Questions about setting up a planted tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-11-2005, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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Questions about setting up a planted tank

Hi everyone,

I recently bought a used 30gal (30"W) aquarium, and I would like to make it a planted tank if I can afford it. I have never done planted before and need some advice.

I've been doing a lot of reading on the subject in the last couple of days, and my head is swimming from all of the information.
My main question has to do with lighting. I would like to try to keep low light plants and would like to know what sort of lighting I should use. Can I use a traditional single bulb fluorescent light strip, or would I need a fixture with two bulbs? I've read about CF bulbs and they seem great, but are a little on the pricey side for me (I am a student on a very tight budget).

For a substrate I was thinking about using coarse sand or maybe coarse sand with a layer of fluorite underneath. Will this work? or can anyone reccommend any other decent, cheap substrate?

I currently have a HOB filter capable of moving up to 150gal/hr. Can I use this for a planted tank? From what I've read, it seems that HOB filters are okay as long as it doesn't agitate the water too much...

Also, is it going to be neccessary to add CO2? I've read about the DIY CO2 methods and I think that would work, but I don't want to have to buy any pricey equipment.

Is there anything else that I'm missing?
Thanks in advance for any help
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-11-2005, 08:35 PM
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If you want to keep low light plants, I don't think lighting could be a major factor if you were to keep a high tech tank. I would just go with a standard 55watt flourescent 6,500k.

I wouldn't mix sand and flourite but if you like the look, go for it. You can always easily seperate them since a standard size net has the hole big enough for stand to slip through, so all your really picking up is flourite.

A HOB filter is fine if your going with low light plants, e.g) anubias, ferns, etc ...
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-11-2005, 11:51 PM
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Take a few minutes and read my guide.

You would need at a minimum a two bulb strip. You want to get around 2 watts per gallon. The problem with a two bulb strip is they don't provide 60 watts. If your tank is actually 30" wide then it's really a 29 gallon tank. And the standard strip lights for that size tank are about 15-20 watts each. So you can see the problem. Also those bulbs are 24" long whereas your tank is 30" long.

Lighting an odd length tank is one of the hardest and most frustrating things you can do. I suggest that since you are on a budget you check out the ODNO thread in the lighting section.

You can mix coarse sand/fine gravel with Flourite with no problem. Just make sure the grain sizes are similar or the larger stuff will end up on top. Also you should have a 50/50 mix based on depth, not weight.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 07-12-2005, 01:04 PM
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Just wanted to add that I tried to grow low light plants for over a year in a 30g with only the 20w strip. Very frustrating experience as, at best, you can essentially keep them alive but with negligible growth.

Upgraded to the AH 56w kit, which I now consider about the bare minimum. Am thinking about getting a new fixture for my 30g, and cannibalizing my 56w for a larger tank - possibly 55g - that I expect to be setting up soon.
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