Converting an established aquarium to planted - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-03-2007, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
 
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Converting an established aquarium to planted

Hello, I currently have an aquarium with gold tetras, gold barbs, rosy barbs, blue gouramis, a talking catfish, a blond rubber nosed pleco and a red-tailed black shark. It has been established for over a year and I am interested in adding live plants. The substrate is just coated, large grain aquarium gravel and the lighting is whatever came with the hood I purchased.

How would I go about changing the substrate without upsetting the balance in my tank? What kind of plants would work decently with these fish? What is a good, relatively inexpensive way to light it properly?

I tried putting in a couple plants before as an experiment but they didn't seem to take root. I'm new to live plants, so anything you could tell me would be appreciated.
Just for fun:


My lovely gold tetras, the coolest fish in the world.
Thanks!
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-03-2007, 07:13 PM
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Welcome to the community! Try starting here to get an idea of what it generally takes to have a nice planted tank. rexgrigg.com Everyone here at TPT is really helpful as well once you have more specific questions after doing some reading about the hobby. Good luck and I can't wait to see the progress of your tank!

Mike


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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-03-2007, 07:19 PM
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Well, we are still missing a bit of information:

Tank Size
Type of Filtration
Light Wattage

125 Gallon AGA w/ Overflows
Filtration: Ehiem 2026 Filter, Dual "Ghetto" Overflow Internal Filters
Lighting: 1x96W Current USA CF - 2x96W Generic CF
Co2: Pressurized Co2 - Rex Grigg Regulator, SMS 122, and Rex Grigg Reactor.
Plants: Pogostemon yatabeanus, Foxtail, Bacopa, Egeria najas, Anubius, E. 'Ozelot Red', Ranalisma rostrata, Hornwort, Rotala Indica, Ludwigia Repens, Vals, Cabomba, Lilly, MoneyWort
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-03-2007, 07:28 PM
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You can change the substrate in an established tank kinda easily. I suggest moving the fish to a plastic bin if you can, but if you have to leave them in the tank, that may be fine too, depending on your new substrate choice. As long as you keep the filter media wet, you will save your beneficial bacteria. That should be enough (in the filter) to prevent the tank from cycling again.

What size tank do you have? That will help us suggest some lighting options to you.

*Kristin*
Planted tanks:40g breeder, 20g long, 29g
38g Reef tank


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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-03-2007, 07:39 PM
 
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I'd almost guarantee you'd have to upgrade the lighting. Get a power-compact fluorescent (HO vs NO) strip light to replace the one you have.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-03-2007, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enchanted View Post
Well, we are still missing a bit of information:

Tank Size
Type of Filtration
Light Wattage
It's a 20 gallon long.
The filter is a Tetra Whisper Internal Power Filter 40i
As far as the lights go I have no idea. It's a single tube, discount hood, so I'm pretty sure the whole thing would need replacement.

What is a good substrate to use?
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-03-2007, 11:53 PM
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Some good substrates are Eco Complete, Flourite, Aquasoil, Soilmaster Select...

Depends on what color you want...the Eco, Aquasoil Amazonia, and Soilmaster come in blackish/dark brown. Soilmaster also comes in a light brown color. Flourite comes in brown or reddish/brown.

For lighting, a single 65w compact fluorescent fixture would be perfect. It would allow you a wide variety of plant choices and you wouldn't necessarily have to inject CO2.

*Kristin*
Planted tanks:40g breeder, 20g long, 29g
38g Reef tank


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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-04-2007, 12:00 AM
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You have two options:

1) Go high-tech. Get DIY or pressurized CO2. Do EI (estimative index) and fertilizers, weekly water changes. Better lights.
2) Go low-tech. No Co2 or maybe Excel. Hardly ever do water changes. Still need a little better lights, but not more than 1-2ish wpg. Do a search for "low tech plants" there are plenty that are "hardy" meaning they can withstand lower lights, lower Co2, lower ferts.

Changing substrate is easy, just swapped from gravel to ECO-COMPLETE myself a few weeks ago (do a search for "Changing substrate" you'll see my post, with a pic and steps, or other folks advice).

I recommend eco-complete, I think it looks VERY nice, has micro nutrients for "root" plants, and is EASY to work with, most importantly (doesn't need rinsed, doesn't crush like clay, doesn't cloud up the water for weeks). Other folks like SMS seems a lot, I've never used it so I don't know. I don't recommend Aquasoil to "newbies" I personally think it is too difficult to work with to justify the better plant growth it would provide over Eco.

Go to the "substrate" section of this forum, snoop around....if it was me, and other people will have different suggestions, I'd swap to Eco, get a coralife or similar etc light setup (no more than 1 or max 2ish wpg) and then find a bunch of low-tech plants that you'd like. You'll want to do MACRO fertilizers once per week in SMALL amounts, and a MICRO fertilizer once per week in small amounts. I'm using TMG (liquid plant) now for the micros, I like it more than CSM+B. Macro ferts you can get from Rexgrigg.com.

edit: most folks on this board do the high-tech route, w/ EI and Co2 and daily ferts approach, so you'll find lots of support if you go that route. However, both options are valid, and people have success with either route. Both have pros & cons, high-tech is going to hit your wallet a little more w/ the CO2 and eat up your time more with weekly water changes (which ARE easy), daily ferts, and weeding out every week or so all the fast growing plants. Some people don't have the patience for slower-growing plants in a low-tech tank, and you don't have as many options for plants in a low-tech tank, but still plenty of low-tech plant options to keep you busy. If you do get more lights you'll not want to run it 10 hours a day initially you'll get an algae outbreak, you'll prolly want to go 5-6 hours a day max until your plants fill in and can out-compete the algae. Co2 if you do that you don't want to just go from 3ppm to 30ppm overnight, easing into is what I've seen suggested. I'm not sure if 65w would be too much for low-tech, that'd put you at 3wpg which is more along the lighting you'd see on a high-tech tank. You'll have to get feedback from others on that but it seems to high to me for low-tech.

NOTE: To do a *SEARCH* and get the answer you want, its often best to go to "Advanced Search" and search in the title only.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-04-2007, 01:37 AM Thread Starter
 
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Thank you very much.

I'm pretty sure I want to go the lo-tech route for now. I took a closer look at the light I have and it is a 20watt. At the pet store they had a bulb that would fit that was "for plants", it was pretty cheap. Would this work or is it just not enough light for the little guys?

I also picked up some flourite, as it was all that was available and I like the color. Since my fish are really hardy; I moved the tank 600 miles by putting them in a cooler 6 months ago and only lost my loaches, who I do not have anymore anyway; I think I'm going to do a "hot" swap and just take out like half of the original gravel, let it sit for a few days then add the well rinsed flourite.

Will any of my fish eat my plants? I know the Talking Catfish likes to dig.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-04-2007, 01:22 AM
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your tank has potential. Your fish will be fine with plants.

you'd need 2 of the 20W bulbs.
A low tech tank can be more rewarding than a hi-tech one... you'll have less algae to contend with.

Don't forget to dose a little fertilizer once in a while even though it's a low-tech tank.


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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-04-2007, 03:43 PM
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Are those 20w lights ok for plants? I mean are they a good "K"/spectrum?

NOTE: To do a *SEARCH* and get the answer you want, its often best to go to "Advanced Search" and search in the title only.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-04-2007, 04:29 PM
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If you go flourite you are going to want to rinse it "Extremely" well otherwise your tank is going to turn into a cloud of flourite.

Rex has info on his site about rinsing, but essentially you need to rinse it in a strainer till it runs clear.

125 Gallon AGA w/ Overflows
Filtration: Ehiem 2026 Filter, Dual "Ghetto" Overflow Internal Filters
Lighting: 1x96W Current USA CF - 2x96W Generic CF
Co2: Pressurized Co2 - Rex Grigg Regulator, SMS 122, and Rex Grigg Reactor.
Plants: Pogostemon yatabeanus, Foxtail, Bacopa, Egeria najas, Anubius, E. 'Ozelot Red', Ranalisma rostrata, Hornwort, Rotala Indica, Ludwigia Repens, Vals, Cabomba, Lilly, MoneyWort
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 11-04-2007, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
 
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I'm pretty sure the bulbs were called FLORA-GLO Fluorescent Bulbs by Hagen. I think I'm going to get two desk lamps and put compact fluorescents in them. What kind of bulbs are the best? How many watts?

So, I took out a little over half of the gravel. It got quite cloudy but cleared up pretty quick. I'm going to watch my ammonia level.

Wheres a good place to get driftwood/interesting rocks? My local pet stores suck at interesting things. Can I just take any rock from my yard, sterilize it and use it?
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