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Old 01-01-2013, 09:59 AM   #1
Locke2904
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Where to start


Hello, I just ran into this site while looking for driftwood and grass/plants for my aquarium... Really glad I ran into this before I tried to get everything and drop it in my tank.

Apparently, this is a lot more work than I had originally thought so I would like to ask some opinions on how to approach this without drowning in all the information available here.

I am going for a bayouish-look brackish setup, but i want live plants (I live in south LA). Ideally, just some beginner grass and some plants that will populate on driftwood and maybe something else that would require a little more effort to maintain (just for experience).

Currently, I have 4 endlers, 10 ghost shrimp, 6 mystery snails, and a common plecto (don't think I can keep the plecto in the tank once the salt is added though) in a 20G tank (24x12x16). I also have 4 10G tanks (12x20x10, pet fancy mice moved to a more interesting caged environment, no hoods/lights). Eventually, I want to get enough experience to convert to a 75G or bigger for silver-tipped catfish/sharks. My only complaint about this tank is the dim lights/lighting it came with and I wanted a "long" tank, but the price was right at the time.

Unfortunately, I already have silver-tips and think I will be returning them as I was not notified that while they reside in a 20G tank at the store, 20G is incredibly small for these little guys.

Grass in KyleT's Tank

What type of grass would i need to get a look similar to this and just how much effort is involved? I also have sand in the bottom of my tank right now and would like to have dirt/mud but I am quite unsure the impact that would have on the fish. Any suggestions for acquiring a feel/look like that?

I am a 3D animator by trade so my time is incredibly limited, but some of the brackish setups I have seen are incredibly inspiring to watch (procedural animation on underwater plants and fish swimming, etc... lots of physics/math). Really hope that this is something I can achieve.

Thanks for any advice or direction!

Last edited by Locke2904; 01-01-2013 at 10:42 AM.. Reason: More information
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Old 01-01-2013, 02:22 PM   #2
keithy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Locke2904 View Post
Hello, I just ran into this site while looking for driftwood and grass/plants for my aquarium... Really glad I ran into this before I tried to get everything and drop it in my tank.

Apparently, this is a lot more work than I had originally thought so I would like to ask some opinions on how to approach this without drowning in all the information available here.

I am going for a bayouish-look brackish setup, but i want live plants (I live in south LA). Ideally, just some beginner grass and some plants that will populate on driftwood and maybe something else that would require a little more effort to maintain (just for experience).

Currently, I have 4 endlers, 10 ghost shrimp, 6 mystery snails, and a common plecto (don't think I can keep the plecto in the tank once the salt is added though) in a 20G tank (24x12x16). I also have 4 10G tanks (12x20x10, pet fancy mice moved to a more interesting caged environment, no hoods/lights). Eventually, I want to get enough experience to convert to a 75G or bigger for silver-tipped catfish/sharks. My only complaint about this tank is the dim lights/lighting it came with and I wanted a "long" tank, but the price was right at the time.

Unfortunately, I already have silver-tips and think I will be returning them as I was not notified that while they reside in a 20G tank at the store, 20G is incredibly small for these little guys.

Grass in KyleT's Tank

What type of grass would i need to get a look similar to this and just how much effort is involved? I also have sand in the bottom of my tank right now and would like to have dirt/mud but I am quite unsure the impact that would have on the fish. Any suggestions for acquiring a feel/look like that?

I am a 3D animator by trade so my time is incredibly limited, but some of the brackish setups I have seen are incredibly inspiring to watch (procedural animation on underwater plants and fish swimming, etc... lots of physics/math). Really hope that this is something I can achieve.

Thanks for any advice or direction!
The grass looks like dwarf hairgrass. But I don't know if it would survive in a brackish water condition.
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Old 01-01-2013, 02:47 PM   #3
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Might want to think about doing something about that pleco first. Plants probably won't work well with it and it will get way to big for a 20g.
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:46 PM   #4
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I agree about the pleco - it is in no way suited to a tank that size. Common plecos get huge and produce massive amounts of waste. You'll need to rehome it asap.
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Old 01-01-2013, 05:56 PM   #5
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The plecto is roughly a year @ 3.5". He was just relocated from a 10G with 5 mollies.

He seemed very active and content in the 10G, but I wanted to move him to the new tank so he could have more room. The plecto will go into in-laws 55G when I need to move him.

Quote:
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The grass looks like dwarf hairgrass. But I don't know if it would survive in a brackish water condition.
- Thanks. I meant to ask, in a brackish setup, what would be the ideal plant to use to get that look/feel, not necessarily what that specific grass is.
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Old 01-01-2013, 06:16 PM   #6
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Vallisneria and Crinum calamistratum can tolerate light brackish conditions (up to around 1.005). Here's a list of plants that can tolerate light brackish conditions.
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Old 01-02-2013, 03:09 PM   #7
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micro sword can grow in brackish conditions and is an easy less light demanding than other foreground plants. Here is a link to the plant profile http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...pec=Foreground

It will have the same effect as the DHG, however the leaves are somewhat more robust then the other foreground options. All in all it will tolerate brackish conditions can be grown in moderate lighting and is grass like.


On a side if the lights looks dim, the bulbs may need to be replaced. Or possibly upgrading from what you have now to a better one, hard to say as I didn't see any info on what lighting you currently have.

If you want fast growth of this plant co2 and ferts are worth looking into. Co2 can be done with a pressurized setup (unsure of you budget), a DIY yeast Co2 (plenty of how to threads in the DIY section of this forum), or dosing something like flourish excel as a source of carbon.

Ferts can be home mixed using methods found in the ferts section or purchasing premixed ferts from local fish store and following dosing instructions from the label.


Your best bet is to read as much as you can before buying. You can learn a lot from this forum if you look at the journals from other peoples setups.
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:50 AM   #8
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Thanks for the information.

I really like the idea of trying to get some Crinum Thainum for the back, Villigneria Nana for the middle, and a mix of java moss and Spagetti Algae for the foreground or preferably some Lilaeopsis nova "mini" for foreground (found in a thread here). Would that be a tolerable selection/mix to start with?

When I googled around for micro sword I found the Lilaeopsis nova here in the forums and I really like the short mini sword grass look.

As for budget, I am looking to spend a couple hundred for the setup. This is actually something I have been interested in for a long time and I would really like to dedicate some of my time to it.

On a side note, for driftwood preference I thought about heading to the bayou and getting some cypress, but before I make a rash decision like that as a total beginner I would like some direction on that.
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:08 AM   #9
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Hi Locke,

If you haven't already, check out The Southeast Louisiana Aquarium Society (SELAS).

While this is the best and most active forum for planted tank info, SELAS is a great local resource for trading plants, equipment, or regional info. Quite a few members have planted tanks.
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:44 AM   #10
Locke2904
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Thanks DarkCobra!

I had to dial way back and reassess what I plan to do... instead of dealing with plants, i think it will be a little better to plan and purchase what i need to keep them healthy. Though knowing what I want to put in the tank is a good start I hope.

Seachem Onyx Sand and some better lighting - I am still having trouble grasping the WPG rule. I think 2 23 Watt CFL Spiral Lamps at 6,500 Kelvin might work for this tank??

I think a Co2 pressurized DIY system will be in the works soon as well.

Rex's Planted Tank Guide seems to be what I really needed at first, but there are still a lot of variables that you can't possibly prepare for without experienced help or being Rex .

Last edited by Locke2904; 01-03-2013 at 10:13 AM.. Reason: Additional Information
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Old 01-03-2013, 03:32 PM   #11
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Ok then, plant care checklist time.

Substrate: There are pros and cons to all. I feel this is a highly personal selection, with no best choice.

Lighting: The old WPG "rule" is applicable to T8 fluorescent tubes only. It never was that accurate, and with any other lighting type it's completely irrelevant. Forget you ever heard about it. I'd say your stated lighting selection will put you at medium-low light in a 20G. Enough to grow a wide selection of plants, including many carpets/lawns; yet not so high that the tank is prone to algae outbreaks if you don't keep everything under perfect control. 6,500K is also a good color temperature, both for plants and for overall appearance.

CO2: A DIY CO2 system is a good choice to begin with. I do recommend you get a drop checker, which when filled with a 4 KH solution and a few drops from a pH test kit, will allow you to monitor tank CO2 levels. Getting the gaseous CO2 efficiently dissolved in the tank is a whole topic by itself. Alternately, at this lighting level you could supply sufficient carbon to keep plants healthy by dosing a liquid source, like Seachem Excel. But the amount of carbon this can provide is limited, and far less than plants can actually use with this lighting; so you will see far faster growth with CO2.

Flow: Especially with CO2 in play, a planted tank needs more water flow than a non-planted one. CO2 moves 10,000 times slower in water than in air. Water is viscous and sticky. Leaves deflect flow. Combine all this, and if you could actually see the CO2 concentrations everywhere in the tank, you'd see a layer about 1-2mm over every leaf where CO2 is noticeably depleted. This is called the Prandtl Boundary. Plants are removing CO2 from this area faster than it can move in. Good flow is required to help penetrate it and move CO2 in faster, so that plants will gain the full benefits. Multiply the number of gallons by 10, and that's a good guideline for how many gallons per hour (GPH) you need to move. And it should be fairly uniform, with all leaves in the tank swaying at least slightly in the current.

Nutrients: You've probably already read about these. The "macros", which plants require in greatest quantities - nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). And the "micros", of which only trace quantities are required by comparison, but are still essential; there are many, but iron (Fe) is a notable one.

Dry ferts are an excellent choice, economical in the long run, and your first order can last years. I get mine from Green Leaf Aquariums, but there are other sources.

Many people choose to dose using the Estimative Index (EI). Plants always need a certain amount of all nutrients to be present for healthy growth, but fairly large excesses cause no harm. EI takes advantage of that property. With it, you always dose an excess, so that no nutrient is likely to be insufficient; then prevent excesses from building up to harmful levels via a 50% weekly water change. The initial dosing recommendations are "one size fits most", not "one size fits all"; it can and should be tweaked if found to be insufficient. There are also other, leaner dosing systems should you want to minimize water changes. But these require proportionally more skill and experience.

If you're on the same water supply as me, note that our tapwater is low in calcium and magnesium. Just enough for most plants, but certain ones do benefit from adding a bit more. A GH Booster premix like this one covers both.

Last edited by DarkCobra; 01-03-2013 at 03:46 PM.. Reason: Forgot to mention magnesium
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