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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello All,

I was going to wait until I got up and running to join a community, but I figured I should share my build plans while I'm still able to return stuff to the store. :biggrin: I am a complete noob to the aquarist world. i did about 10 hours of research this past weekend and decided to start gathering materials for my first aquarium build.

First, my vision: I want to go for a "natural aquarium". A high plant:fish ratio, some trumpet snails, a couple algae eaters. I'm going for fast and easy to grow, low-light plants (wisteria, anubias, valisneria, java fern). I want to cover 75% of my surface area with plants. Have one good sized rock, one good sized piece of driftwood. Try to create a very natural landscape with a lot of consumers.

Secondly, here's my rough plan for execution: I've already purchased...

- 20 gallon high tank
- Hood with a 15watt full spectrum flourescent T8 aqueon bulb.
- Aqueon quiet flow 20 filter.
- 25 lb. bag of dark flourite gravel.
- 25 lb. bag of deep river bed gravel (2-3mm)
- Gravel Vac
- 5 lb. river stone
- fish net
- lcd thermometer sticker

My plan is to get the substrate laid down (Flourite as a base with river bed gravel on top. I was told 50 lbs should cover about 2.5 inches on the floor of a 20g tank) and the tank filled before the end of the week and allow it some time to settle. Go grab plants this weekend and get them planted. I'm going to do a 7 day CO2 release (yeast/sugar water in a soda bottle style) with 12 hours of light/day to try and give the plants a head start on the algae. Then I want to add a few trumpet snails to help with the algae, maybe a couple otocinclus. Then 2 weeks after that, assuming all is going well, get 4-6 of a schooling, non-digging fish to add.

A few questions, the ph of my tap water is 6.8. Do I need to dechlorinize the water for the plants or is that only a concern with fish?

Is my timeline relatively safe?

Any other issues with what I've already purchased or what I plan on doing?

Thanks in advance.
- Tom
 

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First id go with 8 hours a day of light, until u master c02 light and fertilizer. Less light is easier to manage. Second. Consider fertilizers or u will have unhealhty plants and u will have algae.
Critters cant control alage only help cleanup around the edges. If a critter can handle algae. Likely its because its voracious enough to eat plants

A little peat moss in the bottom before u lay flourite and gravel goes a long way to happy plant roots. I wish i had done it my first go around. A light dustin 1/8 of an inch thick works awesome

Trumppet ssnails multiply qquickly if u overfeed. Be prepared for that eventuallity
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
First id go with 8 hours a day of light, until u master c02 light and fertilizer. Less light is easier to manage. Second. Consider fertilizers or u will have unhealhty plants and u will have algae.
I'm totally open to fertilizers. I've just read a lot of scary stuff about how they screw with the chemistry of a tank. Is there a simple, natural fertilizer I can utilize?

A little peat moss in the bottom before u lay flourite and gravel goes a long way to happy plant roots. I wish i had done it my first go around. A light dustin 1/8 of an inch thick works awesome.
Where would I acquire peat moss? From a local fish store?

Thank for your help. Are there any better snail options than trumpets?
 

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trumpets are fine if u plan to moniter and keep an eye on them.. great actually for ur substrate.

peat moss. ace hardware. local plant store, home depot, lowes.. etc
ferts are great for water quality.. for example, calcium and magnesium are good for fish, the same as they are for u.

fertlizers are natural.. most people go the dry route, cheap and easy to handle.. u can pickup a starter package from green leaf aquariums which is a sponser here for 20 bux
it should last u a year or more

nerites are a good option for algae control because A. they are slightly voracious. always hungry and ready to go, B. their offspring can't survive unless in saltwater so snail explosions don't happen. C. they don't mov ethe substrate so that's the negative compared to trumpets D. they eat dead leaves and detritus that forms from leftover food great cleanup artists
 

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I'm not sure your light will be enough even for "low light" plants if you want them to be fast growing.

I recommend a test kit to help see you through the cycle period. So you can test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. You want to see the ammonia spike, then nitrite. Then these will both drop to 0 and youll see a rise in nitrate. At which point you tank is cycled and you can do a 25% water change and start adding animals.

With so many plants it will cut down your cycle time and many people who have lots of plants never actually detect the ammonia and nitrite peaks.

I really liked fintastic's selection but I found them to be a bit over priced on some things. If there is something I'm looking for I cant find at one of my preferred LFS I will look there.

Read up on Tom Barr's EI dosing. I use "EI dosing light for less techy folk" on both my tanks. It's really easy to do and the plants are loving it.

Unless you are using well water you will need to dechlorinize the water. Be sure to get a product that says it removes chlorine and chloramines.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for all the advice guys. I got started tonight. Here's what I've done so far:

- Laid down substrate: 1/8 inch peat moss, 1 inch fluorite, 1-3 inches deep river gravel (sloped front to back).
- Filled with dechlorinated tap water. Used seachems neutralizer per a reccomendation from one of the fintastic guys.
- Got hood, light, and filter hooked up and running.

Tomorrow im going to boil the 2 pieces of driftwood and the large river rock I have and add them. Plants this weekend :D I'm excited.
 
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