New Member Looking for Consolidated Advice - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 08-03-2014, 11:59 AM Thread Starter
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New Member Looking for Consolidated Advice

Hello, all! I am a new member of The Planted Tank, but I have been enjoying the forum as a reader for a little while now. For about 30 years now (nearly most of my life!), I have been keeping tropical fish. I have had everything from Lake Malawi set-ups to betta breeding operations, and I have a goldfish pond, too. Thus, I have a fair amount of experience keeping aquaria.

Last year, I decided it would great to start up a serious planted tank and keep a host of South American tetras, mostly neons. I set up a 20 gallon long (is that called a breeder?) and used white sand as the substrate. I chose the sand because I have found over the years that it stays significantly cleaner than gravel and that the fish (especially corys and the like) enjoy digging through it for what they can find. I have since found out that this was a poor choice for a real planted tank, but I'm not really in a position now to take down the tank and start over. So, my first question is, what are useful ways around the presumed deficiencies sand causes?

The tank has been up for about six months now, but the fish were transferred from an older tank. I have 5 pygmy corydoras, two platys, about 18 neons, 3 serpae tetras, and one baby angelfish who will be transferred eventually. The fish are all doing extremely well, and I think the corys are beginning to breed, but I haven't paid that close attention so far, so focused am I on my plants.

So, the plants: I run the lights (very basic fluorescent tube that came with the Aqueon hood) about 12 hours a day, I use the Hagen CO2 Nutrafin reactor (and have it set on the biggest degree of saturation), and I dose 20 ml of "Aquarium Plant Food" (macro/micro pre-mixed solution) every week. Last week when I checked parameters, I had 1 degree of carbonate hardness and pH of 6.0, which meant, I think, that I had CO2 saturation of 11. Temperature runs about 74F.

The aponogetons, banana plants, java moss, pennywort, and duckweed are all doing quite well, but I do seem to have more vertical growth in general. I recently bought an amazon sword and some glossostigma, but the jury is out on both. The tank receives a fair amount of sunlight throughout the day.

So my questions are: 1) do I have enough CO2 going, or do I need to add liquid CO2? 2) what kind of lighting upgrade could I do that would allow me to keep my hood? special plant bulbs? 3) I studied all about dry ferts last night, and I'm willing to go that route, but will they necessitate weekly water changes of 50%? Not really willing to do that (busy as heck with the rugrats in the house).

I'm sorry for the long first post and for all the questions, which I imagine have been answered innumerable times before. If someone can direct me to one source (for instance, should I just buy a pre-mix of, I would be most grateful.

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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 08-03-2014, 04:43 PM
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Some of the basics to start? I would think it likely that a bulb upgrade might be worthwhile. I tend to defer on spending big money but bulbs can make a big difference.
bulbs do wear as the stuff sprayed on the inside does fall off (wear out?). Also a bulb rated 6500Kelvin may not be what yours came with. Kelvin is the "color" we want.
I prefer dry ferts for the flexible way I can dose as I see my tank change. Dry ferts are also much cheaper as you don't pay for water and shipping water? I find one of the members (NICLG?) is a good source but have nothing against the others.
Adding ferts can be difficult and a real headaches if you go too deep. I simply started with the EI dosing and kept in mind it IS an estimate. I don't sweat measuring exactly on ESTIMATES! Then I adjusted as needed. No real requirement for 50% if you trim back how much you add? The EI dosing is built on adding more than enough and then taking out the excess. I go with adding less and removing less. My plants may be shorted but that is okay with me. I just want them to grow and be happy. Stellar performance is not required.
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