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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been keeping south american cichlids for awhile now, so I'm by no means new to the aquarium world. I've had plants here and there, but my lighting was insufficient. The ones I've been able to grow are mostly java fern, anubias, crypts, and amazon swords (a 25 gallon with only 20 watts of light!).

I've been researching on this site for a few weeks now, but I'm so overwhelmed! There's SO SO much information here! Don't get me wrong...this is absolutely wonderful, but I just don't know where to start.

I want to turn my 50 gallon (48x12.5x18.5) into a planted tank. I want to try to have a beautifully aquascaped tank like so many that I see here! I'm not particularly creative, so it probably won't go well at first.

Here's my set up:

tank dimensions: 48x12.5x18.5
filters: 2x aquaclear 70
heater: 125 watt jager
lights: Coralife T5, 56 watts (I also still have the 2x24" lights that came with the tank; they're 14 watts each)
pH: 7
nitrate: 5-10
GH: 200 ppm
KH: 20 ppm
substrate: playsand

Any comments on my water parameters? Also, am I missing anything?

If possible, I'd like to grow some stem plants if possible, a nice carpet-type plant, and some other short plants for the front. I've seen two plants that look really really cool, downoi and L. aromatica. Would either of those grow with my lighting?

I don't want to go the CO2 route, but I can dose excel if that will help. I have flourish root tabs that I use in one of my other tanks--is this a good thing to use? Any other fertilizers that I should know about?

So, in summary:

1. Any comments about my water parameters?
2. Am I missing any equipment or products?
3. What kind of plants will I be able to grow with this light?
4. Can you suggest some foreground, mid ground, and stem plants I can grow, aside from the ones I've tried (see above)?
5. Fertilizer info or ideas? (I know absolutely nothing about fertilizer)

Thanks so much!
 

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Banned
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5,009 Posts
Rex Grigg wrote a guide that addresses much of what you are asking. It is a good read for planted tank information.
http://www.rexgrigg.com/
 

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ShrimpRetirement
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8,313 Posts
Rex Grigg wrote a guide that addresses much of what you are asking. It is a good read for planted tank information.
http://www.rexgrigg.com/
X2

Rex's site helped me understand a lot when I was beginning. Too bad he's not active on the forums any longer. Seems like a real funny dude.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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24,403 Posts
With your current lighting and no CO2, you'll want to stick with "low light" plants. E. tenellus and Marselia minuta would be your best bets to try and get to carpet, but they'll take a long time to fill in. Bacopa, Hygros, Hydrocoytle are some stems to try, as they're fairly low-light tolerant. I doubt you'll have luck with either Limno or Downoi due to both lighting and lack of CO2, especially in a relatively deep tank like a 55gal.

Your water parameters sound fine. Under your current lighting plants should grow fairly slowly, so there is not as much demand for ferts. Root tabs under larger plants (swords, crypts) may be sufficient.

I suspect that once the plants fill in your tank is going to need more flow with only 2x AC 70s for filtration. Planted tanks produce tons of debris, and need really good flow to make sure this is sucked up into the filters instead of building up in dead spots and encouraging algae issues. A powerhead or 2 would probably work if you don't want to upgrade the filtration, however.
 

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Honeycomb Master
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6,769 Posts
IMO, you will need a different substrate for your planted tank. If you are interested in having a lot of stem/carpet plants, then playsand will be insufficient. Stem plants absorb nutrients through their roots, so you need to have a substrate that is made for plants.

Few substrate suggestions: Seachem Flourite, Eco-Complete, and ADA Aquasoils (i like amazonia II); just to name a few. You could also try doing mineralized soil, if you like doing DIY projects.
 

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Honeycomb Master
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Though it's not my own favorite, there are plenty of people who do just fine with playsand as a substrate. Just have to be sure the plants are getting enough nutrients through the water column.
That means root tabs and lots of ferts, which IMO, is a pain. Much better off getting another substrate. But i'm sure it works fine for some people.
 

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Premium Member
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'll definitely check out the guide. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction!

As for the play sand, I've read on this site that it would work. The plants in my 25G are doing really great in it. Does anyone have personal experience with sand, whether it's a positive one or negative one?
 

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I would not necessarily say that stem plants get most of their nutrients from their roots. They get tons through the water column. When you receive stem plants most don't even have roots. They will grow some but continue to absorb through their leaves. That's why you see many plants shoot out aerial roots beside their leaves. They are increasing the absorption of nutrients from the water.

Plants that do need nutrients in the substrates are those with big root systems. These would include Echinodorus (sword plants), cryptocorynes, vals, hair grasses. These actually look like plants and not just stems. People do use sand with these but then they will put plant tabs in the sand or inject fertilizers directly into the sand. Even these do get some of their nutrients from the water column through their leaves.

I have seen people use only sand. They do have to supplement the sand with fertilizers. They also have much more trouble growing the more difficult plants.

Here are a couple more sites for you.
http://www.aquatic-plants.org/articles/basics/pages/index.html
http://beginneraquarist.petfish.net/Beginner%20Aquarist/Home.html
 
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