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Old 12-18-2005, 08:55 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Thanks John. If I have learned anything keeping reef tanks, it's that buying cheap costs you much more in the long run than getting the best you can in the beginning does. I am sure that principle holds true with fw planted tanks too!

Just took a look at the substrates you suggested. I really like the Flourite (admittedly because of color mainly).

Is it uncommon to mix in some gravel (say 15-20%) to such a substrate?
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Old 12-18-2005, 09:20 PM   #12 (permalink)
 
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People do flourite 50/50 with small 3mm grain gravel. The key is to have small grains. That's mainly to help hold down the plants, rooting space, and provide space for bacteria pockets.

I should mention with flourite, you'll have to spend about 1 hr each bag rinsing it out, or you'll end up with a muddy mess in your tank. Flourite is incredible dirty, and has lots of loose dust that needs to be rinsed out.

I don't want to discourage you from the cheaper alternatives. Soil Master substrate is becoming more popular 50# bag for $20. Here's where you could purchase it. http://www.lesco.com/?PageID=27&ItemNumber=083365

BTW if you like a gray color Onyx Sand will provide that for you too. I believe aquariumplants.com has that one too. I would recommend aquabotanic.com for substrates, but I don't think they carry any. But they have good CO2 reactors, regulators and retrofit lighting there. Check them out too.

-John N.
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Old 12-19-2005, 04:30 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I would go with Eco. I use eco in all of my tanks. The growth results are very good. I again went the lazy route, because I dont have to rinse Eco at all. I have had Flourite and found it to be a pain.
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Old 12-19-2005, 06:15 AM   #14 (permalink)
 
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I would go with Eco complete as well, just because I like the color, and the dump it in with no hassels factor. But I forgot to mention that if you do get flourite, you can find the cheapest online price, print that out, and take it to Petsmart to Price match. I got my flourite for half the cost of what Petsmart charges you. You might have to hit 2-3 stores to get the total 6-8 bags you need. Petsmart usually only carries 1-3 bags at most at any give time.

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Old 12-19-2005, 08:05 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Well, it sounds like the Eco complete is what I need to go with. Especially since I am working with an existing tank that already has eastablished livestock in it.

I apppreciate the feedback about cleaning and things like that. That's the sort of stuff I'd never get reading product information.
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Old 12-19-2005, 04:31 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Well it looks like your off to a good start...keep us updated!
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Old 12-19-2005, 08:15 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Riley:
Well it looks like your off to a good start...keep us updated!
Definitely will! It will be mid-January before I get started with doing this, but I enjoy photo-documenting things I do so expect plenty of photos then as well.
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Old 12-26-2005, 04:53 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Hi Greg, and Welcome!

That is GREAT that you plan to photo document this setup - there is a special forum Robert (our wonderful admin) has set up for journals, etc.

With just fish livestock, are you thinking to set up the tank "around" them, or remove them while you set it up. I'd think taking them out (one of those big plastic storage bins works great for temp housing) would be less stressful in the long run.

Have you perused all the forums here? Coming from a reef-keeping background, I'm sure you're comfortable with lots of equipment and detailed parameters, but have you considered El Natural? Its a low-tech, low-maintenance approach to keeping planted tanks. In a nutshell, it says the reasons most folks who first try aquarium plants don't succeed is because they haven't provided the key ingredients - a rich substrate and light. Using a soil (yep.... soil) underlayer, an ecosystem can be established in which plants are the main filtering & water purifying mechanism. Water changes are minimal (and for some, very rare events) and the bioload of fish is light. If you're not planning to increase your existing fish population, it sounds like you already have the fish load down pat!

So, I can "hear" in the great posts so far that the assumption is you're going "high tech" (yeah....and I can HEAR the vicarious equipment lust, you guys! *grin*) but I'd first ask the question of whether you plan to establish a plant tank using a high tech approach or a low tech, "El Natural", or "Walstad" type approach.

"High Tech" usually includes high lights (at least 2 wpg, more commonly above 3 wpg), iron-rich substrate, CO2 addition (DIY or pressurized canister), fertilizer dosing, pH adjusters (the CO2 can strongly affect pH swings) and fast plant growth, often requiring frequent trimming. Advantages include absolutely luxurient plant growth, and the ability to grow high-light requiring plants.

The low-tech or "Walstad" style setup generally has moderate lighting (1.8 wpg is OK, 2 -2.5 is fine, and 3 wpg is almost too high). This does curtail some plants with the highest light requirements, but lots of "Walstad" folks grow things like glosso and red hygros. I have both of these, and I'm still getting very nice color in my hygro, and the glosso is growing nicely, I've even got some Hemianthus callictroides going now, and while slow, it IS getting established. Nutrients from the soil underlayer benefit the plants, and fish waste is part of the equation. Filtration is minimal (especially biological, which effectively competes with the plants) and water changes are infrequent. Plant growth is not nearly as fast, but some very beautiful results can still be obtained. For someone like myself, who has a limited budget for hobbies (just bought a condo), and limited time to monitor my aquariums, this is a great and rewarding alternative. Most of my fish went into spawning mode soon after getting them, and now regularly display mating behaviour. I have happy plants, fish, shrimp and snails. And, when I leave for vacation for a week, I just make sure everyone is well fed before I leave, and give them some live foods upon my return. Honestly, sometimes when I read about all the equipment issues and troubles the high tech setups can encounter, I'm amazed at just how easy my tanks are! Granted, I sometimes feel twinges of envy at the pristine and luxurient growth in the high-tech tanks I regularly see here, but then I take off for a weekend without a second thought (the lights are on timers) and I'm again glad I've gone the low-tech route.

Just something to Consider!
-Jane
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Old 12-26-2005, 06:56 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Really all I am planning is to add the proper lighting, substrate, plants, & invertebrates to my tank and that is all. So mostly I am here to find out what the "proper" stuff is. I'll be getting lighting and a canopy done nmext month, then be back here for advice.

Oh and I will put my fish into a large rubbermaid container for a few days when I add the substrate. This won't be the first time they have been in it temporarily. Hvae done it when I have moved the tank, when I have moved to a ne whome, etc etc.

I am counting on the plants and substrate helping with filtration by soaking up fish waste such and thus using the nutrients. A few snails for algae control, etc etc.

PS: my approach in my reef tank is very similar. For example, every living thing I put into that tank has a purpose.
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Old 12-26-2005, 07:35 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Ah Greg........ have you done some reading over on the El Natural forum? (Go to the header All Wet Thumb Forums, it is a few below the First Planted Aquarium forum).

I've had a lot of success using a soil underlayer. The thing is to not get too many organics in it. The soil will provide all the micronutrients the plants need, while they get the nitrogen-derived nutrients (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate) from the water/fish waste, as they act as filters. Do read the El Natural forums - I think you'll pick up on the ideas very quickly, from the sounds of your reef tank.

And if you have any Christmas gifts you need to exchange, you might pick up Diana Walstad's book as a replacement - the Ecology of the Planted Aquarium. Sure beats that "Ho Ho Ho" necktie!

Seriously though, I've been very pleased over the years with how easy a planted aquarium can be, if you're willing to make a few slight compromises on the rate of growth of your plants, the Squeeky-Clean appearance, and the desire for brilliant reds out of your "red" plants.

And after the initial break in period (about 2-3 months, depending on conditions) I have not had difficulty with algae. I keep snails and shrimp to combat algae, and firmly believe that some of my floating plants (Salvinia auriculata, Amazon frogbit) release algae-inhibiting compounds into the water.

I'm glad you'll remove your fish during setup. Those big bins are great! And you're on the right track, learning and gathering information first. If you can keep a reef setup healthy, I think you'll be great with aquatic plants!
-Jane
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