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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-21-2013, 02:51 AM Thread Starter
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Red face New Planted tank questions

Hello everyone, I have just started a new planted tank and am wondering if all will be well with the setup. First let me say that this is a big tank and has already been established, and by already been established I mean it was setup and had housed fairly large fish for two years. The fish where donated except for my pleco who I am keeping for now at least. Hear is my biggest question and I don't want to sound stupid here but I know a guy at my local fish store who has several planted tanks of his own and has told me that my substrate, which is the same substrate I have had in there for awhile, will be more than adequate to house the plants I have added. The substrate is a roughly quarter to half inch rock. Simple as that. No frills no fuse. The tank has more than adequate lighting now that I slightly upgraded to help my plants grow better. And as for filtration I am running a Fluval 406 canister filter. The only fis in there are as I said before my pleco who is pretty big but relatively lazy in terms of movement. And then there are some guppies that are anywhere from fry to juveniles, don't ask how they got in there cause it's a goofy story. I just need to know if everything as it stands will do ok or if I need to do anything else.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-21-2013, 05:58 AM
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That large a rock will work OK for the larger plants, and for plants that are grown tied to driftwood.
Not so great for the smallest plants or ground cover.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-21-2013, 06:55 AM
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Exactly as said above. large stemmed plants will work just fine. Swords will do great and types of anubias should too. Plants with very fine, short, shallow roots will not, for obvious reasons. Good Luck
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-23-2013, 05:08 AM Thread Starter
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What would be a better substrate for a planted tank? Thinking of just covering up the rock with something else that would provide better nutrients for the plants.

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-23-2013, 05:43 AM
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Here read this: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=153412
So far, I only have experience with sand and safe t sorb. You can definitely grow plants in sand. I have successfully grown crypts, water sprite, hygrophila augustifolia. rotala rotundifolia, hygrophila polysperma, sunset hygro. Well, they were easy plants. As for safe t sorb, it can grow those plants just as well or even better. My only complaint is how light sts is and it is really dirty. So lots of rinsing.

How big is your tank? What size is your pleco? What kind of pleco is it? Big plecos can easily uproot your plants. It makes replanting them in a big tank a real pain.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-23-2013, 04:45 PM Thread Starter
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Well ladies and gentlemen I better figure something out soon cause I'm starting to get a lot of death of plants in my tank. Is there anything I can add to help to supplement the plants outside of expensive substrates at this time? Something I can just go to my LFS and pick up right now?

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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-23-2013, 05:29 PM
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Most substrates are inert--adding little to nothing to the nuitrient/mineral levels of the tank and requiring additional fertilization; the amount and type of fertilization needed depends on the light levels, bio-load, and plant types. If you're having plants dying, your first step is to figure out WHY so you can provide the appropriate remedy. The more specific you are, the better answers you'll get.

You say you upgraded your lighting--but what are you actually running? Insufficient light is one of the most common problems when folks first switch to live plants as the lamps used for viewing purposes are woefully inadequate for most plants.

What plants do you currently have in the tank, when were they added and what problems are they showing? Many plants that thrive in low light levels suffer under higher lights (and vice versa), some plants go thru diffiucult transition periods when first planted or they may not even be true aquatic plants.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-23-2013, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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Ok let's start at the beginning, I have a 75g tank with a two bulb shop light T8 that runs a 40W Glo Flora-Glo bulb and another 40W Power-Glo bulb covering a good spectrum of light. I have a Fluval 406 canister filter which is just what was on the tank when I started it into a planted tank. Not taking it away because it gives me great water circulation. I have a couple of different types of anubis and some java fern. I have christmas moss that is attached to driftwood. And I have spirialis, Hope I spelled that one right, also another plant I can't pronounce. red with small leaves starts with an M. Have guppies in the tank and a pleco but he is leaving tomorrow. I am at maybe 10ppm for my nitrates, 0 nitrites, water is relatively soft, no chlorine, my alkalinity is at roughly 8.0. I really want to have a successful tank but it doesn't seem to want to work with me. I have kept fish for years in different types and sizes of tanks. I know how to keep water at a good level but this just seems to elude me at every turn.

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-23-2013, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
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Here is a pic of the tank as it sits right now. Just took this pic two minutes ago.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-23-2013, 08:53 PM
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A shop-light with the T8 bulbs is enough for a low light tank if the bulbs are only 1-2" above the surface of the water. Hanging that far above the tank (8-10) means that due to the inverse-square law the light levels are dramatically reduced. I'd drop that light to right above the tank.

The Spiral Val's (V. spirilas) are a finely rooted species and will do better with a finer substrate. I've found they do very well in sand but just a thin layer of gravel on the surface will keep them from spreading. They can also die-back and then regrow when placed in a new tank.

The Anubis likes to be attached to a hard surface not buried in the substrate.

The red plant looks like a crypt sp. to me on the left side of the tank. these do well in low light but they also tend to die back when introduced into a new tank.

Plants are a bit tricky to learn how to care for at first. Just like the fish they have their own needs that vary depending upon species. Think of this tank right now as the equivalent of the poor goldfish in a 2 gallon bowl that most of us started with. Plants need food (light, CO2 and fertilizer), correct housing (substrate & tank size), and time to adjust to their surroundings. It takes some time to figure out how to do this.

What I would do -

Change the substrate to include sand or a commercial planting mix. If you like the look of the rock you can put a 1/2 layer on the surface. The crypts and val's won't spread with this however.

Drop the light down as close to the top of the tank as possible and look at getting a 4 bulb fixture.

Read up on the Estimative Index dosing. You can order dry fertilizers online. They are a lot cheaper than using the liquid stuff you see at the pet stores.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-24-2013, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the help V. I was actually looking at a four bulb fixture anyways. Also I am going to do a more plant friendly substrate this weekend. So thank you very much. Here's another good question, I have a glass top on my tank, will that affect the lights ability to pass through to the plants? Also would miricale grom planting mix work good or should I go another route?

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Last edited by Mjolnir1982; 07-24-2013 at 06:24 PM. Reason: extra info needed
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-24-2013, 07:46 PM
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the glass lid shouldn't be a problem for the light to penetrate as long as you keep the lid clean.

I have heard a lot of good reviews for miracle grow, but of course every substrate has its pros and cons. one con is that you can't move plants around once planted because it would disturb the substrate resulting in an ammonia spike. It can get pretty messy too, but it can grow plants very well. Have you tried researching mineralized top soil? It might be a better choice.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-24-2013, 08:37 PM Thread Starter
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Well I did some research on mineralized top soil and have decided to go with the miracle grow only because it is readily available in my area. I can't find any place where I can buy mineralized top soil. I have found a lot of recipes on how to make it but nothing on where to buy it. I have to have it by this weekend as I have an order of red cherry shrimp that should be here next week or so and if I don't act soon I will lose all my plants. They just aren't getting rooted properly and I don't want to lose anymore. I appreciate all your help here. I'll let you know if I need anymore help.

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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-26-2013, 07:59 PM Thread Starter
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Finished!!!

Well it's complete now. I have finished adding dirt to my tank and even some new plants. A lot easier then I thought it would be. It looks amazing and just overnight and my plant are already taking hold a little and reacting well.

I have gotten my hands on a new light fixture. It is a 4 bulb shop light with a Glo-Flora, a Glo-Power, Glo-Sun, and Glo-Aqua bulbs in it. As per V's advice I have the fixture hanging about as low as I could safely get it as I have removed the glass tops from the tank and decided to leave it open for better light into the tank.

I have added a couple of new plants such as a red ruben and an amazon sword. Both look amazing in the tank and add some real height to the tank as well.

I still have the guppies in the tank to add motion but I am thinking about getting some otto's and of course the shrimp that will be here Monday if all goes well.

Thanks for all your help everyone. I keep you up to date on how things are going and here's a picture of the new tank setup.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 07-28-2013, 11:34 PM
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that's great. I hope it goes well.
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