View Full Version : Setting Up My First Planted Tank

04-18-2011, 04:53 AM
Hi, this is my first post. I've been a lurker for a while though. I'm new to the hobby and have a 29 gallon tank that is two months old.

I'm looking to set up a planted aquarium (Freshwater).

The tank is nothing special. A Wallmart generic thing with a nice wooden stand. I am a little overstocked at the moment with 6 Danios, 6 Tiger Barbs and a Rainbow Shark. Everyone is smaller than max size but The Danios will be relocating fairly soon.

I have a couple of questions and a challenge for anyone that thinks it can be done. From my research I suspect I will be considered crazy but hey, it's worth asking if anyone is feeling creative.

The tank came with a hood. One of those hoods you would expect with a all-in-one tank. I'm sure the light is inadequate for growing anything but algae.

The challenge is this.: I quite like the hood that's already in the tank. The light fixture is about 30" x 5". Can I somehow (I'm willing to put tools to use to achieve this) cram enough light in there to grow some low light plants?, And if anyone can make it better than low light that would be awesome If so what kind of lights would be the best? I would prefer to avoid co2 but am willing to go DIY.

Either way. with the best light possible I am looking to have an aquarium that looks something like this:
1. Some kind of ground cover at the front, I've heard Java Moss is easy but am up for anything that looks great
2. Some limestone rocks filled with caverns in the middle (this was easy and already taken care of),
3. And finally some bushy tall background plants that hide all the tubes and filter stuff in the back

If this is possible and if can get two scenarios that would be awesome. Scenario 1 is that money is not really an object and scenario 2 is that I would be looking to pay no more than $250ish for the everything.

I'm willing to listen to any suggestions. I really don't like the glass tops with a light fixture suspended above and I suspect that a wooden canopy would look rather silly on a 29 gallon. Hence my wanting to keep the hood that is already on.

04-18-2011, 05:13 AM
There are a lot of options for light you can simply replace the bulb that is currently in your fixture with a better quality and power. I would read the stickies found in the plant section http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/aquariumforum/forumdisplay.php?f=65
lady hobbs has some nice articles about what plants you can have with different amounts of light. I also would remove the limestone. Limestone is calcium carbonate and will cause your pH to rise fairly quickly. You shouldn't really mess with the pH and so adding limestone could cause problems. A general test people use is if you put vinegar on a rock and fizzes you shouldn't add it to the aquarium.

04-18-2011, 05:26 AM
Thanks for the quick reply. Replacing the light in my existing fixture is the preferred method but from what I've read I don't think I can get anything close to the2-3wpg, I know this isn't a contemporary rule of thumb to go by but I've not found any lighting requirements that are consistent with the smallish space I have to work with or any bulbs that come close to even achieving 1wpg.

Thanks for the link, I'll check out the stickies for appropriate plants.

As for the limestone that is a good point. A buddy who finds it and sells it to local fish shops and on eBay (after chemically bathing it) hooked me up. I will try the vinegar test but like the rocks and wonder if anything else similar could be less harmful?

Sorry to sound like such a noob. There are so many different opinions out there and after many hours of research over the last month am not finding any real guidance for my particular setup. I am also sure I will determine my own bias soon ... well maybe ten years down the road but sometime.

04-18-2011, 05:34 AM
I am really just beginning to get into fish keeping as well so I have just picked up some of that info here, I don't know what you mean by chemically bathing, I am a chemist and I don't know what if anything that could make it chemically inert. What I have heard of people doing is sealing ornaments and stuff with some kind of aquarium safe clear sealant, somebody else might be able to recommend if that would be an option for you. As for the amount of light I have a 30 gallon tank that is about 20in tall and it has a 6500K 20Watt bulb on it so it only supports low light plants and all of my plants are exploding, they just grow slower than if I had a larger amount of light. I have some java ferns, camboda, dwarf lily, and dwarf anubis. The other couple in I am not really sure what they are but they are all doing real well.

04-18-2011, 05:43 AM
Good point about the chemically inert. All i know is that they are green or brown when they are picked up off the ground in central Texas and come out white and clean after two weeks soaking in some kind of mix and then spend two more drying in the sun before they are considered "Safe" (although I'm not sure what exactly safe means). Good to hear you're having luck with a 20watt bulb. I'll go to a fish shop tomorrow and try and find the best bulb they have that will fit my fixture.

04-20-2011, 12:17 AM
You can far exceed 3 watts/gal - just use CFL bulbs in the old fixtures. They come in ranges up to 150 watts and many different color including white, yellow and blue tints! They are small so on a large tank you need more units to get good coverage. I replaced one of my tanks with four CFL's to get me from barely 1.5 watt/gal to a 4.5 watt/gal overkill. Cheap and simple (I had to rewire but if you already have screw in bulb fixtures, you are mostly set.) Just don't exceed the current rating of the plugs (most limit at 10 amps but cheap wires might overheat at that level.) Check the gauge of the wire - replace with a heavier cord if the one you have is too small. Wiring one to the light fixture would not be very difficult.

Might want a simple yeast/soda bottle CO2 system - they are simple but do need a diffuser of some type :hmm3grin2orange:

04-20-2011, 04:11 PM
Thanks Cermet, can't believe I missed the CFL options when I was researching it. Think I'll get a double light socket like this http://www.americanaquariumproducts.com/images/graphics/twinsocket2.jpg. Will two 65 Watt and 6500k be sufficient for more medium to high light plants in 29 gallons? I'm getting a little more ambitious now ...