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New to Planted Tanks

1197 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  lauraleellbp
So, I have kept a standard aquarium for the last year or so, but as time goes by I want to get into the hobby a little deeper. Up until a few weeks ago, I had a standard tank with all of the stock lights etc. After doing a lot of research, I have decided that I want to go low-tech. Because of my busy schedule ( i raise, breed, and rescue horses. right now we currently have 19 on our ranch.) I figured low-tech would work out nice. My main motivation is having a beautiful tank that will serve as a centerpiece for a guest house located on the property.

My current setup:

The tank is a Marineland 60G with dimensions of 48" x 13" x 24"

Penn Plaxx Cascade 1000 canister filter (my tank is fully cycled and mature, all levels are good aside from nitrate because I'm on well water.)

Lights are stock, but I have ordered a Current USA LED+ 48-60" model (after more in depth reading, I have a feeling I need to buy another light to go along side this one.)

Substrate is plain black gravel. ( I have 5 bags of Seachem Flourite Black Sand sitting in the workshop.)

All plants and decorations are fake at the moment. (I picked up some texas holey rock a few days ago, bought it off a man who used to have a several hundred gallon cichlid tank)

I have to bubbler strips that put out bubbles, they are powered by a tetra whisper.

My heater is an ehiem 300W simply because the country gets cold in the winter and anything lower fails to heat the tank adequately.


3x silver dollars - small
3x bala sharks - small
3x iridescent sharks - small
6x shoal of random corydoras
1x pearl gourami - medium
4x rosy barbs - small

In terms of fish I have a mash up of random fish which will probably make no sense but trust me, it's better than debating with my fiance.

My main concern is my lighting and substrate and whether or not I am headed in the right direction for a simple setup. I would love to go high tech, but I have a ranch to take care of, and I just wouldn't have the time.

Please help me make sense of this build. I am a beginner, so I know I am bound to mess up, but I have no shame in it. Money isn't really an issue. I just want a quality setup.

Thank you all for your time.
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I'll comment on the fish; they look OK except:

  • The Silver Dollars are rabid vegetarians and will mow down most plants very quickly.
  • The Bala Sharks also eat plants, and get large; they will outgrow the tank.
  • The Iridescent Sharks are most likely Pangasius Cats, and are actually a food fish in some areas. Growing up to two feet or larger in the wild they are "tankbusters" and although cute when small really aren't a good candidate for anything but the largest of aquariums, and even then don't do very well.
The other fish would be fine.
Welcome to TPT!

I think your goals are clear and wise, so that's a fantastic start. :proud:

I agree with Koiboi's concerns wregarding your livestock, however. Everything he mentioned will need to be rehomed sooner or later, and if you do it sooner, the lower bioload during the transition will be that much easier for the remaining livestock. If your fiancee is attached to them all... you'd better start on plans for a pond. ;) None of those species are suitable for a planted tank of any size, unfortunately. On the plus side; with those fish gone, you have room for some new planted-tank-appropriate additions...

Are you thinking of adding the Flourite to your current substrate, or doing a complete replacement?

If you're adding to existing, I would not recommend exceeding more than 2-3" total substrate depth, especially in a tank this size, as it can promote the formation of toxic hydrogen sulfide bubbles.

If you're planning a complete substrate replacement, you'll need to keep in mind that a hefty part of a tank's natural biofiltering N-bacteria are hosted in the substrate, so be prepared for a mini-cycle (there are some ways around that).

I'm still too new to LED fixtures myself to gauge for sure what light level just one of the Satellite fixtures will give you (I trust your research there... just make sure that you're looking at feedback based on low light/low tech setups rather than high). However- if you stick with the hardiest of low light plants, you may not need 2 fixtures. A nice arrangement of Anubias, mosses, Java ferns, Swordplants, and Crypts can look quite nice and provide an extremely low-maintenance tank.
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Thank you for all of your feedback. I am in the process of rehoming the fish stated. Yes I will be replacing all of the substrate with flourite. I am just worried about lighting, im wondering if it is sufficient.
Yes lots of good info on the fish stock from the previous posts, was my first concern. I use to love 'sharks' then I realized they can easily grow well over a foot long and really need big tanks!

So is that tank 24" high? Your current + will give a par of about 25 with a substrate of 3"s directly under the light and less as it fans out to the side.. My guess is thats low - medium low light. I currently run a finnex Fugeray II in my low tech 29 gal @18+"s and it gives about 35-40 par. I can only run this light 7hrs (or else algae) as it has no CO2 injection and is a wee bit hi for a low tech tank.

But if you choose the right low light plants (as has been mentioned before like: Java ferns, Crypts, mosses, swords, etc) I think you would be good. That is assuming once or twice a week fertilizers (Like seachem flourish potassium, and flourish comperhensive) with a 25% water change. I would also recommend daily or every other day doses of Seachem Excel if you can fit it in your schedule. Hope it helps :)

Oh and I keep in mind I am no expert here, there maybe others with more/different information
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Yeah, my tank is 24 inches high. So if my light is weaker PAR wise would I then leave it on a bit longer? Buying another light is no problem, but I just don't want it to put it in high tech range, light wise.
In your shoes, I'd just try it out and see how the plants do.

Start off with some/any of the plants that I listed below (they're some of the hardiest in low light) and give it a month or two under just one fixture. 8-10 hours/day is would be a good photoperiod to start off with, but again, something you can experiment with to see what works best for you.

If you're not happy with the growth you're getting, you can always add a 2nd fixture then.

Since you say you want this tank to be as low maintenance as possible and in a guest house, I suspect from a few other threads I read regarding this fixture that 1 fixture may be enough.
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