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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 09:49 PM Thread Starter
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I'm sure you've seen this before

I'm new! Yay!!
Well, not a new fish keeper, but new to plants.
To start off I have a 20 gallon aquarium with 1 male betta, 5 neon tetras, 1 cory catfish, and 5 ghost shrimp. I have white sand as my substrate and everything else is made by aqeuon (I got the starter kit). I had a VERY rough start, no one informed me of tank cycling so this whole journey has been a rough, but well learned experience. My tank has been up and running for about 8 months now.

But! I want plants, they make the tank look natural and i'm tired of boring plastic plants, yuck.

So here are my plans:
I want a "carpet" and would prefer for it to be baby dwarf tears, I think the scientific name is Hemianthus.
I would also like some towering tall plants for the back, not sure which kind.

So what do I need? I know that I need new lighting but I was told that I need a different substrate, but that's such a pain! My substrate is full of beneficial bacteria, could I not use it? Also, do I have to have a Co2 filter? Is there any tips or secrets I should know before diving into keeping plants?

Ill post a few pictures of my tank (:

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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 11:06 PM
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beneficial bacteria won't help plants to grow, or not much. i don't think HC (dwarf baby tears) grows very well in plain sand substrate, but weirder things have happened.

honestly, i don't know if i'd start with a HC carpet as a beginner at all. maybe dwarf hairgrass would work better for you. even experts have trouble with HC, but if you really want to try...
CO2 seems to be a requirement for growing HC well. i'm not sure what you mean by a "CO2 filter," what you need is a CO2 tank that is fed into your filter or otherwise diffused into the tank.

what lighting do you have? what kind of fixture, how many watts...?
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 11:16 PM Thread Starter
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beneficial bacteria won't help plants to grow, or not much. i don't think HC (dwarf baby tears) grows very well in plain sand substrate, but weirder things have happened.

honestly, i don't know if i'd start with a HC carpet as a beginner at all. maybe dwarf hairgrass would work better for you. even experts have trouble with HC, but if you really want to try...
CO2 seems to be a requirement for growing HC well. i'm not sure what you mean by a "CO2 filter," what you need is a CO2 tank that is fed into your filter or otherwise diffused into the tank.

what lighting do you have? what kind of fixture, how many watts...?
I was told at my LFS that I need a CO2 filter, and they told me it would hang on the back of the filter like any other filter. So whatever they mean by that, I have no idea. Right now the lighting I have is a 15w 120v Aqueon Full Spectrum Daylight 18" bulb. It came with the tank.

But with my substrate, if I were to get a new substrate (whatever is needed) how would I go about putting that into my tank without removing everything? I would hate to remove everything out of my tank then have to start another cycling process, or would that not happen?

So confused...
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 11:22 PM
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Originally Posted by TheRebelsAngel View Post
I was told at my LFS that I need a CO2 filter, and they told me it would hang on the back of the filter like any other filter. So whatever they mean by that, I have no idea. Right now the lighting I have is a 15w 120v Aqueon Full Spectrum Daylight 18" bulb. It came with the tank.

But with my substrate, if I were to get a new substrate (whatever is needed) how would I go about putting that into my tank without removing everything? I would hate to remove everything out of my tank then have to start another cycling process, or would that not happen?

So confused...
There is no such thing as a co2 "filter". But you can add co2 to your tank with multiple methods. By co2 filter, are you meaning running co2 gas into the filter intake so the impeller diffuses it better?
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by CatB View Post
beneficial bacteria won't help plants to grow, or not much. i don't think HC (dwarf baby tears) grows very well in plain sand substrate, but weirder things have happened.

honestly, i don't know if i'd start with a HC carpet as a beginner at all. maybe dwarf hairgrass would work better for you. even experts have trouble with HC, but if you really want to try...
CO2 seems to be a requirement for growing HC well. i'm not sure what you mean by a "CO2 filter," what you need is a CO2 tank that is fed into your filter or otherwise diffused into the tank.

what lighting do you have? what kind of fixture, how many watts...?
HC does not need any kind of specialized substrate IMO. I grew some in play sand, black diamond, eco-complete. The white sand should be fine. The only white sand that would not be fine would be something like saltwater sand that would raise the ph.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 11:30 PM
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Maybe they were talking about one of those cheap jungle product CO2 things.

Rebel, my best advice, start with low light plants in a low light tank. They are still very beautiful and do not require any co2. Nutrients are nice, flourish and stuff, but even that isn't always nessesary. I dose with florish excel, which is more or less a co2 'supplement'

As far as your substrate, it would definitely be better to switch it out. BUT, if all you are doing is low light plants (not HC) you might be okay. I have 2 tanks with eco complete and 1 with regular old gravel. The ones with eco certainly grow faster, but i've had no issues having new plants sprout up in my old school gravel. If you have good lights, sure you could grow HC in sand, but I imagine you might run into some challanges being new to the hobby.

GOOD LUCK AND HAVE FUN!
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 11:31 PM Thread Starter
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There is no such thing as a co2 "filter". But you can add co2 to your tank with multiple methods. By co2 filter, are you meaning running co2 gas into the filter intake so the impeller diffuses it better?
I have no idea what the LFS meant by that, they just told me that. So what would be the best way to run CO2 gas into the tank? And how much would a CO2 setup cost me?

Also, do you think I can grow Dwarf Baby Tears with white sand as my substrate?
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 11:32 PM
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Rebels, do you have a $1000 laying around? If not, go low light, no co2, just flourish excel
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 11:34 PM Thread Starter
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Maybe they were talking about one of those cheap jungle product CO2 things.

Rebel, my best advice, start with low light plants in a low light tank. They are still very beautiful and do not require any co2. Nutrients are nice, flourish and stuff, but even that isn't always nessesary.

As far as your substrate, it would definitely be better to switch it out. BUT, if all you are doing is low light plants (not HC) you might be okay. I have 2 tanks with eco complete and 1 with regular old gravel. The ones with eco certainly grow faster, but i've had no issues having new plants sprout up in my old school gravel. If you have good lights, sure you could grow HC in sand, but I imagine you might run into some challanges being new to the hobby.

GOOD LUCK AND HAVE FUN!
Since HC seems harder to grow, would Dwarf Grass be considered a low light plant? And could I grow it without CO2? The lighting I have now is 15w 120v, would this be ok for Dwarf grass or low light plants in general? I just really want a carpet lol.

I'm trying to have fun, but this stuff is so confusing!! haha
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by TheRebelsAngel View Post
Since HC seems harder to grow, would Dwarf Grass be considered a low light plant? And could I grow it without CO2? The lighting I have now is 15w 120v, would this be ok for Dwarf grass or low light plants in general? I just really want a carpet lol.

I'm trying to have fun, but this stuff is so confusing!! haha
lol it is definitely complicated, there are so many factors. . marsella minuta (sp) is a good low light carpet plant. maybe even some java moss if you like the look. I have never had dwarf grass so would rather not comment on it
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-04-2012, 12:06 AM
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I don't know how well dhg would grow in low light.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-04-2012, 04:22 AM
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I have dwarf hair grass in low light and pool filter sand, it grows but very very slowly and don't expect it to carpet quickly either. I have had it in my 40 gallon since setup, that has been almost a year and its barely spread.
Marsilea Minuta may be a better choice.

Here is what I recommend.

Forget CO2, you don't need it and start up costs begin $200+
Go low to medium light (I would upgrade your lighting) the picture wouldnt load for me, is this a 20 tall or 20 long?
Keep your sand substrate but invest in root tabs and bury them into the sand. You can spread them evenly across the tank or just place them where you plan to have plants that are heavy root feeders.
Then dwarf hair grass or m. minuta in front, some java fern and/ or anubias tied to rocks or wood for mid ground and in the back plant tall cryptocorynes like Cryptocoryne 'balansae', Cryptocoryne spiralis, valsnaria or alternanthera reineckii

With this plan of plants you would only need the root tabs in front and in the back. Anubias and Java fern dont need to be rooted.

All of these plants are pretty easy to grow and don't need alot of light. Check out the second chart in THIS THREAD to get idea of the lighting you will need.

And if you want to help the plants along, I suggest dry fertilizers and follow EI dosing with Excel. Here is a link TomBarr's EI dosing for less techy folks It seems complicated but it's really not.
You could also do liquid ferts and excel but liquids are more expensive and won't last as long as the dry.


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