Yet another 'Help a newbie' thread... - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-12-2011, 08:20 AM Thread Starter
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Yet another 'Help a newbie' thread...

Hiya. I'm another person new to the world of planted tanks, and I want to make sure I've got all my details figured out before I purchase anything or endanger any plants/fish. I'm planning a low-tech, low light tank. (I've had aquariums before, just not for awhile - and never with real plants) I will apologize in advance for the incoming wall of text!

29g tank
HOB Power Filter 30 (came with tank kit)
Marineland Heater (also came with tank kit)

Substrate: 2 inches of FloraMax (probably 2 or 3 bags) with a topping of CaribSea Tahitian Moon Sand (probably about 1 inch - just one bag, if that's enough). I chose these because of the dark color and also being available at the big box pet stores, as we don't have a LFS here.

Fertilizers?: I will use some Osmocote style gelcap fert under the bigger root plants when I plant them. I don't quite know if I'll need to use fertilizers in the water itself just yet.

Lighting: One 24" T8 bulb, 6500k. (I don't have it yet, just have the fixture and the bulb it came with.) Also have a clip-on work lamp with the big, round reflector with a 27w 6500k CFL. Thinking the T8 on for 10 hours and the CFL on for 3 hours for a burst period.

CO2?: I plan to set up a DIY-style CO2 system, possibly just at first while the plants acclimate to my tank. Will use the chart method to measure my CO2 levels.

Plants: I haven't a clue yet for specific plants, but I read the Plant Profiles page and I'll focus on the easier-to-grow ones and ones with lower light requirements. I understand I can't grow a beautiful lush carpet of something like HC with this set-up. If I get any moss-type plants, I will attach them to a rock or driftwood. (I don't have my hardscape planned just yet! Well, other than the family "heirloom" rock that's been in various family tanks since the 1970's.) I understand that I should start fairly heavily planted. These will most likely be purchased online through various sites I've read about here in the forums.

I'm a little worried about the time involved in planting the plants and getting them how I want vs. getting fish into the tank at the same time, so I will probably deal with my plants and let that sit for a week before I add the fish (and will check the water quality with my test kit).

Fish: I'll go to the good LFS in the big town and get my fish there, it's only about a 2 hour round-trip. I don't think I can decide on particular species until I'm there and seeing the fish. So a general idea is 15-ish Tetra, 5 Cory cats, 3 Otos and 10-ish Cherry Shrimp. I think this is probably right at borderline for quantity of fish in the tank, but a good combo of fish to school/bottom feed/clean up algae/be generally awesome.

Water: My tap water is great quality. pH right around 6.8, kH at 80 and GH very soft at 25. I have no problems doing water changes as needed.

I think that covers most of the important details. I thank anyone who read this giant post, and any advice or corrections would be most appreciated.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-12-2011, 08:43 AM
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Looks like you've got the right idea. Your biggest crutch will be your lighting though. Even if you have a great fertilization and co2 you won't see much growth without the proper amount of light. Use Hoppy's chart to figure how much lighting you need. I know, it's the most expensive part of this hobby, so until then I'd run both the t8 and cfl for 12 hrs/day.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-12-2011, 01:21 PM
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You will have very low light. If I was you, order a T5HO (cheap and good = odyssea).

Also don't forget to cycle your tank before you put fish in there.

Is your heater a stealth pro? If it is bring it back to the store and switch it for an other one, there is a recall for safety:
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-12-2011, 01:41 PM
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I have a low light 29G setup and I agree that the lighting may be a challenge. You look like you will be extremely low light with your current setup. I know it's $50, but I would recommend the following light as I've used it for years and it's worked great:

I would also encourage you to consider the following DIY project for CO2. I got fed up with DIY CO2 and find this to be so much easier...and the plants / algae situation improved. This is a cheaper alternative to full scale pressurized CO2 and works great if you are open to a little DIY:

Seems like you are on the right track...don't forget to lurk around the Swap and Shop section when you are ready to plant. I've consistently received the best plants from others on this site.

Good luck with your tank and welcome to the site!
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-12-2011, 01:42 PM
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Nice plan! I like that you are planning to plant the tank and leave for a while before stocking the tank.

Like your fish choices too. Tetras catch the eye, watch the corys forage and search for the otos. My kind of tank.

How about a hardscape? A few carefully chosen and placed rocks or wood go a long way towards making an interesting living art piece in your home. Please use that heirloom rock. I just took a bit of petrified wood I bought in the '60s out of my tank.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-12-2011, 05:55 PM
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The absolute cheapest way to run a low light setup on this tank would be to get This T5NO fixture and put it directly on top of your tank. If you have a glass lid you can use both the t8 and t5(one 6500 daylight, one 3100k plant grow bulb). That will ll provide low light and at least keep everything alive. I'd think twice about the paintball co2 method. My Diy Co2 has a similiar plan(trying to regulate the flow of co2 with a water needle valve from lowes/home depot), although the pressure coming from my setup is less than 60psi, it is very difficult to adjust the flow down to 1-2 bps. I can't imagine trying to do that with an 800psi paintball canister. I've heard of blown up bubble counters, diffusers and just all around difficulty with that system.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-12-2011, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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Wow, thanks for all the great replies so far. Here's what's going on...

Lighting - I will look into getting an acrylic/glass top and putting the fixture right on top of it, adding a T5 one. Good thing I have plenty of time, due to planning well! I read that the Oddysea are just a new name for an older light that had questionable issues, so I'll probably stay away from that one for now.

Heater - Thanks for the info, it is indeed a Stealth Pro, so I'm off to Petsmart shortly to get it replaced. They're probably tired of me already! It sasy 100watt for up to 30gallons, so I'm thinking the one I have in the 10g is lower wattage and not recalled.

CO2 Paintball - This scares me a little, with pressurized things and my lack of know-how. I've only read 8 pages of that thread so far, but I will read it all and come up with a plan.

CO2 BlueJack - Also a lack of know-how here. But I'll read your post again and do some thinking.

Hardscape - Yes, totally going to have one. I didn't make that clear. Just need to find some bits and make them aquarium-safe. While I don't love the heirloom rock, I will indeed use it in the tank.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-12-2011, 08:17 PM
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If your aren't comfortable with the paintball CO2 by all means don't go there. I find that using a heavier duty needle valve (Swagelok B-ORM-2 for instance) than the Home Depot version allows pretty good fine tuning of the bubbles. I've had up to 4 of these paintball systems running at one time (on different tanks) with 1 bps and it's worked well. I started with old fashioned DIY CO2 and it just got to be too much of a pain for me. It's definitely just an option or stepping stone to a heavier duty pressurized system.

Probably best to be patient and see if the planted tank bug bites you or not and see if more expensive / complicated / "pressurized" things make sense down the road. I think that's probably the best method to anything aquarium related..."take your time".

Good luck and give us some shots of your tank once you get it up and running!
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