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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have recently gotten my first fish tank and I am looking at having some plants in it. I think any fish that I add will be introduced to the tank after the plants have established themselves. The tank is a column tank and here are the measurements: 13.5 x 13.5 x 24 (L x W x H). The light I'm going to be getting is the Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium Light in 12" and I will be getting an AquaClear 30 HOB filter.

I'm just not sure what plants to get. I'm thinking about putting the plants in layers, so plants in the back, the middle and low/ground level. Java Fern is what I'm looking at for the middle though not sure if it would be too big for tank. I welcome any recommendations you might have.

I'm also stuck on substrate. I'm hoping to get something good for plants but that is at the same time is around $20-30 without shipping.
 

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The most important thing I saw in your post was the light. That light will have about 60 par at the substrate level if sitting directly on the top of the tank. I would recommend to raise the light at least 4-6 inches above the tank to reduce algae if your not planning to use co2.

Substrate is a highly debatable area. I use ecocomplete but will be using black diamond blasting sand next time with some osmocote+ (fertilizer). Everything grows well in ecocomplete but I've had a hard time with carpeting plants using it.

Plants are the fun part. Java fern is amazing and comes in many varieties. Anubias varieties are also great. Ludwigia grows like a weed and can achieve cool colors. Just start searching hardy beginner aquarium plants and you will get a crazy amount of options
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The most important thing I saw in your post was the light. That light will have about 60 par at the substrate level if sitting directly on the top of the tank. I would recommend to raise the light at least 4-6 inches above the tank to reduce algae if your not planning to use co2.

Substrate is a highly debatable area. I use ecocomplete but will be using black diamond blasting sand next time with some osmocote+ (fertilizer). Everything grows well in ecocomplete but I've had a hard time with carpeting plants using it.

Plants are the fun part. Java fern is amazing and comes in many varieties. Anubias varieties are also great. Ludwigia grows like a weed and can achieve cool colors. Just start searching hardy beginner aquarium plants and you will get a crazy amount of options
Okay! Thank you!

Well the tank has a black plastic tank lid on it(got it as part of kit), so I'm not sure how I will go about raising the light. But the light will be an a small box,, beneath the light that comes with the tank(or I could look at taking the present light out) that has a clear plastic cover to protect the lights from water. Would that make a difference?

Right now I'm looking at either ecocomplete or brightwell aquatics florinvolcanit substrate.

Yeah I have had a lot of fun looking at plants so far, I'm constantly changing my mind on what I want as it is so hard to choose.
 

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Regarding the light; I just re-looked at the dimensions and saw the tank is 24" tall not 13.5". The finnex would be then in med light territory so you should be fine as long as you plant a good amount of plants during the initial planting. My bad about that. In the beginning I would recommend adding a fast growing stem or some surface plants like duckweed just until the main plants you want get settled and start absorbing nutrients at a high pace. Also start off low in terms of duration and work your way up until you see any algae and then back off a little that way you know that maximum benefit light can give before problems occur.

I'm not sure I understood the question you asked about the stock light and the light fixture it came with that probably matches the tanks lid. I would exclude that completely if that's what your talking about. The light is prob a garbage 15w t8 or something. I also wouldn't cover the finnex as leds get pretty hot on top and I wouldn't want the light to get too hot because of no ventilation.

I'm not very familiar with the volcanic substrate you were also considering but if it's just crushed lava rock ecocomplete carries more advantages because of the high cec it has (materials ability to hold nutrients). Ecocomplete also comes fertilized but don't think that that's important because it releases most of that right away and you'll lose most during those first few water changes. Either way add root tabs. I was buying commercial root tabs at 15$ every three months but I just bought a bottle of osmocote+ and some empty gel capsules for about $17 total and that will prob last my tank years. If you do go ecocomplete add some black sand like the stuff you can buy at petco/petsmart and mix it in really well before you add it to the tank. It will help the plants stay planted and it will help carpeting plants spread easier.

Any thoughts on plants you want to do other than Java fern? Not that you need other plants than Java fern :) I plan on doing a Java fern only tank at some point. The plant is just too cool
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Regarding the light; I just re-looked at the dimensions and saw the tank is 24" tall not 13.5". The finnex would be then in med light territory so you should be fine as long as you plant a good amount of plants during the initial planting. My bad about that. In the beginning I would recommend adding a fast growing stem or some surface plants like duckweed just until the main plants you want get settled and start absorbing nutrients at a high pace. Also start off low in terms of duration and work your way up until you see any algae and then back off a little that way you know that maximum benefit light can give before problems occur.

I'm not sure I understood the question you asked about the stock light and the light fixture it came with that probably matches the tanks lid. I would exclude that completely if that's what your talking about. The light is prob a garbage 15w t8 or something. I also wouldn't cover the finnex as leds get pretty hot on top and I wouldn't want the light to get too hot because of no ventilation.

I'm not very familiar with the volcanic substrate you were also considering but if it's just crushed lava rock ecocomplete carries more advantages because of the high cec it has (materials ability to hold nutrients). Ecocomplete also comes fertilized but don't think that that's important because it releases most of that right away and you'll lose most during those first few water changes. Either way add root tabs. I was buying commercial root tabs at 15$ every three months but I just bought a bottle of osmocote+ and some empty gel capsules for about $17 total and that will prob last my tank years. If you do go ecocomplete add some black sand like the stuff you can buy at petco/petsmart and mix it in really well before you add it to the tank. It will help the plants stay planted and it will help carpeting plants spread easier.

Any thoughts on plants you want to do other than Java fern? Not that you need other plants than Java fern :) I plan on doing a Java fern only tank at some point. The plant is just too cool
Okay. I took a picture of the inside of the inside of the lid, here it is:https://www.dropbox.com/s/ajryw341rdjij9h/20160304_123019%5B1%5D.jpg?dl=0. The light that comes with the tank is an Aqueon T5 Daylight bulb.

Okay, I'll look at the eco complete substrate, I think just one bag would be enough for the tank and I'll look at getting a small bag of sand, maybe a 5lb bag?

Besides Java fern, I'm looking at getting caboma caroliniana and giant hair grass for the background and anubias petite for the ground level. I haven't completely decided yet though as it I might not be putting the plants in until the end of the month.
http://www.plantedtank.net//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/extension/
 

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With the finnex I would maybe not bother with the t5 light unless your going to be adding co2. Or at least excell. Yeah the 5lb bag of sand would be plenty. Your plant choices so far are great. Good mix of hardy and fast growers. Have you thought about fertilizer? Without adding co2 i would probably stay with root tabs so there isn't a bunch of excess nutrients for algae. If you have trouble with the hair grass you could also look at blyxa japonica. They have a similar look but blyxa is a stem plant and may be easier to grow. Hair grass loves co2
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
With the finnex I would maybe not bother with the t5 light unless your going to be adding co2. Or at least excell. Yeah the 5lb bag of sand would be plenty. Your plant choices so far are great. Good mix of hardy and fast growers. Have you thought about fertilizer? Without adding co2 i would probably stay with root tabs so there isn't a bunch of excess nutrients for algae. If you have trouble with the hair grass you could also look at blyxa japonica. They have a similar look but blyxa is a stem plant and may be easier to grow. Hair grass loves co2
So I should just remove the t5 light bulb and use the finnex? I don't think I'll be adding co2 right away, maybe after I have some more experience. So I'm thinking about replacing the hair grass with either some duckweed or some blyxa japonica I am probably going to get a bottle of excell. I'm looking at either the excell or some root tabs or possibly both? Well I'm looking at getting some snails so I wouldn't mind some algae just not a lot of it; but I imagine algae is one of those things where you either get a lot or none at all?
 

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I wouldn't say that about algae. Algae has so many fun little nuances, and types and causes. There is a different algae for every type of imbalance. I have battled algae since I started but finally did get it under control after finding the balance for my tank.

You said either excell or fertilizer (not the same). Excell is a carbon source and fertilizer are micro nutrients and macro nutrients. What you need to find a balance with is light, carbon and fertilizer. Light is the gas peddle of the planted tank and carbon is the building block and fertilizers are the food (probably not totally accurate but good enough). All three of these need to be present to allow your plants to grow well enough to outcompete algae for life. The more light, the more of the other two you need. You 100% will need to dose excell and use root tabs. Like I said earlier you won't need liquid ferts based on your selections.

DO NOT use the finnex without the ferts and excell. You WILL get annoying algae. Likely hair algae which is a pita. The excell and root tabs are very cheap in comparison to the other costs of this hobby.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I wouldn't say that about algae. Algae has so many fun little nuances, and types and causes. There is a different algae for every type of imbalance. I have battled algae since I started but finally did get it under control after finding the balance for my tank.

You said either excell or fertilizer (not the same). Excell is a carbon source and fertilizer are micro nutrients and macro nutrients. What you need to find a balance with is light, carbon and fertilizer. Light is the gas peddle of the planted tank and carbon is the building block and fertilizers are the food (probably not totally accurate but good enough). All three of these need to be present to allow your plants to grow well enough to outcompete algae for life. The more light, the more of the other two you need. You 100% will need to dose excell and use root tabs. Like I said earlier you won't need liquid ferts based on your selections.

DO NOT use the finnex without the ferts and excell. You WILL get annoying algae. Likely hair algae which is a pita. The excell and root tabs are very cheap in comparison to the other costs of this hobby.
Didn't know that about algae. Okay, so I will need to buy excel and root tabs. What kind of excel, would it be excel flourish?

My thoughts on the plants are constantly changing, I'm worried the caboma caroliniana won't get very tall so I'm thinking I should start looking at a plant that does get tall for the background.
 

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Another way to get height and still use the easier plants is by using wood or rocks then add plants at the height needed. Java fern is one to consider for this but there are several which do well when attached to the hard decor. Super glue is one easy way I use. A tiny drop on a root and stuck to the decor will hold it until it grows and attaches. I consider algae normal and just expect to make some adjustments as I see what is working and how. I like plants on decor for flexible, easy changes. I consider it really difficult to judge in advance what plants will do and where to put each so I just make it easy on myself and leave them flexible until I see who fits and who grows too well and shades the guy next door. I leave a number in fabric "pots" like garden plants might come in from the store. They can be placed and then moved without disturbing the roots too much and when they really get going the roots simply grow through the fabric as it degrades. Works for the garden, works for the tank.
 

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I wouldn't say that about algae. Algae has so many fun little nuances, and types and causes. There is a different algae for every type of imbalance. I have battled algae since I started but finally did get it under control after finding the balance for my tank.

You said either excell or fertilizer (not the same). Excell is a carbon source and fertilizer are micro nutrients and macro nutrients. What you need to find a balance with is light, carbon and fertilizer. Light is the gas peddle of the planted tank and carbon is the building block and fertilizers are the food (probably not totally accurate but good enough). All three of these need to be present to allow your plants to grow well enough to outcompete algae for life. The more light, the more of the other two you need. You 100% will need to dose excell and use root tabs. Like I said earlier you won't need liquid ferts based on your selections.

DO NOT use the finnex without the ferts and excell. You WILL get annoying algae. Likely hair algae which is a pita. The excell and root tabs are very cheap in comparison to the other costs of this hobby.
Didn't know that about algae. Okay, so I will need to buy excel and root tabs. What kind of excel, would it be excel flourish?

My thoughts on the plants are constantly changing, I'm worried the caboma caroliniana won't get very tall so I'm thinking I should start looking at a plant that does get tall for the background.
Yes flourish excell. There are so many plant choices to choose from just do a Google search for tall aquarium plants and start doing some research
 

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About that Planted Plus light:
Finnex LED lights produce more PAR the longer the light is. A 12" long FugeRay produces 28% of the PAR that a 36" long FugeRay produces, at 18 inch distance. A 36" long Planted Plus produces about 45 PAR at about 22 inches, or about 40 PAR at 24 inches. So, a 12 inch long Planted Plus should produce about 28% of 40 PAR at 24 inches, or about 10 PAR. This is not an accurate estimate, but, for sure a 12 inch long Planted Plus will produce less than 25 PAR at 24 inches, which is barely enough for a low light tank.

Based on the photo, that T5 bulb has no reflector, so, at best it will give you an additional 15 PAR at 24 inches. The two lights together might give you from about 25 to 35 PAR at 24 inches, which could be adequate for low light, but it is nowhere near high light.

I had a similar tank a few years ago, and removed the T5 light from the hood, replacing it with a pair of sockets for screw-in CFL bulbs. You may have enough room to try that, and that might give you more PAR. See http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/20-diy/116358-8-gal-nano-cube-adapting-planted-tank.html
 

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About that Planted Plus light:
Finnex LED lights produce more PAR the longer the light is. A 12" long FugeRay produces 28% of the PAR that a 36" long FugeRay produces, at 18 inch distance. A 36" long Planted Plus produces about 45 PAR at about 22 inches, or about 40 PAR at 24 inches. So, a 12 inch long Planted Plus should produce about 28% of 40 PAR at 24 inches, or about 10 PAR. This is not an accurate estimate, but, for sure a 12 inch long Planted Plus will produce less than 25 PAR at 24 inches, which is barely enough for a low light tank.

Based on the photo, that T5 bulb has no reflector, so, at best it will give you an additional 15 PAR at 24 inches. The two lights together might give you from about 25 to 35 PAR at 24 inches, which could be adequate for low light, but it is nowhere near high light.

I had a similar tank a few years ago, and removed the T5 light from the hood, replacing it with a pair of sockets for screw-in CFL bulbs. You may have enough room to try that, and that might give you more PAR. See http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/20-diy/116358-8-gal-nano-cube-adapting-planted-tank.html
Not saying your wrong but that seems surprising. I looked at the par data that one of the finnex guys shared on here and he was explaining the spread had diminished par values but the straight down par was strong. Do they use different wattage bulbs on the 12" than the 30" that I'm basing my knowledge on? Using a par meter you measure a single point of light and get the reading, meaNing they must use different wattage leds. At 24" you should still be at about 40 par. I could be way off but I'm pretty sure I understood everything correctly based on what finnex posted. I'll double check the post for the size they used for the test.

***did some checking and couldn't find any par data for the 12". Finnex website eludes to them using the same leds on all lengths. I would love to read the info you have Hoppy if you could share it.***
 

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Not saying your wrong but that seems surprising. I looked at the par data that one of the finnex guys shared on here and he was explaining the spread had diminished par values but the straight down par was strong. Do they use different wattage bulbs on the 12" than the 30" that I'm basing my knowledge on? Using a par meter you measure a single point of light and get the reading, meaNing they must use different wattage leds. At 24" you should still be at about 40 par. I could be way off but I'm pretty sure I understood everything correctly based on what finnex posted. I'll double check the post for the size they used for the test.

***did some checking and couldn't find any par data for the 12". Finnex website eludes to them using the same leds on all lengths. I would love to read the info you have Hoppy if you could share it.***
LED lights like the Finnex lights, use LEDs that emit light over a large cone angle (unless optics are mounted on the LEDs and they aren't on Finnex lights.) So the longer the light bar, the more LEDs contribute light to any spot under the light. I tried to derive an equation to describe this once, using some LEDs I measured the PAR from at various distances and offset distances, but I couldn't fit any equation to the data I took. If you look at the charts in http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/145-finnex/189944-finnex-ray-ii-fugeray-par-data.html#post2003727 you can see this effect. I can find a way to interpolate/extrapolate from this data to guess what PAR we would get from almost any of the Finnex lights, but it is just a crude guess.
 

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Not saying your wrong but that seems surprising. I looked at the par data that one of the finnex guys shared on here and he was explaining the spread had diminished par values but the straight down par was strong. Do they use different wattage bulbs on the 12" than the 30" that I'm basing my knowledge on? Using a par meter you measure a single point of light and get the reading, meaNing they must use different wattage leds. At 24" you should still be at about 40 par. I could be way off but I'm pretty sure I understood everything correctly based on what finnex posted. I'll double check the post for the size they used for the test.

***did some checking and couldn't find any par data for the 12". Finnex website eludes to them using the same leds on all lengths. I would love to read the info you have Hoppy if you could share it.***
LED lights like the Finnex lights, use LEDs that emit light over a large cone angle (unless optics are mounted on the LEDs and they aren't on Finnex lights.) So the longer the light bar, the more LEDs contribute light to any spot under the light. I tried to derive an equation to describe this once, using some LEDs I measured the PAR from at various distances and offset distances, but I couldn't fit any equation to the data I took. If you look at the charts in http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/145-finnex/189944-finnex-ray-ii-fugeray-par-data.html#post2003727 you can see this effect. I can find a way to interpolate/extrapolate from this data to guess what PAR we would get from almost any of the
Finnex lights, but it is just a crude guess.
Seems like you could go the route we messaged about. Figuring a way to easily calculate all the spread cross points and add them up.

Hoppy is correct, with plain ole 120 degree LED's, longer fixtures have higher PAR values.
I went and looked at one of the lighting stickies and read that "hoppy was the best person for estimating par values". Lol. When we messaged I quickly understood why I was wrong but when I read the sticky I had to laugh a little bit. Tip of the hat to ya Hoppy.

Alright give the OP a good light suggestion that fits their goals. I know all the other info was correct but I did misunderstand the light.
 

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I don't want to hijack your thread, but thought I'd give my two cents in dealing with this same tank.

Here is my experience. Looks like you have a 15 gallon column by Aqueon; I have had the same tank running for about two years now. In my 40 years of keeping tanks, this one is easily the most challenging I've had and I chalk it up to the dimensions. First, while it measures 24" tall, it really isn't because the bottom of the tank sits about 3" up into the base, and adding substrate you're coming out at around 19" or so. Second, this tank is difficult to achieve total circulation, and attribute that with some of the algae battles I've had. I completely removed the top hood with the light; it's useless in this tank. I use two 12" planted plus lights which, thanks to the rim on the inside, fit nicely. They are hidden by the 3" or so of plastic around the top so that is nice. I have a Magnum canister filter with a little reduced flow because I'm using a 3' tall stand and it sits on the floor. I also added a small HOB for surface circulation, and a small circulation pump down at the bottom to get flow down there. It has pressurized CO2, inline heater by Hydor, and daily dosing of ferts. I've added to my own problems because the design of the hardscape. I took a piece of log shaped driftwood, screwed it on its end to a tile, and stood it in the center of the tank. Due to the dimensions, it creates a circular swimming space for the fish instead of a limited back and forth, which they seem to like. This does add to the water circulation issue, and this has been exploited by BGA which has on occasion grabbed hold in the dead spots. I'm using RO water, and doing 50% water changes a week and trimming weekly. If I don't the plant growth further inhibits circulation leading back to algae. If I keep up on it algae issues are minimal. But if I skip a week on maintenance, I regret it. All in all, I love this tank. It's populated with CPD's and pygmy cories (and the most lively betta I've ever had) along with some ottos. It's lively, lush and green, but high maintenance. Hope this helps. Here are some pics:
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I don't want to hijack your thread, but thought I'd give my two cents in dealing with this same tank.

Here is my experience. Looks like you have a 15 gallon column by Aqueon; I have had the same tank running for about two years now. In my 40 years of keeping tanks, this one is easily the most challenging I've had and I chalk it up to the dimensions. First, while it measures 24" tall, it really isn't because the bottom of the tank sits about 3" up into the base, and adding substrate you're coming out at around 19" or so. Second, this tank is difficult to achieve total circulation, and attribute that with some of the algae battles I've had. I completely removed the top hood with the light; it's useless in this tank. I use two 12" planted plus lights which, thanks to the rim on the inside, fit nicely. They are hidden by the 3" or so of plastic around the top so that is nice. I have a Magnum canister filter with a little reduced flow because I'm using a 3' tall stand and it sits on the floor. I also added a small HOB for surface circulation, and a small circulation pump down at the bottom to get flow down there. It has pressurized CO2, inline heater by Hydor, and daily dosing of ferts. I've added to my own problems because the design of the hardscape. I took a piece of log shaped driftwood, screwed it on its end to a tile, and stood it in the center of the tank. Due to the dimensions, it creates a circular swimming space for the fish instead of a limited back and forth, which they seem to like. This does add to the water circulation issue, and this has been exploited by BGA which has on occasion grabbed hold in the dead spots. I'm using RO water, and doing 50% water changes a week and trimming weekly. If I don't the plant growth further inhibits circulation leading back to algae. If I keep up on it algae issues are minimal. But if I skip a week on maintenance, I regret it. All in all, I love this tank. It's populated with CPD's and pygmy cories (and the most lively betta I've ever had) along with some ottos. It's lively, lush and green, but high maintenance. Hope this helps. Here are some pics:
I don't mind the hijack, I welcome any advice that can be given. I really like the pictures of your tank, it is so pretty!! I never thought about getting rid of the lid and getting a second Finnex light. But that allow me to do what I want to? I want to have a tank with some nice live plants, some fish and maybe a snail or two.
 
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