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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-30-2005, 05:29 AM Thread Starter
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Newbie needs help!

I have been fish keeping for many years and have just decided that my blue rock, fake plants, and castles, just doesn't look right. I currently have a 38G tall and a 75G reef.

I switched out my substrate and replaced it with Hagen's Geo sytem stuff as well as their wood (Canada).

I bought a plant, here we go. I have a HOB filter and my tank is mature with about 15-20 fish. I have a single light over the tank and know it is for plants but am not sure of the wattage. I'll check tomorrow.


My questions are:
1. how many plants should I put in right away?
2. Are my fish in any danger?
3. Should I bother trying with a 21" tall tank?
4. Is a bubble wand sufficent for the time being?
5. Do I need sand under my rock?
6. What should my PH be?
7. Do I need additives? (I use aquaclear for the dechlorination of the water)


My Reef takes alot of money and I am hoping not to cheap out, but have the tank running with at least half the cost, and less gadets. I thank anyone in advance that wants to tackle my questions. I am not completley helpless but need advice.

Thanks
Lindsay
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-30-2005, 10:59 AM
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Welcome! First to the questions:
1. As many as you can stick in the tank!
2. No
3. Lots on this board have 21" or deeper.
4. Most don't use wands, especially during the day where it drives off CO2 that the plants crave.
5. Sand is okay for plants, but nothing special. You might want to consider replacing the blue rocks because they are likely a bit bit to be good for holding down plants, and blue really kinda clashes with plants, IMO .
6. Your desired PH is really dependent upon your KH level. You'll learn all about the PH/KH/CO2 charts soon enough.
7. Yes, you will.

Now, please go read through www.rexgrigg.com. A great FAQ on planted tanks. It will address all of the above and more. It's actually worth reading a couple of times.

As to cost, to get a pretty high tech planted tank, I recommend you figure around $20 per gallon. Certainly no reef like costs, but not real cheap either. Assuming you have stuff around already, you can probably reduce these costs somewhat, and if you want to stay with a lower tech approach, you could cut is a bit more. But, for planning purposes, it gives you something to think about. Oh, and that's about what I spent in the first 12 months to get my tank up and fully running. Since then, I likely spend less than $20-$30 per month (and that's with electricity).

Planted tanks aren't necessarily easy. But, if you're keeping a reef tank, you can certainly figure it out.

Good luck!
Brian.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-30-2005, 12:16 PM
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Welcome Lindsay! Brian made some great points and I'll touch on a few more.

The tank shouldn't be a problem (although sometimes my arms get sore from reaching down my 24 inch tank).

As far as some good background reading material: www.rexgrigg.com has a bunch of good info on there and he does point out some cost saving tips in regards to carbon dioxide injection and fertilizers.

As far as ordering fertilizers, which you'll have to in the long run, the majority of us have purchased from www.gregwatson.com We generally recommend KNO3 (potassium nitrate), KH2PO4 (potassium phosphate) and plantex csm+b (micronutrients). As Brian mentioned, if your gH is fine out of the tap then you might not need to order any MgSO4 (magnesium sulfate). Most of the fertilizers come in one pound quantities and should last you a long time.

As far as cost...there are low cost alternatives, but with a 75g some initial investment is going to be needed to adequately maintain and keep the tank in balance.

Please read up on Tom Barr's Estimative Index nutrient dosing...again, a lot of us follow this method which virtually eliminates water testing. (do a search on the upper right corner of the webpage for EI dosing, Estimative Index, etc).

Re-boot!
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-30-2005, 01:10 PM
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Welcome Lindsay! First off, good luck on going planted and remember, use this forum as often as needed/possible. It will save you time, $$, and heartache :P

1. Add as many plants as possible, but I would say make sure you have the right equipment in place (enough lighting, for example).
2. Your fish are in danger of being spoiled with live plants.
3. I'd say 21" is just fine, but beware that less light will be reaching your lower regions: a good reason to go with Compact Fluorescent lighting.
4. Depends on if you go with co2 injection or no! If not, then I encourage surface agitation to bring in co2 from the atmosphere.
5. No. I'm not familiar with Hagen's Geo sytem gravel. If it's brand new, you should supply some organic nutrients to start. Some use root tabs, some peat, some garden soil (be careful with that one!)
6. pH is most likely fine as is, just make it stable!
7. Check rex's site and tom barr's EI article for nutrient info. If you go lowlight/no co2 you may not need to add much!

GL and keep us posted!
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-01-2005, 02:03 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks alot guys. I thought my post was so long that no-one would answer it. I am buying a double strip light that will fit perfectly onto my hood. I was wondering what light bulbs you would recomend. Just standard florescents for now. PC is so expensive. I have a VHO system on my reef and that is enough for one household. So Kelvin rating of ________? And watts of____?
So far I have a 15W flora glow on there but I'm pretty sure it is not enough. The only bulb I have found seems to be only 20W.

Also, I was thinking since all my gravel is brand new that maybe I should add either those fizz tabs or the fertilizer sticks. Which do you recommend? I bought some beautiful plants today, I'll try to upload some pictures later. I'm going to check out that rex site. I'll talk at you later. Thank you so much.
Lindsay
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-01-2005, 02:28 AM
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Most lighting for planted tanks use a Kelvin rating anywhere between 6500K - 10000K. Stay away from Actinics, they look pretty on a reef tank, but do absolutely nothing for plants. For a 38g tank (I'm assuming it's 36" long) a single 96-watt kit from AHSupply.com would be ideal when you're ready to upgrade your lighting. Their reflectors are probably the best out there and do an excellent job of getting the light out of the hood and into the tank. I have a 96-watt on my 30-gallon (same foot print as 38-gallon, but not as tall) and couldn't be any happier.

For now, I'd also stay away from fizz tabs and fertilizer sticks, if I were you. A quality substrate like Flourite or Eco-complete, combined with a good dosing reginmen and C02 should provide all the nutrients your plants will need.


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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-01-2005, 02:50 AM Thread Starter
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It is a 38G tall. The light fixture I was going to buy takes two regular florescent bulbs. I was wondering if there are any bulbs out there that have better watts per gallon. The bulbs I'm looking at have 6500K rating. Would two of these be sufficent?
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-01-2005, 03:03 AM
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Unless you like to do some DIY electrical stuff (in which case search around for ODNO), going with regular flourescents on a 38g isn't going to get you too far. You really want to get, at least, to 2 WPG, and even higher if you want to be able to do some of the more difficult (and pretty) plants. Assuming (and this is largely a guess) the new fixture you have allows two 20w bulbs, you'll be getting just over 1 WPG, and that's going to be challenging. Unless you want to stay really low-tech (and there's nothing wrong with that), then 1 WPG is going to make enough plants die off, that you might save money by getting better lights . You don't need to go crazy with the lights, but it is one of the most costly components to a planted setup.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-01-2005, 03:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by planted
It is a 38G tall. The light fixture I was going to buy takes two regular florescent bulbs. I was wondering if there are any bulbs out there that have better watts per gallon. The bulbs I'm looking at have 6500K rating. Would two of these be sufficient?

Nope.

Normal output, aka NO, florescent bulbs have a rating of right around 10 watts per foot. So there are no higher powered bulbs you can get. And IMHO, you area wasting the money on a double bulb strip. It's still not going to come even close to the amount of light you need on that tank. It's going to be 30-40 watts. And you really need to be looking in the range of 80 watts.

Is your tank 30" or 36" long? If it's 30" long and 31" tall then actually it's called a 37 gallon tank. The 38 gallon tank from AGA is 36" long.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-01-2005, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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Rex, I am so glad you decided to join this thread. I read through your site last night. Very helpful.
I have had the tank about 5 years. the measurement on the top is 30" x 12" and it is 21 or 22 deep. I would rather spend more money and get the right light the first time. I don't have a lot of money and am completly wiring illiterate. I like whole units that the most I have to play with is plugging into the timer. Everything is so expensive around the LFS stores in Canada. I think I will order something of the internet.

My question is if I do the CO2 thingy will the plants be ok for now? until I get a better light? I just bought a 440W VHO ice cap for my reef. The cost $800CAD. I do not wish to ever spend that much on a light again. I almost bought a shop light until I figured out I had to wire it. I'm scanning ebay right now but it is almost impossible to find a light that is 30"x12"!!!
Thanks.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-02-2005, 01:37 AM
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30" tanks are the worst thing to try and light. Standard PC bulbs are either ~24" or ~36" long. So you are stuck with either a 55 or 65 watt single bulb fixture that really doesn't give decent light spread though the whole tank or you are stuck with a dual 55 or 65 watt setup that pretty much requires pressurized CO2 and a good grasp of nutrients.

You claim to be wiring illiterate. But unless you are color blind you will be able to wire AH Supply kits.

And of course I highly recommend a 2x55 watt AH Supply kit for your tank. You can even purchase an enclosure from them or have one built locally.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-02-2005, 03:44 AM Thread Starter
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I decided to go with a light I found on ebay. It is 26" long with 24" 2x55w bulbs, daylight 10,000. Power compact. Seems like a good deal. The WPG rule it gives my 3 WPG. I will use CO2. That should be good right? Do you think I will be able to put higher wattage bulbs into it? like 65W or even 96W? It's selling for $40. I can't resist.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-02-2005, 12:05 PM
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That does sound like a pretty good deal. I have both an AHS 2x55w setup and a 1x96w setup. They both use the identical ballast. So, I'm guessing you won't be able to go to 96w. Oh...and duh!...the 96w is 36" long, so it wouldn't fit anyway. As to the 65w, I'm not sure. But, you're likely gonna be happy with the 2.6 WPG for a spell anyway.

I might also suggest that you remove one of the bulbs until you get your CO2 and ferts going. Having too much light without the right CO2 and ferts is just begging for an algae explosion.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-02-2005, 04:01 PM Thread Starter
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Well I'll buy the co2 now and by the time the light gets here (3-4weeks) everything should be good. Thanks for all your help. I'm sure I will have more questions. Is it bad to run a bubble wand?
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-02-2005, 06:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by planted
Well I'll buy the co2 now and by the time the light gets here (3-4weeks) everything should be good. Thanks for all your help. I'm sure I will have more questions. Is it bad to run a bubble wand?
Bubble wands make it hard to maintain C02 levels. This is because they create all kind of turbulance that in turn encourages your C02 to outgas from the tank. The surface of the water is constantly reacting with oxygen from the air anyway, so as long as you have adequate water circulation, bubble wands are completely unnecessary.


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