New Lowtech Bitope - Need Some Help w/ Decisions
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Old 01-28-2008, 04:26 PM   #1
Algae Grower
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New Lowtech Bitope - Need Some Help w/ Decisions

I'm getting ready to jump into converting my 29g random tank into a South American biotope tank, and I need some help from the experts here in making some decisions.

My current setup is a 29g rectangular with an Aquaclear 50 HOP filter. I run an airstone at night when I'm away from the office. Current light is an AllGlassAquarium 17W that runs from 8am to 6pm. I'm trying to do the conversion as affordably as possible, but without being so cheap that it doesn't perform.

So, on to the questions (and I'll sort of go top to bottom in the tank):

1. I'm planning to upgrade the lighting to a Nova Extreme T5HOx2 30" fixture, which means a 24W 10,000k and a 24W pink freshwater bulb. Is this the right choice? Will it be too much light for a low tech tank?

2. The current hood is the modular plastic hood that came with the tank and the light fixture rests on an acrylic shield. The fixture will fit just fine on the current hood, but is there a good reason to upgrade to an all-glass or acrylic hood?

3. I've got my filter setup with the standard 3 stages - foam, charcoal, biomax. Is there a need to change this setup to accomodate plants, or is the filter okay in this config?

4. James_from_Cali directed me to the mongabay website to learn about the biotope I'm creating. I'm going with the blackwater creek for my two altispinosa and my one angel. The website says that basically all they found were swords and vallisneria, with a bunch of fallen limbs and roots. Can you suggest a species for swords and vals that will be a good fit for a 29 and will work well under the lighting I've chosen? Any other plant suggestions that anyone thinks would be appropriate?

5. Substrate - I'm choosing between Turface Pro Red, Colorquartz Red, and Flourite Red. Which do you think I should go with and is the flourite worth the extra cheddar?

Finally, as an idea of where I'm heading, here's a photo from mongabay that I thought looked great. What plants are in this picture?

Thanks in advance for the help - sorry for the super long post but I want to try and get this right the first time!!!

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Old 01-29-2008, 05:41 PM   #2
Algae Grower
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Okay, here's where I've decided to head so far:

I've got a 50lb. bag of red Turface Pro on order. And I'll pick up some peat for the bottom per R.Griggs tips and tricks.

I've ordered the Nova T5HOx2 from Drs. Foster & Smith for $58. In the same order I picked up some Blackwater Extract and Root Tabs. I also noticed in their sale section that they were selling Eclipse 12's for under $70 - I needed a hospital tank so I scored this too. Seems like a good haul for under $150.

The nice thing about having the Eclipse 12 is I can use that as a storage tank while I'm refurbishing the existing 29. Might be a little cramped in there, but it'll be pretty good digs. And then I'm going to use the 12 as maybe a nursery/shrimp tank.

I also ordered a pile of manzanita driftwood from the Swap n Shop.

So I've answered a bunch of my own questions, or at least I've taken leaps of faith, lol. So that leaves me asking about suggestions on plant species. I'm committed to vals and some kind of sword, and would love to hear thoughts on other possible species.
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Old 01-29-2008, 06:26 PM   #3
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Well I am not an expert, but that light sounds good for low tech...I was even thinking about getting one for myself. I have those plastic tops on my 55 and there's nothing wrong, but they seem to get dirty faster?...I had the same filter and it worked great. I have italian vals in my 37g Eclipse-they are just like jungle vals but are thinner and seem to stay lower. They grow like crazy even in my tank, so they must be easy. I am not sure about the swords, I only have an ozelot that doesn't grow. I am not sure where dwarf sag. is from, but it seems to do pretty good. Looks a lot like the smaller plants in the picture you posted. Well that's all I got so hopefully someone else will chime in!
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