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Question of the Day What plant always gives you trouble?


Staff member
Founding Member
  • Oct 29, 2022
    Miami, FL
    No matter how experienced you are, there is always one plant (at least one) that gives you a hard time. Sometimes, it just won't grow in your aquarium. I call it the nemesis plant.

    After years of trying with Rotala wallichii, this is how I get when I see it:

    What's your nemesis plant?​

    I have had many over the years.

    Sometimes it is with what are considered “easy” plants, and the funny thing is they often fail right next to what are considered “difficult” plants that are flourishing. I’ve killed common plants like Staurogyne Repens and AR Mini many times over the years.

    The question is always……why?

    I think that takes us to a broader topic. Do different species of plants have different optimal parameters that they prefer? Light? CO2? Nutrients? Substrates? IMO the answer is yes. And it’s a good thing to understand.

    A tank that grows Wallachii well may have a hard time with nutrient hogs like Pantanal. A tank full of hungry Ludwigia’s may do poorly with Ammannia’s. And the lists can go on and on.

    To me one of the difficult parts of the hobby is to realize you can’t please all the plants all the time in the same tank. Many times when you start trying to chase parameters to keep one species happy others suffer.

    I’ve said this many times but the hobby becomes a lot easier and enjoyable if you stick with plants that like the soup you are serving.
    the Golden Nasaea, it will just turn sad instantly, looks perfect today next day its curling
    There are a number of people that are growing beautiful Nesaea under non-co2 conditions with cool temperatures, 0 dKH, and low dGH in deep aquasoil. These are the types of parameters that favor Caridinia types of shrimp... but also grows many challenging species of plants really well. These plants grow slowly under these conditions, but without the trouble of curling/stunting.

    Go over to the member tanks area and look @sudiorca posts there.

    I used to grow this in lean dosing with highlights. stable lean collumn and urea+nh4. Also rich soil. Very rarely I had a problem with this plant when grown in soil.
    Now in my sand tanks I struggle a little. But I feel I am Getting somewhere


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    I have the hardest time with Rotala Florida. I absolutely love the bright green stem and vibrant pink/red/purple of the leaves, but one day it's growing great, then the next day I glance at it wrong and all 5 stems seem to wither away instantly. But I will try again and again!
    Looking good! How did you do it? What made the difference?
    Low Ca/Mg (5:2)
    kH 0
    Very stable and consistent dosing and co2. (Probably the most important). This plant is very slow to usntunt.
    Dosing very little K, something like 0.5ppm weekly.
    Nitrogen in ammoniacal+urea form.
    With this inert substrate method the plant can be replanted and topped without much issues.

    This experiment will shortly come to an end. I will post a final pic. I will move on to testing Marian's methods. I heard he can grow a couple plants😉.
    I’m currently at war with Hydrocotyle Tripartita Japan. I recently re-scaped, and planned on a whole section of this plant growing in and around some driftwood. I bought 2 TC cups, broke it up into pieces, and planted it into the substrate (UNS Controsoil- Fine). The next day, it was all floating. So, I broke it into smaller pieces and planted it deeper. By the next day, it was floating. “OK you little f!@ker, I’m using lead plant weights”. I made little horseshoes from lead plant weights and “stapled” the plant to the substrate. My plan was to give it a few weeks to properly root, then remove the weights. The light came on the following morning and, low and behold, the plants were… floating again. No effing clue how they weren’t held down by the lead weights, but they managed to creep out from underneath and float away. I’ve completely given up on it at this point, and am looking for a different plant to put in it’s place.
    Aponogeton madagasgariensis.

    This is supposed to be a relatively easy plant. I've never done well with it for more than a few months. I've had other Aponogetons with annoyingly robust health and growth. Maybe the bulb needs a rest period. I dunno.
    They are a species for which a rest period is listed as mandatory though mine have gone a couple of years without one; they also can be sensitive to temp and water condition - a bit depends on the specific species you have - the book i have describe them as follows:
    (paraphrase not exact quote) "this plant generally does not do well in the aquarium because few aquarist meet its demanding requirements; it should be kept in soft acidic water with strong current and modest light. The temp should be appropriate to the species depending on cultivated location (sadly the book does not list the various temp ranges for the various species but indicate they are radically different from each other); it does require regular rest period but no dry period; a rich as possible soil with humus content"; the book also note that during rest period the temp should be cooler and less light.
    I believe of the commonly available aponogeton that does not require a rest period is cripus.
    Of the common plants the one that i alway seem to fail at is that dwarf red reineckii - whatever they call it these days - i speculate my problem is refusal to use a rich substrate but who knows; the various rotala (ha'ra and blood) seem to grow like weeds but give me some reineckii and i'll rot it away.
    Utricularia graminifolia. 0/5 on that one. Had some grow for a bit semi-emersed on some wood at the top of a scape but my vampire crabs ripped the heck out of it so that was the end of that.