My first planted tank! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-08-2014, 02:15 AM Thread Starter
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Talking My first planted tank!

Hello everyone!
After a few years of having mostly saltwater tanks, I decided to switch over to a freshwater planted tank after moving into my apartment and losing a lot of space =(.

Anyways I followed some advice and guides and picked through a lot of info to start up my tank, however there are some things I'd like to get a clear answer on and there no better way than talking with some real people to answer the specifics!

To start I'll describe my setup so you're clear what I'm dealing with. I started with no under gravel filter, I have 2 to 2 and a half inches of Eco complete on the bottom, topped with about 1 to 1 and a half inches of black sand. Im using a penguin hang on back filter with two cartridges, a heater keeping the tank at 75 degrees, 4 32-watt daylight florescent bulbs, and a power head for a little water flow. I planted about 8 plants yesterday and the tank has been running for about a week now. Only problem is that my friend decided to surprise me with plants from a local store but didnt bother to ask what they were or what conditions they needed. I'll be doing some research the next few days to try and figure that out. I'll also be adding a few more plants and hopefully some sort of moss and a nice piece of driftwood in the next few days.

Anyway there are a couple things im still not sure about. First off, does everything sound right above? Im considering taking out the powerhead cause I've heard I don't need that much water flow in the tank. Second, is C02. should I just go with the DIY water,yeast, and sugar? or should I spring the 30 bucks for a store bought one? And how exactly do I get it into the tank? and exactly what do I need to measure the co2? From what I understand you have hose going from the bottle to an air stone in the tank and at night do you just take the hose out or something? I also have an airstone running in the back during the day, should I leave that in there as well as the co2 stone? Or should I just use that for the co2?


Also, what type of liquid ferts or supplements should I buy to keep everything going smooth? Any other tips or tricks?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-08-2014, 03:55 AM
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Knowing the size of the tank would help greatly. I'm guessing your tank is good size due to the light setup.

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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-08-2014, 04:07 AM
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Pressurized C02 will be cheaper in the long run instead of buying the little C02 cartridges every month from your LFS for $30 a pop. Size of the tank would help. I use Seachem fertilizers in my 75 and 90 gallon planted tanks. Although I've never used them myself, dry fertilizers are cheaper going forward as well.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-08-2014, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by houbanna View Post
Knowing the size of the tank would help greatly. I'm guessing your tank is good size due to the light setup.
Ah! of course, how could I forget! Its a 55 gal!

Quote:
Originally Posted by metsfan421 View Post
Pressurized C02 will be cheaper in the long run instead of buying the little C02 cartridges every month from your LFS for $30 a pop. Size of the tank would help. I use Seachem fertilizers in my 75 and 90 gallon planted tanks. Although I've never used them myself, dry fertilizers are cheaper going forward as well.
Thanks! I forgot to mention it is a 55 gal. And how much would a good co2 system run me? Any suggestions? I was thinking about doing the 3 two liter bottles with yeast and sugar to start but I need to get something to measure my co2 levels. Ill probably be upgrading to a 90 or 120 gal when summer roles around.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 04-09-2014 at 02:01 AM. Reason: Back to back posts
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-08-2014, 04:04 PM
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Height hurts when talking plants and light needs. But you have about 2 x the light needed for low or some mid light level plants. At that Wattage I'll guess that it's a four bulb shop light. You can get bulbs which mostly help visual brightness(Zoo Med
Tropical sun) butyou may need to cut the light in hrs or by raising it some to avoid much algae in there/w that many bulbs. But they will be needed after the tank is full of plants as the more plant mass the more light you need.
You can break it into two segments for before work/after you get home schedual
but more than 7 hrs will cause you algae issue till you get good plant growth.
Best to do a lot of reading on ferts in that section first before you purchase any.
Depending on which plants you have, you may need to taylor the ferts to them.
Some use much larger amounts of certain nutrients than other plants do.
Fert packages are avilable from most sources of dry ferts. But they don't give you the chance to change the amount of any certain one in most cases as they usually
come with the components mixed. Not a bad deal to start/w and you can get any
individual one you later see is lacking and just add it seperately.
With CO2 and those lights you are in the high tech bracket.
Low tech= low maintenance High tech=high maintenance
Faster growing plants need more ferts to keep up growth or algae issue will occur.
You can piece it together for less from craigs list for example but I think
an injected system is about $200.

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-08-2014, 04:29 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the very informative response!
Yes, its a 4 bulb shop light but I was told to try to reach around 2 watts per gallon so thats why I did that. How much higher will the maintenance be for high tech? just more trimming, algae control, and fertilization? I was thinking about getting a little liquid fert to start and then start switching over to root tabs and such.

Unfortunately, I don't have the money to go with the $200 co2 system right now, but would it be beneficial for me to get an airstone connected to the 2 liter bottle containing yeast sugar and water to produce a little co2? and is that how the DIY systems work? Just attach it to an airstone and let it run 24/7 or just at night? And yet again what gear do i need to measure and maintain my co2 levels?

Thanks again!
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-09-2014, 01:31 AM
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I think you would be better off pulling a couple bulbs out and just doing low teck. I have the same setup shop light and 55 gal and need the co2. The diy co2 may not cut it as its better suited for smaller tanks from what I understand

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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-09-2014, 04:12 AM
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5lb c02 tank on amazon yesterday was $66.99. The regulator is about $90. Then all you need is some tubing which is very low cost, a bubble counter, and a fluval ceramic diffuser should work just fine. Getting the tank filled with c02 is generally very inexpensive as well. You should be able to get a whole setup for under $200 if you shop around. Its worth it, and your plants will love it!


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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-09-2014, 04:22 AM
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It's going to be extremely difficult to achieve consistent CO2 levels on this size tank with DIY CO2 and HOB filters. HOB filters (especially Penguin biowheels) tend to create surface agitation, which will gas the injected CO2 right out of the tank. Most people use canister filters when setting up a high tech tank to avoid out-gassing the CO2.

If you're working with a smaller budget, I'd also advise going low tech with this setup for now... you can always upgrade your lighting, filtration, and get a pressurized CO2 setup down the road.

Another benefit to a low tech tank is that things just move more slowly- which helps the learning curve; gives you more time to realize and figure out what's going wrong and how you need to address it. Your SW experience will help in some ways... but you're also going to need to totally reverse your thinking in some areas... for example, we WANT nitrates and phosphates in our water to feed the plants...

Is your current fixture CFL? If so- any chance you've got more than one switch on the bulb banks?

Post some pictures of your plants and we'll be happy to help you with IDs.





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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-09-2014, 01:03 PM
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Go low tech, you will be happy you did.

I started mine about 11 days ago (75g) and its growing like a beast. I couldn't imagine trying to deal with a high tech tank.

I am still growing some plants that are considered to be hard to grow / high tech plants and they seem to do well so far.
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-10-2014, 01:39 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks again for all the replies! I think I'll have to go low tech for now until I get my new tank. I want to upgrade to a larger tank sometime soon and I have a cartridge filter ready for that. So I have about 2.1 watts per gallon now, and am using Iron, potassium, and carbon substitutes. I didn't know 2.1 was considered high tech? I have two fixtures with two bulbs each, so I could take one off and have 1.05 watts per gallon?
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-10-2014, 01:47 AM
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What kind of fixtures are you running?

"Watts per gallon" tends to be an outdated way to estimate light levels, useful only with the older T8 and CFL fixtures. The more modern T5 and LED fixtures produce dramatically more usable light per watt. Fixture design - including the type of reflectors behind and spacing between bulbs - can also dramatically impact light levels.

Tell/show us exactly what fixtures you're using and we can help you better from there.





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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-10-2014, 01:53 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lauraleellbp View Post
It's going to be extremely difficult to achieve consistent CO2 levels on this size tank with DIY CO2 and HOB filters. HOB filters (especially Penguin biowheels) tend to create surface agitation, which will gas the injected CO2 right out of the tank. Most people use canister filters when setting up a high tech tank to avoid out-gassing the CO2.

If you're working with a smaller budget, I'd also advise going low tech with this setup for now... you can always upgrade your lighting, filtration, and get a pressurized CO2 setup down the road.

Another benefit to a low tech tank is that things just move more slowly- which helps the learning curve; gives you more time to realize and figure out what's going wrong and how you need to address it. Your SW experience will help in some ways... but you're also going to need to totally reverse your thinking in some areas... for example, we WANT nitrates and phosphates in our water to feed the plants...

Is your current fixture CFL? If so- any chance you've got more than one switch on the bulb banks?

Post some pictures of your plants and we'll be happy to help you with IDs.
Thanks! I'll post some pictures of my plants so you guys can help me and also give me some feedback!
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-10-2014, 02:11 AM Thread Starter
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Im using two T8 fixtures with two bulbs each, 32 watts per bulb.

Heres a pic
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 04-10-2014, 02:11 AM Thread Starter
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http://imgur.com/zgL7QLo,nFw9oCw#0

Black fixtures, so not much reflection.
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