View Full Version : Help and advice for a beginner

02-22-2008, 07:48 PM
I've had my 20g tank with a couple corys and 1 betta for a month now. I'd really like to plant my tank and get rid of the fake decorations which are only pleasing to my eye. Or even floating plants if possible. I only have gravel and my lighting is a cheap fixture with a regular home lightbulb. I'm looking into getting java fern, java moss, or amazon swords because I've heard these are the easiest to maintain. What do you guys recommend I start with? What problems can I run into with plants in my tank? And what equipment do I need for these plants?

02-22-2008, 08:17 PM
You'll need to get at least a standard aquarium light, incandescent lights don't usually work so well with plants.

Your standard 10 gallon fixture, I believe, will come with an 18 watt bulb, more than enough to get you going with the javas.

02-22-2008, 08:18 PM
Amazon swords if I recall need high lighting so I wouldnt get them.

02-22-2008, 09:31 PM
I also very much like the look of live plants over fakes, and find that the fish prefer them too.

For a 20g, I wouldn't go anything less than 40w of flourescent lighting using tubes that go the whole length of the tank. Even with low light plants like Java fern and Java moss, it's going to be about a minimum.

Another thing you might look into is getting more fish. :19: Plants need a certain level of nitrates, phosphates and other nutrients in the water. You can fertilize with additives, but why not do it naturally with fish! thumbs2:

I'll let the the experts give any further comments.

02-22-2008, 09:41 PM
So I'm gonna need a fixture to run atleast a 40 watt bulb? I plan on adding a few more corys and 6 tetras. So my choices now are java fern and java moss.

02-22-2008, 09:47 PM
Whoops, I was talking about a 10 gallon tank in my first post and here you have a 20. Sorry about that.

Yes, a 40 watt fixture. I use this one on my 10 gallon tanks and love them:

http://www.bigalsonline.com/BigAlsUS/ctl3684/cp18369/si1381726/cl0/currentusasatellite2040wattpowercompactfixturesing lestripwlunarlight

Of course, in your case you want a light that runs the length of the tank. Not sure what type of 20 you have.

Whatever you do, be sure to ditch the stock bulb if it is a 50/50. Plants won't use actinic light. Go for a daylight bulb, preferably centered around 6700k.

02-25-2008, 10:07 PM
Is Malaysian wood the same as Driftwood?

02-26-2008, 02:08 AM
Malaysian wood (and certain other types of tropical wood) are different from driftwood.

What makes them interesting for aquarium use is that they're sufficiently dense to sink without having to add weight to them. Most common "driftwoods" are attached to slate or pieces of cement to make sure they sink.

Another thing to keep in mind with malaysian wood is that it tends to leach tannins into the water. This will slightly acidify the water (especially in small tanks) and give it a brownish tint. In my experience this enhances the color of the fish, but it may not be the looks you're looking for in your tank. And if you've got fish that like alkaline waters, it may not be your best bet.

If you put wood into the tank, you should try to make certain that you have something to clean it. Plecos, otos and shrimp are a few, I'm not sure if cories will do the job though. If you don't have something to clean it, you'll have to do it yourself or it'll serve as a breeding ground for fungus and bacteria.

02-26-2008, 02:13 AM
Ludwiga is doing good in my standard flourecent set up and I think it's a nice looking plant.

I would stay away from all swords unless you upgrade your lighting. I had a cheat sheet posted somewhere of low light plants on here, I'll see if I can find it.

02-26-2008, 02:18 AM
Here is my file and a link to Lady Hobbs' thread is in there too:


02-26-2008, 02:42 AM
Any of the anubias and most if not all crypts will do well in low light conditions. Just remember, the better the light, the better the plants will grow. Plants need 3 things to prosper. Sure, they will grow without all of them, but they will thrive if the 3 are in the tank.

They are:

1.) At least 2 watts per gallon of light. Stronger light for redish plants.

2.) Some kind of fertalizer. Some substrates like eco-complete and flourite tend to have good results.

3.) co2. Fish give off co2, but in a heavily planted tank, it may not be enough, and some hobbiest have systems to inject co2 into the water.

The first two will give you good results with low light plants, even mid light plants. You wouldn't really need co2 with those.

If you want more, than co2 would be recommended.

Just my suggestion.

02-26-2008, 02:55 AM
I think I should add in, these lowlight plants do well in my 20 long, which is only 12" high (see my sig) so the taller, the more lighting could be needed.

02-26-2008, 03:23 AM
I think I should add in, these lowlight plants do well in my 20 long, which is only 12" high (see my sig) so the taller, the more lighting could be needed.

Yes, that is very true. The deeper the tank, the more light you will need.