New planted tank questions - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-22-2004, 03:17 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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Location: Somers, NY
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New planted tank questions


I'm converting my 55 FW Community tank to a planted tank and I had a few question. My goal is to low-medium light plants. The tank currently houses a mix of tropical fish (livebearers (platy/guppies,cherry barbs,a large pleco, and various corys). Filtration is via Emperor 400 powerfilter. Substrate is rounded small pebbles. I've already purchased the following to help with the conversion.

A bag of eco-complete substrate - to place around the newly introduced plants.

Two nutrifin Natural Plant Systems

For lighting I plan on purchasing a 2x65W Aqualight with 6700k bulbs.
Eventually I plan on swapping out the Emperor 400 for a canister.
For plants I plan on buying about 20-25 low light plants from


1. Will my pleco be plant safe? Its the biggest fish in the tank currently.
2. Will 1 bag of substrate be enough for my tank or should I get more?
3. What is the best way of securing the plants in the substrate? Planting blocks, metal/plastic clips, or those decorative lava rock planters?

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-22-2004, 03:46 PM
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Location: San Jose, CA
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Welcome to the forums Mike.

To answer your questions:
1) Not likely. Most large plecos aren't fitted for life in a planted tank. The commotion that they create can possibly uproot plants (especially before they're established). Also, their feeding habits can damage the plants themselves (if they don't consume them).

2) One bag of eco-complete really doesn't do much for the plants (even if you're just gonna lump them around the plants). You'll need about 5-6 bags (6 if you can afford to) of it to get a decent substrate bed going.

3) If the pleco is removed, there's really not much to it. The plants will root themselves over the course of time. If you really are interested in keeping them down, you can always go with plant weights.

Lastly, you might want to consider that canister sooner than later. The emperor 400 tends to churn the water over pretty well and constantly breaks the surface. This in turn will negate your efforts of adding any CO2 (another thing to upgrade, since with a tank of that size, having a pressurized system becomes more than a convenience).


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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-22-2004, 07:04 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Somers, NY
Posts: 110

Thanks for the advice. I ordered another 4 bags of Eco-Complete. I mixed in the 1 bag of Eco-Complete with my existing small gravel/pebble substrate since my substrate has been established for over a year. So in total I'll have 5 bags of Eco + my existing substrate. I also ordered a canister filter to replace my Emperor, I'll run them both for a bit get the bacteria colonies established in the canister before removing the Emperor. I'm going to move out the Pleco over the weekend to my Cichlid tank. I'm going to try the Hagan C02 system since I already have it but may upgrade to a automatic C02 later. I thought that for low/medium light C02 wasn't really required? I'm still researching on what plants to order but here is what I currently have in my list.

Hygrophilia Polysperma
Amazon Sword
Pennywort, Brazilian

Any recommendations on nice / hardy plants that do well in this environment? My lighting will be 2.36 WPG.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-23-2004, 12:13 AM
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CO2 isn't needed for low lights, but once you start tresspassing on the medium range (really anything over 2 wpg), CO2 really starts becoming more and more of a requirement if you do not want an algae farm. With more light, the plants need to be able to grow more quickly in order to out-compete the algae -- and they can not do this if they do not have an adquate supply of CO2 and/or fertilizers.

Eheim Pimp #50
110 liter heavily-planted
5lb Pressurized CO2
4.4 WPG PC 6700K
Eheim Classic 2215
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-23-2004, 01:12 AM
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Actually I think it really depends on the lights. 110 watts of AH Supply lights is going to give a lot more light than 110 watts of some other solution. And with the AH Supply lights CO2 would help.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-23-2004, 01:31 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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Location: Somers, NY
Posts: 110

The light I'm using is a Coralife Aqualight 2x65w. It has a reflector but its probably not very good. So basically CO2 helps the desirable plants outcompete the nuisance algae by promoting faster growth. Would something like a refugium help with nutrient export and help reduce nuisance algae? The reason I ask I use refugiums on my saltwater reef tanks and they have done well for keeping nuisance algae out of the main display. Is there a good macro-algae for use in freshwater refugiums?

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-23-2004, 02:56 AM
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While some people use a refugium on a planted tank I don't see the use. The plants do the job quite well. As I understand the workings of a refugium is that you put macro algae (there are no true salt water plants as I understand it, hence the use of algae) to use excess nitrates and phosphates. Well guess what! Plants in our tanks use nitrates and phosphates. In fact many of us have to ADD nitrates and phosphates to the tank to keep the plants healthy. Keeping algae under control in a planted tank means keeping the nutrients balanced. And light is a nutrient.

Take a minute and read my FAQ as I cover it in there.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-23-2004, 03:12 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Somers, NY
Posts: 110
Thanks for the info. Your FAQ page is very well done. Well I think I'm all set - hopefully once the canister filter arrives and is established I'll order my first batch of plants and post up some pics. I'll look into an automatic CO2 system as well, need to find a source locally for the tank first.

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