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Old 01-03-2008, 04:56 PM   #1
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Want to convert non-planted to planted

I currently have a 20 gal high that is a fish and fake plant tank. It has been established for several months now and I am getting the itch to do something more with it. I would like to turn it into a planted tank. I was wondering if people would be able to tell me where to start and what their favorite products are. I have a basic understanding to start with. I know I will at least have to upgrade my lighting and get a way to introduce CO2. Also, I prefer DIY projects as they are typically cheaper and more customizable

More details on the tank:
Lighting - Standard inexpensive single tube fluorescent
Water - Relatively hard, around 8 I think, NH3 - 0 ppm, NO2 - 0 ppm, NO3 - 5 ppm
Temperature - 78 F
Inhabitants - 2 Flame dwarf guoramis, 4 harlequin rasboras, 1 otto, 4 white clouds (these will probably come out as they are not a tropical species, people at lfs misinformed me), 5 ghost shrimp
If you want any more details, just ask

I am hungry for knowledge so tell me everything you know or if you know of any good resources.
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Old 01-03-2008, 07:00 PM   #2
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The first thing to do is figure out what type of planted tank you want. IE high light, med light and soo forth. You can use www.plantgeek.net to look up plants in each lighting catogory.

The next is to read through the (Read This First: Resources and References) here:
http://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...ad.php?t=83826

When you have completed those, we will futher you along this wonderful path!

Randy
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Old 01-03-2008, 07:37 PM   #3
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Thanks, I will go ahead and do both of those.
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Old 01-03-2008, 09:17 PM   #4
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First off, the second link you gave me for the articles doesn't seem to be working.

I checked out plantgeek.com and came up with a couple different things. I tried to keep most of the plants to the medium light level or lower, because that is the only requirement that I am the most familiar with (that's not saying much though). This selection is based mostly on simply the looks of the plants.

For the foreground I want something that is a "creeper." H. callitrichoides looked really nice. I tried a planted tank before and I had some Java Moss in there which overran the whole thing so I want to shy away from it.

For the midground I like the Anubias genus, something that is pretty broadleafed. I also like Amazon Swords but those seem like they would be good to go on the side between the mid and backgrounds.

For the backgrounds I liked the looks of the Corkscrew Val.

I wouldn't mind adding something with a reddish tint to it to add a little color variety, but it seems like most of those require high light.

I think I do my best to start out small, say with 2 or 3 plants interspersed between the fake ones so that I can become more familiar.

As far as lights go, how many watts/gal will I need to achieve a medium light level? Are the lumens important? Is there any kind of lumens/gal rule? Is there any big difference between T5 HO fluorescents and Compact fluorescents as far as the performance of the lights go? I came across a website that sells retrofit kits. The website is http://www.ahsupply.com. It looks like I can convert my existing lighting to 36 or 55 watt compact fluorescent with relative ease, or I can build my own housing if I need to go bigger.

I know that I will have to do more research than this but I would like to keep an open discussion going and anyone who wants to chime in is more than welcome. Thanks in advance for all your advice and replies.
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Old 01-03-2008, 09:43 PM   #5
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The second link I posted is still working for me. ??

If you go to the main planted tank page, I believe it's the third thread on the list.

2 WPG would go great with what you want to accomplish. I would still look into CO2.

T5 HO and CF are pretty much the same thing.

If you want red, look into some Rotala macrandra. It grows nicely in 2 WPG as long as you maintain the ferts and CO2.

Here is my R. macrandra under about 2.5 WPG of T-8:



Rotala sp. 'Colorata', Bacopa sp. 'Colorata', and Cabomba palaeformis are very nice plants that have a slight red to them.

I would stay away from the Amazon sword. It will get too big for a 20 gallon tank. Instead, I would look into a Echinodorus bleheri 'compacta'. It's just like an Amazon, only smaller in size.

You have many plant species to choose from if you go with medium light, expecially if you add CO2.
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Old 01-03-2008, 09:58 PM   #6
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Thanks much. It sounds like a 55 watt compact fluorescent should get me to where I want to be. That picture is a beautiful red color, I'm going to have to look into that some more. Did the other species seem acceptable?

I read a little bit about adding CO2. It seems there is a DIY version that involves sugar and yeast, would this be a good method? Also, I ran across a dosing product that seems like it adds carbon like the CO2 is supposed to. Is this any good, or is it a scam?
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Old 01-03-2008, 10:07 PM   #7
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I keep getting the same thing for those links

We are currently in the process of moving the site to a new server. Please be patient and try back in 30 minutes. This transfer will take quite a while to complete so we apprcate your patience. In addition be sure to close your browser before visiting the site again to make sure your browser does not cache the sites IP information.

If anyone can help me out I would appreciate it.
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Old 01-03-2008, 10:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isu712 View Post
I keep getting the same thing for those links

We are currently in the process of moving the site to a new server. Please be patient and try back in 30 minutes. This transfer will take quite a while to complete so we apprcate your patience. In addition be sure to close your browser before visiting the site again to make sure your browser does not cache the sites IP information.

If anyone can help me out I would appreciate it.

LOL. I thought you meant you couldn't get to the first part of it.

Sorry about that. As of rightnow, all of the old articles cannot be reached until the Admin get to fixing all the links. They, the Admin, have a lot of work to do and getting those links back in shape is low on the list rightnow.

Again, sorry about that. I forgot all about it.
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Old 01-03-2008, 10:27 PM   #9
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No worries, I wanted to make sure that it wasn't something on my end.
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Old 01-03-2008, 10:28 PM   #10
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In the meantime, would you mind cluing me in on CO2 and ferts, thanks.
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Old 01-03-2008, 10:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isu712 View Post
In the meantime, would you mind cluing me in on CO2 and ferts, thanks.

Sure can.

Most of those who run CO2 in the medium and up lighting, use what is called the EI dosing schedule. I would post a link, but it seems as though the site is down ATM. (here it is for later reference: http://www.barrreport.com/articles/1...ive-index.html )

And for CO2: http://www.gpodio.com/co2_setup.asp

Liquid based carbon, AKA Flourish Excel, is a great alternative to gas CO2 on smaller tanks.

DIY CO2 is also an option as you have mentioned. http://www.gpodio.com/diy_co2.asp

and

http://www.qsl.net/w2wdx/aquaria/diyco2.html#3

When you consider adding CO2, you are starting to breach the more complicated realm of plant growing. It is not something that you just deside to start and then stop whenever you choose. It's CO2 or no CO2. Algae will come out of nowhere if you start playing that game.

BTW, Having 55 watts of CF over a 20 gallon is not really medium light. The WPG rule was based on T-12 NO light and the CF light put out A LOT more light then those. A standard multipier is 1.35 for using CF lighting.

So 55 watts X 1.35 is 74 watts equivlant to T-12 bulbs. So you are close to 4 WPG. IE High light which NEEDS a carbon source and regular fert dosing.

You can drop the wattage of the fixture by purchasing a 50/50 type bulb if you wish and then when the day come that you want to go all out, just throw in the normal CF bulb and go for it.

On a side note, if you choose to go with 55 watts and CO2, I highly advise you to add a lot of plants at the get go.
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Old 01-04-2008, 12:02 AM   #12
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I also came across this in my searching:

http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...cStoreNum=2801

(sorry for the long URL, I hope you can cut and paste) Would this work to provide the medium light level that I want? Should I use the 36 watt CF retrofit instead? Would either one of these in conjunction with Flourish Excel provide the light and CO2 I need?

I apologize for the nitpicky questions, but I want to make sure I only have to buy this once and I get the best set-up. I know what I get won't be necessarily perfect and I'll have to tweak some things but I want to get as close as possible.

P.S. After I figure out these two I'm afraid I'm going to ask about ferts and substrate, sorry.
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Old 01-04-2008, 12:12 AM   #13
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This place is made for people to ask questions and learn.

I can't see the link as all I get is "The product you are trying to view is not currently available.".

I wouldn't say you are being nitpicky, I would say you are being wise!

As for the lights, that's all up to you. the 36 watt one would grow a lot of different species, but not as many as the 55 watt. Do take into consideration that the higher the lighting level, the more attention to the tank you will need or should I say, the less wigle room you will have.

IMO, I would try and maintain a medium light tank and add either Excel or DIY CO2 and see how you like it.
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Old 01-04-2008, 12:46 AM   #14
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The link was for a 2x20 watt T12 fixture from Home Depot. It doesn't have any reflector above the bulbs, but that could be corrected with some foil. This would give me the 2 watts/gal that I need and only costs $18, considerably less than some of the other options. I also need opinions about Light Temp. I know that 6500K gives you the closest to natural light, but I saw somewhere that 7800K makes color look "better". Your take on this would be much appreciated.

For the CO2, I think I will go the Excel route and once it gets established and I have a better idea of what I'm doing I will experiment with DIY CO2.

As far as substrates go, I am somewhat familiar with Laterite as an additive, is this any good. Right now I only have your basic aquarium gravel (you know the stuff that is about 5 mm across and should be dirt cheap but isn't). Does this need to be changed or can I just add something that will give me a decent substrate.
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Old 01-04-2008, 09:20 AM   #15
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I also saw this fixture:

http://www.thatpetplace.com/pet/prod.../7/product.web

It would be more expensive, but I think it would look nicer and I wouldn't have to monkey with it. For some reason I'm inclined to go just over 2 watt/gal, I don't know why, but I am. I don't think the bulbs it comes with would be particularly good though.
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Old 01-04-2008, 04:06 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isu712 View Post
I also saw this fixture:

http://www.thatpetplace.com/pet/prod.../7/product.web

It would be more expensive, but I think it would look nicer and I wouldn't have to monkey with it. For some reason I'm inclined to go just over 2 watt/gal, I don't know why, but I am. I don't think the bulbs it comes with would be particularly good though.

That is a very nice looking fixture and the price is great. The bulbs will work well for plants.
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Old 01-04-2008, 04:19 PM   #17
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I think I will go with that light system, the 2x24 t5.

Here is my updated species list:
Hemianthus callitrichoides
Bolbitis Heudelotti
Crypt Wendtii
Hygrophila salicifolia
Echinodorus parviflourus
Bacopa australis
Cabomba palaeformis

Would it be better to try to add them a couple at a time and try to ease in, or should I switch everything at once.

About the substrate, can I just add Laterite or should I change everything? Once again, thanks for all your help.
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Old 01-04-2008, 04:38 PM   #18
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You want to add as many plants as possible from the get go. Adding only a few, leads to algae a lot of the time.

The list looks right on. The HC is kinda a higher light plant, but should do well if you are adding a carbon source. It will take some time for it to fill in under medium light.
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Old 01-04-2008, 06:04 PM   #19
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I'm still looking for input on the substrate. I'm thinking of mixing in Schultz's Aquatic Plant Soil with the gravel I already have. Will this work well?
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Old 01-04-2008, 08:49 PM   #20
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I currently have Shultz in my 75g tank. I couldn't happier. Mix it well because it is a bit lighter in weight than your regular substrates.
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