New to Hobby, help appreciated! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 02:32 PM Thread Starter
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New to Hobby, help appreciated!

So quick little back story, I grew up around fish tanks with my dad keeping cichlids throughout the years. When I was in my early 20s I even had my own beautiful 56 gallon cichlid tank and it ran great. Now in my early 30s Iím trying to get into aquascaping which is proving much more challenging than setting up the cichlid tanks in the past.

While I know this is my first post on these forums and itís a lot to ask but I was hoping for some pointers before I flush more money down the toilet. Iíve been watching a few different youtubers and their advice for setting up a tank. This is what my current setup looks like.

Current setup:

29 gallon tank (largest my apartment building allows)

Aquarium heater

Marineland Magnum 350 canister filter w/ activated carbon (from my former cichlid tank)

Whisper 100 air pump w/ air stone

a mix of small and medium sized gravel

a couple large rocks

a small piece of drift wood

narrow leaf java fern

staurogyne repens

2 marimo moss balls

1 unidentified large leaf plant thatís in the piece of driftwood (pictured below in the back left of the tank)

1 bristlenose pleco (I had a few other fish in the tank but returned for the time being until I get the plants growing properly)



Tank management:

Light timer: 4pm Ė 1130pm everyday

30% water change every Sunday

Tues, Thurs, Sunday (after water change) I put the following chemicals in
-API CO2 Booster, 4ml
-API Leaf Zone, 15ml

Current Feeding with the 1 pleco is 1 algae wafer every other day unless bits from the previous one is still there
Very rarely Iíll use my API test kit and test water conditions




Adjustments Iíve made so far:

So I keep reading about the importance of light so I decided to ditch (aka basement storage) the hood that came with the tank that had a row of LED lights attached to it. Got a separate hood and bought a Aqueon Floramax T8 flourescent bulb that would fit the new hood. I hate the coloration of the tank, it seems so much darker (pictured below).

New bulb: Aqueonģ Floramax T8 Fluorescent Aquarium Lamp | Lights | PetSmart

Previous LEDs from this kit: Top Fin 29 Gallon Aquarium Starter Kit | Aquariums | PetSmart




Questions I have:

What makes the Aqueon Floramax T8 flourescent bulb so different from others for plant growth? Is there more to it than just wattage? Is there a better light that I could use thatíd light up my tank like it use to?

With no dirt in the bottom of the tank am I just doomed to fail? Is there something I need to do to make up for this short coming?

Is there something I need to be doing differently with my tank management?

Are there any low tech plants you suggest adding? Iíd really like to add 1 plant that has a more reddish color for contrast, any suggestions? Also would getting a floating plant be a good idea or will this just reduce light to the rest of the tank?

What type of CO2 diffuser would you recommend for a 29 gallon tank? Currently Iím using the CO2 booster but see this more as a temporary thing.

Currently I live in northern Virginia, any other locals here who recommend good fish stores in the area that arenít Petsmart or Petco for planted aquarium supplies? I feel the quality of the plants that I got from these stores since day 1 have not been doing that well.

Fish plans:
1 veiled angelfish
1 bristlenose pleco
6 rummynose tetra
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 03:27 PM
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Winchester Aquarium and Pets is my goto for fish in the area. It's an hour drive for me but to me it's well worth it. As far as plants go, I buy all my plants from fellow hobbyist on this site. Check out the classifieds section for plants that are being sold.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 07:06 PM
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Fertilizing is the tricky part of planted tanks. Cichlid rock only tanks are much easier IMO. Fertilizers are more often than not overused. Especially just starting out. If the plants are newly planted, they don't need much fertilizer yet. So I'd go easy, and just add ferts weekly or even just twice a month. Especially since you don't have CO2 yet. You may start to see fert poisoning on your plants. Usually plants melt somewhat when first added. It can take a month or more for them to acclimate and start sending off new clean leaves. So expect some die off.

I'd go slow with lights and ferts. Strengthening them as the plants grow.

As far as substrate, I think gravel is fine, as soils can be messy and run out of nutrient in time anyway, and you'll have to dose ferts to replace what the soil lost. But good soil substrates get your plants off to a better start. So I would recommend a precharged substrate or aquasoil for a beginner so you don't get frustrated with the slow death/slow growth. In about a year when the soil is depleated, you can decide whether to use root tabs and liquid ferts or dry ferts regularly, or just change out the soil.

I am not able to recommend a particular soil. But there are some really good ones on the market for aquarium plants.

Just a side note: I've found that with a planted tank, the plants come first, fish second. Don't put expensive fish in there, because fertilizers tend to kill them if used incorrectly.......which happens all the time! I'd stick to the most hardy fish you can find for your water parameters; i.e. don't buy soft water fish if you have hard water, etc.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 07:29 PM
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Hey!
Looks really nice. I can only speak to the light. I cannot find any info for this lamp regarding color temps or spectrum so cannot tell you why it's purple except that that is the color that a lot of "grow" bulbs seem to be. A T-8 lamp at 15 to 30 watts probably will not be enough to light your tank the way you would like. If it were me I would invest in a nice LED setup or at least T5 HO. I am sure there are many here that can give you good advice for a specific brand. I have a Finnex and am saving for some TMC Aquaray gear.

Hope that helped a bit, still learning all this myself, but I also do indoor gardening and had to learn a good bit about lighting. I use LED and HID there.
Peace
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 07:48 PM
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You can always add a low power light with more pleasing visual spectrum, this will change the overly red look, without compromising the LEDs.

Cape Town, South Africa.

Hi. I'm back.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 08:04 PM
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Reddish tints look better in my opinion, than whiter. So I prefer the second pic as long as your light is still giving the plants all of the necessary spectrum. A mix of red/blue and white. My tanks are heavy on the red lately.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 02:47 PM
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As Billyk mentioned, the one t8 bulb will only give you low light, enough probably for the anubias and java fern but not much else. I wonder if the LED unit put out more PAR than the t8 you replaced it with. Could they both fit above the tank?
Oh, a good low light plant with some red is Bronze Crypt Wendtii.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-18-2016, 06:08 AM
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I can only speak to what has worked for me. While I have kept exotic fish for over 15 years, I am also new to aquascaping.

For lighting, I use Fluval Aquasky LED for my 72 gallon. It is 35 watts and equivalent to 210 watts of light. My plants are growing very well at just barely 3 watts per gallon. It goes up to 10,000 k color temp which is great, too.

In less than 1 month you can see how much the plants have matured.

This is the tank on June 22


This is the tank as of tonight


For substrate, I am using API Pond Plant Media; it's about $12 for 20 lbs. While it doesn't come with any fertilizers, it hold nutrients very well. I placed Jobe's organic root tabs (found 50 tabs for $6 on Amazon) every 8" 1 week before planting just to allow the substrate to soak up the fertilizers.

For dosing; I use Flourish Excel daily (really helpful to avoid algae growth) 1.5x recommended dosing. Essentially, a liquid that coverts to CO2.

Flourish Iron, daily.
Flourish, every 3 days 1.5x dose
Calcium, once week after water change.

Flourish root tabs under my heavy root feeders (Amazon sword & Madagascar lace)

No pressurized CO2 at the moment.

Definitely test your tap water for its hardness (kH & gH) and pH.

My tap pH was 7.6 so I automatically thought my water was a little harder, WRONG! My plants started to show signs of calcium (gH) and potassium (kH) deficiency. I tested my gH and kH and found that my water was SUPER, SUPER soft. If this is the case, your pH could crash with no warning. The presence of gH & kH will stabilize your pH and also provide calcium and potassium for the plants.

As for great red plants for low tech tank, I use Telanthera Cardinalis. This plant melted like crazy when I first bought it, I had to clip back the bad leaves. However, I started with a small tissue culture about 1 1/2", I have successfully propogated the plant into 14 specimens. It is super colorful with pink under the bronze red and green leaves.

Also, I love the Dwarf Red Water Lily. Super easy to grow, great color, and gets big quick. You can see how it took over the driftwood in the pictures.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-18-2016, 06:53 AM
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Questions I have:

What makes the Aqueon Floramax T8 flourescent bulb so different from others for plant growth? Is there more to it than just wattage? Is there a better light that I could use thatíd light up my tank like it use to?
Probably color spectrum
With no dirt in the bottom of the tank am I just doomed to fail? Is there something I need to do to make up for this short coming?
Nutrients will build up, bacteria will setup, no worries
Is there something I need to be doing differently with my tank management?
huh?
Are there any low tech plants you suggest adding? Iíd really like to add 1 plant that has a more reddish color for contrast, any suggestions? Also would getting a floating plant be a good idea or will this just reduce light to the rest of the tank?
Try out ludwigia sp. red, um...maybe alther reneickii.... buces ..
What type of CO2 diffuser would you recommend for a 29 gallon tank? Currently Iím using the CO2 booster but see this more as a temporary thing.
intake atomizer, gla recommended brand, very low bps
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-19-2016, 05:36 PM
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If you like your old lights, keep your old lights. Don't get yourself so caught up with the lighting. See first line of signature of poster right above me. There's so much truth to that, so don't fall into that trap. There's at least two more aspects that you should keep in mind in applying your light.

This should be required reading Darkblade's Primer to Planted Tanks


.


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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-20-2016, 07:50 PM
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A typical one bulb T8 fluorescent aquarium light should give you low to low medium light on a 29 gallon tank. In other words, it gives you all of the light you can use on a non-CO2 tank without running into constant algae problems. Doubling that, by using a two bulb light would really cause problems if you don't use CO2, adjusted to the optimum setting. If you don't like the appearance of the tank, from the reddish or magenta color, just switch to a 6500K regular fluorescent bulb.

"Liquid CO2" (Excel, API CO2 Booster, Metricide, etc.) supplies some carbon for the plants, but isn't anything near equivalent to CO2. Right now I'm using Metricide and DIY CO2 both, and the benefit to the plants is obvious. I don't get a lot of CO2 into the water, but, with CO2, any amount above what the atmosphere supplies is a big help to the plants. The problem with DIY CO2 is that it is very hard to keep the same amount in the water every time the lights are on, and that encourages BBA to start growing. But, with the Metricide that problem doesn't occur. If you don't want to spend a lot of money at one time, I very much recommend that combination. You will spend a lot more in total, over the years, if you do this, but you will not have to spend a lot to set it up.

Hoppy
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-20-2016, 11:50 PM
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I think the nutrient levels listed in Darkblade48's Primer to Planted Tanks is perfect for your tank. I had a twenty gallon with a T8 and my Java Fern died and my Anubias were dying because I wasn't keeping up with the nutrients. Nitrogenous waste from your fish is not enough by itself. You need some other nutrients to go along with the Nitrogen. Remember the Potassium. I keep missing that one. KNO3 by itself might not be a sufficient Potassium source if you have enough animals providing Nitrogen because you will not need to dose as much it. Equilibrium is 20% Potassium but it will raise your GH. Potassium Chloride will give you a big dose of Potassium with about the same amount of Chloride. Potassium Sulfate will give almost as much Potassium with a lesser amount of Sulfate. I don't mean to confuse you but trust me on this Potassium thing. You will need to keep it up. For your 29 gallon tank I wouldn't put in more than 3/8 teaspoon of anything except for the GH booster. You should probably dose about 3/16 teaspoon KNO3 since you have fish. Don't even think about touching that tablespoon! I saw that. Put it back.
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