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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey TPT,

I’m looking to get back into the plant- and fishkeeping game after a hiatus during my first few years of college. The plan is to keep it small and simple—low light with minimal maintenance. I’m inexperienced with low-tech tanks, and any feedback you can offer about equipment or fertilization would be greatly appreciated.

Aquarium: 20 gallons, long
Filtration: EHEIM classic 2215 external canister
Lighting: 20W, 6700K fluorescent hood
Substrate: Flourite, gravel

Fauna: Nannostomus mortenthaleri OR Paracheirodon simulans, Pelvicachromis pulcher
Flora: Various Anubias and Cryptocoryne, java fern, java moss

Is a single 20W bulb enough light, and for how long should I leave it on each day? Will fertilizing with Flourish or Excel be enough to sustain these plants, and if so, how often should I dose? I intend to stock a pair of kribensis and about a dozen small, schooling fish—do I also have room for an algae eater of some kind?

Thanks for reading, looking forward to “meeting” everyone.
 

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I would look for a bit more light, though a 20 long is a shallow tank. A T-5, NO with a good reflector would get you up into the 'needs some fertilizer, and Excel' range, but even the slower growing plants would do a lot better with that.
 

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+1 to what Diana said.

I run 30" Coralife T5NO fixtures on my 20Ls without a problem. Easy to use fiberglass window screen to cut the lighting levels down by roughly 40% if you find it necessary.

A T5NO fixture and a glass cover should set you back less than the hood you've listed.

About substrate... are you set on Flourite or gravel? Depending upon your budget, you could easily do a bag of ADA Aquasoil or Azoo Plant Grower Bed and have decent root ferts without having to add them for quite some time. If you're not worried about that sort of thing and are fine with adding root tabs, then you may want to consider Safe T Sorb instead of Flourite. It has the ability to absorb and slowly release nutrients, looks like Flourite and costs less than $5 for a 40lb bag (less than $10 shipped if you can't find it locally).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
A T-5, NO with a good reflector would get you up into the 'needs some fertilizer, and Excel' range, but even the slower growing plants would do a lot better with that.
I'm having trouble finding single strip T5 fixtures that aren't high output. Both Aqueon and Coralife offer dual fixtures with two 18W T5 bulbs, but wouldn't 36W be too much over a 20 gallon aquarium? Would running a single 18W bulb in such a fixture be preferable to a 20W T8?

About substrate... are you set on Flourite or gravel?
I listed Flourite only because I'm familiar with it, but perhaps I should investigate better options for substrate.
 
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