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Hi All,
I am brand new to the forum, and I am looking for a little bit of assistance. I have been keeping cichlids for about 5 years, and I currently have a 55 gallon aquarium with more mild mbuna and several peacocks. I am looking to plant the tank as well as I can without getting into CO2 systems as I am on a time/expense limitation as a student. I recently tied an Anubias species of plant to some rockwork to see if my tank would just foster plants well without my researching it further, but this didn't prove to be the case (yellowing of leaf tips and slow death of individual leaves.....possibly nitrogen deficient??). I would appreciate any advice that you more experienced hobbyists may have when it comes to starting the planting process as well as reaching the limits of a tank like mine. Thanks in advance for your help.

Some tank specs:
-55g long
-1 30 watt 36inch 5700k bulb (more than 1 year old)
- Sand substrate
-river rock- rockscape
-1 aquaclear 300 filter
-1 eheim powerhead
-temperature at 78 deg F

Stock: 3 rusty cichlids (1M, 2F), 1 red zebra, 1 yellow lab, 1 taiwan reef peacock, 1 lemon jacobfreibergi, 1 red jacobfreibergi, 1 pictus catfish

currently: no fertilizer, poor lighting, and biweekly waterchanges of 20%
 

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I previously tried a planted tank with my peacocks. I had approximately 2 WPG and grew vals, onion plant, anubias, java fern, crypts and giant hygro. There was no problem getting growth and none of the fish ate or disturbed the plants. I fertilized with Excel and occasionally Flourish, but otherwise didn't do much. I was just unable to keep the black beard algae to a reasonable level, however, and I ultimately pulled up all the plants. There is a way to have a low-tech, lower light tank, I'm told, without undue algae, but I've never succeeded at it. Once I turn on the lights sufficient to grow plants, I ended up with algae. So I always do high light with C02 instead.

You don't even have low light. You basically have no light, so I'm not surprised that even the anubias couldn't make it.

You'll need to get a higher wattage light in a plant-friendly spectrum, leave it on for 8-10 hours a day to have a chance at plants. A plant-friendly substrate, such as Eco-Complete helps (as to root fertlizer tabs) so you're not introducing nutrients into the water column for the algae. Some faster growing plants also help, such as wisteria and giant hygro, in addition to slow growers such as anubias or java fern.

Good luck
 
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