Hello all! I'm new to the site and new to planted tanks, though this is my second.
I started this tank 9-8-08, and I've resisted posting since then to take time to read up and avoid posting beginner questions, but as it stands I am very much a beginner and definitely need some help, as this is a very complex hobby to the average person.
I got the tank for free. A friend of mine knows a wholesaler who gave him (for FREE) a few nano cube returns with claims of leakage. We have both filled our tanks (his has been up for 2 years) and experienced no leakage at all.
I think there were a lot of consumer returns due to overfilling in order to achieve water levels up to the trim on top of the tank. The problem is solved by purchasing the so called "modular surface skimmer" (a small grate that blocks the overflow) now provided with the new models, which raises the tank level, and drops the water level in the sump area. As it stands, even with the surface skimmer in place, dipping a hand in to plant something will cause the water to overflow when not careful. The trim on the top of the tank really should be at least 1" thicker to avoid this problem.
But, no complaints, as I mentioned the tank was FREE to me and costs about $249 in my local petstore. I transfered the fish and gravel from two 10 gallon tanks I had.
So, here are the specifics, pics, and my questions:
2x 36 watt 6500K compact flourescents ( I swapped out the 10,000K/Actinic combo) Does this equal 3 watts per gallon?
Pea gravel- I will be swapping this ASAP. Of course I set up first, and then read how important substrate is. It will be a pain, but it sounds like a swap out is a MUST!
Factory overflow 3 stage filtration
So far I've added my first dose of Flourish and Flourish Excel at the bottle recommendations last night 9-16-08
4- Black Skirted Tetra
3- Harlequin Rasboras
1-unknown Angel Fish
1- Clown Loach
1-Head and Tail Light Tetra
2- Phantom Tetra
1-Unkown silver fish with cool yellow and black dorsal fin and orange tail
HELP ME ID THESE!!!
Java Fern, Wisteria, 4 "assorted swords" , and others I don't know.
I'm not sure what type of plants I have and help with this would be appreciated!!! My local store really does not promote planted tanks.
Here are the pics from setup on 9-8-08. More to come since my rescape last night!!
Please read questions at bottom! Thank you in advance for all help!
Is this a must in the tank with this much wattage and these plants? I have a HAgen DIY unit with bubble ladder, but I would prefer not to use it. I am reading a lot of people say EXCEL can substitute for this. Is that correct?
I have Flourish and Flourish EXCEL. What additionally will I need?
What brand should I use? How deep in back and front of tank?
With the 2x36 watt 6500K lighting, how many hours should I run the lights? Is this 3 watts per gallon (24 gallons) or am I calculating wrong?
Last night, I moved the swords to the middle and broke up the stem plants into groups of 3 and moved all wisteria and unknown green stuff to the back, and Java Fern right to the front. It feels a bit crowded right now, but I would like to keep adding plants. What would be a nice grassy ground cover that will grow well? I had something called baby tears in my 29 gallon, that grew really well, but I don't see them in our local store anymore.
What do I need to test for and is there a good Master test kit for planted tanks as well as a good SIMPLE resource for what these test results mean? Info seems to be so scattered across the web.
BUYING LIVE PLANTS ONLINE:
Is this common and what are some worthy sites?
I thank anyone for a response, and even if no one sees this but me, hopefully this will be a good place to look back and see my progrees on the tank.