how to turn gravel tank into planted tank? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-18-2002, 09:25 PM Thread Starter
 
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I have just cycled a 29g community tank and have now decided I want live plants in it. I have a few amazons in it right no, but most everything else has died. My LFS isn't much help in any matter, but sells quality stuff as far as I can tell. Housed in my tank are 5 zebra danios, 5 neons, 5 bloodfin tetras, 3 cory cats, 1 rapheal cat and one colobian shark. Just wondering if it is pointless to try and if not, how to start? I can only find info so far on setting up a planted tank from the beginning. TIA~Dawn
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-18-2002, 09:57 PM
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There are three basic things your tank will need in order to grow lush plants - Nutrients, lighting and CO2.

Nutrients should be available with the fish load you've got, so you shouldn't have to worry about adding any Nitrates (NO3), Phosphates (PO4) or Potassium (K) until you've got extensive plant growth.

CO2 is basically the same. Don't worry about it for now. But when you've got a lot of plants, and some strong lights, the plants are going to be starving for CO2. At that time, you can run a search for CO2 on this forum and try various methods of injecting CO2 into your tank.

Lighting - this is your first step. You'll need about 60 watts of light on your tank to grow most plants. You can do this with three 20 watt fluorescent tubes or one 55watt Compact fluorescent light (www.ahsupply.com has the best prices).

Go on and start stocking more plants - the more the merrier and the better luck you'll have fighting algae when you get more light. Read as much as you can! Read through the posts in this forum. A few beginners have recently gotten their start and you'll find a lot of information from their experiences.

Don't be afraid to ask specific questions.

But read this articles and it should help you get started....

How to start a planted tank

Welcome to the planted tank board!

- Sam P -
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-18-2002, 10:40 PM
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Yeah, make sure once you get a lot of light that you have plenty of plants, otherwise you will have tons of algae. I made this mistake when I set my tank up and it still isn't gone completely.

-Tim

Tank in transition! 55 gallons, hard water.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-19-2002, 08:06 PM Thread Starter
 
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-19-2002, 08:08 PM Thread Starter
 
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oops! sorry about the blank post above *blush*

so can i put the clay cat litter and sand over the cycled gravel and add my fishies back in immediatley? I forgot to mention I started the tank with gravel and the plants aren't catching root (duh!). Thanks for your helps!!!!
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-19-2002, 10:03 PM
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The easiest substrate (gravel like material that the plants are rooted in) to add to an already established tank is flourite. You will need to take everything out (or most things). First you rinse is thoroughly and then add it to your tank. This is what I did and it worked very well. I don't know much about cat liter, but yes sand is OK if you had something under it with nutrients.

The kind of substrate is dependent upon the growth you want. If you want really fast growth, I would reccomend flourite with jobes plant spikes (for ferns and palms). Plain flourite will work well too, but the sticks really help. If you want, you could just have regular gravel, but you would be limited to some stem plants. Hope this helps!

-Tim

Tank in transition! 55 gallons, hard water.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-19-2002, 10:10 PM
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I wouldn't recommend cat litter for an established tank. It is far better suited as the bottom 1" layer in a 3" bed of regular gravel. Rinsed Flourite should be fairly easy to add. Or honestly, just standard gravel will do surprisingly well. You can improve standard gravel with Tetra Initial Sticks (VERY high cation exchange capacity, which basically determines a substrate's ability to store nutrients for root feeders) and Jobe's sticks in the long run.

But if you just want added depth for plants to make it easier for plants to take root, even standard gravel will do that well. And it won't cloud the water.

- Sam P -
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-20-2002, 01:40 AM
 
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Just add more gravel bro...
Thats all I have is gravel and the plants root and grow fine... My gravel is 4 1/2 - 5 inches deep though and my tank is VERY heavily stocked and doing better then ever . My tank too was allready setup and I even still have a UGF in there :P but again only because like you I wanted to start a planted tank and did not want to tear apart an established tank.
My plants are growing like crazy and doing very well , but only since adding CO2 and ODNO lighting... before they just survived... now I can hear them growing ! :hehe::hehe:
So go ahaead , add some gravel and plant away... it works and I look at it as good practice , maybe even MORE of a challenge... like I need that... Im challenged enough !
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-22-2002, 12:51 AM Thread Starter
 
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OK now ya'll are talking GREEK...LOL....where do I get flourite? And do I have this right.....take out my major stuff, rinse the flourite, add it and some plant spikes (with my fish still in the tank?) Then plant and add my rocks and stuff back in there?

Do I need a siphon hose when I have a planted tank? (I have one now, but it is way short and I make a big mess when I do a change.)

I have the basic bulb that came with my hood. I still haven't figured out how to take out the bulb to see whta wattage it is (although I have been told it is prob 15.) Can ya'll tell me what brand of lighting bulbs you use?

Oh, more more thing.....I have 6 zebra danios, 5 neon tetras, 5 bloodfin tetras, 3 cory cats (albino, panda and peppered,) 1 raphael cat. I'd like to eventually add glass cats, marble hachets, cherry barbs, white clouds. Are those compatible with a planted tank? Thanks you all for your help.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-22-2002, 02:26 PM
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All those fish sound great for a planted tank. You might also add a few algae-eating fish such as Otocinculus, Siamese Algae Eaters or a small pleco.

Tell you what, though - just don't worry about the gravel for now, ok? Fluorite is great stuff, but plants will grow just fine in what you've got and you risk stressing and killing your fish by changing the gravel. As long as it is deep enough (around 3") then plants will grow just fine in it. You don't need a gravel siphon tube with planted tanks because the decaying mulm and debris becomes consumed by the plants. It helps to have one, just in case nutrients get out of hand and you need to do a clean up, but it is not necessary.

Your 30" long 29gallon tank most likely has a 24" bulb. If this is a standard 2 foot fluorescent (F20T12) then that is 20 watts. That's definitely not enough light to grow anything other than very low-light plants such as Anubias, Java Fern and Crypts. And even they will grow very slowly.
This is the only place I'd recommend you spend a little money before going planted. You've got quite a few options, but they depend heavily on how experience you or your husband are with electronics.

You could buy a 55 watt Power Compact Light kit from AH Supply and put the bulb in your existing hood. It won't look any different from the outside but should provide enough light to grow most plants. Or you could simply add two more 20 watt strip lights.
Or... (here I go again, plugging ODNO technology, haha!) you could buy a ballast that could drive pair of 20 watt bulbs to 80 watts and REALLY grow some plants. That might be a bit too involving right now.

If all of that still seems Greek to you, just order one of these Custom Sea Life Brite Lite strips from Champion Lighting & Supply.

The one you'd need is the CSL 30" BRIGHTLITE W/ PC LAMP 1x65w $102.90

- Sam P -
plantedtanker in limbo - all tanks currently in storage
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-22-2002, 05:50 PM
 
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I also highly recommend the AHSupply lights for your set up. Your regular home handyman (husband?) can take out the light fixture and install the new reflector kit and bulb in the existing hood in about 30 minutes. It is about $75 - 80 with shipping, I got the 5700K lightsand I'm pleased with the pinks and greens in my tank.

With the Perfecto Hood, I needed a pair of #6 stainless steel 1" long bolts with nuts and a washer in addition to the things included in the kit, you *do* want the kit. Add a pair of wire cutters and a drill with 1" bit to cut the additional pop-in vents in the ends of the hood (optional).

Add that light first. You may find that the plants you have now perk up quite a lot. I'd guess that shortly after that you will want to think about carbon and trace elements. I use Flourish Excel for carbon and Dupla24 drops for the trace elements and I'll be adding root tabs soon.

I planted my first tank, a 10 gallon, 5 weeks ago, the second one, a 29 gallon, 2 weeks ago, the 3rd one, 20 gallons, last week. So, I'm only a couple of steps ahead of you on plants. I've made a few mistakes, but these boards and others like it have made all the difference in how quick the recovery is!
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-29-2002, 07:08 AM
 
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If you really, really want to enrich the substrate in an established aquarium, you might want to visit:

http://www.plantguild.com

Click on the link at the left that says "Substrate (re)Build". It will take you to a page showing what I thought was a nifty idea. It is a hollow tube with a plunger in it. The kit also includes a press to make pellets of substrate material. After making the pellets, you load one in the tube - stick it down in the gravel - and use the plunger to push the pellet into the sub-surface. I don't own one, and have no idea how well it works... but it looked like a novel idea.

Good luck...

Tim
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-30-2002, 06:14 PM
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I'll pass on a little trick I learned years ago. When you want to plant something live in a tank with an UGF, slip a piece of flat plactic or glass under the gravel on top of the UGF to cut off the filtering action in that spot. Then go ahead and plant your plant on top of it. This prevents disturbing the root system and allows the roots to grow faster. Its no replacement for removing the UGF completely but it allows the plants to get rooted if you just can't bring yourself to tearing out all that hard work you did so far. As for the lights, you need more, just like Gulf Coast said. That is a given that has no substitute.
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