General advice for a newbie - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 10-02-2008, 05:10 PM Thread Starter
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General advice for a newbie

Hey, everyone! I'm not new to the site but this is my first post here. I found it while looking for some info on a paludarium that I wanted to set-up in the future. But I've been asked to set-up a freshwater tank for my sister so I'm asking for any generlal advice you can give.

I'm not new to fish as I've had a 46 gal reef that's been running for about 5 years. But freshwater is a whole new world that I know very little about. I'm looking for the simplest set-up possible because the tank isn't in my home although I'm sure I'll be called over quite regularly for maintence!

I do know the look that I'm going for, just not sure about the the means to achieve it. What I want to do is give her a nice community of colorful fish, very natural looking, with a few plants. I like the look of moss, rocks, driftwood, and I was def trying to add some shrimp(red crystal?).

The tank is a 28 gallon cube and stand with a single strip stock lighting, not sure of the wattage. But I did advise her she would probably have to upgrade the lighting. It also has a mirrored background which I'm not to fond of, I think darker really brings out the inhabitants color.
The filtration is an AquaClear 30, but she just bought it 2 days ago and I can easily return it for something better.
The susbstrate is your standard gravel, but do I need something more like soil?
Also do I need something like a powerhead for circulation or a air-pump with tubing and stones.
I have a Ro/di unit for the water. Also I have easy acces to Petco, Petsmart, Home Depot, and a local nursery.
Any advice you can give on general set-up would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 10-02-2008, 05:47 PM
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Well, I've been doing this for a little less than a year so I'm still new in a lot of ways but I'll put in my $0.02 anyway and I'm sure others will chime in after

If the tank is a cube, depending on your wattage you may need to upgrade the lighting, I have less than 1 watt per gallon (wpg) stock flourescent lighting on 2 of my tanks though and I manage to grow quite an assortment of plants. There's a good number of easy to care for, lowl ight plants. Mosses that you mentioned you like can be grown in low light as well as the plants commonly attached to driftwood (anubias and java fern) many cryptocoryne species do well in low light in my experience (crypt spiralis which is liek a grass and crypt wendtii which is leafier both flourish in my .75wpg 20g high tank. Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis) also does well in low light and it's a good stem plant to get the tank started, it grows fast and sucks up a lot of ammonia.

So the moral is, find out what kind of lighting you have / decide what kind of plants you want clearly I'm biased, i run LOW light LOW tech tanks because I enjoy the look of a healthy planted tank but don't have the time to or money to maintain a high tech tank.

I personally like HOB filters and aquaclear I find does the best job (i like the one i have on my 30g better than the penguin i have on my 20g) I think it does the job fine on relatively small tanks.

The mirrored background I believe can be painted over, i think it's krylon fusion spraypaint that is safe to use IN the tank but I'd wait for someone else to chime in on that.

Substrate, gravel will work, it works well for me, but other things will work probably better, depending on how much $$ you want to spend and what's available. I have eco-complete in my 30g and I really like it. I used 1 20lb bag mixed with some black aquarium gravel. It cost $25 at my local fish store and it's damp when you open it so some of hte 20lb is water weight. It's black. There is also Schultz aquatic soil that you can get at home depot or lowes in the pond section, it's just crushed clay so it doesn't have any nutrient content when you open it (which the eco-complete does) but it will absorb nutrients well, and i got a 10lb back for $7.00 and it's dry so it's actually 10lbs of substrate. it's kind of light weight so you could cap it with aquarium gravel. That is what I plan to do in my 20g when I have a chance.

well that's my 2 cents for now. I'm sure I missed some stuff, but others will chime in and I'm sure you'll have more questions

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