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Thanks, Gareth: Plant Experiment...WOW!

Posted By: Mr. Leadfoot <leadfoot@sbcglobal.net>
Date: Wednesday, 22 October 2003, at 7:34 p.m.

A while back during a plant thread, you mentioned something to the effect that plants don't really grow at the roots and at the leaves at the same time.

About a month ago, I had to reposition one of three HUGE Amazon Swords in my 29 gallon, because their growth has been phenomenal lately. (Some of you may recall I was having some kind of yellowing for no apparent reason, and fertilizers just made it worse.) Anyway they obviously recovered (shortly after I stopped ALL fertilizer; haven't used any since), and now these plants are SO big they're taking over the tank.

Anyway, I decided to move one sword from the front right corner to the back right corner of the tank. When I pulled it up, I had a mass of roots easily 3 ft. long. Remembering what you said about root vs. leaf growth, I hacked off all but about 3 inches of roots, and replanted. No problems with the plant at all. Last week, I noticed that plant is getting even bigger.

3 days ago I started consciously keeping an eye on the plant, and I am shocked to discover it's leaves are growing at a rate of what seems like about 1/2 inch a day! I kid you not. My mother is currently visiting and three days ago she commented on how beautiful my plants are. One leaf was about 2 inches from the water line Yesterday it was about 3/4 of an inch below, and today it's actually touching the water line!

This is amazing to me. I'm not sure if the modifications to my lighting have contributed that much...maybe they have. I've had a 65watt compact flourescent on the tank for at least six months, but here are the recent changes:

Full canopy added, painted white on the inside resulted in what seems like more light.

Two days later, an AH Supply reflector replaced my CustomSeaLife reflector, again seeming to result in more light.

Of course, the trimming (ok, hacking) of the roots.

Other plant care I do:

NO fertilizer
Overstock the tank

Tank runs sand as a substrate, and feeding for the past 3 months is limited to once a day.

While all factors above I'm sure contribute to overall outstanding plant growth, the plant that's shooting the moon right now is the only plant who's roots I trimmed.

Now, I'm not positive if trimming the roots has anything to do with the leaves starting to take off, but it sure seems like your theory is indeed correct to a certain extent. First, since all swords are about the same size, then all their roots must be all over the place, right? And, I'm thinking that once they got to a point where their root growth was slowed due to congestion, their health has improved drastically, and they really filled out width-wise. In fact, they're so dense, the fish no longer really swim through them, they have to swim AROUND them. But, now that the roots on that one plant were trimmed it's growing taller.

Rhetoric questions I now ponder are:

Why even bother with CO2?
Why bother fertilizing?
Am I just lucky?


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