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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good morning guys,

so I've got a basic and beginner setup going with simple and easy plants. I've got what I beleive to be (after much reading herein) a good substrate, a good lighting system, I use Flourish (regular) and Flourish Excel as directed.

so the question is, "what's the next step" perferably a small baby step

I'm guessing most folks might say "ferts" but as you know, this can get really complicated really fast. I know there is a Flourish for each of the NPK and Trace and Iron. That would be 5 more bottles of stuff. And I know there are other ways to do ferts, dry mix and all that, but I want to stay super super simple.

so maybe the answer to the question is there is no next small baby step, maybe the answer is the next step is to jump-in hip-deep, idk?

ideas?
 

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Dry dosing ferts is actually very simple and incredibly cheaper than dosing Seachem or any other brands premixed solutions. It's worth it financially to just learn to use dry ferts (not really much of a curve, just follow the sticky in the ferts section).

So depending on your plant stocking and tank size I'd say dry ferts and some sort of DIY or injected CO2 system.
 

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lets assume that your goal is to one day be able to do a successful high tech tank...

I'd say this would be my recommended order of how to get there

1. start off with simple, low tech plants, doing low light and having a relatively simple substrate.
1.5 if you're substrate isn't great for planted tanks, only okay, consider changing it out for something that will be more ideal for a planted tank.
2. get a grasp of fertilizers...begin to understand how they work and what they are, be it doing the liquid bottles or starting to do dry dosing...I recommend as well learning PPS-Pro (I bought a liquid PPS-Pro kit from nilcog, and a fert system like that is how I recommend doing a not-high tech tank/a tank with a nutritious substrate that just needs an extra thing or two)
3. get a grasp of co2, you could start of with something that is DIY, but I feel that you will never really get to know the power of co2 until you do something like a paintball or a full pressurized system...you want to be able to know how to control your co2 and how to maximize your co2 usage without harming any livestock in your tanks...this also means at this step that you will be learning a lot about flow, your filters, and how to best aerate a tank while keeping in as much co2 as possible
4. lighting, I think its best to save this for last, as the more light you have the more nutrients and co2 you will need. You can run co2 with low light, it won't harm anything, and you can do small light dosing with low light, you get the same deal. But if you did high light without being able to dose or run co2 you'd run into a bunch of problems, which is the mistake I made as I jumped right into high light without co2 for a bit.

of course, before any of that, I would also learn some essentials to keeping a fish tank anyways, such as fish compatibility, how to filter and heat the tank, and super importantly how to do water changes efficiently...this becomes important later when deciding to do ferts as some fertilizer schemes (EI specifically) will require water changes once a week, where as others (PPS-Pro) will require water changes only as needed...meaning if you run a tank that only needs a water change once every few weeks, you'd be fine.

There are, at the end of the day, a lot of different ways to go about this hobby and learning it. I went from being a cichlid guy (50% weekly if not bi-weeky water changes) to doing low tech (still did weekly because force of habit) to then jumping the shark and doing high light before ferts.....which caused me to have to very quickly get a grasp on ferts and co2 (yay me :\). Theoretically, you could jump straight to high tech so long as you already understood everything else...but then I'd recommend starting a new tank that is going to be a dedicated high tech tank, with all the bells and whistles, and everything planned out and ready long before you actually set up the tank and add plants and turn the lights and gas and all on.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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My advice would be to stick with low light, and start learning CO2. Carbon is the element needed in greatest quantity by plants, so mastering the supply of this element is going to be crucial if you want to go forward. There is a learning curve to achieving and maintaining consistent CO2 levels.

Low light tanks move more slowly than high light tanks- meaning you have more time to identify and figure out how to address any deficiencies or other issues before they become major issues.

Adding CO2 to a low light tank will only help the plants, but the plants will still have a relatively lower demand for other ferts... which gives you time to focus just on mastering CO2 levels before you also need to master ferts.

Once you've got CO2 down, then you can raise your light levels and work out ferts for a high light setup.

That's the way I'd recommend going about it, at any rate.
 

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When you asked "what's the next step?" were you heading for high tech eventually
or was that just a general question on plants ?
Just for the sake of having a common reference point, I'll say that the line between high and low tech would be CO2 added or no CO2 added. And I would not include Excel in that. Not that this "rule" is anything like "that's where everyone makes the line"
rather just for a common focus point.
You can always change your mind later but decide where you want to go/w this.
Low tech = low cost/maintenance
High tech = high cost/maintenance including daily ferts and weekly(for most) trimming.
For either you can buy dry ferts much cheaper than paying for all those liquids.
And...they can be dosed as a liquid with a solution made up each week/month or
as you get to know which is lacking you can add more of that one to your formula
for the next batch. Or these dry ferts can just be dosed dry.
There is one on this forum which sells a liquid "kit" with the bottles. But understand that any "Package" deal usually has everything already mixed so it's hard to add
just one nutrient without having more of only that one kind extra.
But the Package deals are good to start/w till you lear more about ferts.
Both these links have package deals on them and the second one has that liquid kit.
http://greenleafaquariums.com/aquarium-fertilizer.html
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?t=506393&highlight=
 

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Algae Grower
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Good morning guys,

so I've got a basic and beginner setup going with simple and easy plants. I've got what I beleive to be (after much reading herein) a good substrate, a good lighting system, I use Flourish (regular) and Flourish Excel as directed.

so the question is, "what's the next step" perferably a small baby step

I'm guessing most folks might say "ferts" but as you know, this can get really complicated really fast. I know there is a Flourish for each of the NPK and Trace and Iron. That would be 5 more bottles of stuff. And I know there are other ways to do ferts, dry mix and all that, but I want to stay super super simple.

so maybe the answer to the question is there is no next small baby step, maybe the answer is the next step is to jump-in hip-deep, idk?

ideas?
Set a goal. Figure out what you have to do to achieve it and start from there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Good morning guys,

for a couple of different reasons, I don't want to go down the road of CO2.

I'd like to run whatever level of lighting I can just using Flourish Excel.

I'd like to dose the tank just using Flourish, Flourish Trace, Flourish Iron, and as I learn more about ferts add in the Flourish PNKs.

I like keeping the snails around as they are entertaining to my kids so I don't want the water to get toxic to them, but no fish, no shrimp, just snails

My overarching goal is to raise plants for our turtle to eat, as fast as they will given the above guidelines, if that's slow, well ok the turtle will get fed lots of other stuff, and have fun along the way
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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Ok so just to throw you a curveball...

A lot of "aquarium" in nature are found in bogs and will grow MUCH more quickly as emersed rather than fully submerged.

One of the big reasons they can grow more quickly emersed is that then their leaves are up in the open air, where they are able to take advantage of atmospheric CO2.

You might want to consider converting your aquarium to a paludarium/vivarium/riparium setup. :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Good morning LauraLee,

is there not a SUPER EASY setup that's under a $100

every time I read about CO2 it sounds a bit too complicated and needing someone to show you how to set things up with pretty much ad hoc DIY whatever you can figure out (which for a newbie is too steep of a learning curve) with this piece or part from here or there and this other part from either or there. The alternative is BIG $$$ for a turn key system.

and I've read that once you get a CO2 tank setup, it takes a lot more upkeep time and money to keep it running.

so there's the bigest two reasons I'm shying away from CO2
 

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My same reasons plus the DIY is not stable/fluctuates in pressure. And I just
don't want the fast growth.
Naturally we just missed it but at the $1 per gallon sale a 20L would grow quite a bit of
turtle food in hortworth or aracnis.
 

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If you want to avoid costs, get off of the Flourish line of ferts and move to dry ferts. If you go to greenleafaquarium's website they sell a pre-mix version of ferts called PMDD (poor man's dosing drops) that cost $12 and will last you many years and all you do is add a small amount of it to a bottle, add some water and put in a few drops once a week. Many are against pre-mixed dry ferts, but IMO much better and easier/cheaper than trying to buy all the bottles sold by Seachem when all they are doing is adding water and dry ferts to bottle and sell it to you. I would rather spend $12 once than the same for each individual bottle.

A hi-tech tank only has somewhat high "initial" costs. Cost to run in neglible compared to any other tank. If $20-25 on CO2 about every 4 months is costly, maybe your view would be different. High maintenance is not really true either. For sake of my fish and inverts I change 50% or higher on all of my tanks and if greater plant growth speed is bad, then maybe plants are outside one's realm so to speak. The plants growing is where it becomes what you want in your tank, instead of just something sitting there and the look you want is months off before it is even sort of grown. I have low light tanks also. They all require maintenance.

When you read all the threads about CO2 problems, I think most can be averted if the information that has been posted on the site for setup and getting started were used. Even a fish tank with its required filtration, gravel/substrate, compatibility of fish, temperature, lighting, water change/maintenance required, water testing, water chemistry, and so on is pretty steep of a learning curve...but that usually doesn't stop people from going to a store listening to someone who usually knows very little about what they are talking about, and getting pretty much all needed to get a tank going. Only then to find out there is a ton of stuff you didn't think about you needed, but it usually still turns out pretty good. Same can be said about CO2, dosing ferts, moving to high light, add new/better filtration, adding new fish with particualr needs, etc, etc... Not a push from me to get you into CO2, just saying.

Most things in keeping aquariums is as easy or hard as you want to make them. Nearly applies to anything and everything you ever could do to a tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
hi JR,

I can certainly get the PMDD ferts once these Flourish things run out.

I would like the growth rate of CO2. Are you willing to walk me thru it? My goal for the plants is to feed them to my turtle, and no livestock in the tank other than algae eating snails.

Thanks, Todd
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
JR, I posted this in the "equipment" section of TPT as well.

I'm willing to (would like to) give the CO2 thing a go, but the learning curve seems mighty steep! so I'd need a kit that has to be somewhat inexpensive (like around $100 or so) and pretty much "turn-key" with directions to follow. And I guess (but really don't know) that refillable wherever the paintball guys go to get their tanks refilled (or maybe there are other refill options like at an aquarium shop or something, again I don't know).

Can anyone help me out?

Todd
 

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I saw your other post. Looks like you got some detailed info in the responses. Once you see how much better your plants look and grow from the CO2 you will be glad you made the jump. Some are just afraid of how much change it will cause in their routine but it is not as much as those that only know things through stuff they've read believe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
kinda wish I had seen the "local" item before I ordered the one off ebay, hopefully all goes well, and I also got a 24oz. CO2 tank

stay tuned, I'm sure I'll have many more questions....
 
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