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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there, I am working towards setting up a 55 G planted tank but have to admit that I feel more than a little uninformed. I think what is missing for me is the big picture. I was planning to get another light to match the one I already have (Nova Extreme 78 watts) but I was reading that that is too much light (156 watts) without Co2 unless I like lots of algae. How far I can go with the light that I have now before I need to add CO2? What type of plants should I be considering for my tank - low and/or medium light? I am already dosing Florish on a weekly basis. Should I be using Excel also? What type of schedule should be followed. Any precautions to watch out for? Are there any affordable ways to do CO2? How much would a good CO2 system go for? Please link farm anything that would be considered a good read for someone interested in setting up a CO2 planted tank.

Equipment List
  • 55 Gallon Tank (36" x 18" profile)
  • Nova Extreme T5HO (2 x 39W)
  • Eheim 2217
  • Visitherm Stealth Heater
  • Eco-Complete substrate
Potential Plant List
  • Alternanthera reineckii
  • Rotala Rotundifolia
  • Heteranthera zosterifolia
  • Ludwigia repens
  • Micranthemum umbrosum
  • Cryptocoryne wendtii 'Green'
  • Cryptocoryne beckettii 'Petchii'
  • Windelov Java Fern
  • Coffee leaf anubias
  • Echinodorus 'Ozelot'
  • Nymphaea lotus 'Zenkeri'
  • Taiwan Moss
Fish List
  • Apistogramma
  • German Blue Rams
  • Various Tetras (Columbian, Lemon, Diamond, Cardinal)
  • Red Cherry Shrimp
  • Otto cats
  • BN plecos
 

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I have the same tank and same light fixture. That nova extreem is way too much light for a low tech set up without co2. Your tank is gonna become an algae factory. I know because I tried it.

Now I'm using a aga twin tube fixture with regular flourecent bulbs. I have two life glo bulbs in it. I find it sufficiant for most low light plants.

I decided to put the nova to some use. I bought a 30 gallon and started growing anuabias and crypts emersed. They grow twice as fast out of the water. All my plants have doubled in size in my emersed set up in just 1 month. Now I have an unlimited supply of plants for my low tech aquarium. Another good thing is they grow without algae in that type of set up.

If your interested in trying heres a beginners article. They're are many ways of doing it and it's easy. Try some searches on sites too.

http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/...929-beginner-s-guide-starting-your-first.html
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the link Wantsome. Not a bad idea. However how many Watts do you ideally want per gallon for low tech? Right now I have 1.4 Watts per gallon (78 Watts). Since I got the tank established things have been pretty good algaewise. Currently I have a huge amazon sword and sand substrate and that is about it for plants due to my Mascara barbs eating everything in sight. I know the equation might change with better soil and more ferts but between my army of Otto cats (approx 8), 2 SAE, and 2 BN pleco things are OK at the moment (I am also planning to add Red Cherry shrimp to the mix when I get it planted more densely so they have somewhere to hide).
 

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I think you will be OK with that light. I wouldn't increase it without CO2 though. You have a lot of algae eaters and that should help also.
 

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T5 HO lights put out more light per watt than other type of bulbs. I would say that compared to regular flouresents you are on the edge of needing CO2. Most of the plants on your list will be OK with that light.
 

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You might have close to 1.5 watts but it's T5 HO lighting. The standard wattage per gallon rule don't apply with those lights. You watts per gallon right now are double what you think you have. Your running closer to 3.0 WPG. T5 HO's are more efficent lights the other flourecents. They put out twice as much light with half the energy.

I was fine with the lights for about 2 weeks. Then I started getting BBA and other algae everywhere.

I set up a ten gallon low tech that used just one regular flourecent tube. It worked great for a year until I tore down the tank. I find that for a begginer it's more easy to keep it simple with the lighting and stick to regular flourecents.

Heres some good low tech articles if you haven't seen them already. These helped me alot. It also took lots of experimenting.

http://www.sudeepmandal.com/hobbies/planted-aquarium/low-tech-planted-tank-guide/

http://vickisaquaticplace.com/PlantsChapter1.html
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the replies all. And thanks again for the links wantsome - the first one is excellent for where I am right now. By the way, I should mention that my light has marine bulbs (10,000 K and actinic) and not freshwater so that may be part of the reason that algae has been in control so far. I have also had the same bulbs for about 1 year so that may have been a contributing factor also - I guess I should be looking for some bulbs in the near future.

Anyway it is good to know that I can grow most of the plants that I am interested in. I am pretty sure I can put something together with those plants that will look appealing, it will just take me a little longer to get there than with CO2. Now I just need to get some Eco-complete so I can get planting.
 
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