First post here at TPT, as the title states I recently (3-4 weeks) removed all of my plastic plants from my 29 gallon tank and planted some plants given to me by a friend. This aquarium has been established for about 2 years with a fairly light fish load. 3-5 tetras, 2 mollies, a platty, and a Chinese Alge Eater. It had the included Petsmart plastic hood made I believe by Aqueon, and a 7w t5 or t8.
After about a week of having the plants they started to loose their rich green color, and a few were turning brown. I assumed it was a lack of light, especially since the plastic that was under my hood light was very hazy and almost opaque.
My version of life support for the plants was placing a 65w compact florescent next to my tank for the next week a few hours at a time while I ordered new lights. See photo number 2.
Then I received a new 20W LED floodlight advertised as 6700K from ebay after seeing similar setups via google searches. It is mounted about 8-10 inches above the water line in my tank. I plan on adding a piece of glass to keep the fish in and evaporation down but for now the tank is open.
My first question is about substrate. I have rocks in the bottom of my tank now that I bought from Ikea, then boiled before adding them to my tank. They have been in there for a few years now. I was using an under gravel filter in addition to the HOB filters I used to have, but after a while I was getting some form of back alge? coming up the up tubes from my under gravel filter and I just turned the powerhead off to keep the "muck" under the rocks. It has been like that for about a year. You can see the black tube on the left of the tank. At the time I was also getting alge from too much window light at that time. About 6 months ago I moved the tank away from the window and the tank was mostly clear. Just some black alge on the rim of all my plastic plants. Since planting the tank there is almost no visible alge and the rocks are the cleanest they have ever been.
So now back to my question...
Should I remove the rocks and undergravel filter from my well established tank to add a better suited substrate for planting? Just add substrate on top of the current setup? Or plant as is?
Also how would I find out without a light meter what class of light I am in? I assume low-medium? or just low?
Looking forward to your advice,
Original Petsmart hood light...
Plant life support 65w CFL next to tank on right
New LED floodlight setup (poor photo quality) Looks much better in person.