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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All
I am new to the forum. I have been raising and breeding discus and african cichlids for several years now. I have decided to convert a 55 gallon that currently has african cichlids in it to a planted show tank. Not africans. I have never done a planted tank and could really use any advice that may help. My local fish store says I do not need CO2 if I use a product called excel. They also say I need to use RO and buffer the water.
My water out of the tap is
GH = 7
KH = 2
PH out of the tap is 8.9 but drops to 6.9 after aging with heat and air for 24 hrs (I do this for the discus)
Is RO the way to go with my water?
With the light they recommend, they say to get low to med light plants. Where is a site that will show me pics of those types of plants? Also where can I find pics of fish that will give me some nice color for this tank? Sorry for all the question on my first post.
Thank You
Earl
 

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Welcome to the forum.

Pretty nice water with KH2 and GH 7. That's almost perfect. Later you may want to go pressurized CO2. Aquariumplants.com has a section called lowlight plants and a good selection. Or Robert at Aquabotanic.com or Charlie of Lowcoaster in the plant section of Aquabid. Lowcoaster is a current sponsor and has excellent plants as do the others I mentioned. You could email either Robert or Charlie and they'll help you out.

Re: Fish, the sky's the limit, but best not to overstock a planted tank, especially at first. Also, you might find it interesting, a fellow named Travis who is a moderator on Aquarium Advice.com has a terrific planted tank with lots of cool African cichlids he acclimated to pH 7.2 (or near there, I don't exactly recall). He sometimes posts here in the photo section. He has an exceptional tank!

Regards your RO, you should able to get away without it - if it drops to the standing pH you mentioned.6.9 and KH 2 is about perfect. Well a little lower is better like 6.5, but what the heck, for low light you're right on.
 

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I'm relatively new to serious planted aquariums myself (been spending way too much time on my reef tank), but here is my take:

1. I've never tried excel. It can supposedly melt some plants. Buying a CO2 cylinder and regulator has a high initial cost, but the running cost is peanuts, and its very reliable. Consider using pressurized CO2.

2. I use RO+DI water for my reef aquarium, and also for the planted tank. My tap water is MUCH harder than yours though (GH: 20+, KH: 16) and has sizable phosphate/nitrate counts. I'd start by using tap water myself, saves the RO + buffer step with simply opening the tap :).

3. What lighting are you considering/being sold? Bulb type, wattage, reflector design all are important.

Some ideas on plants: http://www.plantedtank.net/plants.php
http://www.azgardens.com/

Fish: http://liveaquaria.com

Also check out the Aquascape forum here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies.
The person I talked to at the fish store seem to know her stuff but I dont have a clue yet. She wrote a small list.
substrate = Onyx sand and soilmaster (to match a set up they have in the store)
lights = N.O. T5 lights (dont know if that helps)
I have to get rid of my africans first them ckaen their tank to get it ready for the change. I am hopeing for this week end with any luck.
Thanks
Earl
 

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T5s are fantastic, but I only have experience with them over SW tanks (where you need a TON of light: I'm running 2x 250W metal halides over a 55g + 2x 54W HO T5s (with reflectors)).

Personally, I haven't seen any normal output T5 aquarium fixtures though. What brand of fixture will it be?

Best of luck! Your tank is somewhat following my progression. (African Cichlid -> More Wisteria than water in tank -> Nicer looking planted). Hopefully you can skip the jungle of wisteria though ;)

You don't need to make a CO2 investment initially, but if you're going for more light it starts becoming a necessity.
 

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Yeah, anything over ~ 2.5 watts per gallon really should have gas. BTW, you probably should check out Rexgrigg.com. Its got it all covered on one site. Highly recommend that.

I think the Coralife are offering NO T5s. That soil mix sounds pretty good. Caveat, that Soilmaster select lowers pH, but with the Onyx sand they may flatten out nicely. And you could lower the pH a little bit too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi All
Thanks for all the replies. I will check out the links and sellers. I found out through my Local fish store that they say RO because of the phosphates and such in the water here. I guess plants don’t like the phosphates?
They sell RO for $.50 a gallon. I do have a RO unit that I have had for 4 years and never used but I think if I need to use RO it would be better to buy it than run up my water bill making my own. Water cost here is through the roof. I guess I will just have to dive in (no pun intended) and see where it takes me. I will try to post pics as I go.
Earl
 
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