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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-22-2016, 04:34 PM Thread Starter
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Help getting started

Good morning everyone! I'd appreciate any advice you have for setting up a couple of low-tech planted tanks on a budget.

I plan to set up two 29 gallon tanks in my classroom. I'm familiar with how to keep a freshwater aquarium up and running (been in the hobby around 8 years), but now I'm ready to venture into the world of aquascaping. I have a grant for $125 that I plan to use on any supplies and plants that I need to get started, and I hope that I'll have enough left over to pick up a few fish also.

I've attached pictures of where I'm planning to set up the aquariums (I'm thinking about setting the second tank up where the box fan is in the second picture) and I'd appreciate advice on what plants to start with and how many plants to shoot for on my budget. Any other advice or things that I should consider during my freshwater plant adventure would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.


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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-22-2016, 05:00 PM
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Hi Mr.Emery always happy to see a teacher setting things up for their students.The only thing I can see is if that window gets much direct sunlight you may have to cover the back of the tank.As for plants Small swords,crypts,java or any fern and some of the Sagittaria species would great in low light also anubias,you should check the raok/wtb section here for plants many of us give them away for just the postage also the for sale section has some good buys.Good luck
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-23-2016, 01:37 AM
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Small suggestion, get rid of the blue rocks in the bottom of that tank and get a bag of pool filter sand. It should be available at the local hardware store and it is very inexpensive. At approximately $7.00 for a 60lb bag, that should be enough for 2" of substrate in two small aquariums and its a heck of a lot easier to plant in. Also, if you focus on root feeding, low-light plants exclusively you can get away with only using Osmocote root tabs which are also very inexpensive and available in the For Sale section of the forum. That's what I use and I only have to replace them once every four months in my low tech tank--no dosing, no Excel, no problem. That light on top of your tank--I'm guessing its a single T8 bulb--might not be enough light to grow a wide variety of low tech plants so you might want to consider upgrading the fixture.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 12:39 AM Thread Starter
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Hi Mr.Emery always happy to see a teacher setting things up for their students.The only thing I can see is if that window gets much direct sunlight you may have to cover the back of the tank.As for plants Small swords,crypts,java or any fern and some of the Sagittaria species would great in low light also anubias,you should check the raok/wtb section here for plants many of us give them away for just the postage also the for sale section has some good buys.Good luck


The window is South facing and receives quite a bit of light but I only have a 30" T8 bulb in the fixture so I wasn't sure if I needed to cover the back or not. Will I run into problems with too much light?

Thanks for the plant advice and for suggestions about the sale section on this forum. I didn't realize that they even had a for sale forum here.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 11:26 PM Thread Starter
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Small suggestion, get rid of the blue rocks in the bottom of that tank and get a bag of pool filter sand. It should be available at the local hardware store and it is very inexpensive. At approximately $7.00 for a 60lb bag, that should be enough for 2" of substrate in two small aquariums and its a heck of a lot easier to plant in. Also, if you focus on root feeding, low-light plants exclusively you can get away with only using Osmocote root tabs which are also very inexpensive and available in the For Sale section of the forum. That's what I use and I only have to replace them once every four months in my low tech tank--no dosing, no Excel, no problem. That light on top of your tank--I'm guessing its a single T8 bulb--might not be enough light to grow a wide variety of low tech plants so you might want to consider upgrading the fixture.


Thanks for the advice! I'll be picking up some pool filter sand for the tank soon. Do you typically rinse it out before putting it in the tank?

Also, do you have any recommendations for a upgraded light fixture on a budget?
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-26-2016, 08:19 PM
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Yes, the sand does need to be rinsed first. There are a number of ways to do this. Some people poke holes in the bottom of the bag, some use a pillow case, and some put it in a 5 gallon bucket and prop it at a slight angle while rinsing. I recommend the latter.

There are a number of different lighting options you could explore. You could probably get away with using a Finnex Stingray though a bit underpowered for growing plants that don't grow tall. Some people have good luck with Beamsworks but I've always been completely at sea on their befuddling mix of different names and numbers.
Maybe Beamswork DA Fspec or Beamswork DA 6500k. Hopefully someone that knows a bit more about them can chime in but they're definitely a go-to budget brand.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-29-2016, 02:35 PM
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It took me a long time to find the For Sale section. You have to be signed in or it doesn't show up!
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