Upgrading lights and substrate - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-10-2014, 09:05 PM Thread Starter
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Upgrading lights and substrate

Hi, im Joe and new to the forum. First off I have a few questions about doing a legit planted tank with regards to lighting and substrate or any other tips yall would like to offer. Here are a few things about me though so you know where I am at. I am 21 and in college. I have been keeping fish for about 2 years on and off. As of right now I have a 10 gallon planted that I keep in the dorm room. I also dont have alot of money.
So in August I decided I wanted to start a planted tank in my dorm room with my 10 gallon. (10 Gallons are the max size tanks allowed in the dorm) I didnt have alot of money so I bought a bag of sand for cheap and thought I would throw some plants in there and see what happens. It has been up and running for about 5 months now. There are some crypts, which seem to be doing really good, 2 amazon swords, which are booming, and some jungle val, which has grown up but has yet to produce runners. There is another plant in the back right which I know is common, but I forget its name right now. Anyways to start with I was just hoping the plants would live, but now I actually and trying to do something with it. Which leads me to feeling limited to what I can plant do to my lights and substrate. I have regular sand and 2 10W CFLs in a cheap hood. I want to start over and do it correctly this time.

Correct me or tell me what I could do better if yall see something in this post , but I was thinking I should spread a handful of peat on the bottom. Then go back and cover it with some Eco-complete along with some finer gravel to go on top of that. Then let it soak for a day or two, dry out, and then soak, then dryout, then fill it up to finish. How does this sound?
As far as lights, I am looking to upgrade. Like I said I have a 10 gallon tank with a cheap hood with 2 10 watt CFLs in it. I know that is probably not enough, so what fixture/lights would yall recommend? Again I dont have a ton of money lol
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-10-2014, 10:44 PM
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I'd stick with what works. Your tank looks great now and I wouldn't change how it is run by much. Definitely don't change the lighting and plenty of people run nice tanks with sand and root tabs.

Get a package of root tabs and liquid aquatic plant fertilizer is all I would do. Put a PIECE of a tab under each plant and carefully dose according to the directions with the liquid stuff.

If you want more plants check out the low tech forum for types that can handle your low light set up and then rescape because there is nothing wrong with your tank as it sits and a lot that is really really right. In time both the vals and swords will outgrow your tank but until then enjoy them.

Ecocomplete is inert stuff, as is sand. I think it has higher CEC which means it can grab nutrients out of the water is all. Layering substrate means you aren't as free to pull and replant. Do so if you like the way a particular substrate looks is all. Finer on top of coarser means coarser on top of finer after a few scaping sessions, it isn't likely to last.

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-10-2014, 11:45 PM Thread Starter
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I have been dosing with API Leaf Zone. Im not sure how effective it is, I bought it about a year ago. I probably should be using root tabs. That seems like a good idea. With regards to plants though, I just trim them often. I was going to find someone with dwarf sag in my area and try my luck with that.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-11-2014, 12:38 AM
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Actually two 10W or 13W CFL bulbs horrizontally in an incandescent fixture are the correct light level for a 10g tank. One if it is vertical.
And +1 on what Kathyy said.

The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line...in the opposite direction...
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-11-2014, 03:09 AM
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Upgrading lights and substrate


Your light is not a issue for a beginner. Anymore than that you might start to face algae issue. I would go around the net and look at some good scape, get some idea to start a good hard scape first. Unless you get a tank full of plants, like Dutch style, which almost not possible for a non co2 tank, hard scape really plays a big roll of how your tank would look good or bad. I have a low tech 5g tank in my bedroom just so I have something to look at if the lights on my main tank is off. I turn it on whenever I like and turn off whenever I like. It is not controlled by a timer and doesn't need to. I only have a HOB filter and a 13w 6500k CFL on the factory hood. No co2, no substrate, no fert, no timer, water change and trimming once a month if I'm happy to do it at all. I keep the photoperiod as long/short as I want and as irregular as I want. I abuse this tank so much but it just never go wrong, all because this is just a moss tank. I know yours is your only tank and you would want to be more serious than mine, so I would get some stems like rotalas, and some substrate depend on what scape you are going for. I'd avoid big leaf plants like the amazon swords, those just make your tank look smaller. The place I see you must spend some money on are hard scape material, root tabs, and plants that fit your hard scape. As your skill/ interest grow, you will want to get a paintball co2 system (will last you a while for such a small tank and roommates won't be scared of a #10lbs cylinder blows up one day), then LED fixture and soil substrate will have to be upgraded at the same time. And that is as far as you can go for your dorm tank. Hope this helps.

Just for fun, this is my bedroom tank I mentioned above. Currently keeping some tiger shrimp and Rasboras Maculatus, with some leftover lava rock I didn't use in my main scape and some extra Xmas moss. Click image for larger version

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