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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

Let me start by saying I'm new to the Aquascaping and planted aqaurium hobby. I however have had aquariums for many years (non planted).

I recently bought a 33Gallon long tank (48"x12"x13") and want to do a lower maintenance planted tank. I'd like to have colorful community fish that dont get too large and aren't diggers. I'd also like shrimp/snails.

I have an empty fully cycled cichlid tank I'll be reusing some equipment from:
1. Filstar XP-L (3 media basket) canister filter. 350 gph flow rate(187 gph filter output with media)
2. 48" fluorescent light
3. Heater
4. Hardscape such as driftwood and rocks

So here are my questions:
1. What sort of beginner plants would thrive on a 33Long tank and would be low maintenance yet vibrant?
2. What's the best substrate to use (I'll probaby get something with nutrients like Amazonia or other soil)?
3. I dont plan on using C02, but what low tech essentials would I need for this setup to thrive?
5. I might reuse my fluorescent light but LED seems like it'd be more cost effective and look nicer. Confirm? If so what LED lights are recommended?
6. Is the flow rate of my canister filter too high? I'd aim the output at the top of the water for agitation.
7. I am planning on using hardscape from my empty cichlid tank due to the buildup of beneficial bacteria on them. Will this jump start my planted tank, and be advisable?

Thanks in advance. I am reading a lot, watching videos, and am immersing myself in this but want some advice so I dont mess up my first planted tank.
 

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If everything has stayed in service and seeded (filter media etc) then there's a possibility of not having a cycle or mini cycle, but it's best to plan as though there will be.

Substrate is a personal thing. I've got substrates of all kinds in my tanks. I will say at start up there's a huge convenience of not having to add ammonia to start the cycle and the gravel size and texture for active substrates that's missing in inert. On the flip side of that, considering you're already used to cycling a tank, inert substrates will not eat through ferts at start up, will stay intact and not break down therefore will not need to be replaced. Dirted tanks are in a different category, to me. I love them, but they require permanence (I know I know, it's my opinion) and proper research/ planning.

Lighting really depends, I've run planted tanks with led and fluorescent, heck I've had them with clamp lights and cfl lol but it's really about what you are planning on growing. If you're looking to start with something easy I'd say go with low light/ low tech plants, lots of java mosses and ferns, anubias, crypts, hornwort, aponongeton, nympheas. You can always expand your tech and plants list if the aquascaping bug bites you hard. The plants listed, among many other low light/ low tech/ beginner plants would most likely grow with your reused lighting and, like I said, you can always expand.

Things that I would suggest keeping on hand- bottle brushes, soft bristled tooth brush and magic erasers for cleaning and, depending on your plants an all in one fertilizer.

Stock list advice I think is dependent on your parameters, you have quite a selection with a 33 gallon. Most all of the typical schoolers, shrimps, snails and feature fish are an option. Were you thinking more based on shrimp or fish? This would be where I would start when thinking of stock list. Of you are thinking shrimp colonies with fish I would stick with larger schools of nano fish and snails. If you were thinking lots of fish with shrimp as a resident (not colonies) you have more wiggle room for feature fish and bottom feeders.

I hope this helps a little.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Awesome advice! I appreciate you taking the time to reply.

I'm planning on doing lots of fish with shrimp as residents. I like the idea of a diverse aqaurium.

I think I'll go with an active substrate. About how many pounds should I need for a 33gal tank? My local aquarium store carries some in 19lb bags.
 

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One to two 19lb bags of aquasoil should be good for a tank that big depending on the soil density. You can get away with just one for sure if you cap it with something else like sand.

Filter strength sounds good given that this is a 4 foot tank.

As mentioned crypts are very low maintenance plants and come in a variety of colors and shapes. Hairgrass is a tried and true grower that can be nice in bunches put between rocks in a hardscape if emulating a stream. Bucephalandra is another very colorful plant in a variety of morphs that requires very little maintenance but is also a very very slow grower.

I would avoid stems if you don't want to trim things and likewise any plant that grows too big like swords are going to be right out in this shallow tank.

For the light, it really depends on your budget. If your budget is 50 dollars you will have vastly different options then 500 dollars.

One thing you will definitely need is a fertilizer option. I prefer Nicolg ThriveC for a low tech planted tank because it is very easy to use, but there are many options.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks all. I bought a Zetlight LED light at the pet store and it has a feature that mimics the 24 hour light cycle. Is this feature even that beneficial? Or should I just set it for a 8 hour period of consistent light?

Additionally I bought one 19lb bag of aquasoil and 20lb bag of blasting sand (black diamond). I've read multiple opinions layering and mixing substrates but no consensus on what's best. If capping with sand, wont the sand over time settle underneath the aquasoil? If placing sand underneath the soil, wont plants roots not benefit as much from the soil? (Maybe I'm assuming root growth will grow beyond the top layer of soil). And mixing seems good, but I'm not sure how appealing/natural that will look.

I really do appreciate the help!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I planted my tank with broadleaf saggatarius, dwarf saggatarius, water onion, rotala indica and a couple red melon swords. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Also, do you think the red melon I stuck in the middle driftwood will have enough space for root growth? The hole is a couple inches deep with aquasoil but the roots are packed in there.
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I'll try and get a better picture tonight.
 
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