1. Are the stems leggy?
2. Are the leaves broad and compact?
3. Is it an algae magnet?
4. are the old/bottom leaves holding up or melting?
5. is the color vibrant? red plants red? purple plants purple? green plants green?
6. any presence of leaf holes or melting anywhere?
7. too much root growth along the stems?
8. is it very invasive in growth pattern?
9. are leaves curling? bottom, new, or all?
10. when trimmed, how many new stalks grow out? or is there no new growth?
11. does it perl during photosynthesis?
12. does it grow thick and lush?
Ratings will be based on plants performance for the month. For this month, here are the list starting with the best plant.
1. Alternanthera Reinickii Mini
I finally figured out how to make plants such as this to turn red. A combination of iron, traces, and correct light wavelength certain does the job. I never seen this so red before, let alone in my tank! With its color standing out, it earn the right to be the top plant of the month!
2. Ammannia Sp. Bonsai (Rotala Indica)
This to me should have been the winning plant of the month if its tips had turned brown or red. Unfortunately it's a little too green at the moment. Regardless, it has grown compact, thick, vibrant, and organized. This is a plant that must be in any aquascape out there.
3. Limnophila Hippuroides
It does not grow fast compared to other stem plants. But it does not grow slow either. It is a huge plant but not too big for my tank. It will however need to occupy the whole left mound of the tank but that's fine. It's beauty gives it permission to do so. I also like that the older, bottom leaves are not rotting due to lack of light exposure. I've seen this plant look really bad in LFS's where older leaves just melt. The top leaves are growing more compact and purple even. I expect this plant to be the best in the tank someday.
4. Hydrocotyle Tripartita Japan
Many times did I fail in growing this plant. It grows, but look very unhealthy. Leaves curl, too much root growth along the stems, and gets covered by GDA and look like a mess. It's a totally different story this time. It just explodes in growth and very invasive. There are barely any curling leaves and no roots growing along the stems. I think this plant loves a lot of calcium and probably phosphate. The high amount of fertilizer dosing likely help get this plant grow really well this time.
5. Micranthemum Monte Carlo
It has grown to at least an inch thick in just a month. That's a good growth. In my previous tanks, it took me a much longer than that to be able to carpet the whole lawn. This time, it happened probably in just two weeks so this is a progression in terms on growing this plant. I will try to see how thick I can grow this until it starts to kill off bottom leaves.
6. Eleocharis Sp. Mini
It was not in my list of plants to use when I was still shopping for plants. I only noticed and realized that I can probably try this when I saw one. I thought at that time I will buy glosso. Fortunately I changed my mind then and bought this instead. good decision. I now know that this is an easy carpet plant to care for. it also grows thick, lush, and naturally messy. I plan to move this in the new living room tank as its primary carpet plant
7. Pogostemon Helferi Downoi
This plant is the slowest grower in the tank. It grows upwards though so it might not be getting enough CO2. Or maybe the tank is too deep for it? I will try to plant some of these in the new, shallow tank and observe the difference. In any case, I am happy that I'm able to grow these plants without issue. I was concerned from the beginning when I got this plant as it has this reputation of being a difficult plant to grow.
8. Hygrophila Araguaia
I don't have issues with its growth rate or quality. it also crawls nicely and there were no melting leaves at all. Leaves turn dark brown (in a good way) when exposed to red spectrum lights (giesemann super flora). What I don't like is its size and messy growing habit. it is just everywhere and clumping together and sticking as close as it can to the soil. to me, it's an eye sore. Perhaps there's a nice layout that this plant fits in but it's certainly not this tank. So the plan is to move this out and try planting in the other (new) tank soon.
9. Ludwigia Sp. Guinea
This is a beautiful plant. I didn't know this plant before until I found it in when I was shopping for tissue cultured plants. It's a good decision to pick this up. It is not a demanding plant and can grow really good red and green mix in the leaves. It grow very leggy using EVO LED light which was mixed with the T5HO's. Now that I am using T5HO's exclusively, it grows more compact and wider leaves.
10. Rotala Macrandra
It has the reputation as one of the hardest plant to grow but that's not the issue I have with it. In fact I find its growth rate a little too fast. The problem was the quality of growth. It grew "stemmy" and distance between leaf nodes is very high. Leaves are thin and long, a direct contrast to the thick, wide, and short leaves I see on the internet. Color is pale yellow and just a hint of red. I'm suspecting it was due to exposure from Green Element EVO LED light. I was using it along with the T5 light during the first two weeks. It seems that It has very strong PAR and forces the plant to grow too fast while not being able to provide enough CO2. since I removed the LED and increase the distance of T5 from plants to reduce intensity and increase spread, the plant grow more compact and wider and shorter leaves. The color is still yellow though so that's another issue I have to address in the future.
There were no issues with growing this plant, but it does not look very attractive to me. I guess this plant is suited for much larger tanks. It has thin, long, and twisted leaves and I'm not sure how to grow them to be more compact. As easy it is to grow them, I will have to remove them to give space to other plants more suited in the tank.
12. Proserpinaca Palustris
I have very high expectation with this plant. It was to me the most beautiful plant among the 12 species in the tank. It grew fast, but the quality is way below what I expected. It suffered with the same "stemmy" issue as rotala macrandra. It is also very green. I only start to see new growth turning orange when I switched the light to Giesemann (super flora and tropic). After trimming, new growth is still slightly green but more compact now. I guess that EVO LED is not really meant to turn plants red... or maybe I'm not using it right.