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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Ok. First attempt at a real planted tank and Ive got a couple of points to clarify. No doubt a some of this has been asked before. If you guys just want to point me in the right directions with some links, thats cool too.

What is considered low, moderate, and high light levels, as far as watts per gallon?

Do all planted tanks need a powerhead?

At what level of light and/or plant density do I need to start worrying about CO2 injection?

Now a bit about my current setup and a question or two on the flora and fauna subject:

I have a 55 gallon tank with gravel, HOB, a few Acorus and a few Mondo Grass so far. I have 80W (2x 48" 40W) fluorescents, one GE Plant and Aquarium, and one 6500K Daylight. I have Gouramis and will be getting a good 15 or so Harlequin Rasboras fairly soon. A nice, large driftwood is slated to be added very soon.

What would be the most recommended plants for me and my setup / skill level?

Im considering adding either Cherry Barbs, Lamp Eye Tetras, Glowlight Tetras, Bloodfin Tetras, or Serpae (Red Minor) Tetras. Definitely adding 2x SAEs and a few shrimp (Cherry or Amano). Is one of these better suited to live with Gouramis and Harlequins? Would I do better to get 15 Harlequins, 15 of one and 15 of another? Or like 25 Harlequins, and 20 of something else?

Thanks for taking the time to read all this. Any advice and info is very appreciated.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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Welcome to TPT!

First of all- you've got nonaquatic plants in the tank. Take them out of the tank and stick them in a pot and they should live. Kept in the tank, eventually Mondo grass and Acorus will just die.

Watts per gallon isn't as helpful a guideline as it used to be, as there are so many more types and brands of lighting available these days. Since I'm going to recommend that you start off with a low light/low tech setup for your first planted tank, I'm going to recommend around 75-100 watts total if you go with a T8 or CF fixture, or 54 watts if a T5HO fixture. Exceed that and you'll probably need pressurized CO2 for your tank.

No, not all planted tanks need powerheads, but they do need good flow to ensure that debris does not collect in any dead spots and contribute to algae issues. Powerheads are one way to ensure this, or, personally, I maintain 5-10x hourly turnover with my filters so I don't need additional powerheads in any of my tanks.

Check out the sticky at the top of the Low Tech forum for some plants you might consider. Some plants will grow in low light but still need CO2- so pay attention to that factor as well.

All of the livestock you mention would work just fine together. I personally prefer fewer species mixed together in favor of large schools of fish, but that's personal preference more than anything else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the warm welcome and the quick reply!

Ill take the plants out as soon as I get replacements. My tank would be pretty barren without them. Ill definitely take care of it before they die.

My filter does 300gph so Im getting 5.45x turnover. But the fact that all the water movement is (seems to be) at the surface where the water return is made me consider a small powerhead to kind of angle toward the bottom. Unless the filter's water intake will create current in the middle also..

Oh! Forgot to ask if adding 6 or so Corys would be a bad mix with the SAEs and shrimp. I dont plan on having that much algae, lol. But if they will just sweep up uneaten food then it might not be an issue. I can always use sinking pellets for them or get fewer shrimp.

Ill do the suggested reading now. :)

Thanks!
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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Everyone's tank is different, especially once hardscape and plants are added in. So if you suspect you need more flow now, even without the tank fully planted, then you probably do. Keep in mind that planted tanks also produce tons of debris, so mechanical filtration is just as important as flow... personally, I'd probably add another filter rather than just a powerhead. Or you could put a sponge prefilter on a powerhead, and that would boost the medicanical filtration as well (just you'd need to be sure to keep the sponge clean).

Cories would be a great choice for your tank.

Amano shrimp would be safe in your tank, as they're too big for most fish to eat. Cherry shrimp would probably be OK, since they're so much smaller they may become snacks unless you're sure to provide lots of hiding spots (mosses are great for shrimp for this purpose).
 

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What kind of gouramis do you have? Some of the larger ones would probably make a dinner out of your shrimp...Otherwise, the stocking sounds good. The cherry barbs can be a bit aggressive and nip at slower moving fish, so keep that in mind. Cories are great, I recommend them, definitely.

For a beginner, some good plants to start out with are anacharis, green/sunset hygros, ludwigia repens, swordplants (though they can be a pain in a 55 because they get so big and bushy), moneywort, water wisteria, aponogetons, tiger lotus, java fern, anubias, and cryptocorynes.

Powerheads are great for getting extra current where you need it. Too much disturbance of the surface can be an issue if you are using CO2, as it can cause the gas to escape from the water faster...but you do want some surface movement. You can also use a powerhead to dissolve/distribute your CO2 if you go that route; just stick the end of the tubing in the bottom of the powerhead. It's what I do in my 55 and it works great. But if you have good current already and don't need it as a CO2 diffuser, then you may not need a powerhead. I think it is good to own one or two anyway, just in case you need a backup if a filter goes down or something happens and you need to help oxygenate your water. They're useful.

If you don't have lights already, one cheap medium-light solution would be a couple of 4 foot shoplight fixtures from walmart/home depot or somewhere similar. They cost about $20 each and each holds 2 48 watt T12 or T8 flourescent bulbs, giving you 160 watts, which is about 2.9 watts per gallon if you go by that rule. That will work with or without CO2. You can buy 6500K spectrum bulbs at the same place, I think they are called 'natural sunlight' or something like that. I have that setup on my 55 and it works very well for me. I will eventually upgrade to something stronger, but for a beginner setup, it is a nice inexpensive start.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for helping, Ariel.

My Gouramis are two Opaline and three Gold. Maybe Cherries arent the best for me then. My Gouramis are definitely slow.

Funny you mention the work light route. Thats exactly what Im using. I have two from my old house that Im not using, and so I built a little box and mounted it like a hood fixture with a shop light inside. Works well so far. How do you use two of them? Use them on chains? How high from the lid, etc? What about a reflector or something to block the light from all escaping to the sides? I have more bulbs (6500K daylight T12s) and if I can figure out how to do it properly, I can have this solution in place as soon as tomorrow. But I have to say, Just my 80 watts seems pretty bright to me. For some reason I get the impression that doubling it will be way too bright. All the pics I see of the tanks here, they all look relatively dark. Is that just because of the plants at the surface breaking the light?

Any chance I can get a pic of how youre using both shop lights?

Thanks for teh help, y'all. I really appreciate it.
 

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Oh! Forgot to ask if adding 6 or so Corys would be a bad mix with the SAEs and shrimp. I dont plan on having that much algae, lol. But if they will just sweep up uneaten food then it might not be an issue. I can always use sinking pellets for them or get fewer shrimp.

Ill do the suggested reading now. :)

Thanks!
Welcome to TPT.

I loved the comment...."I dont plan on having that much algae, lol."

I don't think any of us do, but the stuff just happens.

Gotta have Cories. They love hiding and scooting among the plants.

I'd like to have shrimp, but I think my Kissing Gouramis would put them at the bottom of the food chain.

http://i271.photobucket.com/albums/jj141/pettitsm/SMP/Aquarium/091219_23714.jpg


Good luck with the setup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Read through the DIY lighting area. Found a post that was directly related to my setup, but every pic in the first post (which explained everything) was from photobucket and has been deleted. Ill just keep combing the infowebs for the info Im looking for.

Thanks.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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Read through the DIY lighting area. Found a post that was directly related to my setup, but every pic in the first post (which explained everything) was from photobucket and has been deleted. Ill just keep combing the infowebs for the info Im looking for.

Thanks.
Did you shoot a PM to whoever's post that was? And/or bump the thread with your questions? I bet someone could help ya out. :proud:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
No, I didnt. I dont want to be a burden or a nuisance, or come across as that guy who isnt willing to do the work, but just wants someone to repost all the info just for him. Ill just continue to do searches and read what I find. Whether it applies directly to me or not, almost all of the threads have useful info in them.
 

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Fresh Fish Freak
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Burden or nuisance? What? lol

If the info would be useful to you, you can be 100% sure it would be useful to countless others, as well! The OP probably doesn't realize that their photos aren't active any more. Or someone else may have some comparable ones...

I'm totally electrically ignorant, but there's tons of members here who really know their stuff in this area, and the DIY forum is the place to ask.
 
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