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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys!

I haven't been on these forums in forever! I recently purchased a 38 gallon fish tank, giving in to my urge to start up this great hobby once more! I've never worked with a tank this large; however, i have been doing a lot of reading.

Before i knew what i wanted to do with my tank, i bought regular gravel unbeknown to me that i would want to have a planted tank. I do not know what course of action i should go now as far as nutrient supplements for the gravel. Is there a special gravel i should buy? Will that require me to tank out my gravel? I am a little confused. My LFS had a fertilizer that went on the top of your gravel; however, i do not know how good it is.

My tank is pretty new. I bought a bunch of low light plants again, not realizing that i would end up buying a Hagen GLO 2x38W T5HO light fixture.
The tank is cycling great with 6 5-banded barbs. Water clear -- ammonia levels barely noticeable, but still present on the test.

Any suggestions for a new comer to plant keeping?

Thanks!
 

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IMO gravel would be fine. Just use some root tabs. I have gravel in my planted tank with nothing else for nutrients. I am currently using a DIY CO2 yeast injection with moderate light. My plants are growing beautifully. I have
2 Amazon Swords
3 Jungle Valls
Many Edoras cuttings
And I just introduced a Banana Plant
 

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Gravel is fine. Like above, you can use some root tabs. You will also have fish waste and food end up under there too. You can use liquid or dry fertiziler in the water column to supliment this.

Your lights should be great for almost everything except very light demanding plants.

Other than that, keep it simple at first with a small amount of plants to get used to plant care. You will find most that are widely available are pretty easy but not all. You may end up rescaping your tank a few times quickly too as you learn about how plants grow, and get a better idea of what you want.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
What is the best root tab product i can get? How often do you use root tabs?
My LFS told me that growing red plants is rather difficult. Is this true? What is the best growing red plant?

Also,
What is the 'best' online fish store.
 

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The product is called root tab, cant remember by what manufacturer. It is pretty available in all stores. It comes in a green and white package. I have not used it but have looked at it. The directions are on the box and pretty easy to understand. It is readily available at Petsmart. Online fish stores, you can use Dr fosters or Bigalsonline. But check the online forum here. I do not generally shop online.
 

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Welcome to planted tanks! :thumbsup:

Regarding your substrate, if you like the gravel you can certainly make it work. If you want to change it out, I'd go with something like Eco-complete or flourite. You can also use both. I have gravel over eco-complete in my 75 and my root feeders don't mind. There's a wealth of information in the substrate forum.

Regarding your lighting, keep in mind that the old WPG rules don't apply to T5HO. With your lighting, you can probably grow plants with high light demands just fine. I'm running 108 watts of T5HO over my 75 now and that's sufficient for high light plants. With your lighting level, I would infuse CO2. In a tank that size, the DIY method of CO2 infusion should be feasible. You can find the recipe and instructions in the DIY forum, or you can google, "DIY CO2."

With your tank and lighting, I'd buy several fast-growing stem plants (like anachris, hygro, watersprite) and do the DIY CO2 to combat algae. Right now, with all that light, you'll probably have some algae blooms.

Seachem has some very reputable root tabs in their Flourish line of fertilizers. Most LFS' carry them.

Most red plants do require high light to grow red. Some of them will grow well in lower light levels, they just usually grow green. You might try some Hygrophila polysperma "Rosanervig" (Sunset Hygro). It's a fast-growing stem plant that produces pinkish leaves when it gets a lot of light. If it's in lower light conditions, it grows just fine, it just stays green. Here's a pic with the pink coloring:


I've had good luck with aquariumfish.net for fish and aquariumplants.com for plants. Check with your various LFS' first. Both fish and plants should be shipped overnight, and the shipping charges can be higher than the purchase price.

Post pics of your tank in the journal forum! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
This is how my tank is currently set up:



I am no where near done planting it. This was just some starter plants to see what will do well. I would like to fill in the tank more, which will happen as the plants grow. However, i don't liek that plant in the back right. It is way too big and cant barely fit in my tank. I might remove it and get something else.

My tank has basically started with this many plants in it. Some of the mid-ground plants are showing some decent growth only after 2 days of being in there. My Barbs love hanging out under the driftwood!! They come out and chase eachother around the tank when im not watching and my 1 catfish currently swims all around the tank-- doesn't get scared of anything.

The supplemental nutrient solution my LFS told me to get is:
http://www.aquariumpharm.com/Products/Product.aspx?ProductID=55

I should use this in conjunction with the tablets?
 

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I would.

Some plants are root feeders that require nutrition in the substrate. Looks like you have some crypts (brownish-leafed plant in the front just left of center) and maybe some sag or small vals (grass-like plants). Those will want to send roots through the substrate to get nutrition.

Looks like you've also got at least one anubias (back left) and some stem plants. The anubias will send off roots, but the roots don't have to be buried (some schools of thought are that you shouldn't bury the roots. YMMV on this question). The consensus is that the rhizome (the branch that the leaves are attached to) should be above the substrate, so if you've got it buried (like I did to mine at first) I'd dig it out and weight it down or tie it to the driftwood. The anubias and stem plants seem to be able to feed from the water column and that's what the liquid fertilizer is for.

If you're not ready to dive into EI or PMDD or other fertilization schools of thought (I'm not, yet, myself) you might check The Krib for a guide to spotting nutrient deficiencies in your plants.

How long has your tank been running?

PS - I like the driftwood!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The tank has been running since Friday night; however, the fish, plants and wood wasn't in till Saturday night. The anubias is the back left plant correct? You think i should dig it up and just let it root itself through the top?

Whats ur opinion on the very LARGE plant in the back right? I dont like it that much;however, it does provide quite a lot of shade.

I just want my fish to feel like they are in their natural environment. Thats why i want to put lots of plants in my tank.
 

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It looks like a nice start so far. If you want to try for something red, some easy to keep ones are red ludwigia and red tiger lotus, as well as the sunset hygro already mentioned.
I agree about that Amazon sword, it is much too big for that tank and throws off the whole composition. I just had to pull four of them out of my 55 gallon tank because of the same thing. They filled it from front to back, and the leaves were growing up out of the top! They were blocking too much light from my other plants too, and killing them.

What kind of catfish is it that you have in there? A lot of them will get too big for that tank eventually.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The catfish i have is a leopard catifsh, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threestripe_corydoras
Hes really active and likes to sit on my drift wood. I wish my barbs were as social as he/she is.

Also, i have seen this white, puffy looking fungus on my driftwood. I read around that its normal and will go away. I just want to make sure its nothing serious.
 

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Ok, the cory is fine in that size tank. They don't get very big, and they're very fun little cats. Get him a friend, and you'll really increase his activity level. =)

Yeah, new driftwood usually gets that fungus. Mine has been in my tank a few months now and it gets it still off and on. Just scrub it off with a brush when you do water changes.
 

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Probably a black background, either latex painted, or the cheapo plastic backgrounds at your local pet store. Either one would help mask your box filter a bit, as well as bring out the natural coloration of your plants and driftwood.

Plants that provide heavy shading are great! You can then include dense arrangements of low light undemanding plants underneath them. Think cryptocorynes, anubias, mosses, dwarf amazon sword, and other shorter/bushier plants that won't climb up to the surface.
 
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