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Greetings,

I've been lurking here a while, but this is my first post. I've kept fish for years. A few months back, I added a few Anubias and Java Ferns to my 20g long Tanganyika shell dweller tank, and that has me hooked.

I also have a 38 gallon Bolivian Ram / Tiger Barb / Bristlenose Pleco tank (36 x 12 x 19H). I want to take it up a notch on that tank and try some low and medium light plants. I've heard good things about Catalina, and I'm looking at this fixture:

http://www.catalinaaquarium.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=71_196&products_id=1836


The only bad thing I've heard about these lights is they are somewhat ugly, but it's going under a wood canopy, so I don't care. I'm interested in reliability and a good reflector. The price isn't bad either.

I would mount it about 4" above the rim, so with 2" of sand, that would be 21" above the substrate, If I am reading Hoppy's charts right, 1 t5 HO with good reflectors should give me PAR of 50-60 - medium light. From what I've read, getting their 2 t5 ho strip is overkill, and I'll be constantly battling algae, or at least need a pressurized CO2 system.

The substrate is pool filter sand - which I'd prefer not to change out (maybe later). The tank is cycled and well established. I’d like to try some Cryptocorne, Corkscrew Val, and maybe a few other easier low to medium light plants.

My questions are as follows:

1. Should I plan on adding CO2 from the start? Would DIY yeast generated CO2 be sufficient? I may upgrade to a pressurized system later but kind of want to take it slow.

2. Would pool filter sand with root tab fertilizers be sufficient for now? I might add flourite at a later date - but again, baby steps for now.

3. Will the bristlenose pleco demolish my plants? I've read mixed reports. He's one of my favorites and a keeper, plus he keeps the glass spotless. I'll roll the dice if it might work.

Thanks
 

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I agree with the 50-60 micromols of PAR for that lighting. That is too much to do without CO2, or possibly Excel in place of CO2. When I used 50 micromols of PAR I had lots of algae woes, even with CO2, so that amount of light definitely requires a good carbon supply. With a 38 gallon tank, a DIY CO2 system using a gallon container would probably give you good results, if you renew the solution about every 2 weeks, and use baking soda in the mix. I think you can do ok with just pool filter sand and substrate fertilizing, but don't neglect to add more fertilizers on a routine basis.
 
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