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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-06-2006, 02:10 AM Thread Starter
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Hey guys, im a newbie to this aquarium plant hobby. I have always kept cichlids but when I went to my LFS I was amaze by this plant aquarium. I was wondering is it necessary to have lights for it because I leave my aquariu right next to the window so is sunlight good for the plants. I also saw that the LFS had their plants wrap in some kind of white/brownish material with just the plant inside and I saw the roots coming out. I was wondering is it necessary to leave the whole tank in subtrates or I can just buy the plants and wrap it around with a little fertilizer and subtrates and put it under the gravel. Sorry I ask the question because my cousin who had a plant aquarium say it require a lot of work to keep the aquarium looking clean, and I'm currently in college so I dont have a lot of time to cut all of the plants.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-06-2006, 02:57 AM
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1. Yes, you need at least 1.5 watts per gallon to grow even the low light plants, or 2 -2.5 watts per gallon to grow most plants. Sunlight would work fine if the tank were outdoors where the light is brighter. But, unless the light is from the top of the tank, the plants will grow sideways towards where ever the light is from.

2. To avoid growing mostly algae you need over half of the substrate surface covered with growing plants when you start up the aquarium, so you do need a substrate over the entire tank bottom. But, that can be ordinary quartz sand, or it can be a cheap clay based substance like Soilmaster, or it can be an aquarium product like Eco Complete. Any of those will allow you to grow plants.

3. Read Rex Grigg's guide to learn the basics of planted aquaria - doesn't take a long time and the information is up to date.

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-06-2006, 03:14 AM
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-07-2006, 02:49 PM
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Speaking as one who has had (and currently does have/maintain) planted tanks in college, I can say its not really that big of a deal. I'd reccomend getting a decent lighting setup - then again, I look at my 55gal tank back home (its technically my younger sister's tank I just buy all the plants for it and keep things in check, she does water changes feeding the fish etc.) which has the Home Depot 2x 40W NO Flourescent lights for a whopping $7.98+tax. The plants grow very well, with no fertilizing, no CO2, nadda. Its a very "low tech" setup by most standards, with only a heater and HOT Magnum canister filter.

As for substrates, we've been using pea gravel in ours. Mostly because it was cheap (read, free!) and at the time we found it aestetically pleasing. Over time, we've become bored with it, and over the summer I plan on changing it to the soilmaster select stuff being discussed in another thread. That being said, I've grown plants in many different substrates, but if you have an affinity for bare bottomed tanks (for whatever reason be it ease of cleaning, making it easier to bring the plants home/move them to another room without disturbing the root system, etc) you can plant them in terracotta pots with gravel/whatever. My girlfriend did that in a tank and her plants grow incredibly well with 1wpg (and the entire top of the tank covered in duckweed or hornwort).

As for the wrap that the plants come in, I always remove it and plant the plants into my substrate. I dont know how the plants would fare long term in the wrap.

As for requiring a lot of work to keep the tank clean, its a matter of opinion. We do weekly 25% water changes on our tanks, and in our case the python makes it convienient, but in a dorm setting that may be problematic (most people, at least at my college, thought my siphon was a beer bong). Generally speaking you arent going to have a massive tank in your dorm room, so having a 5gal bucket around for water changes will do the trick - but expect to get some strange looks. Aside from water changes, and feeding of the fish, our tank pretty much takes care of itself. Occasionally we'll get a spot of hair algae, but manual removal is pretty easy.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-08-2006, 04:56 AM Thread Starter
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thank you for the help tekkno it really helps, I appreciated it.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-10-2006, 03:01 AM
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Since you are here in Houston, I would like to cordially invite you to Aquarium Design Group. We have many live-planted aquariums on display I think you will enjoy.
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