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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey all,
I'm new to the planted tank hobby, and I've decided to start with a low-tech 30 gallon planted tank, which I might transition to high tech once I get more money. I was wondering if yall could give me pointers to the tank I wish to set up.

The Gear:
  • 30 Gallon (36Lx12Wx16H) Tank
  • Aquatic Life T5 Dual HO 39W Light Fixture (I bought this light before I realized it was way to intense of a light, so I plan on dimming it to low-mid light with fiberglass window screens)
  • Marineland C160 Canister Filter (I'm going to make a DIY spraybar for this)
  • Jaeger 100W Heater, as it gets really cold here in Iowa
Substrate:
1-1.5 Inches of MGOCPS capped with 1 inch of red flourite

Aquascape/Hardscape
I plan on purchasing manzanita driftwood and using sand to make a layout inspired by this:


Plants:
I plan on using low-light plants that resemble the plants chosen by Sergio for his aquascape:
Foreground:
Anubias Nana v' Petite
Midground:
Hygrophilia (Haven't chosen what type)
Rotala Rotundifolia 'Green'
Background:
Hygrophilia (same as before)
Rotala Rotundifolia 'Red'

Fish:
Although I haven't decided on the fish yet, I know that for this tank, I want a single species schooling fish. I was thinking about doing 10-20 rummy-nose tetras or cardinal tetras (or maybe I could do 15 rummies and 15 cardinals?).


My questions to you:
  1. I'm having trouble deciding how many of each plant I want to start the tank out with, how did you guys decide?
  2. I was planning on dosing carbon with Excel and nutrients with the EI method, would that be overkill for a soil based tank?
  3. Will putting 2-3 screens on my T5 fixture be enough to reduce the light to low/medium, as right now, using Hoppy's PAR charts, I'm at really really high light?
  4. What other recommendations do you guys have?

Thanks all!
 

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If you can run the light with just one bulb that might be the answer. Then if you need just a little more light, can you run each bulb separately? One light would be on most of the time, the other would just be on for a couple of hours. Mid-day burst.

One species of schooling fish and a few Otos for algae.

Excel + EI + soil substrate is fine. You will be adjusting the EI dosing down to suit what happens in the tank. My low tech tanks had so much N and P from fish food that I ended up dosing K2SO4 more than the others just to add K without more N or P than they needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I tried running the light fixture with one bulb. Apparently it needs both bulbs in place to work, so I layered 2 sheets of fiberglass window screening over the bulbs (in between the bulbs and acrylic cover glass). The only worry I have about that is, I really hope the fiberglass screen is heat resistant.

Hopefully I've reduced the PAR enough. I think Hoppy estimated a 70-75 Par without fiber glass screen, and I read somewhere that 2 sheets of screen lowers the PAR by around 60%. I'm estimating that I'm between 28 and 30 PARs right now. This should put me into low-light. I might actually try only 1 sheet (40-45 PARs) with the Excel dosing.
 
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