Below is a list of all the necessary equipment needed to keep a planted tank. For information on how to set this up check out the setting up the tank article.
Size of Tank
Tank dimensions really aren't that important but you should make sure that the tank isn't too tall. If you have a really tall tank the bottom of the tank won't receive much light at all. Try not to get a tank taller than 18 in. Also pay attention to the length. If you have an ackward length it will hard to find a hood to fit it. Try and find a tank with lengths just a tiny bit larger than common bulb sizes. Below are common bulb sizes.
A good beginner's tank size is between 20 and 55 gallons. They are a suitable size without spending too much money.
One of the most important parts (well atleast for the plants). It not only holds the plants in but provides the necessary nutrients for plant growth. That is why plain gravel in a planted tank normally is not enough. That is why we must add a source of nutrients. The cheapest and best way is too add flourite to the substrate along with thw gravel. How much? In general you should have 1.5 - 2 lbs. of substrate per gallon of water. Between 1/4 and 1/2 of this should be flourite. So for example in my 55 gallon tank I have 25 lbs of flourite underneath 75 lbs of plain gravel. By following the 1.5-2/gallon rule you should have around 4 in. of gravel, a fine base for the plants.
Most of the plants and fish commonly kept in aquariums are kept between temperatures of 72 - 83 F. Most people maintain a temp. of around 77-80. To keep this we must have heaters unless wherever the tank is kept is always a steady temperature. You should have between 4-6 watts of heating per gallon. It is normally best to evenly spread this out. In my 55 tank I have two 150 watt heaters. One at each end of the tank.
There are many different types of filtration available for your tank however by far the best are external filters. Do not, ever, use an Underground Gravel FIlter in a planted tank. The best choice for small tanks are power filters, the best choice for medium to large are cannisters or Hang on the back filters and for very large cannister filters are the best. Your filter should filter 5-6 times the amount of water of your tank per hour. So for a 20 gallon tank your filter should do atleast 100 gph, for a 50 gallon it should do 250-300 gph. Try to avoid wet/dry filters, sumps and trickle filters as the added air contact aids in CO2 loss.
For lighting click here. For CO2 click here.
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