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Discussion Starter #1
Hi I am in the process of collecting equipment to set up my 100g tank. I have a 75g planted tank with mostly low light plants, I am using 4 23w CFL's for the lighting and just plain aquarium gravel for the substrate, most of my plants have been growing well but the growth has recently slowed, so I started using root tabs. I am planning on transfering my plants to the 100g, will plain aquarium gravel with root tabs be sufficent for the substrate? also i am having a hard time figuring out what type of lights to use, would CFL's be powerful enough? Any suggestions on a DIY compact flourescent setup? any help would be greatly appreciated
 

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Are you on a budget?

One of the best, and most certainly the cheapest substrates you can get is mineralized top soil. There is a sticky in the substrate forum which explains more about it. It's only con is that it can take a few weeks to complete.

For the 100G are you wanting low light again? If so give this a read, it's really a great article: http://www.barrreport.com/articles/433-non-co2-methods.html
 

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An easier version of MTS (mineralied top soil) would be products like SMS/Turface which has a better CEC factor than MTS/Aquasoil but doesn't have the organic material. It costs $10'ish a 50lb bag or even just plain PFS (pool filter sand) for $5'ish a 50lb bag. All of those work very well with ether low-tech or high-tech setups and just comes down to what you want the tank to look like and if your willing to put the time and effort into MTS or the money into ADA products.

~

I'd also look into dry ferts it's much, much cheaper to buy than the Seachem line of ferts.
Good places to buy them are: { greenleafaquariums.com } and/or { aquariumfertilizer.com } and the basics would be:

KN03
KH2P04
Trace (CSM+B)

Optional but good stuff:
GH booster (only used after a large WC)
Iron Chelate 10% (if you need extra iron for finicky plants)

the root tabs are still a good idea for rooted plants and would only need to be added once or twice a year at most.

~

If your a DIY kind of person with a just a bit of electrical and woodworking skills (you don't need much) I really like { ahsupply.com } for CF lighting kits that are extreamly cheap for what they produce. Just call them up and ask for help they have always been willing to talk to me and should be able to tell you exactly what you need for your tank and the price without adding a bunch of stuff you don't need. Then you just need to make a simple canopy (they have pdf instructions) and add the light kit. I've saved *allot* of money that way.

- Brad
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I forgot to mention my tank is inhabited by a large tropical community of around 50-60 fish, will any of this be harmful to them?
 

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Nope they should all be fine just take the move slow and gentle.

Get the new tank setup, fully cycled, and planted then move the smallest fish over and acclimate them for a week and then work up to the largest so that they have the smallest shock possible to there new environment.

- Brad
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So I have checked out some lighting and I think im gonna go with ahsupplys bright kit. I would like to grow low to moderate light plants. As I said before my 75g is lighted by four 23 watt CFL's, this works out to about 1.2 watts per gallon. The dimensions for my 100g are 60.5" long, 16" wide, and 25.5" tall. I was thinking of using two 55 watt bright kits mounted end on end but this only equals 1.1 watts per gallon. So maybe I should use four? How many watts per gallon would be good if I am not planning on using co2? I have read that too much light and no co2 can cause an algae outbreak.
 

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I would try to stay as close to the 2wpg mark as possible without going over it.
With good ferts and low/med plants you should do well and only have a moderate
risk of algae ~ nothing beats a algae outbreak on a full high-tech C02 setup it's
spectacular ~.

It's a bit more complicated but you could look into adding four lights and then
put them on individual timers so you can dial in exactly what brightness you
want, when you want it.

- Brad
 

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Hi Aquanaught,

AH Supply has some of the best reflectors in the industry, they make a huge difference in the amount of light going into your tank.

For instance on my 55G tank I have the 2X55W AH supply kit, while being 2WPG, this would normally be considered low light if it was from a different manufacturer, however since it's from AHsupply it's considered high light for my tank.

I think you would be fine with the 2X55W over your 75G, the only reason I would get the 4 bulb fixture is if you want the option to go high light later on.

Brad has good advice/suggestions, however I don't consider sms/turface a version of MTS. SMS/turface is an inert substrate, which means it's not adding anything to your water column/tank. If you use MTS you will get iron (from the clay), potash, dolomite and other elements which greatly help your plants grow. Infact, if using MTS in a low tech tank, you may not even have dose any fertilizers at all. Or perhaps very little.

For me personally, I'm going to use MTS about 1/2" on the bottom of my tank, and then over the top of it I will put about 2-3" of SMS gray.
 

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Hi Aquanaught,

Brad has good advice/suggestions, however I don't consider sms/turface a version of MTS. SMS/turface is an inert substrate, which means it's not adding anything to your water column/tank. If you use MTS you will get iron (from the clay), potash, dolomite and other elements which greatly help your plants grow. Infact, if using MTS in a low tech tank, you may not even have dose any fertilizers at all. Or perhaps very little.

For me personally, I'm going to use MTS about 1/2" on the bottom of my tank, and then over the top of it I will put about 2-3" of SMS gray.

That's correct about MTS (or ADA) having better organic compound leaching but SMS/Turface has a better CEC raiting than MTS which is extremely fine grained (generaly in the -1 to 1mm range) so to me it's a wash as the SMS/Turface will build up cation ions (ferts) better that MTS over the long haul.

You can take the time and effort to make MTS and still end up using water column ferts after a year or so (even ADA soils start bottoming out after a year) or pay a little bit more up-front for a faster start with SMS/Turface + water column ferts right away. I've done it both ways and MTS is just to much work for the payout in my opinion *but* it's a great diy substrate that rivals the best name brand top dollar substrate (ADA Aquasoil) so this isn't a slam on MTS specifically it's just that with a family and all I don't have the time to make it myself so I go with a different type of product.

~

You could also do a hybrid, in my discus tank I sprinkled layer of peat (to lower pH), and a trace mix (mostly Fe to simulate Flourite/Eco) on the bare tank bottom before adding the SMS substrate to get similar results to MTS. You could just as well ad a few more elements to that depending on what your trying to do.

- Brad
 
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