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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is it possible to use a Metal Halide in a freshwater planted tank? I've decided I'm putting off setting up my saltwater tank until I have more time to devote to it. I'm going to be working and going to school full time next year so I fear that the tank will suffer for it so I'm waiting to set it up until I have the right amount of time to devote to the tank. But I already have a lot of the stuff needed for the tank. I'm going to store it but I was wondering if I could use a Metal Halide in a freshwater planted tank or not. Could I use the Actinics or could I get other planted aquarium bulbs and put in my Ballast as long as they don't exceed the specs on the Ballast?
 

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Actinics won't do much for you, except make the tank look weird. You can use a metal halide light, but keep in mind that planted tanks don't need nearly as much light as a reef tank. Over lighting is one of the most common mistakes made when someone sets up their first FW planted tank, and can lead to some serious stress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Not my first but my first trying to use Metal Halide. Can I put other bulbs in place of the Actinics? Run the Halide 3-4 hours a day and the other bulbs the rest of the time? I couldn't win any contests with my little low tech 20 but the fish and me are happy. The parameters are perfect (I think the female Ram I got only yesterday was getting ready to spawn with my Bigger male dunno though.:fish::icon_redf :fish:They were cleaning off a broad leaf actively and her egg tube was visible and they were shimmying to each other). Haven't had issues with algae. The watts are about 5.15 watts a gallon (My Crypt Parva and Chain swords were starving under the 38 watts).

Just trying to think of ways to utilize the equipment Ive already got.

Can someone please explain why more light = the "need" for C02 because I don't know how to use a Co2 system and they're expensive aren't they?
 

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Sure, get 5500-8000K fluorescent bulbs for fresh water and you are set.

You could use MH over fresh water but usually 2 full length T5HO or T5NO for your 20 gallon tank is more than enough and the light needs to be suspended. I love my MH and prefer 8000K bulbs. They are suspended about 30" over the substrate and I have needed to use window screen to shade the tank even so.

If you give the plants loads of light they want to grow fast and need lots more carbon than they can get with unenriched water. If you drop the amount of light then the plants don't need as much carbon.

Usually plants are starving for carbon, not light. Get some fertilizers going too.
 

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Can someone please explain why more light = the "need" for C02 because I don't know how to use a Co2 system and they're expensive aren't they?
Plants need carbon like humans need oxygen. You need more oxygen if you exert yourself for an extended period of time, Yes ? If you can't get the needed oxygen then you'll be unable to continue the exertion. It's the same for plants if they are exposed to bright light for an extended period of time they want to photosynthesize but can't as easily with less co2. Plants can get the needed carbon other ways but it ends up being metabolically energy intensive resulting in diminishing returns for plant growth. Co2 is the easiest way for plants to acquire it that's why it's used as a first choice.
Co2 isn't really expensive I don't think. Here are some links I found here recently for co2 regulators http://www.beveragefactory.com/draftbeer/regulators/co2-premium.shtml
http://www.micromatic.com/draft-keg-beer/regulators-cid-614.html

I'd get a 20lb aluminum co2 tank because steel tanks are a bit heavier.

 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It's not for a 20 gallon tank btw a 40 gallon breeder so it has a 16 inch height and lots of floor space for me to scape. Theoretically if I put a lot of fish in the tank woud that increas the Co2? I'm not going to do so but it just makes sense in my head. Are there any supplements I can use in place of Co2...? I dont' think my grandmother would like me having a Co2 tank that always needs filling in the house.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Those links only showed regulators... where do I get and how much is the tank itself? Would using Carbon in the tank as a supplement make me not need Co2? These were things I've never had to deal with in my low tech 20 gallon. But I'd like some carpeting plants so I guess I have to look at it. I'm trying to find the cheapest way to do it. If I can get by without having to use a Co2 tank then that's great. I've heard there's supplements or tablets you can use. I don't know about the tablets though they seem to be too unreliable and hard to measure.
 

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There is Flourish Excel as an alternative carbon source to CO2 for plants. Just be aware that Excel contains gluteraldehyde, which is extremely toxic to pretty much everything at high enough levels, so overdosing will kill all of your shrimp, snails, and fish. If you dose correctly, your fish will be ok, but your invertebrates may or may not be killed off.
 

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Lighting from MH fixtures tends to be very high unless they're suspended far above the tank. The problem with high lighting in freshwater is that unless you supplement it with CO2 and fertilizers, you get (without exception) algae. Unless you can come up with accurate PAR readings for your particular fixture, you'll be guessing at the light level. Best bet, unless you have pressurized CO2, is to start the fixture a couple feet above the tank and lower it by a few inches per 2 weeks or so, never varying your fert regimen. When you end up with algae, back off a bit. And that's the farthest you should go without pressurized CO2.
 

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IMO if you are going to use a MH period you need Co2 unless you are comfortable with the light being like 5ft above your head when looking at the tank.
All I see is there being algae problems otherwise. As of right now I have a single T5ho 10" from the surface of my 75g. Without Co2+EI if I lower it the tank fills with algae. And that would be medium-low light for a 75g.

Word of advice,
Co2 isn't as hard or dangerous as people make it out to be. You simply pick the tank up from the gas company bring it home attach the regulator and your set, as long as you follow instructions you'll be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
There is Flourish Excel as an alternative carbon source to CO2 for plants. Just be aware that Excel contains gluteraldehyde, which is extremely toxic to pretty much everything at high enough levels, so overdosing will kill all of your shrimp, snails, and fish. If you dose correctly, your fish will be ok, but your invertebrates may or may not be killed off.
I'm using Flourish in my 20 gallon tank. Does that have the same effect? I use enough for a 60 gallon tank 2x a week and my shrimps and fish are fine. Because I can never really tell exactly how much you need for a 20 gallon tank. But I can be strict with myself on the Flourish Excel. In fact. I think I'm going to nab some and try it out on my 20 gallon tank and see if I notice any difference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
As a completely different little tid bit. The rams in my 20 gallon tank spawned. They cleaned off a leaf and there's little tanish eggs on the leaf now. This is less than 24 hours after I put her in the tank...
 

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I'm using Flourish in my 20 gallon tank. Does that have the same effect? I use enough for a 60 gallon tank 2x a week and my shrimps and fish are fine. Because I can never really tell exactly how much you need for a 20 gallon tank. But I can be strict with myself on the Flourish Excel. In fact. I think I'm going to nab some and try it out on my 20 gallon tank and see if I notice any difference.
No, regular Flourish comprehensive fertilizer is not the same product as Flourish Excel.
 

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You will need to continue to use the Flourish comprehensive to provide the micro nutrients your plants need . Excel is an alternative CARBON source to using bottled CO2. Works well, but not as well as the bottled gas and over time(a long time on a 40 breeder) is more expensive

Here are my recommendations:

1. Do your research: Read up as much as you can before purchasing anything more so you can make your own somewhat educated decisions.

2. The MH question: IMO - Not recommended for a 40 breeder. It is unnecessary for that size of tank they create a bright spot that tapers to the edge and 36" is pushing the range and you will very uneven light. You should be able to pick up an entire 2 bulb 36" T5HO fixture for not much more than the cost of one MH bulb. Just my opinion, however I did love my mh pendant over my 24" cube tank.

3. Do some more research:)
 
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