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SunSchein89
03-25-2010, 07:31 PM
Well my birthday is coming up in two days and I'm going to have a little extra money to play with, so of course it's getting sunk into my fish tanks :rolleyes: . I've decided to convert my established 20 gal. community into a planted tank. So far, I plan on ordering a glass canopy, some root tabs for both of my tanks (already got the liquid ferts), and a coralife 24" CF fixture that comes with a 65W 6700K "plant growth" bulb giving me a little over 3 watts/gal. All for a total of $88.97 plus the flat $5.99 shipping from thatpetplace; not too shabby I guess. I have the Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants that should be arriving in the mail today, so hopefully I'll be able to pick out some nice new plants to put in the tank once it's all set up.

Anyway, here is what my tank looks like now...

http://i607.photobucket.com/albums/tt160/sunschein89/fish%20tank/IMG_5976.jpg

Currently stocked with:
(2) Platties (red tiger, red wag)
(2) Balloon mollies (orange, white)
(5) Glo light tetras
(1) Male betta (blue)
(3) cories (albino, emerald, spotted)... should hopefully be getting a panda and skunk soon
and some ghost shrimp that show up on occasion, always surprised to see them alive

So, my first question is: will low to med light plants grow ok in the regular pea-sized aquarium gravel that I have if I'm adding root tabs or will I need to get new substrate? Also, I've seen a few people say not to bother adding the tabs until the plants kind of establish themselves, what do you guys think?

Another question that comes to mind now that I'm buying a new light... how often do you guys recommend changing out CF bulbs? I read in the article I posted about yesterday that they'll lose their lighting power over time, but, in your experience, when did you find it necessary to swap out your bulbs?

I think I want to rearrange and keep the tiki guys and the rock in the tank and just lose the fake plants. The guy on the right is hollow so I could probably get some kind of fern growing out of his head which would look pretty cool I think lol. I still want to stick to the kind of abstract look with the black/red gravel and the non-natural decorations. I'll probably be looking for some plants with red in them to keep with the theme. I should probably lose the air pump too and save that for another day. Any other advice on aquascaping, new plants, or tips for converting is aprreciated :22: .

Sarkazmo
03-25-2010, 08:00 PM
I'd recommend Eco-Complete as a substrate. I use it in three of my tanks, well two of mine and my Partner's tank. EC comes in Black and Red so you could even mix it to get a near match to what you have. You could also mix it with Black Flourite Sand or whatever you want really. I have it straight, mixed with natural gravel in another, and mixed with white reef sand in my community tank. All of the mixes work great.

With 3W/G you should be able to grow just about all low and medium light plants without much trouble.

You should find a 2-3 gallon container or bucket that's fish safe (hasn't had ANY chemicals or soap in it) and fill it with tank water. Place your heater and filter in it, plug everything in and put in the fish. That way you don't have to worry about the fish while you're undertaking the conversion as it's going to take a couple hours probably. If you go with EC you don't wash it before putting it in the tank. EC is shipped wet and has beneficial bacteria in it that will break down fish waste quickly to make food for the plants. But you're still going to have to get the water close to it's normal temp and re-acclimate the fish.

The air pump is up to you, it's for decoration. But in the planted tank the air pump will cause the tank to more quickly off gas the CO2 that the plants need. Your HOB filter should agitate the surface enough for good oxygenation.

Wentii Bronze has a nice reddish colour to it. It's a Crypt so it may 'melt' after you put it in your tank. If it does, don't freak. As long as Crypts have good roots they'll regrow all their leaves. I just pulled a Wentii from my tank to reposition it. I trimmed the roots, transplanted it's babies put it in it's new location and it melted. But it's got new leaves coming out already so it's all good.

Anyway, good luck and ask away with the questions. :)

Sark

gm72
03-25-2010, 10:52 PM
I think with that light you will find algae to be quite a problem. This will be complicated by running an airstone because it will decrease the amount of available CO2 for the plants.

Zilla
03-26-2010, 01:04 AM
I agree with gm72.

I understand that you ordered a book, however, plants don't read books and don't often behave as the books say. A better bet would be to check out sites like Plant Geek. http://www.plantgeek.net/plantguide.php

Since you are just starting out, I'd stick with plants that are easy as if you you try to start off with plants like Blyxa or something of that nature, there is a good chance you are going to get really frustrated.

If you combine slow growing plants with medium to fast growing plants, your nitrate levels should remain stable as long as you do weekly cleaning, water changes and do not over feed. The plants won't need food until they establish, so spare them the ferts for the first couple of weeks.

Since you are starting off with high lighting, I'd also only keep the lights on for about 6 hours per day and see if algae issues develop. The photo period can be adjusted, but you don't want to end up becoming a { insert any algae species here} farmer.

SunSchein89
03-26-2010, 06:28 AM
I agree with gm72.

I understand that you ordered a book, however, plants don't read books and don't often behave as the books say. A better bet would be to check out sites like Plant Geek. http://www.plantgeek.net/plantguide.php

I'm sure they don't read websites ether :rolleyes:. Already have plant geek bookmarked, though.

Since you are just starting out, I'd stick with plants that are easy as if you you try to start off with plants like Blyxa or something of that nature, there is a good chance you are going to get really frustrated.

Yeah I'm not gong to put plants in that require more than what I have. My idea is to set up the tank and then figure out the plants from there instead of just buying whatever I think looks cool at the store. I doubt I'll find anything local that I'll be able to kill off anyway.

If you combine slow growing plants with medium to fast growing plants, your nitrate levels should remain stable as long as you do weekly cleaning, water changes and do not over feed. The plants won't need food until they establish, so spare them the ferts for the first couple of weeks.

Since you are starting off with high lighting, I'd also only keep the lights on for about 6 hours per day and see if algae issues develop. The photo period can be adjusted, but you don't want to end up becoming a { insert any algae species here} farmer.

Only problem is both of my tanks run off of the same timer on a 12 hour schedule. My 10 gal. at 2 watts/gal hasn't had any algae problems to speak of so I'll just see how it goes. I thought 3 watts/gal was considered more of a mid-low level? I've seen 5+ being considered high lighting.

Sakarzmo, I'll have to check out that substrate. As much as I'll hate to have to rip down the whole tank, I guess it's better to do it at the beginning. Thanks for the plant recommendation and advice on keeping the fish safe during the process.

GM72, I probably am going to do away with the air pump as stated above :ssmile: I don't have a CO2 system, but I do dose flourish excel to get some form of carbon in there.

Zilla
03-26-2010, 10:29 AM
My comment regarding how plants don't read books wasn't meant to be snarky. Books are not often accurate and since you plan on using Excel, that adds one more thing to the list as for what plants you should avoid as Excel makes certain plants melt.

It's your tank, do as you wish...

ILuvMyGoldBarb
03-26-2010, 11:07 AM
I've stated it elsewhere and I'll state it again; the WPG guide doesn't really apply to PC lighting and above, that guide was designed for Normal Output Fluorescent lighting. You are in a higher range for plants with that lighting. You really need to read the following article:
http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/plants/balanced.php

You will find that by simply increasing the amount of light you have, you are in for a frustrating time. Everything will need to be increased.

Zilla
03-26-2010, 11:11 AM
I've stated it elsewhere and I'll state it again; the WPG guide doesn't really apply to PC lighting and above, that guide was designed for Normal Output Fluorescent lighting. You are in a higher range for plants with that lighting. You really need to read the following article:
http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/plants/balanced.php

You will find that by simply increasing the amount of light you have, you are in for a frustrating time. Everything will need to be increased.

I know it's scary that I actually agree with you ( and I do in this case) but you have yet to explain what they new guide is for such lighting. My inquiring mind would like to know of such guides if there is one to be had.

ILuvMyGoldBarb
03-26-2010, 11:13 AM
Zilla, the guide for lighting changes as you increase in intensity. Each step up in intensity generally lowers the WPG by about .5 per step. For example, once you get to Metal Halide lighting, you get into high lighting with about 2-2.5wpg. Again, that is a very very rough guide because lighting must always be understood in the context of the balance with nutrients and CO2/Carbon Source.

Sarkazmo
03-26-2010, 04:29 PM
The WPG guide is at best a basic and very over simplified guide. Really the only way you're going to get an accurate value to work from is to use a Lux meter and measure light intensity at different heights in the tank.

Sark

Algenco
03-26-2010, 04:47 PM
The WPG guide is at best a basic and very over simplified guide. Really the only way you're going to get an accurate value to work from is to use a Lux meter and measure light intensity at different heights in the tank.

Sark


ding! we have a winner!! Lux is the only effective way to rate lighting.
WPG is as stated a basic guide.
I've grown "high light" plants with 1.3 wpg and they did great, but the catch is the tank was only 12" deep, with 2" of substrate the water depth was 10".
This was with a shop light and a T-12 bulb

SunSchein89
03-26-2010, 07:03 PM
Ok yes, agreed with the lux meter. I knew that WPG was a rough rule at best, but any advice I've ever seen, even for systems up to what I'm building and higher, never mentions a lux meter (other than that it's a more accurate way of measuring), only WPG. Didn't realize a CF light made that much of a difference, though, so thanks for that heads up. Most articles and such that I've read never mention a difference between the bulbs other than that one is normally better than another, nothing about the change in intensity with the same wattage. Honestly, I'm just going to buy the light, get the substrate and maybe a few fast-growing plants to fill out the tank a bit and then just kind of play around with it until it works and I'm happy with it. I'm all up for building a DIY CO2 if necessary too, it sounds kind of fun. I find it more exciting when I'm still shopping around for plants to fill the tank and watching them grow rather than knowing every single plant I want and throwing them all in in the beginning anyway.

As far as the depth goes, I have some dwarf hairgrass in my 10 gal. right now which was rated for med to high lighting and at 2 watt/gal it actually is doing fairly well and growing. Also the same situation, being about 10" from the top of the tank. My 20 gal. that I'm about to be planting is a 20 high so if I keep the gravel line about where it is now I'll have about 14" to penetrate to the bottom. Not sure how much of a difference that will make?

@ Zilla, sorry if my return post seemed a little stand-offish. My website comment was just meant to poke fun. Reading it again I can see how you would think that, sounds more like I'm defending myself which I guess I kind of was. The book I got was actually recommended on this forum by Dave66 in a post he made awhile back. And to quote him...


...There are, of course, hundreds more aquarium books out there, most of them good to fair, some of them with erroneous information. The books in this list are in my personal library and I know they are excellent....

...Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants, by Peter Hiscock, Barron's Publishing - A book on nearly every aspect of Aquarium plants, from Biology to substrates to water to light to Co2. Good work on balancing levels of light, Co2 and temperature for optimum plant growth. Especially valuable for the more than 150 plant species listed, each with photo and information on keeping them. An excellent reference to have in your library. ...

...This [referring to another book] and the Hiscock book are the two I refer to the most.

Not that Dave is the all-knowing fish/plant god, but he seems to know his stuff and with as many books in his library as he has, I have to at least trust that his recommendation has some value :ssmile:. The book actually arrived today and I haven't yet opened it, but it looks like I am going to be reading a lot about balancing and substrates if Dave's description was correct.


Well speaking of lux meters... anybody know of one I could order and not break the bank?