Hello fellow Canadian,
So much text here makes me sleepier while studying for exams.
I have been reading lots on here, but can't seem to really find basic info...?
Go to Rex Grigg's website, www.rexgrigg.com
for all your planted tank care information.
Like whether I should run a sump or not. I'd like a sump, but have reads bit n pieces about a sump not being good on a low-tech tank...? Anyone care to elaborate on that please?
Sump would be nice but not neccessary for a successful planted tank. I don't know why it would be bad for a low-tech tank, doesn't seem to be a problem. A sump is just extra water in the system from what I know.
I hope to find some Amano shrimp, and Blood shrimp I think they're called. Now sure how many I should get...? I think I might use only moss plants, but may decide to add some others.
I haven't heard of blood shrimp. Amano shrimp yes. Maybe you meant cherry shrimp? They are great algae/detritus eaters, makes for great clean-up crew. Also, look into keeping a bunch of oto cats (otocinclus sp.) as they are almost in every planted tank because of their great algae-eating ability on certain types of algae.
Those little brown snails that come with plants often...are they good or bad? If they are bad, how do you get rid of them?
This is a debated topic. People do not like them because snails are prolific breeders and when left alone, can easily take over a tank within 1-2 months, making an unsightly scene. However, they are very effective detritus/algae eaters. My own opinion is that snails are good for planted tanks when their population are kept in check. It would not be a good idea to use chemicals to kill the snails. Most snail-killing chemicals will probably adversely hurt other inverts (like shrimp) as well. They are impossible to remove physically, but you can net them out or introduce a loach to eat them. You can also try a puffer, but I have read that they are very destructive little fish. Excess snail population is also a good indication of overfeeding.
For filtration, how many gph should I have? I was thinking I may go for a Rena canister, but would rather use the AquaClear 50 that I already have...would that work? Would it suck? HAHA! Other than floss, what medias should I use? Do I even need a filter? Or do I just need powerheads?
A filter is needed for water movement and removing debris. Also, even though plants are natural biological filters, biological filtration in your filter media is needed. In terms of filter media type, you can use a lot of things. Carbon is not used permanently because it adsorbs organic materials, which plants might need. But it is useful for removing tannins, heavy metals, clearing medication, etc. One thing many people overlook is water flow/movement in the tank. Plants can slow water movement a lot, and you want good water flow to keep nutrients moving for all the plants. If you have CO2 injected, you do not want to agitate the water surface too much as CO2 gas may gas out, but still have enough for good oxygen exchange. Powerheads are great for added water movement for the "dead" zones.
For lighting I was going to go with 2x 39w Tek T5 lights...enough light? Too much light?
Lighting amount depends on your goals. You don't need very high light to have a successful tank. High light means you will need CO2 injection, and things can go downhill faster in high-light tanks. A general rule of thumb is the watts per gallon rule (# of watts lighting / # of gallons of water). 3+ wpg is considered high light, less than 1 or 1.5wpg is considered lower light.
What about substrate? Is the RedSea Flora Base any good? It's the only one I've seen in the stores here. Otherwise I'll have to order online.
A good investment here will go a long way. But people have had success in a variety of different substrates. Other popular choices include SeaChem Flourite, Schultz Aquatic Soil, ADA aquasoil, Caribsea EcoComplete. Common silica sand, pool-filter sand, smaller-sized aquarium gravel can work too.
My understanding with low-tech tanks is no waterchanges and no fertilizer. Is that correct? What about supply water? I have an RO/DI unit for my reef tanks, should I use that? I have Kent RO Right, should I use that? What about pH buffer? Or just plain RO/DI? Or should I use tap water treated with Start Right? My tap water is 92 ppm tds.
Plants are highly adaptable to a variety of water parameters. Don't worry too much about pH, GH. You will need at least some buffering capacity (around 4+ degrees KH) to keep pH stable. Most important thing is stability. Pure RO is not needed as it doesn't contain any nutrients the plant might need. Regular tapwater is fine. However, RO can be reconstituted w/ salts, electrolytes, etcetera, or mixed w/ tapwater. Don't worry about tapwater, plants will adjust, but they need time to adjust, so keeping parameters stable is more important than an "ideal" level.
What's a good low-tech basic startup website?? Might help this abundance of questions...hahaha!
Probably as much as you need to know about low-tech setups.
The only reason I am wanting a sump is to hide the filter input/outputs, and the heater. Heaters are so ugly in the tank I think! I bet they are easier to hide in a planted tank though...I could put it way down near the substrate.
I think I might order from Big Als' Online to get some substrate. They have Flourite (red, dark, or black) 15lbs for $30, and Eco-Complete 20lbs for $35. Seems expensive though...? Looks like I should get about 2" substrate if I add 2 bags Eco-Complete and 1 bag Flourite. Sound good?
For snails, does that Aquarium Pharmaceuticals "Had-A-Snail" work? I could dip the plants before putting them in the tank maybe?
Sump is fine if you really want it. It's not required but it doesn't hurt either.
However, if you do choose no sump, then there are a lot of DIY ideas on this forum for in-line solutions. For example, a great one recently discussed: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/di...eater-56k.html
There's a good substrate amount calculator here: http://www.plantedtank.net/substratecalculator.html
The "had-a-snail" dip could work if you don't want snails.
GOOD LUCK W/ your tank!