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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-01-2005, 12:27 AM Thread Starter
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Newbie Questions

Hi Everyone,

I am venturing from my comfort zone (african cichlids) and am considering planting my 100 gallon tank, and stocking it with dwarf african frogs. It's a 60"x16"x24" (LxWxH) tank, and I'm currently running a Fluval 403 on it, with the spraybar situated near the surface to create agitation. There's also a sort of internal filter chamber, which I may or may not try to do something with (probably a low-flow bio filter chamber), or just leave it empty and see if any fish decide to use it as a cave, since it's got a hole near the bottom sized for 3/4" pvc to slip into.

Anyhow, I have yet to pick out the lighting for this tank, since none of the lights that came with it seem to work. My funds are limited, so I'm leaning towards a Home Depot Shoplight or two, though I might put a Fulham ballast and some T-5 waterproof endcaps on my christmas list.

It's currently got about 60 pounds of play sand in it, some concrete/styro rock features, and 2 guppies. I'd like to stock it with a dozen or two dwarf african frogs, and probably a handful of guppies or other livebearer to provide the frogs with the occasional fry for desert. (until my wife catches on and either flushes the frogs for eating the baby fish, or makes me take the guppies out).

I'd like to avoid CO2, trying to keep it simple and keep light requirements down (avoiding un-needed expenses, since if I had the money to spend on ueber-lighting I'd just get another filter and mail-order some cichlids).

I've never considered what plants to keep in a non-cichlid tank, so i'm open to suggestions. I do have hard water, though, and no plans to invest in an RO system.

Anyhow, thanks for your time, sorry for the rambling post.

-Rick (The armchair aquarist, who could probably have just posted "I'm starting a new 100 gallon planted tank, got suggestions for the newb?", but what fun would that have been?)
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-01-2005, 12:59 AM
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I'd suggest some of my favorite, impossible to kill plants. Guppy grass (najas..some kind of najas) works great as a floater, the fry can hide and your wife won't see them get eaten in the thick mess. I'd also get java ferns, a couple big ones, you can sometimes get great deals on these on aquabid.com. Anubias are nice, but can be mishappen. Different variaties of crypts are nice, i like wendetii and balanse over many other varieties. You also can't go wrong with java/taiwan/christmass moss. Some species of hygrophillia such as hygrophillia polysmera and hygrophillia diformis (water wisteria) are some of the more hardy ones. Also, hornwort and anarchis are very healthy, and will take over your tank in a matter of months. They are great beginer stem plants. Amazon and other swords are good choices too, but need heavy root feeding. For information on many common, or slightly uncommon plants, i go to www.tropica.com. They have a good selection of information on a wide variety of plants.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-01-2005, 02:40 AM
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Regarding the light... if you have decided against CO2, you want to keep it low. It's difficult to evenly light a 5ft long tank. (I have the same issue)

Maybe four 4ft T8 lamps in a canopy would work alright:

__________
===__________
__________
===__________

Something like that arrangement. A Workhorse 7 would overdrive them, which might be getting us into higher (than desired) light levels. You could use one of the cheap Advance ballasts for NO output.

Alternatively, there are (not really cheap) 5ft 80W T5 bulbs, two of them would be very even light over your tank, still considered lowish light levels.

I have found it not easy keeping a lush planted tank without CO2 but hard water. Let us know how it goes...


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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-01-2005, 06:46 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the suggestions! Will I be ok with my playsand substrate if I'm going low light? I could probably find some pool filter sand somewhere, but I'd really rather not switch to gravel.

Last time I had a 5' tank (a 75 gallon, but it was also 60" long and 24" tall) I just used a single home-depot shoplight (2 48" T12 tubes), but always thought it was a bit dim. Two similar shoplights might fit now that I've got a wider tank, though it's not likely to have a reflector then. Makes me wonder if even a twin-tube T5 NO aquarium fixture would be better since it is likely to come with a good reflector ($48 at big al's including the bulbs... hrm...).

Thanks again for your time,
Rick (the armchair aquarist, who should get off his butt and build a canopy so he has somewhere to PUT this lighting when he decides what he wants)
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-01-2005, 09:54 PM
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I am not a big fan of playsand, the stuff that's sold here is a grey mess that is too fine for healthy plant growth. But it could be totally different from what you are using.

Two shoplights aren't that great of a solution... you'll end up with dark areas. A single one is probably not enough to grow any plant. Choices, choices.


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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-01-2005, 11:53 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasserpest
Two shoplights aren't that great of a solution... you'll end up with dark areas. A single one is probably not enough to grow any plant. Choices, choices.
Alas, I don't have the cash just yet to invest in a DIY twin 54" 80W T5HO with reflectors (the ideal solution, imho), nor to get two 30" twin tube T5 NO fixtures from big al's (not a bad solution, maybe... only 72 "watts" of light, but I bet a whole lot mroe of those 72 watts go into the tank than the 80 watts from a T12 shoplight, though not nearly as many as the 160 watts from the twin T5HO solution). My hope would be to start with the twin shoplights, and then upgrade at some later point (christmas?).

As you say, choices, choices

-Rick (the armchair aquarist)
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