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Newbie quesions

365 Views 2 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  jwedll
Hello everyone. My name is Jeremiah. I am new to the whole planted aquarium. I have had three successful saltwater reefs and I want to dive into a planted nature style tank. There are a few questions I have regarding substrates and filter types however.

My first question is about filters. Now with my reef tanks I have always had predrilled (reef-ready) tanks with a sump and all filtration under the tank. I guess I am wondering if I can stay with that style or should I change over to a canister.

What I have for equipment is a 40 breeder tank drilled with a coast to coast overflow that drains into a 29 sump. I have taken out all the previous baffles to change them as needed for this venture. For lighting I have a Sunlight Supply 6-bulb T5 HO fixture that will need new bulbs for freshwater. I have Auto top off systems, heaters, a Neptune aquacontroller jr, koralia and tunze powerheads, and four different sized return pumps. I guess I am kinda wondering what I need and what I dont. I am thinking that my light fixture may be a little overkill for a planted tank and I know I dont need my protien skimmer anymore. But is there any other equipment I should get that I dont have.

I guess any input would be appreciated.
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The thing your going to discover when setting up a planted tank verses a SW reef is that while the goals are the same, that is maintaining a healthy environment for what you want to keep, the approaches used are completely different. It's a whole different ballpark, so to speak.

For example, canister filters on a reef are usually considered to be a big disadvantage. This is because they consume oxygen, and create nitrates. On a planted tank that's exactly what you want. The overflow and sump typically used on a reef give excellent gas exchange, CO2 out, O2 in. It's just what you want for a reef, but in a planted tank, you want that CO2. The plants heed it for growth.

Another example, nitrates and phosphates in a reef are things you want to keep as low as possible. In a planted tank you usually want to add these because they are necessary fertilizers.

Lighting is another area that is different. While you still need good light for a planted tank, you need much less of it, and typically of a much lower color temp. You could use about 2 bulbs in your 6 bulb fixture and still get plenty of light for almost all plants.

You also don't need the water flow generally associated with reef systems.

The one item I would consider is a pressurized CO2 system for a planted tank. It's comparatively expensive, and a little bit of work to set up, but it does wonders for plant growth. It will also allow you to maintain a CO2 level even with an overflow and sump.

The bottom line is that you can use everything you currently have, but you'll want to make some changes. I would also suggest getting a couple of good books on planted tanks and read them for background information. Here are two I like -

Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants by Peter Hiscok
Ecology of the Planted Aquarium by Diana Walstad
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Thanks, I will start there
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