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View Full Version : Lights and substrate! Oh my!



sd1274
07-01-2010, 01:34 PM
So, I am designing for first intentionally planted tank. Its a 20 H. I was hoping to get your suggestions on lighting and substrate, that was cost effect.

As of right not it will be planted with some swords, some ferns, java fern on a log piece and I would really like, to have some microsword. But that is just a pipe dream at best

chrisfraser05
07-01-2010, 02:00 PM
I'd give this stuff a go if I were you,

http://ukaps.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=741

If you can't see the thread its Akadama, should be able to get it on ebay.

I'm going to be using potting soil topped with this stuff in my new tank later in the year thumbs2:

Lady Hobbs
07-01-2010, 02:07 PM
chris......I don't see much point in giving someone a link that needs registration just to look at something.

sd1274.....there are lights available for 24" tanks. I personally would just get a shop light with a couple 6700K bulbs and forget the hairgrass. It needs a really good wattage to get it to do much. There are other ground covers that don't require so much light. There are some good lights out there on the market but you don't want to price yourself right out of that tank. If you do check them out on a site, make sure the replacement bulbs don't cost an arm and a leg.

sd1274
07-01-2010, 02:15 PM
Thanks LH,
what other ground covers are there? I'm only familiar with microsword and jsut really kinda wanted that carpet affect. I will also be attempting a DIY co2 system with this tank.

Also, any comments on a substrate? I was considering eco complete mixed with pea gravel

Lady Hobbs
07-01-2010, 02:26 PM
You might try a couple bulbs of 10,000K instead of the 6700K and see how the hairgrass works.

Others more knowledgeable about ground covers will jump in here. Other than Marsilea, I'm not too up on those ground covers.

I am trying to grow hairgrass right now in a 10 gallon for some shrimp. Hasn't done a thing in a month now but hasn't died, either, so I'm still ahead, I guess.

chrisfraser05
07-01-2010, 02:27 PM
chris......I don't see much point in giving someone a link that needs registration just to look at something.


I wasn't sure if you needed to register or not to be able to read it, alot of forums allow you to read stuff as a guest. I did add the name of the substrate the thread was about so the OP could google it though!

Sheesh :scry:

sd1274
07-01-2010, 02:29 PM
LH... What about under cabinet lights? I am constructing a hood for it, do you think if I bought two or maybe even three 18" under cabinet lights they would provide sufficient light?

Lady Hobbs
07-01-2010, 02:35 PM
I certainly would think so. PlantGeek has a wonder plant guide but the site is down right now. Tells what light each plant requires and is a really good site but right now the link is messed up.

I use this substrate.
http://www.aquariumplants.com/Freshwater_Aquarium_Plant_Substrate_p/ss.htm

rich311k
07-01-2010, 02:53 PM
A T-5 fixture for that tank should not cost all that much. It would give you nice light and decent penetration. Microsword or hairgrass are actually two of the easier ground covers to deal with. They do OK under medium lighting and with a bit of a boost they can grow quickly.

DIY CO2 is an option on that size tank, the trick is to keep up with it, fluctuating CO2 levels can cause more problems than having a lack of CO2.

sd1274
07-01-2010, 02:58 PM
My local petsmart has lights for $60 I think but they won't work with orbs mountable to my hood which I really want. I'll spend it if needed but I was hoping for tips first. If I have about 40 watts of cfl on my twenty, would that be considered medium light?

Lady Hobbs
07-01-2010, 03:50 PM
That would be great if you can find a light locally because they would have the replacement bulbs for it. (Make sure) In my case, I ordered 3 lights from BigAls, all coralifes, that now are stacked up in my closet because the bulbs + shipping cost me nearly what the light cost to start with. I just can't wrap my head around paying $80 for the bulbs knowing they were made in china!

SunSchein89
07-01-2010, 08:21 PM
Coralife fixture at thatpetplace.com (http://www.thatpetplace.com/pet/prod/209545/product.web)

That's the one I got from thatpetplace for my 20 high. $67.99 right now and it comes with a 65 watt 6700K bulb included. Plus, they always run flat rate shipping specials. It's $8.99 flat rate shipping, or free for orders over $100 right now if you need a few other supplies (can always get your substrate, co2 drop checker, plant fertilizers and all that good stuff from them too). I just found the replacement bulbs on amazon for $25.13 too, so that's not too bad I suppose. It's been growing my swords very nicely so far and I'm about to see how it does with some red plants.

SkipW
07-01-2010, 08:36 PM
All of the grasses I've seen really need a high level of lighting to thrive.
2 watts/Gal I think is considered medium. High is usually 3 or more.
A T5 or T5HO will give off more lighting than an equal wattage bulb in T8, T12 or CFL. Something to keep in mind. Unless you really want those high level light plants, I think your 40 watts should work quite well. The more light you have, the more demand for CO2 and nutrients.

There are many different types of mosses that might give you a similar effect but don't require extra lighting. 2 watts/gal should be fine and you probably wouldn't need CO2. Java Ferns, Crypts, Anubius, Vals, mosses ... should all do very well.

I also use the substrate from aquariumplants.com Good stuff and doesn't need much rinsing. It's light weight, compared to regular gravel, and looks nice. And I use their fertilizer pellets to. No CO2.

Lighting and CO2 can always be added and modified later if needed.

sd1274
07-01-2010, 10:36 PM
I really like the look of that Aquarium Plants.com

but How much of their substrate would I need for a 24x12x4 layer? Im ahving trouble with that math and based off what they say I think I need the three gallon, but that sounds like alot.

MCHRKiller
07-01-2010, 10:55 PM
Check out catalinaaquarium.com Lady Hobbs, their bulbs and well fixtures are identicle to coralifes in both quality and construction. Their bulbs are also around 1/2 the price. 4*65watt CFs for $45 is definatly not bad at all. Just look under the "bulb specials" tab.

Lady Hobbs
07-01-2010, 11:08 PM
sd1274......I bought 5 gallon for my 55 @ 3" deep. I would think you should need no more than 2 gallon. I have the amazon and the black and love them both. This substrate is only supposed to be rinsed one time.

Jenn......thanks so much for that link! I had no idea anyone would make bulbs that would work in a coralife fixture other than coralife bulbs.

taralm13
07-01-2010, 11:12 PM
I also use that substrate from aquariumplants.com and whatever the calculation for the tank it was def a LOT more than you will need. I have at least 3" in my tank and still a bunch leftover ( I have a 20g high).

I use this light http://www.petmountain.com/product/aquarium-light-fixtures/512405/current-usa-nova-extreme-t5ho-x2-freshwater.html

It works pretty good - all my plants grow well and I have all types in my tank (high to low light). The bulbs do not cost too much either. I also do not use CO2 i use excel instead.

Also, a good place to order plants from is sweetaquatics.com The plants are cheap and nice and the shipping is very reasonable.

MCHRKiller
07-01-2010, 11:13 PM
Any CFs will, just check for the pin configuration of your bulbs. Catalina is a very accomodating lighting company...you can pick your spectrum, wattage and pin configuration and its all a set price. Most Coralife fixtures are straight pins...with all 4 bulb pins in a row :22:

Lady Hobbs
07-01-2010, 11:21 PM
Mine is just a 48" coralife with two separate T-5's. Good to know I can find something non-coralife.

SunSchein89
07-02-2010, 01:32 AM
Check out catalinaaquarium.com Lady Hobbs, their bulbs and well fixtures are identicle to coralifes in both quality and construction. Their bulbs are also around 1/2 the price. 4*65watt CFs for $45 is definatly not bad at all. Just look under the "bulb specials" tab.

Thanks for the link thumbs2: . Definitely getting my replacements from there now. $15 just for a single and those multi bulb specials are even better if you got a few extra bucks to stock up; much better than one bulb for $25 that I found on amazon.

MCHRKiller
07-02-2010, 02:07 AM
It is a great deal, I have 12*65watt PC bulbs and a 40watt PC bulb that needs changing every 6-8 months...Id be broke if it werent for catalina's specials :hmm3grin2orange:

sd1274
07-02-2010, 03:03 AM
Check out catalinaaquarium.com Lady Hobbs, their bulbs and well fixtures are identicle to coralifes in both quality and construction. Their bulbs are also around 1/2 the price. 4*65watt CFs for $45 is definatly not bad at all. Just look under the "bulb specials" tab.

So I looked into this web page: I found a really nice light system for 59.99 plus shipping but Im kinda concerned about legs and the like.

http://www.catalinaaquarium.com/product_info.php?products_id=1197

What do you think of this one? And also, I was having trouble finding the replacement bulbs, could you maybe lend a hand?

Thanks,
Sean

MCHRKiller
07-02-2010, 03:09 AM
You would need to buy mounting legs seperatly...and if you wanted to go open top youd need them to add a splashguard to it as these fixtures dont come with guards.

Here are the replacement bulbs...theyre just 65watt PCs;
http://www.catalinaaquarium.com/product_info.php?cPath=170&products_id=1470

If you plan to use the fixture on a planted tank request 6500K bulbs for the fixture as well as your replacements.

sd1274
07-02-2010, 03:20 AM
It won't be open top, it has a glass-top. And it will be planted. How much are those legs...hm... How do I go about requesting these 65K bulbs?

MCHRKiller
07-02-2010, 03:28 AM
Just in the comments section type in you need 65K bulbs for the 2pk and the fixture. They have legs listed for sale on their site.

sd1274
07-02-2010, 03:32 AM
Ok. $100 dollars is more than I would like to spend but it is also 3.2 watts per gallon... Which i think is high light right? I noticed for $20 dollars more I can get the duel bulb 110 watt Solar version....
http://www.catalinaaquarium.com/product_info.php?cPath=71_74&products_id=1683

Do you think it would be worthwhile to have that version? I am new to high tech lighting and still don't understand some of the settings. Also: Do you think these legs would have any trouble mounting to a glass-topped tank?

MCHRKiller
07-02-2010, 03:36 AM
I wouldnt go for 110watts on a 20G planted...you would have a very difficult time balancing CO2 and nutrients with that amount of lighting especially for a first time at it. The legs are very adjustable so they will work. But if your using a glass top you dont have to have the legs...the fixture could sit right on your glass top.

sd1274
07-02-2010, 03:40 AM
It could? There aren't any heat issues with it sitting right there?

Thank you for all the help. I will definately consider this so strongly.

OH! Since Im assuming you have one of these, do you think it could be mounted to a Canopy? Into the wood?

sd1274
07-02-2010, 03:58 AM
One more thing, I ahve made some decisions: I am gowing to be getting Dwarf Baby Tears as my ground cover.

Lady Hobbs
07-02-2010, 03:58 AM
If you have a glass top, you do not need the mounting legs. The legs are for open water tanks and the legs might not even fit with a glass lid on the tank.

MCHRKiller
07-02-2010, 04:26 AM
As long as there is a small gap between the glass and the light so heat can somewhat bleed off...it wont be an issue. These fixtures do have somewhat of a small lip on the sides which will keep it on trim of the tank and up off the glass somewhat. PCs also arnt very hot running fixtures...I have a 260watt PC without a cooling fan that still doesnt get to warm to the touch. I would no mount these inside a canopy tho...because heat wont have a chance to escape and can lead to problems. Keeping them open will keep them cool.

Baby tears are great plants...and your are spot on with their lighting requirements with the fixture. I would add on some DIY CO2...and get on a good fert schedule. They also need a rich fine substrate, any of the plant substrates would work well. Buy your baby tears potted and use the wool to help weight it down in the substrate.

sd1274
07-02-2010, 04:32 AM
For my substrate I decided on a product I found at petsmart that seems cost effective. Its CaribSea FloraMax. It loooks good, and it will only be $35 for 30 lbs of substrate.

Unless anybody has had bad experience with it?

MCHRKiller
07-02-2010, 04:35 AM
Havent used it myself...but have heard good things about it.

sd1274
07-02-2010, 04:38 AM
I am very very happy to hear that. Looking forward to finally setting up my dream tank heh :)

Lady Hobbs
07-02-2010, 04:45 AM
I tried it with mine, Jenn, and it didn't work. The feet prevented me from being able to lift the glass lid up. At least for me it didn't work.

BTW......I emailed the company that sells those bulbs. They wrote back right away and said their bulbs are coralife. Made me even happier.

MCHRKiller
07-02-2010, 04:50 AM
lol! Even better. If you ever buy one of their PC fixtures...they are identicle as well. Same housing, legs etc. Only differences are the switches are in a different location and they dont have the coralife badge.

I guess it would depends specifically on how wide your fixture is compared to the tank. My 150Gs 260watt PC lays on the top of it and its lid opens easily with room to spare.

Lady Hobbs
07-02-2010, 12:14 PM
There ya go. That additional 6" in width probably made the difference.

Lady Hobbs
07-04-2010, 12:31 AM
For my substrate I decided on a product I found at petsmart that seems cost effective. Its CaribSea FloraMax. It loooks good, and it will only be $35 for 30 lbs of substrate.

Unless anybody has had bad experience with it?

Do a bit of checking before ordeing the FloraMax. For one thing no one talks about it and for another, I read somewhere it needs replacing every 2 years. Might not have been true but it's worth looking into. It's not cheaper if you have to keep replacing it.

sd1274
07-10-2010, 03:38 AM
So, LH kinda scared me into looking some more :) And, after much flip flopping, have decided to go the more expensive route and get Amazon Colored substrate from AquariumPlants.com

Before I spend the 46.99 though... I want to ask a couple thing of those of you who have this substrate:

Does it need to be used immedietly after purchase? IS it stored in liquid like Ecocomplete or is it dry? Finally, I will be ordering 3 gallons, im slightly concerned im ordering toomuch for a 24 x 12 x 3.

Thanks
Sean

sd1274
07-10-2010, 04:56 AM
Scratch the last question, im going to do a 24 x 12 x 2 inch depth.

sd1274
07-15-2010, 08:46 PM
I thought It needed to be said that Catalina has been flagged as a viral site. I don't feel so safe buying my equipment there...

SkipW
07-16-2010, 01:20 PM
.... Amazon Colored substrate from AquariumPlants.com

Before I spend the 46.99 though... I want to ask a couple thing of those of you who have this substrate:

Does it need to be used immedietly after purchase? IS it stored in liquid like Ecocomplete or is it dry?

It does come dry and in a plastic bucket. As long as you keep it dry, I would think you could store it for a very long time. I love the stuff, and my plants seem to love it too.

sd1274
07-17-2010, 12:34 AM
Got it, used it. Semi satisfied thus far. I wasn't expecting the incredibly small grain size, so I wasn't equipped with a strainer appropriate, and Im not sure I could find one in this town. So Now I wait while the clouding subsides.

I was dissatisfied with the packaging, FYI to anyone who looks into it. I may have been unlucky but the packaging was terrible and my bucket was open with the lid off to the side.. Possible shipping issue since it wasn't marked or anything but still. 5 dollar flat rate - you get what you pay.

SkipW
07-17-2010, 02:33 AM
I rinsed mine a little at a time in a 5 gallon bucket. put about 3 -4 inches in the bucket, filled about 1/2 - 3/4 way with clean water, stirred it up with my hand. Then scooped into a second bucket, by hand, letting the water drain off, then added to my tank. I had very little cloudiness and it was gone over night. I recently added a little more to the tank and didn't get any cloudiness.
It was very dusty coming out of the bucket dry.
Your bucket must have been dropped in shipping, mine was sealed up pretty good.

sd1274
07-17-2010, 07:08 AM
I'm sure it was dropped but the bucket design doesn't look well sealing, I actually think the lid on mine is broken. No surprise really. As for rinsing, I tried it that way but it was taking way too long and I don't mind waiting for my to ac hobs to clean up the water. Cloudiness is down to 50% around the six hour mark. Probably gone by tomorrow.

FishGirl-Seattle
07-17-2010, 06:02 PM
If you know someone with a diatom filter you could put it in your tank for a few hours to clear fine particulates. I've used one to clear the murk out of my tank when I used flourite the first time - didn't rinse enough and man there was quite a persistent cloud in the tank! These days when I get into that kind of situation I just use polishing media, it's always cleared a tank overnight. (I'm a recent polishing media convert -all my tanks sparkle even on the days I muck around in the flourite substrates! LOVE the stuff!!)