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Old 04-15-2014, 08:45 PM   #1
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Help with first tank/first planted tank!

What setups would you recommend for the first time planter that wants to spend as less as possible? I can spend like $40. And I don't know how much nutrients and Co2 i need. Please help.
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:12 PM   #2
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do you already have a tank? I recommend easy to care for low-light plants such as java moss and fern (google can help you find more). A dirt with sand cap substrate (playsand and blasting sand are both cheap options and I just use dirt from my garden). Upgrade your light bulbs at the hardware store, not the pet store. Find a good DIY CO2 system (youtube will help you) or just see if you can get by without it. As a stay-at-home domestic goddess, with kids and the husband in grad school, cheap is the ONLY way to go
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:13 PM   #3
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Also, you can sometimes find good deals on plant packages in the classified section of this forum. You can also put out a wanted add for low-tech plants
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Old 04-16-2014, 08:07 AM   #4
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Thanks so much. I don't think I'm allowed to get the substrate and another light because we already have some. But I'm gonna make the CO2 generator. Btw, how many plants would you put in this kind of cheap 30g tank?
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Old 04-16-2014, 11:03 AM   #5
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As many as appeals to your aquascape Some people prefer a densely planted jungle look, others enjoy a sparse zen. It just depends on what you like. Also remember your plants will fill out, so research how big they get first.

As for lights, I didn't mean get a whole new set up, just a new light bulb! Unless you have LED's it's an easy cheaper switch to improve lighting. -and lets say yours is unreasonably expensive at $10

If you find the spare money laying around blasting sand is $8 for 50lbs. Super cheap and beautiful. Black Diamond Medium Blasting Abrasives - Tractor Supply Co.
Play sand is even cheaper $5 for 50lbs. Quikrete® Premium Play Sand®, 50 lb. - Tractor Supply Co.

And 50lbs is more than you will need! Dirt is free. Just something to consider!

So lets see

Light bulbs $10
Sand $5
Dirt $0
Plants 5@ $5 a piece [average], (unless you find a good deal or trade)

Remember you can always start slow. Get a couple, mix them in with your fake plants. My grow out tank is actually half-real half-fake. Looks good too. My local walmart (surprise! surprise!) actually has better plants than the chain stores (and often my local pet store), so shop around! Sometimes if you're lucky you can get multiple plants out of one pot (I got 2 great swords that way!) And java moss well spread, so get a little and eventually you'll have a lot! Good luck and remember to have fun with it!
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Old 04-16-2014, 11:06 AM   #6
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Also the reason I suggested dirted with a cap, it that the dirt will supply a lot of the necessary nutrients, so you don't have to mess with ferts that much.
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Old 04-16-2014, 11:08 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by venymae View Post
As many as appeals to your aquascape Some people prefer a densely planted jungle look, others enjoy a sparse zen. It just depends on what you like. Also remember your plants will fill out, so research how big they get first.

As for lights, I didn't mean get a whole new set up, just a new light bulb! Unless you have LED's it's an easy cheaper switch to improve lighting. -and lets say yours is unreasonably expensive at $10

If you find the spare money laying around blasting sand is $8 for 50lbs. Super cheap and beautiful. Black Diamond Medium Blasting Abrasives - Tractor Supply Co.
Play sand is even cheaper $5 for 50lbs. Quikrete® Premium Play Sand®, 50 lb. - Tractor Supply Co.

And 50lbs is more than you will need! Dirt is free. Just something to consider!

So lets see

Light bulbs $10
Sand $5
Dirt $0
Plants 5@ $5 a piece [average], (unless you find a good deal or trade)

Remember you can always start slow. Get a couple, mix them in with your fake plants. My grow out tank is actually half-real half-fake. Looks good too. My local walmart (surprise! surprise!) actually has better plants than the chain stores (and often my local pet store), so shop around! Sometimes if you're lucky you can get multiple plants out of one pot (I got 2 great swords that way!) And java moss well spread, so get a little and eventually you'll have a lot! Good luck and remember to have fun with it!
where do you get bulbs for $10? My 17 Watt cost $15.
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Old 04-16-2014, 11:22 AM   #8
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Thanks for everything. I just researched the dirt and substrate and stuff and I might be able to do it if i can convince my dad...
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Old 04-16-2014, 11:26 AM   #9
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Home Depot? Also mine are the screw ins, so maybe they are cheaper. ..
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Old 04-16-2014, 11:27 AM   #10
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do you mean just normal lights? Sorry I'm kind of slow...

Can I use the gravel rocks I already have?
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Old 04-16-2014, 11:32 AM   #11
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Mine are like this.
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Old 04-16-2014, 11:39 AM   #13
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you want around 5000K and this is 6500K
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Old 04-16-2014, 11:41 AM   #14
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Yes, you can use gravel as long as it's not the large diameter stuff, but the average aquarium gravel should be fine.
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Old 04-16-2014, 11:54 AM   #15
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With a low-tech tank I wouldn't worry about co2 too much. look in to Anubias nana
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Old 04-16-2014, 12:11 PM   #16
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you want around 5000K and this is 6500K
I was under the impression that 6700k was the optimal range for bulbs as it provides a balance of each beneficial wavelength that plants need to color up properly. 5000k- 10000k was what i had read will work for plants though so things are not set in stone and you may eventually opt for one 5000k light end one in a higher rnage to provide different wavelengths of light for the plants to use. I'm now getting some reds and browns showing up in L. repens, Sunset Hygro and C. Brown Wendtii in a tank with 6500k bulbs. Anoither tank has 5000k bulbs and my Brown Wendtii & the Hygro have remained green. Low light in both of these tanks.

My 2ft 21W T8 bulbs both cost about $6 each
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Old 04-16-2014, 12:12 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Alan79 View Post
I was under the impression that 6700k was the optimal range for bulbs as it provides a balance of each beneficial wavelength that plants need to color up properly. 5000k- 10000k was what i had read will work for plants though so things are not set in stone and you may eventually opt for one 5000k light end one in a higher rnage to provide different wavelengths of light for the plants to use. I'm now getting some reds and browns showing up in L. repens, Sunset Hygro and C. Brown Wendtii in a tank with 6500k bulbs. Anoither tank has 5000k bulbs and my Brown Wendtii & the Hygro have remained green. Low light in both of these tanks.
Sorry I meant to say 5000k as the minimum.
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Old 04-16-2014, 02:17 PM   #18
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Help with first tank/first planted tank!

Dirt can be pretty messy for first timers with plants, particularly if you end up moving your plants around when determine your 'scape. I'd say just use sand or gravel to get your feet wet, or if you see a good sale look into Eco complete or flourite. Easy beginner plants like anubias, Java fern, and Java moss are not even planted in the substrate anyway -- they are tied to decor and get their nutrients from the water column. You could also try any of the many varieties of crypts (look into the different wendtiis for some color and look into smaller varieties like parva for a grassy look), just remember that these are the heavy root feeders so you'll need root tabs for these. You do not need any sort of pressurized co2 in a lowtech lowlight setup, but ferts and later on a carbon supplement will help. Many people use seachem's flourish comprehensive and API leaf zone together, with carbon supplementation from flourish excel. Later on you can move onto more cost efficient methods such as dry ferts and metricide 14. Good luck!
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Old 04-16-2014, 02:55 PM   #19
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Thank you all for the advice. Maybe I might just start out simple, just with anubias and other beginner plants. I thinking about the dirt and stuff when I get more advanced.
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Old 04-16-2014, 03:09 PM   #20
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Yup that's the best way to start. Here are a few extra pointers:

1. Try to keep plants like anubias kinda low and out of direct light. They have typically have big, slow growing leaves so they are susceptible to algae.

2. Plants like Java fern and anubias have lots of different variations, so you can mix up your tank by getting different types. Some of my favorites are anubias nana 'petite' and Java fern 'narrow leaf' and 'Philippine'.

3. Don't run your lights too long. Most people run their lights between 6-8 hours. If it's a very weak light 10 hours may be ok. A simple timer can help simplify this (they're very cheap on Amazon or places like Home Depot/walmart).

4. Go with a natural colored gravel if you go that route.

5. Be patient! Plants grow pretty slowly in lowtech setups... Try to envision what you want it to look like and then give it a few months.
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