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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, I am introducing myself here for the first time and I need some guidance on how to create a nice planted low tech tank. Right now I have a 55g tank that has been established now for 7 months. Over that time, I just cannot seem to create anything inside that I like 100%. I started out with a 55g aqueon basic setup and tried live plants. All I got was something that looked like a garden of weeds so I ripped everything out about 4 months ago and placed driftwood in with only a few plants and I liked it for awhile. I have had a mix of flourite and ugly blue gravel that I started out with. I tried to hide the blue gravel but it keeps showing through so im debating on tearing everything out and starting over now that I know what I want.

I ditched the useless basic flourescent lights that came with the tank and have upgraded to T5HO 48in 2x54 lighting so I have about 2 watts per gal. I don't have a ton of money to go spending on this right now. I just setup a new saltwater tank so thats where all the money went for my tank budget but from what I understand I can still create something nice without an extravagant co2 system. Il post up a picture tomorrow of the tank which is pretty bare right now. The only things currently in it is driftwood, hornwort, a couple anubias and a small sword.

Thats where I am and I will start asking away soon on everything I need to know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Well here is what I have going on right now. I took a trip to the LFS today and got some new plants. I keep adding more plants around the driftwood, slowly making my way outward the vast empty space on the right side of the tank. Im thinking about putting in a ground covering plant and need suggestions on a good some good ones for the background of the tank. Right now the only main plant in the background is some hornwort with the wisteria, swords and anubias up front. What I have setup right now is so-so. I like it but its very very far from what I want this tank to be.

 

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The hornwort probably won't do well planted in the substrate like that. The top part tends to shade the bottom so much that it just rots. So it may work for a while, but probably not long term. You could use some of that as a floating plant on top of the water though.

I think you have a good start. Some ludwigia repens (red ludwigia) might be a good addition; it's a nice easy plant with a beautiful red color. Green or sunset hygrophila are also nice beginner plants that can survive a lot of neglect and still grow like weeds. None of those absolutely need CO2 either; they'll just grow a bit slower without it. I don't know of a good low-tech ground cover plant; I don't have much experience with them. That sword on the far left will need more room to spread out pretty soon, so you might want to move it. It's looking pretty cramped there.

It might be nice if you added something on the right side to balance the driftwood; another piece of wood, or rock, or whatever you like.

I'm surprisingly not that bothered by the blue in the gravel, even though I normally don't like colored gravels.
 

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from the looks of it that has the same size HOB as my buddies 20G aqueon tank, did they give you two or is that it? if so you may need to look into some power heads or maybe another HOB at the least, that tank needs some flow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you guys for the suggestions and comments. I will move that sword on the left shortly. I want to make sure it grows though. I haven't had much luck with swords. They seem to grow but shortly after the leaves start to decay. I just started dosing flourish today and if I have to get some root tabs I will to help the swords.

If I take the hornwort out of the back to give it more light, what can I use for a background plant? You mentions the ludwigia and hygrophila. Are those what you were talking about for a background?

Also, I will do something that that big open space in the middle, just don't know what yet and I really need to put a background behind the tank, I know.
 

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The ludwigia and hygro would be good background plants, yes. They're both fast-growing, so they would fill in your empty space pretty quickly.
 

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I actually don't mind the open space on the right side, I don't necessarily think it needs another piece of hardscape, just perhaps some background plants and maybe some ground cover like you asked about. Marsilea minuta seems to be a good low light ground cover. I'm a fan of Sunset Hygro, Hygro difformis (wisteria), and Cabomba as low light background plants, cabomba needs a bit more light than the other 2, but i was able to grow it with stock lighting in my 5g, it sounds like you'd probably have enough light for it since you upgraded from fluorescent.

Also, i don't think you need to worry about the size of your filter, it looks to me like the body of the filter is about 1/4 the length of your tank (if i'm seeing it right) in which case i think it's definitely big enough ;) Heck it even looks slightly larger than the filter my boyfriend has on his 60g!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My filter is doing a great job and I don't think I will add another. If anything I may add a powerhead as suggested to create some flow. Honestly after looking at the tank the past few days I like it more and more and don't mind the open space so much anymore, but it does need background plants and I plan on adding some. I would like to do a mix of cabomba, hygrophila and some ludwigia in the background and then look at ground cover for the rest of the space. The last time I had cabomba it thinned out really bad and looked horrible, im hoping that this new light will help me out there when I add it to the tank again.

When i go to fill in the space some more, what can I do to keep the leaves of the plants from getting stuck to the intake tube of the filter or is that alright as long as its not completely blocking flow?
 

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2x54w? Rather intense for a no-co2 system. If you run into algae problems try 1x54w, if that's too low, add afternoon bursts of 2x54w for a couple of hours. I've got the same lights you do over a similar sized tank, and it's more than I want even for compressed CO2.

I've grown beautiful plants with CO2, a HOB filter, an air stone, default lights, ADA aquasoil and some good ferts. The lights that come with your setup aren't necessarily useless, depending on how you use them.

-Philosophos
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well the lights that came with the tank were 2 24in lights putting out 15w each and I need to pay off a few other things before I do any kind of decent co2 system. Trust me I would love to inject co2.
 

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Try A DIY (Sugar Yeast and 2L Bottles) system for Co2. I am running this on my 40 tall and have had great success. It can be a little "hands on" but works great and allows me to grow nice plants until the bank account grows enough for a pressurized system ;)
 

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I agree on the DIY CO2. It's not the best in a tank of your size (I tried it in my 55 and found I had to have one DIY system on each side of the tank to get any results at all), but it will do until you can get something better.
 
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