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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, I asked about lighting in that section: I have a 29 aga tank. 2x65watt pc light which I will run just 1 light over the tank to keep in the 2wpg range. Suggested to me in lighting...(right now it is a 10000k) will switch to 6500k. The plan is an Amazonian river biotope to house Angel fish (Pterophyllum Scalare or Altum). Questions: What substrate should I use? What type of driftwood? Is CO2 neccesary? What plants besides Amazon Sword? Can I use peat to soften the water, and darken it? Should I use my RO/DI water or tap? Sorry for all the questions, but I am totally new to freshwater plant tanks. I have successfully breed Angels in the past, but had no plants, and have had only saltwater reefs for the last 15 years.
Thanks for your help!
 

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What are your water parameters out of the tap? It would be interesting to know how much want/need to lower the pH/kH with certain substrates. You can find that out by contacting your local water supplier.
If you need to soften your water, you can use a pre-packaged soil like ADA Aquasoil or you can soften the water with peat hanging it in the filter or sprinkling it on the aquarium bottom under the final substrate layer.

CO2 is not necessary if you stay in the wattage range that you're in. If you go higher light, then carbon will become the limiting nutrient and algae will get a foot in the door.

As far as driftwood you can pretty much take any driftwood that you like and can find for a good price. Make sure you boil it for about 20-30min to get some of the tannins out that would otherwise over time color your water yellowish and to water-log the wood, so it won't float.

As far as plants go, most plants like soft, acidic water. I don't know what angelfish need but you need to make sure that the plants can take the higher temperatures of an Amazon biotope. There are quite a few different Echinodorus species including little foreground plants like E. tenellus. There are some other plants that can take higher temperatures, but they are from Asia or Afrika. So it depends if you want a true biotope or just a pretty aquarium. www.tropica.com has lots of info on various plants, their origin and keeping conditions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks vca2004....do any of you just go to a river and get driftwood, and just boil it before placing in the tank, or is it advisable to buy it?
As far as the tapwater, I'll have to have it checked, I only use RO/DI in my reefs so never bothered to have the tap checked. I'll check out the site you posted as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah I did this in the past, and had no problem, but didn't know if I had just gotten lucky. I've decided on Ecocomplete by Caribsea for my substrate, and have some ideas for plants too. Will research some more, and ask a million more questions!
 

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2x65w and no CO2 over 29 gal. is going to land you with a tank full of algae. Even at 1/2 those light levels, you'll have algae problems without compressed CO2. Leibig's law and the low carbon requirements of algae make it more of a scientific fact than just conjecture. You can try to get around it with PO4 limitation, but that will stunt your plant growth and encourage GSA.

If you add compressed CO2 you'll drop out the pH as well, which is great for spawning SA cichlids. That and some peat and drift wood should keep your pH low. If you want to go obsessive with things, or if your tap is liquid rock, some RO/DI can help things along. 50% RO works in most cases.

You'll want fertilizers; your tap and some food isn't going to provide enough unless you dial your tank down to 1wpg and keep the feeding heavy or the plant load light. DIY ferts are the cheapest, most effective thing you'll find. K2SO4, KH2PO4 and KNO3 will take care of NPK, CSM+B takes care of micros, and a little CaCl2 and MgSO4 may not hurt depending on whether your tap water contains enough.

If you have a KH over 4, get CaSO4 and dose for 5-10ppm, below that it may be more convenient to dilute some CaCl2 in tank water before adding it back to the system to get your levels high enough. MgSO4.7H2O is something you can look up on water quality reports for your area, and if the tap doesn't have it, you can find epsom salts at your grocery store.

the eco-complete is a nice rooting substrate but the nutrients listed on the bag are not bioavailable. Do not rely on it to provide anything significant besides iron.

-Philosophos
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
wow! OK, I was just thinking of using the PC fixture, because it was available, but it sounds like I can just get by with a DIY light, and have plenty of light if 1-2 watts per gallon is the desirable wattage. Can you guide me to a DIY option or a store-bought light that would be good for the 29 aga plant tank (low tech setup in mind).
I'll use the PC fixture for it's intended use....anothe reef tank! hahaha
Thanks any advice is very welcome
 

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I collect my own driftwood. I've used various pines, cottonwood (this one rots fast, not a good one), unidentified wood, and currently I have some branchy pieces that are leftover from a cactus that grows here called 'jumping cholla'. (it's neat stuff; it looks like manzanita only it's full of holes). Just be sure to wash whatever you use really well and boil it first if you can, if you collect your own.

That size tank should be nice for a couple of angels. I find that they breed better in a planted tank; when I was raising them, all my pair tanks were bare, and then when I put potted amazon swords into them, the fish were happier and I had more spawns.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks vca2004...are you suggesting the 1x55w kit? Also they don't come with the lamps. Which spectrum? 6500k?
Also thanks Ariel301..I have many rivers near here so I'll start exploring.
 

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6500K is the best IMO, very good for plants and very pleasant to the eye. And yes, I think the 1x55W kit should be great. I wouldn't go over 2wpg if you want to keep it simple.

BTW, the spiral fluorescents are also available in different wattages, not just the 20W.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yes I want to keep it simple, 1x55w 6500k...great! I will go that route then! Thanks allot, and I'm sure I'll have more questions too.
 

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If you're already into the hobby enough to have reef tanks, you should try a little compressed CO2. If you're using a calcium reactor by any chance you can just split your CO2 line off with a manifold and go from there. CO2 makes a very large difference on planted tanks; less algae, better growth, more options for plants, etc.

-Philosophos
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Philosophos..I don't use a calcium reactor, but dose 2 part. Anyway do you think that the 2x65w pc fixture can be used over the 29g if I use co2? If so what spectrum bulbs to put in it, and any other tips to make it work. If it's too much light period, any ideas? I'm looking at this as a way to utilize existing equipment ie: the 29g, and pc fixture in a freshwater realm. Thanks!
 

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I run a 1x65w over a tank similar to yours in size, and 1x65 with compressed CO2 is perfect. The same fixture over 20 gal was a challenge. 2x65 can be done, but it will leave you chasing algae. There are many famous aquascapers who use both low and high light. The only difference I've seen between them is how much time they spend trying to clean algae off of things. Award winning tanks happen at 2-2.5wpg with good light spread and CO2 all the time.

So, in short, run 1x65w with CO2 for a happy, comfortable tank outside of CO2 break-in pains for a week or two at most. For a tank requiring more work but less money, 1x55w with DIY and excel. Personally I keep a bottle of excel around regardless of tech levels; it's just good stuff to have for spot treating algae.

As I've gotten deeper into the hobby, I've found that compressed CO2 isn't a requirement for a nice tank. I have nice tanks that happened by accident with stock bulbs, some drift wood, basic plants, good substrate and good ferts. For an amazing tank though, I'd accept nothing less than compressed CO2.

-Philosophos
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thankyou so much..everyone who responded! This forum is very helpful, and nice people! Now I have a basic idea as to what I need to get started, but here is another question..lol...what filtration? A simple biowheel? Canister?
Thanks
 

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A canister will do a better job of keeping the water clean, and it's a prerequisite to compressed CO2. They're definitely more expensive, though. For a tank your size, you should be able to get a Rena XP1 for about $90-140 depending on where you go. Check ebay. I strongly recommend the Rena's in terms of best quality for the money.

HOB's are something I have yet to go wrong on for low tech tanks. Most brands do the job. Some people are very attached to biowheels, though I haven't played with them.

-Philosophos
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I've had great success with biowheels, even on my first saltwater tanks. Found a nice one today a Marineland Pro 280 for 50 bucks, may get that. Also was looking at some Floramax-Midnight black that I could mix with Eco-complete....would this be a good combo? Oh, and for a DIY light, are regular home depot type fixtures doable? I'm so used to HQI MH, and T5's that I feel clueless on this plant stuff!
 

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Floramax will probably do its job well in terms of grain size, but caribsea openly states that there's no nutrients. Eco-complete is more or less just a rooting substrate with some iron; the rest of those nutrients listed on the bag are not actually bioavailable.

Make sure you fert well; an inert substrate means it'll take time for nutrients to collect in it. Competition from algae will be a bit tighter.

Light wise, sunblaze has individual strip lighting; not sure if they've got 24'' but I know they've got 36'' and the bulbs that come with it are in good spectrum. You may have to hang it, or DIY some legs, but it's a good option for cheap, effective lighting. I've got 2x 48'' 54w T5HO of this type on my 48 right now and it's a bit intense. Once the emersed growth phase is over I'll be either using shade cloth or timed durations on half power to get things adjusted. I believe it cost me about $100 to get everything shipped to my door for that setup.

Anything you find at home depot can work as well. I tend towards programmed start fixtures (saves money on bulbs) when I can. At worst you'll end up scrapping the bulbs because of the yellow tint; some tanks look pretty ugly with it. The spectrum shouldn't be a problem most of the time though.

Individual parabolic reflectors will get you the best efficiency on your lighting. Try to get at least individual reflectors, even if they're angled.

-Philosophos
 
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