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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-27-2005, 02:41 AM Thread Starter
 
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please help

hey i have a 55 gallon fresh water tank with about 8 plants mostly swords and alot of moss...for gravel i use sand and tiny rocks and i also have a big peice of drift wood..my tank contains 4 angel fish and 2 graumis male and female.. my plants arent doing very well at all...i herd people talk about clay and using co2..i know nothing of how to set any of this up...if you can give me direction of how to help my plants grow please tell me.if u can tell me so i will understand i am very new to this.ive only had the tank for about 2 yrs. keep in mind i dont have to much money to spend i only work part time and go to school full time..

i would like to know what kind of lighting i should use
what i can put in the gravel
what kind of filter
what temp for the heater
if i should use co2 or anything else like that
is there any kind of liquid i can put in the water?
ph?
any additives?

sorry i am new to all this..if you can give me complete detail on how to set it all up too i would appreciate it..
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-27-2005, 03:12 AM
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Hi David.

For starters I would suggest heading to rexgrigg.com for a good overview of planted tank basics.

I suspect your current lack of success with plants is due to insufficient lighting. Most commercially available canopies don't provide nearly enough lighting. You will need about 110 watts over your tank to provide 2 watts per gallon, which is probably the minimum to grow plants. You may be able to grow some plants under this amount of light, but you have to choose them carefully. There is a plant gallery here, as well as one at plantgeek.net which lets you know if a plant is difficult or requires high light levels.

Temperature, aim for 76.
CO2 will help with plant growth. You can use the yeast method to provide CO2, but in a 55 gallon it may be hard to provide sufficient amounts. However, some CO2 is though to be better than none. Here is a link that will explain: http://members.cox.net/tulsaalstons/...Pressure%20CO2

Substrate: a lot of us here use specialized substrates. This can get expensive for those on a tight budget. Again, you can use plain gravel. You just would want to choose plants that are not heavy root feeder. Java fern comes to mind; it will do well under lower lighting levels as well.

Most of us here use cannister filters. Undergravel filters are generally best avoided in a planted tank. Power filters will suffice but anything that causes a lot of surface aggitation will cause excessive loss of CO2.

That's a start. I am probably not the most qualified person to answer as I really (within reason) went all out on my tank but I see where you are coming from, I was a poor student once. And I will never eat another frozen beef pot pie and Mr. Noodle again .
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-27-2005, 03:20 AM Thread Starter
 
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what would i ask forif i wanted substrate when i go to the pet store??? and would an undergravel filter work if i have sand for gravel?...by the way i prefer cup of noodles...
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-27-2005, 03:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david
what would i ask forif i wanted substrate when i go to the pet store???
Just plain gravel. You don't necessarily have to take out what you have now. Go to http://www.buckmanshome.com/ for more info on sand substrates.

Quote:
Originally Posted by david
and would an undergravel filter work if i have sand for gravel?
No. UGFs as a rule don't go hand in hand with planted tanks. Simplistically, they tend to move nutrients away from the roots. They also won't work well with sand. The sand will fall through the grates.

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by the way i prefer cup of noodles...
Have you ever eaten daily it for a few months at a time? ;->
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-27-2005, 03:46 AM Thread Starter
 
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ok i read about the yeast sugar method and i wanna give it a try....but im not sure what a check valve is or a diffuser? if you can explaine it would be helpfull
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-27-2005, 04:05 AM Thread Starter
 
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can someone also explain how the co2 gets sucked outta the bottle and into the tank?
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-27-2005, 04:29 AM
 
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A reactor and a diffuser are basically the same things. They are both used to dissolve the Co2 in the water. The more efficient your reactor/diffuser is the less Co2 you will need. With a reactor that can dissolve 100% of the Co2 you could get by with DIY Co2 in a 55. I had DIY in my 55 gallon for about 6 months before I switched over to a fully automatic pressurized system and my growth was good. But I had to constantly fight off the algae.

A good, efficient, and cheep Co2 reactor can be made from an old gravel cleaner. There are many plans on the internet for this type of reactor, and they all work basically the same.....the Gravel cleaner tube traps the gas and constant water flow through the tube dissolves the Co2.

As for the Co2 getting from the bottle to your tank...The Yeast sugar method produces pressure...enough pressure to force the air through hose and into your tank. If you leave the Co2 mixture sealed in a 2 liter bottle with the cap closed tight it will eventually explode from the pressure. So make sure the gas can get out.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-27-2005, 04:36 AM
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Welcome to the world of planted tanks, David! I hope you will find it as enjoyable as many of us have.

In a yeast CO2 system, CO2 is a product of the fermentation process. The building pressure is what forces it out of the bottle, and in the case of a CO2 system, into your tank. Personally, I prefer the pressurized system because it's not as messy. For a 55-gallon, I would definitely recommend the pressurized system. But if you don't have enough light, there would be no point in a CO2 system.

Wow, you really need to find a good book or site and learn! www.rexgrigg.com is a great place to start. Other good sites:

http://www.csd.net/~cgadd/aqua/index.htm
http://www.thekrib.com/

This site also has some helpful articles (and many helpful people!).

Nolan


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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-27-2005, 05:32 AM
 
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Read this thread.

http://plantgeek.net/article_viewer.php?id=17
http://naturalaquariums.com/aquariums/art02.html

If you're on a budget, start with easy and low light plants.

Edit: Another link: http://www.aquariaplants.com/lowlighttank.htm

Last edited by k_the_c; 03-27-2005 at 04:51 PM.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-28-2005, 10:37 PM Thread Starter
 
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ok i bought a brighter watt light and i have the homemade co2 bottle ready to go and i have the fertilizer for the plants mixed in the sand...all i need to know to get this started is the check valve? i have no clue what it is or what it looks like or what it does...and i also need something to disolve the co2 bubbles before they get to the surface? any ideas on how to do that? your help is much appreciated.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-29-2005, 12:07 AM Thread Starter
 
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anyone????
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-29-2005, 01:37 AM
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David - In your case, I believe you are referring to an air-line check valve. Its purpose, when using DIY CO2, is to make sure that the "air" line blowing the CO2 into the water doesn't somehow become a siphon, and let the water flow into it and out of your tank. Here's a pic on one. Your local fish shop should sell them for a couple of bucks.

Here's a great site on DIY CO2. It mentions a number of ways to get that CO2 into your tank. Give it a read and see if it helps.

Steve - 33g reef and a 180g planted in need of a re-scape.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-29-2005, 01:38 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david
ll i need to know to get this started is the check valve? i have no clue what it is or what it looks like or what it does...and i also need something to disolve the co2 bubbles before they get to the surface? any ideas on how to do that? your help is much appreciated.
Check valve allows flow only in one direction. If your CO2 canister is below the level of the water, then you'll want a check valve to prevent water from your tank from siphoning into your CO2 canister.

To dissolve the CO2 into the water, you need a reactor.

If you are new to this, you should really go the easy, low tech route. I posted some links in a previous reply.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-29-2005, 01:47 AM
 
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A check valve is a little plastic cylinder-looking device that connects to your air/CO2 tubing -- you cut the tube with scissors and then attach the check valve between the cut ins (you just push the tubing onto the ends of the valve). It's usually an inch or less long. You can usually find them for about a dollar in the same area of your fish store or pet store that sells air pumps, airline tubing, and the link. (All of the Petsmart/Pet Supermarket type places in our area sell them, so they should be relatively easy to find.

As for what to use to help the CO2 bubbles dissolve, I don't have a CO2 system running yet, but a lot of people seem to like the Hagen ladder diffusers -- Drs. Foster and Smith sells it here -- it's part of the Hagen CO2 system, but you don't need the gray canister piece if you're doing DIY bottles and could just get the diffuser. (Since I don't have a system myself, I'm not sure about all the details of what you do and don't need -- but I'll bet someone else on the forum can give you some more information!)
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