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Trying to get plants to grow tall and green with minimal adventitious roots and less plants turning brown

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I recently started to plant my 3-year established cycled 65 gal (24" tall) tank with live plants because I was unable to keep my nitrates below 35-40 with weekly 50% water changes. I have about 30 fish in the tank all under 3" but it seemed to be a heavy fish load. The Nitrates have come down to about 20-30ppm since adding the plants. I'm running the Fluval 3.0 (24/7) plant light with the setting set to the same settings as plant pro Bentley's day-sim video on Youtube. My tank is a hard water tank. (PH 8.2), (GH 15) (KH 10) Phosphorus 1ppm. I have a mix of high/med/low light plants in the tank. I dose thrive (all in 1) liquid fertilizer (2 ml daily) plus and additional 2ml of API leaf zone (Iron and Potassium) because my plants are showing signs of potassium shortage. I also dose Seachem Excel at 5ml daily. Plants include 1 bunch of moneywort, 1 bunch of bacopa, 1 anubias nana petite on a rock, 1 anubias barberi on Driftwood, 1 (3" x 5" mat) Hydrocotyle tripartita Japan, 1 (3" x 5" mat) Dwarf Hair Grass, 1 rock with dwarf baby tear attached to it and 1 bunch of mystery plant I just thought looked awesome at Petco. All bunches have been separated, trimmed and planted in the substrate. The moneywort and bacopa bunches were planted in a homemade plant box that contains a small amount of organic potting soil topped with gravel to hold the soil in place. The main tank substrate is just gravel that has been in the tank for all 3 years under the heavy fish load. The mats are sunk into the gravel. Now that you have all the needed background info... My questions are, why are all the bunched plants getting huge amounts of adventitious roots instead of growing tall? Why is my dwarf hair grass turning brown? Why are my Hydrocotyle, mystery plant and anubias plants all still acting like they aren't getting enough potassium (Holes in Leaves)? Could this all just be the dying back process from being recent additions or is it more? Also, I just purchased a CO2 system. Should I hook that up right away or wait until the problems with my plants are resolved? I don't want to make the issues worse?

Edited by Ann1874
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Okay. Lots of questions. Let me see what I can handle here. As to adventitious roots, they're just part of life. Stem plants are going to put out roots along their stem. It's what they do. As long as there are nutrients in the water, they'll put out roots to try and suck up more and more of those nutrients.  Basal branching plants like water sprite won't put out the roots, but they'll fill your tank with plantlets that propagate off the older stems. It's possible one or more of your fish are responsible for the holes in your plants. An established tank with thirty fish is probably not unduly suffering from any serious nutrient or trace element deficiencies. (Unless you're using RO water that you don't remineralize.) You can probably back off a bit on adding more nutrients. Too much in the way of trace elements can be as bad, or worse, than not enough. There's a reason they're called trace minerals and not essential minerals. They're supposed to be found in small quantities. Humans need certain vitamins (vitamin D for example), but too much of those same vitamins can kill you. It's pretty much the same with plants. More is better isn't always the way to go when it comes to trace elements. As to the CO2. It shouldn't make any plant issues worse. If you use too much it can adversely affect the fish, but the plants love CO2. It shouldn't bother your plants and might give them a boost.

I've been keeping fish most of my life (I'm now 62) and there are some plants that just won't grow for me. I accept that and use the plants in my tank that do well instead of fighting a losing battle to try and keep plants that don't do well. What plants will do well in your tank? That's what you're learning now. I'd love to see fish stores sell variety packs of plants. They could be baby plants that are typically unsellable at a small size, but that would take off and grow in the right setting. A small water sprite, a stem or two of various stem plants, a small java fern (nearly impossible to kill so the buyer is sure to get something to live) and maybe a floating plant or two. Toss them in a bag with some water and slap a $5 price tag on it. A hobbyist could then test out various plants in their setup for a minimal investment. Baby plants are cheap and insanely easy to propagate. A small val taken from a runner or a baby sag could let the customer know what might grow well for them. If they have any planted display tanks they're likely weeding out excess growth on a weekly basis anyway, so bag it up and sell it.

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1 hour ago, Tami said:

@gardenmanI couldn't agree more! I am more anxious about my plants dying, they aren't cheap! and I really want live plants.  Everyone says buy a bunch and figure out what grows for you - at $6-12 a pop thats a little rough.

Yeah, I'm the same way. It's a gamble when you buy new plants. A small sample pack of young plants would be a neat way to introduce people to live plants. You wouldn't be selling large, show quality plants, but it would give shoppers a chance to try a variety of plants for a relatively low investment. Things like floaters grow so well that you could even give them away to customers. I threw away a big bowl of excess floaters yesterday. Stem plants could be cut into three or four inch lengths and just a single stem of several different ones put in the bag. Once buyers knew a plant lived in their tank they might be more willing to invest in a bigger, showier version. I'd gladly pay $5 for a sample bag of young aquarium plants to play with.

There used to be Martin's Aquarium in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania and they also had a satellite store in Cherry Hill, NJ and they gave away a free bag of either fish or live food at the checkouts with any purchase. You could get a pair of mollies, platies, swordtails, or some brine shrimp or blood worms for free. It was pretty neat. They ended up selling more tanks as the "free" fish bred like crazy and outgrew their old tanks and the free food would be so greedily gulped down by the fish that the recipient would become a regular buyer of their live food. Over the long term they made more money from the "free" stuff than it cost them to give the stuff away. 

I recently bought a Pogostemon Stellatus Octopus that had about eight 6" long stems in it. It cost me about $10.  It likely cost the retailer a lot less. Suppose you took those eight stems and cut them in half. You'd now have sixteen 3" lengths of Pogo. Could you pop one of those shorter stems of pogo, a baby water sprite, a short length of elodea, a piece or two of frogbit, and maybe a few strands of java moss into a bag and sell it for $5 and not lose money? Probably. Making up the bags could be done on slow days. It would seem very doable. Odds are at least one of the plants would survive so the customer wouldn't face a total loss and once they knew the little plant lived they would likely come back to get a bigger one. It would largely remove the gamble from buying plants. Even if just one plant lived, you'd have gotten your money's worth.

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