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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I have had tanks for about five years. I am a very big cichlid guy and we all know that they are not the fish to put with live plants. So I am looking to make one of my 55 gallons into a planted tank. I was thinking for stocking around 3 to 5 pairs of bolivian rams and a bunch of corries and possibly some cardinal tetras and a smaller species of pleco possibly. So as for the actually set up of the tank I have a nice piece of flatter driftwood that i would like to put some kind of non rooted plant on till fill it over with. I would also like another larger piece that would have some height. I will probably do play sand as substrate my only question is how good is sand with doing plants. If that is an issue I can always go with something else. For filter I will be running a Eheim 2217 and I have a heater. Now onto lighting the tank currently has one of those cheap marineland led hoods and I know this will not be sufficient. I am not opposed to spending a decent amount of money on the lighting as I know this is one of the most important aspects of a well planted tank. I also was wondering what kind of plants would work well with my filter lighting that is suggested and sand. And finally I have done some research on chemicals and fertilizers but if you could suggest that as well it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance and sorry for the long post.
 

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Planted Tank Nation
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Welcome to TPT!

It looks like you are doing low tech with no co2 and minimal fertilizers. But you can still have great success. I think that you should do a soil substrate capped with pool filter sand(better than play sand in a planted tank) then a dose of flourish comprehensive on occasion. For the driftwood you can use trident java fern on it which is one of my favorite plants for driftwood.

For stock:
-20-25 cardinals
-2 pairs of Bolivian rams
-Bristlenose pleco OR 6 ottos
-10 cories

Lighting can be a little complicated for low tech, but if you heavily plant you aquarium, then you have options because of all the plant cover. You can do something like a 1 bulb hagen glo fixture or a finnex fugeray LED or even a dual T8 fixture to go really low light if you desire.

Hopefully i helped a little. Keep asking questions!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
So this is going to be my first planted and I don't want to do a Co2 setup so does this limit me to a low tech setup? or is that just what a setup is without Co2? Also you said I might have issues with light unless it is heavily planted. Is this because if it is not heavily planted there will be algae issues? thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Also I do like the idea of doing a soil bottom, and I read about putting peat below the soil first. After the peat and soil, could I put any kind of substrate over that? And does it benefit the aquarium to first allow for some growth without water and than add water?
 

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Planted Tank Nation
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1) Low tech definitely has limits, but if you find the balance between ferts, light, and co2, you can still have very lush plant growth. Generally speaking, low tech and high tech is the difference of a pressurized co2 or not. That is up to interpretation, but co2 is not essential at all. You can check out my 26g in my signature to see what I am doing with no co2 and minimal fertilizer. The reason I say to heavily plant is because the most aggressive plants will block out some light and prevent algae, and the more plants there are, the more co2 is in the water(plants give off co2, not just oxygen) so the plants will more readily uptake that light, not just algae because there is enough co2 in the water for them to use all that light.

2) Peat is a good idea, although I didn't add any to my soil. But in addition to that I would use clay for that vital supply of iron in the substrate. You can cap dirt with a variety of things but what seems to be the best is either a fine grain pea gravel or a course sand(that doesn't become too dense). Just make sure the gravel is not too big And i believe what you are referring to is the dry start method(DSM). I know nothing about it so you might have to do additional research on that.

If you want ideas for a low tech setup search "low tech show and tell" for a thread on this forum that has tons of people showing their low tech tanks and you can get a good idea of what you need to do from that
 
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