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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
i've been out of the game for a long while and have recently set up a new 29 gal cube tank. having been such a long time, the new standard of LED lighting has presented a curve, but i'm learning all about PAR and adjusting well, I think. I have some plants and fish in there already, and the plants seem to be doing well. I just wanted to itemize what I currently have going on and am looking for some suggestions and help on making this a tank to be proud of.

The details:

- 27 gal cube
- glass hood
- 18" Marineland Single Bright LED
- 18" Marineland Double Bright LED
- AquaClear 30
- Tetra Whisper PF10
- some kind of heater that looks like it employs stealth fighter technology, no idea what, but it's encased in plastic and has a menacing red eye not too unlike a Cylon design might have on the front side. it keeps my tank at roughly 74°, at any rate.

- inert sand substrate
- 2 'medium-sized' pieces of Malaysian driftwood
- a small piece of Texas holey limestone (I used rainwater at the start and wanted to protect against a pH crash by adding some calcareous mineral buffer)

- a cluster of java ferns
- some java moss
- a cluster of wendtii crypts 'bronze'
- a spiralis crypt
- 6 black neons
- 4 glowlights
- 2 otos

i plan on adding 3 more glowlights, 3 more otos, and 5 julii Corys. i'd like to keep it relatively simple. i currently change roughly 10% of the water each week and maintain 0 ammonia and nitrite levels, and 0 or near 0 nitrate levels. I don't plan to get too much deeper into the chemistry, as it's not something I want to tear my hair out over. I am not running carbon. i'd also like to avoid CO2 if at all possible. here is the tank as it is:

Water Plant Pet supply Organism Terrestrial plant


I have some questions, if anyone would be so kind as to chime in:

with the sand substrate and what I figure to be roughly 30 PAR at the level of the substrate, what plant options do I have other than what I already possess? I assume, seeing as how PAR increases as the distance from the light decreases, that I could support some higher light stemmed plants (higher light than crypts, anyway). is that accurate? i'm hoping to get some red hues in there behind the wendtii; any suggestions? if no stemmed plants would work, maybe a red tiger lotus? alternatively I was thinking perhaps some red variant of the wendtii behind the bronze variant, which leads me into the next question . . .

my lights are configured so that the brighter one is all the way at the back of the tank to accommodate the crypts and the dimmer one more centered so as supplement the brighter one and to sun the Java fern and Java moss. this seems pretty intuitive to me, but I am made to understand that crypts can grow taller and stringier under lower light. so the question is, would it be wise to put the brighter light in the center so as to encourage thicker and lower growth of the wendtiis in the fore-/mid-ground and the dimmer fixture in the back so that the spiralis and wendtii variant that ends up there grow taller? I just wonder if they then might better occupy the rear of the tank from an aesthetic standpoint.

and in general, what am I doing wrong? any tips, suggestions, pointers, criticisms, grievances, etc, are welcome!

thanks in advance for any feedback.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
update

thanks for all of the helpful responses.

added some more fish; conspecifics of what's already in there. looking to add more otos and eventually a pair of blue rams. also added what is supposedly a C. wendtii 'red'. i don't know. doesn't look very red to me.

also upgraded to an old Fluval 204 for better filtration and a cleaner, more buttoned up look. hoping it will allow for higher CO2 levels as well.
 

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Nice to see another person from central Ohio on the forum! I think you're definitely off to a great start. I'm fairly new at this, so I'll do my best to offer good advice. I think you could most likely add some more red (crypts or others) to your tank. Whether they be bronze or red wendtii, or the tiger lotus. You light also be able to add some narrow leaf ludwigia, which I've had success with in moderate light. I would also look into vallisneria as a background plant. I think the location of your lights is most likely fine as well, but you could always just switch them up to see how you like the change of growth. Just my 2 cents lol, just another beginner giving feedback! :hihi:

-Sam
 

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Hmm, too bad no one responded... But I'll first say welcome to the forum and welcome back to the planted world!

I will second admit that I don't currently run any low-tech tanks. Back when I did have one, I just had a sand substrate as well. I did use some root tabs, which would probably help the crypts out in your case. The crypts and any stem plants will grow much better with root tabs since you don't plan on dosing anything to the water. A few suggested plants for low tech are of course, anubias (attach to the wood), wisteria (grew like a weed in my low tech), and I also kept swords when I had a taller tank. You're on the right track with the crypts though, I can't speak much to their growth characteristics under those lights. Another stem plant with some color that can apparently be grown in low tech is alternanthera reineckii. It will be green on top of the leaves, but will have red undersides which will give a little pop of color when they move in the filter current. Let's see, if you want a little ground cover, marsilea minuta is reputed to be good in low-tech tanks (Check out Bartohog's recent for sale thread he's got TONS of it for sale). You could start a patch of that near the wood on the front right/middle and just let it go wild.

So there are two pieces of wood in there? I actually like the way they look like a big block in there, but I wonder if it would fill out the tank better to angle them a little differently? Or perhaps spread them out just a little so you can more easily tell there are two pieces in there? I think even flipping the left piece 180 degrees so it still points up but to the left with the java fern in between them might look good. Then when your moss grows out some and needs a trim, you can attach some to the other wood too. Or if you get some anubias, you could attach it to that piece too.

Canister filters are the way to go. I'll never go back to HOB unless I have to, haha.

You mentioned rain water, will you be using treated tap for water changes in the future? And the water chemistry isn't too complicated for low tech. No ammonia, no nitrates, minimal nitrates. You're doing good there.

Maybe someone else will chime in here but otherwise you should peruse the low-tech subforum on here for some ideas for plants, tank conditions, and scaping people have done.

Best of luck!
 

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If you are close to accurate in estimating the PAR you can grow Ludwigia.
You likely are light on having enough light for alternanthera reineckii and/or Rotala
Macrandra(both red but med light plants) and the alternanthera reineckii is notorious
for needing lots of fast growing plants in the tank/w them to keep them from getting algae on the leaves. Since I have very little in fast(er) growing plants I have had some
of the alternanthera reineckii for almost a year without it doing anything but collecting algae. If I turn down the light enough for it not to it don't grow.
Crypt "Florida Sunset" is more "red" than those other two, but on these red just means not true green and I'd call it a misnomer.
Looks like you could use a bit more sub if only towards the back for plant roots.
If you get some scissors and trim the moss down to about 1" it will thicken but let it get established first. For the first couple of weeks after you do it will look trimmed but then it will loose that look. Right now it looks starved for light but it's new so see how it grows. Long stringy shoots going upwards means too little light for it.
This is what it can look like(poor quality pix)if it has some light.
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/picture.php?albumid=14289&pictureid=63225
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/picture.php?albumid=14289&pictureid=59634
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
now those are some helpful responses!

the marsilea minuta and red ludwigia are both excellent suggestions! i'm hoping to breach the surface--or at least, almost--in the left corner. I was hoping the c. spiralis would do it, but i'm not certain it will grow as high as 18", paired with the flow of the canister output tumbling its leaves and preventing it from stretching out straight up. the ludwigia sounds like what i'm looking for, especially since the red wendtii that showed up isn't really red (not sure if that color will come out as it gets established).

actually trimmed the moss last night during a water change. we'll see how it grows. there are some 'runners' growing along the wood, looking pretty thick and stout. as it stands, the stronger light is all the way at the back (for the crypts) and the weaker one is at the front (really, for the best color on the fish). i'll play with their placement as I get a feel for how things are growing.

there are two separate pieces of wood in there. the idea I had was to make it look like one larger broken stump. it's obvious that what I've done seems to make the aquarium appear smaller, rather than to make it look larger, which I think is standard in this discipline of the hobby? great observation; might need some work there.

i'm going to look into getting some red ludwigia. I really like the idea of the carpet; I was thinking I might put a flat stone there for the rams, if I go that route. otherwise, a clover carpet would make my Irish fiancée pretty happy! plus, I enjoy shrimp too; that might be a better route, and go toward making it look larger rather than too cramped.

as far as increasing substrate, that's good advice. my only hesitation is that this tank is in the middle of the room and I was going for a viewable-on-4-sides thing. but even in bonsai you have to have a 'front', so I guess I might not be able to have my cake and eat it too. more substrate is on the menu, especially if it means better plant growth.

I appreciate the responses. i'm sold on at least trying the ludwigia. i'll give it another few weeks and post some higher res pictures once I have the ludwigia in place.
 

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You could try changing the title to something asking for help from a moderator. Probably the easiest would be a title like **need moderator help** and an edit of the first post to have the first line being you actual request. Hope that helps!

The tank is coming along nicely , I would highly suggest getting some marsilea minuta. I love mine and it grows a node ever day or two when it gets established. If it creeps under a dark spot it will morph its leaf shape and I really like the natural chaotic look it adds after a while.


~Travis
 

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In the future, you can report your own post to alert the moderation team and/or PM one of us for requests such as these.

I have moved your thread to the Tank Journal subsection and also changed the title back to your original title.
 

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Looking good! I will be planting my 90 gallon tomorrow!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
here's a little update on the progress of the plants. filling in slowly but surely.

I've currently got schools of glowlight tetras, otos, aspidoras, and a colony of RCS. dosing daily with Excel Flourish and dosing weekly with Fe and trace.

looking good just in time to break it down; building a stand for it this weekend.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
stand build

trying my hand at cabinetry, I finished the frame and test fitted the skins this weekend. frame is made from 2x4s ripped square, sistered, notched, and shouldered to transfer weight through the wood and leave the fasteners only to hold the works together. skins are 3/4 red oak ply. the whole things is glued and screwed using hidden hinges on the front; a door cut from the font panel with a jigsaw so as to lie flush and give the stand a clean, modern look. we'll see how it turns out ...
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
thanks K! I need to get my butt in gear and finish it! I actually stalled out after fitting the panels, and then jigging out the door. also building the centerpieces and various decorations for my wedding coming up in May, and the boss is riding me about those, so this takes a seat haha. planning on finishing next weekend, and then i'll make a move on all my tanks and update!
 
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