New to planted tanks, help me out!
I'm not new to aquaria, been doing that for a while, but mostly African Cichlids, which aren't plant friendly. I decided to convert one of my 29 gallon fry holding tanks into a planted tropical/South American tank (tetras, that kind of thing).
Right now, I have a big ol' piece of driftwood that spans the entire tank, and is as tall as the tank, I've got some Dwarf Hair grass, an Anubis which I already forgot the name of (long stems, broad leaves), and some Java moss. Figured that would be easy enough to start off with?
Okay so here's what I'm doing now / the equipment I've got...
Lighting: 4 bulb T5 HO, 46" currently with two daylight bulbs and two actinic bulbs (yeah I know the Actinic won't do anything for a freshwater tank, but they came with the fixture). I know it's overkill but I got it on clearance a while back and had it on my 75 Gallon, and figured I'd stick it on this puppy for some good lighting.
Question One: This fixture is programmable, how much light should I be giving these plants? How many hours per day of the 'daylight' bulb? (
I think it's 5500k, I'll check in a minute and edit this post woops, nope, it's 12,000K/54W T5 HO, two of them, 46", over this tank (and two actinic). Does the actinic matter at all? (In other words, can I leave it on for 12 hours just to keep the tank lit?). This fixture 'has' LED's but the reason it was so cheap is they don't work :P
Well cycled tank, has been a Cichlid fry holding tank for a year and a half, this morning it had about 30 2" long White-Tail acei poop-machines.
0~20 nitrate typically when it was stocked with fry, with some huge water changes each day (when they were very young) and each week beyond that
Water is hard (I am out of testing materials to get the actual numbers, I can buy some if it's really important, but it's hard I can tell you that)
pH of about 7.5
STOCKING: Currently 6 cory cats. Going to stock much more later, but I want to give it at least a few days (any new stock will go into a 10 gallon quarantine tank first anyway so it'll be a couple weeks before it has more stock)
Next question: With those water parameters, and that lighting in mind, how should I be feeding? I want to go CO2 eventually, but right now I can't afford that. So, for now, I've been using API 'liquid' CO2 (a.k.a. some form of plant-usable carbon I'm sure, the bottle was way too warm to be liquid CO2, hehe), doing the recommended dosage, I have API root tabs underneath the anubis and a couple of the hairgrass, and I have API Leafzone fertilizer.
Suggestions for how to dose (currently using labeled dosage), or what to add/subtract for fertizer?
FINALLY, because African cichlids like to dig, I have a mix of black and white fine sand in there. I don't really want to change the substrate because it looks good, I have nowhere to store it, and dangit that would be a huge pain. Is that acceptable substrate? Do I need to change it / mix something else in / create a layer underneath it, anything like that? Everything I've been reading has said these plants aforementioned don't need the substrate that much, and they can handle the sand as long as they get the nutrients they need.
FINALLY, any stocking suggestions? Looking for some fun tropical fish that will fit in a 29 (preferably small schooling fish), that won't harm my plants and will make all of the colors come together!
Hey folks I know I'm asking alot of questions, but I appreciate your answers in advance. Hopefully all of those patient days of mine explaining the fishless aquarium cycle over and over again or answering the same questions on various Cichlid forums over and over will have built me up enough good karma that I can get away with asking what is probably a bunch of really newbie questions here! I appreciate it everyone.