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Old 12-05-2008, 02:57 AM   #1
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Wanted: Planted Tank but tank already has live fish and plants! Help!

Hello all! I'm new to this site and also to aquariums in general. I have very basic aquarium knowledge, my husband knows much more, but not a whole lot about planted tanks. He decided to surprise me a few days ago by setting up our old 29G with some fish and plants within only two days of adding gravel and water to the tank! Nothing planned, just jumped the gun! I really want a planted tank but don't know what I can do now that the tank already has some fish and plants. I don't want anything to die but the light that is in my fixture is horrible and I'm not sure if I did the substrate correct (I made him buy it after seeing the plants were turning yellow with only gravel), or if the flourish I bought is right. He ordered a new light fixture and bulbs from our LFS but it will take 2 wks to get here and it cost like $140!

What can be done now to keep my plants alive while I wait for the new lights? I'm open to buying a replacement bulb for my current fixture til the new arrives. Or should I just wait because the substrate and flourish will be fine until then?

Could I just build my own light fixture or add another bulb to it to save money? I'm so tempted to cancel that expensive light fixture order!

Also, I think the brown substrate mixed with some of our white gravel doesn't look very appealing. The guy at our LFS said we could mix it with our current gravel since they only had one bag left and it wouldn't be enough for our 29G and he said we could also layer it. I think my husband did a little of both but it's not very eye catching.

My goal is a tank simple enough for a beginner with a 13 month old to chase after. I think CO2 and other "high tech" techniques will have to wait until I can at least keep this "simple" tank alive. Just enough plants to call it a "planted tank", good lighting, fertilizer (if needed and fish poo and fish food isn't enough), and regular water changes.

Should I be doing water hard/soft, ph, nitrite, nitrate, trace element etc tests?

In my tank now:
Red Sea Flora Base (with some white gravel -not sure what mm, kinda big)
Cryptocoryne Wendtii
Vallisneria Torta
Cryptocoryne Pontederiifolia
Java Moss
8 Neon Tetra
2 Golden Tetra
3 Kerri Emperor Tetra
3 Kuhli Loaches

Thanks in advance for the help!
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Old 12-05-2008, 06:36 PM   #2
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Welcome to AA!!

Yes the best thing you can do is test your water PH Amonia Nitrite and Nitrates and then post those results for us... Second its ok to cycle with fish its just not recomended it can be a little hard on those fellows.

What type of flourish did you buy? Excell will unfotuneatly melt Vallisneria sp. in some cases.

Congrats on the tank and the new lights. What kind of fixture did you buy? And what do you have currently?

Substrtate is fine, most of the plants you have will require some root tabs the crypts and the vals. Java moss gets its "food" from the water colomn.
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Old 12-06-2008, 12:42 AM   #3
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Welcome to AA !!!

I would also second checking water parameters. You would need to go through the cycling process with the fish, and need to do lots of water changes in the next little while to keep everyone alive. If possible, check & see if your lfs has biospira (a live bacteria culture that will cycle your tank instantly), or at least get some of the old filter gunk from their tanks to seed your tank & to speed up the cycle. It is pretty tricky to successfully cycle with a full bioload, but it can be done with a bit of work ... water change, water change.......

As for the plants, you don't really need the "high tech" substrate for the ones you have. Plain gravel or sand with a bit of root tab fertilizer would do just as well. So it is up to you if you want to change the substrate for the looks. <I would suggest not disturbing things until after your tank is cycled.>

Crypts will tend to melt after a move. It is not unusual for them to lose all their leaves when first planted, but they will grow back from the roots. You prob. don't need any ferterlizer at this point, esp. when there is not enough light.

What fixture do you have? If you have an old incandescent fixture with the screw in base, you may be able to get half decent light by using the screw in compact flourescent bulbs.

It is possible to build your own fixture, although that depends on how handy you are around electricity (& water!) It is more difficult with a 29, since you can't just use the guts of a 4' shoplight as your starting point. I would suggest checking out a kit that you can fit into your own canopy. People have good results with ahsupplies:
36 or 55 watt Bright Kits
The 55W PC kit is only $45 ... although it will cost a bit to ship to Hawaii.

You can also check out the newer T5 kits as well, although they will be more <around $100 for the 54W T5-HO>.
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Old 12-06-2008, 07:09 PM   #4
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Just wanted to add that you made great plant choices!
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Old 12-09-2008, 04:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jnam View Post
Welcome to AA!!

Yes the best thing you can do is test your water PH Amonia Nitrite and Nitrates and then post those results for us... Second its ok to cycle with fish its just not recomended it can be a little hard on those fellows.

What type of flourish did you buy? Excell will unfotuneatly melt Vallisneria sp. in some cases.

Congrats on the tank and the new lights. What kind of fixture did you buy? And what do you have currently?

Substrtate is fine, most of the plants you have will require some root tabs the crypts and the vals. Java moss gets its "food" from the water colomn.
Sorry it took so long to reply. And I'm sorry to say that I don't know what it means to "cycle" fish. Could you explain?

The flourish I bought is Seachem Flourish Comprehensive Supplement for the Planted Aquarium. I didn't know there were different types. That's what my lfs/pet store gave me because he said they only had the liquid types left in stock.

I'm not sure what kind of fixture my husband ordered. From what I understand, it fits over the tank like a canopy...lots of space between the light and the tank. And it has double lights. That's all I know for now, will give details when it comes in .

Is the water column what you call the water flowing out of the filter?
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Old 12-09-2008, 04:46 PM   #6
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Water column would be all the water and dissolved solids in the water... In the general discussion area there is a sticky called Fishless cylcling read up on that. Basicly cycling the tank is the process by which you establish the colony of beneficial bacteria that provides all your biological filtration
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Old 12-09-2008, 05:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsoong View Post
Welcome to AA !!!

I would also second checking water parameters. You would need to go through the cycling process with the fish, and need to do lots of water changes in the next little while to keep everyone alive. If possible, check & see if your lfs has biospira (a live bacteria culture that will cycle your tank instantly), or at least get some of the old filter gunk from their tanks to seed your tank & to speed up the cycle. It is pretty tricky to successfully cycle with a full bioload, but it can be done with a bit of work ... water change, water change.......

As for the plants, you don't really need the "high tech" substrate for the ones you have. Plain gravel or sand with a bit of root tab fertilizer would do just as well. So it is up to you if you want to change the substrate for the looks. <I would suggest not disturbing things until after your tank is cycled.>

Crypts will tend to melt after a move. It is not unusual for them to lose all their leaves when first planted, but they will grow back from the roots. You prob. don't need any ferterlizer at this point, esp. when there is not enough light.

What fixture do you have? If you have an old incandescent fixture with the screw in base, you may be able to get half decent light by using the screw in compact flourescent bulbs.

It is possible to build your own fixture, although that depends on how handy you are around electricity (& water!) It is more difficult with a 29, since you can't just use the guts of a 4' shoplight as your starting point. I would suggest checking out a kit that you can fit into your own canopy. People have good results with ahsupplies:
36 or 55 watt Bright Kits
The 55W PC kit is only $45 ... although it will cost a bit to ship to Hawaii.

You can also check out the newer T5 kits as well, although they will be more <around $100 for the 54W T5-HO>.
Thanks for the info and sorry it took so long for me to reply...

How do I go about testing my water? Should I just ask my lfs/pet store for a water test kit? Or is it those little strips of paper I'm looking for?

I'm so sorry, but I don't know what "cycling" fish means and why that is done. Could you please explain this?

My fixture is just what came with the tank years ago. I wouldn't be surprised if it was an incandescent fixture. I'm pretty sure we are using a flourescent bulb in it right now though.

Here is a pic of my hood and light fixture (kinda dirty, I know):
Click image for larger version

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Here is what the label behind my fixture says:
Perfecto Mfg. Inc.
20975 Creek Road
Noblesville IN 46060
LISTED
AQUARIUM EQUIP
91N1
MODEL 30" RFH-F
Rating 120 volt 60Hz 20 watts
SEP 99
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Here's a pic of the light inside:
PENN-FLAX
FL20
Aquari-Lux
Mfd. in China
Click image for larger version

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And here is what my poor tank currently looks like (added a few fish since my last post):
Click image for larger version

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ID:	16540

Thank you so much for your help and advice!
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Old 12-09-2008, 05:39 PM   #8
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Water column would be all the water and dissolved solids in the water... In the general discussion area there is a sticky called Fishless cylcling read up on that. Basicly cycling the tank is the process by which you establish the colony of beneficial bacteria that provides all your biological filtration
I will definitely read that sticky. Thanks!
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Old 12-09-2008, 08:57 PM   #9
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No, that is a fluorescent hood. At 20W, it is low light, but you can grow some plants even with that light. That hood is very narrow & is going to be difficult to retrofit a new light. The AH supply kit *might* fit. If you are interested, email them with the exact dimension of the hood (the raised part where the light sits) & see if they have something that will work for you.

Do read the cycling article in the article section. If you ahve any questions after reading that, feel free to ask. Getting the cycle established is the most important thing in keeping fish healthy.

With a full bioload, I wouldn't rely on the lfs for testing. I would suggest getting your own test kit, and the liquid reagent type .... the stripes are known to be inaccurate. The API master kit (a pretty good one & reasonable) can be had on the net for around $20 .... but I know it will be at least double that in Hawaii.
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Old 12-10-2008, 10:54 AM   #10
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I agree perform your own tests. I made the mistake at first of adding fish right after i put water in. You'll need to test the water daily and also do PWC daily to prevent a toxic build up of amonia and nitrites. Its not impossible to cycle a tank this way just a little more work.

Your lights may be addequate for the plants you have with the exceptioin of the Vals. Crypts will survive in low light tanks they will grow very slowly, your java moss is basicly a noxious weed and will survive most anything you throw at it (i love my java moss by the way).

Retro kits are nice but may be cost prohibitive. A less expensive way may be to purchase a 30" or so T8 "shop light" from your local hardware store. A 30" T8 may be able to give you a little more usable light.

Good luck HI is a great state by the way!
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Old 12-11-2008, 03:20 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the help guys! I will try my best to cycle my tank successfully. Wish me luck!

In the meantime, my new light fixture came in yesterday. It's a Jalli a18 with 55w compact fluorescent bulbs. I spent nearly $190 for the fixture and bulbs! And it took a week to come in. The box and receipt say its a 30" but it measures 29" So it doesn't even fit on my 30" wide tank! What to do? If it's not one thing it's another...I wonder if the pet store will take it back after we assembled the fixture and everything...Plus, how would they be able to help if all they do is order it for me and the dimensions are supposedly correct, right? Order a fixture that's longer than 30"? (*sigh* Feeling discouraged...)
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Old 12-11-2008, 05:28 PM   #12
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the legs you buy for it will compensate for the diffence in length
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Old 12-11-2008, 05:32 PM   #13
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55w CF will be nice. What color temperature are the lights? Are the both white or is one blue and one white? My light for me 55 was for a 48" tanks and it measures the same 47" as yours i bought some cheap clear plastic legs from our local fish store and walla it works great. The send em and inch short so you can have clearence if you want to have a canopy
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