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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 04:17 AM Thread Starter
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New To Planted Aquariums

Hello, I am Ryan, I used to own and build reef aquariums for people. I started with freshwater but I never got into planted aquariums. I am now in my last year of college and am going to start a new aquarium in my appartment. Here's what I am starting with, a 29 gallon aquarium with the standard flourescent light that it comes with. I'll plan on getting a new filter and light for it as well. My idea is I would like a dark substrate, some driftwood, I would like a decent number of fish, and a good variety of plants including some "grass like" ground cover type of plants, prefferably begginer plants. I want the tank to be natural and clean. Any tips, ideas, or advice would be great! My questions are:

What light do I need for a 29 gallon aquarium?

What substrate should I get?

Are there any fish that I can't have? I mainly just want tetras, maybe guaramis, and guppies.

What filter will I need for a 29 gallon aquarium?

Will I need a CO2 system?

What supplements are needed?

Thanks so much in advance! Any help is appreciated. I'd like to have the tank up in about two months after a ton of research has been completed. Also, I have an 24G aquapod with a 100W Metal Halide on it, would that be a better tank to start with? Thanks again.

~Ryan
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 06:15 AM
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I am quite new myself, I have done a lot of research for the new planted tank I am going to start.

If you plan on getting a new light, then you:

A) Get a light that gives you low WPG (Watts/Gallon) and won't need a CO2 system.
B) Get a light that gives you high WPG; can grow better plants, your plants grow much better, but you will need a CO2 system.
---
The fish you had are mainly fine. There are quite a few fish that will dig up your plants. No tetras will so your good there!
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 06:59 AM
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Welcome to the club, Ryan!

To start out, I think you have to ask yourself the most important question: what are your goals with your aquarium? Usually the answer to this question divides people up into 3-ish categories: low tech (not a lot of equipment to make the plants grow), high tech (lots of gadgets!), and mix tech.

For people who don't want to spend a ton of money and who don't have time, or don't want to give that much time to their aquarium, low tech is a good route. You can still have nice looking tanks with low tech, however your plants will be slow growing. There also will be certain plants that you can't grow because of their requirements.

For people who are really into the speedy growth thing and who want to be able to keep difficult plants, and who don't mind putting out the money, you may be interested into high tech. There are a lot of gadgets involved, mostly high powered lighting and CO2 injection. You will have an extremely fast growing tank, but it will be very costly and time consuming as there is a lot of plant trimming needed to be done.

Many people want a mix of each, and can find a place where they are comfortable with the amount of money they spend, effort the put into their tank, and still see results that they want.

Once you figure out what your goal is, then it will be easier to answer your questions, as the answers depend on your goals.

I moss be in love

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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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Ok thanks. I think my goal is to have a mix possibly. How much could I expect to spend if I go either direction? I would like the daily maintenance to be as simple as cleaning the glass, feeding, and adding supplements; the weekly maintenance to be a water change; and the bi-weekly or monthly be just an overall cleaning. So I guess moreso on the low-tech side for me. I'm wanting to keep things around the $200-300 mark for this for now. Later on I would really like to have an awesome planted tank that I can go all out on as I have with my reef tanks. For now, I think the low tech route might be good. Could you possibly give me an items list for both?
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 12:15 PM Thread Starter
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And actually, the more I think about it, I think the more I'd rather do the CO2 and the higher tech I guess, but once I get more into this I'll make a better decision. What kind of WPG will I need for a high tech system?
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 01:03 PM
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If you want to go high light then you would need atleast 3 wpg. I don't reccommend you use that 100 watt metal halide unless you want to grow an algae tank. For CO2 you can just use a DIY system. For a high tech system you will need a good nutrient rich substrate, high light, fertilizers, and CO2
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 01:36 PM Thread Starter
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I would be interested in the DIY CO2 because I have the resources and it would save money. Are there any plans on here to build one? I figure if I get a 96W light, that's 3.31 WPG. That would be enough? What kind of filter will I need?
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 01:39 PM Thread Starter
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I would be interested in the DIY CO2 because I have the resources and it would save money. Are there in designs here or a list of what I'll need? I have a 96W light in mind, that's 3.31 WPG. That would be enough? Also what kind of filter should I think of getting? I could easily build a sump filter but I'd like to just have a hang on back filter. Also, what kind of GPH will I need and will I need an in tank water pump?
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-28-2011, 10:16 PM
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One thing you could do is to start out low tech, and work your way up to high tech. High tech requires a lot of light, but a lot of light on a low tech tank could cause algae problems. One way you could do it is to buy a multi-lamp fixture and only use one or two bulbs, and then when you decide to start injecting CO2, screw in the other bulbs.

WPG is a good basic estimator, however if you have the time, I would read up more about lighting, color temperature, and PAR. This is a good article: Aquarium Lighting by Carl Strohmeyer.

As for the "items" list or grocery list for a low tech tank and a high tech tank, the only different in equipment is that a high tech tank would have more lighting and a CO2 system, and you may have to supplement your plants with more fertilizer. I'm not sure what the price difference is between low tech and high tech since I have never done high tech before. If you want to learn more about CO2, go to the Equipment forum and the people there can help.

Now for your original questions:
What light do I need for a 29 gallon aquarium?
As I mentioned before, you may want a fixture that supports multiple bulbs so you can add lighting to your tank if you start to inject CO2. T5's are fairly economical and energy efficient. LED's are even better, as they run very cool and use a lot let energy, but not all LED's are made the same, and although they may put out a lot of lumens (visible light), not all of that light is useful to plants. Research everything BEFORE you buy.

What substrate should I get?
It depends on your preference, but I would highly recommend staying away from gravel. A lot of people like using soil substrates, as they contain natural fertilizers, however soil is messy to use and may be topped with sand or gravel. Commercially available substrates that, although not fertile, are as easy to use as sand or gravel but are also a good planting medium. I personally have sand, but when I update my tank, I will probably use peat moss covered with sand. There is a good article about aquatic sediments here: Overview of Anaerobic wetland soils

Are there any fish that I can't have? I mainly just want tetras, maybe guaramis, and guppies.
You should only buy fish that are compatible with each other. When you buy a fish from an LFS, ask the people there about the fish: is the fish shy? Is it aggressive? Do they school or are they territorial? Usually what I do is do research on what fish I want (or if I see a fish I like in the store) and find out the habits of the fish, then decided whether or not if it would be a good match for my existing fish. Also a note on guppies: either buy all males or be prepared to deal with the babies! They breed like rabbits.

What filter will I need for a 29 gallon aquarium?
I think a sump, as you suggested, is overkill, and for planted tanks a lot of people don't realize how unnecessary filtration is for a planted tank. Activated carbon can sometimes filter out all that good junk that plants like to eat. However having a little carbon helps with keeping your water clear and absorbs tannins from driftwood and so on. The most common filters are hang-on-the-back (HOB) filters and canister filters. I often hear people say that Aquaclear makes the best HOB filters, so I bought one for my 10 gallon and I love it. Also Eheim tends to be the most popular canister filter, being both reliable and easy/cheap to maintain. The big killer about filters is buying filter media, but both Eheim and Aquaclear's filter media lasts quite a long time.

Will I need a CO2 system?
Maybe, maybe not. I would recommend that you read this article: Non CO2 methods by Tom Barr.

What supplements are needed?
This is a really broad question that I think you should do a little research on. Do you mean fertilizers? If so, here's an article that may be helpful in understand plant's needs: Fertilizer routines, which one? by Tom Barr.

I understand that this is a lot of information being thrown at you, but be patient and don't give up. It takes a while to accumulate and finally be able to put two and two together and then, hopefully, turn theory to practice. Don't be afraid to keep asking questions, too!

I moss be in love

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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-31-2011, 03:45 PM Thread Starter
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Ok that gives me a good base to start on. I think I will start with this basic setup when I get the tank and get fish.

- An Eheim Cannister 2213 - $89.99
- Coralife Quad Tube 96W 6700K - $127.99
- A peatmoss bed with maybe a flourite top layer
- A DIY nonpressurized CO2 system just using the yeast and sugar method

I will add a mixture of tetras and Guaramis starting out.

My next question is; can I use just a regular peat moss that you would use in a garden? And what is you oppinion of Flourite substrate? And by supplements I meant like additives like what you would dose regularly. Any other suggestions or needs?
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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-31-2011, 03:50 PM
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I think that light is overkill and you're going to need more that DIY CO2 with that much lighting going on.

20g platy, , 2 x 10g shrimp, 3 x 20g shrimp, 7.5g shrimp and 1 great dane/mastiff puppy.

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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-31-2011, 04:00 PM
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Here is a chart I found on this forum to help you out with lights


Hope this helps you out


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Who would have thought that plants like dirt?!
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-31-2011, 04:42 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, I'm starting to understand a little better now I think. So I would be fine with just the standard ligh on the tank? It's a single bulb t8? Or do I need a PC?
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-31-2011, 05:42 PM
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Any peat moss for the garden will work, but avoid using things with wetting agents.

Fluorite is great! It's a great planting medium with a lot of surface area.

Well for fertilizers you might want to start out with Seachem Flourish, but since you're starting out with CO2, you might want to try looking at aquariumfertilizer.com. However like I said, do some research on fertilizing so that you understand plant needs.

A standard light should be fine for your tank, like a double T5. T5's are the most energy efficient.

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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-31-2011, 06:00 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks again! The way I kind of went about it with my reef tanks is I'll set the tank up, see what it's needs are, then supplement accordingly. I'll just set this tank up with what I set out with, add fish and some plants a couple weeks later, and see how things are going. Test regularly and go from there. This should be a pretty cheap setup so that makes me pretty happy haha. Now is there a place where I can find the proper parameters for a planted aquarium?
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