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Nick's 29g Low-Tech Planted Adventure

2334 Views 11 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Rush3737
Well, let's first start off with a very old picture of how my tank started, and what it was like more or less up until very recently, and my beginnings in the hobby.

Early on many fish came and went, the tank moved to my best friend when I had to make a move myself, and a year later when I moved again, I was able to take the tank back. It was then I joined TPP, learned a lot, and started doing much better with the tank. I eventually decided to go all the way, and started my 75g high tech tank (link in sig), and have been running that for over a year now. When it came to placing an order to finalize my stocking for that tank, I knew it was a time to make some changes in this one as well.

The previous stocking of the tank was:
1 x Pictus Catfish
4 x Bronze Corys
8 x Various Barb Species

On Monday my current (and for the most part) barbs were donated to my local LFS. The other fish and decor were taken out of the tank, along with half of the gravel. Then 40lbs (2 bags) of eco complete was put in, and after a few hours of filters clearing and cleaning the water, the Pictus and Corys were put back in. Adding to that I took 4 Blue Tetras and 1 Glo Tetra from my other tank and put them in the tank. On Wednesday my final fish come and the final fish will be as follows:

1 x Pictus Catfish
4 x Bronze Corys
1 x Glo Tetra
4 x Blue Tetra
10 x Snakeskin Barb

And it currently looks as such:

Current Stuff
29g Standard Tank
Versa Top
Stock hood lighting fixture
2ft 6500k T8 bulb
100w Heater (forget brand, but it's not generic kit)
Aqueon Quietflow 30
Fluval Aquaclear 50

First issue is my Pictus. Supposed to be carefree swimmers that are bad with plants. However he stays on the bottom of the tank. So most of my plants will be secured to rocks, decor, or driftwood. You don't see any driftwood? That's because I don't have any. Found stuff I liked at, but after an initial reply to my inquiry I can't seem to get a response from them. Next up is plants. I figure H4N would have the advice and plants I need, but his inbox is currently full, so it may be a bit till I can add a good number of them.

Without the driftwood/plans, the tank will be heavy on fish waste, and will require regular water changes for awhile, so I'm hoping to get that setup as quickly as possible. I have both liquid and dry ferts, and getting those right will be a big challenge for me. So will things growing at a fraction of the right as my high tech tank. I think once I get the plant shipment confirmed, I will also invest in a Finnex Planted+ unit.

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Red bulbs don't register on a PAR meter so there is no PAR listed on the planted+
but since those replacement bulbs are in better spectrums for plants I'd use the
PAR chart of the Ray II and if it says anything over 45 for the depth of your water over the substrate then you might want to reconcider unless you plan on building one of those DIY CO2 things.
The fish waste will support only a few plants so if you intend o have many of them you will need to read up on ferts. The higher the light the more of them you need.
Using two strip lights/w T8 bulbs will keep that at a minimum but still grow plants.
I have 4ft Diamond Plate T8 fixtures, which, if raised, would work for me from a light standpoint, but from overflow into the room and just being too big I'm not sure if it would be good.

I'll look into 2ft fixtures next time I'm at a hardware store.
Well, some positive developments in the tank today.

The Snakeskin Barbs arrived and are looking rather healthy:

I had it in my head that although they would stay low with the Pictus and Corys, the Tetras would give the top of the tank some use... but instead they seem to enjoy coming down and schooling with the Barbs! If that continues I'll really plan on putting stuff above the substrate so they have space down where they enjoy.

On that front, still no word on driftwood, but I was able to reach H4N and get the ball rolling on plants. I also took 3 stems of Rotala rotundifolia and stuck them in. I figure the fish should provide enough ferts for them that I don't have to worry too much about them yet.
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I have a new thought on lighting I'd like to run by you guys. a 30" wide tank sucks when it comes to lighting, especially T8 fixtures and most LED systems. The Finnex Planted+ comes in a 30" variety, gives good color (from what I've read), but might be a little overpowered in a tank using only excel.

I think I have the solution. I make two wooden blocks, as thick as the top trim on the tank, as long as the mounting bracket is, and as high as need be. I mount the light on these blocks, and then use double sided tape or the 3m wall hanging strips to lightly attach the blocks to the top of the aquarium.

Or I run pieces of wood up from the sides of the stand, with pieces coming in to support the unit.

Whatever the case my be, point is I just raise it a bit.

Got 2 pieces of driftwood from an e--bay seller in California, one of which is for this tank.

I also will be buying the following from H4N:
Anubias barteri 'Nana'- 5+ leaf portion - 1 portion
Anubias barteri 'Petite'- 5+ leaf portion - 1 portion
Anacharis- 5 stems
Needle leaf fern-2-3" portion - 2 portions
Guppy grass - 10
Java moss- tennis ball worth

I'm still unsure of what I'll be doing for lighting, but that driftwood really helps get the ball rolling.
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I've had a slow time at work the last two days, and I really can't seem to come to a definitive answer for lighting on this tank.

I strayed away from CO2 on this tank because last time I pieced together every part of my system and in the end it was a lot of time and energy. I'm half tempted now to get the Planted+, get an Aquatek All-in-One system, and buy a CO2 tank from Craigslist and just go high tech. Considering I already have the ferts and the routine down on the big tank, I figure I might as well.
Okay, lighting finally solved. I ordered a pair of clamp lights and 23 watt CFL bulbs. Hanging the light, and finding the right height that C02 won't be needed will be a challenge, as will making it look nice, but I think the pair will give a nice spread and do a good job once all is figured out.


Driftwood arrives next Thursday, and looks like such:

This will go in the right side of the tank. The decor (castle aside) will likely get removed, but perhaps not until after things have grown in a bit. My Pictus Catfish has done laps around the inside of that castle for half a dozen years now, and I can't see taking that away from him. How he even still manages to turn in there is beyond me.

Finally, plants will ship out on Wednesday, getting to me either Thursday or Friday. Going to make those days busy both getting plants attached to things, and also finding a method I like for keeping the wood down. My current plan is to put a SS screw in the bottom of the piece and then put a rock on either side.
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Getting ready for my lights to come in on Monday:

I have holes drilled every two inches on the sides, so moving them it up and down with be easy.
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Did you get your lights yet? I had a similar issue when I got the Planted + and had to raise it a couple of inches above the surface but it worked out pretty good. Actually I just PM you with regards to another post about some floating plants you had. The Planted + puts a lot of light and figure I'd add some floaters to provide some shade for my rasboras as well as some hidding places for my RCS. You sound like me when I was trying to figure out what to do for lighting, funny enough we thought about the same thing, haha. If you're interested I can post some pics of my set up to see if it helps. Looking forward to seeing some progress.
Thanks Jay, always happy to see other setups, so post away!

Lights are installed, and now I'm just waiting for DW (Thursday) and plants (Thu or Fri) to really finish the major part of redoing the tank.

And I'm happy to report that my Snakeskin Barbs have really come out of their shell the past few days. For awhile they all crowded into a back corner, stayed low, swam away from me, and now they are using the whole tank and being much friendlier.

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Driftwood came in a day earlier than expected, on Wed, and plants came in a day later than expected, on Sat.

For now I've kinda just tied things and thrown them in. Once I start actually seeing growth I'll worry more about how things are arranged, here is the result.

Front left, front right, and back right corners are needle leaf ferns. Two small plants in the forefront are Anubias petite, and the large one is Anubias nana. Back center is Anacharis and I'm going to allow the guppy grass to just float around for now.

I'm heading to Boston for 3 days, so Thursday I will start attempting to fertilize. Small amounts of excel, potassium and iron to start. And possible a tiny amount of CSM+B to make sure the micro bases are covered.
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