55g what do i need?
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Old 08-29-2006, 04:04 AM   #1
WooleyBooger
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55g what do i need?


I have a 55g that is fish only with a few plastic plants right now. I would like to get rid of the plastic and go with real plants. My question is...with the standard 2x15w light strips and play sand as the substrate, what do i need to do? Will i be ok with the sand? What will i need to dose if anything? Do i HAVE to have more light? What bulbs should i run (6500k, etc.)? At what point will i need to start adding c02, is there an easy/adequate DIY for this? What plants can i get that will do ok in my setup?

Also, kind of on a side note... i had guppies in a tank before with a couple anacharis plants, and the guppies ate the plants up. Will platies do the same?
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Old 08-29-2006, 04:55 AM   #2
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Rex's Guide to Planted Tanks

Congratulations on your decision to go planted.

Add CO2 from the beginning.
Guppies do not eat plants. They probably eat dead plants.
Yes, you do need more light. A lot more.
Sand works, but it leaves something to be desired. The buzz right now is Aquasoil.
I bet any plant would likely die in that setup. Maybe moss, anubias, and some ferns would survive for a few months. Maybe.
Dosing ferts never hurts.
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Old 08-29-2006, 12:30 PM   #3
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So there are no plants that will do well in my setup as is? What if i go with like a 2x40 light strip instead? How big a deal is the sand?

I just setup this tank a few months ago, and would rather not have to tear completely down to start over planted...plus i dont have any place to put the fish in the meantime.
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Old 08-29-2006, 01:24 PM   #4
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Mmmm...not exactly what was said. You're limited. Anubias would do just fine, but they aren't going to set any growth records. I have them growing in betta tanks that get ambient light only. Come to think of it, I have an aponogeton in the same sort of setup (a brandy sniffer on my kitchen counter - soul source of light comes from 2 daylight bulbs in the ceiling and whatever sunlight squeaks through a 3x3 window facing a bank and woods.)

The lighting is the single biggest thing you could improve. The sand will be ok I think.
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Old 08-29-2006, 01:55 PM   #5
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as Tinngg suggests, the biggest thing you really need to upgrade is lighting. You will be disgusted and fed up with live plants if you subject them to your amount of light. the play sand is ok. You won't have to dose, just feed the fish to provide nutrients. Platties shouldn't eat your plants.

The amount of lighting determines the need for co2. I think it's best for beginners to stay out of the co2 realm, but probably only because that's how I started. You mention 2x40watt strip lights.

In my experience, the best lighting for a low-tech tank has been 2 sets of fluorescent strips running the length of the tank. Here's what I'm talking about:

I don't know if these are 40 watt lights, or what.... but I know that it would not require co2 and would support healthy plant growth.

My only other suggestion is to get LOTS of plants to start, as many different kinds as you can. Java fern/moss, anubias, crypts, swords, ambulia, ludwigia, rotala, etc. Then see which ones grow best in your tank and keep 'em!

Oh yea, and read rex's guide. All of it!
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Old 08-29-2006, 02:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WooleyBooger View Post
What plants can i get that will do ok in my setup?
this

0.55 wpg is extremely low, I have been told that it would not grow anything. I would suggest getting to at least 1.5 wpg as a minimum.

For a while I had pool filter sand as a substrate, which is a little larger than play sand, and found that it compacted too much crushing the roots of my plants.

Just my thoughts.
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Old 08-29-2006, 05:40 PM   #7
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If you are on a tight budget, and want to bump up your light, follow Brilliants suggestion. Go to the big box store and get a shop light, the cheap ones can be found for like $15 and Home depot caries a decent light t-8 bulb for like $6 for a 2 pack they are made by phillips. That fixture CAN be placed directly on most 55 tanks, assuming it is a standard 4' wide, I would recommend a stand or a hood to house it in however. This will get you to about 1.5 wpg which will grow most low light plants.
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Old 08-29-2006, 07:22 PM   #8
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Something occurred to me. You have full hoods on that tank, don't you?

The reason I asked is versa tops are usually lit by a single 40 watt strip, but the full hood setup is 2 20 gallon sized hoods if I recall correctly. Hmmm; in order to use a shop light (well, any strip light bigger than what you have unless you retrofit them), you'll need to replace the hoods with versa tops.

They do make those 24" strips in a twin tube configuration but I'm not sure they'll fit. They're also more expensive (like nearly $40 a piece locally. Ouch. I went witn an incandescent for a 20 just for that reason)
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Old 08-29-2006, 08:31 PM   #9
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i've been growing wisteria and java ferns in a 48" long tank with 1 x 40w t8 fluorescent bulb. i was using a hagen aquaglo for the proper radiation peaks needed by the plants.

example pic

when i took that shot the tank was getting minimal ferts for the red plant (alternanthera reineckii), but i stopped after it became apparent that it wasn't needed. i removed the red plant due to some tinfoil barbs picking at it and uprooting it, but the other two have survived and thrived. i recently switched to 2 x 32w 48" t5s and moved my pressurized co2 to the tank.

recent pic with a daylight bulb

anyways, if your substrate is 1-3mm in size then it should be fine for any plant s you go with. just stay with plants that will grow in low light situations.
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Old 08-30-2006, 05:30 AM   #10
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ok so it might be possible...but:

The sand MAY be too fine and thus compact too much for the plant roots.
Current lighting is not enough, go with a twin tube 48" fixture which will use 40w bulbs giving me about 1.5 wpg.
Choose low light plants.
Should be able to get away with little to no dosing, and no c02.

So start with the lights, and try a few plants maybe...see what happens, and new substrate may be required.

This about right?
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Old 08-30-2006, 05:42 AM   #11
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Also what temp bulbs should i look at getting? By temp i mean like 6500k...and i hope temp is the correct term.
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Old 08-30-2006, 02:19 PM   #12
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you need a good full spectrum bulb with the proper peaks for plants (par). a quality bulb/company should offer that info on the packaging or online. i'm partial to the 18000k bulbs myself. they're a little pink like the ge9350(?) but the colors on my fish/plants really pop.

forget about the wpg "rule". it really makes no sense and has no logical bearing on the ability to grow plants. with 2 bulbs you might need dosing and co2, you might not. depends on the bioload and the plants you choose.

i stopped dosing 'cause the tinfoil barbs were waste machines. now that they're gone and my little fish are in the tank i might need to start up again soon.
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