Crazy contradictory hobby - The Planted Tank Forum
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-05-2011, 02:59 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
doc bonsai's Avatar
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Ames
Posts: 57
Crazy contradictory hobby

I came across the Aqua Forest website the other day and was immediately interested in aquascaping. I've bought a 40 gallon tank on Craigslist with all the standard equipment (i.e. not necessarily what I need...), and I've been reading online as much as can to learn how to make this work.

My question is, how do you guys make any sense out of any of this stuff!?

It seems that Aquasoil Amazonia is all sold out, so I've been trying to see what it would take to make my own substrate. I have some Turface in my garage which I was planning to use for bonsai soil and thought I might see if it would be a good base for some substrate. I found this interesting page that suggests probably yes for many reasons, but from there on I can't figure it out.

Peat or no peat? Acidic or alkaline? Rinse or no rinse? Found a page suggesting how to use Turface and recommended not to rinse it. Others say definitely rinse to keep cloudiness down. One page recommended a "dusting" of peat above the turface but below the top gravel layer. Other sites suggest avoiding peat. Peat makes the soil more acidic, which is what I thought was a key selling point for Amazonia since freshwater tropical like that sort of thing (according to yet other online sources) but Diana Walstad seems to be recommending adding shells and whatnot specifically to *raise* the pH.

In the scheme of creating the amazing aquascape of my dreams I am at step 1: paint the aquarium stand to match the living room. I don't know if I'll make it much further while incapacitated with contradictory advice online!
doc bonsai is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-05-2011, 03:07 AM
Wannabe Guru
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Outside Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 1,845
What your seeing is not so much contradictory advice as it is multiple ways of doing things. There are many ways to set up a system and most of them work.

The guiding factor is what do you want to get out of the system, and how you balance your time, and money verses the method you want to employ. For example, you can go out any just buy ADA Aquasoil, and use that right out of the bag, but it's very expensive. Someone else might use mineralized mud, made from potting soil, but that takes some time to do. Someone else might want to use a substrata such as ecocomplete. All of those methods work.
DaveK is offline  
post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-05-2011, 03:10 AM
Wannabe Guru
 
Daximus's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Kansas
Posts: 1,877
There are limitless options when it comes to substrate choices. Here is a helpful thread discussing the pros and cons of each. https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/su...pros-cons.html

Personally I think some of this stuff is out of control. For instance a 48 inch shop light cost ~$20, a 48 inch "aquarium" light cost ~$100. Bulbs aside...there is not that much difference. Same with substrate in my opinion.

So I personally like to keep it simple. Plants like dirt. Almost all the plants I have ever seen are planted in dirt...ergo I put dirt in my fishtank and planted plants. By dirt I mean Miracle Grow Organic...perhaps sprinkled with some clay bits. Anything that dirt doesn't have I can supply via root tabs or dosing the water with fertilizers.

There are many other options, I choose dirt.
Daximus is offline  
 
post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-05-2011, 03:24 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
doc bonsai's Avatar
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Ames
Posts: 57
That all seems pretty reasonable, but I suppose it doesn't just stop with the dirt...

What about nitrates? I saw an advertisement for aquaripure, this system that's supposed to bring them down to about 0. The guy running that site told me in a private e-mail that it still works well with planted tanks, just keeps the algae down. Others seem pretty derisive toward that notion noting that the plants themselves are supposed to be the de-nitrator and they need the nutrients.

As you say with the shop light, the prices are sky high and it's hard to know as an inexperienced newb exactly what is so essential in that expensive bulb versus the vanilla ones. Also, before I drop $500 for the latest LED light, are most typical plants fine with the 1-2 w/g you get from a simple hardware store fluorescent? It sounds like yes from some comments and no from others.

The virtues of hard water containing nutrients to allow less supplementation... versus the benefits of soft water. I see one point one place and the exact opposite view a few minutes later.

I guess it's just sort of funny how much at the end of it all you are right--plants like dirt, light and water. The rest can be really helpful or overwrought marketing, and it's going to take a while to figure it all out.
doc bonsai is offline  
post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-05-2011, 04:27 AM
Planted Member
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Buffalo, NY
Posts: 275
40 gallons is a big jump into planted. Maybe you could start a simple and small test aquarium to get you started. Figure it out as you go along. Build from the absolute base needs of an aquatic plant and go from there.
rikardob is offline  
post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-05-2011, 04:45 AM
Fresh Fish Freak
 
lauraleellbp's Avatar
 
PTrader: (70/100%)
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Tampa, Florida
Posts: 24,403
Since plants need nitrogen, most people here ADD it to their tanks.

And like most of the rest of the aquatic hobby, it's easier to keep a larger system balance than a smaller one. (In other words- stick with the 40b.)

Before you pick out your light fixture, you need to decide on your goals. Do you want to set up a high light/high tech tank? It will cost you much more money up front, but you'll be able to enjoy the plants fill in more quickly and have just about every plant at your disposal. Flip side- there's a much steeper learning curve, and the ongoing maintenance will be MUCH more to keep it looking nice.

A low tech tank doesn't have quite as steep a learning curve, won't be as much cost to start off with (no pressurized CO2 system and the lights will be cheaper), and much less maintenance- but you'll be more limited in your plant options and it will take longer to fill in.





To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
- Next meeting Monday, Oct 13, 2014 @ 7:15pm- See ya there!

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.



To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
lauraleellbp is offline  
post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-05-2011, 05:06 AM
Planted Tank Guru
 
Noahma's Avatar
 
PTrader: (8/100%)
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Thornton, Colorado
Posts: 4,339
Quote:
Originally Posted by rikardob View Post
40 gallons is a big jump into planted. Maybe you could start a simple and small test aquarium to get you started. Figure it out as you go along. Build from the absolute base needs of an aquatic plant and go from there.
Nahh, 40 is not that bad of a size to start with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by doc bonsai View Post
That all seems pretty reasonable, but I suppose it doesn't just stop with the dirt...

What about nitrates? I saw an advertisement for aquaripure, this system that's supposed to bring them down to about 0. The guy running that site told me in a private e-mail that it still works well with planted tanks, just keeps the algae down. Others seem pretty derisive toward that notion noting that the plants themselves are supposed to be the de-nitrator and they need the nutrients.

As you say with the shop light, the prices are sky high and it's hard to know as an inexperienced newb exactly what is so essential in that expensive bulb versus the vanilla ones. Also, before I drop $500 for the latest LED light, are most typical plants fine with the 1-2 w/g you get from a simple hardware store fluorescent? It sounds like yes from some comments and no from others.

The virtues of hard water containing nutrients to allow less supplementation... versus the benefits of soft water. I see one point one place and the exact opposite view a few minutes later.

I guess it's just sort of funny how much at the end of it all you are right--plants like dirt, light and water. The rest can be really helpful or overwrought marketing, and it's going to take a while to figure it all out.
Lots of questions here. I would highly recommend starting in the substrate section of the forums, and then lighting. Lighting drives the tank, so figuring out what kind of light you are going to want should be your first priority.

What are your goals for this? Are you wanting something simple, slow growing easy management? or are you wanting to jump in full bore with all the bells and whistles, getting break neck speed growth, high maintenance, and high Challenge?

This is the first question to answer.
Low tech, low light tanks usually are a good starting point, they are less forgiving of mistakes, and generally easy to maintain, this allows you to get used to the growth habits of the aquatic plants. After you get the hang of that, it is quite easy to work your way into the second category of tank which requires the use of pressurized injected co2 systems, more light, and very rigid fertilization methods.

Once you figure out what kind of tank you want, go take a look at the lighting chart in the lighting section by Hoppy. The old Wpg method of measuring light is very outdated, and useless with today's types of lighting. T5 HO lighting is one of the more common light fixtures out there, they provide alot of light, so being able to raise the light above the water surface a bit or being able to screen light out if you wish for low light is going to be something to consider.

With the low light low tech tanks there are several methods which work great. The Walstad (sp?) method, which includes the use of organic soils topped with sand or gravel, and just a regular plant it the way you want method. the pros of the walstad method are the soil used provides plenty of nutrients to the plants, and stocking heavy for fish to provide the rest into the water column. the cons come in when you start to rearrange the plants, it generally will be a pain in the rear, causing soil and particulates to float around the tank for days. I did a tank once with this method, and found it to be too much of a pain for me. Florite substrate is a pretty good substrate, it is easy to find, and looks pretty good. There is also the Aquasoil, which is expensive, hard to find but you get the best bang for you buck. There is also in the substrate area a recipe for Mineralized top soil. I have yet to do this, so others might be able to give better answers. Pool filter sand is also a good way to go, a dark substrate will be easier on the eyes, especially when you start having fish, they tend to mess up white sand with tons of poop. Root tabs full of fertilizers placed before the sand will ensure that your heavy root feeders will get enough to eat.

Finding the plants that will survive in the environment you provide is the next goal. Aquaticplantcentral.com has a great plant finder, as well as this site in the plant area.

I would start with the easy plants such as different species of Anubias, or Cryptocoynes.

Hopefully the info will help a bit, and hopefully it is all correct lol, I am sure if I had something wrong, someone will chime in to correct it.

and it looks like laura beat me to it lol


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.




To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.



To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.



To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.



To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Noahma is offline  
post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-05-2011, 05:17 AM
Planted Member
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Buffalo, NY
Posts: 275
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noahma View Post
Nahh, 40 is not that bad of a size to start with.
Depends on how you look at it. Starting a 2.5 with nothing but a plant species or two versus filling an entire 40 with plants and worrying about all the things that go along with it like water changes alone. It's like looking at a tree rather than a forest.
rikardob is offline  
post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-05-2011, 05:36 AM
Planted Tank Guru
 
Noahma's Avatar
 
PTrader: (8/100%)
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Thornton, Colorado
Posts: 4,339
Quote:
Originally Posted by rikardob View Post
40 gallons is a big jump into planted. Maybe you could start a simple and small test aquarium to get you started. Figure it out as you go along. Build from the absolute base needs of an aquatic plant and go from there.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rikardob View Post
Depends on how you look at it. Starting a 2.5 with nothing but a plant species or two versus filling an entire 40 with plants and worrying about all the things that go along with it like water changes alone. It's like looking at a tree rather than a forest.
Most plant species will outgrow say a 2.5 gal. tank, this cuts back drastically the species that can be tried, or grown in the tank. There is also the issue of stability. Smaller tanks take very little time to become unbalanced, Larger tanks take time, and as a beginner you can spot the problem and get it solved quicker.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.




To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.



To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.



To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.



To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Noahma is offline  
post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-05-2011, 06:47 PM
Algae Grower
 
kychris's Avatar
 
PTrader: (1/100%)
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Richmond, Kentucky
Posts: 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noahma View Post
Most plant species will outgrow say a 2.5 gal. tank, this cuts back drastically the species that can be tried, or grown in the tank. There is also the issue of stability. Smaller tanks take very little time to become unbalanced, Larger tanks take time, and as a beginner you can spot the problem and get it solved quicker.
It also depends on how much patience the person has. I started my first true planted tank a few months ago with a 58 gallon. It has been a slow process but I've been patient and have enjoyed watching things grow.

One other substrate not mentioned is going with something inert like sand and dosing ferts and/ or adding them to the substrate with tabs or capsules. I went this route specifically wanting to use black moon sand.

All of these different methods also have something to do with what kind of plants you're trying to keep. Easy to grow low light plants like ferns and mosses don't have to have as much as the high light, CO2, and fertilizer plants.

"There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness"". -Dave Barry
kychris is offline  
post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-05-2011, 08:21 PM
Wannabe Guru
 
SlammedDC2's Avatar
 
PTrader: (26/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Clarksville, TN
Posts: 1,574
Quote:
Originally Posted by rikardob View Post
40 gallons is a big jump into planted. Maybe you could start a simple and small test aquarium to get you started. Figure it out as you go along. Build from the absolute base needs of an aquatic plant and go from there.
My first planted tank is a 125g

Semper Fi
SlammedDC2 is offline  
post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-05-2011, 08:23 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
doc bonsai's Avatar
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Ames
Posts: 57
Thanks for all the feedback. It's kind of amusing how a post about contradictions get such a discussion about which size tank is ideal to start out with some firmly on the small and some firmly on the large side. :-)

Regardless, I have the tank and today I washed it and made it like new. It was pretty nasty when I got looking at it. It's seen a lot of use and the silicone on the inside seams is worn and tattered looking from the gravel. I'm thinking I might go get some silicone and make sure it is all covered nicely. I would have liked to buy a super nice tank with no rim and invisible seams... along with those gajillion dollar glass tubing gizmos from the ADA site, but I'm starting more simple than that.

Since a few people suggested that I need to decide what I'm trying to do, I'll float my idea out there and get your advice about lighting. I want to have an airy tank (meaning, lots of space, not just CO2!) with a hilly/rocky mountainside and a single species (or maybe 2, but not more) of very small fish in a school. I want grassy short plants. I don't know a lot yet, but looking through the plant lists, I think I can choose various light levels and get an appropriate species for whichever I choose. What would you suggest? I might try a few different kinds of grasses or ground covers, all short, but with variation in their height. I would also really like to have bluish tinged plants, but most I see are reddish tinged and bright green. Any suggests for that? Not looking for broad leafed plants for this tank, although I may go that direction if I switch to an approach with more variety.

As for soil, I'm going to use my turface and some peat/potting soil. It makes sense to me that this will work, and aquasoil isn't available til Christmas, so there it is.
doc bonsai is offline  
post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-05-2011, 09:27 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
PTrader: (33/100%)
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Gone
Posts: 5,994
Dr. "BONSAI" - With a name like that I'm a bit surprised at the lack of Zen in your OP

Maybe this might help everything you've learned in Bonsai is relatable to the planted aquarium. Other than the plants being in the water vs. the air, the other skills are the same. Space, root & branch trimming, controlling frets, light etc. all apply.

When we get a tree to work with we look at the tree to see what Bonsai is living in it. We start with a vision. The same with a planted tank, in your mind find what you want. The rest is mechanical.

Bacically, work backwards from your goal.

There you go Grasshopper.
DogFish is offline  
post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-06-2011, 12:49 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
doc bonsai's Avatar
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Ames
Posts: 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by DogFish View Post
Dr. "BONSAI" - With a name like that I'm a bit surprised at the lack of Zen in your OP

Maybe this might help everything you've learned in Bonsai is relatable to the planted aquarium. Other than the plants being in the water vs. the air, the other skills are the same. Space, root & branch trimming, controlling frets, light etc. all apply.

When we get a tree to work with we look at the tree to see what Bonsai is living in it. We start with a vision. The same with a planted tank, in your mind find what you want. The rest is mechanical.

Bacically, work backwards from your goal.

There you go Grasshopper.
I agree that there is a lot in common between bonsai and aquascaping. Primarily that both require a good dose of science before you can realistically approach the aesthetic. :-) Imprecision in the parts that should be objective and scientific is the un-zen for me. But, there are certainly a lot of parts of life that we have manage with imperfect information, so I'm more zen with it thinking of that. Thanks!
doc bonsai is offline  
post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-06-2011, 01:02 AM
Planted Tank Guru
 
PTrader: (33/100%)
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Gone
Posts: 5,994
Forgive me..Welcome to the site

Quote:
Originally Posted by doc bonsai View Post
...I don't know if I'll make it much further while incapacitated with contradictory advice online!
When is comes too substrate they are all correct in their own personal application. You can grow plants in everything from Hydroponics to dirt & dog poop. I think the two factors are A) what you are going top plant B) how much effort do you want to put into it all.

My "vision" is a low maint. Aquarium. I don't what to be a water chemist, I don't want to be a tech. gadget guy, I don't want to be an electrical engineer.
I just want a nice planted tank with a few fish.

I use MTS, Low light, Low light plants, "tougher" fish.

The science is always the same. We balance light, water quality and Bio-load.
How each of us does it is just personal choices. It's not what is better, it's what is better for you.

Which is why I saw you need to know where you going before you decide how to get there.
DogFish is offline  
Reply

Tags
None

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the The Planted Tank Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome