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Old 03-18-2004, 06:17 PM   #1
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Limited Budget: Good lights or good filter???

I'm getting into a 29 or 30 gal tank (haven't picked it up yet from my uncle yet so I'm not sure which) and I want to do a planted tank. My modest plans keep getting larger in scope.

I've researched substrates and other related topics in this forum and elsewhere. I haven't yet finished picking out plants, though. I don't think I want to be limited to low light plants, but I'm not sure where my limited budget is best spent....so question is:

Cannister filter or better lighting??????

If I do the better lights, do I need a whole new hood, or can I get away with just a better bulb, perhaps temporarily?Esp. if I did go low light plants???

Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 03-18-2004, 08:59 PM   #2
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If your aquarium is going to be planted then better lighting is the way to go. You don't say what kind of hood you already have but if it is the 'standard' fluorescent that came with the aquarium then it is probably going to be inadequate for anything but 'low light' plants. There are companies that sell upgrades that will allow you to use CF bulbs that can give you significantly more light but this means either building a new hood or retrofitting the one you already have. Check out AH Supply for some of their kits: http://www.ahsupply.com

I do have to put in a plug for low-light plants though. There are many gorgeous plants that will do well in low-light situations. 'Hornwort' (Ceratophyllum submersum) is a 'stem' plant that will grow like a weed in low light situations. Many of the species of Cryptocoryne and virtually all species of Anubias will grow quite well too. If you want the grassy look, Sagittaria species don't require the moderate to high light levels of Vallisneria. You can have an absolutely beautiful low-light tank with a little searching for just the right plants.
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Old 03-18-2004, 09:15 PM   #3
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Yeah, I'm a really big fan of Anubias barteri var. "nana" and var. "round leaf" right now, as well as of Anubias gigantea. All really beautiful and hardy plants. And, with a slightly lower light level, I think the plants actually look better. I find that 3.5+ Watts can sometimes make the tank look washed out...

BUT but but... if your getting good lights, you have 2 things to remember:

1) "Better" bulbs seldom make any difference. I've had wonderful results in my planted tanks with 9325Ks and 10000Ks (both fairly standard bulbs). Esp. a combination of these 2 gives a very nice balance and quality of light--plants are beautifully green!

2) Even more importantly, if you're going for a nice ballast with 3+watts per gallon, you *will* need a pressurized CO2 sytem with a solenoid and possibly a pH controller (I'm saving up for a controller right now). Don't think for a minute that you can get away without a CO2 system like I did for a couple of weeks . Your plants will get soggy, saggy, yellow and will die. Just a word of advice.

I wholeheartedly agree with Fruitbat (when do I ever not!?) that there is really no reason to start out with a high-light tank if you're willing to limit yourself on selection a bit. Anubias spp., Hygrophila polysperma, Cryptocoryne spp. especially Cryptocoryne wendtii are all beautiful plants. Start out with these and 2-2.5 wpg. When you have more money to afford a pressurized CO2 system (~$300 if you get the controller, ~$200 if you don't, somewhat cheaper if you're really ingenious and good at DYI) and higher light, go for it, and enjoy your Cabomba, Glossostigma and Ricchia

Hey, even Takashi Amano sometimes goes for lower-light plants! I've just bought Nature Aquarium World 3, and he has some fantastic low-light Anubias barteri var. "nana" landscapes in there.
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Old 03-18-2004, 09:23 PM   #4
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hmmmmm.....


That's really good advice. Why not do low light plants, eh??? And upgrade later if things work out....

CO2 was my next big research topic, so I think you guys have hit it right on the head....

I'll look into those plants...

So do you think I should go with the good cannister filter and low light plants?

Or a bio wheel filter and a light fixture updgrade??

THANKS
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Cryptocoryne Wendtiii, Anubias Barteri v. nana, Java Fern, Rotala Indica.
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Old 03-18-2004, 09:32 PM   #5
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Welcome to the forum, Swank!!

I gotta agree with everyone here. I have some low light tanks that look beautiful, and you do have quite a few choices. If a planted tank is a new thing for you (not sure if it is or not) then I definitely recommend starting out with lower light, and after you get the whole thing down with balancing nutrients, fish load, lighting, etc. then you can easily upgrade what you have. My high light tank is very tricky to keep in balance, and it is too easy for it to turn into an algae swamp. It can be discouraging, to say the least!

Almost forgot about the filter - go with a canister if you can, as the bio-wheels do tend to outgas whatever CO2 you do have in the tank from fishy respiration.
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Old 03-18-2004, 09:36 PM   #6
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Thanks, Tank Girl!

I am new at this, so I have a lot to learn...

So, you guys are suggesting I could keep my cheapo hood/light fixture and get started...slowly...and just learn the ropes...upgrade things later???

That's a very nice sounding idea since this can get pricey fast...
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Old 03-18-2004, 09:39 PM   #7
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Absolutely, a canister filter. And absolutely, low-light plants. Sounds like a good idea. Check out ahsupply.com, as Fruitbat advised.

Glad to hear we're spot-on today!

Oh, and if you have no idea who Takashi Amano is, check out the preview slides for his books on Amazon.com. He really has some fantastic ideas on how to aquascape aquariums. Hands-down the master designer and photographer:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0793...13#reader-link

http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0793...13#reader-link (this is the book I just bought)

Oh, and make sure you have an algae-fighting solution for the tank. Consider bristlenose plecos and Otocinclus catfish for a low-light set-up. But read up on the Otocinclus, as they can be very sensitive--best to have a store hold them for you for 2 weeks so you know they haven't responded negatively to the voyage to the USA.
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Old 03-18-2004, 09:41 PM   #8
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Quote:
I am new at this, so I have a lot to learn...
I am not so new at this and I have a lot to learn, too!
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Old 03-18-2004, 09:54 PM   #9
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Yes Swank, I'm gonna echo all my friends here. If you're on a budget, the surprise costs on a higher light tank can grab you by the.....

Well, you can do quite a bit with low light species. Here's a look at my low light tank.
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Old 03-18-2004, 09:54 PM   #10
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If you look at my signature here you'll see that I've got a 26 gallon low-light planted tank. When I say low light...I mean LOW light!! 15 watt bulb on a 26 gallon puts me WELL under 1 watt per gallon. Nevertheless...I've managed to do quite nicely with the following plants:

Cryptocoryne wendtii var. 'red'
Cryptocoryne aponogetifolia
Cryptocoryne crispatula var 'balansae'
Cryptocoryne parva
Cryptocoryne ciliata
Microsorium pteropus - Java Fern
Microsorium pteropus var. 'Windlov' - Lace Java Fern
Aponogeton ulvaceus (about to be swapped out for Aponogeton natans which is a Sri Lankan plant and will fit in with my Asian theme better than the A. ulvaceus which is from Madagascar)
Anubias barteri var. 'nana' - which is another African plant but I simply couldn't resist because it is a beautiful plant.

I use plain old aquarium gravel as my substrate and add Flourish Tabs beneath the gravel and dose with Flourish Excel (carbon source which works better in low-light tanks than adding gaseous CO2) and Flourish. I also add Kent Micro and Flourish Iron supplements.

My algae-eating team consists of 2 Siamese Algae Eaters, Crossocheilus siamensis and a couple of Otocinclus (yeah....yeah...I know...South American ). The 'Otos' are my brown algae (diatoms) specialists...which was a problem that plagued me until I added these little gems.

I've written a couple of plant profiles that might be of interest to you. Check 'em out in the Profiles section here at Aquarium Advice. http://www.aquariumadvice.com/viewforum.php?f=26
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