What is your current lighting? What is the wattage and what kind of bulbs do you have?
The pics you posted seem to be high tech, high light tanks that require a lot of maintanence (and often a lot of money!).
You need to decide a few things before starting a planted tank.
What's your budget?
How much time are you willing to spend on daily maintenance?
Basically, there are a few different types of planted tanks. There are high tech, high light tanks that involve expensive lighting, fertilizers, and CO2.
There are low light, low tech tanks that you basically just set up and leave alone.
Then there is everything in between.
My favorite planted tanks are medium tech, medium light tanks. The budget will be a bit easier on the wallet, and the maintenance isn't back breaking, but you can still get a nice bit of greenery growing.
My tanks have medium lighting, around 2-3WPG of T5 HO lighting. I dose dry fertilizers (when I remember) and use DIY CO2 (using wine yeast so it lasts longer). I wish I could afford a pressurized system, but it's just not in the budget right now. I've been able to get some nice growth... but then I get lazy and stop doing regular fert dosing and fail to refill my CO2 mixture. Some of my plants die, and the algae starts taking over. In other words, if you aren't going to be dedicated to the tanks, it might be better to go with a low tech tank that you can just do regular water changes and nothing else, though that means you won't get a nice green forest in your tank. Your choice!
I need a new lighting unit because the old one blew, I haven't gotten a proper one yet because of the plants, I know they will need certain lighting so until I know which ones best for what plants I'm getting I'm not going to replace it with proper lights.
As for my budget, I guess it's a basic one, I'm not sure how much all these things are going to cost all up but I have money put away.
I'm not sure how long maintenance on a tank like that will take but I usually have a few hours doing nothing around the house each day as I study and work part time.
I think maybe I might go for the Medium kind of tank then, if it's more simple and it'll still give me the look I want.
"Fish aren't meant to be in a box, kid. It does things to them"
You can probably find a decent light fixture on ebay. How tall is your tank?
Planting isn't nearly as difficult as newbies suspect. Plants need nutrients and light. With cories a low dense matt isn't a good idea and also not likely to happen.
Start by getting some light, 45 inch is a standard size for T5 tubes. Get a dual T5 or T5HO unit and you got the light
lighting gets expensive real quick.
the two big things that drive the costs are the ballast and reflectors. bulbs are bulbs and vary slightly.
there is no problem jumping in head first, but if you are wanting any of those tanks in the pictures you provided you are talking this generic price range:
150-200 for a light at the min
150-200 for pressurized co2
50bucks to stock up on ferts-both tabs/dry or liquid.
it gets expensive fast, but if you want demanding plants and fast growth, then you need all that.
i personally am not going to deal with all that and the sensitivity of playing with the balance of co2/ferts/light to get optimal growth, and no algae, its just too much effort for what i want to do.
so i bought a new led fixture that provides med-ish light, and letting nature take its course.
and surprisingly in the 1week it has been on, i'm getting new growth on plants, so turned out to be a solid purchase.
just remember with the bulb route, about every yr to 18months, you'll need to buy new bulbs as they need replacing to keep the same "brightness"
The pictures you are showing require very advanced equipment if you want any good chance to succeed with that heavy of growth. You will need an active CO2 supply system with pH control, excellent lighting, special substrate and a lot of test kits and supplements to both measure what you need and feed the plants. Otherwise, the odds are against you.
That said, it could be done with low tech (but not low light) but that is something that is hard to do and not get major algae problems.
Remember, just getting a hood is not the issue but the getting the correct color and correct energy intensity in the proper area of spectrum that plants need is critical and what you need to understand. A planted tank (high density) does not use the standard white light that fish look best in nor that come with most hoods. That and CO2 supply are the critical issues for any high light, densily planted tank. Depending on your tap, supplements will be needed or again, algae will get the upperhand.
I feel a very nice planted tank is well worth the effort (and learning curve - that is just part of this hobby) but if these issue are not addressed for a low tech tank, then disappointment is very likely.
Here is an inclusive site on lighting for plants - read it and understand it before putting down $$$ for a hood:
Last edited by Cermet; 02-03-2013 at 02:10 PM.
Knowledge is fun(damental)
A 75 gal with eight Discus, fake plants, and a lot of wood also with sand substrate. Clean up crew is down to just two Sterba's Corys. Filters: continuous new water flow; canister w/UV, in-tank algae scrubber!! Finally, junked the nitrate removal unit from hell.
For Fishless cycling:http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/aqua...ead.php?t=5640