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Old 01-31-2013, 03:03 PM   #1
navinsasikumar
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First Planted Tank - Questions about Lighting, CO2 and Plants


I'm starting my first planted aquarium and this site has been wonderful. I have a 30"x18"x24" tank. Right now, I'm not sure if I'm going to fill it all the way to the top with water -- I think I might go only about 18-20 inches or so ( probably make it a riparium ). I'm using eco-complete as my substrate. And I'm running a Fluval 306 canister filter. One of the baskets has carbon now, but I might switch it out for more bio-media soon.

For lighting I use a Zoomed AquaSun dual T5HO hood with 2x24watt T5HOs - 6500K and 5000K. The lights sit about 3 inches above the top of the aquarium. From reading a few articles on here, I know that WPG is not an efficient way to calculate the light in my set up, but I'm still not sure how best to calculate the lighting. Would this be medium intensity set up?

I haven't set up a CO2 system yet and I'm debating between a DIY set up with maybe two 2liter bottles or a pressurized CO2 system. I could afford to put in about $150 for the CO2 system, if I know that I'll get luxuriant plant growth (if I do everything else right). Any thoughts on which way I should go? I'd love recommendations on good pressurized CO2 systems in that price range. And maybe some of you know places in Philly where I can get CO2 tanks and refills as well?

Also, right now I have a pH of 7.8, which I guess would go down once I start a CO2 system. I'm also going to add another piece of driftwood soon, which could lower the pH. I have 2x100 watt heaters maintaining a temperature of 77F. I'm waiting to get a GH and KH testing kit from Amazon. Should have it in a day or two.

Lastly, plants. What would be good beginner plants for this kind of setup? If I can get fast growth with the kind of lighting I have, I'd love to go that route. If not, any hardy, or not easy to kill low-light plants would be great.

Thanks a ton. I'm very excited to get this going.
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Old 01-31-2013, 05:55 PM   #2
MSG
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Default Just let your tank run for a month first.....

  • Do you have any current photos of your setup?

Don't mess with CO2 for at least a month. Hopefully you didn't order a whole bunch of medium high maintenance plants.

Imagine dropping over $100 on plants & watching all those plants decay at different rates over the course of the next month.
  • If you're starting out with this, you want to keep it relatively simple.

  • Over complicating your tank will only create problems & empty out your wallet faster.
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Old 01-31-2013, 06:07 PM   #3
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Default First Planted Tank - Questions about Lighting, CO2 and Plants

I've a different approach. A 2 month approach.

Fully planted from day one!!!

And closer or lower than to 70F rather than 80F. Lower temp is more stable for co2/o2.

Surface agitation or surface skimmer. (No surface scum) good levels of o2 for the cycle.

If im going to start a planted tank, I will start with nutritious substrate if possible, and/or well fertilized water column. (EI levels)

Light 4-6hrs. I don't want my plants wasted covered in algae. So even if I think I have low light I use co2, a lot from day one.

I start tweaking co2 vs light from week 2 without having to worry about critters.
The goal is no co2 for the most part, but if needed stays.


Ruling out all chances for algae blooms.

Fishless cycle adding pure ammonia or with the ammonia leached by the substrate.

No critters for the first 2 months. Maybe ramshorns snails.

Of course, good filtration.

I've done it like 3 times already for friends, works well for newbies.

This technique can be very different for a carpet/iwagumi style.
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Old 01-31-2013, 06:50 PM   #4
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Default First Planted Tank - Questions about Lighting, CO2 and Plants

That light is 50par at substrate level if its about 17-20 inches from it. Medium/high, requires co2.

All plants will do great there, unless its a carpet plant which may need high light or something.
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Old 01-31-2013, 07:23 PM   #5
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Hey guys, thanks for the replies. I'm still a bit confused though, with the two almost-conflicting replies.

MSG, I don't have any photos on me right now, but I'll get some as soon as I get home. Like pejerrey said, I had read a few articles on heavy planting from day one, so that was the route I was going to take. Wouldn't a low plant situation cause an algal bloom?

Unfortunately, my LFS didn't have many plants, so I had to order some of the Internet. They are arriving at different rates, so it's not a fully planted setup from day one. I have an Echindorus amazonicus that looks like it's doing well (it sent a shoot out of the water and it looks like it has a baby plant growing out of it). A few Vals, whose leaves started melting, but their roots seem to be doing okay so far. Some Anacharis, some Java Fern and Christmas Moss. The only high maintenance plant I have so far is a Cabomba furcata I got at the LFS.

I was thinking of doing a DIY CO2 setup at least temporarily since I didn't want an algae bloom. The cabomba looks like it might have some algae (diatoms?) growing on it, but I haven't noticed anything major yet. But I'd still rather be on the safe side and avoid an epidemic.

Pejerrey, thanks for the evaluation of my lighting. The light would definitely be over 20" away at substrate level since the light doesn't sit exactly at the water level. It's about 3 inches from the top of the tank, which makes it about 23-24" away from the substrate surface. So that would make it just medium lighting? A pressurized CO2 system would still make sense over a DIY in the long run, wouldn't it? And any thoughts on a carpet plant for this lighting? I was thinking of Echindorus tellenus. I'm going to put the Java fern and maybe some Anubias in less bright areas of the tank, near driftwood and perhaps under the shade of the Amazon sword. Any other plants that would be a good addition to this?
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Old 01-31-2013, 08:43 PM   #6
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Default First Planted Tank - Questions about Lighting, CO2 and Plants

I had the same light and I measured it with a friends par meter so, I know.
23-24 will be like 40par which is medium light. I would definitively use a yeast system because you won't care of its accuracy, you can even run it 24/7 for those first 60 days without critters. That will give you time to gets decent pressurized system.

Get the co2 system from user Nilocg here at TPT. Go paintball if you can't afford a 5lb now. With that light you won't need much, but you will need it, so a pb 12oz will last.

Next time get plants from members here, people at TPT is very generous, they usually send you freebies and samples. I get my plants from H4N or plantbrain. TPT is the cheapest source.

I've never been really good with carpets so I would pass answering that question, there is a few threads about it.

However, "like" a carpet, I do like how lobelia cardinalis grow in your conditions, this is a tank that had the same light intensity with fluorite black (like Eco complete) and dry ferts to EI levels.



I think nilocg also has dry ferts, he is a tpt supporting member so you support the forum!

To weight my answer, here I leave you my tanks to judge if I my advice is worth to consider.


30 gal shrimp tank with ferts and co2, no wc



5 gal shrimp tank low light with ferts no co2, weekly wc


2gal 8"cube, no ferts nor co2, betta tank,monthly wc.
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Old 01-31-2013, 09:01 PM   #7
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Default First Planted Tank - Questions about Lighting, CO2 and Plants

Look, this is a thread about "low tech" carpet plants:

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=229242

Careful with what people mean with low tech, some use the term as an excuse for bad taste, lol! :P
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:35 PM   #8
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Hi pejerrey, your tanks look great. What are the tall green plants to the right of the 30g shrimp tank? And thanks for all the info too. I'll definitely get my next plants from members at TPT. I still want some plants that will grow in the background, preferably in the shade of the Sword. Or I might move my Java Fern there and get some mid-ground plants instead. I'm going to devote the weekend to hooking up a DIY CO2 system, do more research on pressurized CO2 systems and find some more plants for my light conditions. Thanks a ton. I'll let you know how my tank progresses and if I have any more questions.
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Old 02-01-2013, 02:14 PM   #9
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Default First Planted Tank - Questions about Lighting, CO2 and Plants

Hi,

Well, there is a few tall plants there that stand out, I'll name them so you can search their name for pictures.

- Rotala Mexicana
- Rotala Vietnam
- hygrophila pinnatifida

There is a long "sword like" crypt that I have to look in my journal for its name tho.
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