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Old 01-07-2013, 08:16 PM   #1
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Location: Chesapeake Virginia, US
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Default New to Aquariums - Intial First Steps

Hello everyone,

As the title says I'm new to keeping any type of aquarium much less a planted aquarium. I don't want to go crazy on the plants (at least not initially) but I'd like to have a bit of healthy green in my tank for the fish to swim among that aren't plastic.

I bought the Tetra deluxe aquarium setup which gave me a 20H tank, a Tetra Whisper 20 gallon filter, preset-tropical water heater (78F), and a deluxe Precision Full Tank Hood with a single T8 Daylight 18" florescent light.

Onto describing the tanks environment, we keep the house between 68 to 72 in the winter and 74 in the summer. We have two Maine Coon kittens that are seven and six months old right now (both around 8 lb now) and are highly interested in closely observing and assisting with the aquarium setup.

Maintenance effort willingness - I'd rather have an easy to maintain tank so I probably won't want to get either hard to maintain fish or plants that would require alot of effort to keep alive.

After some reading (and effort in finding a place that sells it) I got two bags of the Eco-Complete Black Planting Substrate and put it in per the directions to simply empty the entire bag contents into the empty tank. I'm not sure if that was pure water in the bag or something else but it all went into the tank. I followed that up with 15 gallons of RO water from the aquarium shop.

Now, I know I should need to add back in minerals and such to the water for the plants and fish and am waiting for my order from Amazon to come in on Wed. I'm getting SeaChem Equilibrium and Neutral Regulator to put in the water along with and API kH gH test kit. I already purchased the Master Freshwater Test kit but unfortunately it doesn't come with that particular test.

I know I need to measure my gH value of the RO water and then raise the gH value with the Equilibrium to somewhere above 5 but not more than 12gH. My first question is where should the gH value be if I'm planning on planting low light plants such as java ferns and maybe some java moss and a school of 5 or 6 zebra dan fish.

I'm planning on replacing the current single T8 lamp with a Finnex Fugeray 20" LED (as soon as their available again on Amazon) to give me a slightly brighter lamp that will still fall into the high range of low light so that I don't have to worry about adding carbon dioxide unless I want to for plant growth instead of it being required.


(1) as I mentioned I'm trying to figure out what gH to aim for when conditioning the RO water with Equilibrium.

(2) using RO water what else should I be testing for besides kH and gH? Phosphates? Calcium? Magnesium?

(3) what plants will do well with the Finnex Fugeray besides the javas?

(4) when conditioning the RO water am I correct in thinking that all I should need to add are the Equilibrium and Neutral Regulator?

(5) probably the most essential question... what have I not thought of that will be a gotcha in setting up this tank?
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