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-   -   New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2 (https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/new-planted-aquariums/14684-new-tank-setup-guide-parts-1-a.html)

Bert H 03-18-2006 05:30 PM

New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
There are certain things that newbies are often told when they first set up a new tank: make sure you plant heavily; use fast growing stem plants; keep your CO2 levels high; do not use too much light, etc. I thought I would try to tie some of these things together and give a basic ‘how-to’ which might be helpful to folks.

To prepare your substrate for planting, look at this thread: https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...ilmaster+setup for MatPat’s pics on how to set up your substrate. It is an excellent step-by-step guide. He shows how he did it using Soilmaster, but the same methodology can be used for a variety of different substrates.

Positioning your hardscape, such as wood or rocks is strictly a matter of taste, so I will leave that up to your imagination. Some basic things to consider are the rule of thirds, and the golden ratio. We have an excellent article by Birgit and Wolfgang in the apc library: https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...t=golden+ratio dealing with aquacaping principles. Carlos has an excellent article on the golden ratio in the apc library as well: https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...den-ratio.html . Keep in mind that a lot of what you plant now will be removed in a couple of months, so don’t worry too much about your aquascape at this point in time.

Here’s a list of some fast growing stem plants to consider when setting up the tank initially, and a link to them in the plantfinder:
Ceratophyllum demersum: https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...=Ceratophyllum
Rotala rotundafolia: https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...us&spec=Rotala
Bacopa caroliniana: https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...us&spec=Bacopa
Bacopa australis: https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...us&spec=Bacopa
Myriophyllum mattogrossense: https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...c=Myriophyllum
Hygrophila difformis: https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...pec=Hygrophila

The stems should be planted so that there is a distance of two leaves’ width between the stems you plant. Such that the leaves from one stem just barely touch the leaves of the neighboring stem. Except for C. demersum, all the rest of these plants can be planted in the substrate. C. demersum has no roots and it will have to be weighted down, wedged against something or left to float in the tank. Sometimes it is difficult to keep stems in the substrate without them floating up on you. I find it helpful to keep the leaves in the bottom part of the stem which you actually plant. This helps to keep the stems in the substrate.

Part II to follow - will deal with the initial planting, lighting and first ferts.

Bert H 05-23-2006 05:42 AM

New tank set up - part 2...
 
OK, so now that you have your tank, substrate and hardscape in place, you are ready to start planting!

When setting up a new planted tank, you’re often given the advice to ‘plant heavily’ from the beginning. What is ‘planting heavily’? IMO, this is a concept which new folks find really difficult to grasp. ( I know I did :) ) A better way to describe it is to ‘plant densely’ right from the start. Here are some pics showing different levels of planting from light to heavy.

Lightly:

(Photo courtesy of Ian via http://dpnow.com/bb/others.pl?frames=n;read=841)

http://dpnow.com/i/othersuser/pic841.jpg

(Photo courtesy of MatPat)
http://img67.imageshack.us/img67/579...planted0hq.jpg

Moderately:
(Photos courtesy of John N)

http://img102.imageshack.us/img102/1375/10000286ma.jpg

http://img116.imageshack.us/img116/3190/tank0ab.jpg

Heavily:

This is my 50 I refer to below -

https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...p?imageid=5300

https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/g...p?imageid=3152

(Photo courtesy of Guaiac boy)

http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c3...r-13-small.jpg

With regards to lighting, it is best to start out with moderate levels. By this, I mean a photoperiod of 9-10 hours with light levels in the 2-3wpg range. In actuality, 2.5 wpg in tanks over 20 gals, will grow a huge number of plants. I have a 50gal breeder tank which is lit by a 96W ahs light kit and a separate 30W strip, for 2.5wpg. I maintain E. triandra, and H. micranthemoides as sods for my right and left side foregrounds with no problems. (See my pic above) You don’t need a ‘laser beam’, so to speak, to have a decent foreground. :)

IMO, keeping light levels reasonable at the start is a major factor in an algae free tank. There seems to be a mentality among many aquarists that the higher the light, the better it is. Certainly there are folks out there with 4-5wpg with beautiful tanks. The thing is that with these kinds of lighting levels, you have very little room to make mistakes. If you forget to dose ferts, or your CO2 drops some, you will be rearing an algae farm before you realize it. One of the easiest factors in algae control is maintaining moderate light levels.

Next make sure your carbon source is good, either via CO2 or Excel. Fertilize right from the beginning so your plants have all they need to get off to a good start. Personally, I would start with half the fert levels on day 1, bringing my levels up to full level before the end of the week and my first water change. Subsequently, I would dose normally.

Perform weekly maintenance and you should be off to a good start! In about 3-4 weeks you will probably want to start replacing some of the fast growers with more desirable plants. Of course, if fast growing stems are what you like, then keep them! :) The point is to enjoy your tank with a minimum of hassles.

Of course, the above is all geared towards a typical EI maintained tank. If you choose to go the ‘El Natural’ style, check out that forum for another way to do things. :)

Here are some links to sites with some more basic info:
http://www.barrreport.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2062
http://www.barrreport.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1
http://www.rexgrigg.com/
http://www.aquatic-plants.org/articl...ges/index.html
https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...ew-tables.html
https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...ing-guide.html
…And of course, if you do a search here on apc, you will find a wealth of knowledge.

finfollower 05-24-2006 05:41 PM

verrrry helpful for me as I now know how dense I need to plant my new tank(still looks lightly planted according to pictures) :D thanks bert

Jimbo205 08-26-2006 10:29 PM

Bert H., thank you very much for this sticky!

I will be referring to this again and again. I am printing this one out!
Quote:

There seems to be a mentality among many aquarists that the higher the light, the better it is.
I have heard this over and over again at ALL the local fish stores.

Jimbo205 08-27-2006 03:02 PM

Bart H., I was looking at FreshWaterAquariumPlants.com and they have a plant assortment package for a 5-10 gallon tank with 11 plants for $19.94

Would this be densely planted enough for a 10 gallon aquarium, if one were starting new?

Bert H 08-28-2006 05:01 AM

It's difficult to answer this without knowing what's included. My guess would be to say, no, as far as 'densely planted' goes. A couple of such packages would be much more likely to fit that bill, imo.

PsYcHoTiC_MaDmAn 08-28-2006 05:13 AM

what about light spectrum.

not sure whther to go with Triton/tri plus bulbs or Daylight plus bulbs.

i think their 8300k and 6500k respectivly

redstrat 08-28-2006 07:22 AM

That lighting sounds good, if the K values are right. Generally shoot for something in the range of 5,000Kelvin - 10,000Kelvin color temps. Any mix in that range is good too.

The 50/50 bulbs are the ones to watch for as they are usually 10,000k mixed with Actinic for marine reefs. They just aren't the greatest for plant growth, if your going to spend the money why not get the best thing you can for a similar price?

PsYcHoTiC_MaDmAn 08-28-2006 01:33 PM

yeh i know, just cant decide which 1 to go for.
they have the 50/50 there, but the 2 bulbs i'm looking at were either the tri-plus or daylight-plus, which 1 would give better plant growth

Jimbo205 08-28-2006 04:34 PM

Quote:

My guess would be to say, no, as far as 'densely planted' goes. A couple of such packages would be much more likely to fit that bill, imo.
Um... so you are talking some package from somewhere for at the very least 40 dollars, correct? (plants only, not including tank, lights or any other equipment to start)
More importantly, when scanning the vendors on APC which is the minimum package (# of plants and $ amount) that you are talking about for someone to start from scratch.
Sorry for trying to be so specific, but in retrospect I am trying to figure out if I had to start all over again from the beginning (scratch) and start all over, if I would actually be able to do it considering how little funds I had back then.

Would you recommend to flat broke college students / similar flat broke hobbyists to start out with Nanos and slowly build up their plant collection until they had enough for a larger tank?

redstrat 08-28-2006 05:30 PM

PsYcHoTiC_MaDmAn - Its really up to you, I haven't really heard many people say anything about a noticable difference in plant growth for any bulb in that range, generally speaking the higher the number in that range the whiter the bulb looks and IMO the more visually appealing. You could also go with whatever is cheapest in that range... its really up to you. There isn't a perfect Color Temp though just the range as as a guidline.

I hope that answers your question.

Bert H 08-29-2006 04:15 AM

Quote:

Um... so you are talking some package from somewhere for at the very least 40 dollars, correct?
I really have no idea what vendors are selling or for how much.

Quote:

More importantly, when scanning the vendors on APC which is the minimum package (# of plants and $ amount) that you are talking about for someone to start from scratch.
Sorry for trying to be so specific, but in retrospect I am trying to figure out if I had to start all over again from the beginning (scratch) and start all over, if I would actually be able to do it considering how little funds I had back then.
I've never really stopped to consider 'how many' stems to put into a tank to consider it light/medium/heavy. It really depends on the plants - typically you would plant the stems so that the distance between two stems equals twice the lenghth of the leaves (to minimize shading).

Quote:

Would you recommend to flat broke college students / similar flat broke hobbyists to start out with Nanos and slowly build up their plant collection until they had enough for a larger tank?
Here's several options/possibilities. Get the tank you want/can afford, check out your lfs's - a lot of them carry hornwort, Ludwigia repens, wisteria, etc. See what they charge, compare to vendors, imo, our vendors quality is usually better than the lfs's. Keep your eyes open on the for sale forum for good deals or place a 'wanted to buy' ad in the forum. A lot of us throw out a bunch of plants on a regular basis because our local stores don't want them and selling them can be a hassle sometimes. Go with whatever you can afford and make it work for you. If you only have a few plants, make sure you keep your light reasonable. Make sure your CO2/Excel is adequate and your plants needs are met. Your plants will grow and your density will increase by virtue of that. Enjoy the journey. :)

Jimbo205 09-04-2006 12:55 AM

Quote:

A lot of us throw out a bunch of plants on a regular basis because our local stores don't want them and selling them can be a hassle sometimes.
I take my 'pot of gold' with me when I can to the local fish store and leave the bucket with them. I hope that they eventually give me credit for something (Seachem Excel). Of course it is also fun to hear the staff talk about it when I have time to visit. The young kids really like the quality of the plants that I can bring in. Of course to me it is just Rotala, but then again you should see the tiny 'bunches' that they sell. In a way, they need it more than I do. And I can't yet imagine throwing out my 'pot of gold'. I would bury my 'pot of gold' under my substrate first to create bio-available carbon. Diana refers to it as biological 'fast food' carbon.

Thank you for all the good information. I look forward to the Hemianthus Micranthemoides. Do you know I looked that name up in Merriam-Webster's to see where the name came from and it wasn't there! Where should I look it up? The meaning of the name I mean.

Bert H 09-06-2006 08:33 AM

Quote:

Do you know I looked that name up in Merriam-Webster's to see where the name came from and it wasn't there! Where should I look it up? The meaning of the name I mean.
Don't know. You might try looking for Latin/Greek derivatives. Maybe Cavan can chime in here.

R B 09-11-2006 06:28 AM

hello to everyone. I have just registered after months of browsing the aquabotanic website. Im from Malaysia and this is the first time I have had a planted tank. I keep some discus in it and it looks great.

The problem im having is that since I am new to live plants I have yet to get it right. My plants seem to be growing but they tend to go into a lighter shade of green. Some even have become yellowish. Especially the sword plants. They are growing and spreading but I cannot maintain or get it to be in the dark green colour when first bought.

I have a CO2 tank. My local pet store where i get my plants think that the temp of the water is too high ( its at about 32 degrees celcius ). They have suggested i tone down the lighting and add a cooling fan.

Any suggestions from you guys would be a great help.

thanks

auqaman59 01-13-2007 12:00 AM

I think I need to add more plants to all my tanks ! Looking at yours mine are lightly planted to say the least . thank you for posting pics they say more than words !! now if I can find a store that actuly sells more than tall grass and hornswort lol

ericpop27 05-28-2008 07:39 PM

Re: New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
Great info!

Deni 06-26-2008 08:36 AM

Re: New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
This is an excellent description of what to do. Very clear. I did have one question, though, regarding
Quote:

In about 3-4 weeks you will probably want to start replacing some of the fast growers with more desirable plants.
Is it better to go for the gusto at this point and do all of the aquascaping and replacing of the fast-growers with other plants? Or is it better to only replace a few at a time over a period of weeks until the desired aquascape is achieved?

Bert H 06-26-2008 09:12 AM

Re: New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
Quote:

s it better to go for the gusto at this point and do all of the aquascaping and replacing of the fast-growers with other plants? Or is it better to only replace a few at a time over a period of weeks until the desired aquascape is achieved?
IMO, gradual changes are always better, especially on a new set-up where the achieved balance may be tenuous at the beginning.

Deni 06-26-2008 10:45 AM

Re: New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
Thank you. That's what I was thinking, but just wanted to be sure.

xavierj123 10-19-2008 09:43 PM

Re: New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
Thanks Bert for taking the time and trouble to provide this very helpful information. I especially like your pictures of planted tanks. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Well done!

CTD 11-15-2008 10:41 PM

Re: New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
:photo::whoo:

gasteriaphile 11-27-2008 04:41 PM

Re: New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
So...is the upshot of this that one cannot have a lightly planted tank? I know that Walstad likes to constantly emphasize how plants can outcompete algae. But if I have to have wall-to-wall plants just in order to stop algae, that sort of limits my aquascaping. The image of a tank that got me interested in this hobby were Takashi's. Some of his tanks are very minimalist, but are they all "for show" and not really balanced and sustainable tanks without alot of gimmicks and gadgetry?

gasteriaphile 12-05-2008 02:55 PM

Re: New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
Quote:

Next make sure your carbon source is good, either via CO2 or Excel. Fertilize right from the beginning so your plants have all they need to get off to a good start. Personally, I would start with half the fert levels on day 1, bringing my levels up to full level before the end of the week and my first water change. Subsequently, I would dose normally.
Hi. I gradually make my way (often circuitously) to all the different aspects of plant-keeping. I had heard/seen about Flouish many times but had more pressing stuff on mind. But in re-reading the above (first post actually on this thread), got interested when it was mentioned that Excel could be used as a CO2 alternative. I am always looking for ways to avoid big high-pressure cylinders! :wof:

So I went to the Seachem website and read about all the three Flourish items. Sounds like Excel might help me but I also noted that it seems to kill Vallisnerias and Elodea. Is this the case with y'all?

Thanks, g

hooha 12-05-2008 09:53 PM

Re: New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
Excel can be used as an alternative to carbon dioxide injection - I've done so in nano tanks (10 gallons or less). I haven't really tried it as a complete substitution to CO2 in larger tanks, mainly because it would get pretty expensive over time. An injected CO2 system would be more cost-effective (and easier to automate) in the long run.

I haven't used Excel with Valisineria or Elodea myself, but I have heard that they do affect them from other posts on the site.

With your question about not being able to have a lightly planted tank - you certainly can but it will be more difficult to get a 'balance' and avoid algae outbreaks. The more densely a tank is planted and the more consistent your maintenance routine is, the more likely you will have success with your aquarium. If you look at some of the scapes on the site, it's certainly not wall-to-wall with all stem plants reaching the ceiling. Most of good scapes have large plant masses if you look closely, with the perception of depth created by the placement and selection of plants. Even 'minimalist' Iwagumi scapes have a decent amount of plant mass covering the tank.

Take a look at the AGA video on the site with Amano creating an aquascape. The plant mass is dense, but depth and texture are created by placement as well as selection of plants.

jerrybforl 12-26-2008 09:28 AM

Re: New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
on the contrary CO2 injection gets cheaper over time as you only have to buy the equipment once and take care of it. depending on how big your tank is decides how big you want you cylinder to be. i use a 5lb on my 55gal (recently moved to 75) but it lasted me 6 months and only costs 10-11 dollars to refill at any welding supply shop. excel gets expensive especially if your dosing in larger tanks. as it goes very fast. but also light is very important. if you keep it in the proper light range you should be able to maintain healthy plant growth without CO2. the plants just wont grow as fast but with CO2 they will explode in growth.

jerrybforl 12-26-2008 09:30 AM

Re: New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
im sorry hooha i miss read what you said about the excel and CO2 injection. so after reading what i said we are both in agreement.:clap2:

BassMan 01-12-2009 10:18 AM

Re: New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
Beautiful Tanks!
I'm looking to put down enough substrate to start a 72 gallon bow front aquarium. I would like to do dense vegetation like some of these images but find that the Eco-Complete is an expensive substrate to use over the entirety of my tank. Any reccommendations on an affordable resource to use?

Also, My tank will hous3e some Oscars and some bass. Any type of plants I should avoid with these species'?

Finally, where can I go about purchasing my light and CO2 systems for a reasonable price? I'm in NY but am very savvy with internet ordering.

Thanks everyone!

gasteriaphile 01-12-2009 11:46 AM

Re: New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BassMan (Post 443440)
Beautiful Tanks!
I'm looking to put down enough substrate to start a 72 gallon bow front aquarium. I would like to do dense vegetation like some of these images but find that the Eco-Complete is an expensive substrate to use over the entirety of my tank. Any reccommendations on an affordable resource to use?

Dear Bass, I just set up my first aquarium (as opposed to a "betta bowl" where I used some natural coarse sand) using Flourite. This tank was/is only 4 gallons, which I think is good to note. But with regard to a less expensive substrate for you, I was surprised by the look and nature of Flourite. I had never seen it before, much less worked with it. IMO a significant portion of the constituents of Flourite is a fired, calcined-clay (sometimes called, generically, "turface"). Hence I believe you could use "turface" as your substrate or mix it in with another material if you believed you need something else in addition to the turface (this other material being more expensive but having some minerals you deed necessary). The turface "stretches" your expensive substrate. If you do not much care for the look of turface, you could then cover it with a thin layer of some other material for appearance only. Hope this helps, BB

BassMan 02-09-2009 10:18 AM

Re: New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by gasteriaphile (Post 443462)
Dear Bass, I just set up my first aquarium (as opposed to a "betta bowl" where I used some natural coarse sand) using Flourite. This tank was/is only 4 gallons, which I think is good to note. But with regard to a less expensive substrate for you, I was surprised by the look and nature of Flourite. I had never seen it before, much less worked with it. IMO a significant portion of the constituents of Flourite is a fired, calcined-clay (sometimes called, generically, "turface"). Hence I believe you could use "turface" as your substrate or mix it in with another material if you believed you need something else in addition to the turface (this other material being more expensive but having some minerals you deed necessary). The turface "stretches" your expensive substrate. If you do not much care for the look of turface, you could then cover it with a thin layer of some other material for appearance only. Hope this helps, BB

I wound up going with 7 bags (105 lbs.) of flourite with a thin layere of pebble sized gravel on top for protection of the flourite. Thanks for the advice!

NowMed 02-09-2009 11:58 PM

Re: New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
Very helpful guid! Thank you !

jweisman54 02-16-2009 06:18 PM

Re: New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
This is by far the most helpful information I have come across. I have had tanks since I was 16 and took the plunge and now have a 45 gallon planted tank. I am still trying to figure out the whole CO2 issue with the type of lighting that I have (compact fluorescent 96watt which sits about an inch or so from the glass top. What do you think about the whole yeast and sugar type of CO2 being pushed into the tank via the Red Sea turbo system?

fishyjoe24 05-18-2010 05:27 AM

Re: New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
sweet, thanks this was a good read.

dctetraguy 12-01-2010 02:08 PM

Resources
 
I am in the planning stage of setting up my first plant tank using a 65gallon tank. All I have is the tank but besides the internet the only resource I have is the "Encyclopedia of Aquarium Plants" by Peter Hiscock. Are there any book out there that go into greater depth on the different types of aquatic plants that contain:descripitions, pictures, and parameters?

Aaron

Bert H 12-02-2010 07:48 AM

Re: New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
We have a great resource here at apc, the plantfinder. Bookwise, I would recomment Kasselman's book.

jerrybforl 12-21-2010 11:08 PM

Re: New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
Bert are they going to put Kasselman's book into English? I was at the AGA convention and Claus had it in Dutch. It looked amazing. I hope that they get it in English I am very interested in getting it.

Bert H 12-22-2010 03:59 AM

Re: New Tank Setup Guide - Parts 1 and 2
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jerrybforl (Post 571640)
Bert are they going to put Kasselman's book into English? I was at the AGA convention and Claus had it in Dutch. It looked amazing. I hope that they get it in English I am very interested in getting it.

I don't have any info on that. I would suggest writing the publisher and asking them. If they think they have enough of a market out there, that they would put out an English version.


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