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Old 03-17-2006, 11:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default converting my 50g to planted, first timer needs guidance

Hello guys! i will be converting to a planted tank for the first time and needs some help!

my spec:
1) 50 gallon 36"15"x20"(H)
2) 12 rainbow fish (3-5") + 40 cherry red shrimps
3) 2x aquaclear 50 hob power filter
4) tank is cycled
5) lighting - 1x 24" 20w aquaglo + 1 x 24" 20w lifeglo
6) no co2 system


my plan:
1) remove all from tank(livestock, decors,fake plants, gravel etc)
2) add eco complete
3) add plants
4) add fish/shrimp back

my plants - i am looking for very hardy plants that does not require much maintence (light, co2, etc). Want my entire substrate covered with a lush foreground plant, with some tall plants in the background, leaving the rest of the tank for the fish. So far i am looking at:

1) background - Vallisneria spiralis
2) middle/foreground - Anubias barteri var nana
3) foreground carpet - not sure, java moss seems the obvious choice, however i really do not like their look, just seems very messy and grows everywhere. I am looking for more of a neatly ordered grass carpet that stays at a certain height and does not require any pruning/trimming over time. Hemianthus callitrichoides seem to fit the bill, but i understand they are difficult to maintain for a newbie. Any other ideas?

some more questions:
1) Do you think my setup will work? any suggestions on other plants?
2) i have a seaclear tank, and it came with the hood, which states it can only handle 20W max light bulbs per strip. Any idea how i can get around this to install higher wattage lights? if not, will 20w lifeglo and 20w aquaglo(which seems very dim) be tolerable?
3) do i need to add Seachem Flourish or any other chemicals to my tank for the plants? As a fish only tank owner, i was rised to avoid all chemicals and let the water/fish adapt to each other instead. So kind wary of all those chemicals plants appear to need.

wow long post! any help will be appreciated, thank you!!!

Last edited by newguy; 03-17-2006 at 11:27 PM..
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Old 03-18-2006, 01:42 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome to APC!

First of all, read this, it gives a good idea of planted tank basics:

http://www.aquatic-plants.org/articl.../01_intro.html

Your first problem is going to be your lighting. You have less than 1wpg (watts per gallon). This rules out *alot* of plants, including most lush foreground plants. Java moss may work. So may anubias.

If you don't want good lighting, CO2, fertilizing etc then I don't think you can really have the type of tank you're describing. You could get away with a non-CO2 tank but I'd say you still need more lighting (at least 1-1.5wpg).

The hoods that come with standard lfs sold tanks are not equipped with lighting systems for plants. They are more for fish viewing. There are two ways around this:

- If the hood allows, you can replace the installed light system with something else. AHSupply seems to have good "retro-fit" systems (www.ahsupply.com).

- Take the hood off and have an open top with either suspended lighting or lighting that sits on legs on the ends of your tank...

If you do decide to upgrade your lights and still don't want to add CO2, stay below 2wpg, preferably around 1.5wpg. 2wpg and above make CO2 pretty mandatory.

You could always give your tank a try as is using only known low light plants, such as Java Fern and Anubias. They may grow but will do so extremely slowly.
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Old 03-18-2006, 02:19 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Plant selsection: Vals and Anubias are good. With the lush carpet there might be a problem considering no CO2 and the very low intensity low wattage lights. Honestly I can't think of a plant other than mosses that will make a good carpet in your setup. I have a low maintenance tank like that and use christmass moss as a ground cover. I think it looks very nice and in anyway messy. Try it. Just plant it as a single thin layer or it's going to turn brown and rot.
Substrate: Yeah you can go with eco complete or Seachem flourite. Matter of preference really. Sprinkle some peat moss on the botom and then cover it with your eco. You may also want to blend in some of your old gravel into the new substrate or better yet some mulm. It will speed up the proccess of a new bacterial colony growth you need in it.
Ferts: Since it is supposed to be a non CO2 system, perhaps you may try adding Flourish Excel as a carbon supplement. I don't use it but some people swear by it. Try it if you want. I don't add any macros because the fish provides it. I add a few drops of Flourish once a week and that's about it. Keep in mind that with such low lights everything will grow very slowly. It would be too slow for me to keep me interested in plants if I didn't have a higher light CO2 tanks as well.
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Old 03-18-2006, 01:36 PM   #4 (permalink)
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thanks for the reply! looks like lighting is the bottleneck. i am going to buy the 2 x 55 watt Bright Kit™ from ahsupply, which will give me slightly over 2 WPG. Will this be ok without a co2 system?

azfishguy, just want to confirm, if i decide to go with moss, i should spray a thin lay in my bare bottom tank, THEN add the echo complete substrate on top of it? Is a 1" layer of echo complete enough? or do i need more.

the reason i am hesistant about java moss are some of the pics with java moss looks really bad, for example:



i definitly do not want that! just a thin layer covering my substrate. With 2WPG but no co2, are there any other carpet plants that become available?

thanks again!

ps read the guide, very helpful! can we ask the author to write another article for non co2 based systems
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Old 03-18-2006, 07:12 PM   #5 (permalink)
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About the java moss, you can just attach the moss on some plastic mesh and weigh it down with some rocks. You can just do this but instead use rocks to hold the plastic mesh to the ground:

http://www.aquarticles.com/articles/...Moss_Wall.html

When you feel like the moss is messy, you can just pull out the plastic mesh, and trim/wash the moss.

Hope that helped...

-Jeff
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Old 03-18-2006, 07:33 PM   #6 (permalink)
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If you really don't want to do CO2, stay away from the 2x55watt kit. I would use an AH supply 2x36 watt kit. I would also check with Kim at AH as I belive the ballast for the 2x36 watt kit will also power a 2x55 watt kit, this way you can upgrade later if you decide to go the CO2 route. If it will not handle 2x55 then get the 2x55 kit and use 2x36 tubes instead. AH kits use the Fulham Workhorse ballasts. These ballasts are capable of running many different wattages and combinations of bulbs.

You have many choices for plants with either r the 2x36 or 2x55 kits. Anubias sp, Microsorium sp, Cryptororyne sp, Bolbitis sp, and some of the less light demanding stemplants will all do just fine, even with 2x36 lighting.

As for a foreground, consider Marselia sp, micro tennelus, Dwarf hairgrass , Hemianthus callithictroides or have an open sand forground with small moss covered stones as accents.
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Old 03-19-2006, 01:51 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy
..
azfishguy, just want to confirm, if i decide to go with moss, i should spray a thin lay in my bare bottom tank, THEN add the echo complete substrate on top of it? Is a 1" layer of echo complete enough? or do i need more.

...
To avoid any potential confusion: what you sprinkle a light layer (you should still be able to see the glass bottom through the layer) of on the bottom glass of your tank before adding the substrate is *peat*, not the plant java moss. You don't want to put the java moss plant under the substrate.

I'd also go for more than 1". 2" is better.
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Old 03-19-2006, 04:23 AM   #8 (permalink)
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ok guys!! think finally got my shopping list i am comfortable with. Going to go ahead and order soon, please let me know if anything is still wrong/missing.

1) Coralife Freshwater Aqualight Deluxe-Single 30" Strip - 65W 6700k

Since i dont really need 100W+ without co2, i decided to go for the cheaper coralife, as it comes with the entire hood.

2) eco-complete substrate - 2" thick

3) Vallisneria spiralis -background
Java farn - anywhere
Anubias barteri var nana -fore/mid ground
Marsilea minuta (aquatic clover) - carpet

4) Flourish Excel and Flourish dosage

Two last questions:
a) should i go for the 30" or 36" light strip? my tank width is exactly 36", my current hood is 30". For a planted tank do you need the light strip covering the entire length?

b) echo-complete wont kill my cherry red shrimps right? Shrimps very sensitive to copper, just want to make sure eco complete doesnt contain anything that will be harmful to the shrimps.

Thanks for your continuing support!

Last edited by newguy; 03-19-2006 at 04:32 PM..
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Old 03-19-2006, 11:52 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I would go for the 36" just because a 30" strip will leave the sides of the tank visibly darker.
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