New to plants; do I need ferts or CO2? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-11-2011, 02:18 PM Thread Starter
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New to plants; do I need ferts or CO2?

Hi everyone, I've learned a lot already from browsing the forum but the light/plants/ferts/CO2 combos are confusing and thought I'd ask a question.

I have a 20 gal tall freshwater aquarium.

I just upgraded my lights (yesterday) from the standard T8 florescent single-watt bulb to an Aqueon Dual T5 fixture. I'm running two Colormax bulbs (I have light sensitivity and the daylight bulb was a bit too bright for me so I replaced it with another Colormax). Each bulb is 14w. It sits directly on top of the glass top.

Substrate is black sand.

Because of my T8 fixture I started with lowlight plants and also have some others on-order to come this week (full plant list below).

I do not dose anything (ferts, Excel, etc) and I do not have Co2 (would rather avoid CO2 unless it's absolutely necessary). I haven't had my current plants for long, maybe a few weeks so it may be too early to tell how they are doing and as I said I just upgraded my light yesterday.

I do two pwc per week and my nitrates never go over 5 ppm (API kit) between water changes. I do run an air stone.

So my questions are:
1. Do I need to dose anything extra now that I've upgraded my lights? If so, what and how much and how often? Is this safe for fish and snails?
2. Will my "low light" plants be OK with the increased light?

Plant list:
Anubias barteri (have now)
Java Fern (have now)
Windelov Fern (have now)
Riccia on driftwood (have now)
Java moss (have now)
Anubias nana (have now)
Italian vals (coming this week)
Dwarf Lily Red (coming this week)
Anubias Coffeefolia (coming this week)
Crypt Retrospiralis (coming this week)
Crypt Lucens (coming this week)
Christmas Moss (coming this week)
Crypt Wendtii red (coming this week)
Anubias Congensis (coming this week)
Hornwart (coming this week)

Thank you.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-11-2011, 02:28 PM
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Yes, they will. The Aqueon fixture does not have high grade reflectors, so will not provide high light, but probably more in the low-mid range. I currently have two Aqueon t5 fixtures on a 28 gallon tank, spaced about 4" apart (four 24 watt bulbs total). I am growing crypts, anubias, Amazon sword, pygmy chain sword (Echinodorus tenellus) ammania gracilis, pennywort, red ludwigia, java fern & dwarf lily.

I fertilize once per week with Flourish Comprehensive, and use Excel daily. Since you will have lower light than I do, maybe just a once weekly dose of Flourish Comprehensive. I would start with half the recommended dose on the bottle and see how things go for a couple of weeks.

I like using Excel since it provides a source of carbon, and also works as an algaecide, but that is really your choice.

Good luck with all your new plants
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-11-2011, 02:42 PM
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I'm not sure you're going to get much growth with only Colormax bulbs, the colormax is mainly used for bringing out the color of plants. If you're wanting growth then I would stick at least one 6700 or 10000 bulb in, use a black background on your tank (will absorb some of the light), and once your tank gets full of plants then the light won't seem so bright.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-11-2011, 02:46 PM
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Maybe turning the fixture, so the brighter light is towards the back of the tank would help, too.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-11-2011, 03:23 PM
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The lighting would be a bit low, but don't worry about it. With the plants you are growing you should be fine. The only thing i would recommend would be a ton of root tabs or take up your sand and do dirt underneath. If you are wanted to you could always do DIY co2.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-12-2011, 12:13 PM Thread Starter
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Hm, thanks everyone. I did just add a black background yesterday as my current one was too busy for my liking. I'm rescaping this week with new plants and some DW pieces so we'll see how it looks; it should be more dense in there with the new additions so I'll try adding the Daylight bulb back on. Either way I guess I'll just see how things go with whatever light combo I end up with and maybe try a small dose of Flourish Comp every week or two and see what happens. If things start dying I'll have to readjust the lights if I stick with the Colormax and/or try something else in terms of ferts. Thanks again.
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