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Plants for bare bottom, low light tank

This is a discussion on Plants for bare bottom, low light tank within the Plants for Enclosures and Vivariums forums, part of the Vivaria, Enclosures & Product Reviews category; Hi, I would like some advice regarding the use of plants that need substrate in a bare bottom tank. I ...

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Old 14th September 2010   #1 (permalink)
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Question Plants for bare bottom, low light tank

Hi,
I would like some advice regarding the use of plants that need substrate in a bare bottom tank.
I bought some potted plants before and they came in little plastic pots with lots of holes (I still have those) and the roots were wrapped in something that reminded me of rockwool. Can they grow from this in the long term? And where would I get this material?

I would appreciate any suggestions regarding the use of potted plants.
I had some dishes with substrate in my tanks before but they seemed to trap too much dirt even though I rinsed them quite often.

Another question (which has been asked before... I know):
Which plants will live, if not grow well in low light conditions?
I have java fern & moss and have just seen that some people recommended anubias (which need substrate (?) - so back to question 1).
Any other plants? I don't really want floating ones.

Many thanks for reading this and helping me out.
The tank is a 60l with 15W tube.
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Old 14th September 2010   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plants fo bare bottom, low light tank

Hi, Eva.
Anubias should do well, and you can just attach it to wood or rock. It should actually grow better like that than in substrate.
Elodea should be a good choice for you. It requires little light to survive and with the amount of light you have, which is about the same i have, it should grow very nicely.
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Old 14th September 2010   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plants fo bare bottom, low light tank

Elodea, also known as anacharis, is a great candidate for low light, bare bottom tanks. You can anchor it down with a rock or some other heavy object and it will flourish without any substrate.

I can't help with the potted plant question, I've just always took them out.

Dangit, Azhael beat me to the elodea.
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Old 14th September 2010   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plants fo bare bottom, low light tank

Thanks.
I tried elodea a few times and it always died
I am going to get some anubias - any recommendations regarding species?
I'm glad they can be grown with no substrate.

Last edited by evut; 14th September 2010 at 10:10.
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Old 14th September 2010   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plants fo bare bottom, low light tank

I think the problem with a bare bottom tank, that they are most of the time too clean. There is no food for the plants available, so they will end up dead.
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Old 14th September 2010   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plants fo bare bottom, low light tank

Ceratophyllum grows quite well in low light without substrate. The only major issue is that sudden changes in water temperature or chemistry can cause it to "shatter" or shed its leaves. It's best to acclimate the plant to your tank water just as you would a sensitive animal. Other than that it is practically foolproof. Aquarium stores, at least here, usually sell the tropical, soft-leaved C. submersum, which will do fine in cool water, but the cosmopolitan, rigid-leaved C. demersum (available from pond suppliers) will do even better.

Really, any "stem" plant will do OK without substrate, as they can absorb nutrients from the water column. Joost has a point about low nutrient availability in bare-bottom tanks. You may need to add a small amount of fertilizer periodically, or at least overfeed.
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Old 14th September 2010   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plants fo bare bottom, low light tank

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Originally Posted by evut View Post
I am going to get some anubias - any recommendations regarding species?
I have several Anubias barteri var. nana which are thriving in my low-light tank.
These aren't planted as such, are a dwarf variety, and are quite pretty (and cheap!)
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Old 14th September 2010   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plants fo bare bottom, low light tank

Cheap? Maybe where you live Ken, because they are bloody expensive here...xD
Anubias nana is a very good choice, but there are many varieties and species that will suit your needs.
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Old 14th September 2010   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plants fo bare bottom, low light tank

Thanks for the tips. I might put a thin layer of sand into the tank but it wouldn't be enough to hold plants properly.

How would you go about securing the stem plants into a place? I don't want them just floating around.
I just remembered I also have small terracotta rings and lead pieces which are meant to anchor plants. Would this be safe in a newt tank (I mean the lead)?
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Old 14th September 2010   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plants fo bare bottom, low light tank

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Would this be safe in a newt tank (I mean the lead)?
I was wondering the same thing.
The more I read about the metals strips, the more conflicting advice I find......
I started a thread on the matter a few days ago, but as yet it hasn't had a response (oh well!)
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Old 14th September 2010   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plants fo bare bottom, low light tank

Some but not all plant weights are lead. I would avoid them unless you know them to be of a non-toxic material. I've used stainless steel nuts and washers as weights; attach them to the plants with fishing line. You could also tie plants to driftwood or other hardscaping.
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Old 14th September 2010   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plants fo bare bottom, low light tank

You're right, Nathan. I am not going to use those lead (or whatever it is) bits - it seems too risky.
I still don't really know what to do with stem plants in this kind of set up, though.
I have tied java ferns to stones and wood and can imagine how this would work with anubias but not something like ludwigia (I have good experience with this plant so far)...?

Ken, where do you get your plants from? I can't find anubias cheaper than 5 a piece with free delivery on ebay.
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Old 14th September 2010   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plants fo bare bottom, low light tank

You really are limited to certain types of plants and those are the Anubis and Java ferns.

Also, read up on Anubis cause not all of it grows the same way. Some need to be wedged between rocks and dont do so good rubber banded around a piece of wood like others prefer. Some also still prefer substrate for rooting.

I never had any luck with Anacharis unless its planted in substrate or left to float freely. Mine always rots near the rocks that its wedged between and even rots when it just grows next to a piece of wood as long as its in contact with it.

Quote:
I think the problem with a bare bottom tank, that they are most of the time too clean. There is no food for the plants available, so they will end up dead.
This can be true but shouldnt be a problem when dealing with plants that get attached to rock or wood.
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Old 15th September 2010   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plants fo bare bottom, low light tank

I recently learned a trick for rooting plants on driftwood or lava rock. If you tie them on with cotton thread, the cotton will eventually dissolve. It lasts long enough for the plant to grow roots into the wood or porous rock. This works will with Java fern. I just started some like this, so I have yet to see how well it actually works.

Another thing you can try are small pots with actual dirt. Shown here:
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Old 15th September 2010   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plants fo bare bottom, low light tank

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Ken, where do you get your plants from? I can't find anubias cheaper than 5 a piece with free delivery on ebay.
I got mine from my local branch of 'Pets-at-home'. I think they were selling 4 for 10 (with free snails attatched,lol), rather than the normal 3.49 each.
I regularly visit the shop to check which, if any, items are reduced in price such is the 'scrooge' that I am.

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Old 17th September 2010   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plants fo bare bottom, low light tank

Our World of Water do 4 for 10 on plants but I'm not sure if they have Anubias (they certainly have a lot of drowning house plants...). I'll have to have a look.

I might also try potting them "Otterwoman-style" but I guess small terracotta planters would be better than the plastic holey ones. Not sure where to get those.
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Old 3rd November 2010   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plants fo bare bottom, low light tank

I'll try this:
put plant in a little clay pot filled w.sand, and a small layer of laterite clay at the bottom. I have no idea if it works though, and if this provides enough nutrients for plants
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Old 4th November 2010   #18 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plants for bare bottom, low light tank

That sounds good, Molch. Let us know how it works and post pictures if you can.

I put sand into both of my tanks but I think I might go back to bare bottom in one of them (the one with more animals and a lot of mess)...cleaning is quite annoying. I will probably have to feed bloodworms more often in winter which the newts seem to have difficulties picking up from the sand. With the bare bottom I didn't know the meaning of "leftover food". A feeding dish doesn't really help either because they throw so much of the food out of it before they even settle down and eat.

I got a couple of Anubias since I started this post and they seem to be growing well. I left them in the plastic pots and placed them behind a piece of wood. I will probably get more as replacements for some java ferns which always slowly die in my tanks. I also got a Cryptocoryne and it also looks like it might do well. I suppose trial and error is the only way to go with plants...what works for one person with their water parameters won't work for others.
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Old 5th November 2010   #19 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plants for bare bottom, low light tank

Set up my plants in pots yesterday...we'll see how that goes.

Also, there is a consideration on plant metabolism - my tanks are currently ca. 54 degrees, so the plants will be working a lot slower than at room temp. I assume they would need comparatively less nutrients then as well...but still : poop away ye newts!
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Old 15th March 2011   #20 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plants for bare bottom, low light tank

So after a couple of months my tanks are looking nice and green I have figured out that the main issue with my tanks is high alkalinity and water hardness. None of the popular plants like java fern&moss or elodea will live in these conditions.

I have kept sand in both tanks and got some new plant species, some of which are doing very well.
- of two anubias species, one survived and produced a flower, the other one kind of rotted away
- green and red Ludwigia are doing great (although with little light the red one is green rather than red)
- Ceratopteris and Cryptocoryne wendtii are doing well
- Sagitaria natans and Bacopa monnieri grow very slowly

...and then there's Ceratophyllum demersum, which grows like crazy...first plant that actually needs pruning.
I am wondering if it could be detrimental with such vigorous growth? (I remember vaguely reading somewhere that it takes out all nutrients...?)

Last edited by evut; 15th March 2011 at 11:24.
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