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Old 03-21-2007, 02:33 PM   #1
jgreg
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Low Tech Newb Help Needed


So I have read and read here for a couple of months but still have a couple of questions I just setup my 120 gal tank - 4x2x2 - with flourite about 2 inches and about 1 inch of white sand on top of that. I have one coralife lamp with two 65w 50/50 bulbs. I purchased and placed in the substrate 3 Large (20 inches tall) amazon swords, 3 16 inches crypts (can't remember name but starts with C), 2 onions, 5 giant val, 3 anubias barteri?, and a patch of java fern on some driftwood.

The tank has been running for 4 days now. I do not want to add Co2. Here are the questions: Should I add some rummy nose tetras now or wait? Should I add some Sterbai Cory's now or wait? If I am not adding fish how will I get the ammonia in there for the cycle? I have read conflicting info on planted tanks and cycling so I want to be sure I am not wasting my time but I also doon't want to hurt any fish. Is my light sufficient or should I get to the 1.5 WPG that many suggest? I am running the light for 10 hours - good? Should I add some undergravel fert sticks even though I have the flourite? How will I know I need to add ferts to the water column? I would like to start adding some discus in 4-6 weeks once things settle down a little. Also what would be some good low growing plants plants for this setup ( I already have the taller plants but didn't get any smaller ones). Thanks a LOT for this board and any help you can give. Grego.
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Old 03-21-2007, 04:04 PM   #2
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Hi Grego, welcome to The Planted Tank!

I have one coralife lamp with two 65w 50/50 bulbs.


I would highly suggest to switch those bulbs to something in the 6700-10000K range. 50/50 bulbs are for marine setup, and less effective in freshwater planted tanks. Keeping the 50/50 will result in not enough light to grow plants.

I purchased and placed in the substrate 3 Large (20 inches tall) amazon swords, 3 16 inches crypts (can't remember name but starts with C), 2 onions, 5 giant val, 3 anubias barteri?, and a patch of java fern on some driftwood.

I recommend to add some fast growers in the beginning. That will help keeping any algae explosions down. Things like Wisteria, Ambulia, Ceratopteris, Rotalas, etc, fast growing stem plants.

The tank has been running for 4 days now. I do not want to add Co2. Here are the questions: Should I add some rummy nose tetras now or wait? Should I add some Sterbai Cory's now or wait? If I am not adding fish how will I get the ammonia in there for the cycle? I have read conflicting info on planted tanks and cycling so I want to be sure I am not wasting my time but I also doon't want to hurt any fish.

Don't worry about adding ammonia. If your plants grow (after you changed out the bulbs) they will gladly uptake any ammonium/nitrite before it will hurt your fish. With a 120 gal water volume, adding a few Tetras and Corys will not add a big bioload where you would have to worry about cycles. Just add fish slowly, waiting a week or so before you add the next batch, this will give your filter and surfaces time to be populated with beneficial bacteria.

Is my light sufficient or should I get to the 1.5 WPG that many suggest? I am running the light for 10 hours - good?

If you swap out your bulbs as suggested, you should be able to grow the most undemanding plants. The ones you mentioned should mostly do okay. The advantage is that you wouldn't have to worry about adding fertilizer incl CO2. But don't expect lush plant growth and lawn-like ground cover!

Should I add some undergravel fert sticks even though I have the flourite? How will I know I need to add ferts to the water column?

I would wait a little longer, see how you plants grow in 3 or 4 weeks (after the bulb change). Once you see new growth show pale yellow or white colors, it is time to add some fert sticks to the roots. With just over a watt/gal, you don't have to worry about water column ferts for a while. I'd add small amounts of Flourish or another micro mix to make sure you are covered there. Watch your plants for signs of nutrient deficiencies.

Also what would be some good low growing plants plants for this setup ( I already have the taller plants but didn't get any smaller ones).

Sorry... but with the light you are using there won't be much choice there. Look for some smaller crypts, they can handle low light. I like to use Wisteria, keeping it as a low light lawn (lll) by pruning it regularly, works alright. Try Dwarf Sagittaria maybe.

Good luck!
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Old 03-21-2007, 06:51 PM   #3
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Thanks A Lot for the quick response Wasserpest. I am going to get the new bulbs today but I wonder what is the difference or which is better for my setup? I am also going to get some of the fast growers you mentioned. Should I try to find a light to up my wattage to 1.5wpg or is it a waste? Thanks again. Grego.
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Old 03-21-2007, 08:39 PM   #4
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There isn't much difference, it comes down to personal taste. The lower Kelvin bulbs look a bit more yellow, giving the tank a more yellow/green tint. The higher Kelvin bulbs are a bit more blueish white, which can make light green plants look a bit deficient ("washed out").
There are also pinkish looking bulbs, like the GE Aquarays 9325K bulbs, and they are supposed to be the best for plants, but some don't like the resulting looks. Pink is sort of opposite of green on the color spectrum, with the weird result that some light green plants look almost white. Makes dark green and red/pink plants pop though.

If you are not sure what I am talking about, I'd suggest 6700K bulbs.

Upping your wattage would not be a waste at all, considering that you are on the lower limit for growing plants. As you up and up, keep in mind that nutrient requirements of your plants go up as well (they grow faster, need more to build all that substance). So at some point, you need to add fertilizer and CO2 to keep things in balance.

Starting with a low light level isn't that bad if you are new to planted tanks. Read up on all the various nutrients, incl CO2, before you go beyond roughly 1.5W/gal.
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Old 03-24-2007, 01:53 PM   #5
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Hello Again,
I have ordered the lights recommended but they won't be here until Monday. Meanwhile the Amazon Swords are getting some brown spots on them. They are in the midlle of the leaves and at the tip. They are not little specks but dime sized and start off yellow then turn brown. What am I missing here? Is it that the lights are not right or do I need to add some ferts? I would really appreciate any help you can provide as I don't want to loose these plants if at all possible.
Thanks - jgreg.
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Old 03-24-2007, 04:32 PM   #6
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Sword plants are often sold in their emersed (terrestrial) form. When you plant them in your tank, the existing leaves will slowly wither away, and are replaced by different looking (often more lanceolate) submerse leaves. Keep an eye on new growth, and remove the old leaves once they start looking really bad.

I would wait with the fertilizers. With your current lights the plants won't be able to use them. Newly planted, they need a few days or weeks to get used to the new environment before starting to grow.

Once you see them actively growing, monitor the new leaves. As long as they look nice and green, enjoy. If they start looking thin and pale, it is time to think about fertilizer sticks.
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