Transitioning from no-tech to...something else... - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-12-2014, 12:13 PM Thread Starter
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Transitioning from no-tech to...something else...

For the past 20 years I've had aquariums going in one form or another, all planted, but low light, no tech to speak of. I've (apparently) mastered keeping fish (10 year old tetras!) but with plants I'm still a novice.

Well, I'm tried of it, of my anemic anubias forest, of never being able to keep anything else alive. A generally boring planted tank.

I wonder if anyone could provide some guidance in terms of what a logical "next step" would be without going crazy into hundreds of dollars of CO2 tanks and Takashi density.

In a nut shell, what am I going to need to spend in terms of $$$ for fertz, test kits, etc.

My current setup is one of the Fluval Flora tanks (just under 10G cubes) with the 15Watt light. The horrible stratum will be coming out in favor of fluorite.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-12-2014, 06:37 PM
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Basis your high-level description here's what I would do:

- Keep your light
- Change the substrate to something better (Aquasoil or similar)
- Buy PMDD ferts online (not pre-bottled ferts like Seachem, those are pricey), you will be set back $45-$60 and it will last you years
- Add CO2: if you have the budget, pressurized is always better, if not go DIY

Read up on EI or other methods of dosing. Start with easy low-light plants, get your CO2 and fertilization regimen in order and you'll see much better results. Don't overdo lights, this is how many people get in trouble.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-12-2014, 09:02 PM
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Discussions tend to focus on either low or high tech tanks, but there's actually a very broad spectrum between the two.

My tanks range from no to mid-tech but are easily moved up and down the spectrum by hanging which light bar goes on which tank, adjusting the fert schedule to match and--occasionally--re-arranging the plant layout. A high light loving plant that was surviving but not spectacular under low light levels might be moved into a prominant position once it's given enough light to make it worth showcasing, or plants prefering lower light moved into more shaded areas if the light levels are greatly increased.

How far you want to move up the spectrum depends entirely on where you want to end up as it may or may not require injected C02 and high ferts. Fast growth, lush carpets, deep reds usually require C02 but...if you haven't yet, check out the low-tech forum. Lots of great tanks showing what's possible with low to moderate light levels that would only require you to upgrade your lights and invest in moderate fertilization.

Costs are equally variable. Sleek, streamlined, automated brand name lights run high--but you can get the same results much cheaper with DIY options. Similarly, dry ferts are cheap in the use, but require a bit more in initial layout to buy all the ingredients in bulk. Your best bet is to figure out what you want to achieve and then start scaling your costs from there. In general, though, you want to buy lights that reach the top end of what you want; it's far easier and cheaper to moderate the affect of a too strong light system than the reverse.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-13-2014, 03:43 AM
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Here is how I transitioned to medium tech tanks:

1) Noticed potassium and iron deficiencies, started dosing with a liquid fert. Leaf Zone.
2) Also started adding Excel.
3) Local hardware store went out of business and I got a bunch of lights for half price. This was when the state of the art had just noticed T-8 bulbs. Some of the fixtures I got would hold T-12 and others would hold T-8.
So I doubled the lighting. I also moved a lot of the tanks closer to windows to get more light.
4) Started using DIY (yeast & sugar) CO2.
5) Read about Estimative Index. I tried it, and had so many fish in the tanks that I could only make it work by not dosing KNO3 at all.

Then life got in the way, and a lot of things stopped.

Now I have the tanks in a greenhouse (WAY too much light) and am rebuilding the fish population, and working through some issues with the over all set up. (Such as the roof blew off last winter)
I am dosing the Estimative Index method, with daily doses of Gluteraldehyde (the active ingredient in Excel)
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