1ml of Flourish Iron every 2 or 3 days. Plants and fish The tank fauna is made up of a dozen of Tanichthys Albonubes, 6 Rasbora heteromorpha and 6 Otoncinclus, along with (10-12) Apple snails (Pomacea) and other spontaneous animals. From time to time I have observed the presence of some Odonatos larvae and some earthworms, which probably come from the old substrate where I introduced them.

The number of different plant species is quite large. In all, there are around 30 species that grow or have grown in this tank. Nowadays, the plants are the following: Floating Eichornia crassipes Lemna minor Pistia spp Riccia fluitans Salvinia minima

Stems plants Althernanthera reineckii Crassula helmessi Cryptocoryne Balansae Cyperus helfferi Didiplis diandra Echinodorus tenellus Potamogeton stellata Hemianthus micranthemoides Heteranthera zorestifolia Higrophila corymbosa angustifolia Hydrocotyle leucocephala Hygrophila polysperma Roseanervig Juncus repens Limnophila aquatica Limnophila aromatica Ludwigia verticillata inclinata cuba Lugwigia repens Lysimachia aurea Micranthemum umbrosum Myriophyllum aquaticum Nesaea crassicaulis Rotala rontudifolia green & red Rotala sp. Nanjenshan Tonina fluviatilis

Meadow Bacopa caroliniana Eleocharis acicularis Glossostigma elatinoides Hemianthus callitrichoides cuba Hydrocotyle verticillata Lilaeopsis brasiliensis Marsilea drummondi Micranthemum micranthemoides

I have previously grown all these species in indoors tanks with 1 w fluorescent light per litre, with success in almost all cases. Cultivating plants

I set up this tank on 1st October 2004 with plants coming from a tank previously dismantled. Being already aquatic plants, their adaptation period was short and they started to grow well from the first day. The Hetheranthera and the Micranthemum umbrosum have grown healthily from the beginning, but particularly noteworthy has been the growth explosion experimented by the Lilaeopsis and the Eleocharis. Undoubtedly, these two species have shown the most spectacular change in their growth rate if we compare them with how they did in an artificially lighted tank. This has obliged to frequent trimmings so to avoid overgrowth. Other species that have shown an excellent growth rate have been the Myriophillum, Glossostigma, Bacopa caroliniana, Ludwigia repens, Juncus repens, Potamogeton y Limnophila. All floating plants, including the Riccia, had a bad time when winter arrived, as temperature outside water dropped to 6C-7C overnight. Particularly, the Riccia grew better when being tied up and kept submerged than when it floated on the surface. The Pistia and the Eichornia would have died if I had not transferred them to an indoors tank. Probably only Salvinia minima and Lemna could have survived the temperature contrast between the tank water at 22C and the outside water temperature at 6C. Problems Whereas troubles with surface temperature were expected, there was another temperature-related problem that caught me by surprise: bad water circulation in densely thicketed areas. Plants density in some areas of the tank was so high that it was significantly difficult for water to circulate. This meant that there were areas of the tank with a water temperature considerably lower than the rest. I realised of this when replanting some Potamogeton stellata stems. I observed that the stems had not only rooted onto the substratum, but the roots had overgrown and looked like wanting to escape upwards. It was possible to feel the different temperature simply by submerging ones hand. This was especially the case at the bases of the stems of the Micranthemum umbrosum and the Potamogeton. I do not particularly like ground heating wires, but for situations like this they may be useful. Also, it is important to pay especial attention to improving water circulation in the densely thicketed areas of the tank. An auxiliary engine may be a solution for this problem. In any case, the ending of the winter has meant that this problem has started to resolve by itself. Algae So far I have not had any critical problem with algae. From the beginning I have aimed at keeping stable levels of nutrients. I have avoided creating any peaks in macronutrients excess or deficit by fertilising daily and keeping a high density of plants. One month after setting the tank I had a small brown algaes attack, which, funnily enough, was caused by lack of light. The brown algae started to disappear as soon as the plant population started to increase. Sifoneos when changing the tanks water also helped. On one occasion I had a short sprout of cyanobacter on the stems of the Micranthemum umbrosum, which only lasted for 6 or 7 days. This problem was resolved by improving water circulation in the area.

Currently, there are some filamentosus green algae in the densest area of the tank, where water circulation is worse. Periodically, they fall off in the form of little hairy balls. Light and fotoperiodo: plants changes

Graph of insolation hours Undoubtedly, one of the most surprising changes happened with the sub-aquatic species, and particularly with the Rotala rotundifolia. This plant came from a previous tank where it developed in the normal way: thin stems that bend near the surface, where they tend to grow horizontally, and long and slender leaves that become orangecoloured when the stems grow tall. When in the tank, the plant started to produce new round-shaped leaves, almost identical to those that it grows when cultivated outside water. Also, it developed straight and thick stems that not only did not bend near the water surface, but came out the water easily. Occasionally, a replanted stem has reproduced slightly longer and thinner leaves, but as soon as the plant has grown tall it has replaced them with thicker and rounder leaves. I kept the Limnophila aquatica floating in a sink in a shady spot for a couple of weeks, before I set up the tank. Once the tank was ready, I introduced two stems of this plant, which barely measured 4-5 cm, in the new tank. Almost without delay they started to grow astonishingly. As soon as the Limnophila aquatica began to enjoy the sunlight, they started to change their recognisable head of hair -shaped leaves with other leaves identical to those that the plant develops when cultivated outside water. Once they reached the water surface, they carried on growing for about 10-15 cm over the surface and then they flowered. What it was initially a surprise it has turned out to be a bit of a hassle, as all stems without exception end up blossoming.

Didiplis diandra

With another limnophila the situation has been quite different. This Limnophila aromtica was planted at the end of December. Immediately it grew quite a lot, changed its leaves slightly and then it stopped from growing further. I have replanted its stalks, which have grown until coming out from the shady areas of the tank. Once they have reached the lighted areas, their growth is almost non-existent, limited to some millimetres each week. The Nesaea craussicaulis was planted at the end of January. In mid-February it stood out 10-15 cm from the water surface. From then on it has kept stems sticking out from the water and it is in continuous flowering. The Riccia fluitans growth slowed down considerably during the winter months. As I said above, it grew much better when tied up and underwater than when floating. Initially, I put it down to the difference of temperature between the tank water and the outside. However, once the winter has ended and there are more hours of light, its growth has shot up, despite the fact that the minimum temperatures have only slightly increased (from 6-7C to 9-10C).

Detalle superior It is a well-know fact that the fotoperiodo is an important factor to trigger the flowering and the development of cultivated species. However, I ignored completely the extent to which it could alter the appearance of some plant species. Indeed, I await for the summer months and for more hours of light to confirm this observation, but so far it seems evident that, particularly in the case of some species such as the Rotala, the combination of light intensity with a different fotoperiodo changes substantially the plants morphology und erwater. I am currently transferring some plant species to indoors tanks with longer fotoperiodos, in order to observe how these plants developed. Everything seems to point at the fotoperiodo as the main trigger for these changes. Aquarium Carpet Plants (1-10 cm) Pygmy Chain Sword (Echinodorus tenellus) Dwarf Hairgrass (Eleocharis parvula)

Glossostigma (Glossostigma elatinoides) Hemianthus 'Cuba' (Hemianthus callitrichoides) Brazilian Micro Sword (Lilaeopsis brasiliensis) Crystalwort (Riccia fluitans) Willow Moss (Fontinalis antipyretica) Java Moss (Vesicularia dubyana) Small Aquatic Plants (1-20 cm) Dwarf Anubias (Anubias nana) Afzeli Anubias (Anubias afzelii) Green Wendtii Crypt (Cryptocoryne wendtii 'green') Brown Wendtii Crypt (Cryptocoryne wendtii) Undulated Crypt (Cryptocoryne undulata) Willisii (Nevillii) Cryp (Cryptocoryne x willisii) Water Hedge (Didiplis diandra) Needle Spike Rush (Eleocharis acicularis) Pearl Grass (Hemianthus micranthemoides) Whorled/Marsh Pennywort (Hydrocotyle verticillata) Baby Tears (Micranthemum umbrosum) Windelovs Fern (Microsorum pteropus 'Windelov') Nanjenshan Rotala (Rotala sp. 'Nanjenshan') Water Cabbage (Samolus parviflorus) Medium Aquatic Plants (15-30 cm) Giant Anubias (Anubias barteri) "Coffee Leaf" Anubias (Anubias barteri 'coffeefolia') Blyxa Echinosperma (Blyxa echinosperma) Blyxa Japonica (Blyxa japonica) African Water Fern (Bolbitis heudelotii) Cyperus helferi (Cyperus helferi) Porto Alegre Sword (Echinodorus portoalegrensis)

Eusteralis (Eusteralis stellata) Broad Leaf Flame Ivy (Hemigraphis colorata 'broad leaf') Brazilian Pennywort (Hydrocotyle leucocephala) Lobelia (Lobelia cardinalis) Golden Moneywort (Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea') Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus) Whorly Rotala (Rotala wallichii) Dwarf Sagittaria (Sagittaria subulata) Lizard's Tail (Saururus cernuus) Tall Aquatic Plants (31+ cm, thin) Lilacina (Alternanthera reineckii var. lilacina) Bog Scarlet Hygro (Alternanthera sessilis var. rubra) Pink Ammannia (Ammannia gracilis) "Hairy" Bacopa (Bacopa lanigera) Dwarf Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) Green Cabomba (Cabomba caroliniana) Chinese Ivy (Cardamine lyrata) Elodea (Egeria Densa) Stargrass (Heteranthera zosterifolia) Dwarf Hygrophila (Hygrophila polysperma) Sunset Hygro (Hygrophila polysperma 'Rosanervig') Dwarf Ambulia (Limnophila sessiliflora) Needle Leaf Ludwigia (Ludwigia arcuata) Narrow Leaf Ludwigia (Ludwigia repens x arcuata) Creeping Red Ludwigia (Ludwigia repens) Red Ludwigia (Ludwigia mullertii) Tilted Red Ludwigia (Ludwigia inclinata) Oval Ludwigia (Ludwigia ovalis) Glandular Ludwigia (Ludwigia glandulosa/perennis)

Madagascar Lagarosiphon (Lagarosiphon madagascariensis) Mayaca (Mayaca fluviatilis) Brazilian Milfoil (Myriophyllum aquaticum) Western Milfoil (Myriophyllum hippuroides) Red-Stem Milfoil (Myriophyllum matogrossensis) Southern Waternymph (Najas guadalupensis) Gayii (Potamogeton gayii) Mermaid Weed (Proserpinaca palustris) Dwarf Rotala (Rotala rotundifolia) Giant Red Rotala (Rotala macrandra) Tonina (Tonina sp.) "Corkscrew" Val (Vallisneria spiralis var. tortissima) Large Aquatic Plants (31+ cm, wide) Madagascar Laceleaf (Aponogeton madagascariensis) Orchid Lily (Barclaya longifolia) Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides) Broad-Leaf Water Sprite (Ceratopteris cornuta) Eichhornia (Eichhornia azurea) Amazon Sword (Echinodorus amazonicus) Ruffled Amazon Sword (Echinodorus martii (maior)) Ozelot Amazon Sword (Echinodorus x. 'Ozelot') Giant Hygrophila (Hygrophila corymbosa) Water Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis) Red and Blue Water Lily (Nymphaea stellata) Rubra Water Lily (Nymphaea sp. "rubra") Small-Flower Water Lily (Nymphaea micrantha) Banana Plant (Nymphoides aquatica) Tape Grass (Val) (Vallisneria spiralis)

Floating Aquatic Plants Duckweed (Lemna sp.) Amazon Frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum) Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) Aldrovanda (Aldrovanda vesiculosa) Azolla (Azolla filiculoides) Floating Watermoss (Salvinia natans) Eared Watermoss (Salvinia auriculata) Asian Watermoss (Salvinia cucullata)

Glossostigma elatinoides Crystalwort (Riccia fluitans) Fissidens fontanus Hydrocotyle tripartita

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