I am finally at a point where I think I can invest some time and money in to getting and maintaining a planted tank. My goal is to have a tank that is fairly low maintenance. I am looking at getting a 29 gallon Oceanic Biocube. I have read a lot here recently but finding straight answers can be tricky.
Looking at the regular and the HQI version, is the only difference the lighting? Which way should I go for a planted tank? It seems like a lot of people have modified the lighting but I can't seem to find out why. The filtration seems to be okay based on what I have read so I should be okay with the bioballs, etc. Right? I can't figure out if I am gonna need CO2 or not. What is the stance on this? I know I need it for the plants but do I have to invest in an expensive tank system, is there something I can just add?
I read something about people having problems with microbubbles. I'm not sure I understand what these are and why they are a nuisance.
My substrate I was planning to mix Eco Complete with some other black substrate. Cool?
When do plants come in to the tank? I assume you do a cycle and then add them at a later point once your water is where it needs to be?
I'm going for a tank that looks like an overgrown river bed. A piece a drift wood and plants like java fern, java moss, hornwort, dwarf hairgrass, asian ambulia. As far as creatures go I would like to just have a bunch of shrimp, some snails, and maybe a twig catfish.
Appreciate any insight you guys can provide. I hope to get my tank in the next 3-4 weeks. I would like to have a more solid idea of my approach before diving in.
I am an owner of this exact tank, orignally setup as a Saltwater, and recently (1 week ago) cleaned and re-formatted as a live plant FW tank.
Go with the normal lighting - PLENTY of light for FW planted, and the HQI is more for stony corals (Way beyond what you need). Many suggest replacing the actinic (Blue bulb) with a 2nd white (Daylight) ($25 approx.)
The filtration is perfect from what I hear - I too was initially concerned, but many on here believe the Bioballs are a good addition in a FW planted, and overall the mechanical filtration works well.
I too am quesitoning the CO2 system. If you stock your tank in phases, evenly between plants and fish/livestock - the Fish will release CO2. In other words overstocking will help, but need to ensure you have enough plants or perform enough water changes to oxygenate the water. The former requires a nice balance.
I am confused on mircrobubbles as well????
The substrate will work good - Whether eco-complete or Flourtie mix 50/50. I HAVE ALWAYS used Black subtrate in freshwater, however, I went with the natural look in this one, and am VERY PLEASED. Black is no where as natural looked, and the natural colors make plants and driftwood look much nicer, not to mention brings out fish colors even more than black IMHO.
There are varying suggestions on when to introduce plants - some say cycle it first, others say put them in immediately. I think the idea is they contain much of the beneficial bacteria needed in cycling, but the ammonia can burn the plants. Why put money into something that might die, when patience can provide the same result?
Your stocking plans seem fine - careful with snails in a small tank. They can easily because nuisance as they reproduce asexually and easily overrun a tank - furthermore they are difficult to prevent when shrimp are in the tank because you cannot use chemicals (Chemicals that affect snails also affect shrimp)