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Old 02-19-2008, 09:13 AM   #1
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benefits of plants

okay... im obviously an extreme newbie... to be honest i'd never even heard of a planted tank til i started hanging out here... what are the benefits of live plants?... for freshwater are there any plants i can get that i can just use the regular fluorescent light that came with my tank?... does the light have to be on 24/7? and is there any special feeding or fertilizing that comes with planted tanks? and how difficult are these plants to maintain... yeah i got lots of questions... let er rip and thanks in advance...

-Larry

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Old 02-19-2008, 09:27 AM   #2
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The benefits of live plants are many. Since Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate are among the nutrients that plants use, they help the beneficial bacteria keep levels in check and if something happens to your beneficial bacteria there is a buffer present to minimize the problem. When taken care of properly live plants look much nicer than the nicest fake plants. The fish in planted aquariums tend to have a lot less issues with disease, tend to be less stressed, and breed more readily.

Unfortunately stock lighting severely limits your plant choices. You'll probably only be able to grow very low light plants like Anubias, Java Fern and Java Moss.

The light should only be on for 8-12 hours per day. Like most living things they need time to rest. Closer to 12 hours when growing out plants and closer to 8 hours when maintaining them or fighting algae.

For a very low light aquarium you would likely only need to dose Potassium and Trace ferts after your water change as the rest of the nutrients should be in sufficient supply from the fish waste and tap water. As light levels increase you need to start dosing Phosphate and Nitrate as well, and at the highest levels CO2 injection becomes a requirement instead of just optional.

I find that plants are very easy once you get the hang of it and the aquarium is established. With experiance determining deficiencies and diagnosing algae problems become second nature and you simply adjust your care as needed.
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Old 02-19-2008, 09:32 AM   #3
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thanks for the info and the quick response... i was looking at getting this plant pack for my tank... Aquatic Plants for Freshwater Aquariums: Aquarium Plant Pack - Standard would that work with my regular fluorescent lighting? or would i have to go a little more advanced... i really like the setup i have and dont want to change the hood... but the plastic plants look kind of hokey and im getting sick of them... plus i like the idea of having them take care of harmful chemicals and having a backup if some of the beneficial bacteria die off... thanks again
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Old 02-19-2008, 11:37 AM   #4
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About 1/3 of the plants would be highly unlikely to survive your current setup, another 1/3 may or may not be okay (crypts and anacharis), and the remaining 1/3 are plants that I had mentioned as doing okay with your setup (anubias and java fern). You would be much better off ordering the specific plants that will survive your setup.
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Old 02-19-2008, 12:42 PM   #5
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You can stay simple with a planted tank and not have to get all the equipment. A natural planted tank (NPT) is good it you're on a budget, like to have less work to do on the tank and/or just like things more natural. The compromise is that it isn't a set up for plants that require high light. Here's some info: "Ecology of the Planted Aquarium" and "The Simple Guide to Planted Aquariums" (sample pages).

A planted tank is a more natural home for the fish and has a beauty that is ever changes and cannot compare to a fish only set up. It is more balanced and depending on if you go high, moderate or low tech it can be a little or a lot more to set up and operate.

If you want to use stock lights I'd put 2 24" lights staggered on a glass canopy so the length of the quarium is covered. Use bulbs between 6500K and 8000K and you might have pretty good luck with the low light plants mentioned by purrbox. A 2x55w bright Kit fromA H supply is an option for lighting. I haven't had to light a 30" tank and when i do it's going to be a 20L tank for Darters so I won't have many plants.
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Old 02-19-2008, 10:25 PM   #6
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Hi Larry

I'm lke you. I'm setting up a planted aquarium for the first time and being a n00bie, I don't want to complicate things with CO2 systems yet. So I'm going low-tech to start off with.

After all, I'm not a very good plant mother, even with my plants in the garden!

Here is a list of plants that would suit a low-light aquarium (e.g. 1-2 WPG).

PlantGeek.net - Plant Guide

And I can't rave enough about this article by Purrbox. (Thanks Puurbox!)

So You Want a Planted Aquarium

Today I picked up two gorgeous Anubias Nana plants I ordered from the LFS last week. I can't wait to tie them to the driftwood peices I'm soaking.

Don't forget to look up how to plant the plants you choose for your tank. Otherwise, like me, you'll bury your Java fern in substrate and wonder what went wrong.
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