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Hi everyone. I'm new to this forum and am on information overload on how to start up my 55 gallon as a planted tank. I've read so many methods for trying to start up the tank from using different substrates, to ferts, etc. My end goal is to have a low tech tank (not planning to use CO2). I just have a stock 55 gallon tank with hood, so I'll be switching out my bulbs in the hood to up around 1.5 to 2 watts per gallon (from what I've seen, that's about adequate if I don't want to use CO2, right?). If I can't change out my bulbs, I'll purchase a new light fixture to give me what I need for lighting. I've been reading over the posts in Tom Barr's forum, and I'm very intrigued by him method of setting up a planted tank using a sort of dry method of emersing the plants in wettened substrate and then allowing the plants to grow in before adding water and fish. Love the idea of not having to deal with algae or constantly monitoring water parameters like one normally would during a tank cycling. Has anyone tried this method and would you recommend it? I've looked around for the ADA Aqua soil that he mentions in his write-up, but can't find a local source in Canada. From what his write up states, I understand that one would use 1" of substrate, and then fill in about 7/8" of water and keep it at that level, while keeping the tank covered and the lights on for a normal 8-10 hour day. Would Eco Complete work in the same way? Also, has anyone had issues with excessive bacterial buildup or mould growth or anything like that? It would seem to me that with the moisture buildup on the tank and whatnot, that there would be issues with mould/mildew. Any other advice that anyone could give me on this method would be greatly appreciated. It seems to be a great way to start a tank and having it mostly dry would allow one to easily maintain the plants without having to worry about disturbing the substrate or mucking around armpit deep in water. Thanks folks!
 

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I've done this a couple of times. It works fine with other substrates, Aquasoil just has the ferts built in. I personally never had a problem with mold or mildew or cyanobacteria.

The only thing is that sometimes, the plants don't stay down when you fill the tank. I've never successfully completed a tank with HC. Every time I fill the tank, all that nice looking HC goes straight to the surface.
 

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In my experience. I have never been able to grow HC in a low tech tank. You can always use Excel for a pseudo carbon supplement (co2), and only root tabs for ferts if you get some swords and crypts, Also if you have a standard light fixture, i doubt you will be able to get enough wpg. I would recommend upgrading to a T5 x54W light, they cost around 100$, but with 0.5 WPG you could still grow moss's, maybe java fern, and some crypts.
 

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The best and safest way I know to clean any aquarium is actually the use of salt water followed by a rinse. Scrub off any residue of minerals in corners you find in the aquarium, rinse several times and put in a new filtration system and it should all be fine. A small salt content in fresh water is no problem as it acts to kill harmful bacteria. There are times when I have added salt to fresh water for that purpose. I would be more concerned with keeping an eye on the Ph and knowing what the fish species you want in the tank can tolerate. Example: most goldfish and koi prefer a 5-7 Ph. CRITTER MASTER

I'm really confused by you. What are you talking about? Are you just dispensing random information in random posts? How did this relate?
 

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Emersed set ups are great for growing your own plants. I'm doing a low tech planted aquarium also. Since plants like anubias and cryps grow slow in a low tech planted tank. I grow them emersed then add them to my aquarium. My anubias grow 3xs as fast in my emersed set up. I always have a supply of plants for free. Since I'm new to planted aquariums I have lots of plants to experament with.

Your best bet is to grow your plants in a seperate set up rather then the aquarium your gonna use. Some people do grow carpet plants emersed then flood the aquarium. But most carpet plants like hc arent going to do well in a low tech aquarium once its set up. This could probobly work with dwarf sag. but it would be better in a seperate set up dedicated to emersed plants then move them to your aquarium.

Get yourself a aquarium what ever size you want 5,10,20 gallon or what ever. Get some containers that fit in it. Poke some holes in the bottom of the containers with a nail. Fill the containers with plain scotts brand top soil. Put the containers in a aquarium and fill with enough water so that it comes up 1/3 of the side of the containers. Get a peice of glass cut from lowes home improvement for a lid. And keep the set up in a warm place. You can use what ever kind of lighting you want. Screw in compacts or t5 or regular flourecents.

Emersed plants are easy to grow and you can save alot of money.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
In my experience. I have never been able to grow HC in a low tech tank. You can always use Excel for a pseudo carbon supplement (co2), and only root tabs for ferts if you get some swords and crypts, Also if you have a standard light fixture, i doubt you will be able to get enough wpg. I would recommend upgrading to a T5 x54W light, they cost around 100$, but with 0.5 WPG you could still grow moss's, maybe java fern, and some crypts.
I actually wouldn't use the stock bulbs in my light fixture. I was planning to switch them out to 2 x 54W or something else that will give me 1.5 to 2 watts per gallon. I guess my concern then would be the stronger light only getting to the back of the tank, but I can get a plexi top for the tank pretty inexpensively at a lfs, so that would help with dispersing the light throughout the tank. So a lower light set up is not enough to grow HC? I'm pretty new to this, so bear with me if I'm asking some newbie questions! :hihi:
I read over a pretty extensive thread about setting up a planted tank using this emersed method and there were a lot of pics to show the progess. Seems easy enough, but if the plants I would need to use will not grow in low light, then I guess I will just have to get myself a good substrate and plant in a filled aquarium. Can anyone recommend some low light plants that I could use to start with the emersed method?
 

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I have found HC to grow fine, both submersed and emmersed in a low tech tank that I would consider low light (13x2 watts screw in daylights over a 10 gallon). I don't know if it has just adjusted or more.

I have only tried to grow a few plants emmersed. My advice would to be patient first of all. Plants usually take a bit to adjust and start to grow. Also, though many stem plants will grow emmersed fine after breaking out of water, they may not do so well from a dry start.
 
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