38 gallon Central American planted tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-01-2007, 02:22 AM Thread Starter
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38 gallon Central American planted tank

Hey to all,

I recently picked up a 38 gallon tank (36"L, 12"W, 17"H), and I'm considering doing a planted tank with Firemouths, tetras, corydoras, and a pleco. Anyways, I would like to get a setup from AHSupply.com, and I was deciding between a 2x36w (72 watts total) setup and a 96-watt setup (they would each end up around 34.5" long), with either 6700k or 10000k bulbs. I want to plant the tank with a variety of species, and I don't want to be limited by the light, but I would love to be able to do it WITHOUT using CO2. I love plants, but I'm really a fish guy at heart and I just don't have the time to do everything for the fish and the plants with school and a job.

Would I need to add CO2 to either of these setups to keep the plants from turning yellow or being stunted, or would they grow well, just more slowly than with CO2?

Also, which color temperature would be better for the tank? I think I would like the whiter light of the 10000k better visually, but if one would be better for the plants, I'd pick that one.

Lastly, if you have a very simple/inexpensive DIY CO2 idea, I'll consider it, but if I could get away with not using CO2, I'd rather do that.

Thanks in advance for your help!

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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-01-2007, 06:01 AM
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Well, the lighting is fine, either way. I've always found that higher intensity bulbs lead to better plant growth, but others seem to prefer a mixture of intensities.

You could do a simple DIY CO2 if you wanted; there are plenty of ways to do that which usually entails harnessing the CO2 gas from fermenting yeast. Sugar, water, yeast, a two liter pop bottle, and some tubing is all you need. I run pressurized CO2, so I don't remember the recipies exactly, but they are easy to find. Or, you could buy a cheap yet effective tablet reactor that uses a plastic bell to diffuse the CO2 into the water, and they are readily available at your LFS, or online shop.

However, before I ran CO2, I spent years with nicely planted aquariums which I only added FloraPride every week, and limited water changes, and had great results. I had cabomba, ludwigia, and vals flowering all of the time. So, my feeling is that if you want a nicely planted aquarium without using CO2, it is entirely do-able. If you want good plant growth without CO2, I would make sure that you don't change as much water during water changes, which will lead to an accumulation of mulm, which will soften the water and help to keep the pH at a nice level for both your plants and fish. You will need to fertilize with iron, nitrogen, potassium, and excel. As long as you keep a high nutrient load in the water column, your plants will be fine.

They won't grow as FAST, but they will grow well all the same. And it doesn't need to take that much time either.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-01-2007, 06:05 AM
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If you don't want to be limited by light, go with the 96-watt setup. That'll give you 2.5 watts/gallon allowing you a wide selection of plants without needing to use CO2 injection. What you can do is provide a carbon source with Seachem's Excel.

Either color temp is good.


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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-01-2007, 02:33 PM Thread Starter
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I'm sure the Excel won't do as much good as dosing CO2 with yeast or pressurized, but I could start with the 96 watt setup and Excel (and the other fertilizers--any suggestions on what to use?).

I was going to use Eco-Complete for the substrate, so that would take care of the iron, and I will have lots of fish--will that be enough for nitrates?

And Seachem makes a potassium fertilizer--would it work well?

Eventually, I could set up DIY CO2, but Excel sounds like a good solution for now...
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-01-2007, 03:29 PM
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Words from someone who has been in your shoes before. Spend the 100+ bucks on the diffuser and pressurized CO2 setup. You'll spend more money bouncing around with DIY stuff than if you just get the setup. It really doesn't require any more maintenance, and in the long run you spend more time trying to fix stuff that is caused by CO2 deficiency.

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-02-2007, 03:35 AM Thread Starter
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Any other responses, opinions?
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-02-2007, 05:02 AM
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You want simple, no CO2? Go with the less light. AH Supply lights are very bright and that is not a very tall tank, time you add the substrate. If you go with the 96 watt, you'll prolly need CO2. I need CO2 on a 26 bow with 55 watts. Just my .02

Three Tanks...Eheim 2128 & XP3-90G, Eheim 2128-65G, Eheim 2232-25G.... Tek 4x54 watt T5-90G, Aqualight 96watt PC 65G low tech, 65 watt Aqualight-25G.... Hydors-90G & 65G ... Flourite in 90, 65, & 25 Gallons, .... Auto Water Change/Auto dosing on 90 & 65 gallon..... AGA member......
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