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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good morning,

I have a tank that is 6ft across the back, 4ft across the front, 2ft wide and just over 2ft deep. (Bay configuration) It's a big tank and it's also the first tank that I want to plant out, apart from my previous experience of tying Anubis to logs...

Because it's such a massive area I don't realistically think that I can handle it as a complete beginner. So my idea is to section of the tank into planted and non-planted. In particular I was thinking of making/buying a horizontal elevated platform that will blend into the fake rock wall in the tank. This would allow for a platform that could have a different substrate and be closer to the lights. I've made rock background before so I think I could make it, but would this work?

Since its a very deep tank and I am trying to keep costs down would this platform that brings the planted closer to the light allow me to get away with less/cheaper lights? I would try and plant lower light plants around the base of the platform and other areas of the tank to make it fit in.

The lighting house I have is this one:
https://www.aquariumproducts.com.au/catalogue_products.php?prodID=3653

It currently has this bulb in it:
http://m.imgur.com/fo0iXA1?r
That's a Catalina 96watt combination 1700k and 6500k bulb and is the one that is recommended for plant growth.

Would this be suitable? I'm completely lost about the watts per gallon so I'm not sure if this bulb would provide enough light anyway. Would only having some of the plant planted but high light result in algae blooms?

Thanks for any help you can give.
 

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Easiest way to work with this concept is to grow plants in pots (terra cotta works well) and place these pots on top of other pots that are turned up-side-down. Larger pots as stands lifts the plants closer to the light. Smaller pots, sitting on the bottom could hide the taller pots, if you use low light plants. These smaller pots in the front row are farther from the light.
This way the plants are in good soil (whatever substrate you choose) and are at the right height so the light reaches them.

There are other ways such as a raised planter area like you are describing. I have not seen them, but somehow supporting a box across the back of the tank can work.
Something like a turtle basking island is the basic concept. But for plants it will be heavier. I think this cannot hang from the side of the tank, but needs to be supported on legs or something.

How about this:
Put a few bricks in the tank and lay a rock across them (thin rock like slate or tile). Then put pots on it.
Or build a box out of thin rock (silicone or aquarium putty, or expanding foam may glue the pieces together). Sit this box on the bricks. Then fill this box with plant substrate. The void under the box is like a cave for the fish.

Another concept:
Use a light that is focused on a smaller area of the tank. Grow the highest light plants directly under this light. Then medium or lower light plants nearby. Areas with more typical lighting (too low for plants) could have rocks and driftwood with perhaps Anubias or Java Fern growing where the driftwood lifts it close enough to the low level of lighting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I didn't have anything to do today so I made this: https://imgur.com/a/1rOVw

It isn't glued together yet obviously. It looks pretty horrible now but you can see the idea... It's got a 'planter' on each side that has a hole for substrate about 4inches deep and another on the top. I'll paint and seal it to match the back wall and also slim it down a little.

All in all it raises the top plants almost a foot closer to the light. Do you think that the light I have will allow for mid light plants at this elevation?
 
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