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Hi there, quick question about watering vivarium plants... I have an 18x18x24 that has been setup and planted since mid April. I have started losing some of the plants that were seeming to be doing well up until recently. I have been trying to eliminate possible causes and am wondering about the use of RO water without a primary inhabitant in the tank (will eventually be a crested gecko). I have been using RO the entire time and have just heard that it may be harmful to the plants if there is nothing making waste for the microfauna to break down into minerals/nutrients. Would it be a good idea to add some sort of supplement to the water? I have a healthy population of springtails and isopods with live oak leaf litter and NEHERP v2 substrate. I lost a P depressa, P caldierei (not dead yet but pulled from viv) and have a Peperomia scandens and cubensis that are turning pale/yellow (scandens is pale, cubensis is yellowing) other plants are doing fine (Pothos, P. repens , rabbits foot and mahogany ferns) . I pulled the substrate yesterday to check for drainage issues and all seemed well (moist but not wet/soggy and roots seemed healthy). I don’t think the lighting is terrible (3 Cree 5k 2000lm leds) but could be wrong... that is next on the list to check.

Thanks, Nick


Viv progress pics https://imgur.com/gallery/Ek0Crvt
 

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In vivs that have animals that do not drop waste on (epiphytic) plants, and in vivs with no vertebrate inhabitants, I fertilize the plants routinely. I use Peters 15-5-15 Cal-Mag fertilizer, but only because that's what I have around; anything, really, will do.

Looking at the pics (nice viv, BTW -- love the horizontals and the cork cavern up top), I don't see ventilation. Plants do well with lots of fresh air, and if they don't get enough this could be a contributing factor.
 

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Hi there, quick question about watering vivarium plants... I have an 18x18x24 that has been setup and planted since mid April. I have started losing some of the plants that were seeming to be doing well up until recently. I have been trying to eliminate possible causes and am wondering about the use of RO water without a primary inhabitant in the tank (will eventually be a crested gecko). I have been using RO the entire time and have just heard that it may be harmful to the plants if there is nothing making waste for the microfauna to break down into minerals/nutrients. Would it be a good idea to add some sort of supplement to the water? I have a healthy population of springtails and isopods with live oak leaf litter and NEHERP v2 substrate. I lost a P depressa, P caldierei (not dead yet but pulled from viv) and have a Peperomia scandens and cubensis that are turning pale/yellow (scandens is pale, cubensis is yellowing) other plants are doing fine (Pothos, P. repens , rabbits foot and mahogany ferns) . I pulled the substrate yesterday to check for drainage issues and all seemed well (moist but not wet/soggy and roots seemed healthy). I don’t think the lighting is terrible (3 Cree 5k 2000lm leds) but could be wrong... that is next on the list to check.

Thanks, Nick


Viv progress pics https://imgur.com/gallery/Ek0Crvt
I have a growout tank going in my basement for plants. I have taken to using water from my freshwater planted aquarium to water the plants. So they are getting fertilizer from the aquarium plus fish waste.

I have nothing to back it up, but I suspect all in one freshwater planted aquarium fertilizers to be fairly safe for vivarium use when there are no critters in them. They are designed for use with a variety of inhabitants including aquatic amphibians and inverts. I like Nicolg Thrive fertilizer personally but there are lots of options out there.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks so much for the responses! The two fertilizers mentioned, do you guys dilute them a lot or use the manufacturers recommendations? Here’s a couple pics of the plants mentioned...

 

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Umm...I just mix in some dry fert with the water whenever I feel like it -- probably a little weaker than label directions, and less frequently, I suppose.

My lawn is on a fert schedule, but since I started keeping dart vivs I have cut way back on all my "potted" plant fert usage. Plants grow really well with very little fertilizer added, and I learned this from seeing plants in vivs grow with very little nutrients (and very little light, BTW).
 
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Its hard to tell but without some sort of nutrient input some plants will not do well. However you should also know that in the heat of the summer like this its not uncommon to have plants go down hill. The same thing happens again in the dead of winter. Humidity and temperature cause issues.
 

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I love your vivarium. What are you using for light? Were the plants you lost in the soil or attached to the background? If they were in the soil I don't think you would have used up the nutrients in good soil yet if it was only planted since April. Just trying to see if its a cheap Amazon LED not designed to have 24" of light penetration.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Hi, thanks! I’m using 3 18 watt 5000k led lights by Cree from Home Depot. They aren’t plant lights but are rated at 2000 lumens. I was using 1600lm 5000k cfl bulbs from HD before that people seem to have some success with and these are markedly brighter. 3 of the 4 plants were in the substrate on the bottom. The P scandens is on the BG near the top. This is the P caldeirei that I yanked out to try and save. It was growing pretty well at first and was much darker. It also had some strange looking new growth that I pruned off that isn’t in the pic, all white and convex new leaves.





Viv progress pics https://imgur.com/gallery/Ek0Crvt
 

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I have a growout tank going in my basement for plants. I have taken to using water from my freshwater planted aquarium to water the plants. So they are getting fertilizer from the aquarium plus fish waste.

I have nothing to back it up, but I suspect all in one freshwater planted aquarium fertilizers to be fairly safe for vivarium use when there are no critters in them. They are designed for use with a variety of inhabitants including aquatic amphibians and inverts. I like Nicolg Thrive fertilizer personally but there are lots of options out there.
I do this as well. I have a fry tank and I'll use a pipette to water the base of my plants with the waste-rich gunk at the bottom during cleanings.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Just wanted to put up an update. A couple weeks after making a change in lighting (thanks Mike from NEHERP for reaching out to me) I’m seeing a pretty dramatic turn around in the plants that are currently in the viv. New growth looks great and some old growth is getting greener.

New growth

Old growth starting to darken


Thanks everyone for all of your input and advice!


Viv progress pics https://imgur.com/gallery/Ek0Crvt
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Lighting was the issue. 2 13w jungle dawn bulbs turned it around. Was using 3 100w equivalent 5000k Home Depot leds. Plants were losing color/dying. The cheap bulbs were much brighter but I now know that lumens aren’t everything : )


Viv progress pics https://imgur.com/gallery/Ek0Crvt
 

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Ah ok. Glad you got it sorted out. I was of a doubt it was your soil but good to know the cause. I am struggling with my Dracula lotax right now :/

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Lighting was the issue. 2 13w jungle dawn bulbs turned it around. Was using 3 100w equivalent 5000k Home Depot leds. Plants were losing color/dying. The cheap bulbs were much brighter but I now know that lumens aren’t everything : )
I'm glad you improved your situation. I've used Jungle Dawn lights in the past, and they do grow plants well.

I think all of this is consistent with your previous lighting setup providing too much light -- this could have been the issue. Plants do bleach out when over-illuminated, and reducing wattage seems to be remedying things. Just something to consider by anyone in a similar situation reading this in the future, I guess. :)
 

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Hi there, quick question about watering vivarium plants... I have an 18x18x24 that has been setup and planted since mid April. I have started losing some of the plants that were seeming to be doing well up until recently. I have been trying to eliminate possible causes and am wondering about the use of RO water without a primary inhabitant in the tank (will eventually be a crested gecko). I have been using RO the entire time and have just heard that it may be harmful to the plants if there is nothing making waste for the microfauna to break down into minerals/nutrients. Would it be a good idea to add some sort of supplement to the water? I have a healthy population of springtails and isopods with live oak leaf litter and NEHERP v2 substrate. I lost a P depressa, P caldierei (not dead yet but pulled from viv) and have a Peperomia scandens and cubensis that are turning pale/yellow (scandens is pale, cubensis is yellowing) other plants are doing fine (Pothos, P. repens , rabbits foot and mahogany ferns) . I pulled the substrate yesterday to check for drainage issues and all seemed well (moist but not wet/soggy and roots seemed healthy). I don’t think the lighting is terrible (3 Cree 5k 2000lm leds) but could be wrong... that is next on the list to check.

Thanks, Nick
It may sound a bit counter-intuitive, but one nutrient that most folks forget about is salt. All organisms, even plants and freshwater animals need at least trace amounts of salt. RO water has no salt at all.
 
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