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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm not sure if I'm using this site right. I've never joined a forum. So here's the deal. I was bought a 26 gallon bowfront kit by my family. Apparently my enthusiasm over receiving a 5 gallon for Christmas led them to this. I have 3, 5 - 6.6 gallons tank kits with some guppies and a betta and the like. And honestly those tanks are so small that any plant grows no matter the kind of light inside. This new tank however is the largest tank I have ever dealt with. My stepfather has a 300 gallon but its saltwater, and my mother has a 150 gallon blackwater aggressive tank. So neither of them know anything about plants. I like smaller peaceful fish and lots of plants, so I'm sort of on my own. I despise fake plants and decorations, so I decided to do some research on what was required to grow pants in a larger tank.
Turns out theres alot more than I thought. Substrate my brain handled just fine. The only thing I'm worried about is how sharp it is and the corydoras I want to buy. Carbon systems and fertalizers my brain handled just fine. Though I do have one question to ask. The largest portion of plants in the tank is going to be various types of mosses, maybe some vals, hornwort, anubias, and possibly some other moderate light plants that strike my fancy. None of my light needs go above moderate. And none of the plants I want are particularly fussy. The tank is going to be fully stocked, so do I need to set up a carbon system? Or will supplementing with liquid carbon be fine for me?
Ok, now, plants need light. So I started looking into lighting. I was confused, overwhelmed, and frustrated. Then I got it, and was all good. Then I realised that I never got it. Now I'm back to confused and overwhelmed. Please help. The tank I got is a 26 gallon aqueon bowfront. http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3804460 Its a kit from petsmart. I cant take it back, and I cant afford to pay for a whole new top and light fixture. All I can really do is switch around bulbs. I'm currently on vacation and will be back in 3 weeks to set it up. So I dont know how long the bulbs inside are, and I forgot to check. I dont know what kind of bulb it takes, but I do know it takes 3 of them. The hood itself is 24 inches long.
Please pleas please can someone tall me what i need to look for when shopping. Like almost exactly what I need to look for. I'm terrible at second guessing myself, so a clear outline on what to look for on the box would be fantastic. Where to find the bulbs would be nice as well. If I can even achieve my goal of a planted tank. Seriously, all I want is a tank with happy fish and plants for them to swim through. Not like this (though if this is achievable with my tank and switching of lightbulbs then please let me know, cause it would be awesome. I'm pretty sure its not though) http://www.petfish.net/pix/arts07/steve_hampton1.jpg . But more like this http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3182/2897343484_a4dea8c28c.jpg . With different kinds of plants, and perhaps a few more. But basically and average planted tank. But achieving this seems so complicated and expensive. Is it really? Or did I blow it out of proportion? I'm nearly at the point of scrapping the whole things and sticking a fake barrel in there. And I would rather avoid that. Please please please help me!!
 

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its hard to find any info on whats included light wise with that tank but it seems from what I could find, it takes 1 18" T5 bulb.
 

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Stop. Breathe. Relax. Aquariums are supposed to be soothing, working yourself into a giant ball of panic before there's even water in it isn't going to help anyone.

You're putting way to much thought into this. The standard fluorescent light with bulb will probably be fine for basic plants. Crypts, anubias, java ferns, vals, mosses, and hornwort really don't require much in the way of lighting. I had a 20 gallon with a single 18" strip light on it for years that grew most of those to beautiful, lush sizes with no problems. Sure wasn't quick though.

You can add carbon, but really for the plants you want, it isn't necessary. Good quality substrate is much more important and doesn't have to be expensive. If you can afford aquasoil, eco complete, or flourite, awesome! If you can't, a bag of Miracle Grow organic potting soil and some pool filter sand will give you excellent results as well.

Start with the easy, basic plants. Get them going, get comfortable with the system. When everything starts to look good, and you want to try your hand at something else, then upgrade the lighting. A 24" T5HO strip will probably run you 60-70 bucks, and you can try your hand at moderate to high light plants, and whip out some co2. As for now, for the most part, the bulbs in there aren't going to make all that much difference. As long as their between 3000k and 10000k, plants will grow. You'll have the best luck in the 6500k range, but really, it's more of a personal preference then a plant preference. If, however, you're determind to change out the light bulbs, then these should probably suit your fancy just fine. The color isn't to bad, and my plants always did pretty ok under them. However, a 24" T8 bulb, is a 24" T8 bulb, is a 24" T8 bulb. They never start putting out more watts, they're all just different colors.

Now, stop, relax, breathe, and take it one step at a time. It looks intimidating and frightening and overwhelming. Really, there isn't all that much to it. Look into Diana Walstad, see how little is required to achieve nice growth. Hang out in the low-tech section of the forum. You'll be fine.
 

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Welcome to ThePlantedTank!

I have that same tank. Any 24" lamp fixture will fit and work well.

I suggest you go "El Natural" way for now. This way you can keep a tank with minimal maintenance and get time to read, think, and try things out.

Spending in a good substrate is a good idea; you could mix it with inert fine grain substrate to keep cost down but consider ADA's Amazonia substrate.

The products called "liquid carbon" aren't exactly that. Most used are glutaraldehyde solutions which work fine for most set ups yet there are reports of harm to non vascular plants (e.g. Vallisneria sp) and aquatic moses (e.g. Java Moss); yet in my experience going with diluted dosage for some weeks and then slowly increasing it to reach the amount suggested by the manufacturer has worked well in both Vallisneria gigantea and a mixture of aquatic mosses.

Enriched substrate provide most plants (except those without root systems like water column floating and surface floating plants) with their nutrients; in low tech set up light is kept at the lower which means plant's demand for nutrients (both macro and micro) and bioavailable carbon is easier to meet. Adding nutrients to the water column is a good idea if done once or twice a week in small dosage.

Pepetj
Santo Domingo
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Cool. It really is a relief to know that I am freaking out for nothing. I think I'm going to spring for some new bulbs, if only to put my mind at ease. I also think I will supplement my plants once in a while. But no need for hardcore fertilizing. I am entirely willing to put the money into a good substrate. Just the fact that most plant substrate seem sharp is deterring me. Maybe one day I will be brave enough to attempt an actual aquascape. I had this idea for a death tank. It involves the moss "trees" a graveyard weeping angel statue, baby dwarf tears. and a couple gravestones. But alas I have alot to learn before then. Thank you all for the help. All the fish would be black white or clear. Hmm...
Thank you for the fertilizing advice, and thank you for showing me what type of bulb to go after. I know for a fact that one of the 4 fishstores around me carries that one. I should, I spent all day staring at them.
 

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Get a bit of driftwood plus whatever hardscape items you want so the tank has a nice look right away as shown in your linked photos, put a timer on that bulb so you light the tank for 8-10 hours a day and use one of the plant foods regularly. I do like Excel for non carbon dioxide added tanks but the idea to work up to it is a very good one. Plant heavily from the start and get dead stuff out of the tank. Not moss though, spread it thin or it won't do well.

Even though I have been playing in planted tanks for over a decade I need to use a substrate that isn't messy. Soil based would be a complete disaster for me as I move plants around too much. Even ADA soil can be messy stuff. It is possible but there is a learning curve I am not interested in dealing with! I would use one of the porous substrates that grab nutrients from the water that plants can use plus root tabs. Substrates like Flourite, Eco Complete, Turface or Schultz's Aquatic Soil are long lasting and won't make a muddy mess when you rearrange the tank. Some of the new Fluval substrates get good reviews as well. I have SAS and have for a decade. While it isn't exactly smooth it is light weight and corys haven't had any issues with it.

Your theme is doable from the start, just skip the baby tears for now. A moss tree with anubias at the base for a shrub, gravestones [maybe be really subtle and use stones with that look instead] with java moss as the GC. With clipped moss the graveyard is tidy - unclipped it looks abandoned. You could use a brown CRYPTocorye as well in there. And if the moss is a bit patchy on that tree all the better for your theme. I use pennywort for its round leaves, Japaneseque branching and hanging roots but those roots might create just the mood you are looking for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you! I still want to venture into the world of planted tanks before I try an aquascape. The looks I was going for was like... Old Overgrown and abandoned, but not forgotten. More or less stones that have a grave stone shape, Maybe a couple with a rubbed out scribble or two. I want the angels face to be crumbling a little, And I want algae, you know, that one kinda that makes stones look natural and aged. And more of a grove of trees framing the angel. On either side. With gravestones stuck "randomly" in between the trees. I think I want to do this aquascape on a much larger scale. Like a 50 - 100 gallon. I Don't want to deal with soil either. I like sand, and was going to use flourite black sand. But i'll have to look into the SAS. Thank you!!
 

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Hi there, and welcome to TPT! Forums are fun, but remember that almost everything posted in them is an individual's experience and opinion (not in that order).

You aquarium as is should be able to grow some lower light plants. If you are on a tight budget, don't blow it by unnecessarily replacing new lightbulbs. I would try out the ones you have in there now and see how they go. If you're really concerned, when you return take a photo of the light, post it here for us and someone can advise you on what steps you can take next.

Substrate: My personal choice would be eco-complete or another of the planted tank substrates, but these can be expensive, especially for larger tanks. A budget solution might be soil with some gravel or sand on top of it.

Just take it slow, plant heavily to start and don't overdo it on the fish too early. Take your time deciding what sorts of plants you want to keep and where, and the hobby will become a lot more relaxing and enjoyable.

Good luck, and you can always ask your questions here.
 
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